Pasta is a weekly must-have at our house and most often we rotate between a few basics like tomato sauce, pesto, alfredo, meatballs and we change up noodles, tortellini, or the occasional lasagna. This was a bit different and I did a shrimp or chicken topping option (I’m the only one who likes shrimp at the moment).
The tomatoes burst and provide some sauce and the touch of cream and olive oil made it quick and light! Swap the protein for scallops or bacon or sausage or whatever you like!
Pasta with Blistered Tomatoes & Shrimp or Chicken Ingredients: (for 5-6 servings) 1 pound linguine pasta 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 3 tablespoons heavy cream 2 tablespoons butter shrimp (pealed, deveined large shrimp) and/or roasted chicken (pealed, chopped) 1 tablespoon mixed herb seasoning (Todd’s Dirt is our fav, or Italian Seasoning, or Oregano + Garlic Powder)
Directions: Bring salted water to boil and cook the pasta. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the tomatoes in a drizzle of olive oil and salt. Give them a shake every few minutes – it will take ~5 minutes to pop and release some juice. When the pasta is mostly cooked (~2 minutes less than the package instructs), drain it reserving a little pasta water and return the pasta to the pot. Add the butter, and cream in, plus a splash of pasta water (start with a few tablespoons) and toss together, then add the tomatoes in and continue to cook over low heat. Add more pasta water if needed.
In the skillet used for the tomatoes, add another drizzle of olive oil in and bring to medium-low heat. Add the shrimp in the pan and sprinkle with herbs. Cook for just a minute or two on each side to turn pink but remain a C shape not an O shape. Remove from the heat promptly to avoid overcooking. (I did some chicken and some shrimp.) Serve the pasta with chicken or shrimp on top and one last drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!
I always need a bit more sauce than I think so keep that pasta water or a splash of broth or more cream. The kids wouldn’t necessarily request this one, but everyone ate enough and I got to have shrimp so, win-win!
This is the epitome of fun pizza toppings as an out-of-the-(pizza)-box. It seems special but includes flavors we love with ingredients we had – crab, cream cheese, crispy wontons and duck sauce! I try to do this for the kids to see flavors in other formats but in all honesty, us grown ups were the most excited.
Crab Rangoon Pizza Ingredients: pizza dough 2 tablespoons softened cream cheese 2 tablespoons heavy cream 1 green onion (or chives) 3/4 cup crab meat/ imitation crab meat, finely chopped 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella ~1 cup crispy wontons (sold near croutons!) 1/4 cup duck sauce
Directions: Let the dough come to room temperature, ~2+ hours from refrigeration or ~4 hours from frozen. Preheat a pizza oven or oven (or grill – though maybe parbake the dough flipping once before topping it.) Whisk together the softened cream cheese, heavy cream, green onion into a sauce. Spread the dough out and top with the sauce, then mozzarella, then crab.
Bake the pizza (ours went into the outdoor pizza oven for 60-90 seconds or in the oven it would take ~30 minutes at 400 degrees). Cook until the crust cooks through and the cheese melts. Once it is cooked, top with the wontons and a drizzle of duck sauce. Enjoy!
We loved this one! This time it was using the filling of some crab rangoons we hadn’t baked yet. Each kid ate a slice though I don’t think they went back for seconds of this one. We usually make 2-3 pizzas from a ball of pizza dough (~12 inch pies) and our others were a veggie one and a sausage & ricotta one.
I’m sure we’ll make it again and I would use leftover crab for crab cakes. Using leftover crab rangoons from a restaurant might be more cream cheesy than crab flavored but go for it! Leftover crispy wontons are great on an Asian-Inspired Burger or Pineapple Coconut Rice Bowls or on soft tacos or onto salad/slaw.
Crispy Fish with Poppyseed Slaw Ingredients: (for 2 servings) 4 breaded fish fillets (I use a variation of these) 2 cups shredded brussels sprouts 1/4 cup dried cranberries 1/4 cup poppyseed dressing 1 tablespoon dijon mustard 1 teaspoon lemon juice 2 pita pockets – optional
Directions: Cook the fish – I airfried mine for 12ish minutes. (They do well in the toaster oven for 15-20 minutes.) While the fish is cooking, mix together the shredded brussels sprouts, cranberries, dressing, dijon, lemon juice.
Serve the crispy fish over the slaw or in a pita with the slaw.
I loved this! It was great to have something I pigeon-hole into one set of flavors in a new way.
The slaw would be great with broccoli slaw, or cabbage, or shredded carrots- whatever you want! I intended to use broccoli slaw but it was sold out. The dressing is my go-to for slaw – coleslaw isn’t a signature dish and this bottled dressing is perfect. I never pick it for a regular salad but it is great to have on hand to mix slaw as needed.
Make your tacos for cinco de mayo and have the remaining fish around for these!
I loooove fish tacos but they’re a dish best served in the moment- they’re not as great as takeout. Making them at home actually works surprisingly well! These scream SUMMER! A little mango cream drizzle was amazing for these! I used frozen breaded fish or grill or sear or bread your own! I tucked some broccoli slaw underneath for a fresh crunch. They were crave-able. I like fish tacos for variety- since I’d be happy to eat tacos weekly and these are easy to make just what you need – for 1 person or we have 4 of us eating them!
Fish Tacos with Mango Sauce
Ingredients: (for 4)
1 cup mango (I used defrosted frozen mango chunks)
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons mayo
1/2 lime juice & zest
8 fish fillets (I used frozen breaded fish)
1 cup slaw
8 pieces of fish
Blend together the mango, sour cream, mayo, zest, lime juice and some pepper in a food processor or blender. Add a splash of water if needed to get it smooth and well mixed.
Chill until serving – can be made ahead of time.
For the tacos, bake or pan fry the fish.
Mix up the slaw and spoon on top of the tortillas. Add the fish on top.
Drizzle with mango sauce and an extra squeeze of lime. Enjoy!
I loved these! The mango sauce was nicely sweet from the mango and enough tartness from the lime to balance it out. Our 5-yr-old ate the slaw separately and dipped into the mango sauce on the side too. The 2-yr-old man-handled her tacos but ate a ton. Fish sticks work well for smaller tacos.
Frozen breaded fish is ideal for me since I hate frying things and it just pops into the toaster oven without much effort! The mango sauce would be great on any fish or on shrimp or on chicken. Avocado would be good on these or they’d be great in a bowl!
Picky eaters? Or is cooking fish daunting? Try these – the crunch makes them approachable and baking them makes it less intimidating. Having them as one filling option on taco night can be fun – or surf and turf with each one getting 1 fish taco and 1 meat taco.
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!