Salad Series: Watermelon & Spicy Shrimp Salad

Salad Series: Watermelon & Spicy Shrimp Salad

Since my last post, salad consumption at home has increased by leaps and bounds, yay! It just feels right. And the scorching sun and overwhelming heat has kept me from delving into the recipe I had originally planned as the 2nd part of this salad series – one that requires lots of grilling. The growing a baby thing is definitely contributing to my extreme aversion to being hot since I can now only imagine spending most of the day inside relishing in the air-conditioned environment & NOT outside over a grill! So for this installment, I chose to stay inside and play with both cooling and warming ingredients. The Watermelon & Spicy Shrimp Salad highlights a spicy/smoky spice blend that coats the naturally sweet shrimp, paired with sweet, cooling watermelon. You’ll find a few other fun flavors in the mix. Enjoy!

Roasted Gypsy Peppers

Roasted Gypsy Peppers

Sweet Seedless Watermelon

Sweet Seedless Watermelon

Spice Blend for Shrimp

Spice Blend for Shrimp

Mixed Spice Blend for Shrimp

Mixed Spice Blend for Shrimp

Shrimp about to be cooked

Shrimp about to be cooked

Cooked Spicy Shrimp

Cooked Spicy Shrimp

Watermelon & Spicy Shrimp Salad!

Watermelon & Spicy Shrimp Salad!

Watermelon & Spicy Shrimp Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 Gypsy peppers
  • ¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup arugula, packed
  • ½ small seedless watermelon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • ¾-1 lb shrimp, small (26/30) peeled and deveined, approximately 6-8 shrimp per plate
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • Dressing
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • ½ tsp shallot
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large pinch sea salt
  • Spice blend
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp coriander
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • large pinch white pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place Gypsy peppers on a parchment paper lined sheet tray. Drizzle the peppers with olive oil and roast in oven for 15 minutes. Turn peppers and roast them for another 5 minutes. Allow to cool then slice into thin strips and mix with cilantro and season with sea salt. Set aside.
  2. Combine the spice blend together in a medium bowl and mix the shrimp with this spice blend. If you happen to have a favorite spicy spice blend on hand, use that instead!
  3. Place a small saute pan on medium high heat and add about 3 tbsp of the 1/2 cup of olive oil, or enough to fully coat the bottom of the pan. Once the oil starts to shimmer - but not smoke (if it does this, toss the oil and start over) - place as many shrimp in the pan as will fit in one layer. Watch them, as they will cook quickly. Once they begin to curl up slightly, turn them and cook for another 30 seconds. Place cooked shrimp on a plate with paper towel. Add additional oil to the pan as necessary. Once all of the shrimp are cooked, add a bit more oil and add garlic slices to the pan. Fry until golden - this will also happen quickly, so keep an eye on it. The garlic is done when it becomes fragrant and a golden color. Set aside on a paper towel.
  4. Combine the dressing ingredients with a fork or small whisk.
  5. To build salad: wash and dry arugula, divide onto 4 plates. Remove the rind from the watermelon and cut into 12 medium thick slices. Fan 3 slices onto each plate, right on top of the arugula. Top with a small mound of the gypsy pepper and cilantro combination. Divide shrimp onto each plate and then add the dressing, coating a bit of everything on the plate. Sprinkle with fried garlic slices.
  6. Enjoy!
http://girasolecreation.com/2016/07/30/salad-series-watermelon-spicy-shrimp-salad/

Personal Chef for Baby (?!)

Does a newborn baby need a Personal Chef? Probably not – that is what mom is for! But babies parents might appreciate it. C & I were sitting in a birth prep class and the teacher asked us: “Do you have a plan for eating (good food) post labor?” Everybody in class paused and looked around at each other. She continued, saying, “You will have just finished the most intense workout of your life and you will need something nourishing and enjoyable – and you will need it immediately!” Well “ok”, I thought to myself, “this is right up my alley.” I offered up “Hire a personal chef!” Mrs Birth Professor quickly followed with “One that will be available – not in impending labor or post baby?” This made me pause as I had to agree that baking a human has been draining enough up to now and so, was this Personal Chef going to hire her own Personal Chef? NOPE I thought, I got this.

So here is part 1 of my plan, along with some of my considerations. Baby is due in the midst of a hot summer and I absolutely love fresh produce this time of year (stone fruit, berries, melons, etc.), so we are keeping our bimonthly fruit and veg Farm Fresh to You delivery, which comes straight to our door. Maybe my mastery of making quick meals out of random ingredients will come in handy at one, two and three weeks as a new momma (but I’m not really counting on it), so instead of cooking things like zucchini, I’ll most likely be slicing them thin and eating them raw.

To start, a variety of quick meal replacements and snacks are essentials. These are items that can easily be put on the plate, in a cup or in my hand.

Smoothie bags of various flavors filled with frozen fruit & veg, yogurt, milk, a variety of supplements (like psyllium husk, flax seed or one you are already use) which can be blended together with water, milk, yogurt, almond milk, juice, etc. I share my current favorite recipe below – with tropical flavors, but jam packed with good-for-baby & mommy greens.

Bone broth frozen in individual serving sizes. If you don’t already know about the magic of bone broth, please read Top 5 Reasons Why Bone Broth is the Bomb. from Underground Wellness.

