Cajun Spice Shrimp Boil

It’s almost August and that means it’s sweet corn season in Minnesota! We love corn. Straight off the cob, on the grill, with lemon and butter, or just salt and pepper. But sometimes it’s fun to add some spice to it…

Let’s head down south y’all and dig into a Cajun shrimp boil! Ya sure ya betcha it’s good!

And easy too! After a fun day in the sun on Saturday we were hungry! We dumped some MN sweet corn, onion,  jumbo shrimp, new red potatoes, Kielbasa sausage,  and wild rice brats in a huge pot of boiling water. We added two cans of beer (to make it a party!), and a generous amount of Cajun spice (we were feeling adventurous).

While the food was cooking, we set the table…not your typical table setting. We covered the table in newspaper, which is the only way to eat a shrimp boil. When you’re done with your corn you can simply toss the cob on the paper, along with the shrimp tails, and your plate is clean and ready for seconds. Or forego the plate and eat straight off the paper! It’s a finger food meal.

Happy double dipping!

Recipe

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 4 quarts water
  • 2 cans beer
  • ½ cup old bay seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 12 red new potatoes, quartered
  • 1 large white onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 link Kielbasa sausage, cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 wild rice brats
  • 8 ears corn, shucked and cut in half
  • 36 jumbo shrimp, deveined and with tails on

 Method

  1. In a large stove pot, bring water, beer, and old bay seasoning to a boil.
  2. Add potatoes and onion. Cook 8 minutes.
  3. Add cooked sausage and brats. Cook 5 minutes.
  4. Add corn. Cook 7 minutes.
  5. Add shrimp. Cook 4 minutes.
  6. Drain water. Serve on newspaper and eat with hands. Enjoy!
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Cumin Spiced Fish Tacos with Nectarine Avocado Salsa and Cilantro Lime Cream

Every third Friday in July means fish tacos at the lake. Why such a specific date you ask? Well, for eight years on this day we have met our high school girl friends in the parking lot of our alma mater, loaded up the car and headed to the lake for weekend summer fun and food. The tradition continued this past weekend. It’s  usually late when we arrive and we are always ravishing, so we want something quick, easy, and delicious for dinner. Solution: Friday fish tacos.

In the past we’ve used mahi-mahi, but this time we filled them with tilapia, which is just as good and easier on the wallet too! We topped the fish with a fresh nectarine avocado salsa, and added cilantro which gave it a fresh, tropical taste. We typically add sour cream mixed with cilantro, lime, and cayene pepper too. However, when we opened the cooler we realized we had forgotten the sour cream! Oh no! But luckily we had lots of plain Greek yogurt (as usual it was Yoplait) in the refrigerator, and used this instead. Disaster and the wrath of our girls was avoided, and Greek yogurt,  we discovered, is even better than sour cream.

These fish tacos were a great way to kick-off the weekend. Happy double dipping!

Recipe- Adapted from Costal Living

Serves 4

Ingredients for spice mix

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 (4-ounce)  fillets of white fish (we used talapia this time, but have also used mahi-mahi in the past)
  • 12 whole-wheat tortillas

Ingredients for Nectarine Avocado Salsa

  • 2 cups finely diced nectarines (2 to 3)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeño pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 avocado diced

Ingredients for Zesty Sour Cream

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Method

  • Mix spices in a bowl
  • Spray aluminum foil with cooking spray and place fillets on foil
  • Rub spice mix evenly over fillets
  • Grill on medium in-direct heat for 10-12 minutes, or until fish is flakey
  • While fish is grilling, warm the tortillas in a pan on the stove or on a griddle on low heat
  • Remove fish from grill and break into bite-size pieces using a spatula
  • We like to serve the tacos buffet style, filling the tortillas with fish first and topping it with the nectarine-avocado salsa and zesty sour cream

Nutrition

Calories: 376   Carbs: 42g   Fat: 8g   Protein: 33g   Sugar: 7g   Sodium: 28mg

Pheasant Fajitas – A Minnesotan Twist on a Mexican Cuisine

Pheasant fajitas?! Who in the world has pheasant in their freezer?!  

Thanks to our macho dad who goes on a hunting trip to South Dakota every fall, we do. In fact, he brings home so many pheasants (within the legal limit of course) that we are still eating them in July. So, we’ve gotten creative with our preparation of pheasant…pheasant fajitas.

Unlike chicken fajitas, pheasant fajitas require a little muscle and the ability to wield a knife. After defrosting the bird, we placed it on the cutting board. We looked down at it and as usual, it kind of creeped us out that the foot, or “claw” as we like to call it, was still attached to the leg. (The reason the “claw” is still there is to prove that the bird is a male, since it is illegal to hunt female pheasants. Males have spurs on their feet, while females do not. The other option is to keep the head on the bird to show it is a male. We’re glad Dad chooses to keep the foot. Pulling a head out of the freezer would be creepier.) So, we cut the foot off and proceeded to butcher the bird.

Once we had nice strips of pheasant breasts, we placed them in the marinade of fresh lime juice, garlic, dried oregano, chile powder, and cumin. A marriage of Minnesota and Mexican flavors! We topped the fajitas with salsa, and homemade guacamole which we squeezed fresh orange juice into to give it extra pizzazz. Perfection! Happy double dipping!

Recipe – Adapted from The Complete Hunter Game Bird Cookery

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/3 Cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 whole boneless, skinless pheasant breasts (5-6 oz. each, cut length-wise into 1 1/2 inch strips)*
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 8 whole wheat tortillas (6 inches)

*If you do not have a macho, hunter dad, husband, brother, or friend you can substitute chicken for the pheasant.

Garnishes (optional)

  • Salsa
  • Guacamole

Method

1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine lime juice, oregano, garlic, cumin, chile powder, sugar, salt, and pepper. 

