I have no problem with hodge-podge meals every now and then. Some people couldn’t think of mixing food genres in one meal, but sometimes I like it if all parts sound good. I could be in the mood for Italian and Mexican, so if I am trying to throw together a meal of leftovers, a little pasta with an enchilada never hurt anyone On the flip side, I’m not as flexible when it comes to mixing strange ingredients or flavors in one dish. Do you see the distinction?!
When I came across this Cooking Light recipe for Spicy Grilled Shrimp with Quinoa Salad, at first I thought some of the ingredients were a little random together. I didn’t really see feta being paired with the Spanish flavors of the spicy shrimp and the honey/cumin/lime blend for the salad. And the chickpeas with everything else was not something I’d typically go for. But I was intrigued, so thought I’d give it a whirl. I’m so glad I did because the dish ended up being different, but different in a great way. The flavors blended everything together without being too intense. And I loved that it didn’t resemble my usual quinoa concoctions. The shrimp (which weren’t actually spicy), had great seasonings that paired perfectly with the salad, making this a delicious summer meal.
How do you feel about hodge-podge meals or bizarre concoctions?
Spicy Grilled Shrimp with Quinoa Salad
Source: Cooking Light Magazine
What You Need
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, divided
- 10 teaspoon olive oil, divided
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped and divided
- 24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1 pound)
- 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup water $
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup canned organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup diced peeled avocado
- 1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled
- Cooking spray
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
What To Do
- Preheat grill to high heat, or prepare saute pan.
- Combine 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, black pepper, hot sauce, paprika, and 2 garlic cloves in a medium bowl. Add shrimp; toss well. Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes.
- Rinse and drain quinoa. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add remaining 2 garlic cloves and quinoa; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Add chickpeas. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 13 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Cool. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and honey in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add quinoa mixture, tomatoes, avocado, and cheese; toss gently.
- Remove shrimp from bowl; discard marinade. Sprinkle shrimp with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Thread 3 shrimp onto each of 8 (6-inch) skewers if grilling. Place skewers on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 2 minutes on each side or until done. Or saute 3 minutes on each side.
- Divide quinoa mixture evenly among 4 plates. Top each serving with 2 skewers. Garnish with cilantro.
This week-long blogging hiatus was not planned or intended. Life really gets in the way sometimes. I’ve been to Columbus and D.C. the past two weekends, and Friday I’m off to Iowa for a friend’s wedding. Every six months or so it seems I have a marathon travel session and just can’t get back on track during the week. I’d be lying if I said my suitcase doesn’t sit on the floor all week, only to be unpacked and repacked before the weekend. Yeah, I’m that person. Last week was spent tackling nursery ”to-do” items each night, so cooking took a back seat. After dining out for every single meal, I was determined to hit the grocery store once we got back from D.C. on Sunday. So far, this week has been a little more normal and I’ve already managed to cook some tasty meals and snacks.
After the trip to the grocery store Sunday, I threw together Smoked Paprika Hummus to snack on. Hummus has to be one of my favorite munchies, and I love this new recipes for the slight spice the paprika adds, and the zestiness of the lemon juice. It’s the perfect accompaniment to crunchy veggies or multigrain pita chips. We’ve been enjoying the hummus since Sunday, and I may have to make more to get me through to the end of the week.
Adapted from Candle 70 cookbook
What You Need
- 1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed - reserve 1/2 cup liquid
- 2 large cloves garlic
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1/3 cup tahini
- Vegetables and pita chips for serving
What To Do
- Combine the chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper, parsley, olive oil, and tahini in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until well mixed.
- Add ¼ cup of the reserved liquid and process until smooth and almost fluffy. Add more liquid if necessary.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (The hummus can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. Return to room temperature before serving.)
- To serve, drizzle a bit of olive oil over the hummus and sprinkle a bit of paprika. Serve with desired garnishes.
There’s a restaurant in St. Louis that is known for their Tostada Tower Salad. Every time we go to this restaurant, each person at the table orders the exact same thing. Menus aren’t even necessary because the diners are going to the restaurant with this salad, and only this salad, in mind. At $16 bucks a pop, several of my dining companions have commented that someone needs to learn how to make this infamous salad at home. After wanting to recreate the Tostada Tower Salad for months, I decided that with Cinco de Mayo only two days away, this was the right time. No, this salad is not authentic Mexican cuisine by any means, but the Southwestern inspirations make it appropriate for the upcoming holiday.
The Tostada Tower Salad layers lime white rice, black beans, crunchy tostada shells, tender diced chicken tossed in Chipotle BBQ sauce (I used this homemade Chipotle BBQ sauce), melted cheese, and a mound of cabbage tossed in a delicious Creamy Avocado dressing, which absolutely ties the whole dish together. With so many different elements and tasty components, it’s no wonder this salad is loved by so many. Although there are several steps to the recipe, it is not difficult to pull together. It just takes a little time to layer each salad and prepare each piece. I can guarantee you that once you taste the salad, you’ll want to make it again and again.
