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Cobb Salad with a Spin: Southwestern Grilled Shrimp Cobb Salad

Cobb Salad with a Spin: Southwestern Grilled Shrimp Cobb Salad

It’s no secret that Cobb Salad is a personal fave. But how to turn up the flavors, yet keep the bacon, egg, and cheese goodness? Enter Sriracha Grilled Shrimp and Buttermilk Chipotle Dressing. Say hello to your new best friend –  the Southwestern Grilled Shrimp Cobb Salad. Perfection!

Southwestern Shrimp Cobb

If you only need to know one thing about me, know this. I am mad for late summer farmers’ markets. I will probably go to five this week. Okay, I agree…..a little obsessive. But, I have a favorite farmer (plus The Cheese Lady) for every ingredient in this salad. I’m not saying you have to do the same – or that you can’t just go to the supermarket for all this – but I AM SAYING you have to make this NOW. Southwestern Grilled Shrimp Cobb Salad is all about the season at hand! Fresh sweet corn. Heirloom tomatoes. Sprouts. Flowers. Herbs. Oh my!

Sweet Corn

The Classic Cobb Salad

Instead of debating where this salad came from and why it is so called (almost certainly a 20s- or 30s-era salad from Hollywood’s Brown Derby, owned by Robert Cobb), what do you say we just dive in? The classic has greens – often iceberg or romaine, chicken, tomatoes, avocado, hard boiled egg, Roquefort and bacon. In other words, what could be bad? You may find it already tossed, as well as deconstructed with tidy little rows of ingredients. While it barely needs a dressing, the rich cheese and bacon beg for a quiet whisper of shallot vinaigrette. 

Heirloom Varieties

The Shrimp Cobb Salad

I’m not gonna lie. I am a bit conflicted here. I have a passion for spins and tweaks and making the old new again. But the Classic Cobb is pretty much as good as it gets. I was having a party and wanted a make-ahead all-in-one salad-entree and I thought this would fit the bill….a real crowd-pleaser. But I decided as long as I keep all the favorite components, I could give it a global palate spin. Enter shrimp, corn, and chipotle.  Some of the ingredients were direct swaps – chicken for shrimp, roasted for marinated and grilled, Roquefort for Hatch Gouda, and shallot vinaigrette for Buttermilk Chipotle Dressing. Others were too good to mess with – bacon, eggs, tomatoes, and avocado. Then there were a few things I decided to slide in because I could. 

Plum Varieties

Look at these stunningly gorgeous plums. What a perfect sweet and juicy foil to all that buttermilk tang and chipotle smoke! Michigan produces a wide range of both Japanese and European varieties. Those yellow/green beauties are Shiros; the golden/orange-ish rounds are Bubblegum; the small red orbs are Methley; and the violet-blue ovals are Vibrants. I also added some corn which brought some more lovely sweetness, but bonus……….a nice crunch and texture contrast, as well. 

Deconstructed Shrimp Cobb Salad

I think deconstructed salads are among the few places where more is more. Most often in food, less is more. But if you are going to let people decide what to add to their plate, why not give them a variety to chose from? 

Marinating the Shrimp

Shrimp is an-oh-so simple thing to throw on the grill, and of course is good grilled and chilled, making this the perfect make-ahead entree. The marinade is dead easy – lime juice, olive oil, Sriracha, Tabasco and some spices. If you haven’t tried the Chipotle Tabasco, give it a whirl. It adds a nice smokiness to the marinade. I never like to marinate any seafood or fish for too long, because the acid will start to “cook” it. If you prep the marinade first, and add the shrimp while prepping the rest of the salad and getting the grill ready, you will time it just right. Then only a few minutes on the fire for each side, and you and your shrimp will be ready to chill.

Grilled Shrimp

Composing the Salad

The directions for the marinade and creamy dressing are sufficiently detailed, but I am leaving the quantities for the fixin’s – or even whether or not to add them at all – up to  you. How big is your platter? How many are you serving? How much do you love/hate sprouts? 

