Lunch Specials

Shrimp in Spicy Tomato Sauce

Serves 4

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4 T olive oil
1/4 C sweet onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t flour
1 t paprika
¼ C marinara sauce
¼ C dry white wine, plus 2 T
¼ C clam juice
½ t red pepper flakes
1 t dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 T minced parsley
1 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
Pinch of sugar

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½ pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined

Add 2 T of olive oil to a preheated skillet and sauté onion and garlic until softened. Add flour and paprika and stir blending thoroughly into the onion mix. Add marinara, 1/4 C wine, clam juice, red pepper, thyme, bay leaves, parsley, s&p and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Sauce should thicken slightly.

In a separate preheated skillet, add remaining 2 T of olive oil. Add shrimp to skillet. Sprinkle with salt and cracked pepper. Sauté over medium high heat until just cooked through. Add cooked shrimp to the tomato mixture and deglaze the shrimp pan with 2 T of white wine. Scrape up shrimp bits and cook off alcohol. Add deglazing liquid to tomato/shrimp mix and continue to simmer for 5-6 minutes. Garnish with additional fresh parsley and serve.

The tomato mix can be made ahead.  Then, sauté shrimp prior to service and add to warmed tomato sauce.


Serve with lots of crusty bread for sauce sopping.

Meatballs in Saffron Sauce

Photos show a doubled recipe.

Photos show a doubled recipe.

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Serves 4-6

For meatballs:

1/4 C olive oil
½ pound ground beef
½ pound ground pork
1 slice bacon, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T minced parsley
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 slice bread, soaked in water, squeezed dry
1 ½ t salt
2 t pepper

For sauce:

2 T olive oil
2 T minced onion
2 t flour
1 t paprika
½ C mix of beef and chicken broths
2 T white wine
Several strands of saffron

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1 T minced parsley for garnish

In a bowl, combine beef, pork, bacon, garlic, parsley, egg, bread, and s&p. Thoroughly combine ingredients forming a smooth sticky consistency. Using an ice cream scoop, shape into 1 1/2 inch meatballs. Add olive oil to a preheated non-stick skillet. Brown meatballs completely. Remove meatballs to a paper towel lined plate. Pour off excess oil. Place skillet back onto the stove and proceed with the sauce recipe.

Add remaining 2 T of olive oil to skillet. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add flour and paprika to the skillet. Mix well with pan drippings and onions and cook just a bit. Add broths, wine and saffron strands. Bring to a boil. Lower heat. Return meatballs to the pan. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning with s&p. Garnish with parsley just prior to service.

The recipe can be prepared several days in advance and reheated.

Highmade Meatballs

(makes 23-24 quarter cup-sized meatballs)

4 slices white bread, crusts removed and torn into pieces

1 C buttermilk

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1 ½ pounds ground chuck (80/20)

½ pound ground pork

3 slices prosciutto, finely chopped

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½ C grated parmesan

1/3 C parsley, finely chopped

2 egg yolks

2 T garlic, finely minced

2 t salt

1 ½ t black pepper

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Place bread pieces in a bowl and add buttermilk. Make sure all pieces are coated. While bread is soaking, combine remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Once bread has soaked up buttermilk, add it to the meat mix. Get your hands dirty. Work the mixture until it is well combined. Using a ¼ C ice cream scoop, portion out meat mixture and loosely form them into balls. A ¼ C measure works well too. Place meatballs on a wire rack that has been placed over a cookie sheet. Make sure the wire rack has been sprayed well with non-stick spray. Allow a little room between the balls. Place them into a preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes, rotate and bake for an additional 10 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool for about 10 minutes before you remove them to a paper towel-lined sheet pan for complete cooling. (They can stick a bit to the rack if you let them cool all the way.) At this point, they can be frozen or stored in the refrigerator for use later. For serving, warm them in the chunky marinara sauce until heated through. Meatballs can be cooked on the stove top and browned in a skillet with vegetable oil. I find the baking method easier and definitely less messy. Not a fan of frying in the house.

