Lemon Thyme and Ginger

Easy Dinner Recipes for the Family

Easy Dinner Recipes: Seared Fish Tacos

At times the hustle of the day’s events makes preparing a family dinner challenging. Preparing a balanced meal of a protein, vegetables and healthy carbohydrates takes time, especially when you cook with a lot of plant-based foods. Are there any solutions for making dinner that is easy to prepare and doesn’t require a lot of time slaving over a stove? Yes, there are. Listed below are links to easy dinner recipes found on my website for a quick and easy reference.

What is an easy dinner? A dinner recipe that requires little prep work and comes together in a reasonable amount of time. There are a couple of solutions to make dinner easier to put together. One short cut is, buy produce already chopped. Many grocery stores offer a wide selection of produce already chopped and ready for cooking. Each item may cost more, but if buying prepared vegetables is the difference between making dinner or not, it is worth the price. I do not usually buy cut up produce because these days I am mostly cooking for two. However, I cannot ignore how buying prepared vegetables saves a lot of time. It is my opinion, the value of cooking and eating a home cooked meal is significant, especially when compared to eating take out dinners.

Another time saver is make dinner in one pan. Sheet pan, or one pot dinners often require minimal prep, work and everything cooks on (or in) one pan. This also makes clean-up a lot easier as well.

All of these recipes easily come together with little prep work, or cooked in one pan or pot, or take a minimal amount of time to cook. Enjoy!


Easy dinner Recipe Post, Spanish inspired Mussels

Easy dinners: Shellfish

One of my favorite easy dinner recipe is my Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Sausage. The mussels are cooked in a broth of tomatoes, garlic, wine and Spanish chorizo sausage. The broth comes together in about 20 minutes and the mussels take 5 minutes to cook. I never served this meal to young children, but many adults love this. It is great for entertaining a small group of friends, because you can cook the sauce ahead of time then cook the mussels 5 minutes before you want to eat dinner. Serve with good crusty bread to soak up the juices and a tossed salad. For a vegetarian option, omit the chorizo sausage.

Sautéed Sesame Shrimp with Spinach is another supper easy dinner recipe. This recipe is an older one of mine, but the shrimp and spinach cook up quickly and with little effort. Serve with white or brown rice or your favorite grain.


Easy Dinner Recipes: Fish Tacos with Mango and Avocado salsa

Easy dinners: Fish

I honestly believe all my fish recipes on Lemon Thyme and Ginger are easy to make. By nature, fish does not require a lot of cooking time. They are an especially easy dinner to make when the fish is cooked in a pouch of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Rainbow Trout with Lemon and Dill and Oven Poached Salmon with Spinach Butter Sauce are both prepared en papilloteSole Stuffed with Herbs is similarly prepared, but it is not tightly sealed in a neat package.

Fish Tacos comes together easily when you buy the cabbage already sliced for coleslaw.


Easy Dinner Recipe: roasted curry chicken with potatoes and raisins.

Easy dinner: Chicken

Another favorite easy dinner are sheet pan meals. I particularity like to use chicken when I make a sheet pan dinner, either bone in or boneless work. The boned chicken will take longer to cook but the chicken does not dry out as much, especially with chicken breasts. If you want to go the boneless, skinless chicken route, use chicken thighs, breasts dry out too easily. Roasted Curry Chicken with Potatoes and Raisins has minimal prep and is delicious paired with blanched broccoli, green beans or a salad. Oven baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel is another easy chicken dinner baked together on one sheet pan.


Easy Dinner recipes: Lamb chops

Easy Dinner: Meat

One of my favorite marinades for meat is the sherry marinade used in Grilled Sherry Marinated Flank Steak. It also tastes great with pork tenderloin. Both types of meat benefit from a flavorful marinade. I like to marinate the flank steak over night, but if you want place the flank steak in the marinade first thing in the morning, it will taste just as delicious. If the current weather prohibits you from grilling, pan grill the flank steak on the stove top. You get more browning and caramelized flavor using a grill pan vs the broiler.

The easiest of all meats are lamb chops. They are delicious and quickly cook on a grill or stove-top within a matter of minutes. My recipe for Lamb chops: An early fall harvest dinner for two, describes how to cook lamb chops. In the winter, you can substitute the summer and fall vegetables in this recipe with any vegetable recipe on the blog like, Sweet and Spicy Herbed Carrots, or Green Beans with Roasted Onions.


