Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Red Wine Vinegar Slaw & Avocado Salsa

I’m obsessed with the little Honduran restaurant here in town called Izzy’s. It is positively delightful to have authentic flavors for inspiration!

Yes, I said positively delightful. See what a pleasant mood good food puts me in? Anyway, I’d been meaning to try to copy the slaw that tops most of the tacos at Izzy’s. It is crunchy, tangy, and this awesome shade of pink.

I also recently had a request for my blackened seasoning. I used shrimp, but try it on fish, chicken, anything. It is only slightly spicy (but enough so that my toddler rejects it – I just cook hers in butter with no seasoning). To get the right flavor, use butter, not oil, for cooking the blackened meat!

Before I do any more talking, I want to make sure you’re not intimidated by all the moving parts: the only real cooking here is the shrimp. Everything else is just chopped and stirred and marinated for awhile. So make this, it is easy and you will love it.

This recipe is a combo of old and new, spicy and tangy, creamy and crunchy.

And delicious and delicious.

I  seem to love italics today.

I decided to add avocado salsa to balance the strong blackened and vinegar flavors. You could just dice up some avocado and throw it on top, but what fun is that? I didn’t have any, but adding corn to this salsa is not only authentic, it also completes the flavor spectrum by adding sweet. Ahhh.

Corn tortillas are typically used, but if you like flour better that will work too. You’ll make fewer tacos since flour tortillas are larger, though.

If you want to go all out, make my avocado-cilantro ranch dressing and drizzle that on top. Good Lord ah’mighty. Or actually, ay Dios mio.

Serve these with tortilla chips so your guests can scoop up whatever falls out of the tortillas and onto their plates! And maybe some rice too, here’s my MSG-free yellow rice recipe.

P.S. Don’t have red wine vinegar? If you have apple cider vinegar, try topping these tacos with my Costa Rican Slaw recipe instead!

P.S.S. I was not kidding when I said I’m obsessed with Spanish food.




Look how pretty it is! Don’t like seafood? Make it with chicken. Just sayin.

Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Red Wine Vinegar Slaw & Avocado Salsa

  • 1 pound large peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 lime
  • 8-10 yellow or white corn tortillas, or flour tortillas

blackened seasoning mix:

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (or use regular if you don’t want the smoky flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • pinch of salt

for the slaw:

  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • juice of 1/2 lime or lemon

for the avocado salsa:

  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4-1/3 cup sweet corn kernels (optional)

Start by making the slaw 1-2 hours ahead of time: in a bowl with a tight fitting lid, mix all 4 ingredients together well. Cover and refrigerate, stirring slaw every 30 minutes. Slaw will soften and turn pink when it’s ready. The longer you let it sit in the vinegar, the stronger the flavor will be.

Next, make the avocado salsa. Mix all ingredients gently in a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Measure out the seasonings for the blackening mix and stir well. Put the shrimp in a large zip top bag and add half the seasoning. Seal and toss to coat. Add more seasoning to your liking – we use it all!

Heat a dry skillet to very, very hot (just leave it on high) and brown the tortillas one at a time, about 1 minute per tortilla. Keep them warm in a towel. If you’re using flour tortillas, wrap them in a damp paper towel and microwave until warm, 20-30 seconds.

Turn heat off and move skillet to another burner. Let cool 5 minutes.

Return skillet to burner and heat on medium. Add butter, and when melted, add shrimp. Cook quickly, constantly tossing shrimp, 2-3 minutes. Squeeze the lime over them. Remove skillet from heat and immediately assemble tacos.

[Alternatively, you could grill the shrimp, in which case you’ll need melted butter to douse them with while they cook!]

Use 3-4 shrimp per taco. Drain vinegar before serving slaw. Top with a spoonful of avocado salsa. Serve with hot sauce or my avocado-cilantro ranch dressing. Enjoy!


Clam Dip

This is a great last-minute, no-cook party dip.  I serve it with Fritos Scoops (gotta be the big ones! And they’re gluten free!).

You can use all sour cream or the mix of sour cream and Greek yogurt shown here. Delicious either way!

If I have some in the fridge, I’ll add a spoonful of whipped cream cheese to it too. Mmm.

P.S. regular cream cheese won’t work; I tried.

P.S.S. you don’t have to be exact in your clam/sour cream/Greek yogurt ratios. Change it to your liking!

Here’s the recipe!

Clam Dip

Yield about 3 cups.

  • 3 cans chopped clams
  • 10 ounces sour cream
  • 6 ounces Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • salt to taste

Drain clams, and mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl.

Serve immediately with corn chips, or it will last in the fridge for a day or so.  Enjoy!


Hearts of Palm Corn Cakes

So I came across a delicious-looking hearts of palm “crabless” cake recipe…I was ready to make it, post it and give them the credit…but the cakes totally fell apart on me!  I was super disappointed the recipe didn’t work.

So I decided to remake the idea from scratch, keeping just the hearts of palm, corn and Old Bay spice ingredients from the original recipe.  The results were delicious!  These are gluten- and msg-free, and vegetarian.  If you substituted the Greek yogurt for Vegan mayo, they’d be vegan too!

