Shrimp and Avocado Salad: a light summer meal

In looking forward to warmer weather and summer activities I realized it was time to change up our dinner menu. With more sunshine and exercise it is high time to exchange the heavier oven and crock-pot meals for BBQs and salads; high in protein and veggies and low in carbs. My husband had mentioned recently that a couple times a week he wouldn’t mind getting a salad instead of a sandwich for lunch. As we talked about our favorite salad combinations I realized it was time to try out some new salads for dinner.

Which led to this: Shrimp and Avocado Salad

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Ingredients:

3-4 medium tomatoes

3 bell peppers

3 medium yellow onions

1/4 C lemon/lime juice

1/4 C olive oil

salt, pepper, garlic to taste

1 bag of precooked and shelled medium shrimp (about 24 oz)

2/3 small/medium ripe avocados

2 Cs raw baby spinach

Balsamic vinaigrette or your favorite salad dressing

Instructions 

1. I started with my basic pico de gallo recipe (see homemade pico de gallo).

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2.  While cutting the veggies for the pico de gallo, I put the frozen bag of precooked shrimp in a medium pan with a little olive oil, butter, (about 1 TBs each) and garlic powder (about 1/2tsp).

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3. Once the shrimp were defrosted and had soaked up  the oils I took them off the heat. After they cooled down (still a little warm) I carefully pulled out the tails. This didn’t take too long to do and the more I pulled the easier and quicker it became. But if you are opposed to this you can find smaller shrimp frozen where this is done for you. Then I placed the shrimp in the pico de gallo mixture and combined.

 

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4. Next I took the ripe avocados and cut them into square slices placing all in the bowl. With avocado if you want chunks make sure that your avocado is not overripe or is may be mushy and cutting slices/chunks will be difficult. Or if you want a creamy avocado dressing to form you can stir the salad up with over ripe/mushy avocados.

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Note: You can make the salad creamier to help cut the citrus by adding sour cream or greek yogurt (about 1/4 or 1/8 C) or combining overripe avocado with the cream.

5. Then I added a little more seasoning, lemon juice, and olive oil and covered the mixture with tin foil putting the bowl in the fridge to chill until dinner.

7. This combination in and of itself is a great salad, appetizer with tortilla chips, or filler for quesadillas or tacos. We chose for dinner to lay-down a bed of baby spinach, then some balsamic vinaigrette (although you can use any of your favorite dressings) and some mozzarella cheese (because we didn’t put cream in the shrimp salad mixture) then place the shrimp and avocado salad on top.

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It tasted great! It was the perfect combination of sweet, savory, and creamy, with enough protein for a light but filling dinner.

So what’s your favorite salad combination?

Greene’s Tilapia Fish Tacos

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So short update before I begin sharing the yumminess. This week we have had temperamental internet access and have kept busy decorating, glueing, folding, and as anticipated running to the crafts store again and again. Countdown is now T- minus 2 days until my brother’s wedding!!! Today we transition from work to festivities with a trip to a thank-you pottery decorating class for the bridesmaids and mothers, then onto the bachlorette party. I promise to update with pictures ASAP after the garden wedding this saturday.

Now to the food:  Awhile ago I posted a picture of our homemade fish tacos and promised I would give you the recipe. Well here’s me fulfilling that promise. Luke and I like our Mexican food (see Vacation Highlights part 2). (Ok to be honest: I grew up in SoCal so I really love my Mexican food.) Although we can get some very limited Mexican(ish) dishes here what we can not find is great seafood. So we finally decided to take matters into our own hands by making fish tacos at home. The results: amazing delicious, easy, and healthy tacos!!

 Here’s what we do:

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Ingredients:

-3 tilapia fillets (defrosted)

-1/4 of cabbage lettuce shredded (or regular lettuce)

-Homemade or store bought pico de gallo or salsa

-Fish taco sauce (recipe included in this post)

-1/4 C Greek yogurt or sour cream

-5 small corn or flour tortillas

-Olive oil

-Lime juice

Instructions:

Prep: If you plan to make homemade pico de gallo you will want to prepare it ahead of time. For our recipe check out: homemade pico de gallo).

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Also, you will want to shred your lettuce or cabbage in advanced.

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1. To cook the fish: Take the tilapia fillets and place then in a pan on high heat. Add a little olive oil to the pan and season to taste.

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We use cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic powder, and sometimes Creole seasoning. As the filets cook they should become white and flaky, allow the fish to break apart into pieces-when it does this, it is done cooking.

Side Note: The fish really does not take long to cook so be aware of any side dishes and their cooking times. We keep it simple and heat up a can of black beans.

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2. To make the taco sauce: Mix into 1/4 C of sour cream or greek yogurt: cumin, lime juice, dill weed, garlic powder, and if you want some kick a little sriracha.

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I do not measure out these spices, best method is to taste-test and see. Do not make the flavor strong with spices and do not add too much salt, the sauce should bring out the flavors in the fish not overpower them.

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Once the fish is done cooking it’s time to assemble.

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1. First lay out your tortillas. Then place even amounts of the flaky/crumbled tilapia onto each.

2. Then add your fish taco sauce.

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3. Next add a layer or cabbage or lettuce.

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4. Then any salsa or pico de gallo.

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5. Last of all add your black beans or other sides to the plates

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Then enjoy!

How do you like your tacos?

Homemade Pico De Gallo

Last week I gave you the recipe for our some like it hot: kicking mac n’ cheese and awhile back I posted a picture of a new summer time meal: fish tacos (see stars hollow, fireworks, and minions) both use an essential piece: my homemade pico de gallo (which I promised last week I’d share the recipe for).

