Rice with Sausage and Shrimp

Rice with Sausage and Shrimp

*Photo and Content Updated May 2012*

Usually, I can just tell while I’m cooking something if it’s going to be delicious or if it’s just going to be okay (or terrible). The whole time that I was making this, I was so excited because I knew that it was going to be incredible. And it was. Brandon and I could barely stop eating it. Neither one of us had ever had a similar dish before this, and we really enjoyed all of the different flavor components that were layered into the dish. The sausage and shrimp tasted so rich and succulent alongside all of the fresh vegetables and the creamy rice, and because everything was cooked together in the same pan, you could really taste all of the flavors in every single bite. I served this dish alongside diced avocado, and it really added a fresh and cool contrast to the rest of the flavors.

Rice with Sausage and Shrimp
Source: Adapted from Laylita’s Recipes

1/2 vidalia onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup white rice, uncooked
2 cups chicken broth
1 lb Italian sausage
1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
Handful of fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 avocado

1. Heat a saute pan over medium heat. Crumble the sausage into the pan, and cook until the sausage is no longer pink and is starting to brown.

2. Add the onions and the peppers to the pan, and cook for approximately 5 minutes.

3. Add the minced garlic to the pan, and stir to combine.

4. Add the diced tomatoes to the pan, and cook for approximately 5 minutes.

5. Add the rice to the pan, and stir to combine.

6. Add the chicken broth to the pan, and bring to a simmer. Cover, and cook for approximately 15 minutes.

7. Add the shrimp to the pan, cover the pan again, and cook until the shrimp are cooked through, approximately 6-8 minutes.

8. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the cilantro, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

9. Serve with fresh avocado.

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Seasoned Salmon with Dill

This is a very simple way to cook salmon, and it’s one of my favorite ways to eat it. Just throw it in the oven with some seasoning, some dill, and a pat of butter, and that’s all there is to it. I much prefer this meal when B grills it nice and charred in the summertime, but during the winter, throwing it in the oven to bake is really good, too. I’m normally not the biggest fan of dill, so I don’t use it often, but there are a few foods that I think it pairs really well with, and salmon is one of them. The flavor of the fish just goes so well with the freshness of the dill. I served this fish with some sauteed broccoli and some couscous mixed with toasted pine nuts, garlic, and feta cheese. A very simple and healthy meal, which is sometimes the best kind.

Seasoned Salmon with Dill
Source: B’s mom

2 salmon filets
Black pepper
Onion powder
4-6 sprigs of dill, stems removed
1 tablespoon butter

1. Season both sides of the salmon with black pepper and onion powder.

2. Place the salmon in a greased baking dish and sprinkle each filet with dill.

3. Top the filets with a couple pats of butter (I used about one tablespoon in total) and cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the fish flakes with a fork.

Bay Scallops with Avocado Puree and Jalapeno Pesto

This is a Bobby Flay recipe for a grilled appetizer that I made into a main course. What was interesting to me about the recipe was that there were two sauces….a really tart and smooth avocado sauce and a spicy pesto sauce. I was going to coat the bay scallops in a paprika/cumin spice mixture, too, but I thought that it might be overkill with all of the flavors, so I simply sauteed them up really quickly with a bit of black pepper. This is the second time that I’ve made this recipe…the first time, I used a seafood mixture of scallops, shrimp, and calamari, and that was just as good. The sauces are definitely what make the dish, though…they’re very unique, and they compliment each other really, really well. I love the green!

Bay Scallops with Avocado Puree and Jalapeno Pesto
Source: Adapted from Bobby Flay

I made a lot of changes to this recipe. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

Approximately 30 small bay scallops (This amount serves two. The sauce recipes make enough sauce to serve more, so you could up the amount of scallops for more people)
Extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper
Avocado puree (recipe follows)
Jalapeno pesto (recipe follows)

1. Heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in a pan. Sprinkle the scallops with black pepper, and saute until they are cooked through. This should only take approximately 2 minutes.

2. Spread some of the avocado puree on a plate, top with the sauteed scallops, and then top the scallops with some of the pesto sauce. Serve immediately.

Avocado Puree

1 avocado, peeled and pitted
3 tablespoons chopped onion
2 small limes, juiced (this is about 1/4 cup of lime juice, and it results in a very tart sauce. Use less if desired.)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and process until smooth.

Jalapeno Pesto

1 cup cilantro leaves
2 jalapenos, seeded and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons pine nuts
A pinch of salt
A pinch of black pepper
1/8 – 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Combine the cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, pine nuts, salt, and pepper in a food processor, and process until coarsely chopped.  Slowly add the oil, using as much as you need to make a smooth sauce.

