Cheddar Shrimp Nachos

I have found the perfect appetizer.  These are cheesy, spicy, shrimp-y, crunchy, and delicious.  Plus, I have to admit, they look so very pretty.  All of the colors are very festive.  They would be perfect for a party setting.

I made dinner last night for Zack and my dad.  These were the first thing I added to the menu.

This is actually the second time that I’ve made these for my dad and Zack.  They have raved about them both times.

I am not the biggest fan of appetizers as a general rule, but these are extremely easy to make and I highly recommend them.

Don’t ya want a bite? 😉

Cheddar Shrimp Nachos

Prep: 15 minutes.  Total: 17 minutes.

– 2 tablespoons Italian dressing, divided

– 1 lb frozen cooked, cleaned medium shrimp, thawed

– 1 red pepper, chopped

– 1 tablespoon blackened seasoning

– 6 cups tortilla chips

– 1 package (8 oz) shredded triple cheese with a touch of Philadelphia

– 1 green onion, chopped (optional)

– 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

– 1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced

Heat large cast iron skillet on high heat until it is very hot and starts to smoke.  Add 1 tablespoon dressing, shrimp, red peppers and seasoning; cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until shrimp is heated through and evenly coated with dressing mixture.  Stir in remaining dressing.

Cover large dish or platter with layers of half each of the chips, shrimp mixture, and cheese.  Repeat layers.

Microwave on HIGH 1-2 minutes or until cheese is melted, rotating plate after each minute (or, if your plate is too big for your microwave, put it in the oven at about 200 degrees until the cheese is melted).  Top with onions, cilantro, and jalapeno.


Slow Cooker Shrimp and Chicken Jambalaya

New Orleans was my favorite place for years (it was only recently beat out my Seattle).  I’ve been there 3 times and I plan to go more.  It’s kind of strange how much I like New Orleans, because I’m not into drinking.  I just really like the Cajun people and their lifestyle.  As a general rule, they are very friendly (and have such a wonderful accent!).  I also really like the architecture in New Orleans, especially in the French Quarter.

As a fan of spicy food, New Orleans is the perfect place for me.  They love spicing up everything and the Cajun-style of cooking is so great! I could go there and do nothing but eat.  I decided to bring home a little bit of that cooking style and try my hand at some Jambalaya.  Turns out I’m not half bad at it 😉

Since I’m feeling so nostalgic, I am going to include some pictures from the last time I went to New Orleans, back in 2009.

Mmm, mmm, good.

Crayfish! My dad sampled some of these, but neither Zack or I were brave enough to.  I’ve heard they’re actually really good, though.

Zack and I with the Mississippi River in the background.  We were there in November and it was freezing!

Here’s Zack holding a baby alligator on a swamp tour that we went on.

I do not look too happy to be holding an alligator! Oh, and that’s my dad in the background.  I look a lot like him.

Okay, back to the good stuff.  Here’s the Jambalaya in the slow cooker before the shrimp and rice have been added.  The colors are so pretty!

Slow Cooker Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya

Yield: 6 servings

– 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces

– 3 celery stalks, chopped

– 1 green bell pepper, chopped

– 2 onions, chopped

– 3 garlic cloves, minced

– 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes, undrained

– 1 tablespoon sugar

– 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves

– 1/2 tsp dried basil leaves

– 1/2 cup instant brown rice, uncooked

– 1 lb frozen cooked shrimp, thawed

Combine all ingredients except rice and shrimp in a slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours, until chicken is cooked through.  Stir in rice, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until tender.  Add shrimp, stir, cover and cook an additional 3-5 minutes, or until heated through.


BBQ Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

Once again, my love of grilling comes into play.  I don’t eat pork or beef, but Zack loved these! I tried just the shrimp part and they were yummy.

I think these would be good for a picnic/barbecue.  Plus, food on skewers is not only cute, but also fun to make!

BBQ Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp

1 lb. bacon, thin center-cut style

2 tsp sweet paprika

½ tsp cayenne pepper

½ tsp curry powder

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1½ lbs large shrimp (20-25 count), shelled, deveined, tails left on or off (your preference)

1. Cut the slices of bacon in half. In a large heavy skillet, partially cook the bacon over moderate heat to render some of the fat without allowing the pieces to crisp. Remove the slices as they are done and drain on paper towels. They will still be flobby and look unappetizing. They need to be soft so you can wrap them around the shrimp, and you will finish cooking them on the grill.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the paprika, cayenne, curry powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Stir in the olive oil, sugar and lemon juice. Add the shrimp and partially cooked bacon and toss well to coat. Let marinate at room temperature for 30-60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Meanwhile, warm your grill. Remove shrimp from marinade, reserving for later use. Wrap a half slice of bacon around each shrimp and thread on a skewer. Overlap the ends of the bacon on the tummy of the shrimp, poking the skewer through that point and out through the back. You can also use a toothpick to individually secure the bacon.

4. Place the skewers on a sheet pan covered with aluminum foil and drizzle the remainder of the marinade over the shrimp.

5. Brush your grill rack with a little oil. Grill the skewers for about 5 minutes, or until bacon begins to crisp. Turn skewers over and grill until bacon is browner, and shrimp is opaque throughout. Serve hot or warm.