sticky spicy basil shrimp (GF & DF)

This Sticky, Spicy, Basil Shrimp is one of my favorites.  Super easy, with a ton of flavor.  I love it. 

Made if for Edith who asked for the recipe and also for Sylvie, Greg, Sarah and many more and it was a hit on every occasion.  It is an easy go to for me because I usually have shrimp in the freezer and I do usually have ginger root and basil.  Easy to shop for even if you don’t have all the ingredients on hand.  

I found this in The Cook You Want To Be by Andy Baraghani.  Andy writes about the need for salt (and good salt), mighty flavor, levels of tang, and acid.  The book is just beautiful.  He incorporates so many flavors and he writes with humor and ease.  

The marinade is quick to blend and the shrimp takes about 7 minutes to cook.  I like to serve with cucumbers as mentioned in the recipe but also some fresh pineapple.  Yum! 

I don’t use all of the garlic in the recipe (but you should if you can digest it well) and I sometimes sub the Fresno chile  with red pepper and a little cayenne – so fiddle as you see fit with the ingredients you have and can find.   Lastly – use this marinade for pork chops, roasted cauliflower and really anything.  

Ingredients:

4 Fresno chili, coarsely chopped (see above for sub)

8 garlic cloves (I use 4) 

2 inch piece of ginger peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 cup sugar (I know seems like a lot, but this is just a marinade!)

3 tablespoons fish sauce

2 teaspoons kosher salt (diamond crystal – if using Mortons or table salt cut in half)

1/4 neutral oil (grapeseed, avocado, I’ve used olive too), plus 2 tablespoons

2 pounds head on, shell on shrimp (for flavor) – although I confess sometimes I only have the peeled tail on!

3 cups basil leaves

lime wedges, sliced cucumbers and pineapple for serving

In a blender, combine the chiles, garlic, ginger, sugar, fish sauce, salt, and 1/4 cup oil.  Blend until very smooth. Pour this into a medium bowl and add the shrimp.  Let marinate for 15 m or so.

Heat a large cast iron or non stick skillet over medium high heat.  Once hot add the oil.  When the oil feels hot add the shrimp using tongs – discarding the excess marinade.  Be careful not to overcrowd the pan.  You may want to use two pans or cook in batches.  Cook until shrimp are lightly charred around the edges for about 3 minutes.

Flip shrimp and cook on second side until cooked through another 2-3 minutes.  Turn off the heat and add the basil – toss well until the basil is wilted.

Squeeze with lime and arrange more lime around the shrimp on a platter or simply serve from you pan.  Serve cucumber and pineapple along too and enjoy this scrumptious meal. 


air-fryer eggplant

These multi sized discs of delight are a hit with almost everyone.  Seriously.  Who knew how many people love eggplant?  My mom is a huge fan repeatedly asking me how I make these and vowing to make.  Stephen and Halley, Sylvie too is in love.  Made for friends last weekend and they too adored.  

These are just as delicious with GF breadcrumbs for Greg.  

I’ve made these in a variety of ways – whole wheat breadcrumbs, plain ones, Italian seasoning, panko, with and with out parmesan cheese – the varieties are endless. You can eat plain which we tend to do or dip in tomato sauce or layer and make an eggplant napoleon layered with fresh mozzarella (and tomato sauce.) 

The recipe is very loose and you can fiddle with it and cook longer or shorter depending on how crispy you like your eggplant. 

Simple works for me best with these.  I prep the eggplant by salting them first (drawing out the excess water), dipping them in egg white and then again in breadcrumbs.  (Add grated cheese if you like!)

Finally throw them in the preheated air fryer – spray with olive oil and sprinkle with Maldon salt (a must) – and voila – a delicious healthy side dish. 

You may have to cook in batches – reheat in air fryer for service or for the next day.  Yum

 

Ingredients

  • 1 or two eggplant  
  • kosher salt
  • breadcrumbs (whole wheat, seasoned or unseasoned, plain breadcrumbs, panko) eyeball it here
  • egg white (you will need 2-3 depending on how much eggplant you decide to make) beat the egg white to break it up a bit.  Also you can use a normal whole egg. 
  • Italian seasoning (optional)
  • parmesan cheese (optional)
  • olive oil spray
  • Maldon sea salt

Directions

Wash and dry your eggplant

Cut into 1 cm (or so) thick slices

Place slices on a paper towel and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Let sit for 15 m

The eggplant will now look wet – as the salt draws out the liquid.

