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

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! 




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 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 – 

chocolate crusted banana blondies

Jessie’s text to me after I dropped these nuggets off was “Avery just tried your desserts and said they were a miracle in her mouth!”  Avery is her daughter btw and that made me happy because I too felt the same way but couldn’t articulate it as well.  The chewy banana top and the chocolate crusted bottom are so good together.  The addition of pecans gave these bars additional texture and cut the sweetness which resulted in a treat that went from delicious to scrumptious.  These were featured in the New York Times by food editor (among other things) Melissa Clark.  Her sweet tooth rivals mine and I find I want to bake everything that she writes about.  Her savory recipes are equally impressive.  I have her two instant pot books as well as Dinner, Changing the Game and I use them all frequently.  Enjoy! 

This recipe calls for brown butter – Here is a video review and there are more videos on youtube should you want more instruction.


  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (1 1/4 cups), divided!
  • 200 grams Famous chocolate wafter cookies (to make about 3 cups of crumbs)
  • 55 grams of light brown sugar (about 1/4 cup)  
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 2 ripe bananas 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 455 grams dark brown sugar (about 2 1/2 cups) 
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 130 grams all purpose flour (about 1 cup)
  • 80 grams toasted walnuts (I used pecans), chopped (about 1/2 cup) 
  • flaky sea salt for sprinkling


  • Preheat oven to 375 and line a 9×13 pan with parchment.  I usually spray the pan first to make the parchment stick
  • Melt 1 stick of the butter (just one stick) then place the wafer cookies, melted butter, light brown sugar and salt into your food processor and grind until the mixture is the consistency of wet sand.  Dump into prepared pan, and press into an even layer.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until the surface is a bit firm.  Reduce oven temp to 350 degrees 
  • Melt the remaining butter (12 tablespoons or a stick and a half) and continue to cook the butter over medium high heat until the foam subsides and the butter becomes a nice nut brown. This should take about 5 minutes.  You don’t want to burn the butter though.  Here is a video review of browning butter and there are more videos on youtube
  • Combine the mashed banana, eggs, dark brown sugar, and vanilla (or rum) and then add the brown butter.  
  • Gently fold the flour into the wet mixture and add the toasted walnuts or pecans (or not if you don’t want them!)  
  • Pour this batter onto the cooked cookie crumb crust and sprinkle a little flaky salt on top – as you may know I love Maldon sea salt for this.  
  • Place in the oven and bake for about 45-55 minutes — until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs attached or clean – but not with wet batter. 
  • Cool and eat! 
  • These freeze really well


caramelized onions

I went further on these but forgot to take a final photo – but this is what the onions looked like as they cooked for the French onion chicken meatballs in the last post.  So cook and cook and cook some more.  If you plan on serving the onions alone – there are several recipes on-line that add wine, broth, or balsamic vinegar.  Pair with a burger or steak – add some mushrooms and you’ve got something delicious going on.

french onion soup meatballs

I love French onion soup so when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it.  So glad I did.  The caramelized onions, rich beef broth and little tasty meatballs are the makings of this perfect dish.  “Delicious” said Rob today at lunch as he ate his leftovers.  “Mmm mmm so good!” I said exuberantly to Rob and Sylvie to which they indulged me with kind smiles. 

The first time I made the meatballs with a mixture of ground turkey and chicken and used a beef/chicken/turkey stock.  I used less butter than the recipe called for but left most everything else as is.  The second time I used just chicken meat in the meatballs and beef stock.  This time I cut the cheese in half (inside the meatballs) and also put less on top figuring you can add more cheese if you like on your own.  They were equally delicious.  Really.  Well obviously the more cheese the better (if you like cheese).

Both times I did not have gruyere cheese and substituted parmesan.  But really gruyere would be great.  I just flaked on it.

