Shrimp Tacos with Coleslaw and Avocado

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This post is partially brought to you by Captain Rob! I was all set to buy the tiny (er, shrimpy? heh) shrimp when Captain Rob enthusiastically introduced himself and cut me a (way too generous) deal on the jumbo shrimp if I promised to keep coming back. Duh, Captain Rob! I’m in. Since I was actually planning on just using the shrimpy shrimp, I got two meals out of these. Double thanks to Captain Rob! When I was planning my shopping list I decided that shrimp tacos sounded like the quintessential summer dish. Super colorful, light, and fresh. But, I gotta be honest – my primary reason for making these tacos was because I thought they would be fun to photograph. Eek! I knew my new camera lens was arriving soon and I was already excitedly planning my next kitchen photo sessions. The lens arrived right as I was about to leave for the store, so I was psyched. And then Captain Rob made my trip even more exciting. Ha! The tacos were perfect for enjoying a beautiful summer evening (as much as we can without a balcony, boo) and they went very nicely with my mint cherry limeades! And easy too – seasoned shrimp (paprika is good) + coleslaw + avocado + (optional) tomatoes. A little lime and mint helps this pair even better with the cherry limeades. Loving the summer food and loving my new lens! Second shrimp dish to come soon!

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Salad with Tuna and Fennel

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This was a my quick lunch a couple of weeks ago. It’s another salad that was part of my cookbook, but mostly magazine, challenge and something I would never think to make on my own. I actually got my ingredients a little confused when I put this together, but it all worked out okay. The recipe uses oranges rather than grapefruit, which I think would be a lot better even though I love grapefruit more than oranges. I’m also not too sure how I feel about fennel…I’ll be honest and tell you that I didn’t eat all of the fennel on my plate. Something about it was just weird to me. I’ve had it chopped up in smaller pieces in salad before and really liked it though! On the more positive side, I can’t believe I never realized how good tuna and avocado are together! I’m embarrassed. So tasty! Next time, oranges! And I’ll try cutting up the fennel. And maybe not roasting it? Or maybe just ditch it? How do you feel about fennel??

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Cookbook Challenge – Cucumber Dill Salad

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The cookbook/magazine challenge is still doing strange things to my recipe selection. I don’t want to say that I’m not a salad person, because I do enjoy a nice big salad sometimes…but I can’t say that it’s normal for me to flip through a magazine and be drawn to so many salad recipes. Simple ones too! Since I don’t make salad very often, I really like making my own small batches of dressing when the impulse hits. It’s way easier than you might think and it’s pretty sweet that you can make a tasty dressing with only a few ingredients rather than the loads of complicated things that are listed on a bottle. This salad was very fresh with nice crunch and paired well with my…oh.so.sophisticated mac & cheese bites. Heh, kind of cut down on the classy, healthy thing didn’t I? I tend to do that. Paul bought us the Trader Joe’s mac & cheese bites so that I would have something quick to eat when I returned from my Colorado trip. They were good! Try both, I say!

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Crispy & Lemony Salad (From Martha Stewart Everyday Food March 2013)

1 head romain, chopped

1/4 cup dill sprigs

1 english cucumber

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Combine the salad ingredients in one bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients in another; season. Drizzle over salad and toss. Top with cracked black pepper. Serves 4.

Yes, It’s Kale

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Are you sick of hearing about kale yet? Yeah, me too, but I had to try out the craze. It seems like everyone is always completely surprised that they end up enjoying raw kale. Needless to say, I was skeptical and thought wow, this stuff must taste really weird. Turns out, it doesn’t taste weird at all. It tastes like leafy broccoli to me, and I love broccoli. I can’t say that I’ve purchased a bundle of kale since I made these chips, but I’m certainly not scared of it anymore.

These kale chips actually were really tasty. I tried out three flavors to make this experiment more interesting: sesame oil, soy sauce, and plain olive oil with sea salt. I liked all of the flavors, but be really careful about adding salt. See, I tossed my whole tray with olive oil and salt before I decided to break them up into three groups. Sooo, my soy sauce chips were mega salty! Valuable lessons in this post: 1. don’t over salt your kale chips and 2. don’t be scared of kale because it just tastes like broccoli…really leafy broccoli that kind of gets stuck in your throat…do you think it tastes like broccoli, or am I the crazy one??

