Spiced Shrimp with Ginger Rice and Peas

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With summer here I have had an urge to definitely start trying to eat lighter at night.  We usually eat dinner fairly late to most people and with the heat this summer, lighter meals would definitely help out.  I love going to the half price bookstores and picking up cooking magazines to leaf through.  I found a bunch of copies of Everday Food and could not pass this recipe up once I saw it.  This is one of those recipes that can be thrown together any time, since I always have these ingredients.  Wow, I did not know a recipe could be so simple.  This recipe came together in 20 minutes and was delicious.  The hubby and I both loved it.  I will say that the lime definitely makes the flavor combination dance on your tastebuds.  This one is definitely a keeper recipe.

Spiced Shrimp with Ginger Rice and Peas
from Everyday Food

Ingredients
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 cup long-grain white rice
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
lime wedges, for serving

Directions
In a medium saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high.  Add scallion whites and ginger and cook, stirring often, until soft, 3 minutes.  Add rice and 1 1/2 cups water and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil; cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook until rice is tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and top with peas.  Let stand, covered, 5 minutes, then add scallion greens and fluff rice with fork.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss shrimp with cumin and coriander and season with salt and pepper.  In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high.  Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque throughout, about 4 minutes.  Serve shrimp with rice and lime wedges.

 

 

Avocado, Tomato, and Mango Salsa

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When Friday rolls around at 3 pm, most people are  just trying to get through the next couple hours to start their weekend.  I am sitting there instead thinking about all the amazing things that I want to make over the weekend and how I can incorporate them into our weekend plans.  This weekend is no exception.  We are going to our first Symphony on the Prairie  tomorrow night!  This is something the hubby and I absolutely love going to, and this time we are going with some good friends so I can make a larger amount of food then normal.  This made my mind race with recipes, and I was sitting at work reeling to get home so I could start my menu items for tomorrow.  I decided on a Mexican theme for the evening.  Our appetizer is going to be this delicious salsa. I have been in love with this salsa since the first time my mother-in-law made it for us.  Trust me once you make it, you will end up eating it with a spoon and forgetting about tortilla chips.

Avocado, Tomato, and Mango Salsa

from Allrecipes

Ingredients

1 mango – peeled, seeded and diced
1 avocado – peeled, pitted, and diced
4 medium tomatoes, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped red onion
3 tablespoons olive oil

In a medium bowl, combine the mango, avocado, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro, and garlic. Stir in the salt, lime juice, red onion, and olive oil. To blend the flavors, refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving.

Crunchy Asiago Chicken Nuggets

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This heat is unbearable, and therefore my appetitite has honestly packed up and left.  I usually do not eat a lot during the summer, but these last few days have been particularly bad due to the heat.  When I was looking through recipes for the hubby and I, this one immediately jumped out at me.  It had all the criteria I was looking for: light, quick, and easy to make.  Well, this recipe did not disappoint.  We used several dipping sauces not just the honey mustard.  Instead we also went with marinara, bbq, sweet and sour, and buffalo wing sauce to accompany our nuggets.  These definitely are a versatile recipe that can be changed into whatever suits your tastebuds that day. 

Crunchy Asiago Chicken Nuggets

from  How Sweet It Is

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 cups low-fat buttermilk

2 cups panko bread crumbs

1 cup seasoned regular bread crumbs (I used homemade with italian seasoning)

1/3 cup flour (any is fine, I used whole wheat)

1/2 cup freshly grated asiago cheese

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup dijon mustard

1/4 cup honey

2-24 hours before serving, cut chicken breasts into nugget-like chunks. Season with the salt and pepper then add to a bowl and pour buttermilk over top. Let soak for at least 2 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, heat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then lay a wire rack on top and spray with non-stick spray. Add honey and mustard to a bowl and mix, then set aside. Add bread crumbs, flour, cheese, garlic powder and paprika to a bowl and mix thoroughly. Remove each nugget directly from the buttermilk to the bread crumb mixture and coat, then set on the wire rack. Repeat with the rest, then spritz each nugget with olive oil or non-stick spray. I usually just use Pam because I like the “spritz” it gives.

