The Food Guy, Steven Keith Eating his way through the state, plate by plate

Shrimp + Bacon + Spinach + Cheese = OMG!

We’ll soon be saying goodbye to a family who lives on our street as they pack their bags and head elsewhere to face new opportunities.

This is bad for two reasons. One, they’re good neighbors. More importantly, they occasionally feed me.

As sad as I am to see them go, I’m thankful that I at least got one recipe out of them before parting ways. They once served this to-die-for shrimp appetizer at a neighborhood gathering and now it will provide even sweeter memories each time I make it.

Like me, Carla doesn’t follow precise recipes, but her dish goes something like this …

  1. Get a bunch of shrimp and set aside. Preheat your oven while chopping up some fresh spinach into some feta cheese.
  2. Lay a piece of shrimp on a slice of uncooked bacon with a pinch of the feta-spinach mixture and wrap the shrimp in the bacon.
  3. Bake on a cookie sheet with sides just long enough for the bacon to crisp up. Enjoy.

Don’t worry about exact measurements, precise oven temperatures and the like. This “recipe” is pretty forgiving — and delicious.

Thanksgiving Leftovers? Toss ‘Em on a Pizza

You may remember back on Halloween I suggested using some of your leftover fresh pumpkin to make an unusual Pumpkin-Chorizo Pizza. (Get the scoop here!

So why not do the same with your Thanksgiving leftovers?

Skip the usual turkey stews and casseroles in favor of a more flavorful way to enjoy that excess cranberry sauce and stuffing.

Fun and easy to make, Thanksgiving Pizza is a sweet and savory followup to Thursday’s feast. Or so says the folks at Boboli. I’ll have to take their word for it, because our leftovers didn’t last the weekend!

Thanksgiving Pizza

1 12″ ready-made pizza crust
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 oz. sweet potato puree
3 oz. roasted turkey, shredded
2 oz. stuffing
1/2 cup cranberries
1 cup cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 450° degrees. Spread olive oil onto both sides of pizza crust, then spread sweet potato puree on top of crust.
  2. Spread turkey and stuffing evenly over crust, then sprinkle with cheese and cranberries.
  3. Cook for 10–12 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Get a Little (Coco)nutty With This Year’s Pumpkin Pie

I know Thanksgiving is a traditional holiday filled with family traditions played out over a spread of traditional dishes.

But you gotta shake things up SOME of the time.

If you’d like to add a nice, creamy twist to this year’s pumpkin pie, consider mixing in a little coconut milk. The flavor combo works will together and the recipe is easy as — wait for it — pie! (Seriously, it’s in the oven in 5 quick minutes.)

Coconut Pumpkin Pie

1 frozen unbaked deep dish pie crust
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can (15 ozs.) pumpkin
1 can (14 ozs.) coconut milk 

  1. Place frozen pie crust on foil-lined baking sheet.
  2. Mix eggs, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt in large bowl until smooth.  Stir in pumpkin.  Gradually add coconut milk, mixing well.  Pour into pie crust.
  3. Bake in preheated 425 degree oven 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake 55 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack.
  4. Serve warm or refrigerate until ready to serve.  Garnish with whipped cream and sprinkle with additional pumpkin pie spice, if desired.  Store leftover pie in refrigerator.

Healthier School Lunches Worth Fighting For

I’m sure you’ve heard about the big hullabaloo of late over the nutritional value of school lunches.

In one corner you have school officials and health advocates pushing for healthier meals; in the other, you have kids who won’t eat them and cooks frustrated over the new restrictions now placed on them.

Although I’m strongly entrenched in the “we need WAY healthier school lunches” camp, I do feel for both sides. Children need to eat and it’s criminal to watch so much uneaten food being thrown away. (I’ve dined in the cafeteria before and, I’m here to tell you, a LOT gets tossed each day.)

But instead of going back to hot dogs and “chicken-flavored” nuggets, I’d hope both sides could come together to reach a compromise.

There’s no question childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in this country, and our schools should be striving to help solve – not add to – the problem.

Get a load of these stats from a recent survey of 1,800 third through fifth graders in Texas:

  • 46% ate fast food two or more times per week.
  • Most did not understand that low-fat milk is a healthier choice than whole milk.
  • Many did not understand that baked potato chips were a healthier choice than french fries.
  • The majority incorrectly thought diet soda contained some sugar and sports drinks contained no sugar.
  • The majority of children knew that consuming excess calories can lead to weight gain, but fewer knew that excess calories can also lead to heart disease.

 But on a positive note:

  • 87% expressed an interest in helping choose healthy foods for their school cafeteria.
  • 88% reported that they would eat healthy breakfast items such as yogurt, oatmeal, fruit, granola and whole wheat toast if they were offered.
  • When presented with a sample menu, children were equally likely to choose healthier options in place of less healthier options. For example, a turkey sandwich over chicken nuggets and a fruit cup or steamed veggies over fries or tater tots.

 That’s progress, so we definitely need to keep pushing for more positive changes.

In what has become an annual tradition, Applebee’s will once again honor our nation’s veterans by offering them a free signature entree on Veterans Day.

Veterans can visit any Applebee’s location this Friday and enjoy their choice of free meals ranging from a seven-ounce house sirloin, bacon cheddar cheeseburger or three-cheese chicken penne to an oriental chicken salad, chicken tenders, lime chicken or double-crunch shrimp.

Veterans will need to provide proof of service, which includes an official U.S. military ID card, current leave and earnings statement, veterans organization card, a photograph in uniform or by simply wearing their uniform.

The national restaurant chain gave away more than 1 million free meals during last year’s event. For more information on the promotion, visit

Talk About Tradition … This Pie’s from the ’50s!

New reader Leah Bostic says she just discovered my column a few weeks ago and enjoyed the one about using fresh pumpkin for pies, something she’s done in the past.

“I cook the pumpkin in a six-quart pressure cooker for about six minutes and it’s ready to use for pies,” she said, adding that she has a great recipe that came from her mother’s 1950s cookbook, which “looks like a thick dictionary, down to the hard cover and thumb tabs!”

“It’s easy … and makes the absolute best, hands down, pumpkin pie I’ve ever eaten. One year, Mom served a Sam’s Club pie at Thanksgiving, and my three grown daughters still haven’t let her live it down. Mom thought they wouldn’t notice, but they knew immediately and really gave her a hard time about it.”

You’d like to see said recipe, would you? But of course! 


1/8 tsp. salt
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 ½ cups cooked pumpkin

  1. Mix salt, sugar and spice together; add to slightly beaten eggs. Stir in milk and pumpkin.
  2. Pour into pie shell (it makes one) and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake 30 minutes more.