Thai Inspired Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
I must admit that I’ve been incredibly lazy in the kitchen these past few weeks. It’s been really warm and humid (for San Diego standards, that is) and the last thing I want to do is hang out over the hot stove for long periods of time.

And don’t even get me started about my utter disdain for dishes!

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
So my “cooking” of late has really consisted of compiling ingredients (salads or sandwiches), charcuterie boards (AMEN!), or quick prep dishes such as stir-frys.

Because…you know…. EVERYTHING STIR-FRY and all.

Total shameless plug.

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
But all self-promotion aside, stir-fry dishes are a total legit way to get something scrumptious in your belly with minimal cooking time. The majority of your efforts primarily go towards chopping the ingredients— easy peasy!

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
This Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai is a slight variation of my Pork Larb Gai which is a Thai minced pork salad. For the protein I went with a surf and turf approach as I love the flavor combo. For the ground chicken, you can go with breast meat but I prefer the flavor of dark meat. And if you want a really light approach, sub the chicken with ground turkey breast.

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai

Whichever protein you select, you’ll really love Larb Gai –-especially during the summer months. The dish is light yet fulfilling and is punched up with TONS of flavor from the fresh lime juice, bright herbs and savory sauce. I often have it over steamed rice but when I’m feeling extra lazy or when it’s warm out, I use it as filling for lettuce wraps. Either way, you’ll love it.



Thai Inspired Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
Serves 4-6


1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon warm water
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
1 teaspoon minced Thai chiles, divided
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup minced red onions or shallots
4-5 kaffir lime leaves, sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 pound ground chicken
½ pound peeled shrimp, cleaned and deveined
2 scallions, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon ground toasted rice powder*
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly torn
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, roughly torn

In a small bowl, create the sauce by whisking together the sugar and warm water until dissolved. Add in 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons fish sauce and ½ teaspoon minced chiles (more to taste). Set the sauce aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the minced onions, kaffir lime leaves, garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add ½ teaspoon minced chiles (more to taste), red chili flakes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Increase the heat to medium-high and add in the ground chicken.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the chicken around the wok/skillet while breaking it apart to a crumbled consistency. Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes and then add the shrimp Stir-fry for an additional 2 minutes until the shrimp becomes pink and opaque. Stir in the remaining fish sauce and scallions.

Remove the wok/skillet from the heat. Toss in the rice powder, remaining lime juice, sliced red onions, mint leaves, cilantro leaves, and Thai basil. Stir in a few spoonfuls of the sauce to taste. Plate the larb with extra fresh herbs, whole chiles, lime wedges, sliced cucumbers, and lettuce. Serve immediately with either steamed rice or whole lettuce leaves for wraps. The remaining sauce can be served alongside as a dipping sauce.

*If you cannot find pre-ground toasted rice powder, you can easily make your own. Toast uncooked jasmine rice in a skillet over low heat until golden brown. Once cooled, transfer the toasted rice into a spice grinder and grind until you get a fine powder.

The Pacific Northwest and East Asia Blend at Family Dinner

April 2016 Fam Din
We’ve got two birthday boys in April — Lucas and Curtis! And as Family Dinner protocol dictates, when it’s your birthmonth, you call the theme for the menu.

Now with our Lucasaurus, he’s pretty laid back. If there’s something yummy and he gets ice cream at the end, well–he’s all set. So it was up to my BIL, Curtis, to give us some direction.

April 2016 Fam Din
is all about seafood and generally loves Japanese cuisine. He mentioned that he wanted crab and the next thing I knew it, we were in crab boil planning mode. We’ve done crab Boils quite often. Remember this time? Or how about this time?

Can you blame us? Seafood boils are freaking D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!!!

But this time, since we wanted to use dungeness crab (they’re back in season–YAHOO!), we thought we’d take a different spin. We ditched our beloved spicy Cajun seasoning packets and headed for the Pacific Northwest for inspiration.