Just keep in mind colors and textures as you go to arrange your platter. It’s a bounty of beautiful ingredients so this should be the fun part once your chopping is done. If you need to prep things further ahead than when you want to compose it, just bag each ingredient separately and arrange closer to serving time. Your guests will be dazzled! Enjoy!!

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Southwestern Cobb: overhead view on a large white platter; deconstructed piles of avocado, corn, cherry tomatoes, hard boiled egg slices, limes, bacon, micro greens, grated jalapeno cheddar, grilled shrimp, salad greens and plums

Cobb Salad with a Spin: Southwestern Grilled Shrimp Cobb Salad


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Description

This Southwestern Grilled Shrimp Cobb Salad is a kicked up spin on an old classic. A few simple ingredient swaps, along with a zesty marinade for the shrimp and a creamy Buttermilk Chipotle Dressing, and this one-platter-is-a-meal comes together quickly. What a great way to celebrate with the bounty of late summer!


Ingredients

Scale

Marinade (makes enough for two pounds of shrimp):

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon Chipotle Tabasco
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Buttermilk Chipotle Dressing (makes 2 1/2 cups):

  • 1 cup Greek non-fat plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • chipotles in adobo – one big and one small, more or less to taste
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed cilantro leaves

Salad fixin’s (mains):

  • shrimp, raw, deveined, peeled and tail on
  • Little Gems, baby Romaine lettuce, trimmed and halved
  • heirloom cherry and grape tomatoes, halved
  • eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and halved
  • bacon, crispy and crumbled
  • avocado, peeled and chopped
  • Southwestern cheese, grated (I found Hatch Chili Gouda)
  • corn, shucked, boiled, and cut from the cob
  • plums (or other stone fruit), pitted and sliced

Salad fixin’s (garnishes):

  • cilantro leaves
  • limes, cut in wedges or halved, if small
  • edible flowers, like Nasturtium
  • fresh sprouts, like radish, watercress and sunflower
  • crunchy topper (see note)

Instructions

Prepare the marinade: Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate, up to one hour, while you prepare the other ingredients.

Prepare the Buttermilk Chipotle Dressing:  Place all ingredients except the cilantro in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop, then process until creamy. Add the cilantro and pulse several times to chop roughly. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid and refrigerate until  you are ready to serve. 

Grill the shrimp: Drain any excess marinade from the shrimp and grill over high heat for 2 – 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and reserve until cooled.

Assemble the salad: Once the shrimp is cool enough to not wilt your salad, compose the salad using all the main ingredients, with an eye toward color and textures.  Arrange the garnishes on top. If you are serving later, reserve the bacon and crispy topping until serving time. Cover and refrigerate. 

To serve: Add the bacon and crispy topping and serve with the Buttermilk Chipotle Dressing. 

Notes

Crunchy toppers: there are a lot of different crunchy toppers available in the crouton section these days. I used the fried jalapeno slices, but you will also find the basic fried onion rings, as well as red peppers, tortillas and more. Chef’s choice.

Marinade is enough for two pounds of shrimp and Buttermilk Chipotle Dressing makes 2 1/2 cups.

  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Grill
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Cobb Salad, Shrimp, Chipotle Dressing

An Update:

I want to take a moment to send a heartfelt note of gratitude for all those that supported me spiritually, morally and physically in my Ration Challenge journey earlier this summer. Your generous financial support of this campaign put us at the very top of the fundraising leaderboard among the 40,000 challengers from around the world. Together we raised enough to feed 35 refugees for an entire year. Globally, that number is 16,829! Way to go!! With deep gratitude. xoxo, kk

Southwestern Grilled Shrimp Cobb Salad

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2019. All rights reserved.

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Chipotle Fig Glazed Chicken & Fajita Fiesta – Olé!

Chipotle Fig Glazed Chicken & Fajita Fiesta – Olé!

