Tag Archives: seafood

Kicked Up Mussels

The other day I was watching an old episode of the Barefoot Contessa about a seafood salad she was making for a friend and it included mussels. That got me to thinking about an old mussel recipe I had but never really tweaked. Since I needed a new post idea I decided I would work on creating a Kicked Up Mussels recipe.

Both my hubby and I love seafood and besides eating a lot of chicken we eat a lot of fish. Once in a while I will throw together a shrimp or scallop meal if I have the ingredients. That is one of the issues I have in creating new meals during the week. It is too easy to keep using over and over again the same ol’ staples I keep in the pantry. Preparing a special meal takes planning and sometimes calls for an extra trip to the grocery store. Because I work full-time I don’t always have a lot of time to be creative with dinner. However, I have been known to have a burst of creativity now and again if I have not had a tough day at work. The weekends are really the best time for me to test out recipes and take my time to fashion a new recipe or try an old recipe with a new twist.


Okay, back to the Kicked Up Mussels. I had to search a couple of my old recipe journals to find my mussel recipe and was happy to discover it was a pretty simple one. My original recipe called for beer instead of white wine like most other recipes. I could not remember if this was a good idea or bad idea. But hey, I use beer in a few of my recipes and I have not heard any complaints yet so I guessed it was a good idea. Since I was using beer instead of wine I had to find a nice light beer with a hint of citrus flavors rather than a dark beer which I thought would be heavy. I am not a beer drinker so my apologies to true beer drinkers if I don’t know what I am talking about. I did a little research by perusing the beer isle at a local liquor store with a large variety of beers. I landed on Namaste White which is by Dogfish Head Brewery located in Delaware.


As a non-beer drinker I must say I enjoyed taking a swig of Namaste White after adding most of it to the mussels. The combination of orange, lemongrass and coriander in the beer along with the brininess of the mussels and aromatic herbs was genius. All right. I may not be a genius but the combination of flavors was genius. I will even go as far as to say my recipe would be welcomed in any 4 star restaurant. The proof is in the pudding. You be the judge and try it out.

Kicked Up Mussels


2 dozen mussels cleaned

3 plum or tomatoes diced

3 cloves garlic chopped

2 shallots diced

1 jalapeno pepper seeded and diced

1 Namaste White beer

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp parsley

½ tsp thyme

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

pinch of salt

pinch of black pepper

Clean mussels by running them under cold water and gently scrub them if necessary to remove dirt from the shells.  Use a knife to remove the fuzzy beard if present. Arrange mussels in a large skillet. Set aside while sauteing tomatoes.

Place olive oil in a medium sized non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic shallots, jalapeno pepper and tomatoes. Season with salt, black pepper and thyme. Stir then saute for 2 minutes. Move mussels to heat and pour tomato mixture and beer over mussels. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and shake to mix tomatoes and mussels. Cover and cook for 3 minutes until mussels pop open. Discard any mussels that do not open. Sprinkle with parsley before serving. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the delicious sauce.

Tip: Cultivated mussels vs. wild mussels. 

If you purchase wild mussels, they may be a little gritty which means your mussels will be crunchy.  To make sure you remove any sand from the mussels dissolve about 1/4 cups of salt and 2 cups of warm in a large pot along with 2 tbsp of flour or cornmeal.  Add the mussels then cover with water.    Soak for 1 – 2 hours.  Drain then rinse the mussels with cold water.  Most mussels you find in the grocery store are cultivated and do not contain a lot of sand or grit so there may not be a need to soak the mussels.  Just clean the shells. To be on the safe side I would soak the mussels as I described.

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Stuffed Flounder

Fish Sale! I was at the grocery store looking for something to prepare for dinner and passed by the seafood counter when something caught my eye. Low and behold, they were having a fish sale. One of my favorite types of fish (Cod) was $3.00 less than usual. They also had another one of my favorites on sale – flounder. The flounder looked nice and fresh so I bought four fillets to make Stuffed Flounder for dinner.

