Crisco is weird.
I mean, what IS it exactly? I envision housewives of the ‘50s, frying up chicken or pork chops, all sizzley in a skillet of lard-y Crisco. Not that those things sound bad- but certainly not healthy and not something I use regularly when baking. But before we get to that…
John left this morning for a business trip.
It’s just a short one. Cholula and I have BIG PLANS to work on wedding thank you notes, fold a mountain of laundry, watch chick flicks, and soak in some no-snow-yet sunshine. Something will have to be done about the boxes taking over the living room (packaging FAIL). And there are many, many toys to be played with.
I knew I wanted to make a yummy dinner for John before he left, and we had been lacking in the sweets department since returning from Tahiti. You know what that means…
Double-whammy in the kitchen!
Before I get to our supper, let’s talk about DESSERT. Good stuff first!
Today I did a little poking around Pinterest, looking for something sweet to make. Have you checked out my Food board? There are more drool-inducing desserts on there than anyone can handle. I LOVE THAT. I selected the Puffy Vanilla and Peanut Butter Chip Cookies by (Averie Cooks) by the photos alone . It wasn’t until I had already gotten an enthusiastic “YES!” from John to make them that I started writing out my shopping list and realized two things:
- There was no butter involved in this cookie recipe. WHAT?!
- Crisco was first on the ingredient list.
I have a confession: I truly love a trip to the grocery store. What a privilege to live in this country where, within our neighborhoods, we can leisurely stroll up and down aisles filled with every food item we could want, toss them into our cart, and purchase them! I love a full refrigerator. I love a stocked pantry. I love taking my time with my list, selecting the goods from the shelves, envisioning the fabulous meals I will create- and the smiles that will result.
But I’d never reached for Crisco before.
I opted for the ‘butter flavored’ kind and just went with it. It’s vegetable shortening, not a heart attack. I snatched up a new Christmas-only toy for Cholula before heading home to juggle two recipes at once. (She clearly needs more toys. NOT.)
Let’s chat about dinner. I’d been craving a standby recipe that I nicknamed “Pink Pasta.” It’s a dish I saw Giada make on TV years ago, and it’s become a go-to favorite. She calls it Penne with Shrimp and Herbed Cream Sauce. I call it YUM.
The evening involved attempting to simultaneously feed Cholula, cook the humans dinner, set the table, bake cookies from scratch, drink wine, and recite the movie “Sweet Home Alabama” real-time- all at once. I totally succeeded.
Let’s start with dinner, shall we?
John picked up some tasty shrimp at Whole Foods for me. Giada’s recipe is SUPER simple, you guys. There’s very little prep before you start sautéing things in the pan. The ingredients are few. The only odd one to me is CLAM JUICE. (Just go with it. It works.)
First, cook up the pasta. The recipe calls for penne, which works well, but I’ve also used fettuccine or bow-ties before. Whatever you have in your pantry will be great! Set the cooked pasta aside to be used later. While the pasta is boiling, chop up your garlic, fresh basil, and Italian parsley. Prep- COMPLETE.
I start by sautéing up the shrimpies in hot olive oil with fresh chopped garlic, cracked pepper, and garlic salt. When the shrimp turn that lovely pink color, take them out of the pan, leaving the garlic behind. Toss a can of diced tomatoes in, along with half of the parsley and basil. Shake a decent amount of crushed red pepper flakes in now, too (gauge your own SPICE level).
After a couple of minutes, add some white wine, the clam juice, and heavy cream. Let this mixture simmer away and thicken up for a bit. Then, in go the shrimpies!
The recipe calls for too little Parmesan cheese, in my opinion. I probably triple the amount. Stir most of it into the shrimp sauce, which is now a light shade of pink. Also stir in the cooked pasta and most of the herbs- I like to save some to sprinkle on top of each serving, with a bit more Parmesan.
How scrumptious is this?!
Thank you, Giada!
All this time, I’d been baking batches of cookies. Let’s revisit the name: Puffy Vanilla and Peanut Butter Chip Cookies. PUFFY. They sounded decadent- and perfect to pack up for John’s day of travel to remind him of home.
The ingredients were familiar, aside from the Crisco. I literally pretended it was butter and JUST MADE COOKIES.
I pause in the process to reveal to you my bowl drawer – with THREE hand mixers. Why on Earth, you ask?
EGGNOG. ‘Tis the season for John’s family recipe, dating back to the 1800’s. Multiple mixers are required. Stay tuned for the NOG extravaganza in December!
As we finished our bowls of pasta, the warm cookies tempted us from the cooling rack.
The texture of these cookies is soft on the inside, crisp on the outside- basically, perfect. Cinnamon and peanut butter chips combine into a mouthful of DELISH, and- truth?- I didn’t miss the butter.
Let’s just say that John’s got a pocket full of puffy cookies- and he’s not complaining.
Have you cooked with Crisco? Tell me about it!