In terms of stock – and this is for all recipes, purchase the richest stock/broth/bone broth you can find and afford.  Or make homemade.  The freezer section has some great options these days and yes, I know pricey but this will really make a difference.   Bonafide provisions makes good broth and I see it often in stores.  Brodo also has great stock.  If your stock tastes bland – or you only have boxed broth then I have a small trick.   More than gourmet is a product that I really love.  They sell little packets of glace stock (that’s what they call it).  The glace is chicken, veal, or beef stock and reduced so much that it lands in this little packet in the palm of your hand.  You can actually make a broth from this little packet by and adding water.  But I use it to enrich my broths and stocks – I don’t use the whole packet I use just a bit and mix it in and taste, and readjust.  A teaspoon might help, or 2 teaspoons.  In this case I added a little bit of the beef  and although my broth was tasty, this put it over the edge into scrumptious.  

The kids put it over noodles and Rob and I had with a cauliflower/veggie rice.  At lunch he heated up leftover butternut squash and ate it all together and just loved it.  I just ate mine as is – and slurped the remaining liquid right out of the bowl and into my mouth.  That is when I declared my happiness.  

I found this recipe at – if interested check out the comments at the bottom of their recipe for changes, additions and thoughts.  I’m always interested in how others change a recipe to improve it or just make it their own.  They also have a 1 minute video that shows how to make this all come together so check that out too.  

You can make the meatballs in advance and make the sauce closer to dinner to break up the time.  I listen to an audio book while I cook so it is very enjoyable.  I recommend it.  



  • 1 pound ground chicken (or beef or turkey) not the leanest versions or these will be dry  
  • 1/2 cup gruyere cheese (or less depending on your diet and level of deliciousness that you want)
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used whole wheat panko but anything will work)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley (I didn’t add, didn’t have don’t love)
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (if table salt, use a bit less but get some diamond crystal in the house please)
  • ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter (recipe calls for 4 and that would be delicious but 2 was enough for us) 
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced 
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups beef broth (read the 4th paragraph above for more info if you skipped it)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme – which would be great.  I didn’t have so added some dried.
  • 1/2 cup shredded gruyere


  • Preheat the oven to 425, line a baking sheet with parchment, or foil (grease the foil with olive oil so meatballs don’t stick)
  • Assemble meatballs, In a large bowl combing all of the ingredients and mix gently to combine.  Don’t overmix
  • Form the mixture into meatballs.  You can decide on the size – the bigger they are the longer they cook.  Mine were prob about 1 1/2 tablespoons but next time I’ll make smaller
  • Place on baking sheet and bake until golden and cooked through – if medium sized this should take about 25 m – but check before and continue to check the meatball temp and cook until 165 reads on a meat thermometer
  • If they haven’t browned much feel free to pop under the broiler for a minute – I find them more appealing with color (and there is less color with less cheese)
  • Make the sauce – in a large skillet melt the butter and add the onions and cook until VERY soft and golden.  This is KEY.  The recipe states 25 minutes but I prob kept those onions slow cooking for 40m and when I read the comments on the original recipe,  people caramelized them even longer.  I start on medium heat but eventually to low and stir them often.  You don’t want to burn the onions.
  • Add garlic and cook until fragrant 30 secs or so (don’t burn the garlic it’s very bitter) 
  • Add broth and thyme and season with a little salt and pepper
  • Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer and bubble until slightly thickened 10-15 m.  Taste the reduction now and reseason for salt and pepper.  Add the glace (mentioned in f4th paragraph above) if you have it and want to.  
  • Add the cooked meatballs to the skillet and sprinkle with gruyere and cover and cook until meatballs are warmed through and cheese is melty – this can take 5-10 minutes depending on how hot your meatballs are.
  • Sprinkle with thyme and serve. Yum. 

thai fish curry

This curry is a new favorite of ours –  I made it with flounder which was not the best choice as it fell apart a bit.  I managed to take a lovely photo but next time I’d try with a firmer fish like cod or haddock or cod.  I found this recipe in an older cookbook of mine.  Periodically I go through my books and donate a bunch that I rarely use.  This one though, The Mediterrasian Way, I always hold on to.  It is weird because the concept of the book is Mediterranean and also Asian.  The recipes are not mixed –  no fusion here.  Just simple healthy meals that are spicy and flavorful.   