Granola stocked in the freezer, as a snack or quick breakfast. I don’t have a favorite recipe, but I like to use this article How to Make Great Granola Every Time becauses the recipe is presented in a formulaic way ie I can modify it based on what I’ve got or what I’m in the mood for. My one preference is to use coconut oil in place of olive oil – a nicer flavor, great health benefits and a higher smoke point.

Energy bars, made from a blend of oats, nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, etc), dates, cacao powder, Brewers yeast (known to help aid in breast milk production), coconut oil and various spices. The beauty of these is that there is no baking involved, they can be made in large batches and they keep for seemingly ever.
Whether it be for post pregnancy or day-to-day meal planning, do you think these are good snacks or meal replacements ? I would love some more ideas and your thoughts!

Greens & Mango Smoothie

Ingredients

  • ½ banana
  • ½ mango
  • ¼ cup arugula, packed
  • ¾ cup coconut water
  • ¾ cup yogurt
  • 1 tbsp fiber mix - I use a combo of flax and psyllium husk
  • 2 dates

Instructions

  1. Blend all the ingredients in a blender and enjoy as a hearty snack or a light meal replacement.
  2. If planning for future use, pack all ingredients except coconut water in a sandwich size ziplock and store in the freezer. Will last up to 6 months.
http://girasolecreation.com/2016/07/21/personal-chef-baby/

Cooking at Home

I usually love to cook at home.

We moved into our own house in August of 2015 and I feel more inspired in this kitchen than I have in most others. It might be the faux granite tops or the matching appliances. But it might also be because it is MINE! Actually, I really fell in love with it when we installed 2 centrally located floating shelves so all spices are at eye level and within arms reach. It is the simple things in life, and yes, this is one of them. Now… what to do with the cabinets of baking supplies. Yes, one major thing missing is a pantry and I’m still working out a solution. One thought is a completely open cabinet/shelving system so nothing is hiding! Thoughts?

Ok, back to cooking.

Last night I made a 4 course meal for us that I’ve had on “the tip of my tongue” for a few weeks. A classic Beef Short Rib stew which turned out to be a powerhouse of flavor while the meat practically fell off the bone. The bone had already been cut off, in order to cut the beef pieces smaller, but those are silly details that don’t really mean anything – point is, the beef was unbelievably tender! That was served with rosemary infused quick yeast rolls. These little guys packed a rich and decadent punch. Prior to that we had enjoyed a citrus roasted beet & endive appetizer. Cam doesn’t take to fungi all that well, so I topped his off with feta cheese while mine included sauteed crimini mushroom without the cheese. Love colorful and tasty appetizers that are quick to prepare and easy to enjoy. Combining grains and greens have been a thing of mine for a while, so a baby kale and farro salad was assembled, along with ras el hanout roasted sweet potato slices, a lemon honey vinaigrette and shaved feta cheese. Out of this world. The meal was filling, so no need to push it with dessert. Mixed citrus – grapefruit, cara cara and navel with a drizzle of vanilla and cardamom spiced syrup. A scoop of ice cream or freshly whipped cream would have taken this dish up a notch, but hey, will save that for next time.

A completely new culinary adventure has begun in my home kitchen this week: fermenting! Saurkraut & ginger with plans to incorporate some other dried spices and fresh roots to future experiments. The benefits to gut health are a real, tangible thing and the benefit to other aspects of health are being unveiled as I type. But hey, every culture has incorporated a fermented food as a part of their balanced cuisine, so by that logic alone, there must be good reason to include it in ours as well.

Here is a mix of fermented food examples across cultures:

  • Japan: Amazake, a traditional drink made from fermented rice. Usually, sweet and low-alcohol. Make your own amazake!
  • Korean: Kimchi is a spicy staple made with cabbage, radish, scallions and a combination of seasonings with red pepper, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, salted shrimp and sugar. Enjoy with everything!
  • Italian: Giardeniera is a condiment usually made of cauliflower, bell pepper, carrot, celery and gherkins in a white or red wine vinegar, herbs and spices. Eat as a simple appetizer with bread and butter or on a sandwich or in a salad.
  • India & Sri Lanka: Appam, a pancake made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk. Enjoy for breakfast with coconut cream or at dinner with a vegetable stew.
  • Iran: Doogh is an unsweetened yogurt-based drink that is usually carbonated and sometimes served with mint. Find this savory, tart drink in Middle Eastern grocery stores or at your closest Iranian restaurant!
  • Sweden: Filmjölk is another beverage made by a yogurt like product. What makes this different from traditional yogurt is the type of bacteria used. Siggi’s is a common grocery store brand that produces this – labeled as drinkable yogurt.
  • Indonesia: Tempeh is made of fermented and bound soybeans and is sold in cake form. Browse these delicious looking recipes and cook with tempeh!
  • Ethiopia: Injera, a national dish is not just a flat bread, but used as an eating utensil. Traditionally, it is made of teff flour and can be found in Ethiopian or East African restaurants. I’ve never made this at home but my chef friends tell me the fermenting process can be overwhelmingly aromatic…in a not so pleasant way…

Just last week I took a class on the topic of Good Gut Bacteria & Fermentation from my good friend at Your Beeting Heart and will share all about it in a future post!

Where are the photos you ask? Weeeeeell….. I recently had an incident with my phone and yeah, they are all gone. Here is one of my soon to be enjoyed creations from the class I took!

Fermenting Fun

Fermenting Fun