Spicy Shrimp and Guacamole Nacho Bites

Spicy Shrimp and Guacamole Nacho Bites

A couple weeks ago I finally got the opportunity to try a spicy shrimp taco that I had read about in Saveur over 2 years ago.  The article was about a taco eating trip down highway 99 in California with stops mostly in agricultural areas with larger mexican populations.  I was busy with school and too far away from the restaurants at the time, but I love Mexican food so the article sat in the back of my mind, added onto the running list of food anecdotes and meal ideas I keep in a dark corner somewhere in there.  When I found myself in Fresno recently I somehow unearthed the article from the depths of my subconscious and hopped on Yelp to make sure they were still open.

Spicy Shrimp and Guacamole Nacho Bites

The tacos.  Were.  Great.  There’s no shortage of delicious tacos in California, and especially not in Fresno, but these stood out as different than what I would usually get.  A flour tortilla holds rice, cheese, guacamole and shrimp bathed in a hot sauce.  They were so filling I could barely finish my second one, but I wanted more of those shrimp.  

Spicy Shrimp and Guacamole Nacho Bites
For my own adaptation I kept the best parts of the taco and ditched the rice and cheese.  These shrimp nacho bites are crunchy and loaded with freshly made guacamole and shrimp.  Avocados and shrimp can be what I call “quiet” flavors in their plain state, but with so many other fresh flavors and spices, the end product is super flavorful and the perfect combination of crunchy, creamy, fresh and spicy.

Spicy Shrimp and Guacamole Nacho Bites

Spicy Shrimp and Guacamole Nacho Bites
Yields 12
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Ingredients
  1. 3 6” corn tortillas or 12 thick tortilla chips
  2. 12 shrimp, peeled and deveined
  3. 1 t. garlic powder
  4. ¼ t. smoked paprika
  5. ¼ t. cayenne pepper
  6. ⅛ red onion
  7. 2 avocados
  8. ½ serrano pepper
  9. 2 T chopped cilantro
  10. 2-3 limes
  11. 2 ½ t. kosher salt, divided
  12. 12 cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
  13. Salt
  14. Vegetable oil
Instructions
  1. Begin heating ½” of vegetable or other neutral tasting oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Stack your tortillas and cut them into quarters. Check the heat by dipping a corner of the tortilla into the oil and if it begins bubbling rapidly the oil is ready. Add as many of the chips as can fit in the pan without any of them overlapping and cook, flipping occasionally until golden brown and bubbling has nearly subsided. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle immediately with salt. Continue to cook the rest of the chips in the same manner. If making ahead, allow to completely cool and then store in an airtight container.
  2. Chop the shrimp into bite sized pieces and combine in a bowl with the garlic, paprika, cayenne, 2 t. salt, and 1 t. oil. Slice the red onion thinly lengthwise and set aside. Cut 1 lime into wedges.
  3. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Mash slightly with a fork, adding ½ t. kosher salt. Dice the serrano pepper and add to the avocado along with the cilantro and the juice of 1 lime. Continue to mash the guacamole to the consistency you prefer, then taste to see if it needs more salt or lime juice and adjust as needed.
  4. Heat 2 T. vegetable oil over medium heat in a skillet large enough to hold all the shrimp in a single layer. Add the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes, until the shrimp has just turned pink. Remove from heat and begin assembling nachos. Add a dollop of guacamole on top of each chip, followed by a spoonful of shrimp a few slices of red onion, and cherry tomatoes. Garnish with an extra squeeze of lime juice from the wedges you cut earlier.
Notes
  1. While you can make some components of this dish ahead of time, they must be assembled right before serving to avoid sogginess. If you're making these for a party and want to make as much ahead of time as possible, I would suggest making the chips and chopping and marinating the shrimp 1-2 days ahead of time. The guacamole can be made in the morning and stored in a bowl in the fridge with plastic wrap pressed directly on top so that it doesn't have contact with any air.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Grilled Zucchini Crostini

Grilled Zucchini Crostini | Cravings & Crumbs

Summer is here and with it comes a bounty of produce.  Although my zucchini plant is just at the blossoming stage now, I know that one day i’ll blink my eyes and suddenly i’ll have more squash than I know what to do with.  So, before we get to that desperate stage when we have zucchini coming out our ears, I present to you this simple and delicious grilled zucchini crostini.

