Monday, August 29, 2016

Sweet Garlic-Lime Shrimp with Spicy Cilantro-Lime Quinoa

As we start a new school year (my baby girl is going to first grade!!), I'm all about planning quick and easy meals that are delicious and healthy. If I can do some prep ahead, even better. And if it gives me leftovers for lunch the next day, it is perfect in my opinion!

This meal has so many things going for it - it is healthy, quick, full of flavor, some of it can be prepped ahead of time, and the quinoa makes great leftovers both hot or cold. You could also eat the shrimp on its own with some grilled veggies, or you could eat the quinoa on its own or with some other protein, like grilled chicken. Oh, and did I mention it is delicious?

Shrimp is something you can grill or pan fry in less than 10 minutes so I always have a bag of frozen shrimp in my freezer for quick meals. I'll watch for when the store has the 2lb bags of 21-25 or 26-30 count shrimp on sale for $9.99 - you really can't beat that deal.

For this dish I wanted the shrimp to be sweet, sticky and bright. Using sweet hoisin sauce and zesty lime along with a bunch of garlic gave me exactly that.

To balance out the sweetness of the shrimp, I made a spicy quinoa with jalapenos, tomatoes, peppers, cilantro and lime, and to keep it easy I did all of my chopping ahead of time. We were so happy with the flavors in this, and the shrimp and quinoa worked so well together.

As far as timing goes, start your quinoa right away. Once it gets simmering for several minutes you can start your shrimp and everything will finish at the same time.


Sweet Garlic-Lime Shrimp
Original Recipe by Mary Ellen of Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations


  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled
  • 1 tsp hoisin sauce
  • Juice of 1/2 of a lime
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional; omit if you don't want any heat)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Mix the hoisin, lime juice, red pepper flakes and garlic. Pour over the shrimp and marinate 30 minutes to 2 hours. 
  • Heat the oil in a stainless saute pan. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Saute the shrimp approximately 6 minutes until cooked through. 
  • Serve immediately.

Spicy Cilantro-Lime Quinoa
Original Recipe by Mary Ellen of Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 each of a red and green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 of a white or sweet yellow onion, minced
  • 4 sm tomatoes, diced (1c)
  • 1/2 of a jalapeno, minced (more for more heat)
  • 1 c quinoa, rinsed
  • 2.5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 of a lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan
  • Add the peppers, garlic, onion, tomatoes and jalapeno; saute 2-3 minutes
  • Add the quinoa and stir until everything is combined
  • Add the broth and simmer, covered, approximately 10 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and simmer another 3-5 minutes until the quinoa is cooked (mostly tender with some bite) and most of the liquid has absorbed.
  • Stir in the cilantro and lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Grilled Corn Salad with a Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

Sweet summer corn - isn't it the best?

My favorite way to prepare it is grilled - charred, to be exact - and that is what inspired this salad.

Charred corn is packed with smoky flavors, so pairing it with something bright and zesty with a touch of heat works perfectly. I used cilantro and lime for the bright and zesty flavors, grilled red onion for some sweetness, crunchy red pepper for texture, spicy jalapenos for heat, and a dressing featuring chili and lime to pull it all together.

This Grilled Corn Salad can be eaten as a salad or you can really get creative with it. Picture it on fajitas or tacos - the perfect topping! Put it on top of grilled chicken or fish. Or just grab some chips and scoop it up like salsa!

I will definitely be making this one a few more times before the summer corn runs out.

Check out two of my other favorite summer corn recipes here -
     Grilled Corn with a Chipotle Lime Butter
     Mexican Grilled Corn Salad with with Citrus Aioli.

Grilled Corn Salad with a Chili-Lime Vinaigrette
Original Recipe by Mary Ellen of Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations


  • 6 ears corn, cleaned (remove husks and all silk) and washed
  • 1 red onion, sliced into rings (don't separate within the rings)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • Handful of cilantro, washed and chopped
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper
Dressing Ingredients
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lime
  • Zest from 1/2 of a lime
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • Mix all of the dressing ingredients together and chill until ready to serve.
  • Heat grill to medium high
  • Brush/spray the corn and red onion with olive oil; season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill until charred in spots (to your liking), about 15 minutes. 
  • Stand the corn on end. Using a sharp knife, remove the kernels into a bowl. 
  • Chop the grilled red onion
  • Add in the red pepper, jalapeno and cilantro
  • Toss with the dressing and serve. 

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Orange-Teriyaki Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Kabobs

My husband is the marinade guy. I think he has come up with 90% of the marinades we have tried over the past 10+ years. He is really creative, tries anything, and has made us some amazing meals. I keep telling him he needs to write a marinade cookbook! Last night I took over and tried something new (but yes, I did ask his advice as I was mixing and creating!).

I planned on grilled chicken kabobs, and after creating and smelling the marinade, it was an easy decision that I'd be including pineapple and red onions on those skewers. There are so many flavors in this - bright citrus from the orange juice, sweet and salty flavors from the teriyaki, and so many other layers from the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes.

