Thursday, May 30, 2013

Honey Lime Shrimp Tacos with Creamy Avocado Sauce

Creamy avocado sauce? Yes, that's what I said! And yes, it TOTALLY took these tacos over the edge! The shrimp was easy, the sauce was easy, the meal was yummy! What more do you want from a weeknight meal!? Enjoy!

Marinate the Honey Lime Shrimp first. Prepare the veggies and avocado sauce while the shrimp is marinating.

The recipe for the Honey Lime Shrimp is from the blog The Dough Will Rise Again:
Honey Lime Shrimp

1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined <I used 3/4 pound>
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T honey
juice of one small lime, or half a large lime (2-3 T)
zest of one small lime, or half a large lime
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1.) In a large ziploc bag, combine all the marinade ingredients. When everything is well-combined, add the shrimp, squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag, and close it up. Place it in the fridge.

2.) Let the shrimp marinate for 30-60 minutes, flipping the bag around once or twice during that time, so that all the shrimp stay evenly covered in the marinade.

3.) When you’re ready to cook, take the shrimp out of the fridge and let them sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat <I gave the pan a light misting of olive oil to keep the shrimp from sticking>.

4.) Add your shrimp to the pan in a single layer, making sure they are not too crowded; you can always cook them in more than one batch. Let them cook on one side for about a minute, until they curl up and start to turn pink. Flip them over, and cook for another 45 seconds or so, until the shrimp are opaque. Remove from the pan, and serve immediately!

Creamy Avocado Sauce: (Wooden Spoon Diaries recipe)

1 ripe avocado
1/2 to 1 whole jalapeno, depending on how spicy you like it (the seeds are the hottest part)
Large handful of cilantro, about 1/2 cup, stems removed
Juice of one lime
1 green onion
2 garlic cloves
6 oz container of plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup milk (using less or more depending on how thick you like the sauce)
1/4 tsp ground coriander OR ground cumin (whatever you have in your cupboard will work)
Salt & pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until fully combined and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to use. Any extra sauce can be used as a scrumptious dip for tortilla chips!
Cabbage, shredded
Carrots, sliced
Jalapeno, sliced (optional)
Corn tortillas
To assemble tacos place shredded cabbage and shredded carrots on a warm tortilla. Next layer cooked Honey Lime Shrimp and Creamy Avocado Sauce. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Best Tabbouleh Salad

The BEST!? Well, that's what the author of the blog A Cozy Kitchen claimed about her Tabbouleh Salad recipe, so of course I had to try it! My verdict: a super flavorful, healthy meal that my husband deemed "definitely bloggable!" Is "bloggable" even a word? Not sure what Webster's would say about that; but, in my house, it is a term we throw out often. And as my friends know, I only blog about one out of every five or six recipes I make. So, if it's on The Wooden Spoon Diaries, it's definitely a "bloggable" recipe!! This salad is no exception!!

Instead of serving the pita chips crunched up inside the salad, I served them whole and we used them as "dippers".  I also added a red bell pepper and omitted the parsley. And you might be wondering (as I was) what on earth is sumac*??? Well, it is a spice and it is delicious!! I found it at Whole Foods and it was about $5 for jar. We ate this as our meal, but, if you are in need of meat, this would make a killer side dish, as well. The salad was just as good the next day, so, left-overs are a plus!!  Enjoy!!

Recipe from A Cozy Kitchen:

1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon sumac* <read my intro if you have no idea what this is>
1 lemon

Olive oil
3/4 cup bulgar (try to find “fine bulgar,” if you can)
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cup diced Persian cucumbers
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced <this was my own addition>
1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
3 tablespoons minced fresh mint
3 green onions, tops and bottoms discarded and thinly sliced
1 cup cubed feta (2 ounces)
Handful pita chips, broken up

1. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, sumac and juice from 1 lemon. Salt and pepper to taste. (I added about 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a few pinches of pepper.) Set aside.

2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add a few teaspoons of oil and when hot, add the bulgar; stirring it frequently, toast it for 1-2 minutes. To the bulgar, add 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the water is evaporated and tender. Fluff with a fork and set aside; cool to room temperature.

3. (Note: If you’re serving this for later, I’d add the pita chips right before serving so they don’t get soggy.) To a medium mixing bowl (or your salad serving bowl), add the bulgar, cucumbers, tomatoes, Italian parsley, mint, green onions, cubed feta and pita. Add half of the dressing and gently toss everything together. Add the rest of the dressing and give it one more toss. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pasta with Avocado Pesto

Oh how I love the blog A Cozy Kitchen from whence this creamy yet light, healthful yet totally delicious, recipe came! I have become obsessed lately with Whole Foods' freshly made pastas. So, when I saw this recipe, I was all over it! And the fresh linguine from Whole Foods complimented the avocado pesto perfectly.

I did add roasted cherry tomatoes to this dish. Their flavor was bright and crisp and went oh so well with the pesto. Try adding the roasted tomatoes for even more flavor (the recipe is below). Serve with a side salad and some good crusty bread. Enjoy!

Approx 1 pound pasta of your choice <I used linguine>
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon sliced almonds <I used about 2 Tbl>
1 lemon, for zest and juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoon olive oil
Fresh Pepper
1 medium ripe avocado
Freshly shredded Parmesan for sprinkling
Roasted tomatoes (optional) recipe below

1. Add the pasta to a pot of well-salted boiling water and cook to al dente. As you drain the pasta, reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water for the pesto.

2. Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, add the basil, garlic cloves, almonds, zest from 1/2 of the lemon <I zested the whole lemon>, juice from the whole lemon, salt and a few cracks of freshly ground pepper. Blend until chopped, scraping down the sides, if need be. With the blender running, slowly add the olive oil and blend until smooth. Add the avocado and blend once more. If the mixture is a bit too thick (mine was), add a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta sauce and blend one last time.