Hand holding a fig marinated chicken fajita with avocado, garnished with lime and cilantro

If it’s summer, it’s grilling time and what better way to get a little entertaining help than a Pot Lucky. After the success of last year’s Slider Grill-a-thon, I picked Fajita Fiesta for a theme.  I also had a brand new jar of Balsamic Pepper Fig Spread land on my doorstep and immediately thought of chipotle. To be specific, Chipotle Fig Glazed Chicken Thighs! Are you feeling me? On a grilled tortilla with some refried beans, maybe a little guacamole, pineapple salsa, cilantro sprigs and perhaps a grilled veg or two?  Well don’t stop there! We got so many wonderful contributions that the pairings and combos of flavors were virtually endless.

Margaritas in a large jar

But let’s get this party started properly. Normally my potlucks are a BYO event (leaving me time to focus energy on coordinating culinary contributions, trying to weed out duplicates). But this time one couple decided to bring her dad’s signature and award-winning margarita in lieu of food. Score! They also brought that darling baby that appears further down this post. The cocktail recipe itself is a secret, but I have it on good authority that there is a certain blue collar beer in the mix. Nobody seemed to remember Hop Skip & Go Naked, but that was one of my earliest (college) blender memories. Starting with frozen lemon or limeade, all other “liquids” added used the juice-can-as-measure technique. Beer was definitely in the mix. Anybody?

Dinner\'s Done - condiments for fajita party - lime, guacamole, cilantro, sour cream, queso, salsa served on a serape

Readers have asked how to host a Pot Lucky, as I have taken to calling the Curated Pot Luck. ICYMI, I have a deep-seeded fear of pot lucks. Shivvvvvvvvvvver. One too many frilly picks atop Velveeta cubes atop Slim Jims. True fact: I ate that last summer. I was THAT hungry. So it occurred to me a couple years ago to help people help themselves. By creating a theme (which makes it easier for guests to focus on their contribution to the menu), suggesting categories, and having a Sign Up for Your Dish List, you can create an amazing feast.  We’re pushing our tenth Pot Lucky, all covered in this blog, but a few of my favorites are sliders, pizza, meatloaf, and nautical style.  Like any good mother, I can’t really choose.

Here’s the 101 Crash Course on how to host a Pot Lucky. Doubtless there will be additional thoughts coming in subsequent posts, but let’s start with the basics.

The 411 on Pot Lucky 101

Like most things in life, the devil is in the details, and I am a firm believer in plan, plan, planning. Make a master list for any gathering and create sections for who is coming, what they are bringing, your shopping, prep, and set up.

Create a Theme

Creating a theme to curate your Pot Luck around is step one to giving menu directions. This is the best possible insurance against Velveeta with a frilly pick on a Slim Jim. Because unless your theme is Junk Food (I actually did that theme for a Chefs’ Night Out after the James Beard Awards, because let’s get real – that’s what chefs crave) or White Trash, there is a high likelihood you can avoid this culinary treasure. I have done sausage making, pizza toppings, soup swaps, sliders, nautically themed, Thanksgiving family treasures, meat loaf and more. What about a clam bake? Salad Palooza (my next Pot Lucky), American BBQ classics, fondue, Chinese New Year’s, Indian street food? So many possibilities.

Who is Game?

Most times when you entertain, the cast of characters is pre-ordained. An office party? Family gathering? School reunion? But if this is just a time to pull folks together around this menu, consider who would enjoy it. I’m all about being inclusive and fully believe everyone can whip together something using ready-made components – I have offered to give tutorials to those that might feel a teeny twinge of stress over this – but what you don’t want is take-out. That is a whole other party. Calvin Trillin used to host an annual dinner in NYC to benefit the NY Public Library and he had minions scattered all over Chinatown to scoop up and swoop in with military precision, delivering NY’s Best Chinese Take Out.