April 2016 Family Dinner
But first–one small order of business.

A few months ago, we decided that while we were prepping/cooking/enjoying Fam Din, everyone would stay off their cellphones or tablets and spend some QT with each other. Only exception? You could use it briefly to snap pics of food or family.

The girls even made a sign for our “docking” station that would rotate from house to house each month.

April 2016 Fam Din
So what did we do while off our phones?

We play tennis of of course! Well….Wii Sports but that’s nearly as good.

The pics below may not be as clear as I’d like but I love them. Look at their intense facial expressions.


April 2016 Fam Din
Speaking of GAME ON–check out Lucasaurus. One moment he’s all “sweet face” and the next “100% slugger”.

He’s such a playah’ that he even squeezed in a fast T-Ball game with the homies before dinner was ready.


April 2016 Fam Din
And what did my seestrahs and I do in between the cooking?

Drank some draannnnkkks of course!

Our cocktail of choice was a concoction that seester T had with her friends one night – Pomegranate Soju with Sparkling Korean Grapefruit Rice Brew.

What does a “sparkling rice brew” taste like? Think of a less sweet, more carbonated wine cooler but a gazillion times better. The whole thing was floral, fruity, and went down dangerously smooth.

April 2016 Fam Din
At this point, you may be wondering how this cocktail fits the Pacific Northwest theme.

Well…..that’s where the East Asia meets the Pacific Northwest. At least, the first time for the night.

April 2016 Fam Din
Oh–and of course we took a minute or two to snap a few pics.

April 2016 Fam Din


April 2016 Fam Din
Meanwhile, Lucas had come back from his game, showered and then decided to show his uncle some of his badass roundhouse kicks.

Did I mention our little man just passed his Tae Kwon Do black back examination?

Yeah…I keep him around as my personal security these days.

April 2016 Fam Din
Then at some point throughout the shenanigans, big sis whipped out some appetizers – Shrimp Crostinis!!

April 2016 Fam Din
And then we got down to some serious cooking.

How serious?

So serious we had to break out the step stools.


April 2016 Fam Din
And then the girls started getting all kinds of silly.

Not sure if they were getting hypoglycemic from all the waiting or if it’s just their true nature.

You’re right….. it’s the Aliens.

April 2016 Fam Din

Grab the bibs, refill the drinks, plunk yourselves down in a chair because it was finally DINNER TIME!!!

April 2016 Fam Din
Sweet dungeness crab, prawns, clams, corn, new potatoes and crusty bread. The “boil” was made from crab stock, lemons, garlic and an insane amount of fennel and coriander seeds. Very, very aromatic.

Oh–and tons, and I mean TONS of garlic butter to dip it all in.


April 2016 Fam Din
And you bet we sure as heck did! Totally natural–birthday celebrations and all.

Though no matter how full we are, there must be dessert! And with two birthday boys, we had to have TWO desserts. One made specifically for each of boys’ favorite flavors.

April 2016 Fam Din
With Curtis, we went for the East Asian flavors because the man loves him some green tea! And after all these years, it’s become quite the challenge to make him a different green tea dessert. We’ve done Matcha Green Tea Icebox Cheesecake, Green Tea Souffles, and Matcha Green Tea Layered Cake filled with Matcha Mousse and the list goes on and on.

Hey–at least he’s consistent.

April 2016 Fam Din
So after squeezing my brain to the core, I decided to make him a Green Tea Tiramisu–also known as a Matchamisu!

I used this recipe to make the fantastically easy and light dessert. I took packaged lady finger cookies and dipped them in a mixture of honey and a strongly brewed green tea. It was then layered with a fluffy filling of whipped mascarpone cheese, egg yolks, sugar, clouds of whipped cream and of course, matcha powder.

Oh! Did I mention that I threw in a few splashes of Grand Marnier? It is a type of tiramisu after all.

April 2016 Fam Din
It was a WINNER!