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Pan sauté polenta in olive oil and butter.

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What could warm you up better than this on a cold night?

Falafel with Salsa Verde and Tomato Salad

(recipe makes 19 falafel)

For falafel:

3 – 15 ounce cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

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1 large jalapeno, seeds removed and finely diced

¼ C cilantro, finely chopped

¼ C parsley, finely chopped

1 egg

Zest of one lemon

2 ½ t cumin

1 t coriander

1 ½ t salt

1 t black pepper

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Egg wash (one egg whisked into a ½ C of milk)

2 C panko

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Vegetable oil for frying

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Place garbanzo beans in a mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher until a mostly smooth consistency is formed. A few pieces are desirable. Add jalapeno, cilantro, parsley, egg, lemon zest, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Mix well. Using an ice cream scoop (1/4 C size), form patties for frying. Dip falafel patties into egg wash shaking off excess. Dip into panko crumbs and coat evenly. Place coated falafel into preheated vegetable oil. (I used a non-stick skillet with about a ¼” depth of vegetable oil. Make sure oil is hot before placing falafel into pan.) You need to listen for a “friendly sizzle”. Make sure oil is not too hot. Even browning is the key. Remove cooked falafel to a cooling rack. These can be made ahead and warmed up in the oven.

For salsa verde:

6-7 tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed

5-6 garlic cloves

½ a large yellow onion, cut into large chunks

1 large jalapeno

1 t salt

Water to cover

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Half a bunch of cilantro

2 T olive oil

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Place tomatillos, garlic, onion, jalapeno, salt and water in a stainless sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables soften. Remove to a container for storage and cooling. Once cooled, place vegetables into a blender reserving the cooking liquid. Add cilantro and olive oil. Puree. Add some cooking liquid if a thinner consistency is desired. Adjust seasoning with more salt, if needed.

For tomato salad:

1 – 10.5 ounce container of cherub tomatoes, halved

½ a red onion, diced and rinsed

2 large jalapenos, seeded and finely diced

2 T parsley, finely chopped

2 T cilantro, finely chopped

1 t salt

2 T olive oil

1 T lime juice

 Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Best mixed just prior to service.

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A dollop of sour cream is a nice touch.

Fish Tacos

(one filet is good for two tacos, open-faced)

Tilapia filets (or catfish)

Taco seasoning


Orange chipotle slaw

Pickled red onions

Crumbled queso fresco

Lime wedges

Cilantro sprigs

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Season fish with salt and taco seasoning. Spray seasoned side of the fish with cooking spray. Place fish on a baking dish that has been coated with cooking spray. Place fish into a preheated 425 degree oven and cook for 14 minutes. Flake fish using a fork. Warm corn tortillas in a dry skillet. Mound slaw, fish, onions, queso fresco, and cilantro onto a warm tortilla. A squeeze of lime and fresh cilantro finish off this favorite!

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Chipotle Shrimp Skewers with Pineapple Serrano Salsa

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For shrimp:

Use 16/20 shrimp. (numbers indicate the approximate shrimp per pound) Peel and devein one pound of shrimp leaving the tails on. Rinse and pat dry. Lightly coat both sides of shrimp with chipotle marinade. Sprinkle each shrimp with salt. Into a preheated sauté pan, add 2 T of olive oil. Place shrimp into pan and adjust heat. Careful not to cook to fast. Chipotle marinade can burn over high heat. A little color is nice, however. Flip skewers over and cook until shrimp are just firm to the touch. Remove to a plate and serve with pineapple/serrano salsa. Summer yum! Grilling is an option too.

For chipotle marinade:

Drop 3-4 cloves of garlic through the feed tube of a food processor while machine is running. Stop machine and scrape down sides making sure the garlic has been well chopped. Add one can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (see Shrimp Quesadiva recipe for picture of can) and zest of one small orange. Process until smooth. This marinade will hold in the refrigerator for 7-10 days. Use it to flavor mayo, as a marinade for pork or beef, or to add zip to your soups. Smokey, fragrant heat!!!

