Tag Archives: Fish & Seafood

Shrimp Fajitas (without the funky chemical “spices”)

Have you ever went to the grocery store with the intention of making either fajitas or tacos that night for dinner?  Did you pick up some amazingly fresh produce, buy some lovely seafood (or equally expensive chicken breasts), and then throw one of those packaged fajita/taco seasoning pouches in your cart?  I have.  Many times.

I’d go home, cook everything up, add the spice mix (following the directions on the back), take a bite, and immediately wish I would’ve went to Chipotle instead.  There’s just always something so funky tasting about those little spice packets, and no wonder!  Look at the ingredients:

Image

I’m pretty sure Mexican’s don’t use soy sauce to make fajitas.  Or caramel coloring.  Or natural flavors.  What the heck are natural flavors anyway?  Shouldn’t the natural flavors come from the vegetables and the proteins? Where are the spices? After reading the back of that package, there was no way I was going to use that to make our dinner. A little salt, pepper, lime juice, cumin and chipotle would do the trick.  I decided to use chipotle chile powder because it has a nice smokey flavor to it, and it’s not an artificial smokey flavor either.  Chipotle chile powder is made from ground up smoked jalapenos.  It’s not super spicy, but gives the dish the flavor and the kick that would be expected if you ordered fajitas in a restaurant.

Image

I loved the texture on my lime…it looks like it has goosebumps!

I had bought a few green and red bell peppers last week, and they were starting to get a little wrinkly—the red peppers were 88 cents/each…which is a steal in our area.  Here, in Rochester, red bell peppers are usually nearly $3 a piece!  Isn’t that insane?  One red pepper costs more than a whole pineapple!  I’m glad summer is almost here so I can grow my own!!!

I didn’t have any shrimp at home, so unfortunately I had to make a trip to the grocery store.  I bought a little less than a pound of medium wild US caught shrimp, an onion, and a new head of garlic.  When I got home I threw the shrimp in a marinade, cut up all my veggies, and got to cookin’.

Image

Cooking the shrimp—marinade and all!

One thing I really love about fajitas is that you can make them ahead of time and just reheat when you’re ready to eat them.  Piyush decided that he had to go golfing today, so I had no idea what time he’d be back for dinner.  Once he got home (at 7:15pm), dinner could be on the table in 5 minutes.

Image

Two, Perfect Shrimp Fajitas

These fajitas were absolutely amazing, and ditching the pre-made spice mix made all the difference, I’m positive of it!  I would even go so far as to say that my version of the shrimp fajita could rival that of any restaurant!  Yes.  They were that good.

Image

Shrimp Fajita mixture

I served the fajita mixture on high fiber tortillas (50 calories/ea) that I had spread about a tablespoon of refried beans onto.  I topped them with some romaine and greek yogurt.  There were some beautiful tomatoes too, but I forgot all about them until after we finished eating.  Dohhh!

My shrimp fajitas recipe makes quite a lot.  This is a really light supper, and each fajita is only around 160 calories.  How exciting is that?!  I had two, Piyush had three, and there is more than enough left for dinner tomorrow.   I work really early tomorrow and the following day, so not having to worry about making dinner will be a good thing.  That means I can (hopefully) go to bed earlier!  I might even make it to the gym!

Image

Next time you make fajitas at home, I hope you are inspired to ditch the chemical packets and try your hand at making them “from scratch.”  I swear it’s easy…and it’s way more healthy for you than adding a package of powder created in some lab!

Shrimp Marinade:

  • 1 lb fresh medium sized, wild caught shrimps (not previously cooked)
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • juice of half a lime
  • zest of half a lime
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. ground chipotle chile powder
  • 2 tbsp. minced cilantro
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

Rinse and dry shrimp.  Put them in a large ziploc bag along with the other marinade ingredients.  Toss everything together until the shrimp are all evenly coated.  Let the shrimp mingle with the marinade for around 30 minutes—while you are cooking the veggies.  

Veggies:

  • 2 large red bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 2 large green bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 1 large white onion, cut into strips
  • 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large pan.  Once it is hot add in the onions. Cook the onions over med-high heat until they are nice and browned.  This will take around 10 min or so.  Once the onions are browned, add in the garlic.  Cook for about two minutes and then add the peppers.  Stirring occasionally, cook the peppers until they are tender but still have a little bite to them.  Add the mushrooms and cover the pan, they’ll take about 5 minutes to cook.  Season the veggies with salt and pepper.  Remove the veggies from the pan and set them aside.

