Category Archives: Appetizers

{Skinny} Bang Bang Shrimp

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Hello everyone! I feel like I haven’t updated in ages. Things around here have been a bit hectic lately. Not to mention that I  briefly went through a weird phase where I lacked inspiration and motivation to cook, and when I did, I often didn’t enjoy whatever I made. This was especially strange for me because I usually love cooking and love eating. I think I chalked it up to being busy and stressed, and have been feeling back to normal the past week – phew!

Anywho, I had a few ideas of what to post today but when I saw shrimp on sale at the store I immediately knew what I wanted to make. Recently I’ve seen a lot of recipes for “Bang Bang Shrimp” and they always catch my eye. It’s a dish that includes crispy, breaded shrimp served with a creamy and spicy chili sauce. This dish is served at Bonefish Grill, a restaurant I’ve never been to and therefore have not actually tried the original recipe, but I could tell from the ingredients that I would love it.

I was even more inspired when I saw a lightened up version of the dish over at Cooking for Keeps. I followed this recipe pretty closely, though I opted for Greek yogurt over mayo for the sauce and used regular flour instead of almond flour. I also added a bit of teriyaki sauce which I thought bumped the sauce up a notch. The sauce is rich and flavorful, all while being light on calories. Breading the shrimp is optional – I very lightly breaded mine in flour and cooked them in a bit of coconut butter which was delicious!

I also love this recipe because it looks fancy, but takes less than 30 minutes to make! You can used thawed frozen shrimp and store-bought chili sauce to make the recipe even easier, and I bet you nobody will know the difference. 🙂

Skinny Bang Bang Shrimp
adapted from Skinny Bang Bang Shrimp with Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce on Cooking for Keeps

Ingredients:
serves 2

  • 1/2 lb large, raw shrimp (about a 12-count), peeled & de-veined
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 Tbsp oil (I used coconut, but olive or canola work too)
    For the sauce:
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp sweet chili sauce (I like Frank’s brand)
  • 1 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tsp Sriracha (2 if you like things spicy)
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • Rice to serve on the side

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Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the sauce and whisk. Set aside.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat your oil over medium heat. Toss the shrimp in the flour and gently place in the hot oil. Fry on each side for 1 – 2 minutes, or until shrimp is pink and breading is crispy.
  3. Turn the heat down to low and pour the sauce over the shrimp. Cook for an additional minute or so, until the sauce is hot. Serve over rice and optional veggie, and enjoy!
June Food3

Start by preparing your sauce!

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Lightly coat your shrimp in flour

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Frizzle up your shrimp in the hot oil

 

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It will look something like this when it’s finished cooking!

 

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Pour sauce over your shrimp, cook for another minute, and it’s ready to serve!

 

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🙂

Avocado Greek Yogurt Dip

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Hello everyone! I apologize for my absence over the past two weeks. August 12th, as I mentioned, was the first day of my new job and needless to say I have been pretty busy and tired.

I’m still in training and learning the ropes, but I like my job so far. The people on my team and in the clinic have been very friendly and helpful, and I feel like I’ve already learned so much (but still have A LOT to learn). I really enjoy working in the hospital – each day is fairly busy and I’ve seen a lot of interesting things and people so far. Working in such an established hospital is a great way to get exposure to things you normally wouldn’t, such as rare diseases and conditions and witnessing groundbreaking treatment. Each day I get off the Longwood T stop, I feel proud that I made it this far and that I’m now an employee of one of the best children’s hospitals in the world, however small my role may be.

Adjusting to my new schedule wasn’t quite as challenging as I thought it would be. As long as I get enough sleep, I feel pretty good throughout the day (though coffee is typically involved) and I haven’t needed any naps so far like I thought I would. It’s a little hard only having a few hours of free time when I get home in the evening, but I think once I figure out how to make the most of that time, it will become easier. Even though I don’t feel the need for naps on work days, I am just tired enough that I’ve been too lazy to cook and put together a decent meal. That’s something I’ll definitely need to work on because my diet has been suffering a bit and it’s not very economical for me to buy lunch multiple times a week. But I do walk about a mile each work day (half a mile from the t to the hospital and back), so that’s a plus.

Anywho, food. I’ve missed food and cooking and blogging and generally being a foodie. I almost started to forget that cooking relaxes and distracts me when I have a lot going on. For now, I think I may only be able to blog on the weekends but perhaps as time goes on I’ll figure out how to update during the week, as well.