My favorite thing about this marinade, besides the flavor it gave to the chicken, is how it caramelized when grilled. Look how beautiful these are with all of those colors and caramelization -

You can use any veggies you want, but I highly recommend including pineapple and red onion. Everything else is up to you, but in my opinion, the more colors the better! I just love pretty food.

This is easily a weeknight meal. The chicken marinates all day or overnight, you can chop all your veggies ahead of time, and then it's the 5 minute task of assembling the skewers while your grill heats followed by 15 minutes of grilling. I think brown rice would go nicely with this, but we had plenty just with the chicken and all of the veggies.

Before we get to the recipe, I have to share these 2 pics. I took advantage of the filtered sunlight in my backyard to snap some pics before bringing the food in the house. First, my wiry little puppy got in a shot, so of course my daughter had to get in one as well!

My 2 sweet girls :)

Orange-Teriyaki Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Kabobs
Original Recipe by Mary Ellen of Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

Ingredients (for 4 large skewers)

  • 1/4 c teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4 c orange juice
  • 1/8 c olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp ginger (I buy the jarred ginger, but fresh would be great as well!)
  • Optional: 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, for heat
  • Dash of black pepper
  • 2 chicken breasts cut into cubes
  • Veggies, chopped into cubes of similar sizes; I used several pieces of pineapple, 1/2 of a red onion, 1 zucchini, 1 yellow squash, 1/3 each green and red pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 long skewers (I use metal skewers; if you use wood, soak them in water for 30 minutes first to avoid burning/scorching)
  • In a bowl, mix the teriyaki, orange juice, oil, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and salt. 
  • Pour over the chicken in a ziploc bag. Marinate in the fridge for at least 8 hours (overnight ok). 
  • Heat your grill to high.
  • Assemble the skewers using 4-5 pieces of chicken per skewer and alternating veggies. You want to pack them tightly so they don't spin when you turn them on the grill. Season lightly with salt and pepper. 
  • Grill until cooked, approximately 15 minutes, turning every few minutes.
  • Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Tequila Lime Grilled Flank Steak

This summer we have been all about grilled meat, chicken or fish with simple salads and grilled veggies. One of my husband's favorites is grilled flank steak. We have had it several times over the past few months, but the one he made last week was by FAR the best! You HAVE to try this marinade!

He created one of his amazing marinades using mostly tequila and lime. He let it marinate overnight for a total of 20 hours and man did that steak take on some amazing bright and zesty flavors!

He takes great pride in his grill marks. Halfway through cooking on one side, he will turn the meat 90 degrees to get those beautifully crossed grill marks. And since we both like our steak cooked differently - I prefer medium well (I know, I know - I'm working on that!) whereas he prefers medium - this flank steak was perfect because the edges cooked a touch more for me, so we were both happy.

This was a huge piece of steak - look at the shape on this thing!

This marinade is so simple - you have to try it. I will file this recipe under to many categories - summer cookout, entertaining/dinner party, easy weeknight meal, summer meal and makes great leftovers. On day 2, put some of the sliced steak over a salad for lunch, or make tacos, quesadillas, or fajitas.


Tequila Lime Grilled Flank Steak
Original Recipe by Jon of Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations


  • 2-lb flank steak
  • 1/4 c Olive oil
  • 1.5 oz Tequila
  • 3 Cloves of garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • A few pinches each salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Mix all of the marinade ingredients. Place flank steak in a gallon Ziploc bag or shallow dish. Pour marinade over the steak and marinate in the fridge for at least 8 hours, up to 24 hours. 
  • Heat grill to high
  • Remove steak from the marinade and place on a hot grill. Be careful - the tequila in the marinade will make your grill flare up a bit!
  • Grill 8 minutes per side turning 90 degrees halfway through for good grill marks
  • Let rest 10 minutes before thinly slicing across the grain

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Grilled Halibut with Lemon-Herb Butter

Halibut is the perfect fish for the grill. Like sea bass or swordfish, it is dense and firm so it holds up well when grilling. However, even though it is dense, when cooked it is light and flaky.

My husband could eat fish every night, but we usually stick to 1-2x per week. Last week he picked up some halibut and made a lemon-herb butter that was spread across the fish before grilling.

While the fish was grilling skin side down first, all of the butter melted into the fish. The bright lemon highlighted the light and fresh flavors of the fish, and the herbs were fragrant but in no way overpowering.

Look how perfectly that fish flakes!

With some grilled asparagus on the side, this really was the perfect, healthy summer meal.

