Thai Sweet & Sour Shrimp

iJules Thai Sweet & Sour Lemongrass Shrimp

This recipe was inspired by needing to use up some cucumbers and tomatoes, it seems you always have some type of a go-to pasta or salad dish you make with them.  We had just been to our local Thai restaurant a couple weeks ago and we had ordered a similar dish, I thought while I was devouring it, I could make this at home, and make it even better {more healthy}!  I have lemongrass that grows like weeds and  give it away to everyone I know.  I’ve been known to trade the local nail salon, bags of lemongrass for services, it’s a win-win!  You don’t have to use lemongrass in this recipe, I just do because I grow it.  You can usually find it at your local Asian market, larger grocery stores or maybe even your local farmers market.  Lemongrass has a refreshing lemon-lime taste with a tinge of mint and ginger, the aroma has a  a delicate, floral rose like fragrance mixed with a fresh and grassy aroma.  Note: This is not your typical bright PINK overly sweet thick gooey sweet & sour sauce you get from take out or Betty Crocker!

There are about ten organic lemongrass plants lining the back yard, I use them for a privacy fence, they keep the mosquitoes at bay by the pond and, I’ve been told they keep the snakes away, although the black harmless snakes still slither through them occasionally.  There are another fourteen plants around the lanai that keep the sandhill cranes from putting holes in the screens, I guess they are an all purpose plant.

iJules Organic Lemongrass

Another ingredient that has a taste of it’s own is Thai basil, maybe my favorite herb. It has a stronger flavor {than sweet basil} and it’s aroma has hints of licorice, cinnamon, and mint.  I grow this year round by letting the basil flower and go to seed, collecting them and replanting after they have dried out. The flowers are beautiful purple, and attract bees & butterflies!  If you want to keep the leaves growing, you need to pinch back like crazy, this will make the plant bushy and keep producing green leaves for cooking.

iJules Organic Thai Basil

These are just some ingredients I used, again you don’t need to use them all, it’s just what I had and I will make note if you can omit them or substitute in the recipe.  I have cilantro seedlings now although they are not large enough for harvest, it’s hard to keep cilantro growing, I tend to use more than I plant.

iJules Organic Lemongrass Thai Basil Ginger Cilantro

I used  shrimp in this recipe, letting it marinade in fish sauce for ten minutes before I stir fried it in coconut oil.  You can omit fish sauce and just use soy if you like, or just omit the shrimp all together.

iJules Fresh Thai Sweet & Sour

 

iJules Cucumber & Tomato ThaiCucumber and tomato are what separate traditional Chinese sweet & sour from Thai style, it’s a flavorful mouthwatering bliss.  Note: Recipe can easily be doubled!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs Fish-Sauce {can use soy sauce}
  • 1/2 Lb Shrimp Raw peeled or Chicken raw  {you can omit this entirely}
  • 1-2 Tbs Coconut Oil {can use canola or vegetable}
  • 1/2 Cup Ketchup {I use sugar free}
  • 1/2 Cup White, Rice, or Apple Cider Vinegar {I use Bragg’s shaken 😉 }
  • 1 Tbs Raw Agave Nectar {can use honey or 3 Tbs sugar to taste}
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper Cut into Chunks
  • 1 Thai Chili Pepper sliced thin with seeds {optional} { jalapeno works}
  • 1 Cucumber Cut into Chunks
  • 3 Tomatoes Cut into Chunks {I used roma}
  • 1 Cup Pineapple Chunks w/ 1 Cup of it’s own Juice {fresh is best, didn’t have any}
  • 1 Lemongrass Stalk Pounded and Chopped Thin {can omit}
  • 1 Tbs Grated or Chopped
  • 1 Tbs Garlic Chopped or Pressed
  • Cilantro ~Handful {can omit}
  • Thai Basil ~Handful {can use sweet basil}
  • 8 Scallions Sliced Diagonally
  • Lime {optional}
  • Coconut Milk {optional}

 Method to the Madness:

If you using shrimp or chicken marinate it in either fish or soy sauce for 10-15 minutes, then stir-fry in a hot non stick skillet or wok on high heat that has about a tablespoon of coconut oil, shrimp take about 3-4 minutes {if your using chicken, it needs to be cooked until juices run clear and no longer pink inside.}  set aside when done and now were ready to stir fry round two.