Grilled Zucchini Crostini | Cravings & Crumbs

These crostini are are great as a party snack and are particularly delicious with salty olives and a glass of wine.  We start by slicing the zucchini into ribbons and grilling them to get a little char and smokiness.  This can be done on the grill if you already have it lit, but I cooked mine in a grill pan on the stove and they were great.  Once the zucchini are cooked we briefly marinate them in balsamic vinegar to add sweetness and tang.

Grilled Zucchini Crostini | Cravings & Crumbs

Picking our bread is important here since not only is it the base of our entire dish, but since there are so few ingredients we want to pick each one with care.  Any good bread that you like will work, but try to pick one that will be nicely crunchy once toasted, so stay away from whole wheat and sandwich loaves.  A country style loaf or focaccia would be particularly nice here.  I used a rosemary focaccia for an extra layer of flavor.

Grilled Zucchini Crostini | Cravings & Crumbs

Once we have our zucchini cooked and bread toasted, we’re ready to assemble the crostini.  Drizzle the toasts with a good quality olive oil — or may I suggest the oil from garlic confit?  Then layer some torn fresh mozzarella and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add a few zucchini ribbons on top and season with another small pinch of salt and some red pepper flakes.

Grilled Zucchini Crostini | Cravings & Crumbs

Zucchini and fresh mozzarella have delicate flavors, so if you want you can add a leaf of fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic glaze for an extra pop.  You should also feel free use any cheese or other toppings you like.  I think goat cheese and prosciutto would be a welcome spin here.

Grilled Zucchini Crostini | Cravings & Crumbs

Grilled Zucchini Crostini
Yields 8
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Ingredients
  1. 3 zucchini (about 1 lb)
  2. Olive oil
  3. 2 T. balsamic vinegar
  4. Kosher salt
  5. Pepper
  6. Red pepper flakes
  7. 4 oz fresh mozzarella
  8. 1 clove garlic
  9. Good bread such as country loaf or focaccia
Instructions
  1. Slice zucchini lengthwise into strips about ½ cm thick. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a grill pan or grill over high heat and sear zucchini until it slightly chars on the edges, flipping halfway through. Remove to a plate or bowl and toss with the balsamic vinegar.
  2. Slice bread into appetizer sized portions (about 2” x 2”). Toast until just golden brown on the edges and immediately rub with the cut side of a halved garlic clove.
  3. Drizzle the toasts with olive oil, layer some hand torn mozzarella, season with a sprinkle of salt, then top with 2 folded over zucchini strips. Season with another sprinkle of salt and crushed red pepper flakes.
Notes
  1. Feel free to get creative with the toppings - different cheeses, charcuterie, fresh herbs and extra vinegar would be all be great here.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing

I have a thing for summer food.  What do I mean by “a thing”?  Well soups, stews, and roasts are great, but what I really want year round is to be able to eat something light, flavorful, and that hopefully was grilled outside.  This summer salad hits all the marks.

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing

This is no wimpy salad with greens so underdressed they choke you on the way down.  This is a crisp and filling salad that uses up the leftovers from your summer barbeque so well you’ll start making extra just so you can have it.  It has all the good parts of a salad – flavor, fresh veggies, croutons, and an awesome homemade dressing (!) and none of the bad.  For those that don’t like salads, this is how to make one you’ll actually enjoy eating!

