Fairytale Lemon Basil Shrimp Salad

Today for lunch, I made a lemon basil shrimp salad inspired by a sandwich I had at the Brown Barn Cafe on Overbrook Road in Shavertown. The Brown Barn Cafe is such a wonderful little rustic place to go for lunch or dinner.  It really is in a barn, along with Ah! Some Chocolates and feels like a little farmhouse inside. Their menu changes monthly and everything is homemade. I fell in love with it when I had a grilled peach sandwich there during the summertime.  They also have AMAZING desserts! Be warned, this is actually the Brown Barn’s last week serving lunch, because they are moving to a NEW location where they will be serving dinner exclusively.

The Brown Barn Cafe and Ah! Some Chocolates in Shavertown. 
Strawberry rhubarb tart.
Grilled peach, arugula and Gruyere sandwich. 

Starting on March 6th, they will be teaming up KB’s Coffee House which already provides breakfast and lunch, so the Brown Barn will be serving up their unique homemade dinners. KB’s is located 206 North Main Street, Shavertown, PA. (They are open for Valentine’s Day though and are offering a special dinner. Check them out on Facebook.)

Sausage, cranberry and cheddar quiche.

When I visited this week, I was able to enjoy a beautiful fireside pre-fixe lunch: Thai coconut curry chicken soup, shrimp basil salad, and the richest most decadent piece of salted caramel chocolate cake I’ve ever had. I will def be visiting them for dinner at their new location and wish them the best of luck! Until then, I decided to make my own rendition of their famous basil shrimp salad.

Salted caramel chocolate cake <3 td=””>
Thai coconut chicken soup.

Here is my rendition of the shrimp salad. I know on snow days you’re usually tempted to make something comforting like slow cooker stew or mac and cheese, but I was craving something light that made me feel like I was fireside in the Brown Barn (or maybe even seaside at the shore) and NOT trapped at home in a snowstorm.

The original Brown Barn basil shrimp salad sandwich with chips and marinated cucumbers and dill.
My Lemon Basil Shrimp Salad 
Fairytale Lemon Basil Shrimp Salad Sandwich

1 12 oz bag of small precooked shrimp (71-90 count), peeled and deveined (tail off)
2 large stalks of celery, diced
1./4 cup of fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup of olive oil mayo
1/8 cup of olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Whole grain bread (optional)

If the shrimp is frozen, place it in bowl of cold water for about 10 minutes to thaw. Then drain it and pat dry with paper towels. Place celery in a large bowl and add the shrimp. Season with salt and pepper.

In a small separate bowl, combine the mayo, olive oil and lemon juice and whisk together until smooth. Pour over the shrimp in the large bowl. Add the chopped basil. Gentle toss or stir until it is all combined.

Serve chilled open faced on multigrain bread or in a sandwich.


“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles M. Schulz

The most romantic day of the year is upon us and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that nothing says “I love you” quite like chocolate. I am a die hard lover of chocolate, specifically, dark chocolate.  Nothing hits the spot or quenches a chocolate craving quite like these cookies made with Hershey’s dark chocolate kisses! I am a huge fan of Hershey’s, which is based in Hershey, PA. I have wonderful memories of visits to the Hershey Hotel and the amusement park, Chocolate World. I still remember how excited I was to drive through the town, head hanging out the window because my parents told me I would know when we got there when I could smell the chocolate. The best part was the chocolate ride through the factory and for the complimentary chocolate at the end. And of course, Hershey’s make the best cookies EVER at  Chocolate World. This cookie recipe is taken directly from the back of the bag of Hershey’s dark chocolate kisses, which can be found in any candy aisle. These cookies are the perfect “kisses” for this Valentine’s Day. 
Hershey’s Special Dark Tiger Cookies
(Makes about 4 dozen)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa (or Hershey’s Cocao)
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar
1 bag Hershey’s Kisses Special Dark Chocolates (about 40)

Combine granulated sugar and oil in large bowl; add cocoa, beating until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to cocoa mixture, beating well.

Cover, refrigerate until dough is firm enough to handle, at least 6 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet with Crisco. Shape dough into 1 inch balls (dough will be sticky, you can put some powdered sugar on your hands to ease with handling it.) Roll the balls in powdered sugar to coat. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.

Bake cookies for 11 to 13 minutes or until no indentation remains when toughed lightly and tops are cracked. As soon as you take cookies out of oven, immediately press dark chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. Cool slightly and remove to wire rack. Cool completely.

These last in an airtight container for about 5 days to a week.

I know Thanksgiving is traditionally associated with pumpkin pies, apple pies, pumpkin rolls, and other fall baked treats. But anyone that knows me knows that I don’t (can’t) bake. That doesn’t mean I don’t try though! 
When you fail at cooking, many times you can save your dish by fudging the recipe or adding more ingredients. But baking is so scientific and mathematical, it hinders my natural instinct to want to estimate the measurements of ingredients and add in my own flare to a recipe. So, I did what I do best for my Fairytale Thanksgiving Feast.  I made a rustic baked apple and cranberry crumble.  I also found a way to add in chocolate to this meal. Because for me, that is always the best part! This Fairytale Chocolate Pecan Tart, while technically a baked dessert, is so easy to make and CLEANUP IS EASY. I adopted this recipe from a Cooking Light recipe. The entire thing is prepared in a medium saucepan on the stovetop and thanks to the refrigerated Pillsbury pie crust, it’s almost idiot-proof. And the results are sooo worth it. Believe me, if you like brownies or anything chocolatey, like I do, then you will have to make this tart. I promise it will be a recipe you want to make over and over again!

