Susie-Infused Shrimp

Susie makes a succulent marinated shrimp and avocado salad. I’ve never met Susie but I couldn’t help but think about her yesterday when preparing this dish for a picnic.

Do you ever feel like you know someone just by hearing about her over many years? Susie is Nancy’s sister. I know she makes delicious and creative food. She’s pretty, fun and loves her family. She’s also a youngish grandmother who loves cuddling babies. I can picture the kind of clothes she wears because Nancy will often say, “My sister Susie could get away with wearing that! (And it’s always something stylish.) Susie also talks to the hummingbirds that linger on her feeders, “Hi sweetie…”

Now you know Susie like I know Susie. Enjoy one of her signature recipes.

Marinated Shrimp and Avocado

  • 2 lbs. shrimp, peeled, cooked and deveined
  • 2 small onions sliced (I used one bunch of green scallions)
  • 12 mushrooms, sliced
  • Lemon-Thyme Marinade (recipe below)
  • 2 avocados cut into bite-sized pieces

Combine the shrimp, onions and mushrooms in a bowl. Toss lightly. Pour in the Lemon-Thyme Marinade and toss gently to coat. Chill covered in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. Add avocado a few hours before serving. Drain the marinade and serve.

Lemon-Thyme Marinade

  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (I added some fresh thyme from my garden to the dried)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Whisk ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined.

Yesterday’s Fresh Baked Goods

The boys coined the term and appreciate the oxymoron-ness of “yesterday’s fresh-baked goods.” For a few years, the Friday-night destination has been Giant Food where the rack in the back holds the day-old bakery bargains. They used to venture on their bikes, but now that they are 16 and can drive, it’s the car.

No matter the mode of transportation, the destination and the goal remains the same. They come home with bags, grins, and a sugary score. Pour some milk and the feast begins!

Kelley Hospitality has never been only about the food; it’s about the experience. Food brings us together. As our son says, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” (With a caveat from him, “Mom, don’t write that down, I didn’t make up that saying, someone else did.”)

Still Trending — Sprodkas

No, A Sprodka is not a Russian spacecraft.

Actually, Sprodkas have been trending for about 15 years now in the Kelley household and in select zip codes across the country. It started one day when my husband Bill mixed me a summertime cooler and dubbed it the “Sprodka.”

I’m putting it out — right here, right now. When it becomes a worldwide sensation recorded in mixology manuals, I want you to know it started in the Kelley house.

Wherever we go, coast to coast, people see us and say, “Sprodka time!”

Recipe for Sprodka

  • Vodka to taste
  • Sprite Zero*
  • Lime, squeezed with fruit left in the glass (plus any other fruit to make it pretty)
  • Ice

Serve it in a highball glass or anything that strikes your fancy.

*Bill’s variation, depending on the audience, is equal part Sprite Zero and diet tonic.

June 15th is JG Day

Johnny Garneau with KDKA-TV’s Jean Connelly in Pittsburgh, 1961

According to my food calendar June 15th is Lobster Day. But, it’s also the birth date of one curious inventor and food man, Johnny Garneau. He passed away in 2013 at age 90 but the legend lives on.

I’m sure you’ve seen it – a sneeze guard is that Plexiglass cover required by law to be over salad bars and buffets. My dad, Johnny Garneau, invented it.

Smithsonian Magazine was so fascinated with the genesis of the sneeze guard that reporter K. Annabelle Smith went digging even as far as contacting the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. An Internet search led her to me, the self-proclaimed Sneeze Guard Heiress.

Johnny Garneau was a dreamer, entrepreneur and entertainer, but most of all, a restaurant man. After the war (the big one, WWII), he sat on the bumper of his ’46 Chevy, slapped his hand on his knee and told my mom, “I’m going to start a restaurant!” And, by golly, he did! He opened The Beanery – with curb service and menu of hot dogs, burgers, fries and shakes in 36 flavors. That was only the beginning.

Fast forward to late 1950s when the sneeze guard was born. A lot of the things we see and use daily were invented by someone who had the dream and the guts to take an idea to fruition. Read the article here from Smithsonian Magazine. Enjoy the story of the inventor and the images of one of our country’s greatest inventions.

The sneeze guard at Johnny Garneau's Smorgaboard, 1958, Monroeville, PA

The sneeze guard at Johnny Garneau’s Smorgaboard, 1958, Monroeville, PA

 

Rise Up Ye Sons and Daughters…Mom Loves Dessert!

In my salad days, when I was in denial about being addicted to sweets, our hostess asked us if we would like a piece of her homemade cheesecake with a hint of Bailey’s Irish Cream. I said, ‘Yes, but only a sliver.’

She gave me a sliver.

I said, ‘I really didn’t mean it!’

Lesson learned: if someone asks for a sliver, give her a generous slice.

Mom really does love dessert. So make your mom something she loves. Here’s one of my favorite cheesecake recipes. I came up with this version when I was publishing Celebrate Home Magazine.

