Category Archives: Mexican

Guest Post: Introducing Caitlin

As promised, I am expanding Shallots Web to include a new series of guest posts and I am so pleased to announce that my first one comes from my friend and personal trainer, Caitlin Akey! As you’ll see below, most of Caitlin’s personal philosophy about food agrees with my own, and she’s taught me a lot about how to focus on good food choices and making healthy eating another part of my plan to live better. Enjoy!


My name is Caitlin, I’m a Certified Personal Trainer in Chicago, and I like to eat! My eating philosophy is pretty simple: I eat what I want. I mainly shop for fresh fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. I try to cook the majority of my meals at home. I don’t like to cut whole food groups out of my diet. I make food that is healthy and delicious. And when I want to eat something that may not be the best for me, I do so in moderation. I don’t live my life on a diet, but instead live my life making healthy choices that will have a lasting impact on my health.

My cooking philosophy is simple. Actually it’s so simple that anyone can do it. Two years ago, the only spices I had in my cupboard were salt and pepper. I didn’t really know how to cook anything and figured that, since I was single, there was really no point to cook for one. I ate boring, bland food and didn’t enjoy many of my meals at home. Then one day, I finally pulled out the crockpot that had made three moves with me and decided to try an easy crockpot meal. MIND BLOWN! I bought some basic spices and the rest is history!

So here today I’m sharing one of my favorite simple crockpot recipes, Chicken Burrito Bowls. I don’t know about you, but I like Chipotle, and this homemade version hits the spot!

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt and pepper (to taste)
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
One 15oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
One 14oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups instant whole grain brown rice, quinoa, or other grain
1/2 shredded cheese (I prefer low-sodium white cheeses like mozzarella)


  • Place chicken in slow cooker
  • Add chicken broth, tomatoes, olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper; stir
  • Cook on low for 4 hours
  • Remove the chicken from the slow cooker
  • Turn heat on high and add brown rice and black beans; cook for 30-45 minutes or until rice is tender
  • Add chicken back into crockpot, top with cheese and let cook a few minutes
  • Add your favorite toppings: greek yogurt, avocado, green onion, tomatoes, etc


For more information on what I like to cook check me out:

❤ Caitlin

New Chicken Corn Chowder

New Chicken Corn Chowder

New Chicken Corn Chowder

I started making this chowder a while ago, when I missed the chicken corn chowder that was ubiquitous in central Pennsylvania; even my alma mater, Dickinson College, had a version they served on a regular basis. My guess is that the strong Amish influence dictates this soup’s presence on the menus of restaurants in that part of the country. Not all versions are good. Some end up looking and tasting like creamed corn with small pieces of chicken here and there. Truthfully, most iterations are pretty bland, but comforting all the same.

When the first course was served at the Outstanding in the Field meal, (see post, “Simply Outstanding“) I was pleased to see Mindy Segal’s refined take on corn chowder make it to our plate. It was velvety, rich, and served with a perfectly seasoned (and cooked) slice of sausage in the center of the dish. Immediately, my brain started taking notes on how I would turn this elegant appetizer into a hearty meal – something I do quite often, I guess. Essentially, the result is a hybrid of chef Segal’s version and the chowder from my college days. I took cues from the flavors I noted in her soup, most importantly, the fresh coriander that we saw growing in the garden around us. Though I did not have access to the fresh version, the dried coriander seed I had in my cupboard was a good stand-in. Beyond this, I knew that fresh corn was a must, as well as good chicken stock.

For the sausage component, I thought about using Andouille, but decided that I wanted something less smoky and with a little more kick, so settled on Chorizo. Now, I know that there are two kinds of Chorizo available, but I had only worked with the dry, Portugese variety before this. I was a stranger to Mexican Chorizo before this adventure, but I think that the results were pretty good. The texture is very different from dry Chorizo – more like a mousse or a pate. In keeping with Mindy’s inspiration, I kept it separate for serving, which worked really well for the presentation.

As an accompaniment, I decided to draw a little more freshness out of the coriander/cilantro flavor (coriander is just the seed of cilantro) and make a spread out of goat cheese and cilantro to serve on little toasts. I like something with crunch to go with soup, and with no actual cream in the soup, goat cheese seemed like a good compliment. The coolness of the coriander cut the heat of the sausage, too. All in all, I think this was a pretty successful reinterpretation, and a good soup to transition into the autumn months.

Let me know what you think!

Fish Tacos

Fish Taco

Fish Taco

Whenever I think about making tacos, I start to imagine what people from my childhood used to do for “taco night,” and I shudder a little.  I just picture walking into the supermarket, picking up a box of stale taco shells, a packet of seasoning, and some fatty ground beef.  Don’t get me wrong, I think my taste buds are doing a little dance right now thinking about that spicy grease dribbling down my chin, but my ticker just slowed a little at the prospect of that dinner.  Equally frightening and tasty are some of the traditional Mexican preparations of fish tacos, which often incorporate fried chunks of firm whitefish with soft tortillas and a spicy, creamy sauce.  When our lovely friend recently suggested we make Fish Tacos together for dinner one night, I envisioned the cast iron filled with peanut oil and admittedly balked.  I decided that there must be a way to make them without frying, surely.  On a whim, I reviewed some recipes on Epicurious and found a good number that used firm fish sauteed, then flaked into small pieces.  The key, it seemed, was a brief marinating period before cooking.  With a chunky Avocado-Mango Guacsa (not to get too Rachael Ray on you with the hybrid word), I didn’t think anyone would miss the creamy sauce, or the frying, for that matter.  The result?  A pretty incredible dinner.  Our party was quite pleased and it wasn’t long before we were making them again!