Easy dinner recipes: Pasta with spicy brussels sprouts and sausage

Easy dinner: Pasta

The fastest and easiest cooked tomato sauce I know is Marcella Hazon’s, Tomato Sauce with Rosemary and Balsamic Vinegar. Tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, rosemary and balsamic vinegar come together for a silky sauce perfect for penne or other tube-shaped pasta. It makes for a light supper, but a satiating one at that. It also tastes delicious over polenta. If you want a more substantial red sauce and pasta meal, make Pasta with Turkey Meat Sauce.

This time of year Brussels sprouts are easily found at most grocery stores, Pasta Dinner with Spicy Brussels Sprouts and Sausage is a real crowd pleaser, especially for the meat lover in your family. For a vegetarian option substitute the sausage with chickpeas or cannellini beans.


Easy dinner recipe: Basil Zucchini Frittata

Easy dinner: Eggs

Often when we are in a hurry or low on food, we make a frittata. Basil and Zucchini Frittata is a great quick and easy dinner for the summer, but in the winter substitute the basil and zucchini with left over Brussels sprouts with pomegranate glaze. Or, make a pasta frittata with left over pasta with turkey meat sauce.

Omelets are another easy dinner choice. However, I prefer to make one omelet at a time as opposed to one big omelet, sliced into individual servings.


Easy dinner recipes: Silver Palate chocolate cake

Easy Dessert Recipes:

Swedish Apple Pie is so easy, someone who insists they cannot bake, will have success with this recipe.

Yogurt Panna Cotta is also easy to put together. You can make a spiced fruit sauce with any seasonal fruit.

If a cake is what you want, Silver Palate Chocolate Cake was my go to dessert for many years.


If you make any one of my recipes I would love to hear from you. You can share a photo on my Facebook page, or on your Instagram feed and tag me @lemonthymeandginger.


© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

Appetizers, Recent Posts | May 12, 2017 | By

Whether you are having just a couple of friends over for drinks or throwing a big bash, deciding on the appetizer menu has it challenges. There are so many considerations, like how much food, your guests eating preferences, and the ease of preparation being at the top of the list.  One appetizer that is a great crowd pleaser is shrimp cocktail. I have yet to come across someone who does not like shrimp, unless they have a shellfish allergy.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail recipe

Roasted Shrimp cocktail Recipe

I love shrimp cocktail and believe it is the cocktail party equivalent of the office water cooler. Everyone likes to mingle around the shrimp. It is a good place to catch up with your friends or introduce yourself to the other guests. Chatting and munching around the shrimp appetizer is an interactive icebreaker with a festive atmosphere. Politics and the opposing opinions are not discussed around the shrimp cocktail. Those heated discussions happen near the charcuterie platter where there are more questions than answers.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail recipe

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

I discovered a shrimp cocktail recipe from Melissa Clark at the New York Times Cooking website. Her recipe reinforced a couple of ideas I already had. The first is roasting the shrimp instead of boiling them. I love roasted shrimp because the natural sweetness in shrimp becomes more concentrated. Also, I can season the shrimp any way I want, or not and it will still taste delicious. Often, boiling shrimp creates bland tasting waterlogged shrimp.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail recipe

Second, she changed up the cocktail sauce to an aioli. It is a brighter and spicier dipping sauce and not too sweet. Have you ever tasted cocktail sauce that is nothing but ketchup and horseradish? Yuck. This recipe makes a cocktail sauce with traditional ingredients, but with a different technique.

There is one problem I have with her aioli recipe: it is impossible to make as directed. I have tried and tried on multiple occasions, but I cannot get the sauce to the consistency of an aioli. Whenever I make it, the cocktail sauce is runny, like a salad dressing, and nothing like aioli. Maybe, based on the photograph with her recipe, that is how it’s supposed to be. I wonder.