Bake for 7 minutes, then remove pan from oven and gently flip each nugget with kitchen tongs and spritz again with oil or spray. Bake for 7 minutes more, then serve hot with honey mustard.

Fennel-Spiced Salmon with Gazpacho Salad

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So for the second day in a row we decided to cook out of our new Weber cookbook and it did not disappoint.  The weather was so hot here yesterday that I was unsure if I would even be hungry for dinner.  We went to a local park and had a picnic for lunch and you would have thought we ran a marathon how we looked when returned home.  This is probably why we chose a light fish dish for dinner.  All the rage now on the cooking shows is deconstructing dishes and therefore I was a little skeptical when I saw a gazpacho salad.  Now I love gazpacho and knew I would enjoy all the flavors, but my worry lied with whether the hubby would enjoy it or not.  The salmon was perfectly seasoned and the gazpacho salad was cool and refreshing.  These two components on their own may not be my favorite, but together we both agreed they were the perfect bite.

Fennel-Spiced Salmon with Gazpacho Salad

from “Weber’s Charcoal Grilling – The Art of Cooking with Live Fire”

Salad:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup  1/4 inch-diced red onion

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 cups  1/4 inch-diced tomatoes

1 cup  1/4 inch-diced zucchini squash

1 cup seeded, 1/4 inch-diced cucumber

1 cup 1/4 inch-diced red bell pepper

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

Tabasco sauce

Rub

1 teaspoon ground fennel seed

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon pure chili powder

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 skinless salmon fillets, about 8 ounces each and 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick

Extra virgin olive oil

1.  In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, warm the oil.  Cook the onion until translucent but not golden, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring occasionally.  Add the tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, and the red bell pepper.  Cook the mixture for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally, to draw some liquid from the tomatoes.  Remove the skillet from  the heat.  Add the vinegar and dill.  Transfer the salad mixture to a large bowl and chill in refrigerator for about 1 hour or as long as 8 hours (more liquid will draw from the vegetables during this time).  remove the bowl from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.  Taste the salad and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper, and Tabasco.

2.  In a small bowl mix the rub ingredients.  Brush each of the salmon fillets evenly with oil.  Season them on both sides with the rub.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

3.  Prepare a two-zone fire for high heat.

4.  Brush the cooking grate clean.  Grill the fillets over direct high heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until cooked to your desired doneness, 8 to 10 minutes for medium rare, turning once after 6 to 7 minutes.  Swap their positions as needed for even cooking.  Serve warm with the salad, using as much or as little of the vegetable juices as you like.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Mini Peanut Butter Cups

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I have to say when I bought my dream Cuisinart ice cream maker I did not think there would be the amount of flavors to choose from.  There are endless possibilities for the combinations that can be made and experimented with.  I have tried my own hand at experimenting, but when I saw this recipe on Annie’s Eats I knew I had to make it.  The hubby loves Reese’s and this was definitely the closest ice cream to it I was going to get.  It was immediately a hit!  When the hubby eats it for breakfast it is a keeper. I have to say for anyone who wants to cool off and also have the classic combination of peanut butter and chocolate this is definitely for you.

 

Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Mini Peanut Butter Cups

from Annie’s Eats

Ingredients:
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
2 2/3 cups half-and-half
Pinch of coarse salt
Dash of vanilla extract
1 heaping cup mini Reese’s cups, wrappers removed, frozen and chopped (optional)

 

Directions:
Combine all of the ingredients (minus the candy) in a blender or food processor; and puree until completely smooth.  Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.  When the mixture is chilled through, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  To mix in the Reese’s, transfer the ice cream to a storage container and gently fold in the peanut butter cup pieces until evenly distributed.

 

Mojo Marinated Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa

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We are loving summer, but have really not started to enjoy our grill to the fullest since we have been traveling so much.  Well, we decided this weekend that we need to start grilling out more!   Weber grill has some of the best cookbooks, and the new one we purchased is no exception.  Chicken tacos sounded amazing and this recipe did not disappoint.  I would put the fresh salsa on fish tacos or even a shingle to be honest it is that good.  The first bite and we both looked at each other declaring that these were the best tacos we have ever had.  Everyone definitely needs to try these right away they are worth it.

