Mini Shrimp Tacos

Recipe by Amy Grossi. See my blog post about this event here.

The chile cream sauce and cilantro combo here is to die for.  Use Tostitos Scoops tortilla chips for best results!

Mini Shrimp Tacos

  • 1 pound small peeled and deveined shrimp (50-60ct per pound)
  • bowl-shaped corn tortilla chips, such as Tostitos Scoops
  • 2 avocadoes, diced
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

for the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 or 3 chiles in adobo (choose your heat level)
  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a bowl, sprinkle shrimp with chili powder, cumin, lime zest. Salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.  Cover and set aside.

Add yogurt, adobo chiles and lime juice to a food processor or blender.  Pulse until smooth. Stir in sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Heat skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shrimp, cooking 2-3 minutes or until shrimp are opaque.

Arrange corn chips on a large serving plate.  Top each chip with a shrimp and one slice of avocado. Using a spoon or a zip top bag with a very small hole cut in it, drizzle chili cream sauce over each mini taco.  Sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately. Enjoy!

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Peach & Blue Brie Crostini

Recipe by Amy Grossi. See my blog post about this event here.

Sweet and savory, any soft ripened cheese will work.  Choose your favorite!

Peach & Blue Brie Crostini

  • French baguette
  • 2 larges peaches (or try pears!)
  • Blue Brie, Brie, or any soft ripened cheese
  • 1 or 2 large garlic cloves
  • olive oil for drizzing
  • honey

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Slice baguette on the diagonal and arrange on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.

Bake for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and rub each piece with a raw garlic clove while bread is still hot.

Top each piece with a slice of peach and a slice of Brie. Return the crostini to the oven for another 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and drizzle with honey. Serve immediately. Enjoy!


Classic Guacamole

It doesn’t get much better than guacamole…creamy, buttery avocados mixed with what is essentially salsa ingredients.  This is one of my heavenly foods.

There are lots of guac recipes out there, but I felt my website wouldn’t be complete without my version, as much as we eat it.  And a visit to my grocery store today led me to the first decent-looking avocados in a few months.  They were finally not hard as rocks.  Time to make some delicious guacamole!

I’m going to keep this simple:  You need lots of avocadoes – I didn’t weigh mine (sorry), but they were 5 normal-sized Haas avocados, maybe about 2 pounds before peeling/pitting.  You also need lots of fresh cilantro, and some Roma tomatoes (they have a lower water content and do much better in salsas and guacamole).  Chop everything small, and the garlic smaller.

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We like chunky avocado, but I’m pretty sure it’s more traditional to mash the avocados smooth.  It’s like a competition to see who can fish out the big chunks, with the lucky hunter raising his or her tortilla chip with a victorious, “haHA!”.  We also do this with blue cheese dressing.

Normally I’d also have put a fresh jalapeno in the guac.  I forgot to buy one today, though.  Do it if you’re adventurous!

Here’s the recipe!

Classic Guacamole

yield about 6 cups.

  • 5-6 medium-large ripe Haas avocados, quartered, peeled and pitted
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 medium red onion, diced small (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced (about 1/8 cup packed)
  • 2 large Roma tomatoes, diced small (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • ​1 jalapeno pepper, chopped fine (remove the seeds for less heat)
  • salt and pepper to taste

​In a large bowl, put the quartered and peeled avocados.  Squeeze the juice of half a lime over the top, add a little salt, and mash to your preferred consistency.

Add rest of ingredients and stir gently to combine.  Taste for salt, add more if needed.

Serve immediately, or cover tightly, refrigerate and serve within a few hours with tortilla chips or veggie slices like carrots and cucumbers.  Top tacos, salads, or anything else with this mix as well.  Enjoy!


Oven-Fried Ravioli

One of my most favorite appetizers from the Olive Garden is the fried ravioli.  I mean, are you kidding?  They are just ridiculous.  They serve it with warm marinara and also this equally ridiculous ranch-style dip.  The guilt I feel when I eat these things is terrible.

I decided there must be a better way.  Let’s bake them!

Now, my recipe isn’t necessarily anything special.  Do a Google search for baked ravioli and you’ll get all sorts of variations.  This is one that works well for me every time, and I’m sure it’s because they’re double dipped in the egg and breadcrumbs (oh yes!).  And don’t skip the extra dip, it make all the difference.

The first time I made these, we ate the whole batch…seriously.  With some warm marinara sauce these are every bit as good as the fried version!

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Oven Fried Ravioli

  • 20 (about 1 pound) frozen or fresh ravioli (gluten free if you like)
  • 2 eggs
  •  1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned Panko breadcrumbs (gluten free if you like)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the kind in the can)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Boil ravioli for about half the time on the package directions (or until soft).  Drain and toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, and oregano, along with the Parmesan cheese.  Stir to combine.  Whisk the eggs and milk together in a separate bowl.

Working in batches of 3 or 4, dip the ravioli in the egg and allow excess to drip off.  Coat in breadcrumb mixture, pressing to adhere.  Set on parchment paper and continue until all ravioli is done.