Not only was it crazy easy to pull together but it was so well flavored and light. Birthday boy gave me the stamp of approval! So much in fact, that I’m making a bunch of individual sized Matchamisus for his big birthday bash this weekend.


Better start thinking about his next year’s green tea dessert!

April 2016 Fam Din
As for Lucas’ dessert – my nephew being MY nephew, LOVES ice cream — mint chocolate chip ice cream. And like me, if it’s isn’t green mint chip then we want nothing to do with it.

So as a nod to the “Pacific Northwest”, I made our little guy a Baked Alaska — something I’ve never attempted before. And guess what? It was really easy too!

First off, I used store bought ice cream (I know, I know–but I was short on time!) and let it set out for about 30-45 minutes to soften. I lined a large metal bowl with plastic wrap (for easy removal) and packed the ice cream in it. Then, I pressed a layer of brownie on top to form the base.

Lukey doesn’t like cake—we’re all a work in progress.

April 2016 Fam Din
I covered the top with more plastic wrap and then let the whole thing freeze for several hours. When it was about time to serve, I took the bowl out of the freezer and set it on the counter while we got to making the meringue.

In a stand mixer with the balloon whisk attachment, I whisked up 2 large egg whites, 1/2 cup sugar, 1-2 pinches cream of tartar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and until stiff peaks formed.

We then inverted the bowl onto a plate, piped meringue rosettes all over and then brought out the torch.

April 2016 Fam Din
Most Baked Alaskas, well—are baked. But instead of placing the whole thing in a high heat oven, I opted to use a kitchen torch. I felt more comfortable with this method for a more even browning.

I think it all came out beautifully well. Fluffy-marshamllowly meringue, VERY green ice cream and a chocolately brownie base.

April 2016 Fam Din
It got a thumbs up from this adorable birthday boy….

And if you follow me on Instagram, then you would have saw a video of Lucas face planting into his dessert plate–on his own volition!!!

Silly boy.

April 2016 Fam Din
Another delish and FUN Family Dinner in the books!

Happy Birthmonth Curtis and Lucas!


This Month’s Family Dinner Menu
Pacific Northwest – East Asian

Cocktails: Pomegranate Soju with Sparkling Korean Grapefruit Rice Brew
Appetizers: Shrimp Crostini
Entrees: Pacific Northwest Dungeness Crab Boil with Prawns, Clams, Sausage, Potatoes & Corn
Sides: Toasted Ciabatta and French Bread
Dessert: Matcha Tiramisu and Baked Alaska with Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream and Brownie Base

Bún Tôm Nướng Sả – Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp over Vermicelli Noodles

Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp
If you follow me on Instagram then you’ve more than once (okaayyy….more like a thousand times!) heard me rant that basic, everyday Vietnamese dishes aren’t really difficult and are often times quick to cook — but it’s the “mise” that will get you.

We love our condiments and dipping sauces and every dish has its own specific ones to compliment them. Tons of different textures? A MUST! Garnishes? We’re OBSESSED! And I’m not referring to the last minute little sprig of parsley you throw on once you’re done plating. I’m talking about pickled veggies, crispy fried shallots, all kinds of fresh veggies, scallion and chili oils, roasted nuts, savory caramel sauces, and tons–and I mean TONS- of fresh herbs!

We take it to a whole new level!

Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp

Which brings me back to my initial statement that the actual “cooking” part of the dish can be about 5 minutes whereas the prep and mise en place could add an additional hour!

Mixing sauces, chopping, mincing, dicing, MORE CHOPPING, roasting–and my least favorite as a kid, washing all the herbs. I know it sounds ridiculous but I really hated being on herb washing duty.

Maybe because we had so much of them all of the time?

Maybe because Mom wanted each leaf perfectly plucked from the stems?

Or maybe because I had to meticulously blot them each dry with a paper towel because wet herbs “watered” things down?

