So as you can probably tell, when I’m down, I cook. And not just mediocre things. The harder the better…and I’m working my way up. Now I was never the chef of the family growing up. In fact, I always dreaded hearing that call up the stairs – my mom saying “Dinner time!” really meant she wanted our help for salads, setting the table, emptying the dishwasher, etc. Then I realized that if I were the one actually making the dinner, then I wouldn’t be left with the horrible tasks of cleaning up, doing dishes and the like. Success! Little did I know how my perfectionist tendencies would take hold of this idea and run with it.
So although I’ve been cooking for a while, and haven’t felt the need to take pictures or discuss, I will begin now! Planning a dinner is a lot of trouble by itself. However, my family makes this even harder. My mom is a vegan (borderline raw), my brother only eats hotpockets and hasn’t had a vegetable since he was 10, and I have Celiac. My dad eats pretty much everything. So finding a compromise for everyone is part of the challenge.
Today I made: Shrimp with tomatoes and feta cheese served over GF spaghetti (also with a vegetarian option), creamy cucumber avocado gazpacho, and then for dessert I prepared a pumpkin pie smoothie and chocolate peanut butter bon bons. “That’s a lot” you say. Well…it was. I had to bring my dad in to prep the shrimp, and my brother as a sous chef for the desserts. It was great teamwork and we finally got dinner on the table about an hour later than planned.
Recipes following –
Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta Cheese:
2 lbs medium shrimps (scampi) (thawed, peeled and deveined) – omitted this in the vegetarian version
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper (seeded and finely chopped)
1 red chili (seeded and finely chopped)
2 scallions (peeled, chopped)
4 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp fresh oregano
6 to 8 large type cherry tomatoes or 2 regular tomatoes (seeded) chopped
1/2 lb feta cheese (crumbled)
3 tbsp milk – I substituted Almond milk which I assure you works just as well!
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and toss in the bell pepper, scallions and chili. Keep stirring and cook until the scallions are translucent. Add the shrimps and the tomatoes and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the herbs, the milk and the feta and let it cook for another 3 minutes or so until the shrimps are ready. Season with freshly ground black pepper. No need to add salt in this dish (unless you do the vegetarian version). Serve with fresh bread, or white rice.
Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup
Inspired by Louisa Shafia’s Lucid Food
4 large organic cucumbers (if not organic, peel)
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, skins removed, plus more for garnish, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and ribs removed
1 shallot, chopped
1 handful fresh basil
2 1/2 cups cold water
Salt to taste
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Then cut into chunks. Scoop the fruit out of the avocado. Place all of the ingredients except the salt into a blender and blend. You may need to do this in batches. Pour into a bowl and season to taste with salt. Place in the refrigerator for a few hours until well chilled. Garnish with chopped hazelnuts before serving.
Vegan Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
3/4 cup cooked pumpkin (you can use canned, but fresh is much better)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened organic vanilla almond milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
2-3 Medjool dates, pits removed (soak first if they aren’t soft)
(You can add honey or maple syrup if you wish for it to be sweeter)
Add all of your ingredients to the blender. Puree until smooth and creamy.
If your pumpkin and/or almond milk isn’t cold, you could add a handful of ice. I decided not to, so it would stay as creamy as possible. You can also add a splash of water or additional almond milk if your smoothie is too thick. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg.