K-R-A-F-T, Garlic Shrimp Dip, and Other Ways to Spell Excellence

Now, before you judge me based on the title of this post, there’s something you should know.  I am no stranger to the microwave.  I have come home many an afternoon after school and nuked a tortilla with a cold piece of American cheese (read: cheddar melt product) to make my own Trailer Park Quesadilla.   I am one with the frozen pizza, Tombstone being my weapon of choice.  If you show up at my house with a DiGiorno, you may as well have spit on the graves of my ancestors. 
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Point being, I begrudge no one for indulging in white trash specialties that would make ball-cap wearing, granola loving soccer moms cringe.  Few things please me more than a boiled hot dog nestled in a slice of folded white bread.  But it’s not really a sustainable lifestyle, is it?  I mean unless one wants to develop concrete arteries and a physique akin to Mama Grape.  

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Disclaimer: Yes, I’m an asshole.  I know it, and it’s likely that if you’re reading this you know it.  But I’m not attacking fat people.  Hell, I used to be fat.  I still kind of am! I’m in no way body shaming, but it doesn’t take a nutritional biochemist to know that a diet of Mountain Dew and Flaming Hot Cheetos isn’t great for the ol’ pancreas.  Spare me the comments labeling me a fat-shamer, against body-positivity, etc.  I never have, and never will, shame a person for their body.  

Today is Superbowl Sunday and no one wants to pillage a veggie tray as they guzzle cheap beer.  As I prepped for a Patriots win (and holy shit, they BROUGHT it in the 3rd and KILLED IT in the 4th), I decided to make some treats to add to my plastic-laced Unicorn Krispies.  I whipped up a batch of M&M cookies that were a huge hit, but the REAL star of the Superbowl (aside from Brady’s arm, Julian’s hands, and Gronk’s devilish good looks) was a Garlic Shrimp Dip.  

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(Sorry, the only picture I was able to get was of the leftovers! Next time I’ll remember to take a picture as soon as it comes out of the oven, all golden…bubbly…gooey…it’s really to die for!  Even Gronk’s mouth is watering. Enjoy his pic in it’s place.  You’re welcome.)

Seafood Lovers, unite.  If the smell of shrimp and garlic makes you salivate, look no further.  No more waiting for Steak n Shrimp night at Golden Corral, my culinary comrades, this Garlic Shrimp Dip is here to play and it ain’t takin’ no for an answer. 

No but really, fuck Golden Corral; that place is a hog trough where dreams go to die and human livers turn to foie gras.  If you consider Golden Corral an acceptable place to eat, hit me up.  Let’s talk.  Allow this White Trash Maven to amend your tastebuds and show you how to make better food, CHEAPER.

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Anywho, let’s get started.  I doubled the recipe because I was going to a party, and I think it made a perfect amount to share with friends.  Because really, don’t make a 13″ X 9″ fulla Shrimp Dip and eat it by yourself.  That’s a waste of good party grub, and I’ll totally come help you eat it.   

Garlic Shrimp Dip 

2 lbs Shrimp, tails removed and de-veined
2 – 8oz pkgs Cream Cheese (it’s okay to use the cheap shit)
1/2 c. Mayonaise (don’t use cheap shit, use REAL mayo)
1 Lemon, juiced and zested
1/2 c. Parmesan Cheese (shredded or sprinkle is okay, we ain’t fancy around here)
1 1/2 c. Shredded Mozzarella cheese
(don’t use melt topping, buy real cheese folks.  You owe it to yourself)
4-5 tbsp. Fresh Parsley (don’t use the dried stuff in the can.  Trust me, it needs to be fresh)

1-2tbsp. Tarragon
4 tbsp. Olive Oil

Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste (fresh cracked is best, but if that’s not an option its okay)
Fresh Garlic, diced. ( I LOVE garlic and it brings out the flavor in the shrimp, so I used about 5 cloves and found that it still wasn’t quite garlicky enough.  Gauge it to what you like)

  1.  Heat your oven to about 350º.  I’ve found that everyone’s oven seems to cook a little differently, so if your oven tends to cook “hot”, take it a little easy.  In a large sized skillet, heat the oil and toss in the garlic.  Wait until it smells gooder than Hell (or when garlic begins to be fragrant), and add the shrimp.  Cook them until they’re firm, about 6-7 minutes if you’re cooking 2 full lbs at once, stirring intermittently.  When they’re done, transfer to a plate in a single layer to cool for a bit.  After they’ve cooled, you’ll want to chop them up into pieces to be stirred into the dip.  I recommend medium sized pieces, because you don’t want huge hunks or sawdust-sized shrimp.
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     “‘Sup girl?”
  2. Next, mix all other ingredients together.  I used a hand mixer to ‘cream together’ the cream cheese, lemon, and mayo.  It really makes the dip so much smoother.  I added in the cheeses, about 4 tbsp. of parsley, and the tarragon and mixed by hand.  Then, I folded in the shrimp until the mixture was even.  After your ingredients are in, add salt and pepper to taste, and don’t be afraid to season! Salt makes food taste GOOD. If you find the mixture to be too rich, you can add additional lemon juice to cut it.