Look for people that think this is fun. It might not be everyone you know, but you might be surprised how many people jump on the bandwagon and show up with papier mâché marionettes wearing sombreros.  Be prepared to yield a wide berth for exceptions and provide a hall pass to anyone happy to pitch in in other ways. Do you do dishes? You are absolutely most welcome!

Set Expectations

I always provide detailed descriptions of the evening’s flow from arrival time to what to bring (already plated with serving spoon).  I also like to include a list of everything I am providing.  And then I plan for contingencies for that one person that shows up with the bowl, the ice, the cocktail sauce and no shrimp. I might not have shrimp to make that dish whole, but I will have a backup appetizer to fill the void.  A day or two before, I provide a general head count for everyone so they know how much to bring. Nobody has to make enough to feed the total crowd because there will be so much food. 2 or 3 cups of a salsa goes a long way when sprinkled on a fajita. But I usually specify quantity on proteins (2-3 pounds each for the fajita mains; 2 dozen 2-ounce sliders for the burger party) and ask the people bringing lower priced or less time-intensive items to bring 2 or 3 items. And, some Pot Luckys are geared toward sharing the food beyond the night. So make sure folks bring containers to nab portions of the many meatloaves that were sampled, but not finished.   

Provide Sample Menu with Categories

I put some time into coming up with categories and then list a smattering of ideas under each category.  Don’t assign particular dishes to guests, unless it’s their signature and you must have it (Deb’s shrimp burger as a slider is an example.)  Everyone comes from different places – work, home, yet another soccer game – so let them figure out what they are comfortable with making that fits their skills, palate, schedule, and budget.

Track the Menu

As much as I would like to say your job is done, I want you to avoid the all-pork-tenderloin dinner party. Every Pot Lucky has one item that is the highly coveted I MUST MAKE THAT. For fajitas, it was pork tenderloin. By asking guests to reply to you directly (no need to clog everyone’s inbox), you can track what is already taken. And if you got this email and want to bring one particular thing, reply ASAP!! You can also set up a private event page online and let people sift through all the comments to see what is already nabbed, or better yet, use an app that tracks commitments by whatever categories you specify.

Set the Table

Whether the event is at my house, on a boat, or at the park, I always pack extra serving spoons and forks, some condiments and seasonings, and plates, silverware, and napkins.  For smaller groups, it may be a sit down with linens and table décor. For portable events, I try to consolidate, but still throw in a tablecloth and a pot of herbs for décor. Sometimes people show up with their own decor ideas, and you might turn around to find a prayer candle for the Virgin of Guadalupe and a big sombrero right where you left your chip basket. Get creative, but be organized with a master list of what you will need.

Organize Arriving Food 

Once the food starts arriving, try to categorize it by how it will be used. For pizzas, that means putting all the sauces in one area, the cheeses in another, the scattering-type toppings in yet a third. For fajitas, put the tortillas at one end of the table and the cilantro sprigs at the other. This is your chance to be restaurateur for the day, so make a plan to lay out all contributions in a logical order. There may be some things that are for noshing now, so you can stage them in a separate area to clear space for working and setting up your buffet.

Be Flexible

This is like point number 7 on every Girl Scout badge – after Be Prepared, there is Be Flexible. Even the best planning will go off the rails at some point or in some way, but just roll with it. Extra people? No problem because I have extra plates! Forgot your spoon? Got it handled – because I pulled out extras. Didn’t read the part about having the soups to swap in individual containers for take away? Done and done! We will wash all the containers from the tasting portion and repackage with the soup that needs to be portioned.  At the end of the day, this is a party and the only rule is to have fun. Be inclusive. Be gracious. Share! Generosity of spirit covers a multitude of mistakes (that nobody but you needs know about).

Zero Footprint

Let’s leave this place better than we found it.  That goes for the host and also the participants. Whether the party is in your own home, someone else’s or at the park, enlist help to return to pre-party conditions. Too often we don’t want to break the spell by doing the mundane, but many hands make light work. Don’t be a martyr – this is a community party so it’s a great time to get some extra hands to hand back platters and serving utensils, pack up the dirty things and make a trip to the recycle bin. That leaves you free to wake up tomorrow and bask in the memory of a great party, not to face a mound o’ mess!  

