Lime Marinated Grilled Shrimp Salad

Now that winter is over and it’s officially spring (for the most part) it’s time to get “beach body ready”!  Even if you’re not trying to lose weight it’s always a good idea to eat a healthy balanced diet and this recipe is perfect.  When I made this dish I wanted something quick and easy to make with as few ingredients as possible and this is what I came up with 🙂



1 pound shrimp, peeled & deveined
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp lime zest
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste
mixed greens
vinaigrette dressing


In a medium bowl combine shrimp, olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, cumin, oregano, garlic power, salt and pepper.  Toss shrimp so that each piece is evenly covered in marinade.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Heat grill or grill pan over medium high heat.  Place shrimp on grill and cook about 4 minutes on each side.  Allow shrimp to cool slightly and serve on top of mixed greens tossed with vinaigrette dressing.


*An NCJ Original*


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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!



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


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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Salmon BLT Sliders with Chipotle Mayo

So I know I’ve been on a dessert kick and after last week’s peach series I felt like it was time for something with a little kick.  After much thought (and browsing on Pinterest) I found this awesome recipe.  I feel like I should have been making and eating this all my life!  I mean it has salmon which I love and bacon which makes EVERYTHING taste better.  Throw in some sauteed mushrooms that I had left over in my fridge and all I needed was a glass of wine and I was done.  Plus they’re so small and cute, how could you resist eating them?!

The Adobo sauce definitely adds some heat to these already yummy sliders.  Don’t be like me and try to taste the sauce by itself…it will burn your tongue off!  Mixing it with the mayo cools it down a bit but if you really like spicy food feel free to add more than the recipe calls for.  These sliders would be awesome to serve at a party.  Let your guests build their own and sit back and get all the glowing praise.   Or just eat them yourself…I won’t judge you.


makes about 6-8 sliders


1 pound raw skinless salmon

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp olive oil

2 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into thirds

2 tomatoes, sliced

lettuce for topping

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp Adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo)

6 slider buns or dinner rolls, toasted if desired


Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat and add bacon. Cook until crispy and fat is rendered, then remove and let drain on a paper towel.

Preheat the broiler in your oven and place the top oven rack as close as it can go to the broiler. Cut the salmon in to squares pieces that fit the size of your buns.  Brush with olive oil, then cover both sides with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Place on a broiler pan (or nonstick baking sheet) and broil for 5 minutes. Gently flip and broil for about 5 minutes more.  Depending on the strength of your broiler you may need to place the oven rack lower (which is what I did).  Just keep a close eye on the salmon and if it is browning too fast move the rack down or lower the heat on your broiler.

In a small bowl, mix mayo with adobo until smooth. Spread some on each bun, top with a square of salmon, a slice of bacon, a tomato sauce and lettuce. I also topped mine with sautéed mushrooms and onions because I had extra in my fridge but feel free to leave off if you’re not a big mushroom fan.

Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is


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Grilled Jerk Shrimp Orzo Salad

Eating healthy has always been a battle for me, especially when trying to lose weight.  Now that the weather is getting warmer I’m extremely motivated to eat a more balanced diet but it’s always easier when you find something you like.  For example, I love love love hummus and carrots as a snack, almonds are a new favorite and strawberries and pears satisfy my sweet tooth.  Now I get to add this meal to the “health foods I love” list.  It’s definitely got a kick but the coolness of the vegetables and dressing help give it balance.  This would definitely impress your guests and would be perfect to serve at a cook out.


Yield: 2 servings


For the salad: 

  • 1 large ear sweet corn in husk
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup uncooked whole wheat orzo pasta
  • 6 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 1/2 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons Caribbean jerk seasoning
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, sliced into 1/2 inch strips

For dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (juice of 1/2 lime)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper



Carefully peel back corn husk to within 1 in. of bottom; remove silk.  Brush corn with oil, rewrap corn in husk and secure with kitchen string.  Grill corn, covered, over medium heat for 30-35 minutes or until tender, turning often.  Meanwhile, rub shrimp with jerk seasoning and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

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Cook orzo according to package directions.  Drain and rinse in cold water; set aside .  Grill asparagus, red peppers and shrimp, covered, over medium heat for 5-8 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender and shrimp turn pink, turning once.

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Cut corn from cob, cut asparagus into 1-in. pieces and chop red peppers and add all veggies to bowl.  Add the shrimp, orzo and pepper.  In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients.  Pour over salad; toss to coat. 




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Steamed Clams with Spicy Italian Sausage and Fennel

At culinary school there is a huge kitchen that we all work in and last semester there were three classes…Culinary I, Culinary III and Baking & Pastry I.  Our first few weeks of class were nerve racking for myself and my fellow CI students.  The kitchen was so large and intimidating with its industrial sized stove, ovens and utensils everywhere.  I had never been in a walk in before and I couldn’t have told you where anything was!  Basically I was a little lost but tried to keep my cool and not show any signs of weakness.  The kitchen is not for wimps people!  Looking at the C3 students, who had obviously been there a while and felt at ease even on the first week, was a little intimidating.  Some already had that “chef’s ego” and couldn’t bother to help the little people, but there were a few who showed me the ropes and eventually shared some of their delicious recipes with me.

