Southwestern shrimp salad with cilantro-lime dressing

Do you know what absolutely kills my attention span on a Friday? Knowing I only have a few hours standing between me and a 3-day weekend! At noon today we get to break for Memorial Day weekend and I can’t wait. I don’t have any big plans since Riley will be working all weekend, but I’m just excited to hang out around town, go to the farmer’s market, do some shopping, and spend as much time on the patio as possible. Bring on the weekend naps!

Since my ADD has already kicked in, I’ll keep this post short and sweet by sharing the salad I made on Wednesday!

Southwestern shrimp salad 2

I was inspired to make this by a lunch menu item I saw at Bonefish Grill and figured I could recreate it at home, with several changes. The ingredient list is ridiculously simple and an easy dressing comes together in about 60 seconds.

Southwestern shrimp salad ingredients

I don’t like to dilly-dally and my attention span can’t handle it today, so let’s get right to it!

Southwestern Shrimp Salad With Cilantro Lime Dressing

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag spring salad mix
  • 1/2 pound cooked, large shrimp
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 can yellow corn
  • 1/2 medium red pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup fat-free feta cheese
  • crispy tortilla strips (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice from 3 limes
  • 3 small garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Chop all ingredients and place into a large serving bowl. Place dressing ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. I used a mini processor since that’s all I have, but it was perfect.

Cilantro lime dressing

Pour dressing over salad and toss until evenly coated. Enjoy!

Southwestern shrimp salad

I know I said the tortilla strips are optional, but they’re not, really. You should use them. Second, you definitely need to use the fresh dressing for this. I almost never make my own dressing unless it’s just a drizzle of oil and some vinegar, but this was way too easy and so good. The fresh lime juice helps preserve the avocado too, so this salad tastes just as good the next day.

I’m almost tempted to make another batch of this over the weekend since I still have several of the ingredients. One thing I do know I want is a giant hamburger. Riley just got some new replacement parts for the grill and I think Memorial Day Weekend is a perfect time to put them (and Chef Riley) to use!

I’m off to the office to twiddle my thumbs until noon, but hope you all have a great weekend!

What are your plans for the weekend?

Antipasto pasta salad

Well, happy Friday! I’m working tomorrow, but I’ll pretend the weekend’s almost here and celebrate with you all anyway. Tomorrow is Admitted Freshman Day, which is where we have our last push to convince students that our school is, in fact, better than any other school. Two more of these Saturdays and then event season is officially over, so I can’t wait.

The other day I shared my little antipasto spread from when my friend came over. Well, we had waaaay more food than we needed, so I tried to find something to do with the leftovers, other than just eat them while standing in front of the fridge. Eating in front of the fridge is a common occurrence when I’m left to my own devices for dinner. I’m super together at breakfast time, and mostly at lunch. By dinner, however, if I’m not eating with Riley I’m so uninspired I just want to hush the hunger and go to bed.

I actually made this meal for lunch the other day before I headed up to Northern VA for work. I didn’t really have a plan when I started, but the result was an easy, one-pot, dish that can be thrown together in no time.

Antipasto pasta salad 1

I don’t have any measurements here, but you don’t need them. You can really just throw stuff in any way you like.

Antipasto Pasta Salad

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz pasta (I used Penne)
  • Hard salame (you can easily omit this and make this a vegetarian meal)
  • Marinated artichoke hearts
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Marinated mozzarella cheese
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Italian seasoning
  • Garlic powder
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Set a pot of water to boil. While it’s heating up, give all your ingredients a rough chop and keep to the side. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander. Set your pasta pot back on the stove, turn the heat to medium, and pour in a couple tablespoons of olive oil.

Toss in the salame, artichokes, peppers, and seasonings and let cook for a couple minutes. I poured some of the artichoke marinade from the can as well, which I highly recommend. Once everything is heated through, throw the pasta back in and stir everything together. Take the pot off the heat and add the mozzarella at the end. Serve and enjoy!

Antipasto pasta salad 2

This was spicy, filling, and delicious! It’s not the healthiest dish, I’ll admit, but there are no heavy sauces and if you wanted to keep it lighter I’d just take the meat out and it would still be good. I wanted to add some spinach to the mix also, but we didn’t have any.

Well, that’s about as fancy as my recipes get! I like to keep things easy, simple and quick and this meal definitely met that criteria.

Have a great weekend!

Which meal are you most motivated to cook for?

What are you looking forward to this weekend?

Tropical banana protein smoothie

Good morning! I have very little to report this morning since yesterday was all work work work. I did want to pop in quickly, though, to share the smoothie recipe I made this morning.