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Quinoa Two Ways

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Ok, so I’m not really that into quinoa. And these are pretty much my only two quinoa recipes. But, they are really good and I’ve been making them for years. I was inspired by a Southwestern style quinoa salad that my mom and I picked up randomly at Whole Foods once. It was surprisingly enjoyable so we decided to recreate it for our work lunches. Quinoa salad makes a great to-go lunch because it’s filling, flavorful, and doesn’t even need to be heated up. Plus, there are tons of ways to switch up the recipes to get some variety in your daily brown bag.

There are two variations that I tend to stick to: Southwest and Mediterranean. When I have the urge to make these for the work week, I usually make one big batch of quinoa and then divide it in two containers. That way I can make both flavors at once and alternate throughout the week. Once you’ve made the quinoa, the rest is just tossing in veggies and seasonings. There’s not really a recipe, but I’ll list the combinations I use below. One big tip though: the last time I made these I added taco seasoning to the Southwest salad, which is now a must! Gives it a nice kick and ties the theme all together. Let me know if you have any quinoa combos that I should try! We have way too much of it in the pantry and it would be nice to switch things up a bit!

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Mediterranean: cucumber, tomato, lemon juice, feta, salt and pepper. I can’t remember the exact herbs/seasoning I used, but I think I kept it simple! I had a little extra steak and avocado from the Southwest salad, so I threw it in here too.

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Southwest: corn, black beans, tomato, avocado, taco seasoning, lime juice. Perfect lunch!

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Cookbook Challenge – Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken

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This is the best chicken I’ve ever made. Third time really is the charm because I’m pretty sure this was my third time roasting a whole chicken. I used yet another Martha Stewart recipe and I am so in love with it. It’s not going to be a weekly staple or anything, but I know it will be a great recipe to have in my back pocket for special occasions. I also don’t know if I’ll ever roast a chicken whole again after trying the butterfly, or spatchcock, method. It was a little tricky (and gross) at first, but in the end it’s so much easier. It cooks faster and it makes carving a cinch.

Once you’ve butterflied the chicken, it’s pretty simple to throw together. Apple, fennel, and leek get tossed into the pan with olive oil and salt and pepper. Then you cover your seasoned chicken with sage and prosciutto! Woo! My chicken cooked for about an hour (in my kind of crappy oven) and came out crispy, flavorful, and moist. Really moist. It was perfect and I was proud. Paul and I both absolutely loved it. I highly recommend this recipe! The prosciutto skin is so good – I feel like maybe it’s part of what helped the chicken stay so moist? Just a guess. In any case, it’s just plain good and you should try it. Recipe can be found here!

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Cookbook Challenge – Roasted Tomato + Capicola Pasta

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I am loving this challenge so far. Eventually I will move on to the cookbooks that I originally intended to utilize for this challenge, but for now I am totally hooked on my Everyday Food magazines. It still counts, okay? I don’t make pasta dishes like this very often. Usually when I crave pasta it’s the creamy, saucy, comfort type. This fresh, simple pasta recipe is so awesome though and still just as satisfying. Plus it’s just so pretty (I got a little picture happy)! The magazine recipe called for pancetta and penne. I had some other kind of tubular pasta that I am blanking on at the moment…and I bought capicola in a pack with prosciutto for another dish that I will be sharing soon. I think it worked out great! Bacon would also be good, of course. Oh, and I also added some garlic to the roasting pan just cuz.

It’s pretty hard to mess this up, I think. You basically throw some tomatoes, onions, meat, and oil into the oven and then stir it into the pasta with some herbs. On the table in 30 minutes. Here’s a link to the full recipe. It’s kind of like magic the way this sauce forms so quick right out of the oven. As you stir everything into the pasta the meat crumbles apart while the pasta water and bursted tomatoes combine and coat the noodles. Super flavorful and the red pepper flakes make it a little spicy too. It’s pretty good cold too, so it could be a nice picnic pasta! And by the way, the recipe is dairy free aka no cheese…but I don’t see how a little parmesan cheese would hurt?

