Demented Ramblings life is too short to refrain from eating jam out of the jar


Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil!

I recently threw out some dinner ideas to the husband and he dismissed some of them as being too heavy. I stay inside all the time, I forget that we should change up dinners based on the weather. It's pretty much always 70F in my world, I forget about the people who spend time outdoors. So, to Pinterest! I searched for some summer meals and came across this one. The husband loves a shrimp boil, but I hate how the corn sucks up the peppery boil packet flavors. This recipe calls for preboiling the potatoes and corn, so it doesn't cook as long in the boil flavors. Plus, no boil packet. And the house doesn't get all hot and humid.

I halved everything except the butter mixture. That I left as is. It made just enough for two that way. Now, I'm thinking I'll repeat the meal since I have half of everything but shrimp and corn left over. That's a short trip to the store.

  • 1 pound baby red potatoes cut in half
  • 1/2 pound yellow dutch baby potatoes
  • 2 Tbs salt
  • Water for boiling
  • 4 ears corn each cut into 4-6 pieces
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 1/4 cup butter melted
  • 1 Tbs garlic minced
  • 1 Tbs Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 Lb medium shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1 Lb smoked andouille sausage sliced into chunks
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges
  • 2 Tbs fresh parsley chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray, and set aside.
  3. Fill a large pot with water, and salt and potatoes. Bring to a boil.
  4. Cook potatoes until just tender and parboiled, about 8-10 minutes.
  5. Add corn to the boiling water during the last 3 minutes of cooking time
  6. Drain water, set potatoes and put on the prepared baking sheet.
  7. In a small bowl, combine butter, garlic, half the parsley and Old Bay Seasoning.
  8. Add shrimp and sausage and onions to the corn and potatoes and baking sheet
  9. Stir in butter mixture and gently toss to combine, then spread out to make sure everything is in a single layer.
  10. Place into oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, sausage is hot, and corn is tender.
  11. Serve immediately garnished with remaining parsley and lemon wedges.

Are you sure this is diet?

My blood sugar is way high. Like bordering on taking insulin high. I decided it was time to do something about that. Plus, my knee has been bugging me since I gained this last 20 pounds. So, it's time to cut some sugar and lose some weight. I started taking a diet pill and following the diet that came along with it. Well, I was following the diet. For the first couple of days, I followed it closely and was miserable. Today, I've been trying to stick to the spirit of the diet, but also listening to what my body wants.

I decided that I was making shrimp for dinner, so I dug around the diet's website and found a recipe for shrimp etoufee. It wasn't terribly hard to make, we had almost all the ingredients, and the husband liked it. I did too!

Shrimp Etouffee

Makes: 4 Servings

Each serving contains: 1 protein, 0 carbs, 1 veg, 1 fat


• 4 Tbsp olive oil
• 4 Tbsp flour (or rice flour)
• 1 cup onion, diced
• 1/2 cups celery, diced
• 1/2 cups bell pepper, diced
• 4 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 tsp thyme, chopped
• 2 cups chicken broth
• 1 cup tomato, diced
• 1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning (I used Tony Chachere's)
• 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
• 1 lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined
• 2 Tbsp lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
• Hot Sauce, sea salt & pepper to taste


1) Add the Olive Oil to a large sauce pan over medium heat. When Oil is hot, sprinkle in
the flour while mixing and simmer, stirring frequently, about 10-20 minutes.
2) Add the onion, celery and peppers, garlic, thyme, broth & tomatoes to the pan and cook for about 8-10 minutes.
3) Add Cajun seasoning and Worcestershire sauce and simmer for 20 minutes.
4) Add the shrimp and simmer until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
5) Add lemon juice and season with hot sauce, sea salt and pepper to taste.

I served it over a half cup of brown rice, adding 1 carb serving to the mix. It was so good that I really want to do it again.

I wanted to share this here, as I may want to make it again. It's "diet approved" but doesn't taste like diet food.


plague life

We eat damn well for end times. All this working from home has left me more energy for cooking, plus we've not been able to go out, so I cook more. When the whole lockdown started, we stocked up on ramen and tuna and soup. Things we could make easily. We've barely touched any of it. Instead, I've been going to the grocery about once a week and getting as much meat as I can get my hands on. I'll admit, it's been a lot of burger and chicken, and sometimes I've gotten into a rut. I can't tell you how many times I've made hamburger steaks with onion gravy. It's been a lot.

