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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Sambal Chicken Skewers

Sambal Chicken Skewers | Cravings & Crumbs

These sambal chicken skewers are somewhat of a triple threat – spicy, sweet, and satisfying.  Yeah, I know I’m corny, but it’s true!  These skewers were originally published in Bon Appétit in 2013 and they’ve become a favorite of tons of people for good reason!  The marinade is salty, spicy, sweet, and complex, and better yet it takes less than 10 minutes to put together.  That’s what I love about cooking asian cuisines – many of them rely on condiments that are often fermented or a mix of many different ingredients so that you can get deep, layered flavors with nearly instant gratification.

Sambal Chicken Skewers | Cravings & Crumbs

It was sunny here in the Bay Area last weekend with temperatures in the 70s, which had me itching to grill something.  I’ve been spending a lot of time in my parent’s backyard recently, reading in a lounge chair that sits near our barbeque, and the grill has been calling out to me, begging me to come up with something good.  

Sambal Chicken Skewers | Cravings & Crumbs

Obviously, I set my sights on these babies, and they were just as good as I imagined.  These skewers have a classic thai flavor profile – fish sauce, garlic and chiles, with brown sugar to add to the caramelization and acids to help with tenderization.  Many commenters noted that the recipe as originally written is spicy and they weren’t kidding.  Eaten without extra basting these probably wouldn’t be too hot, but I wanted a good layer of the sauce basted on as I grilled them and by the end of skewer #1 my mouth was on fire!  I’ve adjusted the recipe to make the sriracha optional.  You’ve been warned…

Sambal Chicken Skewers | Cravings & CrumbsI chose to serve these with rice, cilantro, thai basil, and lettuce to create a lettuce wrap situation, but these would be equally great just in a rice bowl with some sort of pickled vegetable to brighten everything up.  I also grilled some pineapple spears alongside the skewers as a sweet and juicy accompaniment to tame the fiery chicken.  If you’ve never tried grilled pineapple before please give it a go!  It’s surprisingly delicious!

Sambal Chicken Skewers | Cravings & Crumbs

Sambal Chicken Skewers
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Chicken
  1. ½ c. brown sugar
  2. ¼ c. unseasoned rice vinegar
  3. ¼ c. lime juice (from about 2 limes)
  4. ⅓ c. sambal oelek
  5. 2 ½ T. fish sauce
  6. 2 t. finely grated ginger
  7. 2 large garlic cloves, grated, pressed, or minced
  8. 2 T. sriracha (optional)
  9. 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  10. 1-2 bunches green/spring onions
Optional Accompaniments
  1. Rice
  2. Herbs such as thai basil and cilantro
  3. 1 pineapple, rind removed and cut into spears
  4. Small head of lettuce such as bibb, gem, or romaine
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients (brown sugar to sriracha) in a bowl to create marinade. Chop chicken into pieces about 1” in size and mix with marinade. Refrigerate for 30 mins or overnight.
  2. At least 2 hours before you’re ready to grill soak wooden skewers in water to prevent burning as you cook the skewers.
  3. To assemble skewers, first chop green onions into 1” chunks, white parts only. Then thread chicken pieces onto the skewer, alternating with onion pieces. Set aside in a tray, covered in saran wrap, until ready to grill.
  4. Add leftover marinade to a sauce pan and cook over medium heat until thickened and reduced by about half.
  5. Cook skewers and pineapple over medium-high heat on the grill for about 10 minutes, turning and basting the chicken with the reserved sauce throughout.
Notes
  1. If you’re worried about using the leftover marinade as a sauce, just reserve half the marinade in the beginning, or make double.
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Chile Lime Popcorn

Chile Lime Popcorn | Cravings & Crumbs

Congratulations, you made it to the weekend! If you’re absolutely nothing like me, maybe you went out yesterday for St. Patrick’s day and drank too much at a bar packed with too many people. I’m much older in my heart than my true age, so my idea of a good time is a relaxed cocktail hour with close friends or family, and of course good snacks. Read More

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Strawberry Empanadas

Strawberry Empanadas | Cravings & Crumbs

One of the great things about living in California is that you can find an abundance of fresh produce year round.  While obviously everything is best in season, even in winter you can find tomatoes, strawberries, pineapple, and so many other spring or summer season fruits and veggies that I consider to taste good enough and didn’t have to travel very far to get to me.  However, the smaller farms that sell at the farmer’s markets stick to the seasons so I was still excited to see the first of the season’s strawberries pop up at the Sunday Jack London farmer’s market in Oakland.   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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