Fairytale Chocolate Pecan Tart
(Serves 8)
1 cup Nestle’s semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter
3 large eggs, beaten
1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust half (the kind that unrolls!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an old-fashioned metal tart pan OR coat a removable-bottom tart pan with Pam baking spray. Lay the Pillsbury pie crust over the pan and gently press the dough into the sides of the pan. (Don’t force it into the crevices too much – you want to be able to get this tart out!)

Combine brown sugar, flour, salt and corn syrup in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat and whisk together until well blended. Bring mixture to a boil while whisking. Remove from heat and immediately add the butter, chocolate chips and vanilla extract. Stir with a wooden spoon until chocolate is smooth. Stir in the pecans. Let cool for a minute or two and add the egg.

Pour the mixture into the pie crust.  Back in the middle of the oven for a half hour. You can insert the toothpick into the center of the tart. It shouldn’t be wet or clean but have somewhat of a fudgy texture. You don’t want to overcook the tart.

When you remove the tart from the oven, if you are using a metal tart pan, let cool COMPLETELY for at least a half hour. Then gently press a large dish over the top of tart and turn over as you would a jello mold. Tap the tart gently on all sides and then left the metal tart pan away from the tart. It should be upside down on your dish. Invert the tart onto your serving platter.

Serve with a doll-up of cool whip or homemade whipped cream.

I baked! And I was so thrilled it came out to be so delicious! 

I also love to make this Baked Apple Cranberry Crumble. Like my summer specialty Fairytale Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, this is a rustic dish that is easy to make and it’s fun because the measurements are really estimated. Usually I just throw in whatever I have or feel like using for the crumble topping. This dish screams AUTUMN and it’s a sure crowd pleaser! It’s also very portable. Hope you enjoy!

Fairytale Baked Apple Cranberry Crumble
Serves 8

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour 
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 stick of unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/4 cup of old-fashioned oats
1 cup of sliced almonds
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (divided)
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)
6-8 large baking apples (I like honeycrisp.) 
1 package of Ocean Spray Cranberries

Optional: Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for topping!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel, core and slice all apples. Place in water with lemon so that the apples do not brown. 

In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice (if using) and pinch of salt. Rub in chunks of butter with fingertips until it forms coarse crumbs.  Mix in oats and almonds. Set aside.

Spray a large 9 X 14 aluminum tray with Pam baking spray (or use Crisco or butter). Add the sliced apples and cranberries and mix well. Sprinkle crumble mixture on top. Spray with Pam baking spray or add some thin slices of butter over the crumble filling to get a golden brown topping.  Sprinkle with additional cinnamon.

Bake until filling bubbles and topping is crisp and crunchy, 45 -60 min. The apples should be tender and soft and some of the cranberries will have burst open. Let cool for about 15 minutes.  Serve warm with cold vanilla ice cream on top.

Trick or treat, trick or treat, give us something good to eat.
Give us candy, give us cake, give us something sweet to take.
Give us cookies, fruit and gum, hurry up and give us some.
You had better do it quick or we`ll surely play a trick.
Trick or treat, trick or treat, give us something good to eat.
~Author Unknown~

Here is a recipe for a sinfully delicious chocolate bark which I adopted from Bon Appetite Magazine. (You can find the original recipe here.) It’s a grown-up, gourmet take on Halloween candy utilizing the classic candy bars that we all love and have grown up with. This bark is easy to make, fool-proof, and addictive. (You might even want to make a double batch for a group because it goes fast!) It’s the perfect Halloween treat that I am sure you will love. 

1 1/2 bags of Nestle’s semi-sweet morsels
3/4 cup of 1% milk
3 Butterfinger candy bars, cut into irregular pieces
3 Heath toffee candy bars, cut into irregular pieces
8 Reese’s peanut butter cups (the large ones, not the miniatures) each cut into 8 wedges
1/4 cup peanuts or pecans
3 ounces high-quality white chocolate (chopped or use Nestle’s white chocolate chips)
1 box of Reese’s Pieces 
2 small bags of M&Ms

Line baking sheet with foil. Stir chocolate chips in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted and warm (not hot) to touch.  Slowly whisk in the milk. This will make the chocolate thick and creamy, almost like fudge. Make sure chocolate is blended well. Remove from the heat.

Pour chocolate onto foil; spread to 1/4-inch thickness (about 12×10-inch rectangle). 
Sprinkle with Butterfinger candy, Heath candy, peanut butter cups, and nuts. Carefully make sure that all candy pieces touch melted chocolate to adhere.

Put white chocolate in heavy small saucepan. Stir constantly over very low heat until chocolate is melted and warm (not hot) to touch. Remove from heat. Dip spoon into chocolate; wave from side to side over bark, creating zigzag lines. Scatter Reese’s Pieces and M&M’s over, making sure candy touches melted chocolate.

Chill bark until firm, about an hour or overnight. Slide foil with candy onto work surface; peel off foil. Cut or break the bark into irregular pieces.
    Happy Halloween!
    Enjoy 🙂