Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Shrimp Quesadillas and Avocado Cream

photo from Food Network

Shrimp Quesadillas and Avocado Cream Sauce

For the shrimp:
1 lb peeled and deveined small shrimp
1/8-1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/8-1/4 cup lime juice
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. adobo sauce
1 tsp. salt

For the avocado cream:
1 large, ripe avocado, peeled and cubed
2 cloves chopped garlic
leftover cooked marinade from shrimp
½ cup plain nonfat yogurt

For the quesadilla part:
Flour tortillas
Shredded cheese (I used a standard Fiesta blend found at grocery stores everywhere)
Any vegetables (onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, carrot, cabbage, etc) or
fruit (mangoes or pineapple would be good) you would want in a quesadilla
3 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil

Combine the oil, juice, and spices listed under the shrimp category. Pour over shrimp (raw or cooked) and let sit for 20 minutes in the refrigerator to let the flavors combine. After shrimp has marinated, cook in a nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat until shrimp is pink and firm to the touch. Pull the shrimp out and keep warm. Boil the liquids for another 10 minutes, then take off the burner and let cool slightly.

In a food processor, combine the cubed avocado, chopped garlic, leftover shrimp marinade, and yogurt until smooth and creamy. If the mixture is too thick, add more yogurt. This can also be doubled or tripled accordingly. Chill until ready to serve.

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Brush two tortillas on one side with the oil. Put one oil-side-down in the skillet, and sprinkle some of the cheese on top, making sure to cover the tortilla to the edges. Add a quarter of the shrimp and whatever veggies/fruit, sprinkle with a little more cheese, and put the other tortilla on top, oil-side-up. You’ll want to cook the quesadilla on both sides about 2-3 minutes, or until the tortillas are crisp and just beginning to brown. When the quesadilla is done, put it on a plate and let cool for 2-3 minutes before cutting. Serve warm with the avocado cream.

Last night, I thawed out some shrimp and thought for the longest time how to prepare them. You see, we LOVE pasta and all things Italian, but being from Texas we love Mexican and Tex-Mex inspired dishes as well. Since we always go the Italian route, I opted to make some quesadillas with the shrimp. After Googling a million recipes (not literally, but you know what I mean) that all required ingredients we just don’t normally have, I decided to take things into my own hands with spices and flavors we have around the house all the time. Thus, these shrimp quesadillas were born! What a delicious (and pretty healthy) meal! Another great thing with the Avocado Cream is that it saves well and still tastes great the next day…as I write this, I’m enjoying a bowl full of dry roasted vegetables with a little bit of the leftover cream, and my husband spread the rest on a turkey sandwich. Delicious!

I would like to stress that it is so much more fun and interesting when you take recipes (like the Shrimp Quesadillas) and use what you have available. No meal will ever be the same, and it will give you a chance to be creative, not to mention develop your palate even further! Esperamos que usted disfrute de esta receta!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Roasted Corn and Jalapeno Cheddar Risotto

Last night we had a MAJOR storm that left about 6 inches of hail on the ground in about 10 minutes! I woke up this morning to a very foggy and chilly morning, so needless to say today is definitely a day that is leaving me wanting some sort of hot, creamy comfort food!

Roasted Corn, Jalapeno, and Cheddar Risotto

1 1-lb. bag of frozen corn kernels, thawed
2 jalapenos, seeded (unless you want some extra hotness)
1 medium red, yellow, or white onion (whichever you prefer), chopped
1-2 Tbsp. vegetable or olive oil
1-1 ½ cups of sharp Cheddar cheese
3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups Arborio rice (pictured above, thanks to www.vegeyum.files.wordpress.com)
4 Tbsp. butter
1 cup dry white wine
6 ½ cups chicken stock (I used bouillon cubes because they’re cheaper and I don’t have time to make homemade stock), warmed
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

For the roasted corn, jalapenos, and onions: Toss all veggies with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on baking sheet and roast for 10-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to avoid burning. You’ll want everything to be caramelized (a little bit of brown), but not burned. When you see caramelization, pull the baking sheet out of the oven and let it cool until it’s time to stir into the risotto.

For the risotto: Melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and Arborio rice, stirring constantly for 2 minutes or so to let the rice toast a little bit. Pour in the white wine, and continue stirring until all of the liquid has been absorbed into the rice. At this point, the goal is to be constantly stirring the remaining liquid into the rice, 1 cup at a time. So, when the wine is absorbed, pour one cup of the chicken stock in. Stir until liquid is absorbed into the rice. Repeat until all of the liquid has been stirred in. This creates a slow release of the starch in the Arborio rice, which makes it thick and creamy without having to add cream.

