When celebrating our 15th anniversary, I had no hesitation in deciding on Shrimp Cocktail as the appetizer and no-sugar-added, homemade Cream Puffs for dessert.
When we have Shrimp Cocktail, I usually just purchase frozen whole, de-veined, cleaned and cooked shrimp that I just thaw in a colander in the sink under running water. I serve it with my homemade cocktail sauce, which I learned to make from my Mom. I like a cocktail sauce with a bit of bite to it, and by making it myself, I can get just the balance of flavors I want — and without as much sugar as is in most cocktail sauces. It’s easy to do, and the cocktail sauce will keep for some time in the coldest part of your ‘fridge.
Shrimp Cocktail with Homemade Cocktail Sauce
- Frozen whole, de-veined, cleaned and cooked shrimp, thawed
- 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
- Ketchup to taste
- Chili sauce to taste
- Lemon juice to taste
- Prepared horseradish to taste
- Splash of Worcestershire to taste
- Bit of garlic powder/minced garlic and/or onion powder to taste, if desired
- Combine all ingredients except shrimp. I smell and taste it as I go, adjusting flavors and ratios as need be.
- Let set in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving to allow flavors to develop.
- Thaw shrimp according to package directions (I put it all in a colander and run cold water over it ’til it’s thawed) and serve with cocktail sauce for dipping.
And now, on to dessert! For dessert for a special occasion — or to make any occasion special with a dessert — we nearly always think of Cream Puffs…and no, I’m not talking about Artie Shaw and his Orchestra! (Go on, give your day some class and take 196 seconds out of your day to give it a listen. You know you want to! When was the last time you listened to Artie?)
Cream Puffs are another item I learned about making from Mom — I remember our making cream puffs and sometimes eclairs (which are elongated cream puffs topped with some chocolate frosting) when I was growing up. If you’ve never made them before, you will be surprised at how easy they actually are to make.
Most restaurant, bakery, and store-bought cream puffs are heavy pastries loaded with whipped cream. Homemade cream puffs, by comparison, actually make for a rather light, yet special, dessert or snack.
Yes, the cream puff dough is made with 1/2 stick of butter or margarine, 1 cup of water, 1 cup of flour, and 4 eggs (I use jumbo-sized eggs), which sounds rather like a heart attack on a plate. 😉 However, you’re only getting 1/12th of these ingredients in a single cream puff — in other words, each cream puff has 2 teaspoons of butter or margarine, 1/3 of an egg, and roughly a tablespoon and one teaspoon of flour (figuring 16 tablespoons in a cup, divided by 12, equals 1.3 tablespoons per cream puff).
Or at least, that’s what you’d get in each cream puff as they bake up. However, you then proceed to remove most of the baked fluffy interior inside the cream puff, leaving just the shell to be filled. Look at the picture on the right — filling that has already been removed from other cream puffs is on the left side of the paper plate. On the right side is a cream puff awaiting to have its fluffy interior removed. I always put the fluffy interior leavings out for the birds to eat, even though it strikes me as rather cannibalistic, seeing as there’s so much egg in the filling 😉
Once you’ve removed all the baked fluffy interior from the cream puffs, you’re left with a dozen light-as-air shells to be filled:
I like them to have a generous amount of filling, so I make up 3 cups of no-sugar-added vanilla pudding. I use a Cook and Serve mix, but you could make it from scratch, as well, if you wished. Three cups of pudding equals 1/4 cup (a half serving) of pudding per cream puff (30 calories, if made with skim milk; a few more if made with 1% milk). All in all, it makes for an easy, light, yet elegant-looking dessert:
They smell so yummy, you’ll be dancing to Artie Shaw and his Orchestra as they bake. 🙂
Cream Puffs with No-Sugar-Added Filling (Makes 1 dozen)
For the cream puff pastry:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs (use large, extra large, or jumbo) OR 1 cup of egg substitute
For the filling:
- 1 package (6 serving size) COOK AND SERVE (NOT INSTANT) sugar-free vanilla pudding (or 1 package 4-serving size and 1/2 of a 4-serving size packet) (Note: You can also make homemade vanilla pudding from scratch, substituting Splenda granular for the sugar and using 1% milk)
- 3 cups skim or 1% milk
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- In a medium saucepan, bring water and margarine to a ROLLING BOIL.
- Stir in flour, beating with a whisk, spoon, or spatula as you go, and reduce heat to low. Stir vigorously for about a minute or so, until mixture forms a ball; remove from heat.
- Beat in eggs, all at once, with a spoon or spatula, until smooth.
- Drop by scant 1/4 cup onto an ungreased baking sheet. (You should have 12 dollops of dough.)
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until puffed and golden. (I usually bake them for 35 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave them for another 5 minutes.)
- Remove from oven and allow to cool in a draft-free area.
- Meanwhile, prepare 3 cups of COOK AND SERVE no-sugar-added vanilla pudding. (You could use instant, but I think the cook and serve has a richer flavor. You could also use chocolate or butterscotch or any other pudding flavor you’d like.) Cover with cling wrap (to prevent a skin forming) and cool in refrigerator.
- Once cream puffs have cooled, cut off tops and remove the fluffy baked interior, leaving a shell. Reserve tops to put back onto the cream puffs after filling. If I note holes in the bottom or sides of the cream puff shells, I press a bit of the fluffy baked filling, which is a bit tacky/sticky, into the holes to fill them — rather like food-grade putty or spackle! 😉
- Divide cooled pudding evenly among cream puffs. Place reserved tops back on to cream puffs.
- Sprinkle with a bit of Splenda granular.
- Keep refrigerated. Will keep in refrigerator for several days.