Happy New Year!

This year I had to work on New Year’s Eve and day so my husband and I celebrated a few nights early with a delicious meal and fabulous wine. We started with a shrimp appetizer, a great Martha Stewart recipe that is a spicy, glazed shrimp. We then had NY steaks with a blue cheese butter and a side of asparagus.
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Spicy Grilled Shrimp

For The Shrimp
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest, plus 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 3 to 4 limes)
1 tablespoon Asian chili paste (such as sambal oelek; ethnicfoodsco.com)
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce (such as nam pla; amazon.com)
Coarse salt
Safflower oil, for brushing
36 large shrimp (about 3 pounds), peeled and deveined (tails left intact; optional)
Coarse salt

Directions
Soak 12 wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes to prevent charring.
Meanwhile, make the sauce: Bring sugar and lime juice to a simmer in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in lime zest, chili paste, and fish sauce. Season with salt.
Make the shrimp: Heat grill to high. Brush grates with oil. Thread 3 shrimp onto each skewer; season with salt. Divide sauce in half; reserve half for serving. Grill shrimp for 1 minute; brush with sauce. Flip, and grill for 1 minute more; brush with sauce again. Flip, and grill, brushing occasionally with sauce, until opaque, 1 to 3 minutes more. Serve with reserved sauce.

Blue Cheese Butter

Ingredients
1 stick unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/4 cup crumbled Cabrales blue cheese
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Directions
Combine the butter, cheese, and thyme in a bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

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A Trip to Vegas

For my big 3-0 this year, my hubby treated me to a fun trip to Vegas. More than anything else, we just ate . . . a lot!

First we ventured to a late night happy hour at our hotel, the Mirage. It is a delicious little Japanese restaurant called Japonais.

For lunch the following day we headed to Bobby Flay’s restaurant, Mesa. This was not our first visit to Mesa but is now a must visit when we head to Vegas. I had a delicious salmon dish and the husband, a Cuban sandwich.

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For dinner that night we went old school and hit up The Barrymore, a fun steak restaurant where we expected Frank Sinatra to come through the door at any moment.

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Not a bad restaurant in the bunch. Can’t wait to go back for more delicious eats!

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Birthday Request

My mom started a tradition when I was growing up that the person celebrating a birthday got to select their birthday dinner. I have carried on the tradition. For my husband’s 31st birthday this year, he selected paseo Cuban pork sandwiches and peanut butter banana cupcakes.

Now, personally, I have never been to have the true paseo sandwich but I hear this is very similar and delicious (recipe below)! The cupcakes were just okay even though they looked fabulous.

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Paseo Roast Cuban Pork Sandwich

1 baguette (something nice and crusty)
garlic mayo (see below)
roast pork (see below)
2 large yellow onions
olive oil
lettuce
cilantro
pickled jalapeño peppers

roast pork
1 cup mango juice (or sub 1 cup orange juice)
2 cups orange juice
2 tbsps olive oil
1 lime, juice of
2 tbsps garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 oz. rum
3-4 lb. pork shoulder, bone-in if possible

garlic mayo
1 bulb garlic
olive oil for drizzling
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsps olive oil
1 lime, juice of
1/2 tbsp dill pickle relish

Make the pork: Combine the mango juice, orange juice, olive oil, lime juice, chopped garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and rum in a large vessel or ziploc bag. Place the pork in the vessel or bag and marinate at least overnight (up to 24 hours). When the pork is ready, save the marinade and preheat the oven to 325°F. Pat the meat dry and then sear the meat on all sides in a lightly greased Dutch oven until it’s nicely browned. Pour the marinade into the baking dish. Tent the meat with foil or cover with lid and bake for 4 hours. At the two hour mark, turn the meat. During the last 2 hours, baste the meat with the marinade every 30 minutes. Remove from oven when the meat is fork-tender and comes off the bone easily. Shred the pork with two forks.

Make the garlic mayonnaise: While the pork is cooking in the oven, slice the top off the garlic bulb and place it in a small baking dish or on a piece of foil that has been pulled up at the edges (to form a bowl). Drizzle a little olive oil over the top and bake in the oven (next to the pork) for thirty minutes or until the garlic is soft. Peel the skins off the garlic cloves and mash the garlic into a paste. Combine the garlic with mayonnaise, olive oil, lime juice, and pickle relish. Stir until blended.

