Tacos de Camarones

I was really in the mood for shrimp tacos for dinner the other night. Jill said she didn’t care what we had for dinner as long as it included “lots of vegetables.” So, I made shrimp tacos with a lot of vegetables.

To make the shrimp tacos, or  Tacos de Camarones, extra-veggieful, I quartered mushrooms, chopped some garlic, and sliced up an orange bell pepper and a small onion.

Prepared vegetables for the taco filling
Prepared vegetables for the taco filling

To give the vegetables a fajita flare, I sautéed them in a little olive oil until they started to caramelize.

Saute the vegetable filling
Saute the vegetable filling

While the vegetables were sautéing, I also sautéed the shrimp in a very small amount of olive oil in a non-stick pan.

Saute shrimp in a small amount of olive oil
Saute shrimp in a small amount of olive oil

As soon as the shrimp started to turn pink, I poured in a couple of glugs of beer into the pan and simmered the shrimp until they were completely cooked. I had a bottle of Sam Adams Coastal Wheat and thought it sounded like an appropriate pairing for shrimp, so I used that.

Simmer the shrimp in beer
Simmer the shrimp in beer

Placing two or three shrimp (depending on their size) on small corn tortillas, I topped the shrimp tacos with the vegetables. Because of the heartiness of the mushrooms, the two or three shrimp were enough to make the taco satisfying. You could always add more shrimp, but this recipe for shrimp tacos is a great way to save money and make a great dinner with only a small amount of shrimp.

Put the filling on a corn tortilla
Put the filling on a corn tortilla

To add even more vegetables to the dinner, I chopped up some spinach and sliced up and avocado (Jill’s family grows avocados). I topped the shrimp tacos with the spinach and avocado as well as with some shredded cheddar, salsa, and sour cream. The sweetness of the onions and bell pepper and the meatiness of the mushrooms supplemented the shrimp well. Because we only used a few shrimp in this recipe, we actually made this for dinner two nights in a row.

Add your favorite toppings
Add your favorite toppings

Baked Potatoes

With a bag of potatoes left after making the Friday Night Potato Galette, Jill and I decided to have baked potatoes for a couple of dinners. As you can tell from the photos below, Jill and I each have our own variations on the baked potato.

Baking potatoes is simple. I like to wash my potatoes well, stab them with a fork a few times, coat them in olive oil, sprinkle them with salt, and bake them directly on  the oven rack at 350 degrees (Fahrenheit) for an hour. I put a baking sheet on the rack below the potatoes in case any of the oil drips off of the potatoes. Baking potatoes this way gives the skins a crispy texture with a slightly salty flavor that I really like since I eat the potatoes, skins and all.

Once baked, the potato is an empty canvas ready for your creative food masterpieces.

Baked Potatoes
Baked Potatoes

Jill opted for baked potatoes smothered in sautéed broccoli and topped with grated cheddar cheese and a spoonful of sour cream.

Jill's Baked Potato
Jill's Baked Potato

I followed suit with the broccoli, cheddar, and sour cream, but added left over pulled pork from Piggy’s BBQ.

Artie's Baked Potato
Artie's Baked Potato

The baked potatoes were so good, we decided to make them again for dinner the following night.

Like last time, Jill topped her potato with broccoli, cheddar, and sour cream, but this time added sautéed mushrooms and goddess salad dressing.

Jill's Potatoes
Jill's Potatoes

I went with broccoli, cheddar, sour cream, mushrooms, and salsa.

Artie's Potatoes
Artie's Potatoes

Although the potatoes are blank canvases for a variety of delicious toppings, they are quietly the star of the show. After reading that potatoes are one of the most likely vegetables to contain residual pesticides, I decided to buy organic russet potatoes from Earth Fare. Once baked, these potatoes were the creamiest potatoes Jill and I have ever eaten.

Another Delicious Mafaldine Recipe

Like any good dinner, this one began with me putting on an episode of one of my favorite TV shows to watch while I cooked:

I assembled my ingredients:

For this recipe I used:

  • half a pound of whole wheat mafaldine (check out this post to find out more about mafaldine) or your favorite pasta
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms
  • 4 Italian style chicken sausage
  • 1 large orange bell pepper
  • a couple big handfuls of spinach (I didn’t measure it, but see the picture below)
  • half a red onion, a swirl of olive oil, a few healthy glugs of white wine, and butter (all unpictured – what can I say, I like to improvise with what I have on hand!)

I didn’t end up using the mozzarella cheese because shortly after taking this picture, I realized that is was spotted with mold (even though the sell by date wasn’t for another week!) and I’m not really into moldy cheese in my dinner.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente.

Prep the veggies and chicken sausage:

Dice the onion, quarter the mushrooms, and dice the bell pepper.  Cut the zucchini and the chicken sausage into thinly sliced half moons.

Heat a few teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and then cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and a tablespoon of butter and continue cooking for another few minutes until the mushrooms are browned.

Add the bell pepper, zucchini, and chicken sausage and saute for another 5 – 7 minutes until the vegetables are soft.  When the veggies are soft and the chicken sausage is heated through, deglaze the pan with a few healthy glugs of white wine.  If you’re not really into white wine, you can substitute chicken stock.

When the wine has reduced, add the cooked pasta and about 1/2 cup of the hot pasta water.  While the pasta water reduces, roughly chop a healthy amount of spinach.

I love my greens!

Add the spinach to the pot, a handful at a time.  It will look like it isn’t going to fit, but as it wilts, it will all fit.

Give the mixture a stir to combine and cook for another minute or two – long enough to wilt the spinach but not long enough for it to become mushy.

Portion into four dishes (two for dinner tonight, two for lunch tomorrow) and serve.

The white wine and pasta water combination created a very light sauce which didn’t overpower the flavors of the pasta or the veggies.  The chicken sausage provided a source of protein, but I could take it or leave it.  Overall, for something that I created on the fly, this was quite good.