garlic

Garlic & Herb Shrimp

Maintaining a food blog is a lot of work, especially on top of having a busy job. There is quite a lot going on at work, and even though most of the Irish-inspired recipes I planned out for this week are rather simple, it still takes some time to prep everything and have daylight to shoot it all.

Thankfully I had a really quick and easy recipe for Garlic & Herb Dublin Bay Prawn planned out to recreate.

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Fishing towns are scattered all throughout Ireland's coast so I'm dedicating several of this weeks posts to seafood. Dublin Bay Prawns, also commonly known as langoustine, are very similar to look and taste to shrimp.

Prawn and shrimp are in the same zoological class but prawn are generally a bit larger. For whatever reason prawn/langoustine are not common in the states. In fact, I think the first time I had seen a langoustine was when my husband and I were honeymooning in Portugal.

Short story long, instead of using Dublin Bay prawn, I picked up a half pound of shrimp.

For the best flavor I could have purchased them with shells (they flavor the sauce), but to keep it simple I grabbed the peeled and deveined.

So here is what you need:

Ingredients: 1/2 pound of shrimp 2 tbs butter (Kerrygold is a great choice) 3-4 tbs of fresh chopped parsley or other fresh herbs 3 cloves of garlic minced Juice from half a lemon 1/4 cup dry white wine Angel hair pasta (enough for 2)

How it all comes together The longest thing you need to wait for is the water to boil for the pasta. Other than that, be ready to move quick.

While that pot of water is coming to a boil, start prepping your shrimp. Rinse off and pat dry.

In a bowl mix the lemon juice, minced garlic, herbs and the 2 tbs of soften butter in a bowl.

Add the shrimp and massage the butter/herb mixture into the shrimp. Do not leave in this marinade for longer than 30 minutes because the acidity of the lemon will cook the shrimp before it even hits a sauté pan.

When the water looks close to a boil, get a sauté pan set over medium heat.

(Here is where you need to move fast).

Drop the shrimp with marinate into pan and start to sauté. They only need 1-2 minutes per side.

Now drop your angel hair into the boiling water. Check the instructions to cook until al Dente (a slight bite).

Once shrimp has color on both sides, add about 1/4-1/2 cup of white wine to the pan and let reduce for a minute.

Drain the pasta and add to the saute pan. Let cook in pan for another minute. The pasta will soak up all those flavors.

Divide to among two bowls and top with a few fresh herbs.

Ideally enjoy with a glass of white wine, especially if you've had a long day.

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Kale & Cashew Pesto over Spaghetti Squash

I love cooking in the winter. As the days get colder and shorter, and I start craving warming comfort food, the kitchen becomes a haven. Usually the stovetop is slowly simmering marinara sauces and stews and the oven is cranking out delicious sugary baked goods. A year ago today, I was (at least) 23 lbs heavier. As we head into the holiday and colder blistery New England winter, I'm determined to find new healthy favorites that are just as comforting as the heavy dishes I used to devour. I look to seasonal produce to help inspire me. Italian dishes are undoubtedly comfort food to me, but pasta certainly isn't on my go-to "healthy" list. Luckily, high carb and calorie pasta can be easily substituted with spaghetti squash.

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Spaghetti Squash is considered a winter squash. They can be identified by their tough skins as opposed to summer varieties like zucchini. Like butternut, acorn, kabocha, pumpkin, and delicata squashes, you should easily be able to find these at a grocery store this time of year. They also are featured in Winter Farmer's markets that pop up after the holidays.

Spaghetti Squash gets its name for its resemblance to spaghetti pasta after its been roasted and the flesh removed. Its low in carbs and calories, and high in vitamins. A cup contains only 42 calories and 10 carbs so you could definitely go for seconds and thirds without feeling guilty! The stuff is just really delicious, if you haven't tried it, introduce yourself to it this week!

I've made spaghetti squash with bolognese before, but this week I wanted to try something different, like a pesto. Traditional pesto is made with basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and olive oil; and you can't really go wrong with that. While you can certainly find basil in the grocery store this time of year, its definitely more of a summer flavor. I made several variations of pesto this summer with a variety of greens from our farm share. Kale, being one of my favorite greens, and also in season, would make the perfect base! Out of pine nuts, I opted for raw, unsalted cashews I had. Everything else would remain the same.

Roasted cherry tomatoes complete the dish as the acidity helps to cut through the richness of the pesto. They are just popped in the oven towards the end of the squash roasting and make a beautiful garnish. I love how they look like bright little rubies standing out against the green pesto. It's very Christmas-y!

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So here's how to whip this dish up.

The first thing you have to do is roast the squash. Pre-heat your oven to 375°. Using a heavy kitchen knife, carefully cut the spaghetti squash down the middle and remove the seeds. Place cut side up, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for around 45 minute or until fork tender.

While the spaghetti squash is roasting, you can whip up your pesto. Add kale, cashews, garlic, a squeeze of lemon and Parmesan cheese in a food processor and pulse until everything has broken down in tiny bits. Then, slowly drizzle your olive oil in, blending until smooth. Use a spatula to scape everything out into a separate bowl.

Next prepare the cherry tomato topping. Depending how much tomato you like, slice a handful or so of cherry tomatoes in half. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh thyme. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for easier clean up. When the squash only has 20 mins left, pop the tomatoes in the oven to roast.