In the same pan you cooked the vegetables, add a little olive oil (I used my misto).  Dump the shrimp in the pan along with the marinade.  Stir everything together and then put the lid on the pan.  After a minute give everything another good stir and flip the shrimp.  Once the shrimp have cooked for around 4-5 minutes (once the shrimp are fully cooked), add the veggies back into the pan and stir everything together.  Let the mixture cook together for about 5 minutes, with the lid on.  Take the lid off, scoop the mixture into tortillas, and enjoy!!!

Your mouth will thank you!  Mine did.  🙂

Sushi Party!

I love dinner with friends, the more the better!  Summer and I have been trying to plan a get-together and we decided that tonight was the night.  Her daughter, Isabelle, loves sushi and had been asking when they could come over and make some.

Piyush and I learned to make sushi from a couple of my friends from the gym, Leah and Sheila.  They told me that they’d teach us but we had to pay it forward and teach someone else.  We’ve had sushi “parties” a couple times now and let me tell you…they are fun!  Making sushi is really easy and everyone can customize their rolls to include whatever they like.  Its also quite economical after you purchase the initial supplies.  The first time you make sushi it may seem a little expensive.  That’s because you have to buy the mats, rice, nori, chopsticks, rice wine vinegar, sake…and the list goes on and on.  My advice:  take a trip to your nearest Asian store.  Things will be way more affordable!  At our local Asian store I can find 10 sheets of nori for $2.99.  At the grocery store it sells for $6.99.  I also like to purchase veggies from the Asian market, as they are usually cheaper there too.

As for the fish, I like tuna.  We’ve used salmon before too, and it was good.  Make sure that when you purchase the fish it is sold as “sushi grade”.  I usually get it from our grocery store and we’ve never had any issues.  Just slice it up right before your guests arrive and put it back in the fridge until you need it.   We also usually grab some of those imitation crab meat stick things.  I find most people like them…and Isabelle LOVES them!  I try and have a pretty varied veggie spread too, but sometimes what I want in my sushi just can’t be found.  Like sprouts! Where in the world can a person buy sprouts in Rochester?!  We went to 3 different stores, including the Asian market, and left empty handed.  I slice everything and lay it on a cutting board so its easy for everyone to pick what they want.

I whip up some “Spicy Tuna Sauce” because who doesn’t love a nice spicy tuna roll?  It’s really easy.  Just take 4 parts Hellman’s Mayo to 1 part sriracha hot sauce.  Add a tiny squirt of sesame oil.  Whisk everything together and put it in the fridge.  The flavors need to mingle awhile before you should use it.

I also cook up the rice an hour or so before everyone arrives.  When it’s finished, keep it covered with some plastic wrap and it should stay warm enough.  To make the rice I throw 4 c. sushi rice along with 4 c. water into my rice cooker.  I forget about it.  On the stove top I mix together 1/2 c. sugar, 1 c. rice wine vinegar, and 1/4 c. sake.  Let it be until the sugar dissolves.  When the rice is done cooking I dump it all out on a cookie sheet.  I use the little paddle to separate the rice before I dump the vinegar mixture on top of it.  I keep going at it with the paddle until the rice is evenly flavored.  Now, it’s ready!

Then get to rollin’!

It helps if you cover your mat with plastic wrap before you start…I use press-and-seal.  I also set a couple bowls of water out too.  It comes in handy when your fingers are so full of sticky rice that they seem like they are practically glued together.  This will happen.  I promise.

Adding the finishing touches to the sushi rolls

This girl loves sushi!

Courtney rolled like a pro!

I was trying to get all fancy and put the rice on the outside. This roll was delicious...well, they all were actually!

Time to eat!

Summer made some awesome Egg Drop soup, I don’t have the recipe but it looked really easy.  We also had some chicken fried rice and sesame chicken on the table.

Summer also fried up some green tomatoes—which really didn’t go with the sushi, but were super amazing!

Of course they're delicous! They're fried in butter!

We were all so stuffed after dinner that Summer and I didn’t even break out the wine!  Unbelievable!  It was a fun night and I can’t wait to do it again!

Bouillabaisse: Something Smells Fishy!