Meanwhile back at the fiesta….

here are some of the amazing dishes that arrived for the Fajita Fiesta. One section of the table was reserved for the more app-type contributions to nosh on while the grill was firing up – chips & salsas: pineapple, pico and mango, and guacamole. 

Pineapple Salsa in a pineapple half, on a pewter tray shaped like a pineapple

And there were so many toppings, among them grilled onions, squashes, and peppers. Pickled and fresh jalapenos, cilantro & lime, tomatoes, scallions, lettuce & arugula, sautéed mushrooms.  Oh my! Cheeses ranged from goat to queso fresco, and Monterey Jack to habanero cheddar. Corn and flour tortillas were given a quick pass on the grill to warm up and slightly char. Dan brought his legendary refried beans and there was a tomatillo cilantro rice.

Surveying the Feast overhead shot of the sides for the fajita bar

I kind of left Sauces & Salsas open, with only a few ideas offered, and the range of things that came in did not disappoint. A red chili sauce, the roasted Hatch chili salsa verde, a yogurt cumin sauce and several chunky salsas, including black bean & corn, mango coconut and pineapple.  Lots and lots of guacamole.

What I love is that everyone is into working the theme into the décor. Props showed up by the boat load (literally – across the lake by boat with a serape and maracas). Look how great these sauces are in the Mexican terracotta.

Fiesta Party Decor - Virgen of Guadalupe candle, mexican marionettes, maracas, mexican pottery

Salsa Verde and Salsa Roja in pitchers in a mexican terracotta tray

Next up the mains: In addition to the chipotle fig glazed chicken thighs, the main event included pork tenderloin, fish, shrimp, sirloin, chorizo, pulled brisket and shredded pork.

Give me some meat! overhead shot of all the accoutrement to accompany grilled fiesta meats - refried beans, salsa, etc

Chipotle Fig Chicken Fajitas

My contribution was this sweet heat chipotle and fig glazed chicken thighs. The chipotle fig marriage lands this chicken dish squarely in Mexican territory and the sweet and heat combo makes it a fiesta! Olé! Throw some tortillas on the grill, stuff with chicken, avocado, cilantro and a big squeeze of lime and you are on your way to a party in your mouth. 

Grilled tortillas wrapped in a tea towel

Balsamic Pepper Fig Spread in a jar with a wooden spoon on burlap

Grilled Chicken in Chipotle Fig Sauce

Grilled Veg in Salsa Verde

 

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Hand holding a fig marinated chicken fajita with avocado, garnished with lime and cilantro

Chipotle Fig Glazed Chicken & Fajita Fiesta


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8 as a main, more if making fajitas 1x

Description

The marriage of figs and chipotle lands this dish squarely in Mexican territory and the sweet and heat combo makes it a fiesta! Olé!


Ingredients

Scale

Marinade:

  • 10 ounce jar Balsamic Pepper Fig Spread
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce
  • Juice of two limes
  • 1 Tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

2 pounds boneless chicken thighs


Instructions

Make the marinade:

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Makes 1 2/3 cups.

Prepare chicken:

Using about 1/4 of the marinade, combine with chicken and refrigerate, covered, for 1-2 hours, up to overnight. The remaining marinade will keep, refrigerated and covered, for several weeks.

Remove the thighs from the marinade, shaking off any excess marinade. Grill over a medium-hot fire (or bake the chicken at 350oF) until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Internal temperature should reach 165oF.

Let the chicken rest for ten minutes, then cut in strips if making fajitas.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes (plus marinating time)
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Mains
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: Mexican

 

Baby Young

At first I thought this little doll was eyeing the margaritas, but I realize now she was on to the cake. The cake on the left – Feliz Cumpleaños – was brought because, yes!, there has been yet another spin around the sun, and the other lovely was a wonderful Tres Leches.

