Zoodles Pad Thai Shrimp Zucchini Noodles

Zucchini Noodles are so versatile and pair perfectly with Thai flavors in this Pad Thai Style Zoodle dish.
Pad Thai Style Zucchini Noodles

My spiralizer is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets. And this recipe is “Exhibit A” in why every home cook should own one, IMHO.

Zucchini noodles are so versatile – they fit well with most any pasta dish from any cuisine – Asian, Italian, Chinese – the possibilities are endless!

I love Pad Thai. It is one of my regular cravings. But, let’s face it – it’s hard to make at home. Rice noodles are boring, and they are hard to get just right. When I have made them, they can turn from under done to gummy and mushy in just seconds. And, they are completely empty carbs.

Zoodles (zucchini noodles) are so great. They are much less fussy to cook with than rice noodles, they have very few carbs, tons of antioxidants and other nutrients and are yummy, too. I can’t wait for zucchini season this year! Did you know that an average sized zucchini has only 30 calories? Just FYI, the same amount of white flour pasta has about 200 calories and tons of carbs. Low carb blogger Kalyn uses zucchini noodles abundantly on her blog – and I love her Spicy Cherry Tomato, Sausage, Garlic and Herb Zoodles.

I would love to try Shrimp Scampi Zoodles, Chili Garlic Zoodles, Sesame Almond Butter Zoodles,  Asian Zoodle Salad Jars. Basically any dish that requires pasta can be made with zucchini noodles instead of white flour pasta.

Zoodles Pad Thai Style Shrimp Zucchini Noodles
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Zucchini replaces boring rice noodles in this fabulous redo of Pad Thai.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: 4 to 6
  • For the sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce or chili paste
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • For the noodles:
  • 4 medium sized zucchinis
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced in ¼ inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 ounces mung bean sprouts
  • 3 green onions, cut in 1 inch pieces
  • ½ cup diced roasted peanuts
  • ½ cup diced cilantro leaves
  1. Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.
  2. Sprialize the zucchini into ¼ inch wide noodles, cutting every 5 to 6 inches.
  3. Heat a large skillet to medium high heat. Add oil and shrimp and saute shrimp for 2 or 3 minutes, until cooked through. Remove shrimp from skillet.
  4. Add carrots to skillet and cook for about 3 minutes, until fork tender. Add in zucchini noodles and saute for one more minute. Add in sauce and stir and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until most of liquid has evaporated and sauce clings to noodles.
  5. Turn off heat. Toss in the shrimp, bean sprouts and green onions.
  6. Serve with a sprinkling of peanuts and cilantro. Serve with a few limes wedges on the side.


Gringo Style Sloppy Joe Tacos

Sloppy Joe TacosCinco de Mayo is a Mexican/American holiday. The real Mexican Independence day is September 16, but we Americans also celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Mostly it is an excuse to eat guacamole and drink margaritas.

These sloppy joes style tacos are a perfect blend of American comfort food and an icon of Mexican food – the taco. I love the soft and comforting feel of these tacos. I must warm you – they are VERY sloppy. You might even want to eat them with a fork – that kind of sloppy. Since Cinco de Mayo is next Tuesday, and Tuesday is a weeknight, these tacos that take about 30 minutes total time are perfect – and kids and grown ups will all love them. Margaritas or not!


Sloppy Joe Tacos
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Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 12 tacos
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 jalapenos, diced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 Tb Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tb chile powder
  • 1 Tb galric powder
  • 1 Tb soy sauce
  • 1 Tb ground cumin
  • 1 Tb smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 12 corn tortillas, heated
  • Suggested garnishes: queso fresco cheese; lettuce; tomatoes; radishes
  1. Cook jalapenos and onion in a large skillet over medium high heat in oil until softened, about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add in ground beef and cook until browned, breaking into small bits.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and reduce to a simmer. Cook until most of liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes.
  3. Serve on corn tortillas and top with garnishes as desired. I used cilantro, diced radishes and queso fresco.

Other sloppy joe innovations:

 Enchilada Sloppy Joes, Taste and Tell
Vegan Sloppy Joes, Naturally Ella
Sloppy Joe Casserole, Buns in my Oven

Slow Cooker Bolognese with Carrot Pappardelle Pasta

A few killer key ingredients make this slow cooker bolognese amazingly flavorful – and the light carrot noodles add a fresh, naturally grain-free contrast.

Slow Cooker Bolognese over Carrot Pappardelle Noodles

Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce (with a secret ingredient!) over Carrot Pappardelle Noodles

There are two parts to this post and I can’t quite decide which is my favorite. The bolognese sauce has a secret ingredient, which came by way of Bon Appetit, but I thought I’d adapt it for the slow cooker, and make it dairy-free while I was at it. It takes some prep, true, but is well worth it. The secret? Okay, I’ll spill right away: a mere 3 ounces of chicken liver that contributes so much depth on top of the dense nutritional punch it packs. The idea in Bon Appetit is courtesy of Chef Mike Easton, who also adds some peppery kick to round out the flavor mix.

