Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My happy place is often in the kitchen.  While I am under no delusions that I will be the next Top Chef, it’s certainly a nice daydream.  The chopping and stirring have a calming effect on my psyche.  At infrequent intervals I’ve successfully made stuffed Cornish games hens, Chilaquiles, cakes from scratch, and the secret-recipe Italian “gravy.”   

But, when work got demanding I didn’t have the time or energy for that sort of thing and abandoned cooking altogether.  I was just the cook that busted out one great meal every 6 months…and I felt guilty about this.  It was as if I was somehow failing my loved ones if I couldn’t delight them with elaborate meals (maybe this is the Southern girl in me).  On occasion, I threw together something simple but it felt like cheating.

Recently, two of my cousins got married within two weeks.  For both of their wedding showers, the host requested a recipe to get the bride started in her new marriage.  As I searched through my files I realized the recipe I most wanted to pass along was a simple but delicious turkey chili.  It was the perfect recipe-easily located ingredients, impossible to screw up, healthy, and 40 minutes start to finish.  

This is when I had an epiphany…it’s not the gourmet meals made on special occasions that define a cook.  You’re most remembered by loved ones for the staples eaten week after week.  When business travel forced me into too many airport salads, I didn’t miss Cornish game hens.  I missed that turkey chili.  Or, these spicy shrimp tacos.

Tex-Mex Shrimp Tacos

1 pound shrimp
I buy frozen bags from Whole Foods so it’s always on hand when I need it.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, diced
6 corn tortillas
1 avocado, sliced thinly
1/2 cup shredded Jack cheese
1 lime, cut into 6 slices

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat.
Add shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes
The shrimp are done when they turn pink-anything longer will make them tough and dry.
Add 1-4 peppers and sauce to desired taste-these are very hot. 
Heat all ingredients together for 2-3 minutes.
In a separate skillet while the shrimp are cooking, heat tortillas until just warm.
Top each tortilla with shrimp, sauce, shredded cheese, and sliced avocado.
Squeeze one lime slice on top of each taco.


These are the effortless things that make it feel like home.