  3. I spread my dip out in an ungreased 13″ X 9″ pan, and it worked well.  If you want to use a smaller, deeper pan, feel free.  I  sprinkled extra mozzarella cheese on top (because when is there ever really too much cheese?) Bake for 15-25 minutes, depending on how deep your dish is.  I did 15 minutes for a 13″ X 9″, because the layer was fairly thin; if using a deeper dish, go for the extra time.  

    Here’s the key to making this dish look real fuckin’ fancy: broil it.  Now, it doesn’t take too long, and you’ll definitely want to keep a close eye on it while it’s in there to avoid over-browning or burning.  I did mine for about 5 minutes on high, rotating the pan half-way through.  It got perfectly browned, and a bit crispy on the edges.  My kitchen smelled HEAVENLY.  After taking it out, take that leftover fresh parsley that you are no doubt wondering why is still lurking on your cutting board, and sprinkle it over the top evenly.  It really gives the dip a nice flavor, and it looks beautiful.

  4.  Serve with whatever chip-like vessel you like.  I used tortilla chips, but hell, this stuff would be good even on a pork rind. I’ll let you try that though.   

Crafty Modifications

There are countless ways to modify this dish to ‘make it your own’ and suit it to the likes of you and your guests.  A few of my suggestions are as follows:

A) Mushrooms.  Yeah, mushrooms get a bad rep, falling victim to constant shit-talking by less-adventurous tastebuds.  BUT, I beg you to reconsider.  For one, mushrooms have a meaty texture that works well as a meat replacement in many dishes, and they add an earthy quality to whatever you’re cooking while taking on the flavors of what they’re in.  I would saute them in a bit of olive oil and fresh chopped garlic, then add to the dip before baking. 

B) Spinach.  I would use fresh spinach as opposed to frozen, simply to avoid the extra water that comes with frozen produce.  You can saute it, or chop it up and add to the dip before baking.  Garlic, spinach, shrimp, and creamy goodness always go together, so take advantage of it! Besides, its a vegetable so maybe it will make you feel less guilty about the calorie content of this baby. 

C) Onion.  Depending on how much you and your kinfolk savor this tear-inducing bulb, add to taste.  Sauteing would be smart, as would simply using dried onions or onion powder.  Use in moderation; onion can overpower the dish if you go overboard, and you definitely don’t want to put the shrimp or garlic flavors in the corner.  Nobody puts Baby in a corner. 

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You’ll feel like Jennifer Grey (pre-rhinoplasty) when you eat this Garlic Shrimp Dip, and so will your friends.  It will be as if Patrick Swayze’s bulging arms are holding you by the waist, lifting you to the heavens while you wear a surprisingly fashionable dress, considering the time period.

Enjoy, and once more…

THE PATRIOTS MADE HISTORY. 

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There Might Be Plastic in My Rice Krispy Treats, and I’m Okay with That.

In prepping for tomorrow’s Superbowl in which the Patriots spank the Falcons, I decided to make Rice Krispy treats with Simon.

NFL: New England Patriots at Dallas Cowboys 

Whatever.  I know he’s not playing.  Don’t hate on my gratuitous Gronk post when you’re probably going to see the new “50 Shades of Idiot” when it comes out.  I digress. 

For those of you that aren’t aware, my son Simon has ADHD.  Not the kind of ADHD where he just gets a little sidetracked – the kind where he has very little impulse control, where he constantly fidgets, he gets very hung up on things like accuracy and obsesses over details.  It’s *kind of* similar to high functioning autism (autism parents, please don’t crucify me for the comparison – I respect the hell out of you and I’m in no way saying ADHD is equated to autism).  He has an intelligence that is, literally, almost off the charts.  He excels in reading, and despite being in first grade he does second grade work; third grade work for math.  He can even divide. He’s six; I didn’t learn to divide ’til I was like 10, and I’m not even a dumbass. Kid got skillz. Thus far in his short little life, he’s been primarily obsessed with trains.  He can tell you more about trains than anyone else without an engineering degree. I’ve actually seen the kid have a conversation with a retired Union Pacific train engineer, it was magnificent. He knows details of mechanics that make me step back and think, “Damn, I have given birth to a reincarnate of Rain Man.”