Had I even known that a salad spinner existed, I would have gladly used whatever little money I had at age 8 to buy one. It would have saved me from all the trauma—but I digress……

Vietnamese Mise en Place

I don’t mean to frighten Vietnamese cuisine novices from giving my peeps’ food a try—more of just a heads up. And once you start cooking Vietnamese more regularly, there are a few shortcuts such as:

  • Keep a large jar of basic Nước Chấm (dipping sauce) in your fridge. Just leave out the Sambal and doctor it up to best compliment that particular dish you’re fixing up – ie. fresh chilies instead of Sambal, fresh finely minced ginger, etc.
  • Đồ Chua are the pickled carrots and daikon you’ll find in tons of noodle dishes and bánh mì. My recipe below is a quick method using just carrots as I didn’t have any daikon on hand but if you make a large batch, jarred Đồ Chua can last in the fridge for about 2-3 weeks.
  • Lots of Asian grocery stores these days carry sả bằm (finely minced lemongrass) in their freezer section–often in little plastic tubs or bags. This is perfect for those folks who don’t use lemongrass often or just don’t want to hassle with all the mincing—though a food processor can also address the latter issue.

And of course, if you’ve got some good knife skills, then you’ve just cut the challenge in half (yea, I went there). Since so much prep is about dicing, mincing and slicing—it’ll be a breeze for you.

Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp

Bún Tôm Nướng Sả is a relatively low fuss dish I make quite often when I get a hankering for a big old bowl of Vietnamese goodness. I marinate a bunch of shrimp with lots of minced lemongrass (yup, I keep a tub in my freezer!), throw them on the grill (or grill pan or in this case, my cast iron skillet) and then nestle them on top of a mound of cool vermicelli noodles along with a hefty amount of veggies/herbs, Đồ Chua, Hành Mơ (scallion oil) and crunchy peanuts.

Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp
The whole thing then gets doused with a generous amount of nước chấm and fresh chilies for an added kicked. The bowl is filled with tons of different textures and crunch, light yet savory with a tremendous amount of freshness from the veggies/herbs and acidity from the nước chấm. If I had some leftover homemade egg rolls in the freezer, I would fry them up and add them to the bowl too! NGUYEN-ing!!!!!

Seriously, my mouth is watering just thinking of it.

And you betcha’ those are my Yoda lightsabre chopsticks below. Because when it comes to mise, Master Yoda would say “Patience you must have my young padawan!”

Yup…anyway to infuse some Jedi lessons…..

Grilled Lemongrass Shrimp
This would be just as tasty if you used thinly sliced chicken instead of the shrimp–or a combo of both! It’s your world, get a little crazy!

As for the prep time these days, I kind of like doing it now. Maybe it’s nostalgic, maybe 30+ years later I’ve become a little more patient….. But oddly enough, i find it rather relaxing—especially with some good music in the background and a glass of vino within arms reach. Because yes, vino should always be involved.

Ăn Ngon!


Bún Tôm Nướng Sả – Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass
Shrimp over Vermicelli Noodles

Serves 4


1 pound shrimped, peeled and deveined
quality Vietnamese fish sauce, divided
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pinches black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 heaping tablespoon finely minced lemongrass
1 cup rice wine vinegar
sugar, divided
1 cup shredded carrots
¼ cup of canola oil
½ cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons hot water
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons Sambal chili paste, more or less to taste
cooking spray
2 cups chopped lettuce
1 package vermicelli noodles, prepared according to package directions
1 cup thinly sliced cucumbers
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
¼ roughly chopped roasted peanuts
fresh chilies

In a large bowl, mix the shrimp, 2-3 dashes fish sauce, red pepper flakes, black pepper, garlic powder and lemongrass. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl or shallow plate, whisk the rice wine vinegar and 2-3 pinches sugar together. Add the carrots and allow to “quick pickle” in the fridge.