But then the carrot pappardelle ‘pasta’ (or, as my housemate suggested, “caroodles”), they’re so simple and easy you won’t even believe it. I love some zucchini noodles as much as the next low-carb/paleo-ish type; I adore my spiralizer and use it often, but you don’t even need special equipment. A regular handheld vegetable peeler is all it takes.

Try these together, or in combination with other components, but do try them!

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Skinny Roasted Shrimp Chile Rellenos

Roasted chiles are so delicious in place of the traditional deep fried style. This easy recipe cuts fat and calories – but not flavor!
Shrimp Rellenos

Meet your new favorite chile relleno – just in time for Cinco de Mayo!

I have grown to love this new way of making chiles rellenos (stuffed chiles) – roasted. Not fried.

Oh sure, I love the traditional battered, deep fried classic Anaheim chiles stuffed with cheese. But. They are a huge mess to make and are loaded with calories and fat. I became a believer in this style when I had a roasted relleno at a restaurant, and I now make them all the time at home.

These have an easy, flavorful sauce of roasted red bell peppers and tomatoes underneath them while roasting. And the shrimp (and/or crab if you like) with a little cream cheese and Monterey Jack cheese make a perfect creamy stuffing.

We celebrate Cinco de Mayo fully at the Kelly casa – and food is front and center at our celebration, of course. Try our fabulous Vegan Nachos with Chipotle Lentil Sauce or our Corn Pudding Poblano Cups. !Arriba! !Arrrriiiiiiiiiiiba!

(( Fun Fact: Can you see The Hubs – my food photographer – in the photo? His reflection is in the spoon! ))

– posted by Donna

Baja Poblanos Rellenos Recipe
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Seafood in a creamy sauce stuffed into fruity poblano peppers - all with the colors of the Mexican flag. A flavor fiesta for your mouth!
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Southwest
Serves: 6
  • 1 jar (12 ounces) roasted red bell peppers, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, UNdrained
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large poblano peppers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 pound medium peeled and deveined raw shrimp
  • 1 cup (1 ounce) Monterey jack cheese, grated
  • 2 ounces low fat cream cheese
  • ½ cup queso fresco, crumbled, for garnish
  • ½ cup diced cilantro for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Blend red peppers, diced tomatoes and salt in a blender until very smooth. Pour into a 9 by 13 baking pan, or in six oblong baking dishes.
  3. Cook poblano peppers in the microwave oven for about 2 minutes, just until softened.
  4. Cut a long slit in one side of the poblanos from stem to tip. Scoop out all seeds and pulp from inside poblanos.
  5. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and cook 3 minutes. Add garlic, jalapeno and cumin and cook another 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Dice the shrimp and add to skillet. Cook until shrimp is translucent. Stir in cream cheese and then Monterey Jack cheese until melted. Remove from heat.
  6. Stuff the poblanos with the shrimp mixture and then place in the pan(s) with the sauce.
  7. Bake at top of oven for about 40 minutes, until lightly browned and bubbly around edges. Serve warm.


Other bloggers do chiles rellenos:

One of the best casserole-style chiles rellenos is made by South Beach Queen Kalyn at Kalyn’s Kitchen
Check out the Mexican classic version at Mexico in my Kitchen
And a Blog About Food has a fabulous version
Must try this Roasted Green Chile Relleno Casserole, Some the Wiser
How about Chiles Rellenos de Picadillo, Mexico in my Kitchen

Creole Red Beans and Cauliflower Rice

A Creole comfort classic gets updated: Red Beans and Rice made grain free with cauliflower. 

Red Beans and Cauliflower Rice

Cajun Red Beans and Cauliflower Rice

Alternate title: The trinity, the trifecta, and the amen. Let me explain:

The Cajun & Creole kick continues! You may recall that in Donna’s recent Shrimp and Quinoa Creole post, the Apron Strings team was preparing to hit NOLA. Last weekend was the  big (easy) event, and of course it was a nonstop food fanatic’s wonderland. Just taking in all the glorious restaurants is a culinary adventure in itself, but we got to take it a step further, via a class at the New Orleans Cooking Experience. Would recommend!

Less interactive than other stand-alone cooking classes we’ve taken together, the evening was nonetheless equal parts entertaining and educational. Chef Janice “Boo” Macomber regaled us with family recipes demonstrations, anecdotes from her shrimp camp, and the occasional off-color joke, all the while tossing out tidbits and tips for bringing authentic Cajun flavor into your own kitchen – and we got to devour the results of her demonstrations (the best part, of course).

Pretty much any home cook who has passing familiarity with either Creole/Cajun cooking or the Food Network knows what the Trinity is by now, right? Chef Boo adds three other shortcut references, all of which are used liberally in her biographical, homespun cookbook (her chef’s jacket is embroidered with “High Priestess of the Bayou”). If the ingredient list includes the Trifecta, you know you need to add salt, cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce. The Resurrection adds 6 cloves (or “toes”) of garlic to the Trinity. And adding Amen means finishing with a liberal sprinkle of chopped scallions and fresh parsley.