Because we were in separate classes we were always preparing different recipes, so on this particular day while I was learning knife skills C3 was learning how to cook shellfish.  I wasn’t really that interested at first because they were making clams and besides clam chowder I really hadn’t had them too often.  As I was chopping away at my pound of carrots this sweet spicy smell hit me and I turned to see what they were cooking.  Whatever it was I was determined to taste it.  So after they presented their dish to the head chef I asked to try it and when I did it was one of those moments where you close your eyes and ask where have you been all my life!  I’ve tasted some good food but this went way beyond that so this is my attempt at recreating that experience.  The best part is using a crostini to soak up the juices at the end.


Serves 4


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 2×1/3-inch strips
  • 1 large fennel bulb with fronds, bulb cored, sliced; fronds chopped (for garnish)
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausages, casings removed, sausages coarsely crumbled
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed in mortar with pestle (or chopped finely)
  • 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
  • 4 dozens Manila clams (about 2 1/3 pounds), scrubbed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano


Heat oil in large deep skillet over high heat. Add bell pepper, sliced fennel, Italian sausage, and fennel seeds, and sauté until sausage is brown and vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes. Add clam juice, and bring to boil. Add clams and oregano; reduce heat to medium-high, cover, and cook just until clams open, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with pepper. Divide among 4 bowls, discarding any unopened clams. Sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds and serve with toasted bread.





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Seafood Linguine with Sun Dried Tomatoes

Before you look at the amount of butter in this dish let me be the first to tell you this is definitely one of those meals reserved for special occasions when you feel like cheating a little.  So with that said of course this dish is yummy!  I am a huge fan of any type of seafood and I grew up with my dad making fish all the time.  So this is a family favorite!  Best served with garlic bread so you can dip it in the extra sauce on your plate.  You can thank me later.


Yield: 8 servings


  • 1 pound linguine pasta
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound bay scallops
  • 1 pound medium shrimp – peeled and deveined
  • 1 (8 ounce) jar clam juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt & Pepper to taste



  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  2. In a large skillet add the olive oil and butter. Heat until butter is melted. Add the garlic and saute until tender.
  3. Season with shrimp and scallops with salt & pepper.  Add the scallops and shrimp to the pan. Cook until shrimp is pink, about 10 minutes. Add clam juice, salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes more.
  4. To the cooked pasta add the tomatoes, parsley and lemon zest, toss. Pour seafood mixture over the linguine, serve immediately.


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Barbecue Salmon



  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Nature’s Seasoning to taste
  • 4 (3 ounce) salmon filets, skin on
  • Favorite barbecue sauce
  • 3 teaspoons fresh chives, minced



  1. Season salmon with salt, pepper & Nature’s Seasoning. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Once oil is hot add salmon (do not add till the oil his hot, this creates a nice crust on the fish).
  2. Sear on each side about 4-5 minutes. Remove salmon from heat.
  3. Arrange salmon fillets skin side down on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Brush tops with barbecue sauce.
  4. Broil on low heat, 3 to 5 minutes. Just before serving, sprinkle each with fresh chives.


An NCJ Original


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Garlic Cilantro Shrimp




  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound of jumbo tiger prawn shrimp with the shell still on
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of Nature’s brand seasoning

Garlic Bread

  • 1 baguette
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika


1.   Rinse the shrimp under cold water and season with Nature’s seasoning.  Make sure to season the inside of the shrimp and not just the shell.

2.   Warm 3 tablespoons of butter in medium saucepan until it starts to foam.  Add minced garlic and saute til garlic is fragrant (about 2-3 minutes).

3.   Add shrimp and cook with the shell on.  Alternate both sides for about five minutes each side or until the shrimp is pink.  It usually takes longer to cook the shrimp with the shell on so sometimes I will turn the shrimp upright, placing the actual meat of the shrimp on the pan to make sure it is cooked all the way through.

4.   While the shrimp is cooking slice the baguette in 1/2 inch slices.  Spread with butter and sprinkle generously with garlic powder and paprika.

5.   Broil on low until the bread is golden brown and has a nice crust on top (about 5 minutes).

4.   Remove the shrimp from pan and serve immediately with garlic bread. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy!


An NCJ Original


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Buffalo Fried Shrimp



For shrimp:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons Creole-style seasoning

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails attached (optional)

4 cups oil for frying


For Buffalo Sauce:

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/2 tablespoons melted butter

6 ounces hot pepper sauce

1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper



1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, Creole-style seasoning, garlic powder, ground cayenne pepper, onion powder, and ground black pepper. Seal the bag and shake a few times to combine the ingredients well.

2. Rinse the shrimp under cold water and place them in the plastic bag with the flour mixture. Seal the bag and shake to coat all of the shrimp well with the flour mixture.

3. Place the coated shrimp on a cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes. Save remaining flour mixture in the bag.

4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together garlic, butter hot sauce and cayenne pepper; set aside. In a pot, heat the oil to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

5. Remove shrimp from refrigerator and shake a second time in flour mixture.

6. Place the shrimp in hot oil and fry until pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately coat with buffalo sauce.  Serve with fresh celery and blue cheese dressing.

Note: Don’t coat the shrimp with the buffalo sauce too soon.  I would advise waiting until you’re about to serve the shrimp to add the sauce or serve the sauce on the side.  This makes about 4 servings.


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