Monthly Archives: November 2012

Lime Shrimp Pasta Salad

I’m not sure why, but I can never follow a recipe. Either I don’t have all the ingredients and I’m too lazy to get them, or I think “Hmm, I could make this better..” Whatever it is, recipes serve as an inspiration, not a diagram for me and I’m okay with that.

One of my favorite places for recipe inspiration is . My favorite feature is the “ingredients” section where you can type in what you have (and what you don’t have) and it suggests recipes for you. LOVE IT! It has saved my tired recipe brain many a time.

The other night I wanted something different and simple and I came across this recipe: Lime-Shrimp Avocado Pasta Salad and I thought it looked delicious. I started by halving the recipe and then just using whatever amounts of other ingredients I had on hand.

The recipe is simple: lime, shrimp, pasta, avocado, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, green onions and spinach (my addition). Then top with a mustard vinaigrette. Easy peasy.

 Here’s what I did. I took my frozen shrimp (medium, raw, tail off, peeled & deveined) threw them in a bowl (still frozen) added about 2 tsp Olive Oil…

..and about 1 Tbs Lime Juice. I mixed them around a bit and let them sit while I chopped the other ingredients:

Meanwhile, I chopped up 1 avocado, half a pint of cherry tomatoes, two green onions,  4 springs of cilantro (all I had left) and I took two handfuls of spinach, lined them up and sliced them into matchsticks.

Mm, I love how fresh and delicious that all looks! Now is when you would put your pasta on to cook. I used spaghetti but you could use penne or any kind you like.

Once the shrimp had thawed, I drained the excess liquid and tossed them into a hot frying pan with about 2 tsp of olive oil (add more if needed). I gave a quick dash of salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika (I didn’t measure I just did a quick sprinkle across all of them like you would with salt). I fried them until they had little golden brown bits and were opaque, about 3 mins.

Dressing: I sadly did not have the Worcestershire sauce the original recipe requires (I blame our recent move) so I just did 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp mustard powder, 1 Tbsp lime juice, salt, pepper, and a dash of Rice Wine Vinegar:

Once all the pieces were prepared I assembled them all in a giant bowl to mix, and poured on the dressing just before serving. The noodles were still hot so they absorbed the dressing:

I did a quick toss and served it up to my very hungry hubby!

It was a quick, easy and oh so very delicious weeknight meal. Next time I would try adding the Worcestershire sauce to the dressing, or try adding balsamic vinegar. Give both versions a try and let me know what you think!

My Version:


1 lbs shrimp

1/2 box Spaghetti

1 Avocado, diced

1/2 Pint Cherry Tomatoes, sliced

1 Tbsp Fresh Cilantro, chopped

2 Green onions, diced

1 Handful spinach, sliced into matchsticks

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp Lime juice, divided

4 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided

1/2 tsp mustard powder

Salt and Pepper to taste

Garlic Powder


Rice Wine Vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, or Balsamic Vinegar (All Optional)


1. Marinate frozen shrimp with 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp lime juice for 30 mins, set aside. Chop cherry tomatoes, green onion, spinach, avocado and cilantro and set aside.

2. Cook spaghetti according to box instructions (usually 6 to 8 mins). Meanwhile heat skillet with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Drain marinated shrimp of excess liquid and toss in frying pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder. Cook until shrimp has little brown bits and is opaque about 3-5 mins depending on the size of your shrimp.

3. In a small bowl mix 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp lime juice, 1 Tbsp dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp mustard powder and a dash of rice wine vinegar (or Worcestershire sauce), whisk. Adjust to taste.

4. Drain the pasta and put in a large bowl, add in avocado, tomatoes, spinach, green onion, cilantro and shrimp. Add dressing, mix and serve.

Original Inspiration: Lime-Shrimp Avocado Pasta Salad



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Holiday French Toast with Poached Pears

I’ve been longing for the cooler weather of fall since our move to Texas. Thankfully, last Saturday we woke up to a cool morning and the pressing question of what deliciousness to have for breakfast. I decided to combine two things that I have loved since I was a kid — Eggnog and Pears!