This Avocado Greek Yogurt Dip is inspired by Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacamole. TJ’s Reduced Guilt Guacamole is mixed with fat-free Greek yogurt, which cuts out about half of the fat. At first I was unsure how my beloved guacamole would taste mixed with Greek yogurt, but I found that I actually loved it. The yogurt adds a nice tangy creaminess to the dip and complements the flavors surprisingly well.

The base of the recipe is actually identical to my guacamole, but with the addition of the yogurt. I chose to call it Avocado Greek Yogurt Dip mostly because I liked the way it sounded and I already have two guacamole recipes on this blog.

Avocado Greek Yogurt Dip
makes about 1 cup

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Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado, mashed
  • 1/4 cup diced tomato
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp diced red onion or shallot
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeño, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small handful of cilantro, chopped
  • juice from 1/2 of 1 lime (about 1 Tbsp)
  • pinch of cumin
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
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Ingredients (don’t mind the unattractive appearance of my avocado…)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Serve with chips, crackers, or veggie sticks and enjoy! Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container and cover with plastic wrap to save for later.

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Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix it up

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and voila! Creamy, tangy, low-fat guacamole 🙂

 

Strawberry Avocado Salad

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This salad is something I whipped up on a hot afternoon recently, as a way to avoid cooking, and decided that it was good enough to share the recipe. I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I really enjoy a good salad but I’m often too lazy to get out all the ingredients and prepare a salad. I have no problem prepping food for the meals I cook, but for some reason the idea of preparing a salad always turns me off. I’ve been trying to change that lately, and the warm weather helps.

This Strawberry Avocado Salad combines fresh summer produce with filling protein and leafy greens. I used avocado, a hard-boiled egg, almonds, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for protein and healthy fats to keep me satisfied, and fresh strawberries and a light raspberry vinaigrette for sweetness. This salad is light yet filling and makes a perfect lunch. Next time I make it I would add grilled chicken. I also think a poppy seed or citrus vinaigrette would complement the salad nicely as well.

I was recently reading that a well-balanced salad includes nuts, cheese, something sweet, and acidity. I found this to make a lot of sense and realized I already tend to base my salads around these guidelines: Nuts, for protein and healthy fats; cheese, for more protein and a salty flavor; and something sweet and slightly sour to balance each other out. Nuts and cheese do add significant calories to a salad, but if you’re eating a salad as a meal, those calories are necessary to supply you with nutrients and keep you full. Opting for monounsaturated fats whenever possible and eating those fats in moderation will help to keep your diet in check, but that being said, I think it’s okay to splurge a bit when you’re really craving something.

Strawberry Avocado Salad
makes 1 salad

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Ingredients:

  • 1 small stalk of romaine hearts, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 3-4 strawberries, rinsed and diced
  • 1/4 avocado, diced
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, crumbled
  • 2-3 Tbsp sliced almonds
  • 2 Tbsp raspberry or citrus vinaigrette
  • optional: sprinkle of parmesan cheese
  • optional: small breast of grilled chicken

Directions:

In a salad bowl, combine all ingredients and top off with salad dressing. Enjoy 🙂

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Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Dip

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Before I begin with today’s post, I have an exciting announcement to make. I have recently accepted a job in the cardiology department at Children’s Hospital in Boston! I found out a few weeks ago, but I wanted to have the official offer letter before announcing anything. I am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to work at such an amazing organization, doing something I really care about. My job search was very long and challenging at times, so it feels so good to know that all the hard work and waiting was worth it in the end.

Another exciting piece of news is that I just signed a lease for a new apartment, along with my friends Jill and Kathleen. We were having a rather difficult time finding a place and were growing tired of dealing with unreliable landlords/realtors, but finally we found “the one” and were able to snag it before anyone else got to it! We’re moving in September and I am so excited. Finding an apartment in the Boston area during the summer can be pretty crazy, so we were lucky to find a place we all love and one that’s in a great location.

Now that I’m done job searching and apartment hunting, hopefully I’ll have more time for this blog!

Anyway, onto the food. Today’s recipe is very simple and a no-cook recipe because it is miserably hot and humid here in Boston.

