an oldie but a goodie.

Hello, friends!  Leaving Florida and coming home to a freezing Atlanta was a bit tough, but I hardly had time to mope about it.  I attended a meeting with a local radio station 30 minutes after I got home!  It has been a busy and awesome week for Plan to Plate!  I welcomed several more new clients this week and spent my time planning, shopping, and cooking up a storm.  I’m really getting into the swing of things now, and I’m so loving it.

As I’ve told you before, receiving positive emails and texts from clients always puts a giant smile on my face.  Here are a few highlights that have made me grin recently:

“That pasta dish is incredible!  Relatively easy to prepare and it hit the spot.”  WW

“Last night I made the flank steak and veggies.  What can I say- it was FANTASTIC!  I have never had veggies taste that great…My husband loves ginger and it tasted like restaurant quality with all the taste sensations.  You must be an incredible chef.”  RH

“Soup was delicious!”  DC

“Wow!  That [stuff] was gooooooood ala Ashli!”  (re: Mexican Chicken ala Ashli) JB

Hooray!  There’s nothing better than knowing people are creating and enjoying delicious meals courtesy of Plan to Plate!   

Coming soon:  I will take you through my culinary adventures in Florida!  I took loads of photos, and I’m looking forward to sharing with you.

For now, an oldie but a goodie- Caesar salad with blackened shrimp.  

It’s a classic that you find in restaurants all over America- including super fancy steakhouses.  The only problem is that in some restaurants, a Caesar Salad can have over 1,000 calories!!!!  Do not be fooled.  Finding the word salad in the title of a dish will not necessarily lead you to healthy, low calorie foods.

The beautiful thing about cooking in your home is that you get to control the ingredients.  Rather than frying chicken and croutons and using tons of butter, mayonnaise and cheese, this version has blackened shrimp cooked in a bit of olive oil, baked croutons, extra veggies, and only small amounts of cheese and mayonnaise.

It all starts off with items that you probably have in your home.

Well, maybe you don’t have anchovy paste in your fridge.  But you should!  Don’t be scared.  I know that anchovies are kinda hairy and creepy to look at when they are whole, but in a paste, I don’t mind them at all.  I am confident that their flavor is a key component to delectable Caesar dressing, so I buy the tube and I can store it easily without any mess.

All of the goodies above went into our mini food processor for a spin.  

and got sprinkled with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  If you have been using the can of crumbled Parmesan cheese, try buying a hunk of fresh Parmesan and experience the difference.  I bet you won’t go back!

Next, it was time to focus on the croutons.

Making your own croutons is a cinch!  I just cut a few pieces of bread into bite-sized squares.  I like to use a few different kinds of bread so I have a variety of tastes and textures.  It makes things more interesting.  Then, I just tossed them in a bit of olive oil, some dried Italian seasoning, granulated garlic and onion, and a tad bit of cheese.  You can easily vary the ingredients you use to season your croutons depending on the theme of your salad.  Then, I baked them off in the oven until they were a lovely golden brown.

I was seriously craving fresh, crisp vegetables.  So I chopped up some carrots, cucumbers, a Roma tomato and the traditional romaine lettuce. 

I also added some larger slivers of parmesan cheese to add a big punch of flavor.

Last but certainly not least, it was time to cook up the shrimp.  I seasoned them simply with Old Bay and paprika.

Shrimp is a quick-cooking protein, which makes it a great option for a weeknight dinner. 

Just a few minutes in a hot pan and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Last step- time to dress the salad.  I always start with less dressing than I think I’ll need.  It’s much easier to add more dressing than it is to deal with an overdressed soggy mess.  If you are trying to really watch what you eat, you can always just serve your dressing on the side and dunk your salad as you go.  You could also skip the mayonnaise and just use olive oil instead.

Voila!  With every bite of this dish, I was mmm-ing.  I loved the clean crispness of the vegetables and hearts of romaine.  The croutons had just the right amount of crunch on the outside and that perfect chewy center.  The shrimp were cooked just right and had great flavor.  The Parmesan cheese was a star.

So, remember to get back to the classics in your own kitchen this week.  You control the ingredients and the flavor.  Rely on yourself and your own tools to create your dinner- you don’t have to buy foods full of preservatives, fat and calories.  Make your food taste bold and amazing without weighing you down. 


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