Now that might not sound appealing at first, but let me show you how delicious these two things turned out to be. (Bear with my photographs, I am still learning the art of food photography! Think 10x’s more yummy than it looks…okay maybe 100x’s and you’ll be at the same level of awesomeness as this French Toast!)

First I combined about a cup and a half of water with half a cup of sugar and a splash of vanilla extract, I then put in the peeled pear halves:

I let these simmer gently for about 15 to 20 mins as I prepped and cooked the French Toast. I would suggest only poaching for 10 mins instead — mine were on the soft side.

In a bowl I combined one egg 1.5 Tbs of Milk, 1 Tbs Eggnog, 1/2 Tsp Cinnamon and 1/2 Tsp Nutmeg and whisked until frothy. I dipped my pieces of bread in the mixture and thoroughly soaked them on each side, then placed them in a hot frying pan with melted butter:

I used whole wheat bread and then, since my hubby was hungry, I cut up some french bread rolls we had (which is why you see the funny shaped bread here). I fried them until they were nice and golden brown on both sides.

Meanwhile, I took the pears out and set them to the side and continued to reduce the pear infused syrup on the stove (about 20 mins). Then I placed the french bread on a plate, sliced the pears and placed them on top, and drizzled the whole thing with  the pear syrup. Before I could get my camera to take a picture of my masterpiece, my hubby had devoured half of it, so here’s what it looked like after he had enjoyed most of it:


As I said before, multiply this times 100x and you’ll see the deliciousness allll over it! I hope you’ll give this, or a variation of it, a try. It was the perfect cool morning breakfast and got me in the mood for the holidays. Even put some cute pumpkins on my mantel. Now we’re ready for fall!

What’s your favorite cool-weather breakfast?


1.5 Cups water

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Bartlett Pear, peeled, cored and halved.

1 Egg

1/2 tsp Nutmeg

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1 Tbs Eggnog

1.5 Tbs Milk

4 Pieces of bread (any kind you like)

2 Tbs Butter


1. Combine water, vanilla and sugar into a sauce pot and bring to a simmer. Place pears cut side down and let simmer for 10 mins. Remove after 10 mins and set aside, continue to let the sugar water mixture simmer and reduce to a syrup, about 20 more mins.

2. Meanwhile, combine egg, milk, eggnog, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl and whisk until frothy. Heat 1 Tbs butter in a sauté pan. Dip the bread slices one at a time into the egg/milk mixture, until coated evenly on both sides. Let the excess drain off, and place in the hot frying pan. Cook on med-high heat until golden brown on each side, about 1-2 mins each side (keep an eye on it).

3. Slice the poached pears thinly. Place the french toast on a plate and top with sliced pears and a drizzle of pear infused syrup. Enjoy!

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When you marry a pilot, you marry his love of flying. That means pointing out airplanes you see in the sky, because if he found out you saw it and didn’t tell him, he’ll be sad and wonder what other cool things you’ve made him miss. It means waking up early on a Saturday to go to a grass strip and fly tail draggers and spending the rest of the day remembering how fun it was. And it means, that his day job isn’t always in the daytime and when I hear that deep rumble of the B-1 Bomber taking off, I know that my man is once again in the air, where he loves to be. That is what marrying my kind of pilot means. And I love it.

While my husband loves all things with wings, I’ll be quite honest here and say that  flying small planes makes me woozy. I spend the flight hanging on to the seat in front of me and trying to look at the horizon. I squeeze out a smile when my man looks back at me with his “Isn’t this the greatest experience of your whole life?” smile. While I don’t mind flying, and I think it’s quite beautiful, the swaying is my Achilles heel. So, after our last bumpy flight I had to break it to my wonderful husband that flying, at least in light aircraft, just might not be my thing. And before he could say “That’s the meanest thing you’ve ever said to me!” (his heart is airplane shaped, one must tread carefully) I said “BUT, I would love to photograph you flying and then you can have pictures of all the wonderful planes you’ve flown!” That perked him up again and he said “Okay I like that.” and after a moment, “But we should try flying again when it isn’t so bumpy…” I smiled and put my head back. I love my pilot.


