What’s a good thing to do after walking into the house, leaving your frenetic day at the doorstep? One answer could be go directly to the kitchen, fill the pasta pot with salted water and get it boiling. With that one gesture, a mid-week meal for 2, a family, even a crowd, could be on the table in less than 30 minutes. The magic here is by quickly throwing together one or two more quick homemade meals each week you’ll drop a pound or two just by less pre-supper snacking/drinking and no bread basket. (Drat it, those calories do count.)

Throughout January in France bakers make the Galette des Rois, celebrating Epiphany, the day the Three Kings (les rois) visited the infant Jesus. Like the Mardi Gras King’s cake that most of us recognize, this cake always has a trinket hidden inside. If you aren’t ready for a sugar rush, take a small piece. A very rich frangipani filling is sandwiched between two circles of puff pastry.

Our CooktheBookFriday’s recipe choice this week is a fabulous PASTA with SHRIMP, SQUASH, LEMON and HERB bundle. It’s effortless, versatile and so, so lemony. Using all the same ingredients, in a flash you can mix together an Arugula Salad. Time to ring the dinner bell. NOW is the time to pour the wine, silence the cell phone and start the conversation.

Just mixing together the Pasta with Shrimp, Squash, Lemon and Herbs before transferring to its serving bowl.

It’s been a rough week for our world, not a good time to feed our feelings or drink our despair. So, don’t. It doesn’t make me proud to admit my soothing tool-of-choice is binge-watching Netflix’s Hart of Dixie each evening. Lucky for me there are 4 seasons of episodes. To my mind, 2 or 3 shows each night is better than Ambien. My daughter, Melissa, whose whole business revolves around healing Wounded Warriors, people with health issues and young people, texted me yesterday, “I am sending as much positive love energy into the universe as possible.” (She is such a better person than me. Respect.)

Built in 2010, this bridge is named for Pat Tillman, killed by friendly fire during the Afghanistan war, and Mike O’Callaghan, a former governor of Nevada. Spanning the Colorado River, it connects Arizona to Nevada. On New Year’s Day, starting near Boulder City, I hiked the Historic Railroad trail through its covered bridge to Hoover Dam and climbed the stairs to walk over the bridge to cross from Nevada into Arizona. It’s a fun, easy, flat hike, 7 miles round-trip and I do it often when I’m here for the holidays.

I’m especially thinking about our longtime Australian and Puerto Rican blogging colleagues who, beginning with our French Fridays with Dorie group, I’ve known for 10 years. Prayers for you, Gaye, Sanya and Adriana. Mardi, hoping your Mom and family stay safe. While they all are safe now, their countries aren’t.

Called one of the 7 Wonders of the Industrial World, Hoover Dam was built during the Great Depression, between 1931-36. It was built to provide hydroelectric power, supply irrigation for agriculture, and control floods, thus transforming the American West. Whether you’re a dam fan or not, and I am not, the Hoover Dam is a engineering marvel.

During New Year’s week, Dorie Greenspan always bakes her famous World Peace Cookies. Many of us involved in Dorie’s virtual cooking groups have adopted that same habit. To discover the story behind WPC and for the recipe, click here. Dorie sends a holiday letter to her followers also. This year’s letter is kind and thoughtful, mirroring the woman she is. I’m sharing this graph with you:

This plaque is located at the highest point of the walkway over the bridge.

“Every year, as midnight strikes on December 31, I’ve said the same thing:  May it never be worse. We’ve had good times and we’ve had very difficult times – as everyone has – but we’ve made it through, and so I usually wish for stability; it’s the baseline I hold on to.  But not this year!  I want better this year.  Not just for our little family, but for every family.  I always want peace, but now I want a bigger peace, a broader peace, a peace that includes all of us.” Dorie Greenspan


The starting point and a great view of Lake Mead, a recreational opportunity as a result of the Hoover Dam construction.


Mise en Place (Translation: This is what you need.)

PASTA with SHRIMP, SQUASH, LEMON and HERB BUNDLE by Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook

Serves: 4

You may serve this hot, cold, or room temperature. I think it’s best hot.

3 large lemons
1 pound of green and yellow zucchini
1 pound of pasta (Fusilli, Penne or Mini-Rigatoni)
1/2 Cup of Olive Oil
1 pound of large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt & Pepper
Ground Cayenne Pepper
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 Tomatoes, cored and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces.
1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Dill
1/2 Cup Snipped Chives

ARUGULA SALAD: This recipe for a simple Arugula Salad is all over the Internet. It serves 4-6. Whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, season with teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Put a sizable amount of arugula, 4-5 packed cups, into a bowl and, if you wish, shave Parmesan cheese on top. (I love this recipe which is a favorite at Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana in Henderson, Nevada.)


  1. Zest the lemons, juice them and throw the remaining lemon halves into a large pot of heavily salted water. Bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. When the pasta is cooked, save 1/2 cup of pasta water and set it aside. Drain the pasta. Set aside.
Zest the lemons and set zest aside.

2. Salt, pepper and sprinkle some Cayenne Pepper over the shrimp. Pour 1/4 Cup of olive oil into a skillet turned to medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 3-4 minutes. Turn once after 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a bowl.

After cooking for 1 1/2 minutes I flipped the shrimp. When done, transfer the shrimp to a plate or bowl.

3. Cut the squash into quarters the long way and then cut each piece into 1/4″ wedges. Put squash, seasoned with salt/pepper in the same now-empty skillet, adding oil only if necessary. (I didn’t need to add more oil.) Cook and turn as needed for 4-5minutes. Transfer to the shrimp bowl.


4. With the same skillet at medium-high, add 2 tablespoons of oil and toss the pasta around until it is coated. Add the shrimp, squash, reserved pasta water, lemon juice and butter. Stir to blend, add salt, pepper and cayenne pepper as needed, and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, including juices if there are any. Turn everything into the serving bowl with the zest, top with herbs, and stir to mix. Serve Immediately.

This post follows my progress cooking each recipe from
Dorie Greenspan’s “Everyday Dorie” along with those participating 
in the online Cookthe BookFridays group.
We do not publish recipes unless they are already on the Internet. We do encourage you to buy the book and join in the fun.