Prepare the hành mơ (scallion oil). In a sauté pan, slowly heat the canola oil. Add the chopped scallions. Cook the scallions on very low heat until they are wilted but still bright green. Approximately 2-3 minutes. Pull from heat and set aside.

Prepare the nước chấm (dipping sauce). In a small bowl or jar, mix ¼ cup sugar with the hot water until the sugar starts to dissolve. Stir in ¼ cup fish sauce, lime juice and Sambal chili paste. Set aside.

Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator 5 minutes before cooling to take the chill off. Heat your grill pan/cast iron to medium-high and lightly cover with cooking spray (or prepare outdoor grill). Grill the shrimp for approximately 1-2 minutes on each side until it’s opaque and turns pink. Remove to a large plate.

Divide the lettuce and noodles between four bowls. Add the pickled carrots, cucumbers, mint leaves, and cilantro. Top the bowls with the grilled shrimp and generously brush them with the hành mơ. Sprinkle the bowls with the crushed peanuts and serve with nước chấm and fresh chilies.

Gỏi Cuốn Tôm {Shrimp Spring Rolls}

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

Dear Mother Nature,

You know that I adore Spring and Summer. In fact, I’m a Sun Baby through and through.

It may be a result of those early years where I froze in the Minnesota snow and now I’m at my best when I can feel the warmth of the sun on my face and can wear my flipflops 365.

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

But with that said, I think you’re playing a cruel practical joke on me this late in the game.

90+ degree weather EVERY day this week?!?!

And that’s with mi casa sitting on the coast. Where or WHERE did you send my beloved Pacific Ocean breeze?

My poor puggle and I are melting.


And it’s already September.

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

Spring Rolls.

Lately, all I want are Spring Rolls and popsicles….and slurpees.

Gỏi Cuốn, as you know, are Vietnamese spring rolls….sometimes noted as “summer rolls”.

They’re light, filled with veggies and low maintenance.

Thankfully, because I can barely muster enough energy to boil water to cook the vermicelli noodles and poach the shrimp. And lucky for both of us, I don’t like poached pork belly which is commonly used in Vietnamese spring rolls. It gives me one less thing to worry about.

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

Now, if my face wasn’t melting off my head (is that T.M.I.?), I’d marinate the shrimp in a little garlic, fish sauce and then grill them. It really does add that extra oompf of flavor but trust me, poaching them are just as delish.

Oh–and Mother Nature, if you’re fixing up some spring rolls, feel free to add in other herbs and veggies you may have on hand….bell peppers, bean sprouts, Thai basil….

And thin slices of poached pork belly if it tickles your fancy.

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring RollsAnd once you’re done making your rolls, could you find it in your heart to send back our “normal” weather?

We would love you even more….like, times infinity.

xoxo❤ ,



Gỏi Cuốn Tôm {Shrimp Spring Rolls}
Serves approximately 4


2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup boiling water
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup julienned carrots
1 cup julienned daikon radish
8 sheets round bánh tráng (dried rice paper sheets)
lettuce leaves
2 cups cooked vermicelli noodles
1 small Persian cucumber, sliced thinly lengthwise
fresh mint leaves
fresh cilantro leaves
fresh Thai basil, optional
fresh Vietnamese coriander, optional
1 dozen poached shrimp, sliced in half lengthwise
8 thin scallions or Chinese chives

Prepare the đồ chua (pickled vegetables). In a medium sized bowl, dissolve the sugar and salt with the boiling water. Add the vinegar and allow the liquid to cool to room temperature. Add the carrots and daikon and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. *This can keep in a sealed container in the fridge for 2-3 weeks and are a must in Vietnamese sandwiches (bánh mì).

Dip one rice paper sheet in warm water and place on a flat surface. The rice paper will slowly become pliable. Lay one piece of lettuce in the middle of the rice sheet and top with vermicelli noodles, cucumber slices, mint leaves, cilantro leaves, Thai basil, Vietnamese coriander and some of the refrigerated đồ chua. Lay 3-4 shrimp slices, cut side up, in one line above the layer of vegetables.