In you wok or non stick skillet add about a tablespoon of coconut oil, add ginger, garlic, lemongrass, Thai chili pepper & red pepper.  Stir-fry about one minute on high, this is done quickly, not sauteed mushy soft.  Now you can add the ketchup, vinegar, agave & pineapple juice, mix well heating until bubbly. {you can mix all together in a small bowl before adding, although, it didn’t seem to make a difference the last couple times I made it.} Now you can add the pineapple, cucumbers, and tomatoes, stir mixture just enough to get sauce over everything, bring to a soft bubbly boil, and turn off burner, again, not mushy. {this is where you can add a couple splashes of coconut milk, I do if it’s on hand}  Now add the already cooked shrimp or chicken, scallions & Thai basil. Garnish with fresh squeezed lime juice and cilantro.  Serve over rice or quinoa of your choice, I use brown short whole grain rice.

iJules Thai Sweet & Sour Shrimp

Again, whatever you have in the kitchen works, switch it up, make some changes so your shopping list isn’t out of control.  You can use snow peas, carrots, water chestnuts, celery, clean out the fridge!  The best recipes are always low maintenance when you don’t have to shop for them!  Another make it simple is, nothing I make is ever done with precision, splash of this, splash of that, drizzle, scoop and sprinkle.  Only when I bake do I need to measure everything!  Feel free to add more or less of any ingredient, it wont make much of a difference.

Bon Appetit!

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Grilled Chili Lime Nectarine Salad

iJules Grilled NectarinesSummer is in full scorching mode in the sub tropical south, it’s almost too hot to fire up the grill or wok!  My appetite always seems to change in the summer months, usually craving something lighter, cooler and fruity. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with sangria’s, grilled fruit, frozen red grapes in a glass of moscato and iced green tea, just to list a few!

We had gone out for a later lunch on Friday afternoon around 2:00 pm, that’s way too late for lunch, as a rule! We tried a new place in our little sleepy town, that was a mistake without a recommendation from someone I trust with a foodie flavor appetite!  After our heavy ever so filling meal that was only partially eaten, I couldn’t even think of what to make for dinner…. ya see, the big guy needs to have six or more smaller meals a day while he works out and I watch!  I had only two nectarines in the fridge with some blueberries, two bags of spinach, a couple blocks of cheese & that’s about it.  The best meals are always cleaning out the fridge, and being creative.  I’ve made a similar salad before with peaches last summer, Grilled Peach Arugula Salad is the recipe just in case you don’t want to search.

This recipe only takes a few minutes to make and tastes absolutely amazing!

iJules Grilled Chili Lime Nectarines

Ingredients:

  • 2 Nectarines
  • 1 Lime
  • Chili Powder {sprinkle}
  • Spinach {can use arugula, romaine, iceberg}
  • Handful of Blueberries {any berry that’s in season}
  • Shaved Asiago Cheese {could be a creamy cheese, Gorgonzola or blue}
  • Balsamic Vinegar

Method to the Madness:

First, you need to fire up the grill between 300-400 degrees.  Wash the nectarines, cut them in half, take out the pit, squeezed lime juice from one lime, sprinkle with chili powder, now your ready to grill.  Place the nectarines face down on the grill, turning over about every 3 minutes, until they feel soft when you press on them. You don’t want them mushy and over cooked, so firm is better.  I maybe flipped them 4 times.  While the nectarines are cooling down to room temperature, you can make your balsamic drizzle, I still call it crack in a ramekin!

iJules Grilled Chili Lime Nectarines

Balsamic Reduction aka Drizzle:

  • 1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. Agave Nectar (can use honey or sugar)

Method To The Madness:

In a heavy sauce pan combine ingredients, simmer on low heat stirring almost continuously until thickened.  This will burn very easily if left unattended!  After taking it off the burner, pour into a small glass dish for drizzling with a spoon. This is where I put it into a ceramic ramekin.

iJules Grilled Chili Lime Nactarine

Assemble your salad, chopping the spinach, adding the sliced nectarines, sprinkle with blueberries, shaved cheese, and then drizzle the balsamic reduction over top.  You can sprinkle with walnuts, pecans or other nuts, for more protein, and crunch.

This salad didn’t plate up to look beautiful, although it tasted amazing!

It’s a sweet & tangy salad, perfect for a hot summer night, paired with a chilled sparkling bubbly moscato wine.

iJules Spinach Salad with Chili Lime Grilled Nectarine

Bon Appetit!

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Organic Cacao Date Energy Bites

iJules Organic Chocolate Energy Bites

These wonderful little bite size snacks are so simple to make! They are healthy and all natural, so there is not all the guilt after you devour a handful, they curb my sweet tooth, and seem just perfect when you need something to get you through until the next meal.  All the ingredients are certified organic and were purchased at our local health food store, although, I’m sure you can pick them up at any grocery, I shop in bulk, so it’s just easier!

This recipe was inspired from a couple different date bar recipes I saw online.  I added some of my own ingredients that I though may make it somewhat more to my liking, since I didn’t want sweetened coco powder and such.

First of all I’m pretty sure you need a food possessor! You may use a blender, although, I don’t believe all the ingredients will fit, you could just cut the recipe in half, and that would more than likely work!

Ingredients:

  •  2 Cups Dates
  • 2  Cups Almonds {raw unsalted}
  • 1/4 Cup Cacao Powder {could use protein powder}
  • 4 Tbs. Pepita Seeds {unsalted}
  • 2 Tbs. Goji berries
  • Drizzle of Coconut Oil and or Water

iJules Organic Chocolate Energy Bites

Method to the Madness:

Pulse dates in food processor until chopped somewhat, add nuts, and cacao powder, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.  To get the ingredients to form, you need to add a small amount of water, to make it just a little pasty then you can press it out for bars or roll them into bites.  I drizzled maybe two teaspoons of coconut oil and a tablespoon of water.  I figured the coconut oil would make it not stick to my hands while pressing them on the silicone mat, and it would be adding a wonderful rich coconut flavor. The mixture will eventually become a rather large clump! Now you can transfer into a large mixing bowl, add the seeds and berries using your hands to mix it all together.  You could use sunflower seeds, or anything you have on hand.  There is no baking involved!

I started pressing the mixture into bars, and thought, this is just insane, so I started rolling them into bite size balls!  I thought two bite size would be perfect.  I stored them in a glass bowl with a plastic lid, in the refrigerator, I’m not sure how long they will keep, I’m sure they’ll be eaten before we need to worry about that!  This recipe made approximately 34 bites.

iJules Organic Chocolate Energy Bites

Bon Appetit!

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Oatmeal Banana Bites

iJules Oatmeal Banana Bites

These little healthy scrumptious bites are the easiest way to use up the last banana that everyone left for someone else.  It was inspired from a recipe that I had pinned on Pinterest called 2 Ingredient Cookies by Recipe By Photo.  I had over 2000 re-pins so I thought I better try them so I could answer the questions they were asking me, like it was “MY” recipe! I just pinned it for God’s sake!  Of course I had to add more than 2 ingredients because I always am craving something at the moment and have never followed a recipe in my life. I didn’t make a tutorial because they are just too easy to make.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 Banana {overly ripe is good}
  • 1/2 Cup Oatmeal {Bobs Red Mill Extra Thick} is my favorite
  • 1 tsp. Pure Vanilla
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut flaked {mine was sweetened}
  • 1 Tbs. Ground Flax Seed

Method to the Madness:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mash banana in a small bowl, add all other ingredients and drop by heaping teaspoon onto a baking mat or parchment paper.  Bake 15 minutes until golden brown. This recipe made about 10 bites.  Store in a airtight container.  Recipe could be doubled by using 2 bananas etc. I wouldn’t recommend more than that.  I may use some cacao nibs next time just for the real cookie effect.  I’m sure you could make these in a dehydrator to keep them raw as well, maybe a high temp for 12 hours or so.

Bon Appetit

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Spicy Cheesy Organic Kale Chips

Kale chips are by far my favorite snack food without guilt.  There’s something about sweet, spicy & smokey that makes me very happy.  I’ve made several kinds of kale chips, from plain with sea salt, Himalayan salt or spicy cayenne pepper and even lemon, soy, liquid aminos.  I remember reading a recipe from someone adding honey or agave, so this is what type of flavorsome recipe I came up with.  This recipe works perfect on hot air popcorn as well!

 Ingredients: 

  • 1 Large Bunch of Organic Kale {washed and patted dry}
  • 1 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbs. Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 Cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Smoked Sweet Paprika

Method to the Madness:

Tear Kale from stems into large bite size pieces and put in large mixing bowl.  I use my wok because the olive oil coats it and it’s size is perfect for mixing.  Drizzle olive oil and maple syrup over kale and mix well.  Mix together nutritional yeast, sea salt and paprika,  sprinkle evenly over kale mixture.  It’s easier if you stir with your hands, make sure you get down to the bottom of the bowl and get the mixture sticking to the kale.

Bake at 220 degrees for about a hour, you can take out crispy ones and leave damp ones to bake {dry} even further. You can use a dehydrator if you choose, 120 degrees from 8-10 hours, I can never wait that long, I end up eating them before they get crunchy! Store in a plastic container on top of paper towel, they won’t last long, usually only two-three sittings of snacking. 😉

Bon Appetit!

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Sweet & Salty Pumpkin Seeds

The big decision to put the pumpkin seeds in the new compost or bake them. When in doubt, I always make something to eat! 😉  There is nothing better than sweet & salty mingling together, this is a quick simple recipe that is not your grandmothers old-fashioned Halloween treat!

I took the seeds and guts out of one large pumpkin, cleaned the slime off, rinsed with water and patted dry.  Recipe can easily be doubled with two pumpkins.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cups  fresh pumpkin seeds rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoons raw organic sugar
  • 1/4  teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method to the Madness: 

Heat oven to 300.  Spread the seeds on a baking sheet and bake until dry approximately 50 minutes.

Increase oven temperature to 350.  In a large glass bowl, toss the seeds with the butter, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.  Return the seeds to a parchment paper lined baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.  Store in air tight container.

Before the seed bath. Warning: {house will smell amazing}

Cooling on the parchment paper. {yes, I burnt my mouth again, just can’t wait}

You can add a couple shakes of cayenne pepper  in place of the cinnamon for some spicy flavor, just depends on the taste bud craving.

Bon Appetit!

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How to Compost with No Smells or Pest!

After researching many compost barrels, boxes, stalls, spinners and reading reviews on natural disasters that could happen if you didn’t stir, soak or feed well!  I decided to combine a couple ideas into this awesome compost that sits just outside the garage with easy access to add raw kitchen waist every couple days.  I keep a 3.5 plastic tub next to the sink to scrape seeds, cores, and any waste that is raw. Remember no dairy, meat or cooked food.

The layering idea came from Sustainable America there are several how to compost, I used the layering system How to compost in your apartment, even though I live in a house.  I thought this idea of, No Smells, No Pest would be good for us because we have raccoon’s & critters that lurk around at night with neighbors in our side yard.

This is all I needed to start the compost:

Approximate cost $24.00 {worms & container} Walmart

  • 1 Sterilite 29 gallon Stacker Tote with locking lid
  • 1 section of newspaper shredded, soaked in tap water
  • 120 Red Worms
  • Ransom kitchen raw waste {egg shells, celery, squash seeds, onion, apple cores}
  • Drill

I drilled nine holes in the bottom of the container for drainage and air flow.

I lined the bottom of the container with strips of wet newspaper.

I love these little guys.

I added 120 red worms {this is my favorite part of the compost} they looked slightly under weight. 😉

Some raw kitchen scraps to start the compost.

I have grass clippings drying in the garage, the grass was damp so when it dried out I added a layer to the top of the waste and mixed it in a bit.

Yes, this is pretty discussing! Every four days or so I have a small rake that I fluff the compost and take a peek at the now obese vegan worms!

I drilled nine holes in the locking lid for air flow and cooling down with rain fall.  It’s rained only once and the rain actually drizzles into the holes.  I haven’t added any water and it’s been two weeks.  The temperature has been in the upper 80’s I may have to adjust something when the mid 90’s come back next summer.  I think if it starts to look dry I might take the lid off and mist it with the hose.

This was pretty exciting to see, the wad of imported Hudsonville, Michigan Acorn Squash seeds germinated {by accident} they are now planted in two pots.  I’m also adding brown paper bags shredded without ink if I think it may be too damp.  I can’t wait to see what happens in the next few months, and for the compost to actually be used in the garden, it’s breaking down quickly in two weeks!  I’ll be sure to update on this post! 😉

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Ten Years Later

{My Junkers}

On our way home from Phil’s Bar & Grill in Saugatuck Michigan, my favorite place for dinner on the lake shore,  via the Westshore Mall in Holland, he stopped and said, “Wait here, I’ll be right back”! It was cold, windy and raining and didn’t care if I got out of the truck, even if it was a shopping mall! Thirty minutes later, we arrived at my house, he couldn’t wait to get down on one knee fumble around a shiny silver cubic zirconia that he picked out from Clair’s Boutique. With a smirk & cracking voice he ask me if I would marry him, he also said just in case you don’t like this ring, here is another one, that he pulled out of his other pocket, guess he knows I’m particular!

