Pineapple Jalapeno Shrimp + Good Company

I love the way that food marks special occasions.  And let’s face it, for me, a special occasion is 2 days off in a row…  I usually spend those 2 days planning my next meal.  It has been several days now of special occasions.

Labor Day Weekend saw many of my friends coming back to Waco for a big football game.  After offering to cook, I was politely turned down with the “there are so many restaurants we’ve missed and must have a meal at before leaving” comment.  I totally understood!  We made the rounds to several Waco favorites.  Lolitas, Rosattis, and Georges just to name a few!

The week before, though, was another special occasion.  We had to say goodbye to our friend Reid.  He is off to a new adventure in Colorado!  He will be playing (I mean working) on a ranch in the mountains.  He will be teaching and mentoring youth who come to the ranch as part of their education requirements.  He will be sleeping, working, playing and eating (camp food) with this group 24/7.  I saw it only fitting to send him off to the world of hot dogs and trail mix with a hot, home cooked meal.  I tried to include all of his favorite things.  Hopefully, he will never have to give his last meal “order” to anyone, but I think this meal might have included some of the items on his list!

To start, we had caramelized onion and brie quesadillas and pineapple jalapeno stuffed coconut shrimp.  The meal was my bacon weave blue cheese tenderloin, twice baked potatoes and a peach/basil salad that my friend Tisa gave me the recipe for.

For dessert he specifically requested crème brulee.  My manager, Michael, made these for me.  His always turn out smooth and creamy.  They were a hit!  I am going to put my recipe for the coconut shrimp here.  Reid’s mom asked about it and I wanted to get it to her.

Pineapple-Jalapeno Stuffed Coconut Shrimp

½ Bag of frozen jumbo or colossal shrimp  (raw, easy peel, deveined)

1 – 8oz pkg of cream cheese, softened

1 fresh jalapeno, chopped finely

1 small can of crushed pineapple

1 T sugar

Pinch of salt

All-purpose Flour

1 bag of sweetened, shredded coconut

2-3 eggs, beaten


  1.  Thaw the shrimp.  (I thawed 3 shrimp per person)
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese, pineapple, jalapeno, sugar, and salt
  3. Using a spoon, “stuff” some cream cheese mixture into the opening on the back of the shrimp created by the deveining process.  Set the shrimp aside into the frig to harden the cream cheese (about 20-30 minutes)
  4. Put your flour (about 2 cups) into a shallow bowl. Season the flour with salt and pepper.  Place the eggs into another shallow bowl and the coconut into a 3rd shallow bowl.
  5. Carefully coat each shrimp in the flour, then dip into the eggs, and then roll them in the coconut coating all sides and the filling.
  6. Place the coconut coated shrimp onto a baking sheet.  Bake them at 425 for about 8 minutes.  They should turn brown and crispy and be pink all the way through.

Celebrations are fun and they are always a fun place to try something new out on your friends.  I hope you guys find a reason to celebrate something soon.  Maybe the 20 degree drop in weather? 🙂


Fresh Fruit Salsa

Believe it or not, I’m going on vacation!!  My sister is treating me to 5 days in St. Lucia.  (I don’t actually know where that is, but I’m packing the sunscreen and aloe!)  I have so much to do.  I have been so busy at work that I haven’t even had time to pack.  I’m nervous about leaving.  I’m not sure if I’m nervous about being missed, or about NOT being missed!  I have never been on vacation while the restaurant is open…

Anyway, all that to say, that I am leaving you with the fruit salsa recipe I have been promising.  I am also leaving you to the blogging skills of my good friend, Reid Johnson.  He is a fabulous drink concoctor.  I make him shake me up a chocolate martini every time he comes over for dinner!  His recipe is perfect!  He’s gonna share it and some helpful hints in the days to come!