Tightly roll the bottom of the rice paper over the mound. Fold the right side of the roll in and lay one scallion/chive above the roll. Fold the left side in and continue rolling the rice paper up until you’ve created a secured roll. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Serve at room temperature with hoisin peanut sauce or other dipping sauce of your choice.


Sunday Family Dinner – Po’ Boys and Tarts… Oh My!

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

Alright. Want to know why it’s taken this long to recap May’s Sunday Family Dinner?

It’s because I was struggling for a week after it.

And I’m a tad upset. No one tells you that the hangover recovery time increases by a 100 when you get older.😦

Oh…and I should mention that it was due to the below shenanigans that started it all.

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner


It was my birthday and this “thirty-something” bday gal thought it would be a “smart” idea to channel her old college self and hire a party bus to shuttle a bunch of her friends and family around for six hours……to, you know…..hang out.

Let’s just say, a lot of mischief can occur when you have a party bus stocked with 2 coolers filled with libations and jello shots. We stopped at four rad local Orange County breweries: Bootlegger’s Brewery, Noble Ale Works, Bottle Logic Brewing, and The Bruery. It was a FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC time and we even made it out to a local spot for a few night caps and to shake our booties. Yes, friends…it was 11+ hours of what seemed to be endless escapades.

We were Rock Stars.

Which is also why the STRUGGLE WAS REAL when we managed to get our act together the next day for Sunday Family Dinner. But luckily we had the foresight to keep things simple.

For starters… COCKTAILS! Because apparently we didn’t’ have enough the night before😉

Spiced-Tajin Citrus Margaritas!

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

Initially we had wanted to do something Surf and Turf but couldn’t really settle on one particular dish that we could all agree on.

So, to satisfy my “turf” craving, seester T made these little decadent bites. Seared ribeye steaks that were then thinly sliced and stacked on top of toasted bread. But it was all about the sauce that she came up with…. a super rich Truffled-Pâté-Thyme Sauce.


That sauce tho’…..❤

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

As for the “surf”….eldest seester suggested Seafood Po’ Boys and we were all about it!

For the Po’ Boys, I ended up soaking a bunch of oysters and shrimp in a spiced buttermilk bath before dredging it in a cornmeal-flour mix. A quick fry for a minute or two and they were perfect!

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

And of course, since it was my burf-day, there had to be bacon. Lots of it.

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

To put it all together we schmeared a sriracha aioli inside a toasted baguette, mixed greens, ripe tomatoes, a few slices of creamy avocado, thick-cut crispy bacon and of course–the crunchy oysters and shrimp.


Even HUNGOVER we knocked it out of the park!

Perhaps it’s our superhero power….

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

Oh! And because I am a carb monster….there had to be my favorite starchy love– potatoes.

May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

This time around, I opted for a German Potato Salad…..

Potatoes, bacon….HEO YEAH! Especially when there’s not a heavy sauce. I slightly adapted the recipe from The Lucky Penny by adding extra herbs, chili flakes, chili powder and sriracha.


As for a birthday cake? That’s not really not my thing despite how many birthday cakes/cupcakes I end up making. True….chocolate is my fav but a very close second is something with citrus.

I adore citrus.

So eldest seester indulged me and made this fantabulous Lime-Fruit Tart.  A buttery shortbread crust with lime curd, a cranberry sauce and fresh fruit.



May 2015 Sunday Family Dinner

With that, dear friends, wrapped up the most perfect birthday-palooza.

And yes, I finally recovered🙂

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Spiced-Tajin Citrus Margaritas
Appetizers: Ribeye Crostini with Truffled-Pâté-Thyme Sauce.
Entrees: Bacon-Avocado Po’Boys with German Potato Salad
Dessert: Lime Fruit Tart

We’re 5 Today!! Plus Bacon & Shrimp Cheesy Grits and a $100 AmEx® GiftCard GIVEAWAY!!