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing

The dressing is made with roasted poblano peppers for a slightly smoky and spicy kick and blended with cilantro and garlic to keep with the southwestern/mexican flair.  It’s made creamy with a little mayo, but mostly greek yogurt to keep it on the healthier side.  Let me just tell you – this stuff is good.  The recipe makes more than you’ll need for one salad, but that’s a good thing.  If I leave this out I find myself dipping all sorts of things in it – tortilla chips, veggies, a piece of popcorn…seriously…

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing

The second best part of this salad (besides the dressing) is that it’s chock full of contrasting flavors and textures.  Crisp lettuce, crunchy croutons, salty parmesan, sweet corn, sharp onion, tender chicken, and of course creamy avocado.  There’s nothing worse than eating an unsatisfying salad and so when I make one I put all the toppings.  And, you know, if you’re looking for a great homemade crouton recipe, I happen to have one right over here.

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing
Serves 2
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For the dressing
  1. 2 medium poblano peppers
  2. Small handful cilantro, roughly chopped
  3. 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  4. 1 green onion, roughly chopped
  5. ½ c. whole milk plain greek yogurt
  6. ¼ c. mayo
  7. 1 T. lime juice
  8. Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the salad
  1. Sturdy lettuce (romaine, red leaf, butter, etc.)
  2. 1 ear corn on the cob
  3. Leftover barbecue chicken
  4. Cherry tomatoes
  5. Red onion
  6. ½ avocado
  7. Parmesan or other salty cheese
  8. Croutons
Instructions
  1. If you have a gas stove turn your burner to high and balance the peppers right over the flames. Allow to roast, turning as needed, until the skins are almost completely blackened. If you don’t have a gas stove you can achieve the same effect by using your oven’s broiler. Remove to a plastic bag or covered bowl to allow to steam as they cool down.
  2. Once poblanos have been resting for about 15 minutes, remove to a cutting board. Remove as much of the charred skin as you can (if you’re having trouble use a paper towel to help you get better grip) as well as the seeds and stem. Roughly chop the peppers and add them to the base of a blender with the remaining ingredients. Blend until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.
  3. Bring a shallow pan of water large enough to lay the corn in to a simmer. Remove husk and silk from corn and add to the pan. Simmer for about 2 minutes, flipping so all sides get cooked. Remove and allow to cool while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Shred or slice chicken, halve cherry tomatoes, cube avocado, and use a vegetable peeler to shave strips of parmesan. Halve red onion through the end, then cut thin slices crosswise. Slice kernels off of corn cob.
  5. Assemble the salad using as much of each ingredients as you like and toss with the dressing.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Chipotle Lime Corn on the Cob

Chipotle Lime Corn on the Cob

We all have those few food that we love to eat.  The foods that, no matter the day, time, or place, if it’s there we’ll eat it.  The foods that we fall silent while eating because we’re just enjoying the moment – no need for distraction by conversation.  Corn on the cob is one of those foods for me.

Chipotle Lime Corn on the Cob

Corn on the cob is simple, soul satisfying food.  There’s no polite way to eat one – you have to use your hands and you’ll probably have to floss afterwards.  There’s no way around it.

Chipotle Lime Corn on the Cob

Growing up I always had my corn boiled with a little bit of butter and salt.  Simple, summer perfection.  One time I went to a sleepover at my guatemalan friend’s house and the neighborhood she lived in had an elote man who sold to the kids after school.  She and her cousins were so excited to get their elotes con mayonesa…me, not so much.  I wasn’t a fan of mayonnaise at the time and couldn’t imagine who would think up such a foul combination.  I’ve since come to my senses and will gladly wait in a line 30+ minutes at the flea market for my elote with mayo, cotija, chile, and lime.

Chipotle Lime Corn on the Cob

This corn is slightly inspired by my recent recipe for Chile Lime Popcorn and I say only slightly because chiles and lime aren’t anything new, just a classic flavor combination that I like to do in different ways.  Here, the smokiness of chipotles underscores the roasted flavor of the corn and the lime perks up the entire flavor profile.  If you remember, in my recent grilled cheese recipe i wrote about my discovery of the existence of dry jack cheese.  Well, I got my hands on a chunk and I’m here to report that it’s really nothing earth shattering.  I used it here since I had it, but parmesan, pecorino, or cotija would all be equally good, and maybe even a little bit more flavorful.

