The Half-Crunchy Mama

Trying to live a natural life with balance


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Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

My creation for dinner Saturday night. A bag of frozen cooked shrimp, a few zucchini, some fresh herbs, and items that are always in the house gave birth to deliciousness.

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

As I mentioned in my post for Creamy Zucchini Noodles, I love my spiral slicer. We love zucchini noodles and they are a healthy alternative to pasta for whole food and grain-free diets. So I made some noodles.

I took this next picture to share with you another of my favorite kitchen tools, the Microplane grater. I zested the whole lemon before squeezing all the juice, using both for the sauce.

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

 Aside from making the noodles and handling the lemon, the only prep that was needed was getting the garlic ready for the mincer. My favorite kind of meals are ones that are fast, cheap, and easy. This one checks all of those boxes.

As usual, I tossed the noodles in olive oil that was preheated in a skillet over medium heat. I shook some salt and fresh ground pepper over it and cooked them for about 5 minutes until they softened, but were still a little firm. I removed the pan from the burner and set it aside.

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

 Then it was time for the sauce. I melted 4 tablespoons of butter (I use Kerrygold) over medium-low heat and then added 6 cloves of freshly minced garlic, cooking for about 2 minutes. Then I added 1/4 cup of white wine, the lemon juice, and zest, bringing it to a boil.

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

After about a minute or two of boiling, I added the thawed shrimp. I heated the shrimp in the sauce over medium until they were heated through. (You can tell when they are heated enough when they have shrunk a little and the sauce starts to boil again.) I removed the shrimp from the pan with a slotted spoon and set them aside. Then I added a tablespoon of gluten-free flour (Bob’s Red Mill), whisking constantly to combine. I also added a little salt and fresh pepper after the flour.

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

Once the sauce had thickened, I returned the shrimp to the pan and coated them in the buttery lemon sauce.

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

I threw in about 2 tablespoons each of freshly chopped parsley and basil from the garden, tossing well to coat the shrimp.

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

I divided the zucchini noodles into our bowls and topped them with the Lemony Shrimp Scampi. Oh. my. It was so good that this is the fastest turnaround for a recipe post from me. Ever.

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi


Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

The amount of shrimp should probably be for three servings, but I only had two servings of noodles (portion size is not something the Russian and I do well), so I would suggest that you add another zucchini to the noodles if you don’t want to eat 6 ounces of shrimp in one meal. Another thought that I had was it may not be easy to find a 12 ounce package of shrimp, so if you can only find a 16 ounce one, use two additional zucchini and increase all the sauce ingredients slightly. If you are friend of mine, you can probably eat the portions that this recipe makes – perfect for two!

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into noodles with a spiral slicer (or julienne peeler)
  • 1-2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp butter or ghee
  • 6 cloves of garlic, freshly minced
  • 1/4 c white wine, preferably on the dry side
  • Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon (about 2 1/2 Tbsp)
  • Zest of one lemon (about 1 tsp)
  • 12 ounce package of frozen cooked shrimp, thawed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp chopped basil
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
DIRECTIONS
  1. Heat EVOO in a skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini, salt, and pepper to pan and toss to coat. Cook for 5 minutes until noodles have softened, but are still firm and bright green. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in another skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook for about two minutes until garlic is soft and fragrant, but not browned. Add wine, lemon juice, and zest. Bring to a boil and cook for about 1 minute.
  3. Turn heat to medium and add the shrimp, tossing to coat. Cook until heated through (when visibly shrinking and liquid starts to boil again). Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. Add flour, salt and pepper (to taste) to the lemon butter sauce and whisk constantly until flour dissolves and sauce thickens.
  5. Return shrimp to pan, add fresh herbs, and toss to coat.
  6. Serve zucchini noddles topped with shrimp, drizzling extra sauce over the top. Enjoy!


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Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts. Yes, they are spelled with an ‘s’ on the end, as in the capital of Belgium. I didn’t realize that until I started cooking them as an adult. Usually people love or hate these little baby cabbages. We LOVE them. In fact, I have always liked them, even as a kid. My mom would cook some for dinner every now and then, and my dad and I were the only ones that would really eat any. My sister would hide hers in the bottom of her milk to escape eating the few that she was given. The ones my mom cooked weren’t even fresh and I still ate them. Crazy, if you ask me.

I make them all the time in a variety of ways, but they are almost always roasted one way or another in the oven. Roasting them makes them soften and caramelize a little to give them a slight bit of sweet. Through the years, I have fed many a friend at my house. Feeding people makes me happy. Silence at my dinner table fills me up, knowing that everyone is just enjoying the meal. All too often I have heard, “I can’t believe I am eating Brussels sprouts….and I like them!” People can always trust me, especially when it comes to food. I will never lie about food. I take food very seriously.

This particular night, I didn’t have my usual ingredients handy for my favorite and most popular Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans (with a few modifications), so I got creative. Balsamic vinegar adds such depth to foods, so I figured it should be a good choice for the sprouts.