3. Add the sauce to the cooked pasta and toss until thoroughly coated. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
<If you like, add the roasted tomatoes on top>

This recipe for roasted tomatoes comes from the blog A Food Centric Life:
Roasted Tomatoes:
12-16 ounces sweet baby tomatoes such as Sugar Plum or Grapeseed, halved
1 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 large garlic cloves, finely minced or squished through a garlic press
1 generous tablespoon fresh chopped thyme leaves (I used basil)
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 375F
Cover a quarter sheet or half sheet rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil. Toss halved tomatoes with oil, garlic, thyme (I used basil), salt and pepper. Spread tomatoes on the baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes until shriveled and edges are just starting to turn a bit brown. Timing will depend on your oven. I let mine go about 25 minutes on the convection setting.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Southwest Chopped Salad with Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

I can't convey how absolutely scrumptious this healthful salad is!!! My husband and I literally devoured it! I ate mine with a large spoon because my fork didn't allow for adequate shoveling! HA!! This salad was crunchy and creamy and just absolutely delectable.  I added crushed tortilla chips to mine for even more crunch. After much discussion over the deliciousness, we both thought a chopped avocado would be the icing on the cake. And for you meat-lovers, I think some seasoned crumbled ground beef would be yummy!! Don't skimp on making this dressing from scratch - the dressing definitely makes this salad all that it is!

Thank you to the Garden Grazer blog for this recipe:


Large head of romaine, finely chopped
15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large orange bell pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes
15 oz. can sweet corn, rinsed and drained
5 green onions

Finely chop romaine, bell pepper, tomatoes, and green onions. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Toss with *creamy cilantro-lime dressing.
*I only used about half of the dressing. I happily saved the rest to use in another salad later this week! 

Creamy Cilantro-Lime Dressing:

1 cup loosely packed cilantro, stems removed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1-2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
1/8 tsp. salt
**The Garden Grazer also recommends adding a little cayenne pepper for heat and ground cumin for flavor- which I did! I used ~1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper and ~1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Parmesan Chicken Salad on Croissants

This chicken salad was a snap to whip together (thank you rotisserie chicken). I love the lemon flavor with the Parmesan! Easy, yummy, a no-brainer for a quick dinner or lunch! This recipe made enough for two very large servings. So, if you have more mouths to feed, double or triple as needed! Enjoy!

2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/4 to 1/3 cup mayo (depending on how creamy you like it)
1 Tbl olive oil
juice from a one whole lemon
1 tsp roasted garlic (optional)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (use the good stuff)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
salt & pepper
2 croissants
Put chicken thru walnuts into a mixing bowl and combine. Add salt & pepper to taste. Serve on croissants with a nice piece of Bibb lettuce. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Coconut Curried Fried Rice

This rice was SOOO good; it was simply scrumptious!! The coconut rice itself was heavenly (I will be making this again and again). Adding the rest of the veggies/egg to make it a complete meal......well, that just put this fried rice over the edge of yummy-ness! 

Thank you to the blog A Cozy Kitchen for this delightful recipe.
P.S. I LOVE this blog!! Please check her out!

**Three changes I made:
#1- I didn't have a cinnamon stick so I used 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
#2- I only used two eggs instead of three
#3- Instead of peas I used edamame
***Also, whenever I make fried rice I ALWAYS make the rice ahead of time and let it completely cool off for at least an hour or two (overnight is also fine) in the refrigerator. It really helps with the texture - who wants to eat mushy fried rice?

Here is A Cozy Kitchen's recipe word for word:

For the coconut rice:
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup basmati or jasmine rice
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 piece cinnamon stick
1/4 cup raisins

Combine all ingredients in a rice cooker and cook. Remove the cinnamon stick and either use immediately or you can refrigerate for a few days until you’re ready to make the fried rice. (If you are like me and don't have a rice cooker put all the ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil; reduce heat to simmer; cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 14- 16 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed).

For the curry fried rice:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tablespoon red Thai curry paste
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Have all of your ingredients prepared and nearby before you begin to cook. (the rice should be ready at this point). Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet or wok. Add the eggs and cook on medium-high heat. When the edges of the eggs begin to set, gently flip them over (you can also scramble if that’s easier. Once the eggs are completely cooked, remove from the pan and cut into pieces or strips. Wipe the wok clean with a paper towel.

Heat the rest of the olive oil on medium heat. Add in the carrot and cook for 1 minute, then add the garlic and curry paste and cook for a minute more, stirring constantly to begin scorching. Add the rice and peas and cook until heated through. Stir in the egg strips, soy sauce and lime or lemon juice.
You can add a little more soy sauce to taste if you wish. Now just pour into bowls an enjoy!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Spicy Sausage Pasta

A show of hands from all you busy moms who want a crazy-quick, delicious and filling, weeknight dinner that can be made all in one pan?  Okay, okay, hands down......too good to be true right? Not at all!! And here's the recipe to prove it! 

Thank you to the blog Kevin & Amanda for highlighting this yummy recipe found in America's Test Kitchen The Best Simple Recipes. This dish was so good I bought the book. I used the blog's tip of using frozen chopped onions to simplify the cooking process even further! Also, if your family doesn't care for spice, make sure you use the mild Rotel tomatoes (I used original and the spice level was still pretty low, but, I know some children are sensitive to this). Enjoy this meal with a side salad and a good crusty bread.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb smoked sausage
1.5 cups diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles, Mild
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz penne pasta
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
1. Add olive oil to an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Add sausage and onions and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with scallions. Broil until cheese is melted, spotty brown, and bubbly.