Today was a productive day!  I had went to a cable class last night at the gym and was really, really hurting this morning.  I feel muscles that I usually forget I have.  As much as I wanted to just laze around and relax I decided that I should go back to the gym today and do some cardio and stretching for my very sore legs.  I am very glad I decided to go, but I’m still awfully sore.  After I finished at the gym I stopped at the grocery store to buy some seafood for making Bouillabaisse.  Piyush was requesting I make it and I was kind of craving it so it seemed like a good night to learn to cook seafood.  I’ve never really cooked seafood much before so I was a little nervous, but it was so easy!!!  I was really intimidated by the mussels and clams, but I ended up showing them who was boss and they opened with no issues.

*****

What, exactly, is Bouillabaisse?

Bouillabaisse is a French style seafood soup, and it is yummy!  In a traditional bouillabaisse there are at least 3 different types of fish, most which are not available in Rochester, Minnesota.  The broth is flavored with vegetables, shellfish, herbs and spices.  Saffron is a spice that usually plays a large part in the flavor of the bouillabaisse and although it is quite expensive (the priciest spice in the world!), I don’t recommend leaving it out.  The name bouillabaisse comes from the way the dish is prepared.  The ingredients are cooked separately and are not added all at one time.  The broth is boiled first and then the fish are added one by one.  Each time the broth comes to a boil the heat is lowered.

*****

This recipe was inspired by the Bouillabaisse I had at Zzest a few weeks ago.  I  knew most of the ingredients to use but had no idea of the quantities or the techniques.  I just bought what I knew I needed and a few other things that I thought would work well.  It took about an hour and a half, most of that time was spent letting the broth simmer and develop the flavor.  And let me tell you, this seafood stew is amazing!  It tasted just as good as what you would get at a restaurant.

Success!

I don’t really measure things when I cook but I tried my best to estimate and write down what I did so that I can make this many more times!

Piyush liked it so much that he even gave me an A+, and he never gives anything an A+.  Usually he has so many opinions on everything I cook.   This dinner was the perfect way to end the day.  I had a nice, big glass of wine—a red from Cannon Falls, MN.  Its called “Gunflint Red” and it is wonderful!  It sort of reminds me of a malbec.  It’s a little peppery and paired wonderful with the Bouillabaisse.

Its a good thing he enjoyed his dinner, it made so much that we'll be eating it for a couple days!

The Recipe

  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • About 2 large red potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 fat garlic cloves, minced
  • about 1 c. dry white wine, maybe even more?
  • 28oz. chopped plum tomatoes + juice
  • large pinch of saffron
  • salt/pepper to season
  • about 1/2 c. flat leaf parsley, chopped very fine
  • bunch of chopped chives
  • olive oil, as needed
  • zest of 1 orange
  • scallops, jumbo shrimp, mussels, clams, ect. (I used the previous in addition to a 1lb. cod fillet) –amount based on how many servings you are making

Directions:

  • Heat some olive oil in a heavy dutch oven.  Once it gets hot add the potatoes, onions, garlic, green pepper and orange zest.  Cover and sweat everything until it’s tender and perfect!
  • Deglaze the pan with the white wine.  Stir it together and bring to a boil.
  • Add the tomatoes, parsley and chives.  Simmer, stirring occasionally until the broth looks rich and soup-like.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  The broth will taste a little “off” at this point.  The wine will be strong and so will the acidity from the tomatoes.  That’s okay.
  • Add about 1 cup of water and the pinch of saffron.  Let the saffron steep for about 10 minutes.  Stir everything together and give it another taste.  Add more saffron if you want.  Don’t add a lot right away though because it’s pretty strong and can be very overwhelming.
  • Turn the flame to about med-high and add the clams/mussels into the broth.  Cover the dutch oven and let them cook (about 3 minutes).  When they open, remove them with tongs and place them into a bowl.  Set this aside.
  • While the broth simmers along, deepening the flavor, start cooking the seafood individually.
  • When your scallops are perfectly seared and your shrimps are a pretty pink, put everything back into the broth and let it simmer about 15 minutes or until everything is heated through.

Serve with some grilled bread and a stellar wine!  Enjoy!

Piyush's dinner, before he dived in!

If you decide to have an amazing bouillabaisse dinner, make sure you add an empty bowl to your table.  You’re going to need a place to get rid of all those shells!

And now I’m going to go watch Teen Mom.  …Don’t judge me! 🙂