Mojo Marinated Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa

from “Weber’s Charcoal Grilling – The Art of Cooking with Live Fire”

Marinade:

¼ cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno chile pepper, including seeds
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon kosher salt

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (without tenders), about 8 ounces each

Salsa:

1 medium yellow onion, cut into ½ inch slices
extra virgin olive oil
10 medium tomatillos, about ½ pound total, husked and rinsed
1 small jalapeno chile pepper, stem removed
¼ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
1 medium clove garlic
½ teaspoon dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt

12 flour tortillas (8 inches)
3/4 cup sour cream

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the marinade ingredients. Place the chicken in a large, resealable plastic bag, and pour in the marinade. Press out the air and seal the bag tightly. Turn the bag to distribute the marinade, place the bag in a bowl, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

2. Prepare a two-zone fire for high heat.

3. Lightly brush the onion slices on both sides with oil. Brush the cooking grate clean. Grill the onion slices, tomatillos, and jalapeno over direct high heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until lightly charred, 6-8 minutes, turning once or twice and swapping their positions as needed for even cooking. Be sure the tomatillos are completely soft as you remove them from the grill. Combine the onion slices, tomatillos, and jalapeno in a food processor along with the remaining salsa ingredients. Process until fairly smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Pour the salsa into a serving bowl.

4. Check the heat of the grill. You may need to add more charcoal to the fire for medium heat. Remove the chicken from the bag and discard the marinade. Separate the tortillas into 2 piles of 6 tortillas each. Wrap each pile in a sheet of aluminum foil. When the fire is ready, brush the cooking grate clean. Grill the chicken over direct medium heat with the lid closed as much as possible until the meat is firm to the touch and completely opaque in the center, 10 to 12 minutes, turning once or twice and swapping their positions as needed for even cooking. At the same time, grill each packet of tortillas over indirect medium heat until warm and soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the chicken and tortillas from the grill. Keep the tortillas in the foil while you slice the chicken as thinly as possible.

5. Put some sliced chicken in each warm tortilla. Pass the salsa and sour cream for toppings. Serve right away.

French Bread Pizza

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It is no secret that we love where we live, and one of the reasons is all of the wonderful places to eat in the area.   One of our new favorite places is Three Wise Men Brewery.  Not only do they have wonderful beer and service, but their pizza is amazing!  They use all local toppings as well as make the cracker thin crust with their IPA.  All of the toppings are so unique and fresh that it definitely keeps us not only wanting to come back for more, but also have cravings for it.

I really wanted that pizza tonight, but instead I figured to go low key and stay at home and use up some of the ingredients we have in the fridge.  We had leftover pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, pizza sauce, and garlic bulbs which were a great start to a pizza.  I decided to roast the garlic whole in the oven.  This has become one of our favorite toppings ever since we tried it at Three Wise Men.   Then, I decided to go over to a wonderful little market by our house and get fresh sausage (sweet Italian for the hubby and turkey Italian for me) and a French loaf.  With all these choices we were both able to make our own creations to enjoy.  The recipe below is merely a jumping off point.  Please make it your own and go crazy with the toppings and sauces, but make sure to get hearty enough bread to withstand the pizza.

French Bread Pizza

1 loaf french bread, halved

1 jar pizza sauce

2 cups shredded mozzarella

1 bulb roasted garlic

½ lb sausage cooked

20 pepperoni slices

Any other toppings that sound delicious to you!

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Spread the pizza sauce on top of the french bread slices, then top that with the cheese, sausage, pepperoni,and roasted garlic.  Bake the pizzas on a cookie sheet for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top of the cheese is bubbly and browned.

Tex-Mex Casserole

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So this past weekend we went to Chicago for 24 hours, yes I said 24 hours! And let me tell you, we packed so many great things into that time.  We went to the Cross town Classic and our Cubbies WON, then we went to ride the ferris wheel at Navy Pier since the hubby had never been.  We decided that night we would do what we love best, trying 3 or 4 restaurants and getting an appetizer and cocktail at each. We went to Dick’s Last Resort, Bin 36, House of Blues, and Smith and Wollensky.  It was such a great night! Then we returned home to pick our little doggies up and go out to the in-laws.  It was a wonderful BBQ with family, and also I have to admit I loved seeing my little Killian on a pool raft.

