Category Archives: Seafood/ Fish

Shrimp with Crab Grits

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I recently went to a fantastic restaurant in Maryland with my daughter and youngest son. We were doing an overnight visit with baby girl so I treated us all to dinner. The restaurant was eclectic with modern tables, a small library of books to purchase, great artwork, a stage for poetry readings and wonderful service. The crowd was diverse and so was the food.

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I was amazed at the variety of dishes on the small menu which had a basic organic theme but offered foods anyone could enjoy. I decided to try a shrimp dish that was layered over crab grits and smothered in a light sauce with crisp veggies. After the first bite I knew I would have to try and re-create this dish when I got home.

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What I created does not taste exactly like the wonderful dish in Maryland but it comes pretty close. The key was to make sure each layer of flavor complimented the next. The grits were nice and creamy with the subtle hint of crab. The veggies were crisp and naturally sweet. The shrimp added their own layer of flavor along with an underlying level of spicy heat just enough to make your taste buds tingle. Although I used jumbo shrimp for the recipe, I think scallops or a nice grilled fillet of salmon or cod would be enjoyable too.

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Shrimp with Crab Grits

Ingredients:
1 lb lump crab meat shelled
2 shallots diced
2 cloves garlic sliced
1 tomato seeded diced
1 cup coarsely ground grits
1 cup thin asparagus chopped
2 cups water
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup half and half
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
juice from ½ lemon
Bring water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil. Stir in half and half then add grits and reduce to medium heat. Cook until thick and tender approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Add cheese and stir until melted and well blended. Gently stir in crab and try not to break up the lumps of meat. Set aside and keep warm. Add a little milk if needed to thin out grits.

In a medium pan melt 1 tbsp butter with 1 tbsp olive oil. When heated add shrimp and sprinkle with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Cook until shrimp are pink and remove from heat. Set aside.

In a large pan saute shallots in olive oil and 1 tbsp butter until slightly browned. Stir in garlic then add asparagus, tomatoes, parsley and seasonings. Let simmer for 3 minutes then remove from heat.

Place grits into a bowl then spoon veggie mixture over the grits. Top with shrimp and sprinkle a little fresh parsley over the top. Yummy!

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Vera Cruz with Tilapia

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During a conversation with my sister-in-law a while ago she told me about a wonderful fish dish she prepares for her family. I had never heard of Vera Cruz but it seemed interesting and simple to make. I guess I am behind the times because when I told a few of my friends about wanting to try out the dish for the blog they said they often make the dish.

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Since I did not want to be the only one left off of the Vera Cruz boat I thought I would come up with my version of the standard recipe. The only real difference between my version and the standard version my sister-in-law shared are the few additional seasonings I used. As always my crew likes a little heat so I added some to the sauce.

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I was pleasantly surprised at how the Vera Cruz with Tilapia turned out and even more surprised that my youngest son really liked it. Typically, my son likes fried fish versus what he would consider to be baked fish. Once his plate was cleaned from eating the Vera Cruz with Tilapia I could only smile then I let my sister-in-law know what a great recipe Vera Cruz with Tilapia turned out to be.

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Vera Cruz with Tilapia

Ingredients:
4 tilapia fillets
1 small onion sliced
1 small green pepper sliced
2 scallions diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 jalapeno pepper diced (remove membrane and some seeds)
1 14 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
1 8 oz can tomato puree or sauce
¼ cup capers
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season fish with a little salt and black pepper. Set aside.

Melt butter along with olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. Add two pieces of fish and brown lightly on both sides. Place fish in a long casserole dish. Repeat with remaining fish and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium then add onion, scallions, green pepper and garlic to the pan. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir for 1 – 2 minutes until veggies soften a little and watch carefully so that garlic does not burn. Add roasted tomatoes and tomato puree/ sauce along with remaining seasonings. Simmer over medium low heat for 5 minutes. Pour mixture over fish and sprinkle with capers. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes until fish is fully cooked.

