Roasted Shrimp and Avocado Pesto

If you’re still keeping up with your New Year’s resolution, good for you! If you’re not – don’t consider it failure, pick it back up and try again.

On January first I promised you a healthy dish. I’m only 3 weeks late in delivering, but here it is! Brown rice pasta (pad thai noodles) and roasted shrimp tossed in avocado pesto.

I followed Amateur Gourmet‘s method for roasting the shrimp and was inspired by The Gracious Pantry‘s avocado pesto. Because I kept tasting throughout the cooking process, I ended up creating my own version of avocado pesto!

Roasted Shrimp and Avocado Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 8 oz brown rice noodles
  • 2 avocados
  • 1/2 C fresh basil
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 C shredded asiago cheese
  • salt and white pepper, to taste

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 deg.
  2. Cook brown rice noodles according to package directions.
  3. Place shrimp on a greased baking sheet. Season with salt, pepper, and a little squeeze of lemon. Roast for 10 minutes.
  4. In a food processor combine the remaining ingredients.
  5. Toss noodles and shrimp with as much avocado pesto you want.

Avocado Pesto

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Healthy Chicken Tacos

Mexican Monday has been in need of a healthy make over. This recipe from Cooking Light is very simple, very quick and full of flavor. The chicken gets its smokey warmth from ancho chili powder and is accompanied by a bright, crunchy slaw.

On a side note, I picked up a package of organic free range chicken breasts for this dinner. They were considerably smaller than the chicken breasts I normally pick up – about half the size! These two breasts yielded 5 tacos. If I used the average antibiotic treated chicken I could have gotten 8 tacos. I am tempted to now pay a little more for organic chicken because the difference in taste was like night and day. I was surprised.

Healthy Chicken Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 3/4 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 2 limes, divided use
  • 1/4 C sour cream
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 C packaged cole slaw
  • 1/2 C sliced scallions
  • 1/4 C chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • taco sized flour tortillas

Steps:

  1. Season chicken with chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, S+P. In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat cook chicken in olive oil until cooked through.
  2. In a blender, puree sour cream, milk, avocado, zest and juice of 1 lime. Mix until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl toss together slaw, scallion, cilantro, juice of 1 lime, and canola oil. Season with salt to taste.
  4. Assemble tacos and enjoy!

*This recipe is adapted from Maureen at http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/ancho-chicken-tacos-50400000111963/*

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CIC: Avocado & Caramel

Last weekend we had a wonderful Korean-style supper at our good friends’ house. Tara is the host of Tara’s Multicultural Table and my blogging mentor. She told me about this new blogging-world challenge. It’s a challenge where you mix two ingredients that wouldn’t normally be paired together and create a recipe that encompasses both of them.  Almost like Chopped! This month’s challenge is Avocado and Caramel.

I was surprised at how quickly an idea came to me! I had just watched a Giada at Home episode where she stuffed peanut butter cupcakes with caramel. That fulfills requirement number 2. But what about requirement number 1? I’ve seen many vegan/vegetarian recipes that substitute avocado for eggs in baking, so here we have it! We stopped at Publix on the way home and the next morning I was making these!

I know my blog isn’t exactly vegan friendly, but here’s a recipe you could (dissect and) serve to your meat-free guests! I substituted cow’s milk, but you could switch it back to soy milk! However, Stuffing these chocolate beauties with caramel and topping them with frosting voids the vegan requirements…

Stuart was not excited about this avocado cupcake idea. But I had him taste the batter (that’s the best part about vegetarian/vegan cupcakes! No eggs means you can lick that spoon clean without any guilt), and he conceded to the avocado cupcake. He was even disappointed that this recipe only made 12 cupcakes!

Avocado is changing the baking world one cupcake at a time. A coworker even told me that this was the best cupcake he’s ever had, and I had a request from another for the recipe because his daughter is allergic to eggs.

Caramel Filling 1 Caramel Filling 2 Caramel Filling 3 Wet Ingredients: Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes Dry Ingredients: Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes Chocolate Avocado Cupcake Batter Peanut Butter Caramel Frosting 1 Peanut Butter Caramel Frosting 2 Peanut Butter Caramel Frosting 3

Caramel Filled Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Caramel Frosting

Ingredients for Cupcakes:

  • 25 caramel squares
  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 C pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 C milk
  • 1/3 C canola oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Ingredients for Frosting:

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 C powdered sugar
  • 1/8 C + 1 tsp milk
  • 1/4 C peanut butter
  • 1-2 tbsp caramel

Steps

  1. In a saucepan over low heat melt caramel into the heavy cream. Stir occasionally.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. In a food processor, puree avocado, syrup, milk, oil, and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Whisk together the remaining dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients to the dry.
  5. Assemble cupcakes: put a spoonful of batter, a spoonful of caramel, and another spoonful of batter into paper lined cupcake tins. Bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Make the frosting: In a stand mixer beat together sugar, butter, and milk. When combined fully add in the peanut butter. Using a spoon, swirl in the caramel. Pipe frosting on top of cupcakes and drizzle with extra caramel sauce if desired.

