Avocado Toast with Seared Shrimp

Avocado Toast w ShrimpThis week’s schedule was a little crazy with work events and, to be honest, life in general. I didn’t have a chance to make the spring flatbread I had planned, so I made a simple lunch using the bread and some avocados and shrimp that I had on hand.

The best part about this is that you can top avocado toast with almost any ingredient. There are so many variations, it’s hard not to love this recipe.

Avocado Toast with Seared Shrimp

Ingredients

  • ½ lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • Flat or pita bread (any dense bread that can hold the toppings will work well)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp Dizzy Pig Jamaican Firewalk seasoning (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Prepare

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat olive oil in a shallow wide pan. While it’s heating, season the shrimp with salt, pepper, and, if you’re using, the Jamaican Firewalk seasoning. Once the oil is heated, place the shrimp in the pan in one layer, avoiding overcrowding.

Depending on the size of your shrimp, cook on one side for about 2-3 minutes. Flip the shrimp and cook for about another minute until the shrimp is pink and opaque and cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside. I used small shrimp (41/50) and they cooked in about 3 to 4 minutes total.

Cut the flat bread into points, brush with olive oil and sprinkle whole cumin seeds over the pieces. Toast in the oven for about 5 to 7 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

Cut the avocado once all of the other ingredients are prepped to minimize browning. I cut my avocados in thin slices and sprinkled with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. I also added a spritz of fresh lemon to help cut down on the browning and add a fresh pop of citrus.

Another variation of avocado toast involves mashing the avocado lightly and mixing with salt, pepper, and lemon juice and then using as a spread. Both ways are equally delicious.

Now you’re ready to assemble. Layer each toast point with slices of avocado and top with shrimp. Finish with another spritz of lemon and serve immediately.

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Honey Sriracha Chicken with Lemon

Honey + Sriracha Chicken Though this dish combines two flavors I normally don’t use in the same recipe, they work really well together here. Sriracha is one of my favorite condiments for just about anything and it pairs perfectly with the honey for a delicious spicy and sweet glaze.

I made this on a weeknight last week and served it with some brown rice as a twist on Chinese takeout. It was so, so good. The chicken thighs were tender and flavorful. The sriracha and honey balanced each other out well and each bite had a touch of sweet with a kick of heat. It was even better after a few minutes when the rice soaked up some of the extra glaze from the chicken. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs bone-in chicken leg and thigh quarters
  • ¼ cup clover honey
  • ¼ cup sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Prepare

Preheat the oven to 425 °F. Place the chicken in a large baking dish. Brush olive oil on the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 15 minutes to allow skin to brown and get crispy. In the meantime, place the honey, sriracha, lemon juice, and soy sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine and allow to cook on medium-low heat until the sauce thickens slightly.

Take the chicken out of the oven and brush the reduced honey sriracha glaze all over each piece of chicken. Return to oven and cook for about 20-25 minutes more or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear when cut.

Roasted Eggplant Dip

Roasted Eggplant Dip

Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables, especially when it’s roasted. It’s simple to make and I love the deep, nutty flavor. My favorite part of roasted eggplant is when some of the edges have caramelized and the middles of the eggplant pieces are creamy. When this happens, I have to stop myself from eating it with my hands as it comes out of the oven.

I usually roast one each week and use it as a side for almost any dinner during the week. But last Sunday, eggplant roasting took a backseat to Super Bowl (commercials) viewing. And a few days later my eggplant was a little close to being overripe, which is how this delicious dip came about.

Roasted Eggplant Dip

Ingredients

  • One medium eggplant
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro
  • Salt and pepper
  • za’atar, a pinch for garnish, optional
  • Pita bread or crackers to serve with dip

Prepare

Preheat oven to 350°F. Wash and dry the eggplant. Cut into uniform, ½-inch pieces. Place in a large bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add salt, pepper, and cumin seeds. Toss or use your hands to mix and ensure all pieces are evenly seasoned.

Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 35-40 minutes or until the eggplant is lightly brown and soft. Allow the eggplant to cool slightly so you can safely work with it, about 15 minutes.

Place cooled eggplant in a large food processor. Add the chopped garlic, lemon juice, Greek yogurt, the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse 3 or 4 times to blend, being careful to avoid over mixing.

 Place dip in a serving bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, garnish with a pinch of za’atar and chopped cilantro. Serve with toasted pita bread or crackers.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This is one of my favorite fall dishes. I start looking forward to making this soup as soon as the summer ends and temperatures start to dip. It’s rich, warming, and perfect for the fall. Last year I served it at Thanksgiving dinner as the first course and it was a hit.

One of the reasons this soup is so flavorful is because the butternut squash is tossed with a spice mixture before roasting. And these spices are toasted and freshly ground for each batch of soup, which intensifies the flavor even more.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

Spice Mixture
¼ cup fennel seeds
2 Tbs coriander seeds
2 Tbs peppercorns
2 tsp pepper flakes
2 Tbs salt
2 Tbs cinnamon

Roasted Squash
1 large butternut squash
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs Spice Mixture
½ cup chicken stock
Salt & pepper

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup onion, diced
½ cup celery, diced
½ cup carrot, diced
1 cinnamon stick
Salt and pepper
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 ½ cups roasted squash, pureed

Prepare

Spice Mixture

Toasted Spices

In a small pan, toast the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns over medium heat. Keep a close eye and stir constantly to ensure the spices do not burn. Once the fennel seeds start to turn brown, remove from heat and allow to cool.

Put mixture in a blender or a clean coffee grinder. Add the chili flakes and process until all spices are evenly ground. Place ground mixture in a bowl and add salt and cinnamon. Mix to combine. Store or freeze in tightly closed container. This spice mixture can be used in many things. I have added to acorn squash and sweet potatoes before roasting. I think it would be great on any root vegetable.

