Country Wonderland


‘On Cooking’

I have the opportunity to work from the comforts of my home when I don’t have in person meetings. Which is great, but sometimes it means I don’t take the time I should for lunch. I do however usually cook something with whatever I have around the kitchen.

Last week I was craving a taco and had shrimp in the freezer (courtesy of my local BJs. If you have read the Lemon Garlic Chicken recipe, you know this isn’t a shocking detail at all. I’m literally a walking BJs ad.) Here’s the recipe and my interesting techniques likely NOT master chef approved (although I haven’t died yet – just sayin’).


Quick Shrimp Lunch Taco’s (roughly 10-12 mins)


  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil (See BJs brand – I used this one since it has a hint of coconut flavor – There’s another kind if you don’t like the flavor of coconut by LouAna that doesn’t have any hint of flavor or coconut scent)
  • Shrimp – 4 per Taco (For this recipe I did 14 shrimp – It is what was left in the bag so I could eat extra shrimp as a snack later!) I used frozen Extra Jumbo Uncooked Shrimp (Yep – BJs!).
  • Chopped Onions (literally just two shakes or more or less based on your liking – and remember – working on 10 min quick lunch taco’s – I didn’t have time for cutting an onion)
  • Garlic Powder (about 1 tsp)
  • Parsley (just a pinch aka sprinkle)
  • Pink Salt (just a crack or two – from BJs)
  • Taco Seasoning (1/2 tbsp)
  • Corn Tortillas (I used Guerrero brand – and brace yourself – not from BJs. I got these gems at Shoprite)
  • Any taco toppings you wish to add like avocado, fresh lime wedge to squeeze, jalapenos, corn salsa… anything that tickles your fancy really. I didn’t have anything enticing on hand or time to make corn salsa so I opted to eat the shrimp with corn tortillas alone. I don’t think I would recommend cheese or sour cream. Just doesn’t seem tasty to me.

Now that you have all the players, let’s start with the HOW and some Directions.

  1. Grab your shrimp and place in a small bowl in the sink. Run cold water over the shrimp to thaw them (Pay no attention to the directions on the bag – they don’t tell you to do this) This step is ONLY if you are using frozen shrimp. If not, no need to send them swimming.
  2. The kind of shrimp I get (pictured above) have the shells on, as the water is running to thaw them, peel the shells off and discard. Again – only if you have shells. I get these because they are more cost effective and you can keep the fancy tails on for show in shrimp scampi and the shells add flavor to certain dishes.
  3. Once the shrimp are thawed (takes about the time it does for you to peel) drain the water off and pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel. Toss the shrimp in a bowl.
  4. Place the onion, garlic, parsley, pink salt and taco seasoning in the shrimp bowl and toss to coat (see the coloring – grayish and translucent). wp-1481824491766.jpg
  5. Place the Coconut Oil in the frying pan and place on medium high heat. It melts rather quickly. After two minutes it should be perfectly warm. Toss in the shrimp.
  6. Cook the shrimp until they are pink and white. You do not want translucent or gray looking shrimp. These won’t be delicious unless you are into the raw shrimp thing. I am not. It takes roughly 2-3 minutes per side. Then I toss around for extra good measure. wp-1481824445405.jpg
  7. Warm up the corn tortillas in a frying pan. These ones puff a little when ready. Use high heat for about 30 seconds on each side.
  8. Place shrimp inside tortilla and enjoy! Add anything extra fancy you wish or enjoy as is. I do not recommend flour tortillas with seafood. Just a heads up!

It is a really quick recipe when you don’t have to read through all my commentary. 


I absolutely LOVE when Jim says he wants something to eat. I take it as a challenge. A couple months ago I received the “I want something lemony and garlicy and chickeny”. So  I toss something together and he says “write that one down”. Excitedly, I write it down. Wait about a week or 2 and try it again. When it’s just as yummy during the repeats, I get giddy.

Well, it is about high time I post the Garlic Lemon Chicken recipe!! I’m sure if you choose to Google search, you might end up with something extremely similar BUT I like mine (with my amazing commentary) so in case you are daring enough to try it… here goes!