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The Starbucks Connection

Starbucks has a special place in my heart, but not for the reasons you might think. I will admit it took me about three years to stop saying “We” when referring to Starbucks — yes, I was a Starbucks employee, and a good one to boot! But their overpriced coffee and “anyway you like it” mind-set isn’t what makes my heart warm at the sound or sight of Starbucks. It’s simply that whenever I see a Starbucks it reminds me of my three best friends.

Ellyn, Tamara & Tiffany all came into my life in high school (well Ellyn and I met as Brownies, but we’ll leave those stories for later). Ellyn was the “glue that binds” so to speak, and we all formed friendships with each other through her. Little did I know at the time that these three women would be the solid, immovable friends that would carry me through life’s highs and lows.

In high school and then into college we spent HOURS at Starbucks. It wasn’t uncommon for us to sit there for four hours, chatting about life, discussing where we thought we would be in 5 or 10 years, and digging into each other’s lives in a way that we’d let few others do. These are the women that would answer my call in the middle of the night and just listen (don’t know if I ever did that, but I’m sure they would pick up if I did), they are the ones that can take a genuine look into my life and ask “Are you really okay?” The best friends stick by you no matter what — they know that when all is said and done you are FOR them, and that’s what counts. Even when we mess up and hurt each other, we know that after it’s all sorted out we will be just as close as before, if not more. I know, because we’ve been through it.

Now, many years after high school (no need to specify how many), we are living in three different states, some of us have babies (just one of us really, but we’re all quite proud) we still talk, not as frequently as we’d like, and we still share our lives, the big and small events. We know that three other people in this world are FOR us and FOR each other. We know that we’ll always have those hours at Starbucks together, and we know the beauty, the blessing and the incredible honor of having not one, but three best friends.

Thank you Starbucks, for letting us sit in your chairs for hours at a time — it changed our lives.

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I Made Earrings!

It’s true, I did it! I have never thought of myself as a crafty person, not because I lack creativity but because I lack patience. If I can’t finish it in one sitting and proudly show off my results, it probably just won’t happen. Is this a good quality? No, but at least I know myself, so that’s something!

Now to the earrings!  I was Pinterest’ing one day and came across this tutorial on Eat Breathe Design by Heidi. I was inspired. But true to me, I purchased all the wrong stuff and was still determined to succeed! I dutifully followed Heidi’s instructions and came up with two very novice looking earrings (see below). After much wire and trials and fails I came up withe a modified version that I was happy with.

Check out Heidi’s tutorial here on Eat Breathe Design first, then you can see my changes below.

As I said before I am a novice at crafts so I didn’t have the fancy wire tools that Heidi had in her blog, so I improvised:

I bought bags of beads for $1 at Wal-Mart and put together these two — so purty!

I tried to do the neat wrap that Heidi did but because my beads were oval (she said not to use oval but I did…) it didn’t turn out quite like her photographs:

So I did a simple wrap up the side of the bead, one wrap around the space between the big bead and the small bead, then wrap up the side of the small bead and finish by wrapping around the top twist (that made sense right?):

 And Voila! My earrings!

These have a much better chance of shouting “You made this yourself??” I’ll have them practice before Christmas.

Check out more jewelry designs at Eat Breathe Design and be inspired!


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The Question of Sushi

I love sushi, but I do not love the price tag. When my husband and I go for sushi we can easily drop $40 before drinks. I don’t know about you, but that’s not a habit I can keep up. And so, inevitably, there became: The Question of Sushi. It’s quite simple: How can I eat sushi whenever I want and still keep house and home?

The answer came one day as I was walking through the commissary — there in the “Asian” aisle I saw Nori. “Nori…” I thought to myself, “I wonder if I could MAKE sushi…” I pondered it hopefully, made a few google searches and finally one day at Wal-Mart I made the decision. I bought Nori ($2.50), Imitation Crab ($2.50), Wasabi ($1.50) and Cucumber ($.15), came home, opened up my trusty lap top and asked the internet “What can I make with this?” And the internet answered: Spicy Crab Sushi. The following is my excursion into basic American Sushi making. If you’relooking for the super-duper fancy stuff, well I’m not there yet and neither is my budget. But for those frequent sushi cravings, this sure hits the spot!