Roasted Squash
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Peel the squash and cut into a 1-inch dice. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the squash with the olive oil and then add the Spice Mixture, ensuring the squash is evenly covered with the spices. Place in oven and roast for about 45 to 1 hour, or until the squash is very tender. Allow squash to cool slightly so you can safely work with it.

Add slightly cooled squash to a blender or food processor and process. Carefully add chicken stock as needed here. The squash should be a thick puree, do not over process or use too much chicken stock.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot and cinnamon stick and sauté for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the stock, bring to a boil, and then simmer for about 5-7 minutes. Then add the pureed butternut squash and stir until smooth. Allow to cook on low heat for about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and remove the cinnamon stick. Use a blender or a hand held blender to puree the soup. Place soup back on low heat to reheat. If desired, finish with heavy cream for an even creamier, silkier soup.

Serve in bowls with some mascarpone cheese, a sprig of sage, or pepitas.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.

Cranberry Quinoa Pilaf with Toasted Almonds

Cranberry Quinoa

It’s November and the holiday season is quickly approaching. Try as I might, there’s no denying it. I saw my first holiday ad on TV last week and my local Whole Foods is already decked out with twinkling snowflakes amidst the fair trade coffee and organic triple-milled soap.

Anyway, around this time of year I love to make dishes like this cranberry quinoa pilaf. It’s simple to make, ready in less than 30 minutes, and calls for ingredients I usually have in my pantry.

Also, it tastes amazing. I love the contrasting flavors and textures. It’s savory but has a hint of sweetness from the dried cranberries. The quinoa is plump and hearty and the toasted almonds add the perfect amount of crunch. It’s a great option for a meatless entrée or an accompanying side dish

Cranberry Quinoa Pilaf with Toasted Almonds

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup almonds, sliced or slivered

Cranberry Quinoa.

Prepare

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Rinse and drain quinoa. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a medium pan. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes or until onions are soft. Add the quinoa and allow it to toast for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and allow quinoa to simmer for about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, spread the almonds in an even layer on an ungreased baking tray and toast in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they can burn quickly. You will know when they are done when there is a nice nutty smell coming from your oven.

Add the cranberries to the quinoa. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes or until the stock is completely absorbed. Mix in the toasted almonds and fluff quinoa with a fork before serving.

 

Basil Shrimp Stir Fry

Basil Shrimp Stir Fry

I’ve been working on eating a little healthier these days.  Nothing crazy, just more clean, whole foods and less ingredients I can’t pronounce. (Sounds like a good filter for grocery shopping, no? Only buying items with ingredients that I know. Maybe I’ll try it one day I’m feeling extra disciplined and can talk myself into detouring the bakery section).

Anyway, here’s today’s recipe: Basil Shrimp Stir Fry. This dish is very simple. The key is to have all the ingredients prepped because the actual cooking goes pretty quickly.

To start, I chopped some of my favorite vegetables into pieces that were roughly the same size so everything cooked at the same rate. I used red bell pepper, cremini mushrooms, haricots verts, carrots, broccoli, and one jalapeño.

Stir Fry Veggies

After all the chopping and prep, the veggies looked so good that I seriously considered abandoning my stir fry plans and just making a simple vinaigrette and calling it a salad. Maybe next time.

Stir Fry Veggies.

Once I decided to continue with the stir fry, I heated some olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat and added two cloves of chopped garlic, one tablespoon of basil chiffonade, and one pound of peeled and deveined shrimp. I sautéed the shrimp for about 2 minutes until they became opaque and then removed them from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, I added a little more olive oil and increased the heat to high. When the oil was almost smoking, I added the bell pepper, carrots, and haricots verts. I cooked these for about 45 seconds and then pushed everything to the edges of the pan. Then, I added the broccoli, mushrooms, and the jalapeño and cooked for another minute or so.

I seasoned with salt and pepper and then added the shrimp back in. I cooked until everything was heated through, about a minute more and then plated the stir fry.

Basil Shrimp Stir Fry.

Spice-Crusted Ahi Tuna

Earlier this week I found a little extra time on my hands one evening. I knew I wanted to use it to prepare a nice dinner, but I just didn’t know what I wanted to make. So I stopped by my neighborhood Whole Foods on my way home from work and looked for some inspiration. After a little wandering and the obligatory stop in the bakery section for a sample (shameless, I know), I found these beauties at the seafood counter.  Once I had my entree, I picked up some red bliss potatoes and asparagus to round out my dinner.

Ahi Tuna Sashimi

I created a quick game plan on my way home. I knew the potatoes would take the longest to prepare so I worked on those first. I scrubbed them and cut them into one-inch pieces. I placed the chopped potatoes on a sheet pan and drizzled them with olive oil, added salt, pepper, and dried thyme and popped them in the oven which was pre-heated to 350°.

Herb Roasted Potatoes

While those were roasting, I created a spice rub by mixing Dizzy Pig’s Jamaican Firework (seriously good stuff) with some ground coriander. I rubbed the tuna steaks with the spice mixture and then gave them a quick sear, about one to two minutes per side.

Spice Crusted & Seared Ahi Tuna

I let the tuna rest for a few minutes and got to work on the asparagus. I washed and dried the spears and sautéed them in a little olive oil with salt, pepper, and cumin seeds. The whole process took less than five minutes. In fact, it happened so fast, that I forgot to take a picture of this part. You will just have to imagine it. I’ll help you out: think pencil thin asparagus spears that are vibrant green from the quick sauté.

When the potatoes were done roasting, about 40-45 minutes, I sliced the tuna.

Spice Crusted & Sliced Ahi Tuna

And plated the three items. Here’s the complete dinner!

Spice Crusted Ahi Tuna Sashimi