Mexican Drunken Shrimp with Guacamole

Last week a few of my girlfriends and I went to dinner at Cooper’s Hawk.  If you’ve never been there, it’s a winery that also serves some pretty good food.  I will admit that my favorite part of the night, other than sharing some much needed laughs with my girls, was the wine tasting at the beginning.  It was so crowded that we had an hour and a half wait before we sat at our table!  But the wine tasting made it all worth while.  I opted for the “Sweet Wine” tasting which consisted of one ounce pours (yeah right!) of eight different wines.  I liked some and loved most of what was served, my favorite being the Cranberry and Romance Red wines.

 After all that I thought the night couldn’t get any better.  Luckily my girlfriend, Rekia, is a member of their wine club and received two of their newest cookbooks Celebration Recipes From Cooper’s Hawk Family and Friends, one of which she gave to me. Oh happy day! Cookbooks are like dirty magazines to me…I like to read them in private and they give me an obscene amount of joy, even if I never make a thing from them. However, after seeing the Mexican Drunken Shrimp on the menu and getting a complete thumbs up from my friend Monica, I decided to try this recipe for myself.

First, the shrimp is wrapped in bacon.  I could just stop there because you all know how much I LOVE bacon!  But I digress…ok so the shrimp is wrapped in bacon, but then to make the sauce you use some of the drippings and fond from the bacon, add to that tequila (yum) and some chicken broth and butter and you have a killer sauce.  To top it off add some homemade guacamole spiced up with jalapeno peppers that gives it the Mexican feel.  I would suggest serving each shrimp on a small amount of guacamole as an appetizer with some extra guac and chips on the side.  Or they can be served with rice and beans as a complete entree.   I can’t wait to make these again!

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Ingredients

For shrimp:

14 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
7 slices bacon, halved crosswise
2 tbsp canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tequila
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
3 tbsp unsalted butter

For guacamole:

2 ripe avocados
3 1/2 tsp fresh lime juice (1-2 limes)
1/2 cup and 2 tbsp diced tomato
2 tbsp minced onion
4 tsp minced, seeded jalapeno
3 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Directions

Rinse shrimp and season with garlic powder and pepper.  Wrap each shrimp in with a half slice of bacon, place a plate, cover and refrigerate.

To make the guacamole, cut the avocados in half, remove pits and scoop out the flesh into a medium bowl.  Using the back of a fork, mash the avocados until there are no large chunks.  Add 2 1/2 teaspoons of lime juice, 1/2 cup of tomato, the onion, 2 teaspoons of the chile, 2 tablespoons of the cilantro, the salt and pepper.  Mix thoroughly, cover and set aside.  To prevent the avocado from oxidizing, cover with plastic wrap by pressing the wrap down into the bowl until it touches the guacamole and completely covers it.

In a large pan heat the canola oil over medium high heat.  Add bacon wrapped shrimp and cook on both sides about 5 minutes on each side until shrimp is completely cooked through and bacon is done.  You may need to rotate the shrimp and cook on all sides depending on how large the shrimp is.  Remove and set aside on paper towels to drain.

Pour the fat from the pan, reduce heat to medium and add the garlic and saute about 15 seconds.  Add the tequila, stir and make sure to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.  Simmer and reduce by half.  Add the broth and reduce by half again.  Add the butter, remaining 1 teaspoon lime juice, 2 teaspoons of chile and 2 tablespoons of tomato.  Stir to mix well and simmer about 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

To serve place shrimp on a tablespoon size dollop of guacamole.  Spoon sauce over shrimp and garnish with cilantro and a wedge of lime.

 

Recipe adapted from Celebration Recipes from Cooper’s Hawk and Friends

 

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Chicken Skewers with Walnut Pesto

 

A few weeks ago I went to an event with my sisters and co-workers.  It was a nice relaxing night with my girls and a glass, or two, of wine…my kind of night!  The only thing that made it better was the delicious food.  Nadia G. from the show “Bitchin’ Kitchen” on the Cooking Channel was there to promote her new cookbook “Cookin’ for Trouble”.

Nadia did a demo of some of her new recipes but the one the impressed me most was her Chicken Skewers with Walnut Pesto.  Such a simple recipe that packs a ton of flavor.  I didn’t want to seem greedy but…whatever these skewers are awesome and you should make them now.

Normally pesto is made with pine nuts  and olive oil but this recipe calls for walnuts and walnut oil.  It gives the pesto a more mellow flavor in my opinion but I think I’ll try a more traditional pesto next time.  Before this event I’d only seen Bitchin Kitchen a few times. I’m more of a Barefoot Contessa on a Saturday morning kind of girl.  But after trying some of the recipes in her new cookbook I am officially a fan of Nadia G.

Ingredients

For Pesto:

2 cups of basil, packed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup walnut oil
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper

For Chicken skewers:

1 1/2 lbs chicken breast, cubed
12 cherry tomatoes
9 pearl onions, cut in half
Sea salt
Garlic powder
Freshly cracked black pepper

Directions

Making the pesto: In the processor, pulse basil, walnuts, garlic, and walnut oil until combined. Add Parmesan and olive oil, and pulse again.  Season with sea salt to taste.