Pat dry with paper towel.

Preheat air fryer to 390 degrees.  Spray the bottom of the air fryer with a little olive oil spray.

Dip the eggplant in the egg white then into the breadcrumbs and place into the air fryer.  Do not overlap.  Spray each slice with olive oil and sprinkle a tad of Maldon salt on top.

Air fry for about 16 m total flipping half way through and spraying the other side with oil after you turn.  

Be careful they are hot on the inside and too easy to burn your tongue since you will want to just gobble them up!

Enjoy-


honey sriracha roasted salmon

This simple 20 minute recipe gets its flavor from delicious oven broiled salmon, fresh crisp marinated cucumbers and from a delightful sprinkling of furikake (a dried mixed seasoning made from sesame seeds, seaweed flakes, salt and sugar). 

I love this recipe and all the flavors – sweet honey, spicy sriracha, tart rice vinegar, and warm sesame oil – the hot salmon with the cold veggies – that is a successful theme for me.  

Gina Homolka – the author of all the Skinny Taste cookbooks and blog recommends making this as a bowl – customizing as you see fit.  I kept it very simple but you can add rice or other grains, edamame, tomato, avocado, shaved carrots chopped peppers etc.  

I love all of her recipes and have several of her cookbooks. I just wish it wasn’t called Skinny Taste – only because well the recipes are just good – not only good if you are on a diet.  Gina provides the nutritional value of every recipe which is amazing.  I tend to add more oil than she does – or more cheese and often I double the sauce when I’m cooking from her recipes but easy to stick to the recipe esp if trying to lose a little weight. 

You can find the recipe recipe here.  Just take note of my thoughts below:

I use 1/2 the sriracha the recipe calls for.  I’m a weakling when it comes to spicy food.  You can always add some sriracha at service – let your family or friends take control of their spice level.

Your salmon will cook faster if it is thinner.  Don’t rely on prescribed cooking times.  Peek at the fish – cut a cube in half and remember that it will continue to cook as it sits on the counter after cooking.  Rob likes his cooked through so I gave him all the thin slices and I like mine medium.  We were both happy. 

Double the sauce – if you are like me saucy and tasty are the key to making a yummy salmon bowl.  And baste twice!  Not an order of course – you get to do what YOU like!

Enjoy – 

Oh, this is delicious for lunch the next day. 

pan-seared cod in white wine tomato basil sauce

This is my favorite easy delicious healthy dinner recipe.  I LOVE it.  I wish I had better photos – gotta work on that but trust me this has such great flavor and it is incredibly simple.  It is lemony and is making my mouth water while I’m writing this up.  

I made it for Rob’s family in the fall and they asked for the recipe which is always a good sign.  It is also dairy and gluten free so I could even make it for Greg, if only he liked fish :(. 

My only issue is that my cod tends to fall apart.  I struggle with this but well, whatever – it is tasty as hell.  I suppose you could use a sturdier fish and you would have more success but I happen to love cod.  And maybe your technique will allow the fish to stay intact. 

 I urge you to try this.  You can make the sauce beforehand and quickly pan fry the cod – pour the sauce over sprinkle your basil and you are just set.  So set.  I usually double the sauce recipe – and you don’t have to add all the tomatoes even half the amount in the recipe will do the trick. For lunch the following day I sautéed spinach and bok choy and reheated gently.  Delicious.

My mom introduced me to cod when I was young – it was a Ritz Cracker extravaganza and wow did I love it.  It was buttery oh so good.  I liked it with a little ketchup which sounds pretty gross but mmm….   It was the first dish I made for Rob soon after we met – and I burned it badly.  Anyway – this is not relevant so I will stop now. 

The recipe for this is from Baker by Nature and you can click right here for the recipe.  

 Here are my thoughts and slight changes take a moment to read through:

As mentioned above I like to double the sauce as I find it so delicious.  Serve with rice, a baked potato or a sourdough to scoop up that sauce.  

I use only one clove of garlic since too much makes me feel unwell – and I actually don’t even grate it – I put a whole clove in the sauce and let the flavors mingle there – then pull out out for service.  

I find I do not need to cook the tomatoes for as long as Ashley does.  

The cod – if thick takes longer than 10 minutes to cook.

And lastly I add the basil at the end right to finish the dish.

