It’s been hot, and I really just don’t deal well with heat, so I’ve been doing cold recipes: more assembly than cooking.
- bag of frozen shrimp, pre-cooked
- a cucumber
- an avocado (or 5, w/e, there is never too much avocado)
- lime juice
- hella fresh cilantro
Slice up the cucumber and pit and slice the avocado and toss them in with a bunch of lime juice – it’ll stop the avocado from browning if you do this right away. Then you can either add the still-frozen shrimp or take the time to take the tails off the shrimp before adding them. Shred a bunch of cilantro into the mix and cover it with a bit more lime juice, then toss everything and put a little salt on top to bring out all the flavors.
Leave it on the counter until the shrimp thaws if you want to eat it more quickly, or stick it in the fridge for half a day or so to let the shrimp thaw in there. When you’re ready to serve, toss it again, then dish it up. Don’t toss out the cilantro and shrimp-flavored lime juice in the bottom of the bowl, though – you can use that in the next recipe.
Today for lunch we had chicken caesar salad. It came from a bag, because bagged salad is easy and the perfect size for a meal salad for two people. Getting just lettuce is cheaper, but your time is also valuable, and prioritizing is important.
So the lettuce went in a big bowl, and I started the chicken. Lemon pepper chicken again, because we love it. It ends up
tasting delicious, and you can just dump the whole thing in the pan so the chicken ends up with a little bit of sauce. About 2/3 of the way through cooking, I cut up the chicken with shears so that it’d be in little bite-sized chunks and even more thoroughly coated in seasoning. I cannot overstate how much I love lemon pepper chicken. When the chicken’s done, I put the dressing and croutons in the salad, put the lid on our giant plastic bowl, and shook vigorously to toss it. Divvy that up in two dishes, add some optional parmesan, and put the chicken on top.
A little more about marinades: my mom has much the same approach to cooking that I do, very casual and haphazard (as you might guess, neither of us are big bakers). So she just had basic principles for a marinade.
Basic marinade ingredients:
- something sweet (honey, sugar, w/e)
- something acidic (citrus juice, vinegar, soy sauce)
- an oil (one that’s liquid at fridge temperatures)
The acidic thing is supposed to make the meat more tender, I think the sweet thing is supposed to balance that flavor-wise, and the oil is, like, the transfer medium to make the meat taste more like the stuff in the marinade. Or something. I’m not 100% on why it works, I just know it does. Generally you’re going to want more than just the basics – like, you could theoretically marinate the chicken in just honey, lemon juice, and vegetable oil, but it’d be really sad without the pepper in it, too.
This ‘salad’ has kind of an ignoble history, but it turned out to be a spectacular idea. My family does potluck family dinners for holidays. It’s not potluck in the most traditional sense, as my parents almost always do the meat, and one aunt does cheesy potatoes, and my grandmother does rolls and pie, but the point is that everyone brings something. Last winter, I hadn’t had Christmas in mind when I’d gone grocery shopping in early December, so I was kind of scrounging around my kitchen for something to make. I’d asked my dad what I should bring, and he said ‘salad,’ but we didn’t have much fresh stuff in the house and there was too much snow to make it fun to go out and then my roommate was out of town, so I had to get creative.
I spent some time on Supercook, which is an amazing tool because it lets you find recipes from what you have at home. This recipe did not come up, but there had been some recipes that had both apricot and amaretto, and I figured, hey, apples taste good with everything and also I have this bag to get rid of.
It ended up being a hit, such that I made it again for this Christmas and my cousin was really enthusiastic about taking all of the leftovers home.
- 6 smallish apples
- 2/3 of a bag of dried apricots
- 1/2 cup cream cheese
Cut the apples into bite-size chunks – we have an apple corer that also slices into 8, so I used that and then cut the pieces in half or thirds. Cut the apricots into smallish pieces – I cut them lengthwise and got like 4-6 pieces from each one? Soften cream cheese – I put it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir the amaretto into the cream cheese, starting with just a little bit. Some recipes for dressing recommended an electric mixer, but I found a spoon worked fine, just needed a little enthusiasm to get the initial lumps out. Mix in more amaretto until it’s about the consistency of ranch dressing, maybe a little thicker. Toss well – the dressing coating the apples is what stops them from turning brown. I had probably more dressing than I needed, but no one likes brown apples.
I used Macintosh apples because that’s what we had, but it’d also probably be excellent with either Granny Smiths or a mix of types. If the apples are tarter, some sugar in the dressing would probably work really well.