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For pineapple/serrano salsa:

1 C fresh pineapple, diced small

Half of a red bell pepper, diced small

Half of a small red onion, diced small and rinsed

2 serrano peppers, seeded and diced small

Half a bunch of cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 t salt

1 T olive oil

In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Salsa can hold for 2-3 days. Also great on grilled pork.

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2 pounds ground beef, 90/10 mix

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¼ C vegetable oil

1 large yellow onion, diced small

4-5 garlic cloves, finely minced

2 T tomato paste

½ C water

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1 T chili powder

2 t cumin

2 t dried oregano

1 T brown sugar

2 t salt

1 T chipotle puree

Juice of one lime

1 potato, peeled cooked and diced

(Wash potato and prick it all over with a fork. Cook on high heat in a microwave for 5 minutes. Let cool, peel and dice.)

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For tostadas: Brush olive oil on both sides of the corn tortillas. Sprinkle with salt and chili powder. Place in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes until crisp.

In a skillet, brown beef with a pinch of salt and cracked pepper over medium high heat until cooked through. Remove meat to a paper towel lined plate and pour off fat. Wipe out pan and place back on the stove. Over medium high heat, add oil. Once it is shimmering, add onion and garlic. Once onion becomes translucent, add tomato paste. Reduce heat to medium and mix paste in well. Cook until a deeper color develops and bits begin to stick to the bottom of the skillet. See picture. Add water and scrape up brown bits. Add meat back to the skillet with the remaining ingredients. Cook over a medium heat until liquid is mostly absorbed and flavors have fully integrated. Cover and keep warm for service. Keep meat warm to at least 170 degrees. Meat can store overnight and be reheated with a little water added.

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Chalupa bar?

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To assemble: place corn tortilla on a plate, add meat, green leaf lettuce, avocado tomatillo salsa, pickled red onions, cherub tomatoes, crumbled queso fresco, sour cream, lime and cilantro.

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Queso fresco is a mild, crumbly cheese.


Shrimp Quesadiva

(makes 4 large quesadivas)

¼ C olive oil

5-6 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 pound 31/40 shrimp, peeled and deveined

3 T chipotle puree

1 t red pepper flakes

1 t salt

White wine for deglazing

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4 large flour tortillas

Cheddar/Jack cheese blend, shredded

Cilantro pesto

Olive oil for brushing tortilla

For chipotle puree: Add one small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (see photo) into a blender along with zest from half an orange. Puree until smooth. If necessary, a small amount of water can be added for a smoother texture. This stores in the refrigerator for 8-10 days. Delicious in hamburger meat for burgers or tacos, tasty in soups, or our orange chipotle cole slaw. Many uses. Spicy, smokey, slightly sweet too. I once had white cheddar and chipotle mashed potatoes. Wow.

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For shrimp: place olive oil in a preheated skillet. Swirl it around and add garlic. Careful not to burn your garlic. Let it just release its flavor and then add the shrimp. Add chipotle puree, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook until mix thickens and shrimp become just firm to the touch. Add a splash of dry white wine and reduce. Remove from heat. This step can be done ahead and shrimp can be refrigerated until you are ready to assemble the quesadiva.

Assembling the quesadiva: Spread an even layer of cilantro pesto on half of the tortilla. Leave a border. Add cheese mix (again, leave a border) in a nice even layer. Not too thick. Place 7-8 shrimp on top of the cheese and drizzle a bit of the chipotle drippings on the shrimp. Fold over and brush the top with olive oil. Place top side down in a non-stick skillet that is preheated to a medium – medium low temperature. Careful as they can burn before the cheese has a chance to melt. Brush the other side with olive oil and continue to carefully flip back and forth until a golden crust forms and the cheese is thoroughly melted. Cut into four wedges and serve with mango pico.

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