Enjoy-

air fryer artichoke

Sylvie recently sent me a Tik Tok about friends eating the weirdest things – and yes, one of the foods was an artichoke.  I love them. She knows this and seems to find it interesting how much pleasure I get from biting into these tough leaves.  As I gleefully enjoy the heart, she again seems fascinated by this.  She doesn’t get it.  I think she would if it was baked and stuffed with breadcrumbs and cheese like my mom made me when I was young.  That is really something.  But surprisingly I find I like them plain with a bit of olive oil and Malden salt.  I avoided making them for myself all these years because it just seems like a lot of work for little reward.  But the air fryer changed all that.  I’m not saying these are the best artichokes in the world but if you like them, this is a super simple way to enjoy them. 

Enjoy! 

Here is how you do it:

Cut off the stem and peel off the leaves that were closest to the stem

Next, with a serrated knife cut through the top of the artichoke

With scissors, cut all the tiny prickly points off of the remaining stems

Slice artichoke in half.  Then with a small sharp paring knife cut around the choke.  This is the light colored area that is soft to the touch and looks kind of hairy.  This is the only tricky part – just dig in there with your knife – cut the shape of the choke and then kind of dig that out and toss.  There are a ton of videos on how to do this if you Google.

Preheat your air fryer – to 350.  Spray the artichoke with olive oil on both sides – and  salt with some Maldon salt.  Air fry cut side down for 10 min then flip and air fry another 10 or so.  You want the heart to be able to be pierced easily with a knife – so cook more if needed.  

 

bang bang shrimp with GF option (delicious) naturally dairy free

Crispy air fried shrimp, cool yogurt sauce and tart salad – like a symphony in my mouth.   Mango, cilantro, blanched carrots shaved zucchini – have fun!  This is one of my favorites.  Made it for Greg when he was home as it can be GF and DF and again for Rob and I the other night.  Sylvie loved it too – I put hers on some simple healthy fried rice and she gobbled it up!  So yes, serve with plain rice, seasoned rice, salad like me – any which way. 

The air fryer is so easy and I love that I can have crispy food that isn’t sodden with oil.  The shrimp are light and crispy.  The hard part about this recipe is that you have to make it in batches since it’s hard to fit a lot of shrimp into your air fryer.  So I make them all and  when time to eat I pop them back into the air fryer for a minute to heat back up.  I always make an extra serving so I can eat for lunch the next day.  

I found this at I Heart Umami – ChihYu Smith – the chef behind the blog is amazing.  She shares healthy Asian recipes that include Palieo, gluten free and low carb so check it out. 

I followed her recipe – made it once gluten free for Greg (and followed recipe exactly) and once using regular breadcrumbs for us.  Use avocado oil spray as she suggests – or – olive oil spray (I had that and worked great).  You will need tapioca starch btw.  I made her bang bang sauce for Greg and he liked it.  It is gluten free and dairy free.  I also made it with Greek yogurt and it was good too!

The second time I made the shrimp  I used a different recipe for the bang bang sauce which I liked even more and I will share that with you below (again with yogurt).

The salad I made has shaved zucchini, cucumber, cilantro, greens, and tomato.  I dressed with a simple dressing of white rice vinegar, sesame oil, lime and salt.  Feel free to add blanched peas and carrots, yum.

The recipe takes a little time – like a mini assembly line – so turn on some music and relax and enjoy making it.  Once I know what I’m doing I turn on my audio book and enjoy the process.  

*** Do cut the shrimp lengthwise  as ChihYu suggests – and well, really just follow her detailed instructions here.

Alternative sauce (skinny bang bang sauce from Trialandeater.com):

1/4 cup plain greek yogurt (use full fat if you can2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce 

1-3 teaspoons sriracha sauce or hot sauce (I’m a wimp with spice so you do you)

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

Dash of kosher salt 

Mix well and drizzle on the shrimp.

Enjoy this! 

 

 

 

honey soy glazed salmon

I sent this recipe to Andy and at the end of that very day, he sent me the photo on the right!  He went to the store, bought everything and cooked it straight away.  He told me how good it was so I made it the next day.  We both loved it.  Rob loved it – I made it with shrimp for Sylvie and she loved that too.  I don’t have a ton more to say about this dish save for the obvious – it looks good, is easy to prep and tastes delicious.  Andy added a lot of veggies and scallions and really plated it up well for himself.   I can’t eat scallions so just kept it simple with some squash and string beans.  

The Tik Tok video of this salmon is what caught my eye.   I followed up by looking at the blog Jasmine and Tea for the ingredients and measurements.  

