Sweet and spicy make a great couple. A little heat without burning lips can make for an excellent winter dinner. It's a great way to warm up without piling on the blankets or laying on your pets for warmth, though they are cute and cuddly.
Let's start with a simple marinade you can use on just about anything -- chicken, fish, seafood, beef, anything.
Sweet and Spicy Marinade:
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1+ tablespoon teaspoons Sriracha or chile paste
1 tablespoon honey
Whisk everything together in a small bowl. Remember, if you aren't so excited about the spicy half of our lovely couple, you can always start with half of the Sriracha or chili paste and add more to taste. Add more honey if you have gone overboard and your finger caught fire just dipping it to taste-test.
To use, marinate your meat of choice for 20 to 30 minutes before baking or grilling.
Well, now what do we do with it? Make up a batch of the marinade and use half to marinate 2-4 chicken thighs. Use the remaining marinade to baste the thighs as you grill them up. They come out like giant, delicious hot wings sans the fryer. Serve with brown rice and veggies and you have a complete meal.
After we feasted on the chicken thighs, I remembered a menu item from a restaurant I used to work in, one of my dad's favorites. The original recipe was fried chicken and shrimp sauteed in a spicy-sweet sauce over a pile of butter-cream pasta. Sounds delicious right? Of course it does, but we can all hear our arteries clogging and can only imagine how much extra we would have to work out just seriously considering eating it for dinner.
Let's not go there, let's have an alternative.
Kickin' Shrimp and Pasta:
1 batch of Sweet and Spicy marinade
1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2-3 cups whole wheat penne pasta
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded, plus more for garnish if desired
1/4 cup plain non-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt
1/4 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Toss shrimp with half of the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions.
Heat saute pan over medium heat and add the remaining marinade. Scoop the shrimp out of the marinade and add to the pan, discard the first half of the marinade. Cook until the shrimp are done, they should be curled and opaque.
Drain the pasta and toss with Parmesan cheese, stirring until cheese begins to melt. Stir in yogurt, milk and garlic and continue stirring until the cheese has melted. Serve the shrimp over the pasta with plenty of both sauces.