Prep the ingredients before you cook as it all comes together fairly fast and easy.  Serve with rice or cauliflower rice – or over a bed of baby spinach (that will soften when you add the hot curry) or add extra veggies and eat just like that. You can also add the fresh spinach at the end – and that is also when I add peas and tomatoes and any veg that doesn’t take long to cook.  

I will give you the basic recipe here – but as you can see from the photo, I used haricot beans, baby Bella mushrooms, peas and tomato.  But have fun and make what you enjoy.  If you want your fish to have a little color to it, just pan sear right before you place it into the curry broth.  I didn’t here – but I know if I was cooking for a reluctant fish eater, I might because for some reason fish with color is a little less intimidating.  Maybe…


Serves: 4

medium to fairly easy


  • 1-2 tablespoons oil ( I used olive oil) book calls for canola or peanut 
  • bell pepper, sliced
  • 32 green beans (I did not count – but here if you need it) 
  • 2 cloves garlic, more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped lemongrass  (I used a lemongrass puree as discussed in the cod in coconut broth recipe)  
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 cups coconut milk (use full fat if you can handle it)
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • four to five 6-ounce firm whitefish fillets (snapper, cod, haddock) each cut into thirds
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil (I didn’t have any but would be delicious)
  • kosher salt or Maldon Salt
  • pepper  


Prep all ingredients and set up by the stove. 

  • In a large skillet – heat the oil over medium high heat and then add the pepper and green beans – stir here and there, until the pepper has softened – about 4 minutes (I used the mushroom instead of the red pepper) 
  • Add the garlic, lemongrass, ginger and turmeric and cook, stirring constantly for about a minute.  
  • Add the coconut milk, water, fish sauce, sugar and Chile powder and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 8 minutes 
  • Add the fish and spoon the sauce over the fish to coat, and simmer, covered for about 8 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through.
  • Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, basil, and season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

cod in coconut broth with lemongrass and ginger

This is my third attempt preparing a fish dinner (since the kids left) and it is a recipe finally worth writing about.  I added a ton of extra vegetables so it looks more complicated than it needs to be so please don’t be intimidated.  I will give you the basic recipe with the option to add more vegetables.  I love Thai flavors, lime, cilantro, lemongrass, ginger and fish sauce.  This all comes together so nicely – the broth is flavorful and highlights the flakiness of the cod.  I found this recipe in Foolproof Fish – America’s Test Kitchen – a cookbook that my mother suggested when I mentioned how little I know about preparing fish.  The book is beautiful and filled with recipes as well as substitutions and tips on cooking methods.  So give it a try if you think you might fancy it.  I don’t get payment btw!

I used a lemongrass puree that I found in the vegetable aisle of my local supermarket because I couldn’t find fresh lemongrass.  

Fish sauce is sold at most supermarkets these days – if you can’t find you can easily order online. 

You can use light coconut milk, but the broth will be noticeably thinner and less rich.  

This recipe serves 4 and you can substitute black sea bass, haddock, hake or pollock.



  • 1 tablespoon oil – I used avocado oil, the author writes vegetable oil, but I think most oils work ok
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly
  • 1.5 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch long matchsticks
  • 1 (10inch) lemon grass stalk, trimmed to bottom 6 inches and bruised with back of knife (or use the lemongrass puree I used about a dollop the size of a quarter)
  • 4 (6-8) ounces skinless cod fillets – about 1 inch thick – or a little thicker is fine – 
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper – or to taste
  • 1/3 cup canned coconut milk (well shaken)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dry roasted peanuts (if you like!)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves (find info here for a note on cilantro)
  • 1 serrano chile, stemmed and sliced thin (or less depending on your taste) If you don’t have serrano chile substitute with a red Fresno chile if possible.  Otherwise, improvise for some heat – I used dry serrano chile and minced.
  • As you can see in the photo, I added cooked corn, zucchini and squash ribbons, peas and tomatoes.  But completely unnecessary.  If interested though, I cooked the corn first and then I sautéed these vegetables a bit before I added them to the broth.  Maybe 5 minutes…really depends on the veggies you add.