Roasted Shrimp cocktail Receipe

Try these other great appetizers with Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

Baby Blue Cheese Cakes

Crispy Potato Skins with Smoked Salmon

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

After going through a bottle of Aleve to relieve the cramp in my right arm from whisking oil and egg yolk for hours, I gave up and adapted her recipe. Remember, ease of preparation is a key consideration making appetizers. So, whenever I make roasted shrimp cocktail I do one of two options. One, I make homemade mayonnaise using my immersion blender and then add the remaining ingredients. Or, I use store-bought mayonnaise and mix everything together. Making the cocktail sauce with the mayonnaise makes it creamier, but it still has the great bite from the horseradish and Sriracha sauce. This might be considered cheating, but I am a much happier person.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

Roasted shrimp cocktail is an easy appetizer to make and a great crowd pleaser. It takes less time to roast the shrimp than it does to boil water for a traditional shrimp cocktail recipe. The shrimp is sweet with and added kick from garlic and paprika that taste delicious as is, or spiced up the creamy cocktail sauce. Serve this appetizer at your next get together and the shrimp platter will be empty before you know it.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

Roasted shrimp cocktail is an easy appetizer to make and a real crowd pleaser. I like to season the shrimp before I roast it to add more flavor. This is a creamy cocktail sauce made with homemade mayonnaise, horseradish and sriracha. It you want a tangier sauce you can mix in some yogurt or sour cream. Keep the creamy ingredients on the light side so the horseradish and sriracha are prominent. This recipe is adapted from, Roasted Shrimp cocktail with Aioli by Melissa Clark from the New York Times Cooking website.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Author Ginger


Cocktail Sauce

  • 1 garlic clove
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 cup / 125 ml homemade mayonnaise or store bought
  • 1 TB prepared horseradish
  • 1 tsp sriracha or other hot sauce
  • 1 tsp ketchup
  • 1 TB fresh lemon juice

Roasted Shrimp

  • 2 lbs / 1 K large shrimp cleaned and deveined
  • 2 TB / 30 ml olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried granulated garlic or 1-2 cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 tsp paprika


Cocktail Sauce

  1. Peel the garlic and slice in half lengthwise. Remove the green germ from the middle and rough chop the garlic. Add a pinch of Kosher salt and make a garlic paste with the side of your knife. Angle the knife so the blade is almost parallel to the work surface and press down on the garlic with the side of the knife and smush the garlic. Move the knife back and forth pressing down on the garlic. Periodically wipe the collected garlic off the blade of the knife. Continue to press back and forth on the garlic until a smooth paste. Set aside.
  2. Add the mayonnaise, garlic paste, sriracha, horseradish, ketchup and lemon juice to a small bowl and mix. Correct the seasoning to desired taste. Spoon into a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. Can be made one day ahead.

Roasted Shrimp

  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F
  2. Place the cleaned shrimp on a sheet pan then add the remaining ingredients to the shrimp. Toss the shrimp with your hands to get the seasoning and oil mixed evenly over the shrimp. Place in the oven and bake until the shrimp is just done. The shrimp will no longer be translucent. It is very eay to overcook the shrimp, so watch them closely. The shrimp should take 7 to 10 minutes. I start checking at the 5-minute mark to gauge the progress.
  3. Serve the shrimp warm or at room temperature with the creamy cocktail sauce.

Recipe Notes

How many servings you will get will depend on how many shrimp you get per pound. For an appetizer, I figure 4 shrimp per person when I have a small get together. For a larger crowd, I will not count out the shrimp, but buy a general amount and hope everyone gets at least one.
For a serving size for an entree, I figure 6 shrimp served along with other side dishes like pasta or rice, and vegetables.


© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Sautéed Sesame Shrimp and Spinach

Sauteed Sesame Shrimp with Spinach is an easy and healthy meal that can be prepared in 15 minutes. Cleaning the shrimp with salt and water produces tender, moist and crunchy shrimp. A simple meal that all shrimp lovers will enjoy.

I could serve shrimp every night and my sons would never get tired of it. Mention “Shrimp for dinner,” and their eyes would light up and they would go into their happy dance. That happy dance  is just as adorable at 26 years old as it is at 3 years. Their expressions of joy and love could turn on me instantly with expression of “H o w  D a r e  Y o u,” if the shrimp portions were unequal. We may have started our dinner giving thanks and praying for world peace, but I could see their intense gaze upon each person’s plate scanning and counting the shrimp to make sure they were not cut short. God forbid someone in the family received one more shrimp than anyone else. If looks could kill, the scowl-glare of, “MORE SHRIMP” would do the job instantly. We may not be able to solve world peace, but at least we work very hard to keep the peace at home.


