Will I ever run out of grain bowls? Actually – don’t answer that. I seriously loooove the combo of a grain + something cooked/warm + something cool/raw finished with a drizzle. They are also a fantastic way to hit lots of food groups while using up small quantities of things!
The littles aren’t enchanted by shrimp lately so I skipped them on this one and made it just for myself. It was a good thing because this was spi-cy. This would be great with any fish or chicken or beef.
Chipotle Shrimp Rice Bowls
Ingredients: (for 2)
1 1/2 cups brown rice
1/4 cup sour cream
1 chipotle pepper in adobo (plus 2 teaspoons of sauce)
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon lime juice
8 jumbo shrimp, pealed and deveined
1/4 cup tomatoes
1/2 cup black beans
Cook the rice.
In a food processor or blender, mix together the sour cream, chipotle pepper plus 1 teaspoons of sauce, honey, and lime juice.
In a medium skillet, over medium heat, add in butter and remaining teaspoon of adobo sauce.
Slice tomatoes and avocado.
Layer into two bowls and drizzle with chipotle lime sauce.
The sauce is spi-cy. Next time I’d tone it down a bit (by halving the chipotle) but I liked it. The rice and the avocado and the beans all help the spice. It was great for something different. In a pinch I’m known to mix ranch with salsa for a creamy drizzle too.
Let’s talk lunch! I began packing my own lunch since maybe 3rd grade. It is no easy feat so I wanted to share some special ideas. Lemon Poppyseed tunafish is delicious but also requires a PSA: do not bring tuna to work for lunch unless you have your own space where nobody will smell it, or bring it if you’ll eat outside! This is a fun lunch for the weekend too.
The freshness takes this up a serious notch.
Lemon Poppyseed Tuna (for 2)
1 can chunk white tuna in water
2 tablespoons mayo
1 teaspoon Italian dressing (or olive oil)
1 teaspoon relish
1/2 teaspoon poppyseeds
salt and pepper
Drain the tuna and mix in mayo, dressing, relish, juice from the lemon, zest from the lemon, poppyseeds, and salt and pepper.
Mix with a fork and store until serving.
Serve on toast with greens.
I loved the lemon in here! I often go for dill relish, but the sweetness was perfect with the tart lemon. Sandwiches can be ho-hum but assembling when eating is the key!
Next up, I have a more out of the box idea to pack for lunch!
The lemon aoli takes this home lunch to the next level. It is tart and perfect with the salmon. It perked up my leftover salmon and brought brightness with the salty bacon, peppery arugula, and juicy tomato. I wanted to make a fun lunch to revive some leftover salmon that I overcooked a bit. It was actually better in this salmon BLT than it was the night before!
Salmon BLT with Lemon Aoli
2 tablespoons mayo
juice from half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
pinch salt & pepper
2 strips of bacon
3-4 oz salmon, cooked and cooled
Pan fry the bacon and remove from the grease.
Turn off the pan from the bacon and gently warm the salmon in the bacon drippings.
Mix together the mayo, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper.
Toast the bread and slice the tomato.
Assemble the sandwich with lemon aoli on each slice of toast, then salmon forked apart into chunks, then arugula, then bacon, and the remaining bread.
This was seriously better than the salmon was the night before. Condiments can make such a difference. An extra special BLT is a great dinner too. Warming the salmon a bit in bacon drippings is definitely a good choice.
We don’t eat a whole lot of fish at our house, but I like it would like our preschooler seeing it more often. Variety is key! This was totally the easiest way to make that happen on a weeknight, in a format everyone likes! I used frozen breaded fish pieces that were super quick to cook up and serve as tacos or taco bowls. I went for a bowl and Mr. J and the little guy had the same as a taco. I liked it so much I made another one for a weekend lunch one day shortly after!
Crispy Fish Rice Bowl
Ingredients (for 2)
2 cups brown rice
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
2-4 small pieces of breaded fish
2 cups shredded red cabbage
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 1/2 cups corn
2 tablespoons mayo
1/4 cup salsa
Cook the rice and stir in the taco seasoning when cooked.
Bake the fish according to the package.
Toss together the cabbage, mayo, and vinegar (can be prepped the night before).
Cook the corn.
Assemble the bowls with rice, fish, slaw, corn, and avocado.
Stir together the salsa and mayo and drizzle over the top.
I really love bowls and it was a fun variation for me outside of regular taco night. Try it with a little one or one who doesn’t love fish. This is such a gentle flavor of fish and when it is accompanied by other foods everyone has seen, it makes it easy. The crispy factor is also super appealing. I love this and will definitely make again!