Considering having a Pot Lucky of your own? Let me know in the comments or pick my brain at [email protected].

Cake! Birthday Cake and Tres Leches cake

Lighting the candles on the birthday cake

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2017. All rights reserved.

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Summer Entertaining – Graduation, Father’s Day, & Grilling!

Summer Entertaining – Graduation, Father’s Day, & Grilling!

Summer Entertaining - Graduation with Maranda Where You Live

I just had the chance to join Maranda on WOTV 4 Women’s program Maranda Where You Live to share with her viewers some ideas on how to zhouzz up a party –in this case graduation – by adding a few easy details that give it real style.  For entertaining, like most things in life, it’s the details that make the difference. Most of these style tips, with just a tweak here or there, will seamlessly slide from graduation, to Father’s Day…even to a wedding celebration. It’s summer entertaining at the brink of the season.

Summer Entertaining – Graduation with Style

I created a graduation celebration, themed around an outdoor event. In Western Michigan, we wait all year for this time.  It’s great because the temps are mild, the days are long, and who doesn’t want to keep the masses and that mess outside.  One of the tricky parts of any entertaining is how to avoid the long lines that form around buffets.  I’m more likely to not at eat at a party than to stand in line, and as a host that is not something you want! To hack that, I created a menu that is grab and go. Everything is pre-served and portable. And I suggest scattering dishes around the patio, grouping two or three items together, to help spread the crowd. It’s best to cluster around a central theme – maybe a vegetarian station, or a dessert station, or together by temperature – the hots, the colds…you get the idea.

Draining Salsa to Make Turkey Burger

Kicked-Up Southwestern Turkey Burgers

One of the portables that I served was a slider. Assuming you don’t want to grill while you have guests – though I am fully aware that some hosts love that distraction – these turkey burger sliders can be grilled earlier in the day and reheated to serve. But won’t they dry out? Au contraire! By adding a jar of drained salsa to the ground turkey, the flavor profile is kicked up a notch and the salsa adds both moisture and depth of flavor. Its super simple and you are letting the salsa factory do all the heavy lifting of lots of chopping and roasting the chipotle.

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Juicy Turkey Burger sliders on mini buns with guacamole and tomato slice on a pedestal plate

Kicked-Up Southwestern Turkey Burgers


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 24 sliders or 8 full-size hungry-girl burgers 1x

Description

Turkey burgers can get a real boost in the flavor profile category by just adding a jar of drained salsa to the ground turkey. The salsa adds both moisture and depth of flavor. Why not let the salsa factory do all the heavy lifting by roasting chipotles and doing all the chopping for you. More time to enjoy, less time in the kitchen. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 16 ounce jar of favorite salsa, drained and liquid discarded (or saved to season a sauce)
  • 3 pounds ground turkey
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

Pour the salsa into a fine mesh strainer, set over a bowl to drain. Set aside for 20 minutes or more until the liquid has been released.

Mix the turkey, drained salsa, shallots, cumin, salt and pepper by hand until mixed through and shape into patties.

Grill over a medium-hot fire until cooked through (timing depends on burger size).  Poultry should always be thoroughly cooked.

Notes

These are best made ahead and left to chill in the refrigerator for an hour or up to a day or two. This gives the patty time to firm up.

They also freeze really well, and so I tend to make a large batch and wrap in plastic wrap, individually. I spread them out on a tray to freeze. Then once frozen solid, I transfer to a big Ziploc. 

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes (plus draining and chilling time)
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Mains
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: Southwestern

Veggie Shooters - shot glasses with crudite and dipping sauce

Veggie Shooters

The next idea I showed was veggie shooters – using a shot glass or even a disposable clear plastic. By transferring the ranch dressing to a squeeze bottle (think diner ketchup or mustard bottle), you can put a squirt in the bottom of each shot glass without “sliming” the sides.  Then just tuck in an assortment of fresh veggies – carrot sticks, celery, multi-color peppers, snow peas.  And I tuck different combinations in each glass because not everyone will like them all, so pick let your guests pick what suits them.  Could this be any cuter? 