This week, I found a nice pork tenderloin. Actually, two in a package. At lunchtime today I mixed up a quick balsamic marinade and left one to mingle until after work. The other I slid into the freezer for next week. This was such a yummy marinade, I found it via Pinterest. Pinterest is good for dinner ideas.

The recipe called to grill the tenderloin, but it was raining cats and dogs at dinner time. So, I slipped it in the oven. And thank goodness, I actually had the forethought to line the pan with foil. Otherwise I'd have been scrubbing all evening.

Balsamic Grilled Pork Tenderloin

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 small pork tenderloin
  1. In a ziplock bag combine honey, Dijon, vinegar, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Add the pork tenderloins.
  2. Seal the bag and shake a little to coat the pork with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to overnight.
  3. Heat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Remove the pork tenderloin from the marinade and place onto the grill. Or in my case, I put them into a 400F oven on a pan lined with foil.
  4. You can brush the pork tenderloin with the marinade in the bag while grilling. Turn every 5 minutes or until the pork has reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees F., about 18 minutes. Or a little over 20 in the oven.

I served it with baked potatoes and caprese salad. It was scrumptious!


from the vaults

There was previously a recipe linked here that I loved and the website died. Sadness, I'd lost my recipe! And so many other yummy things, lost to the aether.

I did some digging around, because I was craving it and found something close. I actually combined a couple of recipes to get here. I won't be silly enough to link them again, I'll just post the recipe.

Sesame chicken bites

  • 2 pounds chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dried minced onion
  • 1 cup (*) panko
  • 1/2 cup (*) sesame seeds
  • olive oil
  • salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425F.

Mix mayonnaise with dry mustard and minced onion. Mix this with the chicken pieces.

In another bowl, mix panko and sesame seeds. Toss coated chicken pieces in the dry mix, a few at a time and put onto a foil lined pan. When all the chicken is coated, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Bake 15-20 minutes.

* I have never used just 1 1/2 cups of the dry mixture, I've always had to mix up more. Maybe I really pack it on the chicken bites. Also, I think it depends on how small you cut your chicken. My pieces are always pretty small, like popcorn chicken.

We like to serve this with au gratin potatoes, something cheesy so you can dip the chicken in the cheese sauce.



When I was a kid, we went to my Gran's every year for Christmas without fail. My neighbors had a leisurely Christmas, in their jammies, playing with their new toys. I was jealous of this. I liked hanging with my family, but longed to spend the day at home.

Sometime about 1992 or so, I don't remember the exact year, when I was about 19 and responsible for getting myself to Gran's, it snowed something fierce. So, I opted to stay home. I had a lovely time playing in the snow with my BFF who lived next door.

When it came time for dinner, I decided to get fancy. I had heard of "40 Garlic Chicken" but never had it. I didn't have a recipe and this was pre-internet, so I decided to just wing it.

I took one lone chicken breast and covered it with 40 cloves worth of granulated garlic, a whole bottle. Then I baked it. This was the most horrible thing to ever pass my lips. I took one bite and threw it in the trash.

Here we are, however many years later and I decided to give it another shot. Now I have the endless resource of the intarwebs to turn to. I also now know about fresh garlic. So, I searched out something that sounded good. I ended up on Bon Appetit's Chicken with lots of garlic. It doesn't say 40 garlic in the title, but it called for 4 whole heads, so that fit the bill. I made this for Christmas dinner this year with mashed potatoes and green beans.


4 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick; about 2½ lb. total)
Kosher salt
4 heads of garlic, halved crosswise
1 lemon, thinly sliced into rounds, seeds removed
1 red chile (such as Fresno), quartered lengthwise, seeds removed if desired
3 bay leaves or 5 sprigs thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Country-style bread, toasted (for serving)

Preheat oven to 325°. Place chicken in an 13x9" baking dish and season generously all over with salt. Add garlic, lemon, chile, bay leaves, and a few grinds of pepper. Pour in oil and toss everything to coat. Turn garlic heads cut side down so they are in contact with the baking dish (this will help them brown).

Roast chicken, rotating pan once, until meat is almost falling off the bone, 75–90 minutes. Let chicken cool in pan 10 minutes, then serve with bread.

