The other night we enjoyed Southwestern Pasta Salad alongside simple Chili Lime Grilled Shrimp Skewers. Nothing says you have to cook the shrimp on skewers – you could just throw them in a grill pan, but there’s something appealing about the presentation of skewers. This recipe is super easy; I feel like it’s not even really a recipe, but my guests loved the shrimp skewers and told me I had to blog it. Since I wasn’t planning on blogging this dish, I didn’t take photos during the cooking process. One important thing to keep in mind when you are using any type of marinade with seafood is that the acid in the marinade will start to “cook” the seafood. For this reason, it’s important not to marinate the seafood too long. I only marinated the shrimp for about 20 minutes which seemed like the perfect amount. I love the flavor of lime with chili, and since I was pairing the shrimp with the southwestern style pasta salad, I thought the chili lime was the perfect flavor. Having said that, you could easily substitute lemon for lime in this marinade. You could also use your favorite Cajun seasoning rub or even Old Bay seasoning – just keep in mind that both contain a fair amount of salt. Also, if you’re using wooden skewers, remember to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before using so they don’t catch on fire. One final tip – you can buy cleaned tail-on raw shrimp (frozen work just fine) – this is a huge time saver. Serves 4.
- 28-32 Medium Raw Shrimp (cleaned, tail-on) – (use fewer shrimp if using large or jumbo size shrimp)
- 2 TBS. Canola Oil
- 1/3 Cup Fresh Lime Juice
- 1-2 TBS. Mild Chili Powder (substitute your favorite chili powder or “Rub”
- Salt and Pepper
Soak bamboo skewers in water. Heat a grill to high. In the meantime, combine lime juice and chili powder (or rub) in a glass or non-reactive bowl. Add shrimp to marinade and allow to marinate for 10-20 minutes. Skewer shrimp (6-7 per skewer) and lightly season with salt and pepper. Reserve remaining marinade. Place skewers on grill (over direct heat) and cook for about a minute until just starting to brown on one side. Pour a little of the remaining marinade over the skewers – this will cause the flames to leap up and add good grill marks. Flip the skewers and repeat the cooking process until the other side of the shrimp are nicely grilled and cooked through. Optional: garnish with chopped cilantro and lime wedges. Serve immediately.
I can’t take any credit for this recipe. My friend Michael brought it over the other night when he came for smoked brisket. This sauce is my new addiction (besides homemade ice cream, cupcakes, scones, and anything roasted on the grill). It has a bold garlic flavor and a hint of heat (my “hint” might be equal to a little more than a hint, but you can adjust down the spice if you’d like). The cilantro and parsley flavors marry so well together that neither stands out too agressively (I love cilantro, but some people find it overpowering). So, enough about the sauce…what can you use it on? It is really meant to be used with grilled meats. Meat, however, is a term I would use generously. This sauce is so versatile – it’s sort of like the south of the border pesto. This would be great on poultry, seafood (look for a grilled shrimp post soon), and I recently used it in a pasta salad (also to be posted soon). It would also be great drizzled over grilled bread (or serve alongside so people can dip). It would also be delicious on boiled or roasted potatoes or roasted or steamed vegetables. And for breakfast…I will find a way to incorporate this right into hollandaise, but in the meantime, it will be great on cheesey scrambled eggs or a southwestern omelette. So now do you understand why I might require a chimichurri intervention? I don’t have any photos of the sauce in process – but you all know what a bunch of stuff looks like in a blender. I suggest making a double batch of this sauce – you will find yourself looking for ways to use it.
- 1 cup Italian parsley
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- 5 cloves garlic chopped
- 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp salt
Purée in blender or food processor & serve at room temperature. Enjoy!!
Mashed potatoes are great, but, in my opinion, smashed potatoes are even better. My son might disagree; he likes his potatoes buttery, smooth and creamy – no skins, no hearty chunks, no bacon bits, no chopped green stuff. Well, he was out of town this week, so I took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy some decadent smashed potatoes. These are super easy (easier than mashed potatoes), and you can really experiment with the mix-ins. I used redskin potatoes, but you can use small white potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, or fingerlings. Don’t use Idaho, russetts, or baking potatoes because the skins are too thick. For mix-ins I used garlic, bacon, sour cream and chives. You can skip the bacon for a vegetarian version, or use chicken cracklings for a Kosher version (omit the dairy). You can substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream for a more tangy taste, or use a bit of buttermilk for a Southern flavor. Try different herbs like rosemary or mint, or even mix in some sauteed greens like kale or arugula. I used chives which work as an herb but add an onion flavor; green onions are another one of my favorite mix-ins. So, you get the picture… mix-in what you like, or what you have available. These are a great accompaniment for almost anything: steak, pork chops or loin, ribs, chicken, burgers, grilled sandwiches, or even with eggs for breakfast.