  • 3 chicken breasts (I go to BJs and buy theirs – $1.99 a pound or less)
  • extra virgin olive oil (for the pan – I have a spray bottle where I add my own)
  • garlic salt (I use a grinder with sea salt and garlic together – from BJs)
  • pepper (yup – the kind in the grinder from BJs – see the theme here?)
  • flour (enough to coat chicken) plus 1 tbsp for sauce set aside
  • 1 lemon (you’ll be zesting and juicing)
  • 1/2 small vidalia onion minced or small dices (or any sweet variety will do but I can’t guarantee it’s deliciousness)
  • 1/2 tbsp parsley (I never have fresh parsley but if you do – have at it – you just might need a little more – I think dry is a tad more potent, although I swear I never taste it and only use it for aesthetics!)
  • 5 garlic cloves minced (if you don’t like garlic as much as me, you might want to dial this back some and just go with the lemon and 2 cloves maybe. Oh and if your garlic turns blue-ish green from the lemon, it’s the acidic combination of ‘semi’ fresh garlic aka slightly older but still edible and lemon. It will not kill you. It’s just a mind over blue/green matter at that point. Still tastes just as good. Garlic doesn’t usually turn colors… just a warning in case you ever see it. However if black – likely burnt and needs to start all over again.)
  • 1 cup water (if you want to add more later – that’s okay – I like the sauce thick)
  • 1 tbsp Minor’s chicken base (I LOVE this stuff and I also grab this from BJs – I’m like a BJs ad – they should pay me.)
  • 1/3 stick of butter


  1. Clean chicken breasts of all fatty parts and other parts that don’t look delicious (like veins). Cut the breasts into about fists size pieces. See my photo for my sizes. A fist was the best I could come up with!
  2. Season the chicken breasts with the garlic salt and pepper.
  3. Coat the breasts with flour (easiest to place in a shallow bowl or shake it up in a plastic Ziploc baggy).
  4. Spray 1-3 squirts (or probably 1-2 tbsp) of olive oil into frying pan. Heat pan on medium to high heat. Usually 3 minutes.
  5. Once heated (oil should sizzle when food is placed) toss in onion and stir around for 2 minutes. Remove and place in bowl. You’ll add these back in when you place the rest of the liquid in.
  6. Spray with oil if none is left in the pan. Place all breasts and leave alone for 5 mins. Then flip again for 5 minutes. Flip again for another minute and make sure your heat is lowered now to a low medium. Your chicken should be close to no pink by now. If not, cook a smidgen longer.
  7. Toss the butter into the frying pan. (I take the 1/3 stick and cut into 4 pieces and spread strategically around the pan).
  8. While the chicken breasts are cooking on low medium heat, it is time to get ready for the sauce. In a small bowl (I use a Pyrex measuring cup) combine water, chicken base, minced garlic cloves, zest of 1 lemon, juice of 1 lemon, parsley, flour and mix together.
  9. Toss the lemon halves in the frying pan.
  10. Gently pour mixture over the chicken and add onions back to pan.
  11. Reduce heat to a simmer and let sit for 10 minutes until chicken is fork tender and fully cooked through.

I usually serve with homemade pasta.

Enjoy and make sure you comment any variations! I’d love to hear them.


Saturday I made “Santa Wonderland” Cream Puffs by a lucky mistake. I hope my mistake actually happens again tomorrow morning when I make cream puffs for my coworkers for our first annual “Pot Luck Luncheon”.

If my happy little mistake works again in the morning, I’ll post the regular what I was supposed to do recipe (you know where they are cream filled INSIDE the puff) and the OOPS! “Santa Wonderland” puff version where I had flat puffs for Santa hats and Christmas tree squares .

Cross your fingers – because I am – for once – hoping to mess up again!


I like to experiment and test things out!1124161810a-1 You’ll see random updates as I work my way through self teaching of culinary fundamentals. The majority will be from my own brain with a bit of help from the culinary textbook ‘On Cooking’. And I have to admit, my great grandmother, granny and mother have taught me a lot as well. Plus I’m a perfectionist so I stalk my food. No burnt cookies here. Ever. Okay, maybe not ever because I am a bit scattered and distracted A LOT so it has been known to happen.

The photo you see here is from my Granny’s birthday cake. She didn’t want “no dumb cake” so I whipped up some cream puffs in four flavors, hit a toy store for a Western horse and cut one of the boxes I was supposed to use for moving to make a birthday cake that wasn’t like one she’s ever seen.

It was a huge hit. She took the whole box home. I had to print a photo I took on my cell and off she went to show off her ‘birthday cake’. I hope I’m still that cute when I am 40 years older.

This moment is what started my idea of blogging about the things I might experiment with and learn throughout my culinary journey. Enjoy!

PS – I’ll post the cream puff recipe the next time I make them (in a couple weeks for a holiday party). This way I can show you step by step how to do it. Everyone loves visual images when baking! (Okay, maybe not everyone, but I sure do!)

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