The reason I decided to make Stuffed Flounder was so I could use the rest of the cornbread stuffing we had the night before. Now, that our youngest son is in college I actually have leftovers. I don’t like wasting food so I try to find different ways to “re-purpose” the leftovers. Making a spinach and cornbread stuffing for the flounder seemed like a great idea.

Guess what? It was a great idea and hubby was happy with a full belly after he cleaned his plate. This was definitely one of my Health, Quick and Easy meals. The flounder was light and healthy. The stuffing was quick to make and putting the two together was easy. What could be better than that!?!

Stuffed Flounder


4 flounder fillets

1 pkg baby leaf spinach leaves


1 ½ cups cornbread stuffing

3 tbsp butter

1 tbsp water

1 tsp dried dill

black pepper



juice from ½ lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 1 tbsp butter in a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add spinach and water. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper to taste. Cook until spinach is wilted stirring occasionally.

Place cornbread in a bowl and add spinach with juice. Beat egg and add to cornbread and spinach mixture. Mix well then set aside.

Season fish with salt and black pepper. Place two fish fillets on a rimmed cookie sheet or in a long casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Spoon stuffing onto each fillet. Top with remaining fish fillets then sprinkle with paprika. Place 1 tbsp of butter on each fish fillet. Bake fish for 10 to 15 minutes until fish is cooked through but not dry.

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Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel and Pasta

Salmon is probably my favorite fish next to cod. Cod is my go to fish for frying because it is tender and flaky. Salmon tastes great when it is broiled or baked and dripping with butter and lemon. To compliment salmon I like to add a side dish of vegetables and pasta. On some occasions I like to combine everything into a single dish.

My Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel and Pasta is one of those dishes that can be combined into a single dish. Beautiful curls of pasta topped with a tenderly broiled salmon fillet and a cascade of roasted tomatoes and fennel can only make your mouth water when you look at your plate of deliciousness. Okay, Seriously! This is a beautiful dish that tastes wonderful. The type of salmon used in the recipe will change the taste of the dish so use whatever your taste buds like. I am not a fan of sockeye salmon which has a deep reddish orange color and a strong flavor. I prefer Coho or Atlantic salmon which is lighter in color and has a much milder flavor than sockeye. No matter which type of salmon you choose you are sure to get a ton of Omega-3s.

Roasting tomatoes brings out the natural sweetness of the tomatoes. Fennel is aromatic and has a sweet licorice flavor. Cooked fennel has a milder flavor than raw fennel so it goes well with the salmon and tomatoes without overpowering the dish.

So, if you are looking for a nice healthy flavorful dish to impress your family and friends try out my Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel and Pasta. You cannot go wrong with this one.

Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel and Pasta


2 – 3 salmon fillets

6 -8 plum tomatoes cut into wedges

1 small bulb of fennel

1 shallot sliced

1 pkg campanelle pasta

¼ cup reserved pasta water

¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese

6 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

½ tsp dill


Preheat 425 degrees.

Prepare pasta according to package reserving ¼ cup of the pasta water. Set aside.


Place tomatoes, fennel and shallots on a rimmed cookies sheet. Drizzle with olive oil then sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Toss to coat veggies with olive oil and seasonings. Place in oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes.

Prepare salmon by placing on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt, black pepper and dill. Place 2 tbsp of butter on each fillet. Place in oven with tomatoes and fennel. Cook for 20 minutes. Set aside to rest while tomatoes and fennel finish cooking.

Remove tomatoes and fennel from the oven and pour pasta water over veggies. Spoon pasta onto a plate. Add a salmon fillet then spoon roasted tomatoes and fennel over the salmon. Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese.

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Shrimp with Crab Grits


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.


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.


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.


Shrimp with Crab Grits

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


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.


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.


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.



Vera Cruz with Tilapia

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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Shrimp Summer Rolls


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.


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.


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.



Shrimp Summer Rolls

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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Crab Cakes


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.


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.


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.


Crab Cakes

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
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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Seafood Gumbo D. Marie Style


I have only been to New Orleans once but that was enough to make me a fan of good down home Louisiana seafood gumbo. Nothing truly compares to the gumbo you get from the folks who created this delicious goodness. Although I have tried gumbo in several restaurants in the North East, I have not found one that can top the real down home version. Not even mine. However, my recipe will still make you want to go for a second bowl.


