Easy Make-Ahead Shrimp Cocktail

This is such an easy recipe and it really frees up your time so you can enjoy your guests since it can be made ahead of time.

You can either poach your own shrimp or do what I do and buy them precooked.

Then all you have to do is just portion out some commercial bottled cocktail sauce into pretty little glass shot glasses or these disposable ones, add a shrimp with the tail hanging over the edge and a lemon wedge on the rim and/or a pretty snip of fresh dill.  

An even easier presentation is to simply arrange the shrimp on a pretty platter with some sauce in a small bowl and garnish with lemon circles, wedges, dill or fresh parsley.

Keep refrigerated and serve immediately.

11-15 size jumbo pre-cooked shrimp, thawed rinsed and dried very well.

2 Tbsp. cocktail sauce per shot glass



Peel and Eat Brined Grilled Garlic Lemon Shrimp

Peel and Eat Brined Grilled Garlic Lemon Shrimp

Brining is the secret to preparing moist grilled shrimp. Brining keeps the shrimp moist, tender yet firm. These make a great party appetizer or as a luncheon or dinner entrée.

Thread the shrimp on 12 inch flat skewers so they don’t twirl on the skewer.

If you prefer no peel, go ahead and peel the shrimp before you brine.



  • 4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake, or more for spicier

20 jumbo shrimp peeled or unpeeled and deveined (about 1 1/4 lb.) I use Wild Patagonia 16-20 raw, easy peel, shell-on, deveined I purchase at QFC

General Shrimp Brining Directions:

  1. Make the brining solution. For each pound of shrimp, combine 4 cups water, 1/3 cup Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt and 1/3 cup sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together
  2. Soak the shrimp. Place the peeled and deveined shrimp in the brine solution, and allow them to sit untouched for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  3. Drain, dry and cook. Drain the shrimp in a colander and gently pat them dry with paper towels. Proceed with your favorite recipe: pan-fry, grill or saute. The shrimp always turn out moist and delicious.

TO MAKE THE MARINADE: In a medium bowl whisk together the marinade ingredients.

Place the shrimp in a large, resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Press the air out of the bag and seal tightly. Turn the bag to distribute the marinade around all the shrimp, place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 to 45 minutes.

Remove the shrimp from the bag and discard the marinade. Thread the shrimp closely together as shown above onto flat skewers. Grill over *direct medium heat until just opaque in the center and firm to the touch, 4 to 6 minutes, turning the skewers once halfway through grilling time. Remove from the grill and place on a clean plate. Serve warm.

These plates would work perfectly for serving. The skewers are 12 inches and the plates are 14 inches long.

*If you do not have a thermometer, use this method of estimating the heat: Hold your hand about 3 inches above the grill, or at the point where the food will be cooking. Keep your hand there as long as you can and count. If you have to move your hand in less than 4-5 seconds: the fire is medium heat, or about 350°F.

Serving Suggestion: Sweet Chili Brussels Sprouts


Maria’s Chickpea and Avocado Mash Master Recipe with Variations

This Chickpea and Avocado Mash is a healthy, easy breakfast, lunch or snack option.

I added chopped cilantro and spread it on toast.

I like to spread it on warm whole grain toast, topped with a sliced tomato and a fried egg. But you can also eat it with crackers or pita crisps, as a vegetable dip, on top of flatbreads, in pitas or wrap,  as a sandwich or as a warm crostini appetizer. (See the recipe below). This can also be served as a salad on top of a bed of greens.

This base master recipe also allows you to play around with other flavors, add-ins and ways to use as you like. I’ve given you lots of tasty options here. This recipe can be made 2 days ahead of time and stored in a covered glass bowl in the refrigerator.

  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas or garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed and drained and laid on a paper towel to dry some of the moisture
  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • Juice from 1 lime or lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • Whole grain bread, wrap or flatbread, whole grain crackers or pita chips
  • Optional Additions: pinch cayenne, Sirracha, chili flakes, dried cranberries, diced red or green onions, diced red pepper, diced dill pickles, chopped fresh cilantro or parsley ½ teaspoon garlic or onion powder, ¼ cup feta cheese
  • Optional Toppings: fried egg, spinach, lettuce, arugula, sprouts, radish, grated carrots, sliced radishes, tomato, cucumber, thinly sliced red onion

In a medium bowl, use a pastry blender, fork, or potato masher to mash the chickpeas and avocado together. (Mash as little or as much as you prefer. I like mine a bit lumpy). Add in the lime or lemon juice and season with salt and pepper and add in any optional additions and mix again to incorporate.

Serve in a wrap, on bread, on toast, or as a dip with vegetables or crackers. Top with optional toppings.

Chickpea and Avocado Mash Crostini

  1. Pop 4 slices of crusty artisan bread in the toaster, or on the middle rack of an oven set at 350 degrees F, until crisp and golden brown.
  2. Spread the chickpea avocado mash on the toasted bread and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and sea salt.