2. Add pheasant strips, stirring to coat. 

3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours. 

4. Heat 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle with olive oil or spray with non-stick vegetable cooking spray. 

5. Add onion, green pepper, and red pepper to skillet. Let cook for 5 minutes, until somewhat tender. 

6. Add pheasant strips to skillet and cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until meat is no longer pink, stirring frequently. 

7. Spoon mixture evenly onto tortillas and top with guacamole and salsa. Enjoy!

Nutrition per serving (2 fajitas)

Calories: 358   Carbs: 45g   Fat: 8g   Protein: 26g   Sodium: 433mg

Strawberry Basil Vinaigrette

This fresh and tasty salad welcomed us to the lake last night.

Actually, we made it for dinner when we arrived to our cabin. It was delicious.

In our home we rarely eat store-bought salad dressing. Instead, we make our own. Which is better for you, more satisfying for your taste buds, and more economical. All you need is some type of vinegar, olive oil, honey or sugar, and some spices/herbs to jazz it up, and you’re set!

Since it’s summer, which means the berries are fresh and the herbs are plentiful, we chose to make a strawberry basil vinaigrette as our salad dressing last night. We pureed strawberries and basil with red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and honey. Salad dressing in minutes!

We poured this over fresh mixed greens, and tossed in cherry tomatoes, chopped red onion and grilled radishes (which we still drool over…see our pizza and crostini posts for great recipes with grilled radishes).

Have we convinced you to make your own dressing? Happy double dipping!

Recipe

Makes 1/2 Cup

Ingredients

  • 6 medium strawberries
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • Dash of black pepper

Method

Combine ingredients in food processor and bled until smooth. Pour over salad, mix, and enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 43   Carbs: 4g   Fat:4 g   Protein: 0g   Sugar: 3g   Sodium: 1mg

Berry Shortcake – Red White and Blue Celebration

Happy Birthday America! We spent the fourth of July at our cabin with our friends and family and celebrated with sun, boating, lawn games, and lots of delicious food. Following tradition, we had turkey on the grill, corn on the cob, and Mike’s famous potato salad for dinner. And to finish off the perfect fourth of July meal, we served our berry shortcake with homemade whipped cream…red, white and blue!

We used Heart Smart Bisquick mix (to make it easy on ourselves). We recently discovered Heart Smart Bisquick and love not only its taste, but it’s health benefits too. This is a dessert you can feel good about eating! To add a double dipping flare to the mix, we added lemon zest and some lemon juice. The citrus in the shortcake combined with the berries is awesome! It sends off fireworks in your mouth!

The red, white and blue color of the berry shortcakes makes them perfect for the fourth of July, but you can make this dessert as the sweet ending to any summer meal. Happy double dipping!

Recipe

Serves 6

Ingredients

For Shortcakes:

  • Health Smart Bisquick
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries (sliced)

Follow baking instructions on back of Bisquick box, add lemon zest and juice to batter. When ready to serve, place berries on top of shortcake with a tablespoon of whipped cream.

For Whipped Cream:

  • Heavy Whipping Cream (about half a cup)
  • 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

30 minutes prior to whipping the cream, place a metal bowl in the freezer to chill. This makes the whipping process go faster. Pour half a cup of heavy whipping cream in chilled metal bowl. Using an electric mixer or hand mixer, whip cream on high speed for about 30 seconds. Add powered sugar and continue whipping until cream forms. You’ll know it’s ready when you lift the beater and the cream stands.

Nutrition

Calories:   280   Carbs: 34g   Fat: 7g   Protein: 3g   Sugar: 6g   Sodium: 265mg

Dark Chocolate Beet Cupcakes – A Birthday Celebration

Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday dear KT! Happy Birthday to you!

Yesterday was our good friend’s birthday, and so to celebrate we baked her dark chocolate BEET cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. You’re probably thinking, what kind of crazy girls punish their friends with vegetable cupcakes on their birthday?! Or any day for that matter?! Well, wait one minute. First, KT loves beets. In fact, just the other day she was telling us how she had recently been beet deprived. Second, the cupcakes are loaded with dark chocolate chips and cocoa, so the beets aren’t overpowering. They give more of an earthy undertone to the cupcakes, great color, and texture. Needless to say, she loved them!

We used 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 all purpose flour in the recipe. Whole wheat flour produces a more dense cupcake, and so to keep ours light and fluffy we sifted the whole wheat flour (about five times).

 

After roasting the beets in the oven for about an hour at 400 degrees we combined the eggs, vanilla, and beet puree with the dry ingredients to get a deep, rich red batter.

 

We filled the muffin tins with the maroon batter 3/4 full, and popped them in the oven for 30 minutes.

And after 30 minutes the cupcakes were done. It was like magic! The cupcakes were no longer beet red, but a rich dark chocolate.

We topped the cupcakes with a dollop of cream cheese frosting (which we made) and a dark chocolate chip.

Our dark chocolate beet cupcakes were a hit! Everyone devoured them, even after we told them they were made with beets. Happy double dipping!

Recipe 

Adapted from http://www.homesweetfarm.blogspot.com

Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups beets, puréed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Method

1. Preheat Oven to 350º.

2. Line muffin tins with paper or grease them.

3. In a large bowl, combine beet puree, beet juice or water, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

4. In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

5. Add the beet mixture and chocolate chips to the flour mixture.

6. Fill muffin tins ¾ full and bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

7. Top with cream cheese frosting and dark chocolate chip. Enjoy!

Cream cheese frosting

In a large mixing bowl, combine 4 oz. cream cheese, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. Using a hand mixer, beat until light and creamy.

Nutrition info for 1 cupcake

Calories: 112  Carbs: 20g  Fat: 3g  Protein: 3g   Sugar: 11g  Sodium: 45mg