Buy Shrimp by Count Not Size

December21

Always buy shrimp by count not size. "Count” means the number of shrimp you’ll get per pound. The smaller the number, the bigger the shrimp.

Jewel asks: When I was buying shrimp, I saw the word “count.” What does this mean?

“Count” in shrimp lingo means the number of shrimp you’ll get per pound. This is where size really does matter because the smaller the number, the bigger the shrimp. This is why you should always buy shrimp by count not size.

Sometimes you’ll find a “U” in front of the number 10 or 15. This means there are under 10 or 15 shrimp per pound. Buying shrimp by the count is a good idea because what one store sells as “large” could be sold as “jumbo”  in another store.

Count is usually reserved for raw shrimp, head-on or head-off, de-veined or not, and peeled or unpeeled.

But lately I’ve noticed that some places are selling cooked shrimp with a “count.” Don’t forget that shrimp shrinks once it is cooked, so buy bigger if you can afford it!

Use this handy chart for a loose reference so you’ll always know how to buy shrimp by count not size:

Size of the Shrimp Count or Shrimp per Pound
Small 36-45
Medium 31-35
Large 21-30
Extra Large 16-20
Jumbo 11-15

And once you get those shrimp home, you’re going to need to peel and devein them. Here’s how I do it:

How To Peel and Devein Shrimp

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Nashville Style Hot Chicken

November17

If you love spicy food, I mean, really, really LOVE all things fiery and flavorful, then you’re ready for Nashville Style Hot Chicken.

What makes Nashville Style Hot Chicken so unique is the “sauce” that is brushed, dipped or poured over the chicken just before serving.

I’m telling you, this atomic fried chicken is guaranteed to burn your face off. Ah, the eye-watering pain. The mouth-burning agony. It hurts (and tastes) so good.

Yes, there are a lot of spicy fried chicken recipes out there. But what makes Nashville Style Hot Chicken so unique is the “sauce” that is brushed, dipped or poured over the chicken just before serving. That sauce is so delicious; you have to serve it with a slice or two of good old-fashioned white bread to soak up all the drippy goodness.

Oh, and you definitely need some good pickles to gussy-up the plate. That’s part of the presentation. You don’t want to go to all the trouble of making Nashville Style Hot Chicken and leave off a traditional garnish!

Several (now famous) places in Nashville have been serving Hot Chicken for decades. But as we all know, it only takes one hip website or famous food show star to get the rest of the country clamoring for the next BIG THING RIGHT NOW.

But what in the world is Nashville Style Hot Chicken anyway? How it came into being is absolutely fascinating, but, then again, I love food history and how it defines our culture, and in this case, a city.

Give a read to Dr. Rachel Martin’s post on the website The Bitter Southerner to understand how Nashville’s so-called signature dish stayed hidden in plain sight for so long before exploding into the mainstream.

What makes Nashville Style Hot Chicken so unique is the “sauce” that is brushed, dipped or poured over the chicken just before serving.

Hattie B’s in Nashville, which offers five heat levels, including “Shut the Cluck Up”, inspired my Nashville Style Hot Chicken recipe. I’ve changed it a bit by adding some spices to the flour. Like Hattie B’s recipe, I dredge the chicken pieces (breasts, thighs and legs only) twice in the flour before frying.

But I don’t add quite as much cayenne pepper as Hattie B’s because, well, I may be a little high strung, but I’m not crazy.

Read this recipe all the way through before you begin. I just heard you gasp. That’s right, one of the ingredients in the secret sauce is one cup of the hot oil from the skillet where the chicken is fried.

But, like I always say, you don’t eat like this every day, and I know how much you love fried chicken!

What makes Nashville Style Hot Chicken so unique is the “sauce” that is brushed, dipped or poured over the chicken just before serving.


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Warm Kalette Salad

November6

Presenting! The Fabulous Kalettes!

A delicious different side-dish: a Warm Kalette Salad! This is what happens when kale and Brussels sprouts hook up: a non-genetically modified veggie.

 

No, it’s not a girl group from the ’60s. This is what happens when kale and Brussels sprouts hook up: a non-genetically modified vegetable that’s full of fiber, vitamin C, K and B6.

And, oh, are they delicious, with a slightly sweet and surprising nutty flavor.