Bacon & Shrimp Cheesy GritsMan, oh man!

We’re F-I-V-E today!!! For real, for real— as in, I’ve been rambling about food, family, and absolutely random things for 5 YEARS!

Holy Moly!!!

Bacon & Shrimp Cheesy GritsThese past five years have been filled with quite the Foodventures and every foray into the kitchen still brings surprising successes, utter failures and always new takeaways. It’s never a dull moment!

And I kind of dig how my palette has changed over the years. Dishes I used to despise are now the ones I crave and are obsessed with making. Things I used to think I couldn’t live without are now nowhere to be found in my kitchen.

Bacon & Shrimp Cheesy GritsWhich is why for our 5th blogiversary, I opted to make this utterly decadent, stick-to-your-ribs Bacon & Cheesy Grits. Because believe it or not, I used to hate grits. Well…anything of that similar texture. Oatmeal, porridge, cream of wheat— all of it. Bleh!

But then one day, I woke up and the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the forest animals were frolicking and a bowl of shrimp & grits somehow magically appeared in front of me.

And my life was changed. Luscious, cheesy, goodness. Mind blown.

So I’m pretty certain you’ll love them too. Not to mention it’s super easy to make.

Bacon & Shrimp Cheesy GritsAnd because y’all have stuck with me throughout these past few years and have followed my random musings, we’re having a fantabulous (did I just use that word??) $100 American Express® GiftCard GIVEAWAY for one of our lucky readers. I don’t know about you but it may come in handy with the holidays coming up.

Want to know how to win?


There are six (6) different ways for you to enter!  Please be sure to leave a separate comment for each indicating which of the below you did: This Giveaway has ended- THANKS!

  1. Leave a comment sharing what dish do you now love but didn’t like before;
  2. Subscribe to The Culinary Chronicles & get automatic emails when new posts are published (If you already Subscribe, leave a comment indicating so);
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The deadline to enter is Monday, November 17th at 5pm (PST) and the winner will be notified the next day. This Giveaway has ended- THANKS!

And with that dear friends, thanks again for all of your support and here’s to another five years of delicious and entertaining Foodventures!!!



Bacon & Shrimp Cheesy Grits
Serves 4


1 pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1 tablespoon hot sauce
½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (or other Cajun spice blend)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon garlic salt
black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 scallions, chopped, more to garnish
3¼ cups low sodium chicken stock
kosher salt
1 cup grits
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, more to garnish
3 slices bacon, diced
½ cup minced shallots
1 cup finely diced bell peppers (assorted colors)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ cup dry white wine
3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a bowl, mix the shrimp with the hot sauce, Old Bay Seasoning, cayenne pepper, garlic salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, olive oil and chopped scallions. Set aside.

In a heavy bottom pot, bring the chicken stock to a rolling boil with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Slowly whisk in the grits and cook until the grits have thickened and become tender. For quick grits, this will take about 5-7 minutes over medium heat. For regular grits, simmer for about 25 minutes. Once done, stir in 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Cover and keep warm.

In a cast iron skillet or other heavy bottom skillet. Slowly sauté the bacon until it becomes crispy and the fat has rendered down—about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the bacon bits to a plate covered with paper towels. Reserve one tablespoon of bacon drippings in the pan and discard the rest. Sauté shallots in the bacon drippings until translucent. Add the diced bell peppers and cook for an additional two minutes. Add the garlic and shrimp and cook until the shrimp just begins to turn pink—about 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the skillet. Turn the heat to medium high and pour in the white wine. Use a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom of the skillet to release all the brown bits. Allow the wine to come to a boil and reduce the liquid for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the remaining butter, Worcestershire sauce, and red chili flakes. Add the shrimp back into the skillet and allow the items to cook for an additional minute. Taste and season as needed.