It’s supposed to be 77 degrees later today (I KNOW!) so I’m very much looking forward to today. I’ll need to find a million excuses to walk around campus, especially since I blew off the gym this morning. In honor of the warm weather, I was craving a smoothie to start my day.

This recipe was inspired by a delicious gem I’m embarrassed so say I’ve never purchased until this past weekend: coconut milk. I saw a can of light coconut milk at Trader Joe’s this weekend and grabbed it on a whim and let me tell you…this stuff is amazing. I’m already thinking of new ways I can use it!

For today, though, I put it in my morning smoothie. Only 4 ingredients are needed, but it’s one of the best, creamiest smoothies I’ve had in a really long time. I’m pretty sure if I threw some rum in there it’d make a great summer cocktail, too. Actually, now I’m convinced I need to turn this into a cocktail. Anyway, here it is:

Tropical banana protein smoothie

The coconut milk is what makes this smoothie, for sure. I’ve made this combination with almond milk before and it’s fine, but it just doesn’t have that thick, creamy texture that you get from the coconut milk. I recommend buying the light kind, especially since I used half a can! For curiosity-sake, I put the recipe into My Fitness Pal to check out the nutritional stats: 379 calories, 48 grams of carbs, 13 grams of fat, 24 grams of protein, and 8 grams of fiber. It has a good bit of sugar in it as well, but most of that comes from the fruit. Not too shabby!

I think I’m inspired by tropical-y things because I just got my time approved for vacation in May! We haven’t booked anything and I still have no idea where we’re going, but I’m busy researching all the fun places we could go. We don’t want to do any repeat trips, which sadly leaves out Mexico, Aruba, the Caymans, and the Dominican Republic. Give me ideas, please!

Anyway, hope you have a great day!

Have you ever been to one of the following places: Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, St. Lucia, Virgin Island (US or British)?

My first experience with balls

Good morning! I don’t have a What I Ate Wednesday post for you today because half my meals have been eaten standing up in the kitchen grazing, so I’ve been lacking in actual meals to share. Instead, I though I’d share the recipe for my first ever chocolate PB energy balls.

Everywhere I go I see balls. Get your head out of the gutter. I mean energy balls! Or, as they’re often called in Healthy-Blog Land, “no-bake energy bites.” Same thing. Does the adolescent in you do a little “tee hee” every time you talk about balls? Just me? Oh.

Anyway…

Let me tell you about the ones I made this weekend because they were freakin’ awesome. They taste like cookie dough and even better, they’re not terrible for you.

No-bake chocolate energy balls 3

There are a ton of recipes out there for balls like these and literally a million variations you can do. I searched around and found a bunch I liked, but in the end I made up my recipe as I went along. If you want some inspiration, here are some of the sites I’ve pinned or saved that feature some tasty looking balls (he he…sorry, I’ll stop):

Now on to my creation! As you may know, most of my recipes are born out of a desire to do as little work as possible. Because of this, I used stuff I always have in the kitchen.

No-bake chocolate energy balls 4

The one exception to this was the chopped dates, which I just happened to have a coupon for and grabbed at the store. I’m even too lazy to chop my own dates, so the fact that Sun-Maid would do it for me was even better!

You can make this with regular peanut butter, but I had some Dark Chocolate Dreams PB in my pantry and figured that would be a fun twist. My measurements are kind of approximate because as I mixed I was adjusting and sampling, but it’s pretty close.

Chocolate Dreams Energy Balls

Makes: 16-20 balls, depending on how you roll them and how much you eat before they get rolled.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup chopped dates
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate peanut butter (I used Peanut Butter Co.)
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Roll into small balls and chill for about an hour before eating. Enjoy!

No-bake chocolate energy balls

In case you’re interested, I got curious about the “healthy” factor and put this recipe into My Fitness Pal to check out the nutritional breakdown: Per serving: 118 calories, 16 grams carbs, 6 grams fat, 4 grams protein, 12 grams sugar, 1 gram fiber.

Based on the breakdown, I wouldn’t exactly say these are nutritional powerhouses, but they are really delicious. The peanut butter and chocolate combo is to die for, and the oats cut the sweetness just enough. I love the convenience of being able to just grab and go. They also make a great little dessert. In fact, I’d say they lean more towards the dessert side of things anyway. I love a good excuse to pretend I’m eating health food, though, even though they’re basically unbaked cookies. 😉

Hope you enjoy them!

What’s your favorite no-bake energy bite? Feel free to share links!

Health food? Cookies? What’s your take on balls?