Have a great Cinco de Mayo!
Salad dressing source: Closet Cooking
What You Need
What To Do
- To make the dressing, place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. The dressing should be thick but spreadable. I added the 2 extra tablespoons of buttermilk to achieve my desired consistency. Once the dressing is made, store in the fridge until ready to use.
- Preheat oven 375 degrees. Place chicken in a baking dish and coat chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake chicken for 30 minutes, or until no longer pink.
- While chicken is cooking, prepare rice according to package directions. When the rice is cooked, mix in juice from 1 lime and 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro.
- Chop cabbage and combine green and purple cabbage in a bowl. Toss with desired amount of prepared salad dressing and set aside.
- Drain black beans and place in a small sauce pan to heat.
- Once chicken is cooked, remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes (don’t turn off the oven). Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes. Place chicken in a bowl and toss with BBQ sauce.
- Place the 8 tostada shells on a baking sheet. Distribute diced chicken evenly on top of each tostada shell. Top the chicken with 1/8 cup of shredded cheese. Place tostadas in the oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese has melted.
- While tostadas are in the oven, distribute lime rice and black beans evenly, spread on the bottom of a dinner plate.
- When tostadas are done and cheese has melted, remove from the oven and place 2 tostadas on top of one another on each plate.
- Using a tongs, top the tostadas with 1¼ cups of the cabbage mixture. The tostadas should be covered. Garnish the plate with sliced cherry tomatoes and cilantro, if desired.
WHAT! It’s May 1st already? I seriously cannot believe it. With so much going on this year, and still so much to come, January 1st feels like a minute ago. Although I wish I could slow the passage of time, I am so excited that warmer months are finally here.
Usually Memorial Day kicks off grilling season, but with the temp being around 80 degrees the past two days, I’m officially declaring May 1st the day to take off the cover and fire up that grill. Even though meat cooked on an open flame tastes smoky and delicious on its own, BBQ sauce for dipping makes it even better. To kick off the season, I made homemade BBQ sauce, Chipotle BBQ Sauce to be exact. Throwing this sauce together seemed just as quick as the first four months of the year! The best part about making homemade BBQ sauce is being able to adjust the heat, sweetness and consistency to your liking. This sauce had a little sweetness and a substantial bite; but if you prefer yours sweeter, increase the brown sugar by a smidge and decrease the chipotle peppers.
Bust out this sauce at your next barbeque and everyone will be singing your praises. Here’s to grillin’ season!
What You Need
- 1 cups ketchup
- 1/4 cup of chopped onion
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1/2 cans of chipotle chillies, chopped
- 1/8 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoons of oil
- 1 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon of celery salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
What To Do
- Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onions and garlic. Saute until soft (about 3 to 5 minutes).
- Stir in the brown sugar, celery salt and black pepper.
- Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer until the sauce thickens. This will take around half an hour, maybe a bit longer. Keep an eye on it as it cooks, and as it thickens, stir regularly to prevent scorching on the base of the pan.
- Remove from the heat. Allow to cool. It is now ready for use or can be stored in the refrigerator.
Not to inundate you with banana/peanut butter recipes, but this will be the last one for a while. Hopefully.
Remember my Dad’s Favorite Marble-Chocolate Banana Bread from forever ago?! Well, it happens to be my favorite too, and it’s one of the few recipes that I repeat time and time again. I had a brilliant idea when I spotted the Reese’s peanut butter chips in my pantry, begging to be used: substitute the chocolate chips for peanut butter chips in this beloved Cooking Light recipe.
I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but I pleasantly surprised by the results of my switcheroo. A few things to note: the presentation doesn’t hold a candle to the original version because obviously the colors blend together, so no marbling occurs. But by swirling the peanut butter chips throughout, it still yields a moist banana bread that was laced with subtle peanut butter surprises. Which brings me to my next point…just like the chocolate in the chocolate banana bread, the peanut butter truly is subtle. Don’t expect a pb explosion - it’s just a hint of salty peanuty flavor. Whether you like this new recipe, or prefer the original version, either way, I assure you, you cannot go wrong!
Peanut Butter Banana Bread
What You Need
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
- 1/2 cup egg substitute
- 1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
- 1/2 cup peanut butter chips chips
- Cooking spray
What To Do
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
- Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add banana, egg substitute, and yogurt; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist.
- Place peanut butter chips in a medium microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring until smooth. Cool slightly. Add 1 cup batter to peanut butter chips, stirring until well combined. Spoon peanut butter batter alternately with plain batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Swirl batters together using a knife. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.