- 2-3 Lbs. Potatoes (your favorite thin skinned variety) – scrubbed clean
- 4-5 Slices of Bacon (thick cut if available)
- 1/4 – 1/3 Cup Sour Cream
- 3-4 Cloves of Garlic – minced
- 3-4 TBS. Fresh Chives – chopped
- Salt and Pepper
Cook bacon until crispy, drain on paper towels and, when cool enough to handle, crumble. Reserve bacon drippings/fat. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender (6-10 minutes depending on size of potatoes). Drain potatoes and return to pot. Add minced garlic, crumbled bacon, and chives. Use a potato masher and smash potatoes, mixing in the other ingredients. Add bacon drippings and mix-in. Add sour cream – adjusting the amount until the desired creaminess is achieved. Season with salt and pepper.
My ice cream making kick continues. I love coffee ice cream, and I love old fashioned donuts; this ice cream combines both. Some recipes call for chunks of donuts – I may try this, but for this version I ground up the donuts in the food processor. The ice cream was very well received, but I wasn’t thrilled with the texture because the ground donuts added a bit of graininess to the otherwise creamy ice cream. I think I was the only one who “took issue” with the grainy texture, but I am my worst critic. The coffee base is my standard (I promise to post my Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream recipe soon) for ice cream and it is delicious – and that is coming from my worst critic and a well trained coffee ice cream snob. So, if you decide you’re not fond of the coffee donut combo – just leave out the donuts, or serve them on the side.
- 1.5 Cup Whole Milk (or use 1/2 and 1/2 Cream)
- 1.5 Cup Heavy Cream
- 3/4 Cup Sugar
- 2 TBS. Instant Coffee
- 1.5 TBS. Vanilla Extract
- 1.5 TBS. Corn Starch
- 1/2 Cup Donut Crumbles
Combine cornstarch and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Add enough milk to dissolve all of the dry ingredients and make a slurry. Add the remaining milk and cream to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add instant coffee and return to boil; boil for 4 minutes (no more, no less). Remove from heat and add the cornstarch mixture. Return to heat and bring back to a boil, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved and mixture has thickened slightly. Pour mixture into a gallon sized ziplock bag, seal, and place in an ice bath – chill until completely chilled (at least 30 minutes). Pour the chilled mixture into the canister of an ice cream maker and process until thick and creamy. When ice cream has reached desired consistency (about 15-25 minutes for most ice cream makers) add chopped donuts and allow to mix until incorporated. Transfer ice cream to an airtight storage container, cover with a layer of parchment paper, cover, and freeze until firm – about 4 hours. Garnish with additional donut bits if desired.
I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve been making a lot of ice cream lately – it is summer after all. I had some leftover bananas the other day but wasn’t in the mood for banana bread, muffins, or cupcakes (my usual go-tos when I need to use up bananas), so I decided to make ice cream. I love banana ice cream, but I wanted a little something different. I had some great big salty cashews on-hand and decided they’d make the perfect edition to the sweet creamy banana ice cream. If you, like my “I don’t like nuts in my ice cream friend,” don’t like nuts in your ice cream, skip the cashews and you’ll have a delicious simple banana ice cream*.
- 2 Cups Whole Milk
- 1.25 Cups Heavy Cream
- 2/3 Cup Sugar
- 2 Very Ripe Bananas
- 2TBS. Light Corn Syrup
- 1 Heaping TBS. Corn Starch
- 1 Vanilla Bean (split lengthwise)**
- 1 Cup Lightly Salted Cashews – chopped
- Extra Whole Cashews for garnish
*If you are not using cashews, add about 1/8 tsp. fine sea salt. **Substitute 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Combine cornstarch, sugar and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add enough milk to dissolve all of the dry ingredients and make a slurry. Add the remaining milk, cream, vanilla bean (scrape seeds into milk mixture and drop in bean pod) and corn syrup to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 4 minutes (no more, no less). Remove from heat and add the cornstarch mixture. Return to heat and bring back to a boil, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved and mixture has thickened slightly. Remove vanilla bean pod. Puree the bananas in a blender or food processor. Add the pureed bananas to the hot milk/cream mixture. Pour mixture into a gallon sized ziplock bag, seal, and place in an ice bath – chill until completely chilled (at least 30 minutes). Pour the chilled mixture into the canister of an ice cream maker and process until thick and creamy. When ice cream has reached desired consistency (about 15-25 minutes for most ice cream makers) add chopped cashews and allow to mix until incorporated. Transfer ice cream to an airtight storage container, cover with a layer of parchment paper, cover, and freeze until firm – about 4 hours. Garnish with whole cashews if desired.