I feel I've been redeemed. This was delicious! The sweet husband loved it. I loved it. An all around winner. I may make it again and not wait almost 30 years for my next try.


a tiny light in the darkness

I don't want to jinx anything, but I may be ascending from the depression. At least slightly. At least, I made a craft project and have cooked a couple of good meals. I am putting in some effort!

Let's do this in chronological order, shall we?

Valentine's Day marked mine and Sparks' 13th dating anniversary. I know we have a wedding anniversary, and we celebrate that too, but we still celebrate the first anniversary. I decided that I wanted to make scallops for dinner. Fresh Market complied by having some gorgeous sea scallops. I seared those and made a beurre blanc. I sort of lazied out on the beurre blanc though and didn't strain it. We both like shallots though, so I didn't see it being a big deal. And it wasn't. I also roasted some asparagus and made a quick couscous. At least this time I didn't brown the butter while making the sauce. While I was making dinner, Sparks cleaned off the end of the table so that we could eat at the table "like fucking adults" (my words, not his). The beurre blanc was so good that I just ladled it over the whole plate. It's good with seafood, it's good with asparagus, and couscous always benefits from a sauce. Scrumptious! Followed it up with tiramisu from the bakery counter of Fresh Market. I love Fresh Market!

Then, while the table was still mostly cleaned off, I decided to finally start on the quilt I'd been wanting to work on for a while. My cousin was about to become a grandma! If she wasn't already older than me, this would seal the deal. It's been a while since I was excited about a craft project, but cousin's daughter is a barrel racing cowgirl and was about to have a little cowgirl of her own. I wanted to do a cowgirl themed quilt. I found some fabric on Etsy that fit the bill. So, this past weekend, I threw together a Trip Around The World quilt. Here's the photos over on instagram! I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. I dropped it at the post office on Tuesday and it arrived right after baby girl did!

I moved the sewing machine and stuff so that we could eat at the table like adults again. Last night, I was feeling steaks. That always means another trip to Fresh Market, their butcher counter is lovely! I got a couple of chateaubriand cut filet mignons. Filet is my steak of choice, I won't eat fat and get grossed out if any of it touches my tongue, so I just avoid it as much as possible by doing filet. I cook them simply, just sear both sides and slide them in the oven with a meat thermometer. It seems that if I cook them to 135, they carry over just enough to be a good medium. That would gross out my mom (she likes hers well done) but it's perfect for Sparks and me. While the steaks were in the oven, I made balsamic mushrooms. I'll copy the recipe below, I definitely don't want to lose this one like I have some others on the intarwebs. And kismet! TFM had organic baby bellas for $1 a package! While the steaks were resting, I made a cognac cream sauce to go over them. It was good, but made way too much. I think next time I'll just add enough cream to the pan to make sauce, not the whole carton. It also wouldn't take as long to cook down that way. Add to all this a couple of bakers with butter and sour cream. The steaks were so good that Sparks threatened to weep. *laughs* No fancy dessert this time, but we had some Entemann's chocolate doughnuts in the kitchen.

I woke up this morning excited to come update my blog. Maybe I'm not dead, after all.

Balsamic Mushrooms and Onions


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound white button mushrooms halved
1 onion sliced
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


- In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and onion; sprinkle with salt and stir to combine.
- Reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook until liquid is released from mushrooms, about 5 – 7 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms and onions are softened and browned, about 3 -5 minutes.
- Add balsamic vinegar and stir until mushrooms and onions are coated evenly and the vinegar is heated through.


dead from lack of interest

I think the depression has a serious hold on me. It seems that no matter how much wellbutrin I take, it keeps it's hold. Today though, I feel a bit perky. Probably because for the first time in months things at work are going my way.

Life on the homefront is quiet. I'm too quiet, mom says. I just don't seem to have an interest in anything. No craft project has called to me since the wedding flowers, which I think I didn't even bother posting. I made gorgeous paper flowers which I turned into a bouquet with some brooches. But since then, not much of anything. I've even given up knit night. But a big part of that is this newfound driving anxiety that plagues me. Plus, I don't see so well after dark these days. My eyes are getting old.

Man, I'm just a bucket of sunshine.

But last night I was struck with dinner inspiration. I love when I get inspired to use up leftovers. Back over the weekend, I made a standing rib roast. It was delicious but pricey and we only ate about half of it. I thought about making a stew with it, but last night got an inspiration to make beef stroganoff. It's one of the husband's favorite things. Let me tell you, prime rib stroganoff is where it's at! I turned that leftover meat which probably would have been left to rot into another meal, that's awesome.