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Mango Salsa + Chips + Fish

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My mom is famous for many dishes within our house, but as far as events and gatherings go she’s famous for three things: cupcakes, potato salad, and mango salsa. While I never had a problem gobbling up the cupcakes, as a kid I often skipped by her potato salad or salsa at the buffet line. I thought I disliked them in general because 1. I didn’t think I liked mayonnaise or mustard and 2. I didn’t like anything Mexican and I thought salsa was always spicy. Well, silly me because both are the best.

Speaking of foods I thought I hated, this post incorporates another: fish. Something I’ve never craved until moving to New England. Lately I’ve been really into grilling fish on the griddle and topping it with some kind of veggie salad/salsa. Eventually I’ll try moving into something a little ‘fishier’ than tilapia, but for now, these dishes are perfectly summery and satisfying.

I had to text my mom for tips when I decided to try mango salsa for myself and she instantly replied with her tried and true recipe. And she was on vacation! She’s got it down. Even though she knows the recipe so well, the measurements aren’t really set in stone. It’s all about tasting and adjusting to get the proportions right. I love recipes like this! It went so nicely with grilled fish and some homemade tortilla chips. This whole meal was really fun to make and despite the giant mess I made in the kitchen, all the parts were quick to assemble. The only bad thing was that my fingers were on fire a few hours later from chopping jalapeño. I have never had that happen and the pain was seriously unbearable! I tried so many home remedies from rubbing my hands in olive oil, sour cream, vinegar, lemon…nothing seemed to be helping and I was pretty eager to go to bed. Yes, it was bad enough to keep me awake. Finally I soaked my fingers in milk for like 10 minutes. It helped long enough for me to fall asleep and I woke up back to normal. Has that ever happened to you?? Did you find a miracle cure?

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Rough Recipe (I halved what my mom suggested since it was just for two):

1 mango + 1/2 a red onion +  a few tablespoons chopped jalapeño + I added some chopped tomato that I had left from the guacamole.

Drizzle in some olive oil + sugar, salt, pepper, lime juice and zest to taste. Chopped mint or basil is also nice if you have it!

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Boston Places – Clover

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Ahh this is the second time I’ve tried to write this post (my browser crashed last time without saving)! Even at my first attempt, it was 2 months late and now I think it’s almost been 3 months since I visited Clover! However, I still think this is appropriate because May is here and food truck season is in full swing. At least in my mind. Plus, this food is so bright, fresh and perfect for the warm weather. I ate at the Harvard Square location when I took these photos, but now I really want to pay a visit to a truck. Should be easy to find – they are everywhere!

I remember when we were here, it was really cold and gloomy. I was so happy to walk in and enjoy some colorful, summery food and drinks. This place is called a food lab for good reason. They are always trying out new ways to make health food super tasty. I actually didn’t even realize the place was vegetarian until after I ordered because I saw words like ‘barbecue’ and ‘BLT’. The menu changes seasonally and as they concoct new things, but the really good stuff stays put. The order dude was pretty honest and told us that some of the seasonal drinks were fun to try, but not the best, like the maple soda. We stuck to some tried and true favorites (according to him) and got the chickpea fritter. I’m sure you guys can tell how absolutely huge this thing is. Even though it was messy and too big for me to finish, I really enjoyed it! Very satisfying without feeling too heavy because all the ingredients taste so fresh.

I really like the idea behind this place and the fact that they pay so much attention to where their ingredients come from. I love any place that can make me happy to eat healthy because goodness knows I’m a sucker for cheese and carbs when it comes to eating out (and eating in general). I want to eat healthy so bad, but I can’t quit the cheese! Eating at Clover was really fun. I like the open atmosphere that lets you watch the assembly process and they had a band playing too. It Seemed like a fairly popular place for those Harvard kids to study…I mean, not only do they serve brain food, but they also serve beer. So yeah, heh heh.

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Hibiscus and some kind of fruity lemonade. I’m not sure what drinks they have now, but these were pretty refreshing!

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Too. full. for. fries. But I still ate some and liked it.

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Watching them work. You can also watch from the seating area above them.

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Harvard kids love to color. Fun!