I don’t even know where to begin…maybe with my son’s comment: “who puts brussels sprouts on a pizza?” He followed that up with “Why can’t you just make normal pizza?” However, when I asked him what he thought, he said it was actually good. I had some leftover grilled chicken and some brussels sprouts that needed to be used; this is how the pizza came about. I roasted the brussels sprouts in the oven first and then just added them and the grilled chicken to the pizza. I decided not to use a traditional red pizza sauce, but went with pesto as a sauce. As I was grilling the pizza, I spied my basil and couldn’t resist adding some torn basil to the top of the pizza – good choice. I really loved this combination of ingredients and am once again reminded that some of my best creations were unpredictable.
- 1 Pizza Crust*
- 3-4 TBS. Pesto
- 1.5 Cups Shredded Mozzerella Cheese (more or less as desired)
- 1 Grilled Chicken Breast – cut into pieces
- 1 Cup Grilled Brussels Sprouts
- Olive Oil (about 1TBS.)
- Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
- Several leaves of Fresh Basil
*Trader Joes has a great fresh pizza crust – other brands are often sold in frozen near the frozen pizzas or frozen breads.
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. Remove outer leaves of brussels sprouts, cut off ends, and slice in half. Put sprouts on a baking sheet (I use a foil liner for easy clean-up),coat brussels sprouts with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place sprouts in the oven and bake for about 7 minutes – when browned on bottom, flip and roast for another few minutes. Preheat the grill to about 500 Degrees and clean the grates.
Lightly flour a cookie sheet or cutting board. Stretch dough to desired shape and thickness ( you don’t want to make the dough too thin or you will have difficulty with it on the grill, but if it’s too thick, it won’t cook enough), about 1/2 inch. Spray grill grates generously with cooking spray (they make one for grills) and place pizza crust directly on the grill grates and turn the heat down to low. Grill until you have nice brown grill marks; flip over and do the same on the other side.
Spread pizza crust with a thin layer of pesto. Spread mozzerella evenly over the crust and top with grilled chicken and brussells sprouts. Top with torn basil leaves. Spray the grill with cooking spray and place prepared pizza directly on the grill grates. Grill until mozzarella cheese is completely melted and crust is nicely browned. (If you notice that the crust is darkening too much, turn off the burner directly under the pizza, but leave on the two outside burners.) Allow pizza to rest for a few minutes, then slice and serve.
This is one of my favorite pasta salads – it combines two of my favorite dishes: caprese salad and pasta. What’s not good about that? I have served this at several concert in the park picnics, and have taken it to many barbeques gatherings. As you can imagine, this is a super easy pasta salad to assemble, and, if you use store-bought pesto, it’s even easier. You can buy mozzarella that comes in small balls, or you can use fresh mozzarella cut into bite sized pieces. I like to use cherry or grape tomatoes – I slice them in half so that they absorb more of the dressing. In addition to using pesto, fresh basil is a key ingredient in this salad. As with all salads, and particularly pasta salad, adjust the ingredients and seasonings (dressing, herbs etc.) to your liking.
- 1 Lb. Shaped Pasta (Rotini, Ziti, Cavatapa, or whatever you like or have on hand)
- 1.5-2 Cups Mozzarella balls – cut in half (or mozzarella cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
- 1.5-2 Cups Cherry or Grape Tomatoes – cut in half
- 1 Cup Fresh Basil – chopped
- 1/4 -1/3 Cup Pesto
- 6-8 TBS. Olive Oil
- 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar (use white balsamic if available)
- 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese- shredded
- Salt -to taste (it will take a generous amount)
- Pepper- to taste
Cook pasta according to directions, but only until al dente. Run pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process and drain. Pour pasta into a large serving bowl, add pesto to pasta and mix until pasta is coated to your liking. Mix in tomatoes, mozzarella,Parmesan and basil (adjust amounts as desired). Add olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.