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I make a big batch at the beginning of a week when I have a few recipes I will use it for. Whether it is to top off some chicken or fish, an add in for pasta, a topping for our burrito bowls (recipe will show up for this meal at some point), or a great healthy veggie snack to go with some crackers, pico de gallo has become a standard around the Greene house.

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Here’s what I do:

-Get out a large cutting board, sharp chopping knife, and mixing/storing bowl.

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Take 1 to 2 green Peppers

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-Chop off about a 1/8 of an inch to a 1/4 from the stem top.

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-Taking the knife circle around the inside edge of the pepper and pull out the center and seeds.

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-Chop the pepper(s) into strips; lay them in rows on their side then dice them into squares.

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-Rock the knife back and forth along the pepper(s) dicing them and add them to the bowl.

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Take 2-4 medium on the vine tomatoes

– Chop off the stem at the top.

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-Slice tomato(s)  into rounds.

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-With you thumb and forefinger push out all the seeds. To elevate mess, do this either over a trash can or the sink.

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-Layer tomato slices on top of each other and cut horizontal and then vertical into squares.

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-Again dice like the pepper(s) then add to the bowl.

Take 1-2 medium white or yellow onions

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Without peeling, cut off both tips.

-Laying the onion(s) on one of the flat ends cut it in half.

-Peel the top layers of skin off the onion(s) halves.

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– Place the onion(s) on their flat end again and slice into thin wedges.

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-Pushing the wedges together turn the onion and slice the other direction.

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-Once again dice then add to the bowl.

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Option: Jalepenos

I did not use jalepenos in this batch. The longer jalepenos (and especially their seeds) sit in a mixture the more kick they give. If using jalepenos follow the directions for cutting the green peppers and be aware of how many seeds you put in to the bowl, for less heat=less seeds and vice versa.

Option: Cilantro

 Cilantro is great fresh and you can get it at most groceries stores. Pick off the healthiest leaves then dice them. I would only add cilantro if you are going to use all your pico de gallo in one sitting. If you are making a large batch for the week the cilantro will wilt at the least and potentially become slimy.

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Once all veggies are diced, sliced, and chopped it’s time to add some flavor:

I add a little olive oil, lime juice, and white vinegar. You can use vegetable oil instead of olive oil or lemon juice instead of lime but I find this to be the best combo.

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Last I add some the spices: salt, pepper, and garlic.

I am not providing measurements for spices and oils; my suggestion is start with minimal, taste check, then add more. With too many spices and or oils (especially vinegar) the veggies are apt to dissolve and be soggy if you keep it in the fridge for a few days

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The best ways to keep it fresh is either a sealable storage lid or foil wrap.

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The pico de gallo takes a little time to make, but it’s great when half the prep. for  veggie sides are done for the week.

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What is your favorite veggie topping or side?

Some like it Hot: Kickin’ Mac n’ Cheese

Who doesn’t enjoy good old fashion  mac n’ cheese? Luke and I love our pasta but we also like our food hot (let’s just say Luke’s “medium” salsa would be a kick in the pants for most). So I couldn’t help adding some kick to this classic comfort food.  But what do you do when you want to make a delicious bowl of fatty spicy cheese and carbs a “healthy meal”? You add protein and some veggies creating my recipe for kickin’ mac n’ cheese!

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Awhile ago when Luke and I were taking a finance class at church I posted food on the run where I gave out the recipe for our mushroom and spinach white cheddar pasta using Annie’s gluten free shells.  Although I usally do not like using box mixes, Annie’s makes dinner fast, easy, and some-what healthy. Plus the gluten-free rice pasta has less calories (which amounts to more pasta in our bowl) and as has been widely discussed doesn’t create that fat storing “wheat-belly” issue.

Now that I’m done advertising how about I give you the recipe?

Ingredients:

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-2 boxes of Annie’s rice pasta and cheddar Mac n’ Cheese

(depending on how many people you are serving and their appetite you may vary the amount of pasta you use which will change the amount of  your other ingredients )

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-3/4 C. greek yogurt or 1/2 C. depending on how creamy you want it

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-Siracha (about 1 tablespoon again depending on how much kick you’re looking for)

-red pepper flakes to taste

-chili powder to taste

-good potions of salsa, homemade pico de gallo, or chopped mixed veggies: onions, green peppers, tomatoes and/or jalepenos.

Instructions:

-Follow box instructions for cooking pasta. Be careful:  to stir the  noodles as they cook. The rice noodles absorb a large portion of the water  and you do not want the pasta to get stuck to the bottom of the pan.

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-Drain access water from the pot.

-Turn stove to very low and add in the packets of cheese and greek yogurt and mix together.

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-Add in the kick: siracha, red pepper flakes, chili powder and mix.

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-Turn off stove and dish up into bowls.

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-Top it off with pico de gallo, salsa, or pre chopped chopped veggies.

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I make my own pico de gallo because I use it as a veggie base for so many of my dishes. It is easy to make a big batch at the beginning of the week and have it available for several meals. (A more specific recipe will be coming soon.)

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In general, I chop up several fresh green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. Then place the mixed veggies into a medium size mixing bowl and with a large serving spoon mix together with lime/lemon juice, seasoning, and a little oil.

And there you have a somewhat healthy dinner-in-one-bowl kickin’ mac n’ cheese.

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What are your family’s favorite meals?