Thursday, April 26, 2012

Grilled Shrimp with Cilantro Cream Sauce

My dad is a wonderful cook and has taught me many things about using fresh, quality ingredients to develop new and interesting recipes.  One of his greatest talents in the kitchen is his ability to look in the pantry and make a recipe up on the fly. Unfortunately, I am not as talented in this as he is! I like the recipes to give me direction and once I feel comfortable with it, I can play around with it a little more.

This recipe for Grilled Shrimp with Cilantro Cream Sauce is one of those recipes that dad came up with one weeknight.  It. is. AMAZING! You have to really like cilantro to fully enjoy this recipe as it calls for an entire bunch to be used.

Some other things to note:
1. Dad never writes any of his recipes sometimes it takes me FOREVER to get it out of him!
2. He also never measures ANYTHING - making it hard to blog about a recipe for other people...but I'll do my best :)

Grilled Shrimp with Cilantro Cream Sauce

1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 stick of butter
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 bunch cilantro (leaves only - about 1 cup), chopped
1 sweet onion, diced
half and half
flour, about 4 Tbs.
salt and pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes, optional
Pasta of your choice (I used Rotini this time)

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the shrimp and saute until just cooked through - lightly pink and no longer translucent. Reserve for later.

Boil water for noodles.  Cook noodles of your choice according to package directions. Drain.

In the same skillet, melt the butter.  Add the onions and saute until the onions are soft and lightly brown.  Sprinkle the flour over the butter/onion mixture to create a roux. This is where the guessing comes in to need to use about as much flour as there is liquid.  Cook the roux 2-3 minutes or until you have a thick paste.

Pour the half and half into the skillet and whisk out all of the lumps of flour.  Add the cilantro and shrimp, stir. Add the salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, to taste.   Cook until thickened and the shrimp is heated through.

Serve over pasta.



Monday, April 16, 2012

Blackened Chicken with Cilantro Lime Quinoa and Avocado Cream

This recipe just might be the perfect weeknight dinner.  Fast, flavorful, and delicious, it can be made on the fly with just a few ingredients.  One of the more surprising elements here is the quinoa. It's a really versatile grain that is packed with protein and is a fun alternative to rice.

This version pairs really nicely with the slightly spicy blackened chicken.  For me, I added a little more ground red pepper to add more kick, but left the recipe as is for my son.  When made as the recipe states, there's more of a low, warmth to this dish rather than spiciness. However, paired with the coolness of the avocado cream, this dish is really as close to perfect as it can get. 

If you're interested, you can find another recipe for Quinoa here

Blackened Chicken with Cilantro Lime Quinoa and Avocado Cream
(Serves 2)

For the Chicken:
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
½ tsp of Paprika
¼ tsp of Salt
¼ tsp of Pepper
¼ tsp of Cayenne Pepper
¼ tsp of Onion Powder
¼ tsp of Cumin
1 tsp of Olive Oil

For the Quinoa:
2 Cups of Low Sodium Chicken Stock
1 Cup of Quinoa
Juice and Zest from 1 Lime
A Dash of Salt and Pepper
2 Tbs of Cilantro, chopped

For the Avocado Cream:
1 avocado, skin and pit removed
2 Tbs. greek yogurt or sour cream (whatever you have on hand)

Combine all the dry seasonings in a small bowl. Mix them together and then season both sides of each chicken breast, pressing the rub into the meat of the chicken.

Add the teaspoon of olive oil to a large pan or skillet. Heat the olive oil for a minute over medium/high heat. Add the chicken breasts to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes on each side with the lid on, or until blackened and cooked through.

Add the chicken stock and quinoa to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium/low heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for ten to fifteen minutes with the lid on, until all the stock has been absorbed.

After the chicken breasts have cooked all the way through, turn the heat off the pan and let them rest for a few minutes before slicing them.

Serve the sliced chicken breast on top of the quinoa. If you find the blackened seasoning too spicy, you can add a quick and easy avocado cream sauce to cool it down.

Add the warm quinoa to a large bowl. Toss in the lime zest, lime juice, salt and pepper, and chopped cilantro. Mix to combine.

For the Avocado cream: Mix, blend, or whip (your choice!) together the flesh of the avocado and the greek yogurt. Spoon over the chicken and quinoa. Enjoy!
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