Rich with seafood, spicy and filling my gumbo may remind you of soft jazz and hot summer nights. That is what I remember from my trip to New Orleans.


Soft jazz, funky jazz, Cajun music and Zydeco flowed from every venue as we walked up and down the streets. The smells coming from the restaurants!?! What can I say except that my mouth was watering all day long.


If you ever have an opportunity to experience the culture and foods of New Orleans, take it. I am sure the trip will be memorable whether it’s because of the food, the music or the friendly “Nawlins” people. No matter what, you will remember…..


Seafood Gumbo D. Marie Style

3 tilapia fillets cut into bite size pieces
1 lb lump crabmeat (remove shells)
1 lb langostinos
1 lb large sea scallops cut in half
2 lbs ex-large shrimp peeled and deveined
1 12 oz bottle of good Beer
1 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp olive oil

¾ cup celery chopped
1 cup red pepper finely chopped
1 cup green pepper finely chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper seeded chopped
½ cup minced shallots
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 small onion chopped
½ cup fresh parsley chopped
1 15 oz can black beans rinsed
1 15 oz can small white beans rinsed

1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ small cans tomato paste
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf

1 cup of Okra is optional. If adding okra to the dish, trim off only the stem. Do not cut off the top of the okra or it will become slimy. Add along with seafood and gently stir into the Gumbo.

In a heavy pot heat oil over medium heat until hot. Saute red pepper, green pepper, celery, shallots, onions and garlic until onions are soft. Slowly stir in beer and chicken broth. Add Worcestershire, parsley, seasonings and tomato paste. Whisk until well blended. Add beans, fish, crabmeat, langostinos and scallops, . Place lid on pot and reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes. Lay shrimp on top of mixture 15 minutes prior to serving and cook until they turn pink. Gently stir shrimp into gumbo mixture.

Grab a piece of crusty bread or cornbread and eat up!



Salmon and Penne Pasta

Teryaki Salmon 10

On days I want to be really healthy and stay away from red meat or pork “the other white meat”, I turn to my one true favorite – salmon. Since my hubby and son love pasta so much I knew if I added salmon to a pasta dish they would love it.


Preparing pasta is simple and so is fixing salmon. As long as you pick out a nice salmon fillet and have the right seasonings you will be golden.


The right seasonings means you need to pull together a combination of spices that will make the dish pop and your taste buds do a little dance in your mouth. A little heat from red pepper flakes or cayenne will usually wake up the taste buds but to make them dance you need more.


Garlic, capers, mixed peppers and lemon juice. Bitter, salty, sweet and sour. Something to tickle each taste bud and brighten up the dish. Splash a little cream into the mix and you will not be sorry you decided to make something healthy.


Salmon and Penne Pasta

4 salmon fillets
1 box penne pasta
2 garlic cloves chopped
5 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp starchy water from pasta
1 bag fresh baby leaf spinach
5 tbsp butter
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp parsley
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp seasoned salt
½ tbsp salt
½ tbsp black pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ red pepper sliced thin
½ green pepper sliced thin
½ yellow pepper sliced thin
½ cup half and half
½ cup heavy cream
Juice from one lemon
½ tbsp lemon zest

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare pasta al dente as directed on box. Set aside. Reserve 2 tbsp of starchy water from pasta.

Season salmon with salt, black pepper, garlic powder and smoked paprika. Place 1 tbsp butter on each salmon fillet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until cooked through but still moist. Set aside to rest.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil to a small frying pan. Add fresh peppers and saute until slightly browned.

Melt 1 tbsp butter in a large frying pan along with olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium then pour in heavy cream along with half and half and starchy water. Simmer for 2 minutes then add sauteed peppers, capers, parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest and remaining seasonings. Stir to blend. Add spinach and let it wilt. Once spinach wilts stir in pasta to coat with sauce.

Place pasta in a bowl and top with salmon. Pour a little sauce over the salmon then enjoy.

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