Francisco’s Shrimp Tacos

You all are in for a world famous treat ladies and gentlemen… this “to die for” recipe comes to us straight from the heart of coastal Mexico from our friend Francisco, who is known far and wide for his delicious culinary delights!  This is one of our all time favorites from Francisco!  You may not be lucky enough to travel to Mexico and stay at the private house where he’s the chef, few people are… but you can recreate his amazing Shrimp Tacos to enjoy at home with your family and friends.  You will not be disappointed!!!!

Francisco’s Shrimp Tacos

  • 1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 5 large Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 pounds cleaned, shelled raw shrimp, cut into large chunks
  • 1 Knorr chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cups (or more, to taste) grated jack cheese
  • 14, 8 inch flour tortillas

In a non-stick skillet,over medium heat saute onion and tomatoes for about 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Using the same pan, crumble the bouillon cube over the shrimp and cook until just turning pink (about 2-3 minutes).  Mix cooked shrimp and veggies together.  Stir in cilantro and pour into a colander (placed over a bowl or in your kitchen sink) to drain for about 15 minutes.

For each tortilla, lay on a flat surface, sprinkle the middle third of the tortilla with cheese and scatter the shrimp and veggie mixture over cheese.  Roll tightly and place seam side down on a jelly roll pan.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (or skip this step if you’ll be using immediately).

To cook, spray a non-stick skillet with olive oil (I use a nonstick griddle for the larger cooking surface).  Brown the tacos on all sides.

To serve, cut in half, on an angle and place on plate drizzled with Balsamic Reduction (recipe follows), a dollop of Chipotle Sauce (recipe follows) and sliced avocados.

Balsamic Reduction:

  • 2 cups Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar

Stir vinegar and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Turn the heat down and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reduces to a syrup consistency.  Dont let it get too thick.  Pour into a squeeze bottle for drizzling.

Chipotle Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • small can chipotle peppers

In a blender, blend the mayonnaise  with chipotle peppers, one at a time, until desired heat is reached (I usually use 2 peppers).  Blend until smooth.  Blend in sour cream.

Easy Homemade Meatballs

I pretty much love any kind of Italian food. And who doesn’t love a good meatball? These meatballs are easy to make and best of all, you can freeze them! They are great on top of spaghetti or as a quick snack. (my kids love these!) They are packed with flavor and would make any Italian mama proud!

HOMEMADE MEATBALLS

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup Italian seasoned dried bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine all ingredients. Mix well. Try not to squeeze the mixture through your fingers, but just combine, as “squeezing” will give your meatball a tough texture.

To make evenly sized meatballs, turn mixture out on a cutting board and shape it into a rectangle. Pat down until it is perfectly shaped. Using a sharp knife, cut mixture into 24 squares. (or less if you like a bigger meatball) Roll each square into a ball. Place on an aluminum lined jelly roll pan.

Bake for 14-18 minutes.

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Creamy Coleslaw

Pulled pork is a summertime staple in our home.  I love it because it’s made in the crock pot, with out a lot of fuss and muss, and without heating up my kitchen.  The yummy combination of the tangy BBQ pulled pork and creamy coleslaw is so so good!  And it can all be made in the morning, so in the heat of the day when it’s time for dinner, you’re not slaving over a hot stove!

BBQ Pulled Pork

  • 1 pork tenderloin roast
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce
In the bowl of a large crock pot, place the pork tenderloin roast, the water and 1 cup of the BBQ sauce.  Heat on low for 6 hours.
Remove from crock pot into a large bowl, and shred.  Return to crockpot, add the remaining 2 cups of BBQ sauce and heat for another hour.
Serve on toasted sandwich rolls, or hamburger buns, topped with creamy coleslaw.
Creamy Coleslaw
  • 1 head green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 large carrots, finely shredded
  • 3/4 cup best-quality mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons grated yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoons celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine the shredded cabbage and carrots in a large bowl. Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, onion, sugar, vinegar, mustard, celery salt, celery seed, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl, and then add to the cabbage mixture. Mix well to combine and taste for seasoning; add more salt, pepper, or sugar if desired.

Honey Spiced Chicken with Sweet Potato Hash

Sometimes when I am in a hurry to make dinner, the health factor just goes out the window. I scramble to have something on the table so that my kids and hubby don’t starve. Not thinking that the calories we are about to consume means we shouldn’t be eating for the rest of the week. This recipe answers both speed and health!

I never had an affinity for sweet potatoes, but for some reason after having babies, my taste buds have changed. I am loving sweet potatoes! The sweet potatoes and chicken in this dish will have you tasting earthy, savory, rich flavors without consuming a thousand calories.

HONEY SPICED CHICKEN WITH SWEET POTATO HASH

  • 2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounce diced green chiles
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, place diced sweet potatoes.

In a small mixing bowl combine 2 Tablespoons olive oil, chiles, garlic, honey, vinegar, salt, cumin, and cinnamon.

In a separate small mixing bowl combine 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and 2 teaspoon of the chile/honey mixture. Toss in with sweet potatoes until covered.

Scatter the potatoes on the bottom of a roasting pan and bake for 15 minutes. Take potatoes out of oven and stir. Then place chicken breasts on top of potatoes and smother the remaining honey/garlic mixture on chicken. Cook for another 20 minutes, or until chicken is done.