I came home with a craving for one of my favorite Creole classics: red beans and rice. This dish is so quintessentially New Orleans, Louis Armstrong used to sign his letters “Red Beans and Ricely Yours.” I thought I’d make it grain-free (and reduce the carbs a bit) by incorporating cauliflower rice, and lighten it up a bit more with chicken andouille. It’s still every bit the deeply flavorful comfort food. The ham hock adds smoky depth, and the beans make it creamy without a bit of dairy. And like so many other slow foods, it tastes even better the next day.  …

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Chicken Salad in Bell Pepper Rings

Chicken Salad in Bell Pepper Rings

Edible bell pepper rings filled with chilled chicken salad. What would bring a smile to Mom for brunch on her special day more than these edible flower rings? I can’t think of a single thing.

These little bell pepper rings are so pretty on a plate – delicious and good for you, too. I used my favorite chicken salad recipe, but you could use any cold chopped salad you like. The possibilities are endless, I say. Egg Salad. Tuna Salad. Pasta Salad. I am going to be using this technique again and again, with a different filling each time.

We are fans here at Apron Strings of edible “rings” for food. Our first try was eggs in bell pepper rings. We loved this idea so much we made many versions: Eggs in Avocados, Eggs in Onion Rings, and the list goes on and on with eggs. Why not with chicken salad?

Mom deserves  to eat festive food, after all.

Chicken Salad in Bell Pepper Rings
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Chicken Salad in pretty pepper rings - a festive addition to your next brunch!
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
  • 4 cups cooked cubed chicken
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 cup halved grapes
  • ½ cup diced pecans
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced dill
  • ¼ cup plain or vanilla Greek yoghurt
  • 3 bell peppers, any color
  1. Mix all ingredients together and chill at least 2 hours.
  2. When ready to serve, stir in additional Greek yogurt if desired to make the salad creamy.
  3. Spoon into bell pepper rings that are cut about 2 inches thick.

CReative spins on chicken salad that are on my Must Try list:

Shredded Chicken Salad, Kalyn’s Kitchen
Crunchy Kale and Chicken Salad, Budget Bytes
Grilled Chicken and Pecan Salad, Copycat Recipes
Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Salad, Closet Cooking
Pineapple Chicken Salad, Annie’s Eats
Low Fat Chicken Salad with Curry and Apricots, Cookin’ Canuck

Slow Cooker Scottish Spring Lamb Stew with Rosemary, Garlic and New Potatoes

A hearty lamb stew, perfect for the remaining grey days of early spring. 

Scottish-Inspired Spring Lamb Soup

Scottish-Inspired Spring Lamb Soup

We still have some drizzly March days before we even head into April showers – weather where a really great stew totally hits the spot . . . especially when you can set it up in the slow cooker.  I adore this lamb stew with baby new potatoes, plenty of garlic, fresh rosemary, and a splash of red wine. And hey, lamb is perfect for the upcoming Outlander volume 2 premiere, if you’re into that any-excuse-for-theme-food thing (which I most certainly am). …

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Slow Cooker Southern Chicken Recipe: Country Captain

A light and healthy curry-influenced dish from Savannah, Georgia, made easy as can be in the slow cooker. 

Country Captain Chicken in the Slow Cooker

Country Captain Chicken in the Slow Cooker

I love the variety and vivaciousness of so much Southern food. I think it sometimes gets unfairly stereotyped as being all about biscuits and butter and deep fried everything (not that there’s anything wrong with that if it’s you bag), but there are so many other varieties of flavorful Southern dishes from all different regions, with influences that reach all over the globe.

This particular recipe is reputed to have originated in Savannah, which in colonial times was a major port, by way of Mumbai. You can really taste that influence here, with the curry and the currants, and yet it’s a fabulously simple form in this rendition. It happens to be paleo all on its own or with cauliflower rice, and is gluten and dairy free – not that you’d even notice. …

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Mediterranean Heart Healthy One Pot Wonder White Fish Dinner

One Pot Fish Donner

This one pot fish is simmered on your stove top with flavorful mediterranean ingredients for a 20 minute healthy meal.

So, let’s just say that your sweetheart has what the doctors refer to as a heart “condition.” The love of my life had a massive heart attack in 2002 and one third of his heart tissue died. I am always trying to get him to eat more fish – especially Omega 3s  fatty acids – fish like salmon and cod.

I am making this for my sweetie for Valentine’s Day. I know, I know. A nice hunk of beef is more traditional, at least for American valentines. But, for a flavor-packed meal that is low carb and is heart healthy – c’mon, doesn’t that just scream I LOVE YOU and I want you to live a long, long time???

WARNING: This is a healthy low carb easy dinner, but all that reduced liquid is so yummy, you might want to have a baguette handy – to sop up the sauce. Just sayin’.

One Pot Fish Dinner

 — posted by Donna

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5 Ingredient Leftover Turkey with Cranberries and Rosemary

One more Thanksgiving leftover salad – simple as can be. 

Leftover Thanksgiving Salad

Leftover Thanksgiving Salad with Turkey, Cranberries and Rosemary

This is as easy as it gets, and yet the flavor combination is totally worth noting and repeating. Naturally you can use chicken on any other occasion, but do try it out with the rosemary and cranberries even if you don’t happen to have them (and the celery) leftover from a prior feast, as I did. …

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