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Beer Battered Fried Fish

 

This post is dedicated to my dad who passed away in September.  Today is his birthday and I remember him fondly.  Happy Birthday Daddy! IMG_9622_1

Fried Fish was one thing I could count on my Mom fixing every week when I was growing up. Every Thursday we had fish for dinner. Most of the time it was fish my Mom and Dad (and sometimes me) had caught while going fishing on their days off. The day before a fishing trip my Dad and I would go digging for worms in the compost heap behind our house.

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I learned how to bait a hook but could not bring myself to take the fish off the hook if I caught one. The day my Dad got tired of taking the fish off the hook of my fishing pole was the day I stopped fishing. I guess he felt he was spending more time taking fish off my hook than enjoying fishing himself. I really could not blame him because I may have felt the same way if I had to do it for my kids.

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Now I just go to the fish market or grocery store to “catch” my fish. Besides, I prefer boneless fish so I can easily buy fish fillets and not worry about scaling, gutting and chopping off fish heads. Yuck!

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Cod is a great fish to use when making beer battered fried fish. The meat is thick, tender, sweet and holds up well while frying. Although my beer battered fried fish is not quite like my Mom’s Thursday fish fry, it is equally as delicious.

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Beer Battered Fried Fish

Ingredients:
2 – 3 cod fish fillets
1 12 oz bottle Amber Ale beer
6 oz peach beer (optional)
2 cups vegetable oil
¾ cup flour
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
½ tsp seasoned salt
½ tsp cayenne

In a large bowl mix flour, beer and salt. Set aside.

Add vegetable oil to a dutch oven or large frying pan. Heat oil over medium high heat until slightly smoking.

Cut cod into thick slices. Season fish with seasoned salt, pepper and cayenne. Stir batter then dip fish into batter and allow excess batter to drain off. Place fish into hot oil and let brown on each side. Approximately 5-7 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels.

Serve with home fries and a mixed salad.

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Shrimp Summer Rolls

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My family and I love Asian cuisine and the spicier the better for my hubby and youngest son. I have limited experience making Asian style foods but thought I would try my hand at making Shrimp Summer Rolls. We often eat Vietnamese spring rolls whenever we go to the Cheesecake Factory and recently found handmade spring rolls at one of our local grocers that sells fresh sushi daily.

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I wasn’t sure what kind of wrap to use for the spring rolls but discovered Blue Dragon Rice Pancakes which are used for summer rolls. Turns out spring rolls are not too hard to make. Although the rice pancakes are delicate, they roll easily. Once I rolled a couple of spring rolls I really got the hang of it. The test of whether or not I had done a good job of making Shrimp Summer Rolls was in the taste. In my opinion and fortunately the opinion of my family they tasted as good as the fresh summer rolls we get at the local grocer.

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Since this was my first attempt at making Shrimp Summer Rolls I took that as a very nice compliment. My next goal is to make fresh Shrimp Summer Rolls as good as the Cheesecake Factory. Now that is saying something! In the meantime, I can at least say my Shrimp Summer Rolls are pretty tasty. Next time I think I will try frying the summer rolls. Stay tuned.

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Shrimp Summer Rolls

Ingredients:
1 lb large shrimp peeled and deveined
1 pkg Chinese noodles
1 pkg rice pancakes
1 pint snap peas
1 cup shredded carrots
2 heads butter lettuce
3 cups cold water
1 tbsp sriracha sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp oyster sauce
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
juice from ½ lemon

Prepare Chinese noodles according to package. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a medium size non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. Add shrimp, sriracha sauce and lemon juice. Season with a little salt and pepper. Stir shrimp until they turn pink. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside in a small bowl. Add carrots, snap peas and a little more salt and pepper (add cayenne pepper if you really like heat) to the frying pan. Stir and let cook for 1 minute. Add oyster sauce and mix with veggies until they are well coated. Reduce to low heat and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Dampen a clean dish cloth. Add water to a large bowl. Place 1 rice pancake in the cold water until it softens and becomes pliable (about 10 – 15 seconds). Lay rice pancake on the dish cloth and add two pieces of butter lettuce to the pancake. Place a small amount of Chinese noodles in the center of the lettuce. Top with a little bit of the snap peas and carrots mixture then layer three shrimp on the veggies. Fold one end of the rice pancake towards the center over the shrimp then fold the sides towards the center as well. Gently roll up the pancake like a cigar. The pancake will seem delicate but should roll easily. Tuck in the sides as you roll the pancake if necessary. Chill for 30 minutes or serve immediately.