Grilled Halibut with Lemon-Herb Butter
Adapted from: All Recipes

Ingredients (for 2)

  • 2 one-inch thick halibut steaks
  • 1/2 c butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Zest from 1/4 of the lemon
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder*
  • 1 tsp dried parsley*
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill weed*
  • Salt, to taste
  • A few turns of fresh cracked black pepper
  • Fresh lemon slices
*of course fresh can be used, as well, depending on what you have on hand

  • Preheat your grill to high and rub the grates with vegetable oil (put some on a paper towel and use tongs to hold the paper towel as you run it along the grates)
  • Mix the softened butter with the lemon juice, zest, onion  powder, garlic powder, parsley, dill, salt and pepper. 
  • Wash and dry your fish, and then spread the butter mixture evenly over the steaks
  • Cook until the fish flakes easily with a fork (skin side down first), about 5-6 minutes per side.
  • Serve with fresh lime slices for squeezing 

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Peanut Butter and Banana Granola Bars

I have always wanted to make my own granola bars. Something healthy, and something I can feel good about eating and giving to my daughter. You can definitely feel good about these bars, packed with real, healthy ingredients and no added sugar. 
The granola bars I made started with toasting walnuts and oats with some cinnamon. 
The glue that brings it all together is a mixture of mashed banana, peanut butter, vanilla and honey. 
For another texture, I added dried mixed fruit - raisins, cranberries, and golden raisins. 
Once everything is combined you spread it out in a baking dish lined with parchment paper. It bakes in the oven for 25 minutes. Once cool you put the dish in the fridge to set. 
I was worried that they would crumble or fall apart once I took them out but nope - look at this huge bar! I used a glass Pyrex baking dish so my bars were on the thicker side. I cut this large bar into 9 bars. For thinner bars you could use a cookie sheet with a short edge. 
These bars are dense, but very tasty and filling. They are not sweet at all so if you are looking for something like the big brand, storebought bars, you'll need to add a bunch more sugar. But if you are looking for a healthy, good for you bar with lots of textures and flavors, this is it! 
Peanut Butter and Banana Granola Bars
Adapted from: Spoon University
  • 2 cups of rolled oats
  • 1 c chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 c creamy, natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c mixed dried fruit (I used the raisins, golden raisins, cranberries mix from Trader Joe's)
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
  • Mix your oats with the nuts and cinnamon. Spread on a cookie sheet and place in the oven to toast for 12 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes.
  • Mash your bananas with a fork. Mix the bananas, peanut butter, vanilla extract and honey in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until combined and warm, about 5 minutes.
  • Place the oat/nut mixture in a large bowl and mix in the berries. Pour in the banana/peanut butter mixture and stir until fully combined.
  • Line a baking sheet or glass baking dish (the size is up to you!) with parchment paper. Spread the granola mixture out evenly in your dish, using the back of a spatula to flatten.
  • Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool completely and then place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. 
  • Remove the bars from your dish using the parchment paper ends as handles. Use a sharp knife to cut the granola into bars. 
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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Korean Pulled Pork Tacos with a Creamy Sriracha Slaw

This meal combines so many great flavors and textures - tender pulled pork slow cooked in sweet and salty ingredients. A crunchy slaw tossed in a creamy, spicy dressing with bright cilantro. A sticky, sweet and salty sauce to pull it together, and all wrapped in a soft corn tortilla.

As soon as I took my first bite I was in love. These tacos really do have everything. And once I was done eating I couldn't wait for the next night to have leftovers.

 It's a super easy dish to pull together since the pork cooks all day in your slow cooker. I bought a bag of broccoli slaw and tossed it with a homemade sriracha mayo at the last minute. And the sticky sauce can be made ahead of time and then warmed up when you are ready to eat. It doesn't get any easier!

Do yourself a favor and put these on your menu now!

Korean Pulled Pork Tacos with a Creamy Sriracha Slaw
Loosely adapted from: Eating Richly

Pork Ingredients

  • 2 lb pork - I actually prefer to use a pork loin for pulled pork instead of a fatty shoulder or butt.
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 yellow onion thickly sliced
  • 2/3 c Hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 c soy sauce
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/4 c mirin
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
All other ingredients
  • 1/2 bag broccoli slaw (mixture of broccoli, carrots, green and red cabbage)
  • 3 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Lime slices
  • Optional: picked radishes or pickled red onions
  • Corn tortillas
  • Prep and cook the pork: Mix the hoison, soy sauce, water, mirin, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, ginger and garlic. Place onions in the bottom of your crock pot. Season the pork with salt and pepper and place on top of the onions. Pour half of your cooking liquid all around the pork, reserving the rest of the liquid. Cook on high for 2 hours and turn to low for 4-5 hours. Flip the pork halfway through cooking. Shred with 2 forks. 
  • Pour the rest of the cooking liquid into a small sauce pan. Heat over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring often, reducing it to a sticky sauce. Store in the fridge until ready to eat. Reheat slowly on the stove before serving.
  • Mix the mayo and sriracha. Toss with the slaw. 
  • Soften your corn tortillas by placing them in a hot, nonstick pan for 30 seconds per side.
  • Layer your taco with the pork, sticky sauce, slaw, cilantro, and lime juice. 

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