Spicy Black Pepper Shrimp with Chorizo

I have this running list that I keep on my computer.

Well, there are two lists, actually.

The first contains dishes and ideas I'd like to play around with: recipes from books, new ingredient combinations, things I ate at restaurants that I want to recreate, etc. When I get an idea, I add it to the list and then revisit it when I'm feeling kind of stuck and uninspired.

The second is a list of things I actually make regularly: The random Tuesday and Wednesday night dinners and Sunday breakfasts. The snacks and drinks that I make again and again, often without thinking, in between running out to meetings or the gym or any of the myriad activities that fill up a week.

These shrimp have been on that list for a while.

They are so simple and contain such few ingredients that making them barely requires any effort on my part.

I start with the shrimp, usually purchased frozen and cleaned so all I have to do is thaw.

The marinade is just fresh lime juice, olive oil, black pepper and ground coriander, and because seafood takes only a few minutes to marinate, the whole dish is ready not long after you realize you're hungry and should cook something.

And then, there is the chorizo, which I suppose is not really an essential part of the dish, but I just love it. The combination of the spicy, slightly sweet shrimp and the fiery, savory chorizo is perfection in my book.

This is one of those easy and satisfying summer meals everyone should have in their repertoire. You can personalize it by serving over rice or quinoa, or keep it simple and serve along with a pile of mixed greens.

And if you have friends coming over, it's also a great dish to serve as an appetizer along with a bottle of crisp white wine or your favorite summer cocktail.

Here's to the long and lazy days ahead!

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!  



Spicy Black Pepper Shrimp with Chorizo
Serves 4

Ingredients
20 jumbo shrimp, cleaned with tails on
1/4 extra virgin olive oil
1 lime juiced, plus additional lime wedges, for serving
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper (Use more if you like it extra spicy!)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3 cured Spanish chorizo links (about 1/2 pound--I love D'Artagnan), sliced

Directions
In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with the olive oil, lime juice, black pepper, salt, and coriander until evenly coated. Let sit 5 minutes.

Preheat a grill pan or cast iron skillet to medium-high heat and cook the shrimp in batches, about 2 minutes per side. (You can also skewer the shrimp to cook on an outdoor grill.)

Grill the chorizo about 1 minute per side, until heated through and slightly charred (the chorizo is already fully cooked).

Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Mini Coconut Ice Cream Rum Cakes

It's no secret that, when it comes to cake, my absolute favorite kind ever is rum cake. Nothing compares to the moist, golden cake soaked through with that boozy, buttery syrup.

I'm always looking for an excuse to enjoy it. Best vacation souvenir? Rum cake! What to serve at Christmas dinner? Rum cake! Birthday coming up? Definitely rum cake!

I regularly make my own homemade rum cake from-scratch, but I am also a fan of purchased rum cakes.

Anytime I'm at TJ Maxx, you can usually find me raiding the food aisle for rum cakes. They keep forever and are great to have around for last-minute gifts or cravings.


They are also wonderful for creating other desserts, like trifles, easy tiramisu-style layered desserts, or quick homemade ice cream cakes!

These ice cream cakes were a bit of a summertime inspiration when I realized I could use the little tins the cake came in as a mold for mini ice cream cakes.
 
Seriously...so adorable!
Moist coconut rum cake, layered with ice cream, shredded coconut and topped with your favorite sundae toppings--absolute heaven!

Seriously such a perfect fun-in-the-sun summer dessert, and really simple to make!

You start off with the cake: I chose coconut rum cake for this recipe, but you can really play around--I bet a lime cake would be amazing with a citrus ice cream, or a boozy bourbon cake with butter pecan! Then layer in the ice cream and freeze until solid.

Unmold it just before serving and go wild with the toppings.

The perfect way to end your next summer party!

Mini Coconut Ice Cream Rum Cakes
Yields 2 mini ice cream cakes (multiply as desired!)

Ingredients
3 4oz rum cakes in tins, or use giant muffin tins as your mold
1 pint coconut ice cream, softened
1/2 cup grated coconut
whipped cream, maraschino cherries, and sprinkles, for garnish

Directions
Remove cakes from plastic wrap and set aside. Rinse and dry the rum cake or muffin tins, then line with heavy duty plastic wrap arranged so that it hangs over the sides of each well.

Cut cakes into smaller pieces and press into bottom of tin to create one even layer, about 1 1/2" thick. You'll need about 1 1/2 cakes per tin, or use slices from a full-size cake to create the layers.

Scoop in about 1/2 cup ice cream, and use a spoon to smooth into an even layer, 1 1/2" thick.

Repeat with other tin, then sprinkle both with grated coconut. Cover and freeze for at least 6 hours, or until very firm.

Insert a butter knife between edge of tin and plastic wrap and gently pull the cake up (don't be afraid to force it--you can always reshape it a bit once it's out of the tin.) Peel away the plastic wrap and arrange on a serving platter.

Top with whipped cream, maraschino cherries, and sprinkles (or any of your favorite toppings!), and serve immediately.

Life Lately, on Instagram

I love sharing snapshots from my days on Instagram. I try to share at least once a day, if not more, and I would really love to connect with you there!