Chipotle Lime Corn on the Cob

This corn recipe would be great with anything else you might be cooking on the grill this summer, especially anything with a mexican flavor profile – grilled chicken, carne asada, ribs…tell me when to stop…

Chipotle Lime Corn on the Cob

Chipotle Lime Corn on the Cob
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Ingredients
  1. 4 ears corn
  2. 4 t. olive oil
  3. 4 T. butter
  4. 2 chipotle chiles en adobo
  5. Juice of 1 large lime
  6. Dry jack, parmesan, or cotija cheese
  7. Salt
Instructions
  1. Light coals or, if using gas, turn grill to medium-high and allow to preheat.
  2. Shuck the corn, drizzle each ear with 1 t. olive oil, sprinkle with salt and wrap individually in aluminum foil. Nestle the ears in the coals or place on grill over the hot side. Cook for about 12 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small bowl. Mince the chipotles and add to the butter.
  4. When corn is ready, unwrap from the foil and brush each ear with the chipotle butter. Season with salt and garnish with grated cheese. Finish with a squeeze of lime.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Achiote Chicken Salad

Achiote Chicken Salad | Cravings & Crumbs

Lunch options near my work are slim.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of restaurants, but they’re all too expensive and not even that delicious.  As someone who likes to cook a lot, it pains me to pay too much money for something that I could have made better for half the price.

Achiote Chicken Salad | Cravings & Crumbs

There are a few options I enjoy when I’m too lazy to cook lunch or simply forget.  One of them is a mexican restaurant run as an offshoot to another two well known restaurants in the area.  Everything tastes really good, but you end up paying $15 for three tacos and a drink.  It kills me that I could go to the mexican market and buy everything to make enough tacos and drinks for 10 people for that price. Read More

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Peruvian Chicken Wings with Green Sauce

Peruvian Chicken Wings | Cravings & Crumbs

The summer before our last year of college J and I took a summer study abroad trip to Argentina.  In between many choripanes and bondiolas from street vendors, we ate at some really good restaurants.  One that was recommended by our teacher was Chan Chan, a little peruvian restaurant in an alleyway that was supposed to be the best in the city.  Come to think of it, there were a few restaurants that he praised as being lo mas bueno, but Chan Chan really did deserve it.  We had never tried peruvian food before, but between the free cancha (a toasted corn snack) and bistec encebollado we fell in love with the cuisine.

Peruvian Chicken Wings | Cravings & Crumbs

One common peruvian dish that Chan Chan didn’t have was whole roasted or grilled chicken.  Maybe it was just my experience in Buenos Aires, but I only remember having chicken once or twice the whole month – restaurants had all beef and a little pork.  It wasn’t until a little peruvian restaurant opened up near our apartment last year that we discovered peruvian chicken and the cilantro jalapeño “green sauce” they served it with.  The chicken was flavored with paprika, cumin, and garlic, and was tender enough to pull apart into shreds to dip into the sauce that was cool and spicy. Read More

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Easy Rosemary Focaccia

There’s really nothing like a warm loaf of bread fresh out of the oven.  Once the smell of this focaccia baking fills the kitchen, no one can resist taking a bite of the warm, tender bread with an olive-oil crisped bottom.  While professional bakeries can make some truly amazing loaves using starters that have been kept going for years and steam injected ovens, there are some breads that are just made for home bakers.  Focaccia is one of the first breads I baked by myself and continues to be a favorite of mine.  

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Broccolini Salad With Prosciutto and Burrata

As I’ve grown up my definition of a salad has evolved.  My parents would have a simple salad at the dinner table most nights, but if I had to eat it my portion would be romaine, croutons, maybe some shredded carrots – no dressing please…  Then I discovered balsamic, so sweet yet tart, and wait a minute, you can put this on things that aren’t lettuce too?  These days my favorite vinegar is red wine, although I love champagne and sherry vinegars almost equally.  It’s bright, very acidic, and perfect for my everyday cooking which is usually some kind of blend between italian and californian.

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