with the hub off on an overnight business trip and loath to swing through a drive-thru for dinner, i decided to pick up some goodies and make dinner for one. usually, solo meals at home consist of such delicacies as spaghetti-o's (with meatballs, of course), bacon & eggs, top ramen, or the ever-popular hot pocket. sometimes pepperoni pizza, other times ham & cheese. oh-so-healthy, yes?
but not this time. oh, no. i'd hoped to find those lovely slipper lobster tails on sale again, but alas, it was not to be. so i settled for a cluster (maybe two) of snow crab legs, and feeling feisty, threw in a half pound of shrimp. the hub isn't a huge shrimp fan, which is crazy talk, yes?
after perusing my bookmarked recipes for idea, i decided to go with this one from pioneer woman's blog for "spicy shrimp." i'd always been leery of this because, although it sounded super scrumptious, it was one of those "a dash of this, a pinch of that" recipes. and i'm terrible with those. i really have to have precise measurements to feel comfortable! have i said that before? i can't remember. oh, well. you'll just have to suffer through my occasional senior moments.
but as i scrolled down the entry and drooled over her fabulous photographs, i read her recommendation to have a loaf of french bread handy for sopping up the sauce. well, hell. i'd already been to the grocery store and didn't really feel like going again. but remember, i'm a resourceful kinda girl. armed with my newfound confidence with yeast and breadmaking, i googled for a recipe and settled on this one for french bread rolls "to die for." i'm serious. that's really what it's called - click on the link!
unlike the brioche recipe, this one gave a precise temperature to have the water at for soaking the yeast in. so i busted out my candy thermometer and heated it till it read exactly 110 degrees, poured in the yeast and sugar, and let it sit for a while. and after about 10 minutes, i realized that this is what it was supposed to look like yesterday!
whoops. well, now i know. next time i make those brioche buns, they'll be even lighter and fluffier, methinks. i mixed it in with my bread flour, all-purpose flour, and a little vegetable oil. oh, and some salt.
i was afraid i'd made a mistake in measuring my flour (i'd halved the recipe again), because it took a little while to get it all combined, but finally, it was just right. i tossed it onto my counter with a little flour and kneaded the dough until it was smooth and elastic, just like it said in the directions. here it is, with a little nonstick spray on it, ready to sit in a warm, dark corner to rise.
and an hour later, it'd more than doubled in size. i don't know if this part is ever not going to be totally cool to me.
i decided to make four little loaves instead of eight rolls, but as i cut the disk in fourths, they were oddly shaped and i ended up with...little spaceships.
eighteen minutes in the oven, and i'm convinced i can totally market these to trekkies or something. or perhaps make them for valentine's day. i'm still not sure which way i want to go here.
it was time to assemble the shrimp. and as i took out the little package from the seafood counter, i realized two things: half a pound of shrimp isn't very much, and the guy had charged me for shrimp one size smaller. heh. well, i did have a really good hair day...
about twelve minutes under the broiler, and i pulled out this tray of buttery, fragrant goodness.
anticipating that the bean wouldn't eat the shrimp, i made her a tried-and-true meal:
i'd pulled all the meat out of the crab clusters, sliced up some cucumber, and tossed it in with this recipe for japanese cucumber salad. a little sweet, a little sour, a whole lot delicious.
my french bread wasn't very fluffy, but at least it was pretty and not too crusty. it wasn't bad, and it smelled heavenly, but i think i'll keep looking for a better recipe. or stick to the brioche buns.
the bean (who, as predicted, wrinkled her nose at the bites of shrimp i tried to give her) reached for a piece, and took a few bites before playing with it and ultimately tossing it to the dog. heh. my feelings weren't hurt. poo.
i stuffed myself silly and was quite a happy camper. later, after the bean went to bed, i returned to the kitchen yet again to make myself a little treat. well, actually, a treat meant for the next morning: vanilla-almond rice pudding. as the blog author says, if one can boil up some oatmeal with milk, toss in some sugar, and call it breakfast, i sure as hell can't imagine why rice pudding can't serve in the same capacity.
i poured the milk, sugar (after reading some of the comments, i decided to toss in an extra 1/8 cup, because i like my rice pudding on the sweet side), fancy-schmancy arborio rice, and bay leaf (yes, a bay leaf. weird, huh?) into a saucepan and turned on the flame.
as it came to a slow boil, i decided that this was the perfect use for my vanilla bean that i'd saved from my homemade marshmallow making last week. being a total cheap ass, i hadn't been able to bring myself to throw it away after scraping the seeds out, and had put it back in the container. i figured that since the recipe called for half of a bean, and i had a whole one that still had a good amount of seeds in it, it'd all even out. and that bean must have been thrilled to be remembered, because look: it's smiling.
i know, i know: wah wah wah.
while it took a lot longer to thicken up than in the directions, the rice finally puffed up and soaked in the liquid (it took almost an hour of constant stirring and checking). i turned off the heat, mixed in some almond extract, removed the bay leaf and vanilla bean (i finally put the latter out of its misery and tossed the soggy, sticky carcass in the trash), and took a bite.
hot damn. this is going to make one fabulous breakfast. well, maybe two. even three, if i hold myself back a little. i seriously had to force myself to put the container away.