Monday, April 18, 2011

Sweet Heat Shrimp, Mango and Avocado Salad

Often when Luke goes out of town, I either use that time to catch up on happy hours with friends and eating out, or I make a large vat of homemade mac and cheese and live off of that for several days. Since neither of those are particularly healthy options AND I've got a wedding to look forward to (no date yet!), I needed to focus on some gentle, nutritious meals for one. This salad was simple and FAST to make, and I made it to the gym afterwards feeling energized and not stuffed. You'll love the sweetness of the mango and honey, creaminess of the avocado and the little kick of the red pepper. Give it a try!

Sweet Heat Shrimp, Mango and Avocado Salad

1/4 pound shrimp, deveined and tails removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon honey
Juice of 1 lime
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 cups spinach
1 Ataulfo mango, diced (these are the little yellow ones you might know as Champagne mangos - SO addictive)
1/2 small avocado, diced
1-2 small radishes, thinly sliced

Preheat a nonstick skillet with olive oil on medium high heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper, then cook 1-2 minutes on each side, until curled up and pink. Place in a bowl and top with honey, lime and red pepper and toss to combine.

In a medium bowl, combine spinach, mango, avocado and radishes and toss. Top with spinach and toss to combine and dig in!

Mastering the Art of a Julia Child Dinner Party

I just celebrated another birthday, but this time, I brought the celebration to my friends - via Julia Child. I've been a longtime fan of hers as I mentioned in a blog post a while back, and after watching Julie/Julia with a glass of wine in hand one too many times, I decided I wanted to spend my birthday with a full Julia experience.

A few cute decorations were in order, but I didn't want to buy a bunch of random items I wouldn't be able to use again, so I got creative. Since our dinner table is small, I pulled out a card table and then just got a nice, clean tablecloth to cover it. On top I have some antique blue mason jars from my grandma that I put some simple roses in. On a tri
p to World Market I came across a cute little Eiffel Tower replica and chalkboard for a perfect Julia saying - Bon Appetit! Votive candles and wine corks did the rest - along with Edith Piaf playing in the background to set the mood.

Like any dinner party, if you plan well enough, it's quite simple to pull off. Luckily I had a resource for recipes (Mastering the Art of French Cooking of course!). I thought a simple start of french bread and cheese paired with artichokes with a lemon beurre sauce would be a gentle way to start the evening. And, with my sister in town to be my sous chef, she tackled the artichokes from start to finish!

Thanks for the help sis!

For the main course, I went with the tried and true Bouef Bourguignon that I'd blogged about in the past. Although the dish takes about 4 - 4 1/2 hours from start to finish, there's a lot of down time perfect to clean yourself (and your kitchen!) up.

For dessert, I made the Reine de Saba (chocolate almond cake) from her book. It was simple and small, perfect for a dinner party without a whole bunch of cake leftover to stare me in the face for a week!

I had to dress the part of course! Pulling off the Julia look wasn't tough. A simple buttoned shirt, knee-length skirt and pearls were the basis, and I made my own Ecole des Gourmands pin. I had a wig sitting around that a few clever placements of bobby pins gave me the perfect hairstyle for the evening. The finishing touch was of course one of my trusty aprons.

The most important part of a dinner party is the company you keep. Many thanks to my gentle friends for spending my birthday evening with me, bring wine to pair with the courses and for dressing like Parisians!
Cheers to a gentle birthday!

Thanks friends :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spicy Mediterranean Steak Salad

Well, I managed to survive vegan week, but it confirmed my joy for meat and dairy, so while I may enjoy a vegan meal every now and then, there won't be any big changes on Apron Adventures.

BUT, speaking of changes, this Apron will become a Mrs! My photographer, taste-tester and fellow contributor Luke proposed last week. Stay tuned for wedding details! In the meantime, be on the lookout for more health-conscious meals as this apron works to fit into the ultimate - a wedding dress! But, I do need to satisfy my palette, so no frou-frou here!

Spicy Mediterranean Steak Salad

1 pound skirt steak
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
3 small golden potatoes
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced
6 ounces mixed greens
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup pitted olives, sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinaigrette

Marinade the skirt steak in 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper for about an hour. In the meantime, slice potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces, spread on a baking sheet and coat with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes, finishing on a broil if needed.

While potatoes roast, preheat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat, add remaining olive oil and cook steak 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove and set to rest about 5 minutes, then slice.

While the steak rests, saute onions, bell pepper and jalapeno for about 3 minutes. To assemble salad, toss greens, feta, olives, and vinaigrette with roasted potatoes and cooked vegetables, then top with steak. Enjoy!