Warm Caprese Sandwich

 

Have I mentioned how much I love lunch?  Here’s another one of my favorites.  There is something about fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil that is simply delicious.  Those Italians know what they are doing, even with the simplest of ingredients.  Yummy!

Warm Caprese Sandwich

  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced horizontally through the middle and the cut into sandwich sized sections
  • 8 tomatoes, sliced in thick slices
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • fresh basil, julienned, to taste
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • garlic salt, to taste

Set the oven broiler to high.

Divide each sandwich side section of your loaf so that you have 2 open-faced pieces, like the picture above (only don’t put all the stuff on yet).  Drizzle each piece with olive oil, and then line one half of each sandwich with slices of mozzarella cheese.

Put the slices, open-faced, under the broiler on a rack set in the middle of the oven (not to close to the element or the cheese will burn), and broil until the cheese is melty and the other side is toasted light brown.

Remove from oven and stack the tomato slices on top of the cheese.  Sprinkle with garlic salt and finish with slices of basil.  Put the two side together, and cut down the middle to serve.

This recipe makes 4 good sized sandwiches.

You can obviously decrease or increase the portion size, according to how many people you are feeding.  When I make this just for myself, I use the toaster oven instead of the big oven, and use the both the top and bottom elements. It makes a nice toasty sandwich.

You can also add a smear of prepared pesto sauce under the cheese layer, if you like.

 

Garden Fresh Pinwheel Sandwiches

At LJB we love a good healthy lunch.  As I’ve said before, I usually eat a small breakfast and a small dinner, but lunch… lunch is my main meal of the day, so it better be a good one.  This is one of my favorite things to have for lunch.  So many yummy veggies, a good dose of protein, and of course the cute packaging just makes me happy when I’m eating it.

GARDEN FRESH PINWHEEL SANDWICHES

  • 2 slices Lavash Bread (can be found at most super markets, I got mine at Trader Joes)
  • 1/2 cup shredded or juilenned carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup diced avocado
  • 1/2 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onion
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons greek seasoning
  • 6 slices deli style turkey breast meat
To assemble the sandwiches, lay out your lavash bread on a clean work surface.  Spread each slice with 1/4 cup cream cheese.  Be sure to spread the cream chesese as cloae to the top and bottom edge as you can get it.  It is the binding ingredient that seals the sandwich.  Sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon greek seasoning.

Add 3 turkey slices to each bread slice about 1 inch from the top.  Then add a sprinkling of each of the veggies below the turkey.

Then start rolling.  Start at the top and roll as tightly as the ingredients will allow.  The ingredients may slip around a little as you roll, which is ok, as long as you have enough empty space to seal the ends. Finish the rolling, and poke 4 toothpicks into equal sections of the sandwich.  Cut between the toothpicks, creating 4 smaller pinwheel sandwiches.

Serves 2.

 

Skinny Spaghetti Bake

My husband and I were at a dinner party the other night, and one of the topic that came up around the table was; “If you had to choose only 3 types of cuisine to live on for the rest of your life, to the exclusion of all others, what 3 would you choose?”   It was so interesting to hear that choices everyone would make, and why they loved that particular cuisine.  Indian, because of the curry and bountiful spices.  Chinese for the stir frys, dumplings and mixes of protein and veggies.  Island food for the lovely marinades, fruit and fresh seafood.  Italian for the pasta, sauces and crusty breads.  French for the sauces… no one makes a sauce like the french…, pomme frites and profitteroles.  I could go on and on.  It was such a lovely conversation about food.  But, in the end, what it boiled down to, was that everyone there inevitably chose their home countries cuisine first.  Venezuelan, Italian, Indian, American.  Each country represented thought their countries cuisine was best.  Fascinating how our palates are formed and grow with us as we grow, but it always comes back to our own comfort food, right?  My choices were, of course, #1, American.  To me, American is all-encompassing.  You’ve got the farm fresh California cuisine, the BBQ of the midwest and south, the fresh seafood of the coasts, and in most big american cities you kind find authentic Chinese cuisine in Chinatown, authentic Italian in little italy (North beach in San Francisco), the south’s Southern comfort foods… need I go on?  American cuisine takes care of it all!!!  Then my next two choices were Italian and Mexican.  I think between those three cuisines I could live happy as a clam for ever and ever!

So, what led me to share all of that with you, is that I love Italian food.  But as we all know, Italian food involves a lot of pasta and a lot of carbs.  This recipe is a low carb way to enjoy an Italian meal, with all the flavor, texture and goodness.  Give it a try and let me know if you don’t just love it.

SPAGHETTI SQUASH BAKE

 

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 medium zucchini, julienned
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ cup cream cheese
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the spaghetti squash length wise into 2 halves.  Using a large spoon, scoop out the seeds and guts from the squash.  Brush the sides of the squash with olive oil and place it face side down in a microwavable dish that has a fitted lid.  Microwave on high 10-12 minutes, until the squash has softened.  Remove from microwave and using a fork, shred squash insides into a large casserole dish or 9×13 pan.  Add zuchini.

In a large saucepan, heat the marinara sauce, oregano, basil, cream cheese and parmesan cheese over medium heat until the cheese has melted and can be incorporated into the sauce.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add sauce mixture to casserole pan and toss to coat.  Top with mozzarella cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Garnish with extra shredded parmesan and fresh basil.