Set up your mis-en-place (ingredients):

Clean and slice leeks, mince garlic, peel and grate the ginger, wash, peel and cut carrots, bruise the lemon grass, squeeze the lime, crush the peanuts, wash the cilantro, cut the chile

  • Heat oil in a 12 inch non stick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. 
  • Add leek and a bit of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned about 5-7 minutes. 
  • Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds (don’t let it burn it will taste bitter).
  • Stir in water, carrots, and lemon grass and bring to simmer.
  • Pat cod dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper.  
  •  Nestle the fish into the skillet and spoon some cooking liquid over the top and bring to a summer.  
  • Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until fish flakes apart when gently prodded with a paring knife or registers 135 degrees, this should take 8-12 minutes depending on the thickness of your cod.  Cook longer if fish still looks opaque.  
  • If adding extra sautéed vegetables, you can add them to the skillet at this point.  
  • Transfer fish to individual shallow bowls, discard the lemon grass and divide leeks and carrots (and extra veggies if you used) evenly among the bowls.
  • Off heat whisk in the coconut milk, lime juice and fish sauce and season with kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • Ladle broth over fish and sprinkle with cilantro, peanuts and Chile.  Serve with lime wedges.  So good! I’d like it right now!

Chocolate Dipped Fresh Fruit

Chocolate Dipped Fruit

I’ve dipped a multitude of goodies in chocolate.  My favorite is fresh fruit.  Not just strawberries, but blueberries and raspberries and especially pomegranates.  I might be alone here since whenever I make them I seem to be the only one standing over that platter insisting that “you need to try these!!”   That feeling of the pomegranates popping while the chocolate snaps and then melts, well, it is a symphony in my mouth.

Eat these the day you make them and place in the refrigerator until you serve.  They are mediocre the next day as the fruit begins to break down and gets a little funky.IMG_0286

Read here to remind you about tempering chocolate.  And here about other valentine treats.

lemon bliss cake

I realize that this photo is terrible and I’m sorry about that.  The cake looks messy and dry, but it is not!!  And all those crumbs were sooooo good.

I use the words yum and yummy a lot.  Delicious and scrumptious.  I try to look up some thoughtful and eloquent synonyms but I can’t help but keep coming back to my original favorites.  So this cake – yeah it is yummy, delicious and scrumptious.  In addition it is perky and tasty.  How can a cake be perky?  I don’t know but it just is.  This was a hit a few weeks ago at a friends dinner party.  Everyone oood and aaahd at is tart goodness.  After baking, you coat the cake with a lemon syrup that gets absorbed and once soaked through and cool, you glaze.  Anything with syrup and glaze speaks moist and delightful.

Found this as I was looking through the King Arthur Flour catalog for some ingredients.   The cake was featured at the top and said “Our 2017 Recipe of the Year is a lovely golden lemon cake, extra-moist and nicely tangy due to its fresh lemon juice glaze. Baking this cake in a Bundt pan turns it from everyday to special-occasion, perfect for everything from birthday parties to an elegant dinner. Our thanks to Maida Heatter, grande dame of delicious desserts, for the inspiration behind this recipe.”

So I had to make it.

I followed the recipe which you can find here.  Oh, and there is a video too!



Fruit Galettes

Yum – summertime fun and goodness all wrapped up in dough.  These galettes or rustic tarts are extremely easy to make and just delightful on the tongue.  I like them warm out of the oven but even more cold the next day (weird I know).  Made these for a IMG_9494dinner party and they were a hit.  Freshly whipped cream a top apricot and cherry – well, good stuff.  Berry galette too.  I didn’t change anything from Melissa Clarks recipes – and even though I know how to make these, I watched her video and it was terrific. You cannot go wrong!