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Shrimp Lo Mein

   IMG_0153_1The day I made Shrimp Spring Rolls I also made Shrimp Lo Mein. Most of the ingredients I used as the filling for the spring rolls was also used to create Shrimp Lo Mein. How great is that? Two meals and I only cooked one time.

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As I said in my Shrimp Spring Rolls post, my family loves Asian cuisine. We could eat it a couple times each week but I am sure that would get old as time goes on. We all need variety when it comes to food. At least I do. Anyway, Since I had quite a few extra ingredients I decided to make a quick Shrimp Lo Mein. The other thing my hubby and son love is pasta so Shrimp Lo Mein was definitely right up their alley. Thankfully, it did not take much to get them to agree to be my taste tester for this recipe.

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In case you didn’t know, there are all types of noodles used to make Lo Mein. I used Chinese noodles since that is what I used to make the Shrimp Spring Rolls. However, you can also used thin wonton noodles which are stringy and cooked in wonton noodle soup because they are light and delicate. Wide wonton noodles can also be used for Lo Mein. These noodles are often used in heartier soups like beef noodle soup. Of course you can just look for Lo Mein noodles which are thick and used in stir-fried noodle dishes made with a heavy sauce or gravy. In researching the variety of noodles used for my recipe I found out that Lo Mein noodles are probably the best choice when making a Lo Mein dish because they stand up better to reheating.

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Bottom-line. You can use whatever noodle you like to make Shrimp Lo Mein. In a pinch I think I would even use spaghetti noodles or linguine noodles if that was the only thing available. The most important thing to remember is add a little love to your recipe. It makes everything taste good.

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Shrimp Lo Mein

Ingredients:
1 lb large shrimp peeled and deveined
1 pkg lo mein noodles
1 pint snap peas
1 cup shredded carrots
1 tbsp sriracha sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp oyster sauce
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
juice from ½ lemon

Prepare lo mein noodles according to package. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a medium size non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. Add shrimp, sriracha sauce and lemon juice. Season with a little salt and pepper. Stir shrimp until they turn pink. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside in a small bowl. Add carrots, snap peas and a little more salt and pepper (add cayenne pepper if you really like heat) to the frying pan. Stir and let cook for 1 minute. Add oyster sauce and mix with veggies until they are well coated. Reduce to low heat and cook for another 2 minutes. Toss with lo mein noodles. Enjoy!

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Smoked Salmon and Cucumber

 

IMG_7798_1I am always looking for new appetizers and snacks for parties or just to have on the weekends. I try to incorporate veggies as much as possible to keep the appetizers light. One appetizer I really like to make is a smoked salmon spread. I use light cream cheese and reduced fat sour cream to lessen the calories but maintain flavor.

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The other day I had an English cucumber leftover from another recipe that I did not want to waste so I decided to make a quick appetizer by filling the cucumber with my smoked salmon spread. I just tweaked the recipe a little by adding the scooped out center of the cucumber to the spread to add another layer of texture. My hubby is big on textures when it comes to food which has made me more aware of including different textures when I cook. I think it helps to enhance most dishes when you can have layers of flavor and layers of textures. What better way to create a party in your mouth and keep the experience of eating interesting than by tickling your taste buds with variety of textures and flavor!

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To me, smoked salmon and cucumbers is a fancier version of celery filled with pimento cheese or peanut butter. A great appetizer or snack that is easy to make and wonderful to eat.

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Smoked Salmon and Cucumber

Ingredients:
1 pkg smoked salmon diced
1 English cucumber (strip skin to decorate with stripes)
½ tsp old bay seasoning
½ tsp dill
½ tsp lemon zest
½ tsp seasoned salt
½ tsp cracked black pepper
½ cup softened cream cheese
¼ cup sour cream
juice of 1lemon
paprika

Scoop out the center of cucumber and reserve.  In a medium bowl cream together the reserved cucumber center, cream cheese and sour cream. Add lemon juice, zest, dill and seasonings to cream cheese mixture. Blend together until well mixed. Gently incorporate the salmon into the mixture.

Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise.  Cut into bite-size pieces. Spread salmon mixture into the center of each cucumber bite.  Arrange on a tray and then refrigerate until ready to serve. Sprinkle with smoked paprika prior to serving.

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Shrimp and Pasta Salad

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Pasta salads are one of the most versatile dishes anyone can prepare. A pasta salad basically consists of pasta and any vegetable, meat or seafood you can think of tossed with a nice dressing. Since there are such a variety of pasta noodles available it is easy to be creative. Even if you use the same basic ingredients when you prepare a pasta salad it can become new all over again by using a different type of pasta. Shells, gemelli, bow tie and cavatappi are a few of the pastas I like to use in cold salads. They have little ridges that absorb whatever dressing you use and most of them just have a cool shape.

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For my Shrimp and Pasta Salad I used small pasta shells because I wanted the pasta to cuddle some of the dressing and provide a subtle burst of flavor with every bite. The veggies I used with this pasta salad were meant to make the dish colorful with the deep green of the asparagus and the bright red of the peppers and tomatoes. The shrimp added a pretty pink hue that pulled everything together.

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Most of us are first attracted to a dish because of the way it looks. If a dish looks weird, we figure it will taste weird too. Although that is not always true it is human nature to judge certain things by the way they look. That is way it is important to add rich vibrant color to every meal. My Shrimp and Pasta Salad is both appealing to the eye and tasty on the tongue. Try it as a main course or side dish. Either way I think you enjoy this simple flavorful salad.

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Shrimp and Pasta Salad

Ingredients:
2 lbs ex-large shrimp peeled and deveined
2 boiled eggs chopped
1 bunch asparagus cut into 1” pieces
1 bag arugula
1 box small pasta shells
1 large tomato seeded and diced into cubes
1 shallot sliced thin
½ cup red pepper diced
½ cup black olives chopped (optional)
½ cup vinaigrette
½ tsp lemon zest
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp cilantro
1 tsp old bay seasoning
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1juice from ½ lemon

Prepare pasta shells according to the package – al dente. Set aside.

In a large skillet heat butter with olive oil over medium high heat. Add shrimp and lemon juice. Stir and then add ½ tsp salt, ½ black pepper and old bay seasoning. Cook until shrimp are pink. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Set aside.

Add veggies (except for tomatoes) to the same skillet and add remaining seasonings. Cook for 2- 3 minutes until veggies soften slightly but still crisp. Do not over cook.

In a large bowl add pasta, shrimp, veggies, arugula, eggs, tomatoes and olives. Drizzle with vinaigrette and gently mix. Serve with a nice side salad.

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Chopped Salad

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Salads! A quick and light meal during warm weather. A refreshing side dish with heavier meals during cooler weather and good for you all year round. I am in salad mode which means I am into preparing some type of salad for my family almost every night for dinner. Fortunately, my family loves salads as long as I give them variety.

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It really isn’t hard to come up with new combinations of of ingredients when I create salads. However, I do have to make sure the combination of ingredients work as a salad. A few times I have had some wild salad ideas but I decided against posting them because although I like sauerkraut it just didn’t seem to work well with tomatoes, cheese and carrots.

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One of the best things about chopped salads is that chopping up everything that goes into the salad keeps it simple. The only thing I worry about is making sure there is a great combination of flavors and textures. Like the crunch of salty bacon and the smooth creamy taste of boiled eggs and avocado. Plus, lots of sweet tomatoes and just the right bite from carrots and red onions.

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There are so many options of veggies to use when making a chopped salad. If you like certain veggies and they compliment each other, go for it. Chop them up. Put them in a bowl and dress it up with a nice salad dressing. You cannot go wrong.

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Chopped Salad

 Ingredients:
2 heads of romaine chopped
2 salmon fillets blackened and flaked
6 slices crisp bacon chopped
3 boiled eggs chopped
1 avocado diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
½ cup green or red peppers diced
½ cup shredded carrots chopped
½ cup shaved parmesan cheese
¼ cup oil based dressing
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp seasoned salt
½ tsp red onion small diced

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently.