*The cupcake recipe was adapted from http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/glazed-chocolate-avocado-cupcakes/. The frosting and filling were adapted from Giada deLaurentiis at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/stuffed-peanut-butter-cupcakes-with-swirled-peanut-butter-frosting-recipe/index.html*

Caramel Filled Chocolate Avocado CupcakeI have to admit, I was disappointed when I cut into a cupcake and wasn’t met with lava flowing caramel. The photo of Food Network’s page is very misleading; however, my results mimicked those aired on the “Stuff It” episode. (The last photo is a “cheat” 😉 )Stuart’s advice: If you think you put enough caramel in the cupcake, add a little bit more.

Caramel Filled Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Caramel Frosting 3

Caramel Filled Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Caramel Frosting 1 Caramel Filled Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Caramel Frosting 4 Caramel Filled Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Caramel Frosting 2

Caramel Filled Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Caramel Frosting 5Here are the other blogs that participated in this month’s Crazy Ingredient Challenge.

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Avocado Ranch

In an effort to keep a balanced diet, I try to do Salad Night once a week. As you could imagine, this could become pretty monotonous – unless you’re a rabbit and you like that kind of thing.

When I met my husband in college, he did not eat lettuce. He didn’t eat too many vegetables actually. On our one year anniversary I prepared a three course meal, complete with Caesar Salad. He amused me and ate a couple bites. He said it was a texture thing. That I don’t get – lettuce is light, and crisp, and refreshing! After we got married and I fell in love with cooking, our pallets became more adventurous. His more so than mine I’m sad to admit. He eats vegetables now! And better yet, salads. He’ll even choose salad at a restaurant while I opt for the burger.

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Avocado Ranch

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/4 C hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp dry ranch seasoning
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 6 tbsp Ranch dressing
  • 4 C salad mix
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, deseeded and diced

Steps

  1. Marinate chicken for at least two hours in hot sauce and ranch seasoning. Grill chicken until cooked through.
  2. In a blender, puree avocado and ranch dressing.
  3. Assemble salad with remaining ingredients. Top with chicken and dressing.

*This recipe is modified from Amanda at http://www.theskinnyfork.com/blog/skinny-grilled-buffalo-chicken-salad*

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Corn and Black-Eyed Peas Dip

Every Sunday after July 4th weekend my Dad’s family has a reunion picnic. Today is the 15th Annual Dominican Picnic in Chicago. Even after we moved to Florida we did our best to make it back up there to see all of our family. It would always be a two week vacation, split between Busia’s summer home in Lake Geneva, WI. As we got older and our schedules became more hectic, our Illinois-Wisconsin vacations got shorter and skipped a few years. Unfortunately, this year I am not up there – instead I’m battling this never-ending rain in the FL panhandle.

Last year I was very excited to bring my husband to Lake Geneva and Chicago. Lake Geneva is my favorite place to be and I was glad I could share a piece of my childhood with him – and better yet, he enjoyed it too! I also immersed him into my gigantic family at our reunion. Luckily he’s very outgoing! He spent about 45 minutes helping my uncle set up the volleyball net (why it took them that long I still don’t know!) and he taught cousins how to play Ultimate Frisbee. Give him a sport to play, and he’s happy!

547708_3835277598687_1339327212_nDSCN3423Ultimate Frisbee

Stu, Mom, Me
Stuart, Mom, and Me at the Dominican Family Picnic 2012

We assign potluck dishes by letter of your last name – Mom (S) was a salad and I (E) was a fruit/vegetable. I bent the rules slightly and combined our assignments into a tailgating favorite of Corn and Black-Eyed Peas Dip. I can’t remember where I first got the recipe, but it’s become one of my go-to party dips over the past couple years. It’s super simple and nice and light for a hot day.

Corn and Black-Eyed Peas Dip

Ingredients

  • 2 cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans sweet corn, drained
  • 1-2 pts cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2-3 avocados, diced
  • 1 lime
  • 1/4-1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 bottles zesty Italian dressing

Steps

  1. In a large bowl combine all veggies. Squeeze lime over top to keep avocado from browning. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Add in dressing and mix to combine.
  2. Tostitos Whole Grain Scoops are the best complimentary chip for this dip.

You can adjust the amount of avocado and tomato so suit your preferences, but they do make the dip beautiful! I’ve also tried the recipe using thawed frozen corn because I always have it in on hand, but I’ve found the canned corn works better.

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