Winter doesn’t scream salad because a) nothing locally is in season here in New England b) it isn’t warm & comforting like winter food and c) aren’t we wearing chunky knit sweaters for a reason? However, hitting a bunch of food groups in one dish makes me feel accomplished and there’s nothing more grown up for my lunch than arugula salad – compared to eating the crust of somebody’s pb & fluff sandwich while doing something else. This is a home lunch, or a dinner! I do not condone warming fish at the office. Nope. I bring you this salad with juicy shrimp, peppery arugula and pear to inch us towards the local produce that will be, once the seasons change and because we all deserve a restaurant-quality salad at home.
Veg, fruit, nuts, and fish -all in one dish? Yesss! Plus, my dressing hack takes zero brainpower and is ohh-so-perfect!
Winter Salad with Shrimp, Arugula & Pear
Ingredients: (for 1)
~4 large shrimp (~4 per person depending on med/lg/jumbo or swap with salmon/etc)
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 cup walnuts
1 1/2 cups arugula
1/2 pear, chopped
1 tablespoon Italian Dressing
1 tablespoon Honey Mustard Dressing
In a completely dry pan, toast the walnuts over medium-low heat, being careful not to let them burn – about 3-5 minutes.
Peal & de-vein the shrimp. Then heat a small pan to medium heat with the butter. Sear the shrimp for about 2 minutes on each side until pink and just cooked through. Remove promptly from the heat and set to the side.
Mix together the arugula, toasted walnuts, pear and shrimp.
In a small jar (or in a bowl with a whisk) shake together the two dressings.
Toss the salad in the dressing.
Serve and enjoy!
I love the sweet pear with the peppery arugula. There is such great flavor here without becoming super complicated- which is how I normally like salads = all.the.stuff. The dressing is spot-on and would be that dressing at a restaurant you love that you can’t put your finger on what exactly it is. The Italian dressing decreases the sweetness of the honey mustard. The best Italian is this one – seriously, so perfect.
Salads for lunch can be tricky. Sometimes they’re tasty but not filling, or sometimes they’re delicious but full of the add-ons and not the healthy parts. I made this one with a tweak on the traditional Italian tuna & white bean salad by really upping the greens. Balance is the goal right now. The days often end with ice cream so starting with a green-based smoothie and lunch centered around veggies, fish, and protein seems like a good idea.
Tuna & White Bean Protein Salad (for 2 servings)
1/2 cup white beans
1 can tuna, white in water
2-3 cups arugula
Rinse beans, drain tuna, and wash and chop the tomatoes, cucumber, and greens.
Add everything to a bowl.
Mix one part Italian dressing and 1 part Creamy Caesar dressing. Then toss the salad in the dressing.
I liked the heft to the salad with the tuna and the beans with the fresh and crisp greens, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I often have arugula around because I love the peppery flavor, and it has a pretty long shelf-life in the fridge. The dressing gives the ideal alive, vinegar touch with the decadence of a creamy dressing too.
I only tossed half with the dressing and batched the rest up for the next day. I’m home on maternity leave and sometimes have fun in the kitchen come lunch time…other days, I’m grateful to have a no-brainer lunch ready to sneak it in before the next feeding/naptime/etc. I don’t often bring tuna to the office for lunch because of the smell-factor, but it would be a perfect dinner to have ready too. Reducing (and finely chopping) the greens would make this more like the traditional Italian one that would be great scooped onto crackers!
You’ll never guess what’s in this shrimp dish. Haha. I love these frozen jumbo shrimp and am determined to enjoy them before they get buried in the freezer or before they freezer burnt. Mr J isn’t into shrimp so this was a fun lunch for one!
I kept the ingredients to a minimum for speed and that it can be made anytime! It is an easy one to double, or quadruple for a quick dinner or for a dinner party!
Honey Garlic Lime Shrimp (for 1)
~5 jumbo raw shrimp (defrosted, pealed & deveined, as needed)
1 cup spaghetti/linguini
2 tablespoons butter
juice of 1/2 lime
zest of 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
Boil salted water for pasta.
Grate the garlic and zest the lime.
Add the pasta to the water.
Melt the butter in a medium pan over medium heat. Add in the lime juice, honey, and garlic.
Add in the shrimp with plenty of salt & pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes then flip and cook on the other side for 3-4 minutes again.
Remove the shrimp from the pan and toss the cooked pasta into the sauce.
Add the shrimp in with parsley & lime zest. Toss again, then serve & enjoy!
It was so good! The balance was spot-on. The butter + the lime juice + the honey was an ideal combo for a light yet flavorful sauce. The zest was SO necessary for freshness. Peeling and deveining the shrimp takes a little patience but is sooo worth it for better shrimp.
The whole dish cooks in the time it takes for the pasta water to boil and the pasta to cook. What’s better than a 10-minute dinner? Nothing! Leftover shrimp is not worth it, but since this cooks so quickly, it can be thrown together anytime.
The shrimp and sauce would be great over rice or any grain, or in lettuce wraps, or on a crostini. The same flavors would be great for clams or muscles too!