No recipe, I just sort of winged it. That's my favorite way to cook anyway.


sweet chili burning

Ok, the burning only occurs when one adds Sriracha, aka Hipster Ketchup. Otherwise it's just sweet and garlicky and yum.

I found this recipe via pinterest and have been eyeballing it for a couple of weeks. I finally decided that it was time to make it and Kroger had just the amount of precleaned shrimp that I needed. Kismet! Sparks and I both went back for seconds! Then, a couple of days later, I repeated the recipe with chicken.

I made some changes, adding vegetation. Here's my final recipe:

  • 1 pounds uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon butter (stovetop version only)
  • julienned sweet bell pepper
  • sliced green onion (4)
  • snow peas, trimmed
  • Asian Sweet Chili Marinade

  • 1/4 cup Asian sweet chili sauce (like Mae Ploy)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Glaze:

  • Reserved marinade (in directions)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Garnish

  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • sriracha to taste
  • sesame seeds


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the Asian Sweet Chili Marinade Ingredients. Measure out 1/4 cup and add this to a large freezer bag along with shrimp (the remaining Marinade will become your Glaze). Marinate 30-60 minutes.
  2. STOVETOP DIRECTIONS: Stir-fry veggies until tender in a tablespoon of butter. Remove to a plate.
  3. Melt butter in a large wok over medium high heat. Add shrimp and cook just until opaque, about 3 minutes. Remove shrimp to a plate.
  4. Whisk 1/4 cup water and 2 teaspoons cornstarch to the reserved Marinade/Glaze. Add to wok and simmer until thickened. Add shrimp and veggies and toss to combine.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in sriracha for more heat if desired. Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro (optional).

Motif #1

A few years back, Sparks and I took a vacation in Rockport, MA. I don't remember exactly why I chose Rockport. I think I wanted to hit the area because I'd never been anywhere in the Northeastern US. Rockport was nice though, we stayed in a lovely little B&B which was just a short walk from the beach. It was August, but the water was frigid. Mostly, we wanted to eat our weight in seafood.

The first night there, we arrived a bit late and were hungry. The innkeeper recommended a place down the street and we walked down. I don't remember the name of the restaurant but it sat right on the docks and outside was a little red building referred to as Motif #1. We were informed that it was the most painted/photographed scene in all of the Northeast. I can't tell you much about the restaurant other than the fact that it had the best lobster roll ever (and the first one I ever had!) and this really tasty mixed drink named after the scene outside the window.

We returned from that trip with some serious food inspiration. This was the same trip where I discovered Spiced Tomato Jam and recreated it as soon as I got home. We also worked to recreate the drink that we liked so much while on our trip.

Sadly, I couldn't find the recipe, though I did still remember the ingredients. Lucky for me, which visiting friends this weekend, it turned out that my friend had it written down in her recipe book! I'd better notate it here so that I don't lose it again.


1.5 oz spiced rum
1.5 oz coconut rum
3 oz pineapple juice
.75 oz pomegranate juice

If you really want a kick, float a little 151 on the top. But even without that this is a sneaky drink. It's a smooth fruity thing going down, but packs a wallop.

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Stuffed Bread

Back in the mid to late 80s, there was an Italian restaurant in town called Enza's. I never set foot in the place, but every so often my Pop would bring home a loaf of their stuffed bread for dinner. Enza's has existed in Lexington at various times over the years, most recently they were in Eastland Shopping Center, but they're gone from there now too. Internet research tells me the owner was Enza Morris. The stuffed bread is a loaf of white bread containing 3 meats (at least when my Dad picked them up) and some cheese. You eat it with their marinara sauce.

For the last week or two, stuffed bread has been on my mind. I used to make it back in the mid nineties, and I think I did a fairly good job. I don't think I've made it for the last 20ish years though. I probably burned myself out on it at some point, and then it just disappeared from my brain. I got to the point on friday that I was totally obsessing about it, so I knew for sure that I'd have to make it this weekend. Turns out, I had to make it twice.

The biggest problem with stuffed bread is that you have to know several hours ahead that you want it. It's not hard to make, just time intensive.

It's more method than recipe. So, I'm going to give you the step by step. Some of my pics are sideways, and some of them out of focus, but you're getting them anyway. I'm sure you'll get the drift.