Repeat dipping process once more for each ravioli.  Spray lightly with olive oil spray and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve immediately with marinara sauce or Ranch dressing.  Enjoy!


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Fall is (sort of) making an appearance here in Florida, and with Halloween just a few days off, pumpkin carving is in full swing.  What to do with those handfuls of pumpkin guts?  With a little work, you can sort out the seeds and roast them for a healthy treat!

Have you ever noticed how much seeds (and nuts) cost in the supermarket?  It’s ridiculous.  So save the pumpkin seeds you’ve got and save some cash!

There are several ways to roast the seeds, but my preferred way is low and slow.  I’ll give alternative cook times if you don’t have an hour to wait, but roasting them slowly allows them to fully dry out and minimizes chewiness.

Here’s the recipe – or really, just how to roast perfect seeds.  The seasonings are up to you!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • Fresh pumpkin seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Seasonings of your choice

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Separate the seeds from the pumpkin flesh; wash the sorted seeds in water and pat dry.  Put them in a bowl and add a drizzle of olive oil.  I like to put the oil in my hand and then stir the seeds with my fingers.  All you want is a very light coat so the salt and seasonings will stick.

Here’s the fun part.  Add a little salt (or not) and whatever flavors you prefer – Cajun, garlic, curry, Old Bay, or chili powder…or how about trying some cinnamon and sugar?  You really can’t go wrong!  I use about half a teaspoon of seasoning per cup of seeds, but adjust to your liking.

Spread the seeds on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (you can do without but it keeps the seeds from sticking to the pan; don’t add nonstick sprays, it will add too much moisture).  Try to get them in a single layer with minimal overlaps.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, check for crispness at 45 minutes (this means take one out and eat it!).  If you have a lot of seeds on the tray, stir them around halfway through to help evenly cook them all.

If you don’t have that much time, preheat the oven to 350-375 degrees and roast for about 35 minutes.  Just keep an eye on them!

After they’ve cooled, store in an airtight container at room temperature.  How long will they keep?  I don’t know – ours never make it more than a few days!

Enjoy!


Five Layer Bean Dip II

Here’s a second version of the Five Layer Bean Dip I made a few weeks ago…this time I used regular refried beans, lots of extra guacamole (that’s what everyone in my family digs around for anyway), tomato, black olives and green onion.

Today I bought all the ingredients pre-made (shhh!).  I even switched out the homemade salsa for a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles!

You can just claim it.  No one will ever know.

Five Layer Bean Dip II

Yield about 5 cups.

  • 1/2 can refried beans
  • 8 ounces reduced fat sour cream
  • 16 ounces (about 2 cups) guacamole
  • 1 can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and chiles (Original or Mild), drained
  • 1 cup shredded Kraft 4 Cheese Mexican blend
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 small Roma tomato, diced
  • 1 green onion (scallion), chopped fine, white and green parts
  • chopped lettuce
  • chopped fresh cilantro
  • Cholula hot sauce

In a 1.75-2 quart deep casserole dish, spread half the can of refried beans.  Top with the sour cream, adding a few dashes of Cholula sauce if you like.  Top with the guacamole, and then spoon the drained Ro-Tel tomatoes on top.  Finish with a layer of shredded cheese.

Top the layers with sliced black olives; chop up some lettuce and cilantro (toss to combine), and add to top as well.  Dice the tomato and chop the green onion (toss to combine) and add to top of dip.  Refrigerate a few hours to chill the mix, then serve with tortilla chips.  Enjoy!


Five Layer Bean Dip

I wasn’t going to post this recipe, but it looked so pretty! So I figured I’d show you my version of the simple five-layer bean dip.

You can even buy the guacamole and salsa already made and throw everything together in five minutes!

We like some (a lot) of spice, so I include Cholula hot sauce and a fresh sliced jalapeno.  I also prefer to use black beans instead of regular refried beans.

Cholula isn’t very spicy, and is thicker than most hot sauces. Look for it in your grocery store next to the ketchup and hot sauces, or in the International Foods aisle.

I love to mix cilantro and lettuce together for more flavor, too!

This is an easy, no-cook appetizer.  Change it up how you like!  See another version here.

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Five Layer Bean Dip

Yield about 5 cups.

  • 1 can refried black beans (such as Old El Paso)
  • 8 ounce reduced fat sour cream
  • 2/3 – 3/4 cup guacamole (enough to make a layer; see a simple guac recipe here)
  • 2/3 – 3/4 cup salsa (enough to make a layer; see my version here)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (we like Cheddar or a Mexican blend)
  • Cholula hot sauce (optional)
  • chopped lettuce and cilantro
  • diced tomatoes (optional)
  • 1 whole fresh jalapeno, sliced into thin rounds

In a 1.75 to 2 quart deep dish, layer beans in the bottom.  Top with the sour cream, and drizzle Cholula over the top.  Then layer the guacamole, salsa, and top with the shredded cheese.

Chop up the lettuce and cilantro and mix together.  Garnish the top of the dip with the greens, chopped tomatoes if desired, and the sliced jalapeno.  Serve with tortilla chips.  Enjoy!