Below are a few of my favorite recent pix. If you'd like to follow along on my adventures, click here or follow me at @nandita2483

top to bottom, left to right: fresh flowers on my desktop, pulled pork arepa appetizers for a friend's baby shower, taking family photos on Mother's Day, Hudson napping, on-camera make-up for a shoot, making little pots in my pottery class, a new mug from a local art market, chorizo tacos & beer at my new fave local spot, personalized pink pencils
 
And don't forget to say hello and leave your instagram name below, so that I can follow you back! 

xoxo

Cinnamon Tortilla Crunch Cereal

Cinnamon Toast Crunch was one of my favorite breakfast cereals when I was a kid.

My mom didn't purchase it often (since it's basically a box filled with sugar), but when she did, my brother and I would tear through it in a couple days, filling ourselves generous bowls for breakfast, snacks, and dessert.

I loved the way the cinnamon and sugar coated every little square, and drinking the sweet cinnamon milk that was left behind.

It's been years--possibly even a decade--since I've tasted the cereal, but it suddenly popped back into my head while I was researching an article about different ways to use tortillas.

I figured that by cutting tortillas into tiny squares, coating with melted butter and baking until crisp, and then coating with cinnamon and sugar, I could create a fun homemade version of the cereal I loved--a Cinnamon Tortilla Crunch!

I went to work, and after a couple tries, I figured out the perfect way to create a crunchy, sweet cinnamon tortilla breakfast cereal.

This works well with both corn and flour tortillas--perfect if you have a bunch leftover from Cinco de Mayo!

The corn have a bit more of a "tortilla chip" taste to them, while the flour are more neutral and closest in flavor to the original cereal. Of the two, I prefer flour, but corn is a great option to keep it gluten-free. My FAVORITE version uses half-corn/half-flour tortillas. If you can find those, definitely give them a shot as they combine the best of both worlds. (My favorite brand for these is La Tortilla.)

Now this is by NO means a healthy cereal (is there even such a thing?!), but it's a really fun treat to enjoy as dessert or on a special occasion.

And you can control the amount of sugar you add, or even play around with the spices. I bet a touch of cardamom or ginger would be a fun twist!

Without the milk, this also makes for an amazing crunchy snack to enjoy while watching movies or to sprinkle on top of ice cream or yogurt. So many fun things to do with them!

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!     


Cinnamon Tortilla Crunch Cereal
Makes 4 1/2-cup servings

Ingredients
16 small round tortillas (works with both flour or corn)
6 tablespoons salted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (add more or less depending on how strong a cinnamon flavor you'd like!)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stack the tortillas and use a knife to cut into small 3/4" squares. Place in a large bowl and pour in the butter and vanilla. Toss to coat well, then divide onto the baking sheets and spread out evenly into a single layer.

Bake 7-10 minutes, then toss and bake 5-10 more minutes, or until all the pieces are toasted and golden. (Keep an eye on them as they can burn--thinner corn tortillas will cook in less time than thicker flour ones--adjust your timing accordingly!) And note that they'll crisp up a bit as they cool so don't worry if they're still a tiny bit soft when they come out of the oven.

While the tortillas bake, whisk together sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.

Remove the hot toasted tortillas from the oven and immediately toss into the sugar mixture. Toss to coat evenly, then spread out on the baking sheet and let cool completely.

Serve with milk or on its own as a snack. Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature. Best within 3 days.

***Love this recipe? Please do feel free to share it on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook or your blog by posting a link and up to one image from my post. I do ask that you respect my original work and not republish this entire recipe on your blog, Facebook or any other forums. If you have any questions about how to best share this recipe, please feel free to email me. Thank you!

Chorizo, Manchego & Asparagus Frittata

A few years ago, I went to a work event where I won a pan as a prize in a raffle.

While I was a bit bored with the prize at the time, the pan--a shallow 12" round nonstick skillet--has since become one of my favorites for making baked omelets and frittatas.

The only problem was that I never owned a round platter large enough to serve said frittatas, so plating was always a bit of a challenge. I'd usually go with a large rectangular one, and just let the sides of the circle hang off the edge--a clumsy solution at best.

But a few weeks ago, I found the perfect plate in the sale shelf at Crate & Barrel! It's huge, round, and perfectly flat, which is ideal for serving frittatas family style on the dining table. Add a bowl of salad on the side and dinner or lunch is served.

Now my problem is storage. After doing the dishes yesterday, Eugene came out with the platter and asked me where it goes.

"Um...I haven't figured that out, yet," I explained.

Because my perfect big platter is too big to fit in any of the cabinets or shelves where I keep my other ceramics, but too delicate to slide in vertically in the slot where I keep my larger wood platters and sheet pans. I've actually just been leaving it out on the dining table where it inevitably gets topped with a pile of mail and keys and magazines.

I suppose now I'll have to buy a big cabinet to put it in, but then that would mean I'd have to find a bigger apartment to fit the cabinet.

It's really a neverending cycle...

Now this frittata that you see here is anything but imperfect.