So here’s my version of Hearts of Palm Cakes!

Key to getting these cakes to stay together is pulverizing the hearts of palm.  They take on a very crabmeat-like consistency and get sticky.  I used a food processor and alternated pulsing and scraping down the bowl.  Take a few minutes to do this. Drizzle in a bit of olive oil to help lubricate things if you’re having a hard time getting them to break down.

Let’s talk about the breadcrumbs I used for a minute.  Technically, Namaste Foods Gluten Free Homestyle Coating Mix is for frying chicken and such, but it was the closest I could come to gluten free bread crumbs in the grocery store.  It turned out fantastic, and already comes seasoned with an Old Bay-style blend, so if you use this exact product, halve the amount of Old Bay you use.  If you have regular or gluten free plain breadcrumbs, use the full amount of Old Bay.

Make the creamy, lemony yogurt dip for them too.  My sister’s boyfriend hates crab – but he loves these cakes!

Hearts of Palm Corn Cakes

For the palm cakes:

  • 2 cans whole hearts of palm, drained and patted dry
  • 1 cup fresh corn (about 1 ear)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/3 cup diced celery
  • 1/3 minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for frying
  • salt and pepper to taste (I used 1/8 tablespoon each)

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • few shakes of salt and pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon Old Bay
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder


In a food processor or blender, pulse hearts of palm until sticky.  Add a little olive oil to help, if needed.  Set aside.

Saute corn, onion and celery until soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes, over medium heat in a tablespoon of olive oil.

In a bowl, combine hearts of palm, cilantro, and remaining ingredients.  Add the corn mixture when ready, and stir gently to incorporate all ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until chilled through.

Using a flatware tablespoon, form heaps of mixture into balls (I estimate they’re 1/3 cup each or so).  Roll in breadcrumbs to coat entirely, and flatten into patties.  Set on parchment or waxed paper.

In a deep fry pan, add 1/8″ olive oil and heat to medium.  Working in batches of 4, slowly brown the cakes on both sides, about 5 minutes each.  They’ll be firm and will stay together when you try to flip them.

For the dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth.

Serve as an appetizer or with a green salad for an entree.  Enjoy!


Ginger-Honey Grilled Shrimp

This is one of my first ever blog posts…please excuse the poor quality photo!

Surprise!  Something that doesn’t have cumin or cilantro is on the menu tonight.  Shrimp was on sale at our grocery store so I bought a pound frozen and pondered what to do with it.  Sweet and spicy sounded nice, and I have a gluten-free teriyaki sauce my sister recommended that I had yet to crack open.  Japanese it is!

I use San-J teriyaki sauce (and their soy sauce too).  I swear it’s better than the regular stuff!

Ginger-Honey Grilled Shrimp

  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • juice of half a lime
  • Gluten Free teriyaki sauce for drizzling

Combine all the ingredients except the shrimp and teriyaki sauce in a bowl and whisk together.   Reserve 1/4 cup marinade for basting later.  Pour the marinade over the shrimp in a zip top bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

When the shrimp have had time to marinate, skewer the shrimp on metal or bamboo sticks (soak the bamboo skewers to prevent burning).

On a grill or in a grill pan, cook the shrimp, basting a few times, until opaque on each side.  Remove from skewers and serve over rice, drizzling the rice and shrimp with teriyaki sauce.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Creamy Lemon Basil Shrimp with Kale

I’ve been completely enamored with the winter Olympics this year.  There have been so many exciting moments!

Maybe it’s always this way.  This year I’m roped in, for some reason.

So as not to distract me from the games, what can I make for dinner that’s quick and tasty?  And not a huge cleanup endeavor.

The Olympian gods were smiling down on me today.  Shrimp – already peeled, already deveined – tails already removed! – was on sale.  Yes!

So here’s my shrimp pasta.  You could use spinach instead of kale, I just like kale’s crunch.  Or try broccoli or asparagus!

A little lemon zest adds brightness and brings out the basil!

Serve it over rice instead of pasta.  Add some bread (Udi’s makes delicious gluten free dinner rolls!) smothered in butter or basil pesto, and I’d say you’ve got a win.

Gold for sure. [end Olympic references.]

Creamy Lemon Basil Shrimp with Kale

1/2 box (4 servings) pasta of your choice

  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
  • 1 cup Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 4 cups fresh kale, chopped (or use spinach if you like)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) whipped cream cheese (regular or Neufchatel will also work)
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • torn fresh basil leaves

Boil pasta according to package directions.  Drain, toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking, and set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add 1 clove of minced garlic, the chicken broth and kale, along with a touch of salt.  Cover and cook until wilted, 5 minutes or so.

Turn heat up to medium-high.  Add rest of garlic and butter, and add shrimp to the pan, cooking until pink.

Turn heat back down to medium.  Add tomatoes, cream cheese, and lemon zest.  Stir; cover until cream cheese is melted.

Add salt and pepper to taste.  Continue to simmer uncovered over medium-low heat until a smooth sauce forms.  Serve over pasta and sprinkle with torn basil.  Enjoy!