I plan to return with new food ideas from the islands.  I’m sure they will inspire some fused recipes upon my return.  I promise to share them all!  Until next week…

Fruit Salsa:

  • ½ Can crushed pineapple
  • 1/2 pint blueberries
  • 1 Cup diced fresh strawberries
  • 1 peach, diced
  • ½ pint raspberries
  • ½ pint blackberries
  • 1-2 jalapenos, diced finely


  1. Salt to taste
  2. Combine all of the fruits together in a bowl.  Add the finely diced jalapenos a little at a time to control the heat.
  3. Taste for seasoning and add a sprinkle of salt to bring all of the sweet and hot flavors together.
  4. This salsa is delicious over grilled fish or chicken or simply served with tortilla chips.  You can also pour the salsa over a block of cream cheese and drizzle it with honey.  Serve the cream cheese with crackers as a unique (and easy) appetizer.

Football Watch Parties

Sadly, Sadly, Sadly, football season is drawing to a close.  But it does mean that the most exciting games are left to watch!  This is the perfect time of year to get together with friends and spend some quality time in front of the TV routing on your favorite teams, routing against each other and, of course, taking the opportunity to share fun, casual food.

Football food should be easy to make, heavy enough to fill you up, but light enough to eat for 3 hours!  This lends itself to the usual chips and dips, miles of pizza, and sandwich trays.  No reason that has to be true, though.  You can be creative and still meet the requirements!

Suggestion 1:  Build your own nachos

The day before the party, brown some lean ground beef with a packet of your favorite Taco seasoning or stir in your favorite salsa.  Put it in the refrigerator overnight.  (Think ¼ pound of beef per guest)  Use one packet of seasoning or 1 cup salsa to every 1 ½ pounds of beef.  The day of the party, put the cooked beef into a slow cooker or crock pot (3-4 hours ahead of game time) to re-warm and keep warm.  Then you just set out paper bowls, tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream and jalapeno slices.  You could even have one of your guests bring their famous homemade queso dip to add to the offerings.  Now – that’s a fancy version of chips and dip!

Suggestion 2:  Pizza Subs

Grab some fresh baked French bread loaves from your local bakery (eg: The Olive Branch) and create your own pizza subs.  You will feed about 3 people with a 12” loaf.  Slice open the loaf and start to layer everything that is right about pizza! Mix 2 T (per sandwich) of mayo with 2T of your favorite bottled pizza sauce.  Spread it over both sides of the bread.  Layer sliced provolone, sliced pepperoni, sliced salami, sliced mozzarella, sliced ham, sliced turkey and then top it all with crisp veggies – thin rings of green bell pepper, red onions, sliced olives, fresh mushrooms and chopped lettuce (it is a sandwich after all!) Before putting the top on the sandwich, drizzle your favorite vinaigrette dressing or olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top of everything.  Use long toothpicks or short skewers to secure the sandwich together.  You can wrap the sandwich in saran and keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to pull it out, slice and serve it.  Slice it, being sure to leave a toothpick or skewer in every piece, and lay the slices out on a platter.  Have your guests bring their favorite chips and cookies or brownies as accompaniments.

Hope these ideas inspire some creative football-watching moments with your family and friends.

Cooking Class

I survived my first experience as a cooking class instructor!  I actually had a lot of fun.  I mean, I’m not gonna quit my day job or anything… 

I demonstrated 6 recipes in an hour and a half, made 4 trips to pick up what I forgot and lost my corkscrew.  Needless to say, it was a whirlwind!  I couldn’t believe it – people actually took notes on what I had to say!  The class was on holiday appetizers.  Several of the recipes are in my cookbook.  A couple others are just favorite stand-bys.  I am going to give you the newest recipe I created.  It is for a cranberry orange relish that you serve over cream cheese as a spread for crackers or baguette toasts.

Orange Cranberry Relish:

 ½ can whole berry cranberry sauce

3 T Sweet Orange Marinalade

½ C Orange flavored dried cranberries

½ T Pumpkin Pie Spice

¼ C Chopped Candied Nuts

1 Pkg Cream Cheese 8oz.

  1.  Let cream cheese soften on serving plate.
  2. Mix together all other ingredients and spread over top of cream cheese
  3. Arrange crackers around the cream cheese and serve.