I wore the two rings everyday just like a proud peacock!  Pretty sure he was embarrassed that someone might think he was cheep, two months later for Christmas I was given a real diamond set in a gold band that we had made by a fabulous jewelry designer.  I wanted the two jet skis or snowmobiles he offered instead of the ring although with 3 months of summer and not much snow sometimes in the Mitten, I chose the ring.  That was 10 years ago and even though we never married, I’m just shackin’ up and living the dream! You would think I learned something from Dr. Laura! I still remember just like it was yesterday.  Just thought I’d share. 😉

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Spicy Avocado Cucumber Soup

When given a basket of Florida Avocados, you need to get creative to use them up quickly.  Cubed then sauteed, sliced on BLT’s, mashed for guacamole, chopped in ceviche the list is endless!  Spicy cold soup is something perfect for summer, it’s quick, easy, requires no oven and complements any type of summer time food.

 These are Florida Avocados, the are not as rich and creamy as the California Hass Avocado (the little brown one).  Some Florida growers call them “lite” they are less calories although larger so you really need to do the math here.  Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, a great source of vitamins C, E, K, folate, and fiber.  This type of avocado is ripe when green, if you wait for them to turn, it will be bad.  You can feel them and they will be slightly soft but not mushy, then they are perfect.

I have 9 trees growing and gave away several to friends.  They are a fun tree to grow, just throw the pit in dirt, water and stand back.  These trees are about 4 months old.


This recipe was adapted from several different recipes I’ve tried, I added some jalapeno  just for something different! 😉

Ingredients:

  • 1 Avocado {Peeled seed out}
  • 1 Cucumber {Peeled seeds out}
  • 1 Cup or more Greek-Style Yogurt  {any brand will work in soup}
  • 1/2 juice from one lemon
  • 1/2 large jalapeno {optional} {seeds out}
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • Hand full Organic Chives
  • Hand full Organic Dill
  • Salt to taste {couple of twits of the salt mill} I use Pink Himalayan
  • Cumin {shake, shake}

Method to the Madness:

In a food processor or blender add everything except the yogurt salt and cumin, don’t forget to peel and take out the pit of the avocado, take seeds out of jalapeno and peeled cucumber.

Blend until almost smooth, then add the yogurt and blend until creamy smooth.

Just before adding the yogurt, salt & cumin.

Blend until the soup is the consistency of pudding, you won’t want lumps in your creamy soup.  Makes approximately 3 cups.

Garnish with cumin, dill & lemon and maybe a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil!  For a lite dinner, serve with blue corn chips and pitcher of slushy mango margaritas this summer!

Bon Appetit!

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Chocolate Covered Coffee Bean Vanilla Ice Cream

This recipe started just as chocolate covered coffee beans, then it turned into ice cream, imagine that, me not totally focused.  You must have patients to drop the beans one by one onto the lined cookie sheet, I thought I would never be making these again until I tasted one, OMG osh! they are so much better than what you can buy in the gourmet shops, it could have something to do with the freshness and quality, and taste of the beans too.

I found the Starbucks Tribute Blend 2012 crop on closeout this spring, I purchased 4 lbs for $28 on a two~fer deal, my favorite frugality shines again!  This blend is aged Sumatra, sun-dried beans from Ethiopia, and coffees from Papua New Guinea and Colombia come together to create this spicy and full-bodied blend with dark cherry notes.  This years crop has been better than all the other years combined.  You can use your favorite beans, just make sure they are fresh.

You can smell the beans if you scratch you monitor. 😉

I picked up this dark chocolate at my favorite Richard’s Foodporium in Osprey Florida, the owner is from Detroit so you know it’s going to be a regular stop to chat about how beautiful Michigan is!  The dark chocolate is $8.99 a lb and worth every penny.  I can’t believe this hunk made it home in the car without loosing a corner or two, this was  approximately  $4.00.

 Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Fresh Roasted Coffee Beans {Dark roast beans if desired}
  • 1 Cup quality Dark Chocolate Chips or 100 gms quality Dark Chocolate
  • Parchment or Wax Paper

Method to the Madness:

Heat chocolate in a saucepan till melted, stir in coffee beans until coated with chocolate,  lift gently with fork and place on wax paper, let cool and freeze for 4 hrs, store in an airtight container.

Make beans well in advance to give them time to set before adding to the ice cream.

I made Ice Milk this time, I just used skim milk, no cream.  It is a basic recipe, no eggs, no slitting the vanilla bean, just basic ice cream.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups Milk {can use heavy cream or mix it with milk equally 2 cups each}
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

Method to the Madness:

Mix all ingredients together until sugar is dissolved, pour into ice cream maker and churn for 20-30 minutes. Now, you can mix in a couple hand full of frozen chocolate covered coffee beans, put in airtight container & freeze 5 hours.  Ice cream will set better over night.

Bon Appetit!

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