Optional:
grilled chicken chopped
grilled turkey chopped
grilled shrimp

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Crab Cakes

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Whenever we go to Baltimore, Maryland I try to have at least one meal that includes Maryland Crab Cakes. Maryland blue crabs are big, meaty and the crab meat is sweet. It’s not always easy to find Maryland blue crab meat but you can still find delicious lump crab meat at your local grocer or Costco. I usually go to Costco because the price for lump crab meat is less than at my grocery store and there are less shells to pick out. Because lump crab meat can be a little pricy I don’t prepare a lot of crab dishes. But when I am in the mood for a nice seafood dinner and can’t get to Maryland I will splurge and make crab cakes or crab imperial.

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It has taken me a few years to create a crab cake recipe I found worthy enough to post. Most of my previous recipes just didn’t have the right balance of seasonings. The recipes were so bad (yes, I can admit they were bad) that I was the only one forced to eat the crab cakes. I say forced because the family didn’t like them and I could not bring myself to toss out all of the crab meat I had destroyed.

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As I have said many times in the past, simple is usually the best way to go. Instead, of adding too many ingredients and seasonings I kept this crab cake recipe low key. The result was a good tasting crab cake without a lot of filler. The simple seasonings allowed the natural sweetness of the crab meat to shine through. Now, when I decide to make crab cakes I’m not forced to eat them. I can just enjoy eating them and so does my family.

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Crab Cakes

Ingredients:
1 lb lump crab meat pick out shells
1 egg lightly beaten
1 stalk celery diced
1 scallion diced
1 tbsp red onion diced
1 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp worcestershire
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp lemon zest
½ cup panko bread crumbs
4 – 5 dashes of hot sauce
juice from ½ lemon
paprika
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add ingredients (except the paprika and olive oil) to a large bowl and gently mix until well blended. Try not to break up lump crab meat. Form crab mixture into a round patty. Drizzle a little olive oil over each patty then sprinkle with paprika.  Spray a rimmed baking sheet  with cooking spray.  Drizzle a little olive oil onto the baking sheet then add crab cakes.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the crab cakes are golden in color. Can also fry the crab cakes in 2 tbsp of vegetable oil over medium high heat. Brown on each side for 3 – 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

 

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Creamy Shrimp and Pasta

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Creamy shrimp and pasta has become a party favorite when we host big celebrations or a small get together. Typically, I use penne pasta when I make pasta for a party lately I have been trying different types of pasta with this dish. The last time I made this for my family I used mafalda pasta which looks like little lasagna pasta ribbons. I fell in love with this pasta and so did the hungry folks that gobbled it up.

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My son’s best friend (who I consider my third son) recently spent the weekend with us so the two of them could hang out. I had decided to include my creamy shrimp and pasta recipe on dmariedining.com so I needed to prepare the dish so I could take some photos. I thought the guys could have a little for lunch and then I could have leftovers for later. I quickly found out that “leftovers” is not in a teenager’s vocabulary. Fortunately, I had put aside of bowl of the pasta for my hubby before the boys jumped on the pot. I on the other hand only had one forkful!

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My youngest son surprised my when he said Mom I know I eat a lot but K cleaned out the pot. I asked them if all of the pasta was gone and K said with a big grin on his face “Sorry, I just love pasta!”. I am happy anytime my family enjoys the meals I make so I couldn’t be upset. Plus, by the sound of their forks scraping the bottom of the bowls I knew they liked it. What more can you ask for when feeding a hungry crew?

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Creamy Shrimp and Pasta

Ingredients:
1 lb penne pasta
1 lb extra large shrimp peeled and deveined
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 scallion chopped
1 tbsp basil chopped
1 tbsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 14oz fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup white wine
¾ cup heavy cream or half and half
½ cup parmesan
¼ cup olive oil

Prepare pasta according to package.  Saute shrimp in olive oil over medium high heat in a large frying pan. Season with salt, pepper and garlic. Cook until shrimp is pink. Remove shrimp from the pan and add tomatoes, scallions, parsley, red pepper flakes and wine. Cook for 1 minute then stir in cream. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes until sauce thickens. Add cheese, basil, pasta and shrimp. Toss until well mixed.

 

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