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

Mother’s Day Cheesecake with Nectarines

This cheesecake is extra creamy much different than a New York-style cheesecake. A unique crust and a topping of fresh nectarines gives it a unique tang. Can also use apricots when in season.

  • 1-1/2 cups vanilla cream cookies (Golden Oreos or Vienna Fingers)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 eight-ounce packages of cream cheese (do not use low fat), room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon rind, grated finely
  • 5 nectarines, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of apricot Polaner All-Fruit, high fiber

Crust: Grind cookies into a medium crumb consistency in a food processor (similar to graham cracker crumbs). Mix crumbs with melted butter and sugar. Press mixture into a nine-inch ungreased spring form pan.

Filling: Beat together cream cheese, and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Blend in butter, vanilla and lemon rind.

Topping: Put nectarines and apricot All-Fruit in food processor and coarsely chop to spreadable consistency.

Preheat oven to 450⁰. Put creamy mixture into spring form pan. Bake 15-20 minutes until slightly browned around edges. Refrigerate overnight, at least for 12 hours.

When ready to serve, remove sides of the pan and top with nectarine topping. Garnish with a few slices of nectarine and mint.

Photo by Cindy Dyer Photography.

Spring Cleaning

The pantry was cluttered with ingredients from holiday baking. A half of a bag of red and green chocolate chips, a half box of red and green Rice Krispies, dried cranberries, some chopped pecans in the bottom of a bag — you get the messy picture. It was time to make room for spring stuff.

Basically, I threw everything into a cookie batter. I know that nowadays you can buy cookies as good as, or even better than, what you can make at home. But, there’s something about warming up the oven and allowing the sweet smell to waft through the house. It all screams, “Mom’s home!”

Hopefully, the sights and smells of a spring day, still cold and damp outside, will linger in the memories of those I love.

House Special CookiesSpring cleaning use this one

These are chewy cookies and you can improvise on how much of what you want to add (e.g. raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, etc.). Use what you have on hand.

  • 1-1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled outs
  • 1 cup Rice Krispies
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 nuts or 1/2 dried cranberries/raisins

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg together in a bowl and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugars together in a large bowl using an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla, blend until combined.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly mix in the flour mixture until combined. Mix in the remaining ingredients.

Working with 1/4 cup of dough at time, toll the dough into balls and place on baking sheet about 2-1/2 inches apart. Slightly flatten the balls of dough.

Bake until the tops of the cookies are lightly golden but the centers are soft and puffy – about 22 to 25 minutes.

Let the cookies cool on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes then transfer to a cooking rack to finish cooling.

Shortbread Wars

Shorbread use this oneHeather loves cookies that you dunk in coffee. Shortbread being one of those, she loves the Scottish confection and appreciates the nuances from one brand to another. She talked about the Scottish woman she worked with who made the most delicious (and authentic) shortbread.

One day Heather said she was ordering an authentic shortbread pan for me (see photo above). Minutes before that, she also told Nancy she was ordering an authentic shortbread pan for her too.

We were thrilled to be getting authentic shortbread pans and offered to pay Heather for them. With a glint in her eye, Heather said, “Oh no, it’s a gift for you, but I am hoping you will make me some shortbread. A gift with strings.

That’s when Nancy and I intuitively created a contest in our minds to bake the best shortbread for the shortbread aficianado. Game on!

Lucky for Heather we are still experimenting with various shortbread recipes and Heather so cleverly has not yet declared a winner. So it’s game on, and on, and on…

There will be no peace treaty in this war as long as there is enough flour, butter and sugar to bake the winning batch. Heather, you really hooked us this time!

Shortbread
The first shortbread was made from remnant of bread dough; thus, the “bread” in the name and it contained oatmeal and yeast. It was then baked in a cool oven and sprinkled with sugar. The result was a dry, hard biscuit bread that was easy to carry and didn’t spoil. 

There are many ways to vary shortbread. Nancy added almond extract. I added orange extract and little orange zest and sprinkled cinnamon sugar on this batch. You can add lemon zest or ground nuts.

Classic Shortbread Recipe
The scoring and poking are key to an authentic batch. If you don’t have a shortbread pan, roll dough into a circle and score the dough into 16 even wedges with a sharp knife.

  • 2-1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla or other extract (this can be omitted depending on your taste)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • Granulated sugar for sprinkling

Cream the butter until light, then add the powdered sugar, salt and vanilla and cream until smooth. Add the flour gradually.

Press the dough into a ball in the bowl and transfer to a lightly-floured counter and knead for about 3 minutes. Press the dough into a round disc, place on a large piece of parchment paper and roll out into a 9-inch circle, about 1/2-inch thick.

Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Crimp the edges like a pie crust and poke all over with a fork and score (being careful not to cut the whole way through) into 16 wedges. Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes.

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle granulated sugar over the top. Bake about 40 minutes until pale golden brown, rotating the sheet halfway through baking.

When done baking, remove from oven and cut through the scored marks. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 1 hour.