Caramelize the onions: Peel and slice the onions into 1/4-inch strips. Heat a little olive oil on medium flame in the same pan you used to sear the pork. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from heat when the onions are caramelized.

Assemble the goodness: Cut an 8-inch long piece of a baguette or other similarly shaped bread that has a nice, crusty outside and soft, chewy inside. Slice it in half, lengthwise. Spread garlic mayonnaise on both pieces of bread and bake or toast in the oven until the mayonnaise starts to bubble and puff. Remove from the oven. Layer the pork, onions, lettuce, cilantro, pickled jalapeños, and more garlic mayonnaise on one piece of the bread. Top with the other half of the bread and serve. The pork can probably yield a dozen sandwiches.

Sedona Restaurants

My husband and I recently went down to Arizona to hike the Grand Canyon and then spent a couple days recuperating in Sedona at the Amara Resort (loved the hotel). In general we were unimpressed by restaurants in Sedona but one. We trusted the tripadvisor rankings and headed to Elote Cafe.This was delicious! The environment, the view and the food were all top notch.

I started off with the margarita sampler. We then tried the restaurant namesake Elote which is a fire roasted corn mixture that you dip chips into. Yum! For dinner, I had the smoked pork cheeks and the husband had the carne asada. Both dishes were like none we had tried before. Apparently the chef spent something like 10 years learning Mexican cooking (mostly in Oaxaca) and then put a personal spin on each dish. Everything we ate was wonderful and we would 100% recommend it.

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The Fork

My husband and I were recently up near Bellingham visiting my parents and they took us out to The Fork at Agate Bay.. This was not my first experience with this restaurant but it was just as fantastic as I remembered. This time we headed out for brunch and it did not disappoint. We started off with a beignet appetizer. My dad and I both had the shrimp and grits, my husband had the burger (which he said was the best burger he had ever eaten), and my mom had the huevos ranchero. Needless to say, there were no leftovers. What a fabulous meal. Unfortunately my hunger got the best of my photographs and I only remembered to take a pictures of the beignets. Enjoy!
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I highly recommend this restaurant if you are anywhere close to Bellingham!

Crab Cakes

Crabbing season is on in full force and my husband recently brought a bunch home. What better way to cook it up the crab cakes! I wanted to try a new recipe and was intrigued by this one because it uses sea scallops as the binder rather than breadcrumbs. That being said, they are delicious! Enjoy!

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Ultimate Crab Cakes

Ingredients
4 ounces sea scallops
2 tablespoons lightly beaten egg
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 pound (3 cups) shelled cooked crab
2 tablespoons diced (1/4 in.) red bell pepper
2 tablespoons diced (1/4 in.) yellow bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives, divided
2 teaspoons green hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons olive oil
Devil Sauce (see below)

Preparation
1. In a food processor, pulse scallops and egg just until scallops are chopped. With motor running, pour in cream and whirl until smooth.
2. Scrape scallop mixture into a bowl. Stir in crab, bell peppers, cilantro, 2 tbsp. chives, the hot sauce, salt, and cayenne, breaking up most large chunks of crab.
3. Lay an 18-in. sheet of parchment paper on a work surface. Scoop 6 equal mounds of crab mixture onto parchment. Shape each into an even cake about 1 1/4 in. thick, using your fingers or, for neater sides, a 2 1/2-in.-diameter ring mold.
4. Pour olive oil into a 12-in. nonstick frying pan and heat over medium-low heat. Using a thin, flexible spatula, carefully transfer cakes to pan. Cook, turning once, until nicely browned and no longer wet in center, about 10 minutes total. Divide crabcakes among 6 warm plates, scatter with remaining 1 tbsp. chives, and serve with Devil Sauce.

Devil Sauce

Ingredients
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
About 1 tsp. red hot sauce, such as Tabasco

Preparation
In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, coriander, and 1 tsp. hot sauce. Taste and add more hot sauce if you like.
Make ahead: Chill airtight up to 1 week.

Fourth of July

The fourth of July this year was pretty low key. My husband and I spent the day outside doing yard work and eating delicious food. For dinner we had new York steaks with a cilantro lime butter, corn on the cob (also with the butter), and watermelon. For dessert we had s’mores! My mom recently recommended using peanut butter cups . . . I highly recommend this!!

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