Sauteed Sesame Shrimp with Spinach is an easy and healthy meal that can be prepared in 15 minutes. Cleaning the shrimp with salt and water produces tender, moist and crunchy shrimp. A simple meal that all shrimp lovers will enjoy.

Shrimp and Spinach

Sauteed Sesame Shrimp with Spinach is an easy and healthy meal that can be prepared in 15 minutes. Cleaning the shrimp with salt and water produces tender, moist and crunchy shrimp. A simple meal that all shrimp lovers will enjoy.

Looking though my recipe collection I realized that I have a large number of shrimp recipes. Most of them I have not used because having shrimp on the menu is usually a spontaneous decision, dependent on price and something I can quickly make with vegetables and pasta. (My kids favorite.) I did come across one recipe in my collection, Stir-Fried Sesame Shrimp and Spinach by Martha Rose Shulman at NY Times Cooking, that nudged me to remember a homework assignment I completed for an online class, The Science of Gastronomy at Coursera.org Two science professors from the University of Hong Kong taught the course and focused the learning objectives on how cooking techniques are based on science, and how to use this science to make you a better cook.

Sauteed Sesame Shrimp and Spinach is a healthy, easy dinner developing moist and crunchy shrimp. It is a simple meal that all shrimp lovers will enjoy.

In Ms. Shulman’s recipe she uses a Chinese technique to clean shrimp with salt and water. Flash several years back in time, my homework assignment for The Science of Gastronomy, tested the effects of soaking, (brining) shrimp in salt and water to see if there was any effect on taste and the mouth-feel of cooked shrimp. Reading this recipe was bringing it all back to me.  I have the best intentions to remember everything that I have ever learned, but usually I need a clue and a bonk on the head to stir the memory bank. I just had to test this out again.

Sauteed Sesame Shrimp with Spinach is an easy and healthy meal that can be prepared in 15 minutes. Cleaning the shrimp with salt and water produces tender, moist and crunchy shrimp. A simple meal that all shrimp lovers will enjoy.

Ingredients for Sautéed Sesame Shrimp with Spinach

In summary, if you want to make shrimp talk add salt while you are cleaning the shrimp and they will become squeaky. The brining technique produces crunchy-squeaky-tender morsels of shrimp that squirt in your mouth. My homework assignment had us soaking shrimp in salt water, plain water and the control shrimp was left alone. The shrimp in the salt water definitely was more crunchy than the other shrimp samples. Soaking the shrimp in plain water left them mushy. As I understand it, the shrimp cells absorb the water and cause the cell tissue to collapse, giving you a mushy mouth-feel. Salt will draw the moisture out of the shrimp cells, but keeps the moisture absorbed in its own cells. The heat from cooking causes the salt to release the moisture out of its cells and back into the shrimp, making it tender, crunchy and squeaky.

This is the same concept of pre-salting food in the Zuni Cookbook, as featured in my recipe, Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken.

Sauteed Sesame Shrimp with Spinach is an easy and healthy meal that can be prepared in 15 minutes. Cleaning the shrimp with salt and water produces tender, moist and crunchy shrimp. A simple meal that all shrimp lovers will enjoy.

Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe instructed you to rinse the shrimp with water then toss the shrimp with salt, then rinse again and repeat. I found this method to be more effective at producing crispy shrimp than the soaking method of my homework assignment.

She also instructs you to use a “generous” amount of salt for the brining. I do not know exactly what a generous amount means, and I am cautious about adding too much salt to my food. My idea of generous may be different from her idea of generous, and different from your idea of generous.  In the interest of keeping the salt to a minimum, I measured 1 slightly rounded teaspoon of Kosher salt per pound of shrimp for the brine. If you wish you can use my recipe as a guide, and carefully adjust the amount of Kosher salt you use to brine the shrimp to suit your tastes.  The teaspoon of Kosher salt was my idea of generous and I was happy with my crispy, not salty, shrimp.

Crispy sauteed sesame shrimp with spinach. A quick and easy dinner cone in 15 minutes.

Sautéed Sesame Shrimp with Spinach

Don’t throw out the shrimp shells. They make a simple shrimp stock that can be used in any recipe that calls for fish stock or clam juice. (See notes in recipe for instructions.)

