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Recipe Time: Shrimp Tostadas

It’s Summer, and with that means I eat an unhealthy and inordinate amount of avocados and tomatoes. So, any excuse to use these two in a recipe, I’m down!

This was a super easy recipe, and one that could be switched around for lots of different uses: tacos, enchiladas, salad, etc. And the website gives all the nutrition info as well — a double bonus!

Shrimp Tostadas
From: The California Avocado Commission

shrimp tostada

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup beer
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp. celery seeds
  • ½ tsp. cayenne
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ lb. domestic, wild-caught jumbo shrimp, peeled and cleaned
  • 2 ripe, fresh California Avocados (or any variety you want!), seeded, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 Roma tomato, finely diced
  • ¼ cup finely diced red onion
  • ½ bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ limes, juiced
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt, black pepper to taste
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 4 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Instructions

  1. Combine beer, bay leaves, celery seeds, cayenne and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add shrimp and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until just turning pink and cooked through. Remove shrimp from liquid, cool to room temperature, and cut into 1/2-inch dice.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cooked shrimp with avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir gently, taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary. Chill thoroughly.
  3. Meanwhile, pour oil to a depth of ½-inch in a small pan for frying. Fry the tortillas on both sides until crisp and drain on paper towels.
  4. To serve, divide julienned lettuce evenly between each crispy corn tortilla. Top with avocado shrimp mixture and serve immediately.

For my version, I didn’t do the jalapenos or carrots, but that is included on the original recipe’s website. Also, you can top with whatever else you want – black beans, refried beans, sour cream, etc.

Enjoy!

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The Salad Challenge

Inspiration comes in many forms. Art. Music. Pinterest. Chocolate milk. It can all give you a little extra oomph in something you’re trying to accomplish.

This week, my inspiration (other than Pincrastination) was: salad.

salad

Good ole, healthy for you, comes in all varieties salad. I’ve mentioned on here that I’m trying to eat healthier, work out more (or just work out) and lose a few pounds here and there. But I often struggle with my innate ability to be a) hungry all the time or b) eat inordinate amounts of chips/salsa, pizza and cheeseburgers, and secret option number c) be more interested in watching the Real Housewives of New Jersey then doing 30 minutes of anything that makes me sweat.

But, I’ve been doing better, and was recently inspired by this post from Can You Stay For Dinner, a healthy living blog. It basically lays out all the different options salad can give you for a healthy lunch. My lunches usually consisted of PB&J, leftover pizza slices, dinner leftovers, or a quick run to the Union Chick-Fil-A. This did not go over well when I had afternoon classes. Nor did it make my Weight Watchers iPhone app happy.

sleeping in class

So, I took up a challenge. Go one week with only salad for lunch and see how it felt. I like salad, I don’t LOVE salad, but I felt like I could try it out. I love variety, and canNOT stand to eat the same thing everyday, so I loaded up on options that would trick my brain into thinking it was getting something different.

Here’s how it went down:

Monday (no picture): regular garden salad (arugula, cucumber, red/orange/green bell pepper, pine nuts, sesame seeds and balsamic vinaigrette.

  • Expectation: boring-ville
  • Reality: not too bad, had a lot of it and it kept me pretty full, but definitely wouldn’t enjoy eating it everyday
Tuesday: arugula, sweet potato, chicken, cucumber and pine nuts with Green Goddess dressing; we had chicken caesar wraps and baked sweet potatoes the night before, so it provided a great chance to apply the “anything leftover from dinner can go in a salad principle”
sweet potato salad
  • Expectation: will pick out the sweet potatoes and only dip extra pita bread I brought in green goddess dressing
  • Reality: very good! The sweet potatoes weren’t so bad, and the mixture with the green goddess dressing was salty/sweet and chicken helped fill me up even more

Wednesday: super greens, black beans, taco cheese, tomato, sour cream and taco shells; we made tacos the night before, hence the taco salad

taco salad

  • Expectation: will LOVE because I love anything Spanish-food related
  • I LOVED IT; I didn’t use any dressing, but I think salsa would have made this even more delicious; definitely making this one again

Thursday: arugula, cucumber, green pepper, pine nuts, walnuts, bleu cheese and green goddess dressing

green goddess

  • Expectation: I wanted to try one with walnuts and cheese to test it out, but I thought the blue cheese crumbles would be too overpowering
  • Reality: not bad! I needed more lettuce to make the topping to lettuce ratio just right, but the crunchiness of the walnuts and the softness of the peppers and cucumbers mixed well

Friday: I ain’t eating no salad because I just finished my first year of grad school and I’m celebrating with a delicious helping of garlic bread and lasagna. Don’t judge me 🙂

Overall, the experiment was a success. I want to keep trying this to see if it does improve that “heavy” feeling after lunch and see if I can get even more creative. Here’s some combos I want to try:

– greek salad (cucumber, tomato, feta, couscous, etc.)
– apple and brie salad (green apple, brie cheese, vinaigrette)
– salmon salad (either smoked or baked salmon with capers, onions, lemon)
– avocado salad (avocado, black bean, tomato, corn, etc.)

Do you have any favorite salad recipes to share??


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A New Start

So, remember when I proclaimed this year to be THE year for planting delicious veggies?

The time has come. The seeds have been planted. The juju prayers have been said. Let’s all take a moment and pray for protection for these delicate creatures. And for safety from the monster (i.e., stephanie forgetting to water).

veggies

Here we have: parsley, basil and orange thyme (square box on left); thyme and rosemary (back right pot that has already been growing – hooray!); Zucchini in the middle right pot; tomatoes in the front red pot; and bell peppers in the left front pot.

You can’t see him but Fred our garden gnome and F.R.O.G. (fully rely on God – thanks kathleen!) are keeping watch over their land for extra protection.

Let’s do this!


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Take Out Night

I love to go out to eat. Planning for and going out to a restaurant is one my favorite activities on any night. Jason loves to be home. His idea of a great night is movie and a popcorn on the couch. So when planning for dinner this month, based on our grad school-life budget, I embarked on:

….drumroll…..TAKE OUT NIGHT AT HOME WEEK….ta-da!

So although not a new idea, I thought it would be a great way to combine our two favorite types of nights. So, here’s what I did:

Monday: Chicken Fried Rice via Weight Watchers (p.s., it’s only 4 points!)

Tuesday: Pizza Bread via my friend Danielle (p.s., probably more than 4 points….)

1 loaf of french bread
1 lb. of italian sausage, browned
1 green pepper and 1 red pepper, sliced and sauteed
A few cloves of garlic, chopped or mashed
Shredded mozzarella cheese

Slice bread lengthwise and in half to create open face loaves. Brush with olive oil and spread with garlic. Place a layer of cheese. Pile with browned sausage and peppers. Add another layer of cheese on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake in 350 degree oven until bread is crispy and cheese is melted.

Wednesday: Mexican Pizzas via Honey What’s Cooking (p.s. they’re vegetarian!)

Thursday: Falafel with Tzatziki sauce / Gazpacho via Eating Well Living Thin and my brain

(p.s., I don’t make the gazpacho just like Barefoot Contessa, but those are the main ingredients; I puree to more of a soup)

Friday: real takeout at Outback with the family!

So I covered my favorites (Taco Bell and Greek) and Jason’s favorites (fried rice and pizza). It was a pretty delicious week!


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Ooey Gooey

Recipe time!

Ever have one of those days where you want to plunge your entire face into a bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, chocolate chip cookies or just eating frosting out of the container with a spoon?

Jason had one of those days yesterday (he didn’t tell me this, I only gathered from the events of the day and the level of “grunts” that came out of his mouth instead of words when he called me).

So I took it upon my wifely self to make our favorite dessert. OOEY GOOEY, or as the foodie elites like to call it…Brownie Pudding. Thanks to Barefoot Contessa, I make this concoction once every few months when we just need a pick me up. It’s divine. It’s part brownie, part underbaked cookie, whole amazing. Sometimes I think it’s one of the main reasons Jason married me….it’s THAT good.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the dish
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup good cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean (I use 1 splash of Vanilla extract)
  • 1 tablespoon framboise liqueur, optional (I’ve never used this)
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2-quart (9 by 12 by 2-inch) oval baking dish. Melt the 1/2 pound of butter and set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.

When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds, framboise, if using, and the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.

Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.

Allow to cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.


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Planting Tomatoes

This is it. This is the year. No, THE year.

THIS. Is the year of the tomato.

For three years now, I have tried in vain to plant one of my favorite things in the entire world. Homegrown tomatoes. I was raised with slices of tomatoes served with every meal in the summer, and there is no comparison to how these suckers taste to the plastic tomatoes served in the grocery store. I have no idea why I have such trouble growing things. I come from a food-growing family. I lived on homegrown corn, tomatoes, black eyed peas, mustard greens and blackberries for years. But for some reason, I have the ability to kill a cactus. Don’t ask.

Oh, but this year. I will not fail. I experimented last year and was successful with about 3 ripe banana peppers, but that’s it.

I’ve also been successful with Thyme and Rosemary (after several failed attempts as well). But this year, I want a freakin salad station in my yard.

Here’s what I’m thinking:
– banana peppers again
– cucumbers (maybe??)
– TOMATOES
– parsley
– cilantro

I could eat that combination with some olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper every meal for days. I have the pots. I will get the soil. My neighbors can deal with my annoyingly moving the pots around each day to get as much sunshine as possible. And I hope that this year I can be “that” girl who shares her bounty with her fellow man. And eats her weight in tomatoes.

Any tips or tricks for planting these types of veggies in pots? I’ve found a few helpful articles here and here. But what else should I know?