ANYWAY.  It’s hard for him to stay on task more often than not.  In fact, we have a little saying around our house – “Stay on the rails! Don’t get off track!” (Get the train reference? Believe it or not it helps).  I’ve also found that saying “Hocus Pocus” to him helps Simon remember what he should be doing, as he responds with “Time to Focus!”  

So he really likes patterns and steps, and it’s good to give him activities that provide this kind of structure.  

If you or someone you love has a child with ADHD in your/their life, these links might help; I’ve definitely found them to be helpful and eye-opening.

Don’t Punish Them

Falling Letters

What better way to give him positive reinforcement and structure than helping Mommy bake?

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He was SO eager to help, it made me really happy.  He carried a chair over to the stove, and helped me stir the marshmallows in the pot after we melted the butter.  He loves sprinkles, so I let him add some to the melting marshmallows.  When I say “add some”, my brain envisioned a few dashes in the pot.  Nope, he straight up disrespected that bottle of sprinkles and DUMPED them in.  I’m not sure how many of you are well versed in Color Theory, but a melted rainbow looks kind of…well…grey.  Sigh.  Who gives a shit? Simon was delighted.  It was great to see him follow along, and he asked questions about why we melted the marshmallows on such low heat, why they melted slowly, etc.  This was truly a great activity for him that didn’t last too long. (Later on I taught him how to make a grilled cheese! He really enjoys cooking, and it’s so cute seeing him stand on a chair to help!)

The end product was a semi-periwinkle mass of Rice Krispy treats peppered with un-melted sprinkles.  I’m dubbing it “Unicorn Krispies”; I mean, it does kind of look like a drunken wayward unicorn broke into my house and shat in a 13X9″ pan.  I’m sure it tastes equally delightful.

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As we began to clean up, I noticed the spatula was…different than when I started.  The normally black, plastic spatula was now coated in sticky unicorn feces and…was missing a few chunks of plastic.  It looked like someone took two tiny bites out of the spatula.

 “Fuck, are there pieces of plastic in my krispy treats?!”  

Simon swears up and down he didn’t bite the spatula, so I immediately begin searching the pans for rogue pieces of plastic.  I HAVE to find these plastic pieces of terror; what if someone bites into one?  Or chokes?  I mean honestly, there are few things more white fucking trash than knowingly bringing dessert that’s riddled with spatula shrapnel.  Like, I guess bringing over a pot of chili with flakes of my meth scabs in it would top that, but man, it’d be close.  I may as well put on a Shinedown t-shirt and Betty Boop pants and start the pot of 5-Alarm with a cold Colt 45 by my side.

(P.S.  I don’t do meth.)

(P.P.S.  But I will drink a Colt 45.)

I frantically looked all through the pan and didn’t see anything, so I resounded myself to my laptop, Spotify, and a cold beer.  After they cooled, I cut them into pretty small pieces and inspected those too.  Nothing.  It’s a god damned mystery; it’s like the pieces of plastic just evaporated into thin air.

…Meh. It’ll be fine.

I don’t know what is more emboldenly white trash; the fact that there are probably pieces of shrapnel in my Unicorn Krispies or that I’m too white trash to sufficiently care.

Go on, throw that shade, bitches.  I’m just over here with a cold beer like :

chuv1y8veaa0gk4

 

 

 

Replacement – a semi-serious reflection

I saw this prompt and initially thought, “What the hell am I supposed to write about Replacement?  What a shitty topic.” However after some reflection, I think it has actually been a pretty constant part of my life…and probably yours too.

Replacement is an inevitable part of life.  Some people hear the word and think of hip or knee replacements…some people who hated themselves enough to voluntarily watch a Keanu Reeves movie may recall 2000’s “The Replacements.”  For me, the term brings to mind change.  An evolution of sorts.  Replacement often has such a negative connotation but there can be so much positivity in these shifts and changes; it all depends on your perspective.

I’ve been replaced.  I’ve been replaced by other friends, other girlfriends, other employees, but I’ve also done my fair share of replacing; and let me tell you, damn it feels good.  I replaced an ex husband with a man that loves my son and I fiercely.  I have replaced shitty jobs with better opportunities that provided a better life for myself and my child, as well as opened doors to interests I never would have pursued (like cooking! White trash or otherwise).  I have replaced bad habits, self destruction, and wrong paths with inspiration and direction.  Replacement, for me, has been initially bitter but so very sweet in the end.

I have learned not to fear change, not to dread the inevitability of being replaced or having to do the replacing.  Embrace it, because there is always a lesson to be learned; life is a series of learning opportunities.  You can either take advantage of the situation at hand and turn it into something productive, or you can refuse the knowledge life is attempting to impart you with and remain a wayward turd, lost in a stagnant septic system.

 

 

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Replacement