Weekly Winner:  Tasty Tostadas that Transport to the Tropics

I love food that transports you somewhere else.  I especially love food that makes you feel like you’re on vacation — especially if said vacation is someplace tropical.  That’s exactly what this week’s winner does.  Grilled Shrimp Tostadas with Lime will make you feel like you are sitting beachside under a palapa in Mexico while sipping some cool, umbrella-laden cocktail.  In truth, I was sitting at my dinner table with a glass of wine on a crazy-hot late September Chicago night.  But hey, I can dream… can’t I?

Grilled Shrimp Tostadas with Lime comes from Cooking Light Magazine and as you might suspect is quite light and healthy. It’s also a very quick, easy recipe that comes together in no time which allows you to take your imaginary tropical vacation any day you like — no passport required!

Grilled Shrimp Tostadas with Lime

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Shrimp:

24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Black bean salsa:

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1/4 cup chopped cilantro 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 (15-ounce) can unsalted black beans, rinsed and drained

Avocado topping:

1/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 ripe peeled avocado

1 cup chopped seeded tomato

Cooking spray

8 corn tostadas

4 lime wedges

Procedure:

  1. To prepare shrimp, combine shrimp, garlic powder, cumin, and 1/4 tsp salt in the bowl.  Let stand 10 minutes.
  2. To prepare black bean salsa, combine green onions and next 7 ingredients (through beans) in a medium bowl; toss to coat,
  3. To prepare avocado topping, combine yogurt, juice, and avocado in a small bowl, mashing with a fork until smooth.  Stir in tomato.
  4. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add shrimp to pan; grill 2 minutes on each side.  Top each tostada with 1/4 cup bean mixture, 3 shrimp, and 1 Tbsp avocado mixture.  Serve with lime wedges.

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Weekly Winner: Sometimes Tasty isn’t Pretty

As much as I believe the saying “you eat with your eyes first”, there are times when you can forgo looks and dive right into a vat of tastiness, regardless of its outward appearance. You just know it’s going to be good.

Such is the case with Stuffed Poblanos. This is an easier, healthier take on chile rellenos but it has enough cheese to meet my “ooey-gooey quotient” What I love about this dish is what you don’t have to do.  You don’t have to roast and peel the poblanos.  While this certainly isn’t difficult, I find it tedious and wouldn’t bother doing it for a weeknight meal.  The other thing you don’t need to do is batter and deep-fry the peppers as you would in a traditional chile relleno. This bakes right in the sauce which does not help its appearance any but certainly adds to its flavor.

The recipe comes from Martha Stewart.  Shockingly I think I’ve had this recipe for close to 10 years but I don’t recall ever making it.  It makes me sad to think that this fabulous, relatively easy, surprisingly healthy (despite how it looks) recipe has been languishing away in the back corner of my recipe binder waiting for a day to impress.  Well, these poblanos had their day in the spotlight and boy, did they shine!

Stuffed Poblanos

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 can (28oz) whole tomatoes in puree

1 jalapeño chile (ribs and seeds removed) minced

2 small onions, chopped

3 garlic cloves (2 whole, 1 minced)

Coarse salt and ground pepper

1 can (19oz)black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese

1 tsp ground cumin

4 large poblano chiles, halved lengthwise (ribs and seeds removed)

Sour cream for serving

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.  In a blender, combine tomatoes in puree, jalapeño, half the onions, a 2 whole garlic cloves; puree. Season with salt. Pour sauce into a 9×13 inch baking dish; set aside
  2. In a medium bowl, combine beans, cornmeal, 1/2 cup cheese, remaining onions, minced garlic, cumin and 3/4 cup water; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Dividing evenly, stuff poblano halves with bean mixture; place on top of sauce in baking dish.  Sprinkle poblanos with remaining 1/2 cup cheese; cover baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.
  4. Bake until poblanos are tender, about 45 minutes.  Uncover, and continue to cook until sauce is thickened slightly and cheese is browned, 10 to 15 minutes more.  Let cool 10 minutes.  Serve with sour cream

Weekly Winner:  Keeping it Simple – Pork, Peas & Pasta

I’ve been getting a bit “fussy” lately with my cooking.  Lots of ingredients, some of them a bit hard to find or not things you normally have lying around.  I was thinking it was definitely time to dial it back and keep it simple.  That, in my opinion, is best done with two things: steaks and pasta. As it was Friday night which means a pre-run pasta dinner for hubby, I went for an old favorite:  Bucatini with Sausage and Peas.  The title just about gives you all the ingredients.  It is sensationally simple and stupidly delicious.

The recipe comes from Food & Wine Magazine and I’ve been making this for years.  I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned it here in the blog before and I also can’t believe its been so long since I’ve made it.  Lucky for me (and hubby) I made a double batch and froze half. We’ll be enjoying this stunner of a dish again soon.

Bucatini with Sausage and Peas

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small shallot, minced

2 1/2 cups prepared tomato sauce

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup frozen baby peas

Salt

1 pound bucatini or perciatelli

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

2 tablespoons shredded basil

Procedure:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil.  Add the sausage and cook over moderately high heat, breaking up the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and shallot and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes.  Add the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer.
  2. Partially cover the saucepan and cook the tomato sauce over low heat for 30 minutes.  Stir in the cream and peas and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes longer.  Season with salt.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain and return the pasta to the pot.  Add the tomato sauce and 1/4 cup of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and toss over low heat until the pasta absorbs some of the sauce.  Transfer the pasta to bowls, top with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese and the shredded basil and serve.