For all the dishes, both savory and sweet, I used herbs, flowers and vegetables to create super simple garnishes for each tray.  It’s that little extra touch that will let your guests know you “THOUGHT OF EVERYTHING”!!

Fresh Mozzarella and Grilled Pineapple Brochettes

Fresh Mozzarella and Grilled Pineapple Skewers

For the last savory dish, I used rosemary sprigs in lieu of toothpicks – both flavorful and adorable.  I marinated some mini mozzarella and grilled pineapple rings, then assembled.  Very fresh tasting! Be sure to get the pot of rosemary at the nursery or garden center and plant what remains in your herb bed so it can regrow…because you ARE going to want to do this again. Cut the sprig with sharp scissors so you get a point and remove the bottom few leaves to create the “pick”. 

Mini Banana Cream Pies

Portable Pies: mini banana cream pies in individual mason jars

Mini Banana Cream Pies

For dessert and continuing with the portable idea – in this case pie – I used mason jars to create individual banana cream pies.  This is a no-recipe recipe and takes good advantage of all basic supermarket items: vanilla wafers, banana pudding (2 minutes to mix with cold milk), sliced bananas and some whipped topping. Crush a few more wafers on top.  Sometimes super cute goes a long way to mask shortcut cooking. Shhh don’t tell anyone. That’s a professional tip and I could get kicked out of my professional tip society. This dish lands squarely in the “People Love It!” category. A+!

 

Diploma Cookies tied with a ribbon on a white plate

Diploma Cookies

And then just because I could……diploma cookies – using packaged pirouette cookies, tied with a ribbon. Adorable. Easy. Win. Win.

 

S\'Mores Bar with cans of sterno, jumbo marshmallows, Hersheys and grahams

DIY S’mores

There is always a pride of ownership when you contribute to a meal, so let your guests help cook dessert with a DIY S’mores Bar – featuring GIANT Kraft Jet-Puffed marshmallows.  (I’m personal friends with JP, the Jet-Puffed guy!)

My Main Man JP, the Jet Puffed Marshmallow man

Giant Jet-Puffed

There are a lot of ways to set up the fuel station – creating a bed of river rock – or even charcoal briquettes as a prop – to surround the fuel.  Make sure to place this in a low wind area, with proper ventilation and pay attention to potential flammables, keeping them far away.  (It wouldn’t hurt to have a fire extinguisher under the table, because like an umbrella, if you have it, you won’t need it). Now you can find Green Heat products that are environmentally friendly and bio-degradable, as well as safe for direct contact with food. They are plant-derived, and come from corn-based ethanol and are non-toxic.  Look for those – good for you, good for the planet.  

Jenga Time

Making Memories

I ended the segment with a couple ways to make memories, something that is important for every celebration. Using a Jenga set – along with a bunch of markers – guests can add their wishes or advice, date and sign it – and the grad will have a keepsake to remember this day forever. Can you imagine the day when Bubba Junior will be playing Jenga with his grandchildren and a smile will cross his face thinking about this incredible party you hosted – back when?

Jenga Memories

Portable Photo Booth - Frame with handles on the back for impromptu poses

And the final portable for the party: a photo booth.  Along with a few photo booth-type props (mortarboards on a stick) and one giant frame, this show can go on the road….grabbing photos of the grad and guests throughout the party.  The frame can be decorated for a princess, a sports career, or the college that lies ahead. Just screw a couple drawer pulls into the back so all those in the photograph can help hold it.  By being hand-held, this has the added advantage of going from portrait to landscape orientation and from straight on to cockeyed.  That variety of angles will inspire a lot of candid moments, making for a great souvenir photo book which you can give at Christmas when your grad comes home from college! And what a great chance to reinforce the idea of gratitude. He can print the photos and write the guests a note of thanks …for the support …for the gift… for being part of the day. Just slap a stamp on it and mail a photo of the guest and grad enjoying this wonderful celebration.