Once all of the liquid has been stirred in and the risotto is thick and creamy, take the pot off of the heat and stir in the cheddar cheese and roasted vegetables. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

I got the idea for this from my friend Emma. She was the first person to ever prepare risotto for me, and after tasting hers (it had summer squash and AMAZING aged parmigiano-reggiano) I knew I wanted to try making it myself. Lo and behold, one night I came up with this recipe and loved it! It’s great with just about any protein, but I especially like it with grilled chicken. This makes a ton of food, so it’s great for entertaining (if you’re ok with standing over the pot while everyone mingles), but the leftovers are also fantastic. Just warm it up with a little extra liquid (I just use water) to make it creamy again.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Turkey and Roasted Butternut Squash Chili

photo courtesy of www.leftoverqueen.com

Turkey and Roasted Butternut Squash Chili

1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 medium to large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1” cubes
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 small to medium onion, chopped
2 15-oz. cans of Rotel (or store brand if you’re making it on the cheap)
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
1 (or 2) cans of beans (whatever you like in your chili – black, red, hominy), drained
1 heaping Tbsp. cumin
1 heaping Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp. oregano
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450.

Toss squash cubes with 1 Tbsp. of the oil and about 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Spread squash cubes out on a small cookie sheet. When oven is ready, place squash in and roast for 20-25 minutes, turning the cubes every 5-10 minutes for even cooking.

In a large pot over medium heat, sauté onion in 1 tablespoon of oil until translucent. Add turkey and continue to cook until all turkey is thoroughly cooked through. When the turkey is cooked, add the crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, beans. Add the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Begin to heat through while finishing off the squash.

To finish the squash: In a food processor or blender, add both cans of Rotel. When the squash is done roasting, put the hot squash into the food processor/blender. Be careful with the lid because the hot food will expand if there is no air (for this I just took off the small attachment for the lid after I started the processor). Pureed the squash and Rotel. Add to chili.

Once all items are combined, bring chili to a boil and then lower the heat to low. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until all flavors are combined. Serve hot with any chili fixings you might like (avocado, sour cream, cheese, tortillas, chips, onions, etc.)

**if you like your chili to be chunky, only blend one of the cans of Rotel with the squash.**

I really love the texture the pureed squash adds to this dish. Besides that, it's great when you're wanting to hide vegetables in food. My husband made the biggest grimace when he saw I was adding the squash to the chili, but when it was done he not only liked it, but shared it with some of the guys in the office! There are quite a few recipes out there that incorporate pureed squash into not-so-healthy dishes (i.e. Mac & Cheese) so make them a little healthier, and I've had nothing but luck with them! Let me know what y'all think!


Hey y'all! My name is Heather, and I am a food lover and a passionate follower of Christ. My love for food has stemmed from a longtime obsession with it. Growing up, in my quest to be thin and fit into all of the “good” (see also: small) sizes, I overdid it and followed several different paths of disordered eating from 7th grade through my senior year in college. After meeting and marrying my husband, I knew that pattern of eating (or, in some cases, not eating) would keep me from growing closer to my husband as it had already stunted my relationship with God. Although the thought process of disordered eating is still with me, through the grace of God and the loving encouragement of my husband I have begun to see food as it really is: a blessing of sensual flavors, aromas, and nourishment.

My experience in cooking began in the kitchen, helping my mother and father cook. With mom I got to mix ingredients in bowls, and dad always let me cut up the olives for “Old Dead Bugs and Worms” (spaghetti). My parents have always been a great example of cooking together, eating as a family, and cleaning up as a family. I graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management. During my college years I think it’s safe to say that the only channel I ever watched was Food Network, garnering recipe ideas and tips from Rachel Ray, Giada de Laurentiis, Emeril Lagasse, Ina Garten, and Paula Dean. After college I accepted a job with Starbucks Coffee Company. Although I no longer work there, I would definitely say that with all of the coffee tastings and pairings I did there, Starbucks is where I finally began to develop my palate. I took pride in deciphering flavors no one else could, and began to practice at home when cooking. That’s not to say there haven’t been (and won’t ever be) errors and issues with my take on recipes, but it’s been a fun process.

I now live in Colorado and work for an outdoor apparel company, but my passion for cooking and great food is very much alive and well. One of the best days of the week is Thursday, when I take a couple of hours to bake treats for my department. I love the opportunity to be creative and watch people enjoy a little treat at the end of the week. I believe it’s my passion for sharing good food that will hopefully have people reading and cooking. My hope is that through my experiences with cooking, others will be able to find a joy in providing delicious and (mostly) healthy meals for their friends and family. That being said, best dishes!

First Things First

Hi everyone! We are Heather and Stefanie, two friends who share a passion for food, friendship, and life. We wanted to create a blog as a way to share original recipes, review and critique other recipes, and in general share food experiences with the world. In the next couple of days we would like to introduce ourselves as well as begin the recipe blogging experience. We would love any comments on recipes, products, and tips for great restaurants at any time! The whole idea is to understand and impart the joy that we have both found in the kitchen, creating and savoring and giving back through the medium of food. Enjoy!