I’m taking the lazy lady way out and I’m going to provide the link to the recipe here.  Jasmine provides tons of tips and really good instruction.  Read through it first.  Then take note of of my clarifications below.

To be clear (as I’m not sure it is) remove the veggies from the pan before you add the sauce to the pan.  After the sauce has reduced (as instructed),  place the salmon back in to the sauce to finish cooking and then add the cooked veggies at the very end (so they don’t get mushy but heat up).

Lastly, I put in half of the recommended amount of chili paste – but if you love the heat, go for it!

Enjoy-

chicken romano meatballs

These chicken romano meatballs are delicious.   Little balls of chicken, lemon, garlic, herbs, red pepper flakes and cheese (!!).  Good.  Yummy.  Simple.  Tasty.  Those are the adjectives for today.  Serve over rice, spaghetti squash, pasta or simply on a bed of baby spinach.  The hot sauce wilts the spinach and it retains its shape and crunch a bit.  I happen to love that.  When reheating I add some cherry tomatoes too – and what a delightful lunch it makes. 

The recipe come from Skinnytaste.com and you know I’m a fan.  I have most of Gina’s books and I enjoy her blog.  There is nothing tricky about this recipe.  Follow it and you shall see.  I made the meatballs as instructed – but for the sauce, I  put whole garlic cloves in because I find minced garlic is often too strong for me.  Getting older – the garlic – indigestion.   I also added some Glace De Poulet Gold (very reduced chicken stock) for added flavor and also a bit more salt and pepper than the recipe calls for.  So taste and taste again, re-season and serve!  You can find the recipe here.

Enjoy – 

shrimp egg rolls (air fried)

Never thought I’d ever make egg rolls – but I did!  And wow – Andy and Sylvie thoroughly enjoyed and I did too.  Rob – not a huge fan of cabbage wasn’t exactly over the moon but you can’t please everyone.  Although you can add a different vegetable – even a different protein.  Maybe next time for him.  Yes, I will.

I saw these in Skinnytaste and put them on the top of my list.  The recipe hovered there for a bit because 1- was I really going to make egg rolls? 2 – I’d have to find the egg roll wrappers and 3 – they looked like a lot of work.  

After a few months delay, I was ready.  Yes, I was going to make them!   I found the wrappers right where Gina (skinny taste) said they would be (near the tofu and wonton wrappers) and 3 – I was ready to roll and air fry.

These were not much work!  The filling comes together in minutes and then you just have to roll the shrimp/cabbage up like a baby and pop em in the air fryer.  You can have you kids help to roll and then boom, you are done.  Yes, you have to make it batches but that’s ok – you can also make all of them and reheat when it is dinner (or appetizer) time.   I made a simple dipping sauce of sweet chili sauce and soy sauce and we were licking our fingers.

Enjoy these (should you choose to go for it).  Gina’s recipe is right here.  Oh, I doubled the recipe.

chocolate frosted brownies (GF + DF and sooo good!)

These are silly.  Silly good.  This is the best gluten-free and dairy-free dessert I have had to date.  I must admit that I don’t eat a lot of GF and DF sweets – but I can tell you that when I make these for Greg I’m eating them too!  Andy, Rob, Sylvie – all love them – although we are forced to abstain since Greg’s choices are so limited.  I made them for my friend Judy and she said a hit with her family too.  She then asked for the recipe which is always a good sign.

I found these gems in my Bakerita cookbook written by Rachel Connors.  She also has an amazing blog – and these are also featured in the blog.  I’ve made her chocolate chip cookies and snickerdoodles and both – well, just delicious.  Greg will likely have some vacation time around the holidays so I’ll start looking for some new ideas soon.  And likely from this book!

I always double the recipe and bake in a 9×13 pan.  The brownies are a little thicker this way and I prefer that.  So the timing needs to be fiddled with.  They burn easily and it is hard to tell when done so it make take some guess work.  I usually underbake a tad but we all like it that way.   If you happen to overbake, consider doubling the icing as it is sooooo good and unlikely that anyone would notice your hard brownie.  They also freeze well so I’m always ready for Greg and his sweet tooth.

Note: This recipe uses coconut sugar.   Although healthier (a non-refined sugar) I use brown sugar instead.  For the 3/4 cup of coconut sugar in the recipe I use a packed half cup of brown sugar.  You can do either and they will be good either way. 

Enjoy these!!  Here is a link to the blog post.