Cilantro Tilapia with Avocado

This is one of our favorite ways to eat tilapia, and probably the way that I cook it most frequently. We like to eat the tilapia on its own, or we also like to top it with different kinds of salsa or pico de gallo. Tonight, I tried it out with avocado slices, and I think that it was my favorite combination so far. We also love to cook the tilapia this way and then shred it for tilapia tacos, served with shredded cheddar and pico de gallo. A few years ago, I never thought I’d ever eat a fish taco, but I have to say that they really are seriously, seriously delicious. I’m sure I’ll post them at some point :)

Cilantro Tilapia with Avocado
Source: Marinade adapted from Jason Cooks

2 tilapia fillets
1 handful of cilantro, about a cup, plus a few leaves for garnish
1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, roughly chopped
1 lime
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small avocado, sliced

1. Combine the cilantro, onion, garlic cloves, jalapeno pepper, and juice from the lime in a food processor and process until combined into the consistency of a marinade.

2. Marinate the tilapia fillets in the cilantro mixture for at least 30 minutes.

3. Heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in a pan. When hot, add the tilapia fillets (with as little or as much of the marinade packed on as you’d like) and saute until brown and cooked through, approximately ten minutes.

4. Serve the tilapia fillets garnished with avocado slices and cilantro.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallops

Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops

I love scallops, and this is one of my favorite ways to eat them. The scallops are tossed in a sauce made from sundried tomatoes, black olives, and basil, and then they’re wrapped in prosciutto. Baked in the oven, they’re nice and tender with a bit of saltiness from the prosciutto and a lot of olive-oily goodness from the sauce.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallops
Source: Giada De Laurentiis

Making this recipe, I only use a drizzle of olive oil in the sauce rather than the 1/4 cup called for. Since this leaves the sauce thicker than it should be, it doesn’t stick as well to the scallops, so I pat the leftover sauce atop each scallop.  This way, you still get all of the flavor from the sauce, without so much oil.  I also omit the salt called for in the recipe, because prosciutto is plenty salty on its own. Actually, I reduce the amount of prosciutto for this reason as well. Here’s the recipe as I make it.

1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
2 tablespooons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablesppons chopped black olives
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (I used the oil from the jar of sundried tomatoes)
8 medium scallops
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 slices prosciutto, each sliced in half

1. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. In a food processor, add the tomatoes, basil, olives and olive oil and process until finely chopped.

3. Season both sides of the scallops with pepper. Rub each scallop with the sauce mixture. Wrap each scallop in a half slice of prosciutto. Place the wrapped scallops in a greased baking dish, and top with the leftover sauce mixture.

4. Bake until the scallops are cooked through, about 15 minutes.


Salmon with Puff Pastry, Pesto, Tomatoes, and Almonds

*Photo updated August 2011*

This is one of Brandon’s favorite dinners, and it’s a great summer meal. All of the ingredients work so well together and really provide  so many levels of flavor. The puff pastry is light and buttery, the pesto is rich and garlicy, and the tomatoes are fresh and juicy. When combined with a beautiful, buttery salmon filet and the crunch of some toasted almonds, the resulting flavor profile is just perfect.

Salmon with Puff Pastry, Pesto, Tomatoes, and Almonds
Source: Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis

Here’s the recipe adjusted to how we made it:

2 pieces of puff pastry, each cut to be slightly larger than the pieces of salmon
2 (6-ounce) portions of salmon
2 tablespoons pesto (recipe follows)
8 thin slices of tomato

A handful of chopped almonds
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place the two pieces of puff pastry on a foil-lined baking sheet that has been brushed with extra virgin olive oil. Place the salmon portions beside the puff pastry on the same sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with oil. Top each filet with half of the chopped almonds. Bake for ten minutes.

3. Place each piece of puff pastry on a plate. Top each puff pastry with one tablespoon of pesto, and top the pesto with four slices of tomato. Top the tomatoes with the salmon and serve.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Italian Recipes
*Makes about 3/4 cup
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
Salt and pepper

1. In a food processor or a blender, combine all of the ingredients. Cover and process or blend until nearly smooth, stopping and scraping the sides as necessary. If necessary, add additional olive oil to thin the pesto.

*I freeze the extra pesto in tablespoon portions in an ice cube tray. When the pesto is frozen, I transfer it to plastic baggies, leaving me with 1 tablespoon portions to use when I need them.