Making the chicken skewers: Soak the wooden skewers in water for 1 hour. Onto each skewer, alternately thread chicken, cherry tomatoes and onions; repeat until skewer is full.

Brush the prepared skewers with olive oil, and season with garlic powder sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Grill for around 5 minutes, turning regularly, until cooked. Slather with walnut pesto.

 ♥ Nina

Recipe adapted from Windy City Live with Nadia G.

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Corn Flour Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream {and Cookbook Giveaway!}

Hello NCJ Peeps!

Here is the winner of the Quick & Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food book giveaway:

#6 Jenna Z: “Wow, favorite veg dish of any kind?! I am a huge fan of dal, especially a red lentil dal spiced with cumin and garam masala. Yummy!”

Congratulations! (I will be also notifying you by email.)

And thank you to everyone for sharing their favorite veggie dishes!

♥ Nina

The Giveaway:


 

I am so proud of my friend, Alicia Simpson, for putting out her third cookbook this year!  So in honor of her latest achievement I will be giving away a copy of her latest cookbook: Quick & Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food.  Alicia and I go way way back to our college years.  We stayed in the same dorm right down the hall from each other and I distinctly remember some late night shenanigans that will go down in history, and stay there, LOL!  One day while I was perusing Facebook I saw her status update.  I was pleasantly surprised to see her writing her own line of vegan cookbooks and even though I’m not vegan the pictures had me drooling!  I was intrigued.

So what’s this book about?

150 satisfying, flavorful, all-new recipes to enjoy from breakfast to dinner and anytime in between. However you define “comfort food,” Alicia’s got you covered with down-home Southern standards, Tex-Mex fiesta favorites, backyard BBQ fare, ole-fashioned one-dish meals, riffs on classic takeout—and a few surprises destined to become new standbys.

And they do not lie.  It’s all that and more!  I love how Alicia uses fresh ingredients to make comforting food that is pretty much guilt free (think Baked Hush Puppies, Sweet Potato Salad, Carolina BBQ Sammich, Butter Rum Pound Cake, Mexican Hot Cocoa and more).  The recipes are easy to follow and the flavors and textures almost leap straight off of the page.   I am sincerely excited to make more recipes from her fabulous book, and I’m also excited that 1 lucky reader will win their own copy!   But, let’s talk more about the recipe I made to share with you, these Corn Flour Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream. . .

First, let me start by saying that I love meat and really enjoy eating it (ok that came out wrong) but you get what I’m saying!  Secondly, if you’re like me you’re probably wondering what the heck is the difference between vegans and regular vegetarians.  Well according to Wikipedia:

A dietary vegan is one who abstains from including animal products (not only meat and fish, but also dairy products, eggs and often honey, as well as other animal-derived substances) from his/her diet.

That being said you don’t have to be a vegan to enjoy vegan recipes!!  Amazing I know, but so true.  I will admit I was a skeptic but after trying some of the recipes in Quick & Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food I am a changed woman!  I had a hard time deciding what to cook for this post because there was so much that I wanted to try.  After a lot of debate I settled on Corn Flour Cupcakes with Raspberry Butter cream Frosting.  Sounds good, right?  Right!  The cupcake was delicious but the real star is the frosting.  Light and fluffy with a hint of raspberries (or more if you want).  I will be using this on my non-vegan cupcakes in the near future.  Every time I ate one of these cupcakes all I had to tell myself was this is only 178 calories!   I was sold.

Here are the details and how to enter this giveaway:

1. Leave a comment and tell me, “What is your favorite vegetarian dish?”

2. For an extra entry, tweet: ”I want to win a copy of @VeganGuineaPig’s book from @NinasCooking!” Simply come back here and leave a comment telling me you tweeted.

3. Contest ends Sunday, October 28th, 2012 at 11:59 pm (EST) and winner will be selected using random.org and notified by email and announced here on the blog. You must leave a valid email address (will not be displayed) in your entry.

4. One entry per person, please (or two, with tweet). *Your comment may not appear at first, but it’s there.

*Prize courtesy of The Experiment Publishing. Contest is open to US and Canadian residents only.  This is the third in a series of cookbooks by Alicia, check out Quick & Easy Vegan Comfort Food and Quick & Easy Vegan Celebrations.

Good luck, everyone!

Now, here’s the recipe, shared with permission and as written in the book:

Ingredients

For corn flour cupcakes:

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup corn flour (can be found in the organic section)
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup plain almond milk
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup plain soy yogurt  (can be found in the organic section)

For raspberry buttercream frosting:

1 tbsp vegetable shortening
1 tbsp Earth Balance margarine, softened
1 tbsp raspberry jam or preserves
1/8 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup confectioners sugar

Directions:

For corn flour cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with paper liners.  Stir together the all-purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar, baking powder and salt until combined.  Add the shortening, milk vanilla and yogurt and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed, scraping the mixture from the sides often, until just blended.

Divide the batter equally among the lined muffin cups.  Bake for 20 to 22 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.  Let cool.

For raspberry buttercream frosting:

Beat together the shortening, margarine, jam and almond extract with an electric mixer until thoroughly combined.  Add the confectioners’ sugar and whip until smooth.  Frost the cooled cupcakes using all the frosting.

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