Salmon BLTs got me thinking how good bacon would be into a salmon cake! It really was! It also was a great use for the 2nd portion of salmon after grilling the other piece and wanting something different. I ate it like a burger but it would be great on a salad or fun as sliders.
Bacony Salmon Cakes with Herb Aoli
Ingredients: (for 2)
~4 oz fresh salmon
2 strips bacon
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons mayo
1 teaspoon fresh herbs (mine was chive & thyme or use parsley/oregano/etc)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of dried herbs (mine was a mix of basil/oregano/thyme/rosemary)
sliced tomato & arugula to serve
Pan fry the bacon until crisp.
Chop the salmon and add to a bowl with the bacon, garlic, breadcrumbs, mustard, egg, and salt & pepper. (I chopped half the salmon into larger chunks and half into fine chunks.)
Heat a medium skillet to medium heat (preferably the same pan as the bacon cooked in) with a drizzle of olive oil. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Stir gently and form into 2 patties.
Pan fry, covered for about 3 minutes on each side. Then bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes.
While the patties cook, add the mayo, fresh herbs, garlic powder, lemon juice, and dried herbs to a small bowl.
Stir the aoli and refrigerate until assembling the sandwiches.
Let the salmon cakes cool for a few minutes before assembling.
Spread the aoli onto the top bun and serve with greens and tomato.
I loooooved the bacon in here! It kept it juicy and was a great compliment to the salmon. Mixing it in was way better than serving it on top. The an herby aoli has that touch of lemon to be a quick condiment for just the zing the salmon needs.
Serving a group: mix up the salmon cakes and bake in the oven for ~15 minutes on a generously oiled pan, flipping once or twice. Then you won’t have to baby-sit them frying in a pan! The aoli can be made ahead of time or double it and use the rest on burgers or sandwiches. I made 2 salmon cakes and froze the other for a treat some night when we grill since it’ll only have to warm through.
These tacos have alllll the flavors you could want: sweet mango & lime slaw & fresh & nutty shrimp. This was seriously the best thing I’ve eaten in awhile. I meant for these to be a his/hers taco night but it was too much without prepping the shrimp in advance on a weeknight at dinner time. That weeknight, Mr. J had steak and I ended up sautéing the shrimp in taco seasoning. I whipped these up for a weekend lunch with some leftover slaw and was ohh-so-happy.
Make a big batch of the coconut shrimp in advance and freeze and your tacos will thank you later. Reheat in the oven before serving.
Coconut Shrimp with Mango Salsa
Ingredients: (for tacos for 2)
6-8 jumbo shrimp (shells removed and deveined)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg white, whisked
1/4 cup shredded coconut
2 tablespoons panko
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon mayo
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cup slaw mix or shredded cabbage
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup mango (mine was frozen & defrosted)
1/4 cup cucumber, chopped (optional)
1 green onion
4 taco sized flour tortillas
Set up the dredging line up of shrimp, cornstarch, egg white, and coconut mixed with panko. Bring oil to medium heat in a small skillet.
Dredge the shrimp into the cornstarch, then egg whites, then coconut mixture. Pan fry for ~3 minutes on each side, then drain onto paper towel.
While shrimp is cooking, whisk together the slaw dressing of mayo, lime juice, and sugar. Mix in the slaw.
Mix together the salsa, mango, cucumber, and green onion.
Assemble the tacos with slaw on the bottom, shrimp, and salsa.
The shrimp was amazing. I really loved the flavor and loved how crispy they were. Now I’m wanting to make a big batch. I fried these since there were only a few. Usually I stay away from frying things so baking them would be good for a hands-off approach, especially for a big batch.
These could be a fun app in wonton cups with mango salsa on the bottom and the shrimp placed on top.
At the first Pear Party/Iron Chef Pear, there was this pear, pomegranate pearl salsa that I loved, yet hadn’t made in years. It is so addicting with tortilla chips- multigrain scoops are definitely the best for it. I added some avocado and served mine on top of some beer battered fish filets for lunch and used the rest on pork tacos the following night. This is wintry and fresh with such great textures.
Pomegranate & Pear Salsa
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 red onion
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Chop the pear, cilantro, and red onion. Mix together with the pomegranate pearls, lime juice & salt.
Gently mix in the avocado.
Serve & enjoy! (If not serving immediately, reserve the pomegranate pearls until serving- they leave a reddish hue on the pears & reserve the avocado- it’ll turn brown.)
So easy! You know what’s even easier? I discovered the grocery store sells the pomegranate pearls already popped out of the pomegranate! That was my hang up to make this until now. This lunch as everything: warm crispy fish, the pop/crunch of the pomegranate pearl, the juicy pear, the creamy avocado. What’s not to love?
The red & green felt super cute and seasonal here. The avocado was a game-time decision. When they’re ripe that window to use it or lose it is brief! Plus, my frozen fish filets seemed tiny. I’ve used them in fish tacos but for size reference, this is a salad plate so I thought the avocado would bulk it up a touch. It did!