So after a simply AMAZING holiday weekend, I needed something comforting yet light.  This seemed to fit the bill in my mind, but I was unsure how it would come together.  I mixed a couple of our favorite dishes, and then added some extras hoping to give it more flavor.  Let me tell you, it turned out great!  The dish had the comforting macaroni taste, yet it was so light.  It also had the wonderful spice level I was hoping to achieve.  My hubby added a little hot sauce and taco sauce to the top of his, and the flavors truly began to pop. It is a quick and easy meal too, beacause I made it before tennis and popped it in the oven with no hassle when we came home.

Tex-Mex Casserole

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 cup sweet onion, grated
1/2 cup diced orange bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon 25 % Less Sodium Montreal Steak seasoning
16 oz. crushed tomatoes
1- 10 oz can of Rotel Tomatoes with Green Chiles
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp chili powder
2 cups frozen corn
2 ounces shredded Mexican 4 Cheese blend
1 1/2 cups dried macaroni style pasta
1 cup shredded Mexican 4 Cheese blend

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with cooking spray.  In large skillet brown ground beef with onions, bell pepper and red pepper flakes. Season with Magic Dust or steak seasoning.  Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, oregano and chili powder. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the frozen corn and simmer for a few more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the 2 ounces of cheese until melted. Gently stir in the cooked pasta. Pour all into prepared casserole dish and top with shredded cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until browned and bubbly.

A Perfect Pairing

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There are not many nights during the summer when my hubby and I can just grill out and enjoy the weather.  Our summers always seem to fill up quick with Cubs games, road trips, and weddings.  That is why tonight with how gorgeous it is outside we decided to take advantage of the weather.

Now we are the first to admit we love our wine.  We took our honeymoon to Napa and Sonoma Valley and cannot wait to return.  My hubby once said to me a great quote, ” You should not need a special occasion to open a bottle of great wine, opening it IS the occasion”.  And i could not agree more, this is why of course we needed a good bottle of wine to go with our dinner tonight.  So I sent the hubby downstairs to pick from our “special” wines, since honestly he is so much better at picking then me.  He came up with with a bottle that I was so excited to see.  I could not believe I forgot we still had a bottle of Carlisle 2007 Russian River Valley Zinfandel.  Now I know what most of you are thinking “Ew gross a Zinfandel”, but this is not the kind your grandmother drinks.  This is a bold, mature red that can stand out to the main star of dinner, a perfectly grilled filet mignon.

So the hubby decided that he wanted to grill us filet mignon after being inspired by Masterchef last night.  Yes I know, I know, that may have just embarassed him, but honestly living in this house it is either food shows or sports most nights.  The recipe is his own melding of several different methods, which is just incredible.

Mr. B’s Fantastic Filet

2 10 ounce filet mignon

3 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons coarse grey salt

3 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

 

Preheat grill or start charcoal chimney.  Combine all ingredients except the filet and stir well.  Rub each filet with the mixture and ensure even coated.  Leave the steaks at room temperature for 30 minutes with to let the rub distribute.  Once the grill is ready, sear each side over direct heat for 3-4 minutes.***  Then move to indirect heat for 5 more minutes.  Let steak rest for 5 minutes to let the juices redistribute and enjoy!!

 

***The times are for medium rare-medium steaks.  Cook more or less for desired doneness.

 

Mint Chocolate Chip Oreo Blizzard Ice Cream

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So the ice cream maker I have gotten has made my mind swirl with so many different flavors.  This is exactly what happen with this ice cream flavor.  I had some extra chocolate chips in the fridge from making an earlier ice cream recipe, love mint, and was craving the blizzard oreos we had purchased a day earlier at target.  To say the least, this was an amazing combination!  It was so good, this is definitely going in the rotation of ice creams this summer.  If you love mint and chocolate this will definitely be your new go to recipe. Enjoy!

 

Mint Chocolate Chip Oreo Blizzard Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 package of Oreo (blizzard flavor is what I used) crushed
  • 1/2 cup  semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the milk, cream, sugar, salt, vanilla extract and peppermint extract until the sugar has dissolved. Color to your liking with the green food coloring.
  2. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Fold in the chocolate chips and crushed Oreos. Spoon into the appropriate freezer containers and let set for at least 4 hours.