This recipe comes from my Aunt Barbara. I tried this dip at her house a few years ago and fell in love with it. The base of the recipe is just five simple ingredients: roasted red peppers, feta cheese, white beans, garlic, lemon juice and your preference of spices. Everything is thrown together in a food processor and comes together in 20-30 seconds. It tastes a bit like red pepper hummus with feta added. It’s smoky, salty, and delicious and makes a great appetizer for a party or cookout. I usually eat this dip with crackers or pretzels, but it would also be great on a sandwich or wrap.

Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Dip
makes ~1.5 cups

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Ingredients:

  • 1 12 oz. jar of roasted red peppers, drained and roughly chopped
  • 4 oz. feta, crumbled
  • 1 15 oz. can of white beans (you could use cannellini, navy, great northern – up to you!)
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of half of one lemon (1-2 Tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • optional spices: red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, basil, oregano

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Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust spices to your liking. Serve with crackers, chips, or on a sandwich and enjoy! Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

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Combine all of the ingredients in your food professor, including spices. I used a pinch of cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, and basil.

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Pulse until combine and smooth. Adjust salt and spices to your liking.

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🙂

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

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This is a recipe I stumbled upon on Pinterest, only to find out it comes from Ina Garten. Barefoot Contessa is one of my favorite shows on the food network. I love Ina ‘s calm demeanor and her versions of classic dishes. This particular recipe has awesome ratings on Foodnetwork.com and seemed like a perfect dish for the beginning of the summer.

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables includes roasted bell peppers, onion, and eggplant, served over orzo and finished off with feta cheese, fresh herbs, and a light lemony dressing. After reading through the comments on this recipe’s Foodnetwork page, I tweaked some of the ingredients a bit and left out the pine nuts but overall tried to keep all the wonderful flavors intact. You can view the original recipe here,and you can even watch a video of how it’s done.

My mom makes an orzo pasta salad with tomatoes, black beans, corn and feta which we always enjoy at home. This recipe reminds me a bit of my mom’s orzo, but perhaps with a Mediterranean twist. I like dishes like this because they can be served hot or cold, for lunch or for dinner. You can also play around with the ingredients and incorporate your favorite vegetables or herbs. This recipe makes a large batch, so if you’re cooking for a smaller crowd you may want to cut it in half like I did.

I’m not a big fan of traditional pasta salad, but I loved this dish. The tangy dressing and salty feta perfectly balance the sweet roasted vegetables, and the combination of the basil and scallions is just right – not to mention how wonderfully colorful it is. This recipe will definitely be making an appearance at any cookouts I attend this summer.

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables
slightly adapted from Ina Garten’s Orzo with Roasted Vegetables seen on Barefoot Contessa

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Ingredients:
serves 6 (but can be easily cut in half)

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small eggplant, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 pound orzo
  • 4 scallions, chopped + 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 8 oz. feta, crumbled
  • For the dressing:
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons – I used slightly less, closer to 2-3 Tbsp)
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • salt and pepper, to taste

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Prepare the chopped vegetables and garlic by tossing them with enough olive oil to coat (about 3 Tbsp) and arrange them on a large baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring once or twice, until veggies are tender and lightly browned.
  2. While the veggies are roasting, cook your orzo according to box directions. After draining, transfer to a large bowl and toss with the roasted vegetables.
  3. To make the dressing, simply whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Pour over the orzo and vegetables and stir to combine. Let cool to room temperature and then add the scallions, basil, and feta.* Serve as a side dish or for lunch or dinner.

*Ina says it’s important to pour the dressing over the orzo while it’s hot because it will absorb more of it, and I also read in the comments that letting the dish cool to room temperature makes for the best flavor.

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Toss your chopped veggies and garlic with olive oil and bake at 425 for 30-40 minutes. While your veggies are roasting, begin cooking your orzo.

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Once your veggies are tender and browned, they’re done. I cooked mine for about 35 minutes.

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Prepare the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, 1/4 cup of olive oil and salt and pepper.

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Combine your cooked orzo and veggies, and stir in lemon dressing. Let sit and cool to room temperature.

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When your orzo has cooled, add crumbled feta, chopped basil and chopped scallions. Stir to combine.

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Serve your orzo as a side dish, or as a meal. Yum!

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🙂

Also, just wanted to mention that the other day my blog reached 100,000 views. Thank you so much to all my readers out there! It makes me so happy to be able to share my favorite recipes with all of you 🙂