Divide the cheesy grits amongst four bowls and top each mound with the shrimp mixture. Sprinkle each bowl with the additional cheddar cheese, scallions and crispy bacon. Serve immediately.

Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Pasta — Surf & Turf Made Easy!

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta
Now let me admit this to you.

Some girls love flowers delivered to their door and some gals love chocolate.


You’d have my attention with a nice bottle of vino or meat.🙂

Yes, you read that correctly.



So when our friends at Farmer John sent over a box of their latest Cheese & Wine Flavor Smoked Sausage, I squealed with joy.


Not only because I was so excited to try it out but we coincidentally were having our monthly Sunday Family Dinner just a few days after. Complete divine intervention since a part of our menu required for us to bust out our beloved habachi grills.


It was perfect since our proteins mainly consisted of seafood (calamari, prawns, shellfish, lobster) and sausage was a much welcomed addition.

We sliced a few links up and threw them on the habachi which imparted even more of a smoky flavor. The sausage itself turned out to be a tad on the sweeter side (likely because of the wine) but it paired well with the salty-briny seafood.

So when it came time for me to use the sausage in a dish, I wanted to make sure to balance out the flavors.

Cue in spices, herbs and tomatoes.


Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

I played around with a few ideas and decided to use the browned sausage with a heavily spiced shrimp in a tomato sauce.

I finished the whole sha-bang with a mountain of fresh herbs and tossed it with linguine — a pasta that can hold up to a hearty sauce.


Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

It. Was. Delish.

Don’t believe me?

Well…shame on you!

Because it was.

Fo’ reals!

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

The entire dish was then showered with a mound of freshly shaven parmesan cheese….and then I paused…..

Because when you make happy things in your kitchen, it deserves a moment of silence…

Followed by a serious dance-it-out session and a swig of chianti…or whatever you’re sipping on.

It’s completely mathematically sound.

Spicy Shrimp & Sausage Pasta

And yes, all of the flavors balanced out perfectly.

The salty, sweet sausage paired well with the spicy shrimp. The acidic tomato sauce with its aromatics added the much needed punch to the dish. And the cheese—well, the cheese added love.


Much thanks again to our friends at Farmer John – we love ya!


Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Pasta
Serves 6-8


½ pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined
½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (or other Cajun spice blend)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic salt
kosher salt
olive oil
1 pound smoked sausage (I used Farmer John® Wine and Cheese Sausages), sliced
¼ cup sliced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup white wine
1 28-ounce can crushed Roma tomatoes
5-6 fresh thyme sprigs
½ tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 pound dried linguine
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
1 cup parmesan (shaven, grated, etc.)

In a bowl, mix the shrimp with the Old Bay Seasoning, cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, garlic salt, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons oil in a heavy bottom, deep skillet (or pot) to medium. Add the sausage slices and brown on both sides. Toss in the shrimp and cook until they turn pink – approximately 2 minutes. Remove the contents to a clean bowl and set aside.

Add the shallots to the skillet and cook for a minute before adding the garlic. Cook for a minute and stir in red pepper flakes. Add tomato paste and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat to high and pour the wine into the skillet. Use a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom of the skillet to release all the brown bits. Allow the wine to come to a boil and reduce the liquid for 2-3 minutes on the high heat.

Add tomatoes with its juices and bring to a boil. Once it comes to temperature, lower the heat to medium-low. Use the wooden spoon to crush and break apart any large pieces of tomatoes. Stir in the thyme and oregano and simmer the sauce, partially covered for 20 minutes.

While the sauce cooks, boil the linguine for approximately 10-12 minutes in heavily salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

Stir the shrimp and sausage into the simmered tomato sauce. Toss in the cooked linguine, coating the pasta well. If you want a looser based sauce, add a tablespoon at a time of the pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. Season with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

Plate the pasta and sprinkle each dish with parsley and the freshly shaved parmesan.



 **Disclosure: I did receive products from Farmer John, but as always, my opinions are my own.**