One the squash is ready, everything will come together really fast. Pull the squash and tomatoes out of the oven and let cool so the squash is easier to handle. Using a fork, start scraping at the flesh and pull out the "spaghetti". All that should be left is the tough skin that can now be discarded. In a bowl, toss the spaghetti squash with half of the pesto. Save the rest for later use (you can freeze it) or add a bit more to the spaghetti squash. Just be mindful of the portions, between the oil, nuts and cheese there is a lot of calories and fat in pesto, luckily its mostly the healthy kind and your serving it with squash that virtually has none.

Serve in two bowls and top each with the roasted cherry tomatoes. If you'd like, garnish with a few chopped cashews for extra crunch.

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Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Pesto
  • ½ cup cashews (plus some extra for garnish later)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 3 cups kale, washed, chopped and packed tight
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Roasted Tomatoes
  • 1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dry)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Cut spaghetti squash in half the long way. Remove seeds.
  • Drizzle with 1-2 tbs olive oil and season with salt and pepper
  • Roast in oven for 45 mins
  • Meanwhile, add kale, cashews, garlic, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice into blender and pulse until kale and cashews are in tiny pieces.
  • While pureeing, slowly add up to 1/2 cup olive oil, until pesto is smooth.
  • Scrape into another bowl and reserve for later.
  • Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt, pepper and thyme.
  • Place in oven the last 20 mins that the squash is cooking.
  • When squash is done, let cool a few minutes before handling.
  • Using a fork, scrape out all the "spaghetti" like flesh until only the tough skin is left.
  • Toss half of the pesto in with the squash, and serve in two bowls.
  • Top with roasted tomatoes and garnish with a few extra chopped cashews if you like.

Roasted Beet Hummus

The first post I'll be sharing is a recipe from another blog, Minimalist Baker. I choose to share this recipe for Roasted Beet Hummus because it was this recipe and blog that set me on the road to starting my own food blog. Incorporating beets into a hummus was an exceptionally clever idea and is a great way to introduce a seemingly strange vegetable into you diet.

Earlier this summer, I joined a CSA program with Warner Farms to start incorporating more fresh veggies into my diet. I absolutely loved it. Each week I picked up my farm share, I felt like a contestant on the Food Network show "Chopped", receiving a "mystery box" full of ingredients. I was challenged each week to use all the fresh produce in meals that both myself and husband would enjoy. The farm share really sparked my creativity and fueled my growing passion of cooking.

I knew I'd be receiving lots of vegetables I hadn't tried before. I grew up a pretty picky eater, which was one of the reasons I was struggling to get good nutrition into my diet. When I joined the CSA, I made a commitment to myself to stay open minded and try everything it had to offer. One of the first strange ingredients we got were beets.

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Warner Farms sent out a weekly newsletter and this week they included few recipes to give us ideas how to use our beets. A link to  Minimalist Baker's Roasted Beet Hummus drew me with beautiful photography, capturing the bright pink hue of the hummus off set by the orange carrots and green cucumbers. It looks absolutely gorgeous and I just had to try it for myself.

I explored her site and found it was filled with lots of amazing and simple recipes. She also had another thing that caught my attention, food photography e-courses and blogging resources. I'd taken several photography classes in high school and already considered it to be a hobby of mine, but needed some refreshers along with some food styling tips. The cost of the class was the best $19.99 I spent in a long time. It planted the seeds for this very here food blog!

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While the farm share sparked my creativity with cooking, Minimalist Baker rekindled my interest in photography. The two passions came together serendipitously with this here recipe. It only seemed right I feature it as my first post.

So without further adieu, lets talk about roasted beet hummus!

If you are unfamiliar with beets, to sum it up, they are a root vegetable that come in a variety of colors, but most often, a deep ruby. What a lot of people don't know is that beets are a super food. They are packed with potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene, beta-cyanine and folic acid. They are excellent at cleansing/detoxifying the body, and are a high source of energy. They are just too good for you not to have if you are looking to have a mindful eating lifestyle.

A great way to introduce yourself to beets is by mixing or blending them with other foods - which makes this recipe perfect. I don't think beets have a very strong taste as it is, but if you are worried about it, the lemon and the garlic in this dish become the most prominent flavors.

Simply, roast a few fresh beets, peel and dice. Add them to a food processor along with garlic, lemon juice and ingredients you'd find in a traditional hummus, like chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste) and olive oil and blend! The end result is a bright and garilc-y hummus perfect for dipping veggies or a spread in a sandwich.

The deep red hues of the beets turn the hummus bright pink making the dish a real show stopper. What a perfect dip for a bridal shower, bachelorette party or baby shower! Impress all you friends and bring it to your next cocktail party.

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Ingredients

  • 2-3 Small Beets, roasted and peeled
  • 2 15oz cans of garbanzo/chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 5 garlic cloves (I like mine to have a strong garlic taste)
  • 3-4 tbs tahini
  • About a 1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions

  • Roast the beets ahead of time. Rinse the beets and cut off the stems. Wrap them in foil and roast in a 375°F oven for 50-60 mins. Let cool before handling and peel with a pairing knife.
  • Add cooled, roasted beets in food processor. Pulse to break up .
  • Add the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic and tahini and blend until smooth.
  • Lastly, slowly drizzle in olive oil, while blending, until you reach the desired consistency.

Nutritional Info per original site

1 serving has Calories: 165 Fat: 12 g Carbohydrates: 12 g Sugar: 1.2 g Fiber: 2.6 g Protein: 3.4