Spicy Crab Sushi

The Ingredients:

6-7 pieces of Nori

3-4 Imitation Crab Legs (Aquaman)

3 Tbs Mayonnaise

1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper OR 1tsp Sriracha Sauce

2 Green Onions, minced

1/2 Cucumber, peeled, sliced thinly

1 Cup cooked Jasmine rice

Sesame Seeds (optional)

Wasabi (optional)

The first item of business is to cook the rice. After you get that going on the stove or a fancy rice maker, start in on the Cucumber — first, peel it & core it so it looks like this:

Then slice it into match sticks. The precise size is up to you, but they shouldn’t be too thick. Cut the crab into inch size pieces and slice and dice the green onions:

Shred the crab and mix with, green onions, mayonnaise and cayenne (or sriracha):

Now that the filling is mixed, you’ll need to prepare your counter for sushi rolling. I use a cutting board, and plastic wrap. Lay the plastic wrap flat on the counter, behind it have your cutting board with the Nori — this is where the fun happens:

I am doing an “outside roll” which means that the rice will be on the outside instead of the inside. I carefully smooth a layer of rice across the Nori, covering as much as I can. I took to using a wooden spoon instead of my fingers. If you chose to do it by hand, make sure you have a bowl of water to dip your fingers in to make sure the rice doesn’t stick to you:

Once the Nori is covered you may sprinkle sesame seeds across the rice if you like. Next,  I carefully flip it, rice-side down, onto the plastic wrap:

Now it’s time to place the filling. I take about 1Tbs of the spicy crab mixture and place it 1/2 inch from the edge. Then I place a piece of cucumber on either side (so the crab doesn’t get lonely):

Now it’s time to roll! Carefully lift the edge of the plastic wrap, and begin rolling the sushi. Make sure to  pull out the plastic wrap as you go. Roll it as tightly as you can, but be careful not to push out the filling from the sides:

Once it’s rolled, slice it into three pieces and voila, there’s your Sushi!

You can make other variations, add or take away whatever you like, but this is the basic concept of sushi making. I like to serve with soy sauce (diluted with a dash of water) and the tiniest bit of wasabi. Delicious!

Here is another variation I did with smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber. Same idea only I did this as an inside roll — lay out the rice on the Nori as usual, then just place the ingredients on top of the rice and roll. Simple and oh so scrumptious!

I hope that this inspires you to try your own sushi creations at home. Save money and have a fun night in with the hubby!

Full Recipe & Instructions for my version here:

Makes 6-7 small rolls (3 pieces each)


  • 6-7 pieces of Nori (hand roll size)
  • 3 Aquaman Imitation Crab logs (Leg Style Crab Flavored Seafood)
  • 3 Tbs Mayonnaise
  • ½ tsp Cayenne Pepper (or Sriracha sauce)
  • 2 Green onions minced
  • ½ Cucumber, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 cup cooked rice (jasmine, or fancy sushi rice)
  • Sesame Seeds (optional)


  1. Cook rice according to package directions.
  2. Cut the crab into inch size pieces and then shred. Add mayonnaise, cayenne pepper and minced green onions, mix and set aside.
  3. Peel, core and slice the cucumber, set aside.
  4. Lay one piece of Nori flat on your work surface. Spread cooked rice across the Nori to cover. Have water to dip your fingers in to help the rice from sticking to your fingers. When Nori is covered, sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  5. Lay out a piece of plastic wrap on your work surface, flip the Nori rice side down onto the plastic wrap. Take about one Tbs of the crab mixture and lay across the short end of the Nori. Then put a slice of cucumber on either side of the crab mixture.
  6. Use the plastic wrap to help you roll the sushi. Lift it up and begin to roll – gently pull out the plastic wrap as you roll so that it doesn’t get caught in the sushi. Roll as tightly as you can without squeezing out the filling.
  7. Carefully slice the sushi into pieces and serve.

NOTE: Serve with soy sauce and wasabi to dip.

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Welcome to Notions & Nibbles!

I am a novice photographer and an admittedly ambitious home cook. I was recently inspired to try my hand at photography after many years of being captivated by the stories that pictures can tell. I thought I would combine my two loves, food and photos and start a blog to share my adventures in each.


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