First off is to wash the sprouts. Obvious, I know, but I mention this because I do a little more than just rinse them off. I let them soak for a few minutes in a bowl of water. Those layers of leaves can store a little more dirt than you would think. Then I take a few out at a time to the cutting board, cut the bottoms off, and halve them. The outer layer of leaves often fall off and that’s just fine. I usually want those to fall off because if they don’t, I remove them anyway. If leaves aside from those outer ones fall off, I just scoop those up and place them in the bowl with the halved sprouts.  They crisp up something delicious in the oven.

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

 Toss them in the bowl with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and fresh pepper. Spread them out on a jelly roll pan (the technical name for this type of baking sheet) and place them cut side down.

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts - The Half-Crunchy Mama

 Bake in a preheated oven at 375ºF for 20-25 minutes. They should look like this when they are almost finished:

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

 Add a few teaspoons of balsamic vinegar over them and stir with a spatula to spread it around. Watch out, though! The vinegar gets really strong on a hot pan and can burn your nose.

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

 These are even good leftover…I like to eat my leftover sprouts right from the fridge.


Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Just one of several ways you can roast these baby cabbages up in the oven. The balsamic vinegar adds a complex sweetness to the sprouts. 

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 lbs Brussels Sprouts
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
DIRECTIONS
  1. Cut the bottoms off of the sprouts and halve them. Discard outer leaf layers if discolored.
  2. Combine in bowl with EVOO, salt and pepper.
  3. Spread out on a jelly roll pan or baking sheet, cut side down.
  4. Roast in 375ºF oven for 20-25 minutes until somewhat browned.
  5. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over them and stir. Place back in oven for 2-3 minutes. Enjoy!


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Lentil and Rice Salad

The days leading up to payday are always a challenge for me. I am the budget and after all these years, I still stink at it. I hope that I can learn someday so we can get back to digging ourselves out of debt. For now, you get to benefit from me having to get creative in the kitchen in order to provide healthy meals to fill our bellies. After rummaging through the refrigerator on Tuesday, I saw enough things in there to work with and get my mind moving. A package of vacuum-packed, precooked lentils, leftover basmati rice, black olives, and some items from the vegetable drawer. I started throwing things together in a bowl and kept adding to it. This was the result: Lentil Rice Salad - The Half-Crunchy Mama Leave it to Trader Joe’s to help a girl out. I am an avid label reader (the crunchy side) and there are some things from there that I won’t touch, but there are lots of things you can find in Trader Joe’s that are not only healthy and cheap, but are real time savers. This is one of them…not that lentils take all that long to cook, but still. I have a three year old and I can use all the help I can get. So I took these and the leftover rice (enough to fill one of those plastic Chinese takeout soup containers, maybe 2 cups?) and popped them in the microwave to get them softened up and brought back to life. Then the creativity came and I was pulling things to the counter left and right. Lentil Rice Salad - The Half-Crunchy Mama I threw in a large handful of bagged, organic shredded carrots, 3/4 can of sliced black olives (Trader Joe’s), 2 tsp minced garlic (from a jar), and 1 small onion finely diced in my chopper – one of my top kitchen favorites that I love so much that I have given it as gifts. The one I have linked is not the same brand, but it’s the same thing (and the one that I buy for people).

Lentil and Rice Salad - The Half-Crunchy Mama

Then I added 2 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro plus about 1-2 tsp from the squeeze tube, quite a bit of salt and fresh ground pepper, squeezed the juice from two limes and one lemon, and finished it off with a few turns around the bowl of  extra virgin olive oil. And this is what I got. YUM!Lentil Rice Salad - The Half-Crunchy Mama


Lentil Rice Salad

Easy on the budget, this quick protein-filled dish can help stretch your dollars and your time. Sorry for the vagueness in quantities, but this is how I do it 🙂 Thinking back, I wish that I had some English cucumber and/or organic bell pepper lying around, too. That would be even better. Just use your own judgement and taste buds to perfect your own! 

INGREDIENTS
  • Approximately 1 lb of cooked lentils (I used Trader Joe’s 17.6 oz package of steamed and refrigerated lentils)
  • Approximately 2 cups of cooked rice (I had leftover Basmati)
  • Large handful of bagged, shredded carrots (approximately 1-1.5 cups)
  • Sliced black olives, drained (I used about 3 ounces of a 3.8 ounce from Trader Joe’s that I had left in the fridge – more would be better)
  • 2-3 tsp minced garlic (from the jar – time saver!)
  • 1 small onion, very finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp freshly chopped cilantro
  • 1-2 tsp cilantro from the tube (or 1-2 Tbsp more fresh)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Few times around the bowl with EVOO (1-2 Tbsp)
  • Quite a bit of fresh ground pepper and sea salt (start with 1/4- 1/2 tsp each and taste from there)
DIRECTIONS
  1. In medium bowl, stir together lentils and rice. Warm (in microwave) if needed. (yes, I still use a microwave – half-crunchy)
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, giving a few stirs now and then to combine well.
  3. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Enjoy!