Have Fun! And that’s an order!!!

The most important thing to remember is to enjoy the day. You have worked hard for whatever it is you are celebrating – getting a child through school, walked down the aisle, or even your own significant anniversary – put your focus on planning and prepping, but the minute the doorbell rings, close the door on stress and open the front door with a big old smile to greet your guests. This day is as much about your achievements as those of your graduate.  No matter how awry a plan may have gone, no one but you will know. In the business, we have a saying no matter how a dish turns out: “That’s the way we like it.”  That might be the most important lesson I ever learned from Anna Teresa Callen, the great Italian cooking teacher.  She’d just shake her head and smile and in her wonderful Italian lilt, whisper….”Ah! That’s the way I like it!”

Thank you Maranada for the kind invitation! And the rest of you, check out the segment on Maranda Where You Live!

Maranada and Katy

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2017. All rights reserved.

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Sriracha & Chipotle Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Sriracha & Chipotle Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Salt and Pepper Grilled Shrimp

Even though #NationalShrimpDay is meant to be a 24-hour thing, I feel it’s more like a birthday and should really be celebrated for a week, a month, or even a season! I mean if Bubba can do it, you can too. “Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. There’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan-fried, deep-fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That…that’s about it.” Wait, Bubba, Wait!! You missed Sriracha & Chipotle Spicy Grilled Shrimp!

Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Sriracha & Chipotle Spicy Grilled Shrimp

It’s time you rip that cover off the grill and crank up a hot fire. This dish – loosely translated from a visit to the Rhode Island cousins – is great in pretty much any meal category. To paraphrase Bubba, shrimp appetizer, shrimp salad, shrimp entrée, and who doesn’t like shrimp for in lieu of dessert?  Especially if it comes with a crisp Pinot Gris!!! Summer wine, I’m coming for you. Serve this with a fresh green salad and, if you’re game, roll back one blog post and whip up a batch of the Edamame and Chickpea Fritters with chili dipping sauce, conveniently linked below. This all simply screams “winter is dead to me!”

Dinner is Done

I like to keep things simple, especially as the days get longer and the temps heat up. Less time in the kitchen means more time for enjoying the meal.  So here we have a classic dump and stir recipe. And like all sea and stream creatures, marinating is kept to a minimum – no more than 30 minutes. If you are building a charcoal fire, the timing is perfect. Start the marinade, then build the fire. When the coals turn white, you are good to go.

Marinating the Shrimp

Use whatever size shrimp you prefer, but please leave the shells on. Sriracha & Chipotle Spicy Grilled Shrimp is a lick-your-fingers-while-you-peel-the-shrimp kind of dish. Cooking with the shells on not only helps retain moisture, but it adds depth of flavor. Timing will depend on the size of shrimp and strength of your fire, of course, so keep an eye on them. They cook quite quickly, 3 or so minutes per side.  

Crack open a loaf of tangy sourdough and pour another glass of Pinot Gris and you are all set. Enjoy!

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Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Sriracha & Chipotle Spicy Grilled Shrimp


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Description

You can’t help but lick your fingers as you peel the shrimp and pop them in your mouth. They have that I-want-more-ish quality about them, so make extra.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound 21-25 (or 26-30) shell-on, deveined shrimp

Instructions

Combine all marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Add the shrimp and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.

Grill shrimp over high heat for 3-4 minutes per side. Peel, eat, enjoy, repeat!!!

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Appetizer or Entree
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: American

Sriracha and Chipotle Tabasco Marinated Grilled Shrimp

This dish is great served with Farm Fresh Summer Squash & Arugula Salad

Summer squash with spice blend

 and Edamame and Chickpea Fritters with Chili Dipping Sauce.

Edamame & Chickpea Fritters

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2017. All rights reserved.

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Don’t forget to Comment, Share & Subscribe to our blog.