The combination of salty, spicy chorizo and manchego is already a classic, but diced asparagus adds a fresh, seasonal touch to the dish. I really like to pile in the fillings and only use enough egg to hold it all together.

Served with a salad or other simple side, an omelet this size will feed about four. Eugene and I usually have half for dinner and then the leftovers become an easy breakfast or on-the-go lunch.

Oh and if you're entertaining guests, you can also cut this into small cubes and serve cold as an appetizer, perhaps with a dot of aioli or pesto on top.

I do this a lot and it's always quick to go, regardless of the hour of day.

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!     




Chorizo, Manchego & Asparagus Frittata  
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound Spanish chorizo, diced (use the kind that is smoked and fully cooked, not fresh sausage)
1 bunch asparagus, rough ends trimmed, diced
8 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons smoked spanish paprika
1/2 cup shredded manchego cheese, plus a bit more for sprinkling

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large 10-12" nonstick skillet over medium heat, add chorizo and oil, and cook 3 minutes just until some of the fat is rendered and chorizo is a bit crispy. Add the asparagus and saute 2 minutes then spread out evenly in the pan.

Whisk the eggs, salt, paprika, and cheese together, and pour evenly over the asparagus and chorizo.

Place in oven and bake 10-15 minutes until cooked through and slightly puffed. Flip out onto a serving plate and sprinkle with a bit more cheese before serving.

Easy Lemon Garlic Chicken Breasts

One of my friends was recently asking me for some easy weeknight dinner ideas.

I described a few of the things I usually make--like these Easy Lemon Garlic Chicken Breasts, but when she asked me for a link to the exact recipe, I realized I didn't have it.

These are the kinds of dishes that I usually just throw together and then eat without taking the time to photograph or write down. But I know that a lot of you might find them useful, so I'm trying to be better about that.

This recipe is one we eat a lot at home, and it was designed to meet some super basic dinnertime requirements, meaning that it's quick, low-carb, and doesn't leave us with a sink full of dishes.

The trick to this chicken is the easy marinade--all the ingredients go right in the blender jar and are pureed until smooth. Then I pour them into a big tupperware container to which I add thin chicken breasts. If you do this the same day you come home from the grocery store, you can then just pull out the chicken and pop it onto a hot skillet or grill pan.

Throw together a salad while the chicken grills, and dinner is ready in less than 15 minutes, with basically NO mess!

Want more easy dinner recipes? Click here for my 24 Easiest Ever Dinner Recipes.

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!  


Easy Lemon Garlic Grilled Chicken Breasts
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds thin-cut chicken breasts or cutlets
3 large garlic cloves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Zest and juice of 1 whole large lemon
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions
Place chicken breasts in a large zipped gallon-size bag or a tupperware container with a lid.

Combine garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, lemon juice and zest, and olive oil in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour marinade over the chicken and toss to coat. Seal and marinate in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 48 hours.

(Tip: You can also freeze the raw chicken in the marinade and pull out for cooking at a later date.)

When ready to cook, heat a heavy skillet or grill pan (I love this one from Calphalon!) over medium-high heat. Drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons of oil or cooking spray, and cook chicken, about 3-4 minutes per side, until fully cooked. Remove to a serving platter and let rest 2 minutes before serving.

Serve alongside salad greens or your favorite vegetable side dish.



Tart Key Lime Cucumber Margaritas

Left to my own devices, I would probably put cucumber in all of my cocktails. I'm obsessed with the fresh, grassy crispness that goes so well with all my favorite spirits--tequila being chief among them.

When it comes to margaritas, I like to keep mine strong and tart, with lots of tequila, just a touch of orange liqueur, and no additional sweetener. Key lime juice is very flavorful and naturally a bit sweeter than regular lime juice, so it works particularly well here, especially when paired with the cucumber. A touch of salt sprinkled directly into the drink at the end also helps give it an extra savory touch.

If you prefer a sweeter drink, simply increase the amount of Cointreau by another tablespoon or two until you reach your perfect balance--there are no wrong moves here!

I used my spiralizer to cut my cucumber into pretty thin ribbons; it's not necessary, but it looks pretty. You can also use a regular mandoline or even just a knife to get thin slices. And be sure to fill the glass up with them--they help to infuse the drink and add that crisp cucumber flavor.

Serve this up with a bowl of salty tortilla chips and your favorite salsa, and you'll be all set for warm weekends ahead.

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!    


Key Lime Cucumber Margaritas
Makes 2 Cocktails (multiply as needed & can also be made in a pitcher)

Ingredients
1/2 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice
3/4 cup reposado tequila (1/2 cup for a lighter cocktail)
2 tablespoons Cointreau, Triple Sec or other orange liqueur (add a third tbsp if you'd like it a bit sweeter)
1/2 large cucumber, finely sliced
Ice
Flaky sea salt or chile salt (optional garnish)

Directions
Whisk together key lime juice, tequila, and orange liqueur. Fill two cocktail glasses with ice and cucumber slices, alternating so you have ice and cucumber equally layered. Divide margarita between both glasses and sprinkle with salt before serving immediately.


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