The school year is about to begin! My first day of teacher prep began today, so my casual lifestyle with tons of free time is about to come to an abrupt and unpleasant end. Taking 8 months off from work to take a couple of part time jobs was pretty great. It enabled me to move in to our new house and spend time getting things organized and just like I wanted them, running errands as needed, going to the gym whenever I wanted to, playing with the dog, baking and cooking without time restraints, perusing the Internet at my leisure and blogging whenever I pleased! These days are sadly over. I will miss you, my lazy life.
I must somehow move on to my new life with a positive attitude and a determination to somehow manage a full time job and the rest of the things I need and want to do. Hold on, there are women who have more demanding jobs than I do, AND they have children, AND they’re members of groups and clubs, AND they take care of their house, AND they cook dinner, AND do laundry, AND blog! If they can do it, then measly little me can do it!
I will not allow my new Monday thru Friday, 8-5 (or 6 some days) job keep me from making dinner on the weeknights. I will also not stoop to macaroni and cheese from a box or putting a frozen pizza in the oven. I WILL make real dinner! So, every week I will make, review and blog about quick and easy dinner recipes that can be accomplished by a full time working woman…like I will be as of August 24.
These recipes come from Epicurious Dinner Rush from issues of Gourmet and SELF. They are both quite delicious. The most time consuming thing about them is the chopping and prep. I modified the quinoa recipe quite a bit after speaking with my wiser and younger sister, Sarah, who told me that the preparation of the quinoa in the actual recipe was a bit ridiculous. I hadn’t ever used quinoa before, so I thought the process of washing it 5 times in cold water, cooking for 10 minutes in boiling water and then steaming it in a sieve for 10 minutes above the boiling water was normal! Turns out, all you have to do is cook the quinoa as you would rice. Hooray! That little change made this dish much faster.
There is a recipe for lime and cumin dressing that goes with the salad, but I didn’t use it. Instead of the olive oil based dressing, I simply tossed the salad with lime juice, cumin and some kosher salt. I found the salad to be incredibly light and refreshing. I thought about adding chopped tomatoes, but opted not to this time. It would be delicious, though, so I may try it next time. Here is the original recipe.
Shrimp is always a good choice for a quick meal. Shrimp cooks quickly, just 2-3 per side, in a hot skillet. The mango sauce has a great combination of flavors. Sweet, spicy and perfect with the shrimp. I served the sauce warm, but it would be good chilled also. Here is the recipe from epicurious.
I served this meal with a few warmed corn tortillas, so Ben made shrimp tacos. I liked it better without the tortillas, Ben liked his taco version better. I think he likes when all the components of a meal come together in a nice little package. He likes burritos, sandwiches, pizza, stromboli, lasagna, enchiladas, chimichangas and always seems to mix the food on his plate into a new casserole type dish.
This is a fairly quick recipe, and definitely a good choice for a weeknight dinner.
Shrimp with Mango Sauce
Gourmet, Makes 4 servings
- 4 tsp canola oil
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1 mango, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/3 cup cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 lb large shrimp, peeled, tails on
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder (I used 1 teaspoon of minced garlic)
- Heat 2 tsp oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Cook onion, garlic, ginger, 1/4 tsp salt, allspice, cumin and cinnamon about 3 minutes.
- Add mango, vinegar, lime juice and sugar and gently boil, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thick; refrigerate in a bowl.
- Toss shrimp with red pepper, garlic and remaining 1/2 tsp salt.
- Heat remaining 2 tsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook shrimp until no longer translucent, about 2 minutes on each side. Let cool; serve with sauce.
Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
Adapted from Gourmet | July 1994
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish
- 3/4 cups quinoa (small disk-shaped seeds)*
- 1 cup black beans, rinsed if canned
- 1 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup corn (canned or fresh)
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
- 1/2 fresh jalapeno, minced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 2-3 tablespoons lime juice
- salt, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin, or to taste
- In a saucepan bring 1 3/4 cup water to a boil.
- Add quinoa and cook for 15 minutes on medium low heat. Check that quinoa is cooked through.
- While quinoa is cooking, in a small bowl toss beans with vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and cool.
- Add beans, corn, bell pepper, jalapeños, and coriander and toss well.
- Add lime juice, salt and cumin and taste. Adjust all these flavorings as needed.