Sweet Chili Glazed Shrimp

Sweet chili sauce may be one of my favorite condiments of all time. I could literally put it on everything. Rice, vegetables, noodles, tofu, seafood......ice cream.  Okay maybe not ice cream, but I love the sweet, spice, salty goodness that is Thai sweet chili sauce. The only problem is the bottled version is more sugar than anything else. This recipe doesn't have quite as much sugar as store bought, and can stay in your fridge for weeks. Give it a try and replace your store bought for good!

Sweet Chili Glazed Shrimp

15-20 Raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves
1 jalapenos, seeds remove 
2 teaspoons red chili flakes
2 tablespoons cup peanuts, chopped
1 green onion, sliced
1/2 cup white sugar or honey
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water

In a blender or food processor, puree' garlic, jalapenos, sugar, water, vinegar, and salt.

Spiciness is easily adjusted with more chili flakes!
Once mixture is smooth add to a small saucepan and heat over medium- high heat until boiling. Reduce to a simmer and cook until garlic begins to soften, and mixture becomes thicker. About 2-3 minutes

In a small bowl combine cornstarch and water. Whisk into saucepan and heat through. This will really thicken up the sauce. Set aside.

In a large pan heat oil over medium heat. Add shrimp and cook for 2/3 minutes per side, until shrimp is pink and curled up.

Pour chili sauce over shrimp tossing to coat. Serve over jasmine rice, and garnish with chopped peanuts and green onions.

Kyrgyz and Gypsy Weddings

Over Facebook the other day, my friend Megan and I chatted about an adventure to Central Asia. She is currently in the Peace Corp in Kyrgyzstan, which makes her awesome. I told her I can't locate it on a map, spell it, or pronounce it, and she told me it was the vacation destination I always dreamed of. LOL

Anyways, I then told her to be involved in a Eastern European gypsy wedding like I had seen on the this new show on TLC called "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding".... then she told me she's not in Eastern Europe...

So I asked her about Kyrgyz food and she told me to google a few items.... they are still on the to make list. But in the mean time I thought I should share a clip from this crazy show below.... Also below is a link to Megan's blog about living in central Asia and being in the peace corps. It is a great read so check it out!


Plants are fun too....

Being a vegetarian isn't that hard. And while I am a pretty rotten vegetarian, because I eat fish, and sometimes can't resist bacon, living with a meat eater hasn't really hampered me too much. If you were thinking about becoming a vegetarian, or just wanted to give it a try for a healthy change, here are a few tips....

1.) Don't immediately try to make special vegetarian meals. Just cook as usual and replace. The pizza below if half BBQ Chicken for TJ, and the other half is veggie. Make the same crust, use the same sauce, but cut yourself some vegetables instead. 

2.) Always keep beans in your house. This is probably the best/tastiest source of protein. Let's get real, tofu if gross. Beans can be flavored how ever you like, and are still edible. They are great to replace ground hamburger in chili and burgers. 

3.) Learn your alternate sources of protein, such as quinoa, beans, soy products, eggs, nuts and seeds. The more your know the easier it is.  

4.) If you are really craving your favorite teriyaki chicken or peppercorn steak, use those seasonings on your vegetarian choice. I am a big fan of tricking myself by BBQing tofu with yummy barbecue sauce. 

5.) Don't replace your meat with carbs, it will make you fat. Haha just kidding, but seriously don't do it.

The average meal, when meat is replaced by a plant based protein sourced, has 200-500 less calories. That means you can have extra dessert, and isn't that what we all want? 


Nanaimo Bars

A little treat for all my American friends....
Nanaimo Bars. These are delicious, and sadly, a Canadian treat.  I had never had these until I moved to Canada. But I need to spread the word. Eating one is never enough. But try to give some away to your friends, otherwise you may eat the whole tray. 

Nanaimo Bars

Bottom layer
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup white sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 egg beaten
1 cup graham crackers
1/2 cup almonds
1 cup coconut

Middle Layer
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons cream or half and half
2 tablespoons vanilla pudding powder
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Top Layer
2 tablespoon butter
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

Grease an 8x8 pan, or line with parchment paper.

In a food processor, add graham crackers, coconut and almond. Pulse until smooth. Make sure there are no large chunks of almonds or graham crackers! I overlooked this detail.... not pretty.

In a double boiler, or large metal bowl melt together butter, sugar, and cocoa powder. Once melted whisk in egg. Once smooth, fold in dry mixture until combined. 

Press mixture into  pan. Press hard so there are no air pockets, This will ensure it does not break when cut! Place into refrigerator while preparing the second layer.

In a large bowl cream together butter, sugar, vanilla pudding powder, cream, and vanilla extract. Once smooth, remove bottom layer from refrigerator, and spread evenly over bottom layer. The colder the bottom layer, and warmer the middle layer, the easier it will spread. 

Place in fridge while preparing top layer. 

To make top layer, melt together chocolate and butter and pour over chilled middle layer. Spread evenly over middle layer, then refrigerate until top layer is hard. 


Fresh Herb Spring Rolls

My friend Jadene and I had a little fresh spring roll making fest the other week, and ever since then all I want is more spring rolls!! I love making these with fresh herbs and veggies, and they are completely gluten free. They are also vegetarian! I made this with a yummy sweet chili sauce, but I think that it could use a little tweaking, so I will save it until later. You can put whatever you like in these, but this is just a guideline with a few of the basics in it! 

Fresh Herb Spring Rolls

12 rice paper wraps
1 cup cooked rice vermicelli noodles
2 eggs
1 mini cucumber
2 green onions
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 red bell pepper
Fresh mint, basil, & cilantro leaves

Makes 12 rolls

Slice cucumbers, carrots, bell pepper, and green onions into thin matchsticks. 

Pick mint, basil, and cilantro leaves from stems and set aside. 

Heat a small pan over medium high heat. Scramble eggs and add to greased pan. Cook until set, careful to keep in 1 piece. Remove onto a cutting board, and slice into pieces a similar length of other vegetables. 

To roll spring rolls:

1.) Soak a rice wrapper in warm water for 20-30 seconds until soft. 

2.) Lay on a flat surface or cutting board.

3.) Add 2 to 3 strips or cucumber, red pepper, carrots, and green onion. 

4.) Next add a small amount of rice noodles and 1 strip of scrambled egg. 

5.) Begin to roll, pulling tight as you roll. 

6.) Halfway through, add your choice of fresh herbs. 

7.) Fold sides over on top of herbs and continue to roll tightly until completely rolled up! 

While you finish rolls, keep finished spring rolls under a damp paper towel to keep moist. 


Fruit Salad with Lemon-Mint Dressing

I have been pondering how to use my mint plant growing outside for a few weeks now. All I could think of was mojitos.... bad sign? Maybe :) Anyways, I finally came across a recipe for strawberries in a honey mint sauce, so I just decided to expand on the idea and add more fruit and a little tang! You can use whatever fruit you have on hand, but since I didn't use honey, sweet fruit is best unless you like especially sour fruit salad! This recipe is super simple and really fast. It's a great addition to any meal!

Fruit Salad with Lemon-Mint Dressing

10-12 large strawberries
3 kiwis
1 papaya
1 cup blueberries
1 lemon 
2 large sprigs of fresh mint leaves

Make about 4 cups

Cut off stems from strawberries and cut into 1/4 inch slices. 

Halve papaya and scoop out seeds. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

Remove fuzzy skin from kiwis, halve and cut into 1/4 inch slices. 

Add all cut fruit to a large bowl, along with blueberries. 

In a food processor add mint leaves and juice of 1 lemon. I also had to add a strawberry, because the leaves just stuck to the side and didn't blend. 

Pulse for about 30 seconds. 

Pour lemon-mint dressing over fruit and toss to coat. 

Refrigerate for about 1 hour, to allow flavors to mix!

After an hour the fruit doesn't look pretty, but it taste great!
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