Shrimp Bruschetta with Guacamole

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Obsessed with cooking? Sound familiar? How do you know if you truly have a bonafide cooking obsession? Chances are you know who you are and you know exactly when it hit you. I’d love to hear about it if you want to share. The first time I realized it was when I was making this amazing Bruschetta. My son, Brian, was still in high school and one sunny, summer St. Louis day, he and his pack of buddies were at our house and had come in from our backyard swimming pool for a mid-afternoon refueling. I threw various food choices at them and don’t remember too much except that they seemed to be in good spirits having gotten full and satisfied. I was merrily working along in my kitchen testing this recipe…apparently having tuned out the noise and boys going on around me…when all of a sudden my normally docile son awoke me from my cooking trance by shouting, “MOM, who’s going to EAT that?! WHO are you MAKING that for?!” I was stunned. My mind did eventually start processing… They certainly didn’t need any more food. I wasn’t hungry enough to have more than a piece or two. So how could I justify making up a whole batch of it? It was then that it dawned on me… I am obsessed with cooking. I don’t even need a consumer! I do it for the reasons we all probably do. It’s fun, relaxing, challenging, intriguing, rewarding… It’s also been my way of showing those I love and care about, that… I love and care about them. And might we just consider testing recipes as a little bit of solitary pre-gaming?  I never came up with a quick answer for Brian, but I do know after I got finished with the test run, this Shrimp Bruschetta passed with all sorts of flying colors. The boys ended up finding room in their bursting bellies to devour every single last piece of it while raving and (young and innocently) insisting I open up my own restaurant. In the years that have followed, Brian has asked countless times for me to make this as it holds its rightful place at the very top of our family’s “best of” hors d’oeuvres list. It’s pretty, festive and incredibly delicious. If you want a foolproof, “first to go” party app, this is it… No matter who the party’s for.

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You can use a store bought olive oil spray, or a better option is putting your own olive oil of choice in a Misto sprayer (which I keep handy in the kitchen) to use to spray the bread. (You can also just drizzle olive oil on the bread without a sprayer.) Throw in 375 degree F oven for about 5 minutes or until slightly crisp.

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Cut up your avocados and mix gently in a medium bowl with the lime juice. Cut up the shallot, garlic and mix together gently with the rest of the ingredients in the bowl. Put the bowl in the fridge.

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Saute garlic for about a minute. Then add shrimp. Cook shrimp about 2 minutes per side. Be careful not to overcook (or you’ll end up with shrimp that have the texture of a pencil eraser).

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I use my trusty pigtail flipper to turn the shrimp over in the pan. It makes it so easy…I love my pigtail flipper. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend the investment. It’s also great for flipping chicken and many other foods on the grill.

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Grate your Manchego cheese.

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Place a shrimp or two on your toasted bread, depending on your taste and how large your bread slices are. Top each with about a tablespoon of the cheese and pop under the broiler for a couple of minutes until the cheese melts.

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Grab the avocado mixture from the fridge and top each piece with about a tablespoon of it.

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Shrimp Bruschetta With Guacamole

Southern Living 2006 Cook-Off Finalist

Prep: 35 min., Bake: 6 min., Cook: 10 min., Broil: 2 min.

Ingredients:

24 peeled and deveined, uncooked (raw) fresh or frozen large Shrimp 1 (16-oz.)

French bread baguette

PAM Olive Oil No-Stick Cooking Spray
2 large avocados
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice  (buy a couple of limes)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground Cumin
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon diced shallot
1/4 cup medium salsa
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup freshly grated Manchego cheese  (you find this in the specialty cheese case – you can ask deli person where to find it)
Garnish: 12 fresh cilantro sprigs

Preparation

1. If frozen, thaw shrimp according to package directions. Peel shrimp, and, if desired, devein. Set aside.

2. Cut bread diagonally into 12 (1/2-inch-thick) slices, discarding ends. Coat both sides with cooking spray, and place on a baking sheet.

3. Bake at 375° for 5 to 6 minutes or until edges are crisp. Reserve bread on pan.

4. Peel and coarsely chop avocados, and place in a medium bowl. Add lime juice and next 6 ingredients, and gently combine, being careful to retain small avocado chunks. (Do not mash.) Chill until ready to serve.

5. Sauté garlic in hot oil in a medium skillet over medium heat 1 minute. Add shrimp, in batches, and cook 2 minutes on each side or just until shrimp turn pink. (Shrimp should be slightly undercooked.) Remove from pan, and place 2 shrimp on top of each baguette slice on baking sheet. Top each with 1 Tbsp. Manchego cheese.

6. Broil 5 inches from heat 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven, and top each with 1 to 2 Tbsp. avocado mixture. Garnish, if desired. Serve immediately.

Yield

Makes 12 servings

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