Kalettes are also gorgeous. They have crunchy, deep purple stems with soft bright green leaves. I discovered them in a farmers’ market this summer, but since then I’ve seen them at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Melissa’s Produce also carries them, but they call them Kale Sprouts (cute!).

Presenting the fabulous Kalettes! This is what happens when kale and Brussels sprouts hook up: a non-genetically modified veggie full of vitamins and fiber.

Kalettes are great raw in a salad (chop them up a little first), but I also like them grilled, steamed, sautéed or roasted. If you do cook them, watch them carefully so you don’t burn their tiny, delicate leaves.

Besides trimming the ends, and rinsing them in cool water (of course), Kalettes don’t take much prep. This Warm Kalette Salad is fast and simple to make and, with the fresh feta cheese and pomegranate, makes a gorgeous side dish!

They may not be a girl group… but Kalettes ROCK! (Sorry…)

 

A delicious different side-dish: a Warm Kalette Salad! This is what happens when kale and Brussels sprouts hook up: a non-genetically modified veggie.


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What To Do With Leftover Halloween Candy

November1

What to Do With Leftover Halloween CandHere's what to do with all that leftover Halloween Candy! Cook with it, share it or send it to the military!

When I was a kid, Aba let all of us keep every single thing in our trick-or-treat bag.

My brother Gary had an uncanny way of parceling out his candy and then teasing the rest of us later on with his sweet riches. In fact, he’d make his Halloween candy last until Christmas… his Christmas candy last until Valentine’s Day… and his Valentine’s Day candy last until Easter… but then he would go into a dry spell and we’d all laugh.

But I digress.

I know there are a lot of you (the good parents) who don’t want their kids sitting on 6 pounds of creamy chocolate, rich gooey caramel, chewy sweet nougat, or crunchy peanutty peanuts.

So here’s what you can do to whittle down that pile of Halloween candy (you are going to let them have some of it, aren’t you?). My tips on what to with leftover Halloween Candy:

Freeze It

Divide candy into different categories (bars, hard candies, jelly candies, etc.) and put it in different Ziploc freezer bags. Once this task is accomplished, you’ll be able to use it in coming months for:
Thanksgiving: Decorate Turkey Day Dinner place cards with M&Ms and hard candies.
Christmas: Create fantastic Gingerbread Houses decorated, of course, with Skittles, licorice and Tootsie Rolls.
New Year’s Eve: Thaw the candies (especially the candy bars) and fill a piñata.

Share It

If you want to get the candy out of the house, giving it away is a great idea. Decide how much of the loot the kids have to give up and then let them decide which pieces to share. Before you donate, call ahead.
Nursing Homes: Rather than giving the home one large bag, divide the candy into several sandwich-size Ziploc bags. Also, think about taking the candy to a nursing home in an under-served part of town.
Women’s Shelters: Smaller bags are a good idea here, too, especially since some shelters allow younger children to stay with their mothers.
U.S. Military: There are several organizations that facilitate these donations to American Soldiers, but Mama’s favorite is Operation Gratitude. Make sure the kids write a little note thanking the servicemen for their dedication and courage.

Cook With It

How do you make a calorie-bomb cookie even more decadent? Stick a candy bar in the middle and decorate the top with even MORE candy!
Candy Bar Ice Cream Shakes: Chopped-up candy bars, milk, ice cream and a blender. Need I say more?
Cupcake Surprise: Drop a candy bar mini (those teensy-tiny candy bars) into the center of each cupcake before baking. Decorate the top with M&Ms.
Chocolate Dipped Everything: Melt chocolate bars and then dip strawberries, dried apricots and marshmallows… and then roll them each in chopped up Pay Day or Butterfinger candy bars.

A few other ideas

1. Hide most of the bag and dole it out to the kids as you see fit… school lunches, rewards for jobs well done, or heck, just because it’s Friday.
2. Take it to the office.
3. Use it as gift wrap. Wrap a gift with plain paper and tape on candy bars or candy packets.

So, let’s be honest here. How much candy did YOU eat BEFORE Halloween or while you were handing it out to the trick-or-treaters? Mmm-hmmm…. I thought so.  THAT’s why you’re so desperate to get rid of it!


 

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Hi…
I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: mama@mamashighstrung.com.