I made very slight changes to the recipe because I do not own a wok. I used a sauté pan, deglazed the pan with wine, and added preserved lemon. Both additions are optional and if you are using a wok you won’t need to deglaze the pan. On one occasion, I substituted the spinach with white chard – stems and all, and was equally delighted with the results.

Sautéed Sesame Shrimp with Spinach is an easy recipe, creating a delicious and healthy dinner in 15 minutes.  No matter what variation you use, spinach or chard, wok or sauté, there is a generous amount of shrimp with each serving to satisfy all the shrimp lovers in your home. Bring on that happy dance.

Sauteed Sesame Shrimp with Spinach is an easy and healthy meal that can be prepared in 15 minutes. Cleaning the shrimp with salt and water produces tender, moist and crunchy shrimp. A simple meal that all shrimp lovers will enjoy.

Sautéed Sesame Shrimp with White Chard

Sauteed Sesame Shrimp with Spinach is an easy and healthy meal that can be prepared in 15 minutes. Cleaning the shrimp with salt and water produces tender, moist and crunchy shrimp. A simple meal that all shrimp lovers will enjoy.

Sautéed Sesame Shrimp and Spinach

Sautéed Sesame Shrimp with Spinach is an easy dinner that creates moist and crispy shrimp. This recipes features brining the shrimp in salt and water to produce succulent, crispy and squeaky shrimp. Use this brining technique whenever you want to stir-fry or sauté shrimp. This recipe is very slightly adapted from Martha Rose Shulman recipe Stir-fry Sesame Shrimp with Spinach from New York Times Cooking
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Servings 3 -4 servings


  • 1 lb large shrimp
  • About 2 tea Kosher salt divided, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 Tbs canola oil or light sesame oil
  • 1/8 tea sugar
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tea dried red chili flakes
  • 2 Tbs sesame seeds toasted
  • 1 lb cleaned fresh spinach stems trimmed
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or water, or stock (optional)
  • About 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 of a preserved lemon diced (optional)


  1. Place the peeled shrimp in a colander and rinse with water. Sprinkle a rounded teaspoon of Kosher salt all over the shrimp and carefully toss the shrimp for one minute. After a minute, rinse the shrimp with water. Repeat the whole process one more time.
  2. Combine about 1/4 teaspoon of salt with the sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet or sauté pan, large enough to accommodate 1 lb of spinach, to very hot but just shy of smoking. Add 2 tablespoon of oil to the pan and swirl the oil around to cover the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the minced garlic, minced ginger, and chili flakes to the pan and very briefly sauté. Stir the ingredients around so that they do not burn.
  5. Add the shrimp and spread evenly across the pan in one layer. Let the shrimp cook undisturbed for about 1 minute. After one minute, stir the shrimp around and sauté for one minute more.
  6. Add the sesame seeds and spinach and carefully stir to evenly cook the spinach for about a minute. Add the sugar/salt mixture and just shy of a 1/4 cup of dry white wine, (if using). Stir the spinach and scrape off any brown goodies stuck the bottom of the pan.
  7. Continue to cook until the spinach is wilted, and the shrimp is just cooked through and pink. About 2 more minutes.
  8. Add the preserved lemon, if using, then drizzle the dark sesame oil over the whole dish. Toss and serve with your favorite grain like rice or couscous.

Recipe Notes

I made this dish with chard and enjoyed it just as well. If you decide to use chard instead of spinach, remove the shrimp from the pan after the first 2 minutes of cooking, and set aside on a plate. The chard will take longer to cook, especially if you are using the stems. When the chard is cooked through, add the shrimp back in the pan and continue to cook until the shrimp is just cooked through.


How to make Shrimp Stock Add the shells from 1 lb of shrimp to a medium sauce pan and gently sauté on medium high heat. Once the shells have turned pinkish and no longer translucent, add water into the saucepan to cover the shrimp shells about 2 inches. Add some aromatics to the shrimp and water, such as celery, parsley and a bay leaf, then cook the stock at a simmer for about one hour. Drain the stock through a fine mesh strainer and dispose of the shrimp shells and aromatics. Cool the shrimp stock and refrigerate and use within a couple of days or freeze the stock. The stock should keep well in the freezer for 3 months. Makes about 3 cups of stock.

© 2016 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Food Blog Theme from Nimbus
Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: