Thursday, April 24, 2014

lime grilled shrimp with sweet potato southwest salad

Another delicious meal I made last week for my family. Since it's been so hot, I decided to try to cook on the grill as much as possible so we won't have to heat up the house. It has been a lifesaver and also really yummy. This is one of those meals for you people who live somewhere where summers are beautiful - please enjoy this meal alfresco for me with a glass of lemonade.
1/2 pound shrimp (I used large frozen shrimp from Costco)
3 limes, juiced and zested
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt & pepper

Whisk together lime juice and zest, garlic, chili powder, honey, olive oil and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add thawed (if frozen) shrimp and mix until marinade has coated the shrimp. Set aside for 30 minutes. Before grilling, skewer shrimp on wooden or metal skewers.

(adapted from this recipe)
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 3/4" rings
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen white corn
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 green onions, sliced
1 avocado, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup feta or cotija cheese (any salty cheese will do)
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat grill to high. Lay sweet potato rings evenly on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Place sweet potatoes on the grill and cook for about 10 minutes. Flip and cook another 8 - 10 minutes until tender. Remove from grill and set aside to cool. Leave grill on (to cook shrimp).

Preheat a large saute pan with olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and red bell pepper and saute for 5 minutes. Add frozen white corn and saute another 3 minutes. Stir in chili powder and black beans and season with kosher salt and pepper. Cook until the beans are warmed through. Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl.

Meanwhile, place shrimp skewers on the grill and cook for about 3 - 4 minutes (flipping halfway through) until they are pink and opaque. Remove from grill and set aside.

Dice up cooled sweet  potatoes and add to the black bean/corn mixture. Add green onions, cilantro, cheese and diced avocado. Squeeze lime on top and add a drizzle of good quality olive oil before serving with grilled shrimp.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

tonto natural bridge

Last Saturday, David and I really felt like some mountain freshness (and cooler weather) was needed in our lungs. Around lunch time, decided to put the boys in the car and see where the road to Payson lead us... which was Tonto Natural Bridge.
two boys who are excited to wear hoods.
I had never been there before but it's only about an hour and a half from Mesa and it was really beautiful! There were several pretty hikes which William was crazy about. He kept begging to "go on more hikes". I was still having some pretty regular contractions so I sat at the top of the "harder hike" per David's orders. I also took lots of pictures and watched the storm clouds.
isn't it amazing that nature created this??

Monday, April 21, 2014

easter 2014

Our Easter started with an Easter egg hunt with our ward at the church on Friday night. It's hilarious how fast those things are over. My kids couldn't really keep up with the older kids so they only got a couple of eggs - which was totally fine. The bishop talked to the kids for a few minutes about the real reason why we celebrate Easter and then passed out little flashlights to all the kids. They were a huge hit with my boys and also really useful since it was starting to get dark at this point.
Then on Sunday, we have church at 8:30 (!) so we had to scramble to get ready and still have time to find the Easter baskets. William is REALLY into treasure maps so we made some clues for him to follow around the house (and Fritz followed him) to get to the baskets. They were excited and Fritz grabbed a chocolate carrot within seconds of finding it, unwrapped it and stuffed the whole thing in his mouth. That kid and chocolate...
Church was wonderful and I remarked to David on our way home how great the talks (like sermons) were. I really loved being able to concentrate on the most amazing gift ever - eternal life through Jesus Christ. It brings me so much peace to believe in life with my family forever. I remember my grandma saying "Santa already takes up so much of the true meaning of Christmas and I won't allow the Easter Bunny to dominate the resurrection of Jesus." I tend to agree with that, so while we do still have Easter baskets and participate in a few events, I really try to not focus on the Easter Bunny - and isn't it weird anyway?
David's parents came over for a few days and we had lunch with them and spent the afternoon together before they left to have dinner with extended family. We had invited the Bakers over for dinner and the boys had a good time playing (minus a couple of bursts of anger about sharing).
some beautiful roses from my mom's garden
The boys did more confetti eggs and they were a huge hit again! Then we had our traditional dinner of ham, potato and leek gratin, roasted carrots and asparagus, a salad and an epic Easter cake fail. Ha! I don't usually botch my coconut lemon cake but I did this time. Whoops.
It was a great Easter - I hope yours was wonderful too!

Friday, April 18, 2014

ham, mushroom & gruyere crepes

Here are a few things that I made this week for dinner: Coconut Lime Grilled Chicken with Coconut Rice and Sesame Garlic Roasted Broccoli, Grilled Lime Shrimp with Grilled Sweet Potato Southwest Salad and Ham, Mushroom & Gruyere Crepes. They have all been hits and are all easy. I've been having a ton of contractions (probably just Braxton Hicks but they're still making me stop in my tracks) and am exhausted all the time (what kind of sick joke is pregnancy insomnia?). It's also been in the 90s all week (and that makes me furious) so that should be an indication of the ease of these meals and yet, they feel pretty fancy! Over the next few days, I'll post all the recipes (some are just links) but I'll start with these Ham, Mushroom & Gruyere Crepes that I served with a mixed green salad on the side. It was light and delicious and would be a great way to use your leftover Easter hams!
Crepes (adapted from here): 
2 cups milk
1 1/3 cup flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Put all ingredients in a blender and pulse until combined. Set aside. 

Heat a frying pan until hot (over medium high heat) and spray with non-stick spray. Add a little bit of butter and using a soup ladle, pour a small amount batter into the frying pan as you roll the pan from side to side just enough to cover the bottom of the pan evenly with a thin layer of crepe batter. Let the batter cook for about a minute, then flip the crepe to the other side and let it cook for another minute on the other side. Here's a little video to help you if you've never cooked crepes before - I promise, it's REALLY easy. Transfer to a plate until ready to use. Should make about 10 crepes. 

Filling (adapted from here): 
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 1/4 cups shredded Gruyere cheese (reserve 1/2 cup for topping)
2 cups deli ham, chopped small
2 cups crimini/baby bella mushrooms, chopped small
1 teaspoon finely chopped herbs (like parsley or rosemary)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Heat butter in a large sauce pan and saute onions until soft (about 5 minutes). Add garlic, and stir for one minute. Turn heat down to medium low and add flour. Stir for about 30 seconds and then whisk in milk, sour cream, egg yolk, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Add the cheese, and continually mix as the sauce thickens and the cheese melts. Remove from heat and add the mushrooms and ham. Set aside.

Spray a 9"x13" baking dish. Place about 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling into the prepared crepes and roll them up setting them next to each other in the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the crêpes. Place in oven just until the cheese melts on the top of the crepes (about 15 minutes). Garnish with finely chopped herbs and serve immediately with a mixed green salad.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

phoenix children's museum

My brother and sister-in-law and their kids left yesterday afternoon to go back to Seattle. William was pretty sad that Beck was leaving and kept saying, "Awwwww...." (cue the shoulder slump) when I told him they were going home. They had a great time playing! On one of the days they were here, we went to the Phoenix Children's Museum. I had never been before and it was really cute and fun! The kids all loved it! It's kind of expensive but if we lived closer, I think I would buy an annual pass... especially for the hot summer months that we're already experiencing here!!
serious business going through the car wash...