summer seafood soup

Summer is a celebration of all things fresh and lovely; bursting forth with vibrant colors, herbacious notes and strong flavors. And, obviously, it’s a time to eat things that are lighter – not only because we’re no longer bundled up in layers upon layers of sweaters {I miss this part of you, winter!}, but because…let’s face it…who wants to be standing in a hot kitchen for any longer than they need to be?

Enter this soup.

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I mean, who wouldn’t want to dive in, spoon first?

You all know by now that I have a huge spot in my culinary heart for all things soup – it doesn’t matter what time of year it is, how hot or cold it is…I will never, ever turn down a bowl. But sometimes, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do…and sometimes that means making a soup that is “summer friendly.” So when this idea popped into my mind not long ago, I knew I had to make it happen. It’s as simple as utilizing a quality bag of your favorite seafood medley {where I live, fresh seafood is not always choice/easy to come by} and jazzing it up with LOADS of freshness – we’re talking crisp white wine, simple chicken stock, and a plethora of fresh herbs and vegetables. It comes together in one pot, and is the perfect summer weeknight meal – especially when eaten al fresco : )

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Summer Seafood Soup {original recipe}

A fun twist on a classic seafood stew, this dish utilizes many pantry staples and can easily be manipulated to suit your particular tastes. Make a double batch and have dinner ready for the next day – serve atop pasta or rice with a smathering of fresh herbs, and you’re all set!

Ingredients:

1 lb. seafood medley {our local Kroger has a great blend you can get, right in the freezer department}

1 large white onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minces

1 cup low-sodium chicken stock

1/2 – 1 cup white wine

olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

crushed red pepper, to taste

fresh basil leaves, for garnishing {should equate to 1/4 – 1/3 cup once julienned}

**optional: if a thicker broth is desired, you can combine 1/2 T. cornstarch with 1/4 cup water. Slowly whisk into the soup until thickened to your liking**

To Prepare:

In a large nonstick sautese pan, generously drizzle in olive oil until the bottom is nicely coated. Once heated through, add in the diced onion. Cook over medium heat, 6-10 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add in the minced garlic and saute 3-5 minutes more, until the garlic has softened {the onions may be starting to turn slightly golden – that’s ok!}. Season the vegetable mixture with salt and pepper, as well as the crushed red pepper, to taste.

Add in the liquid ingredients {stock and wine} and bring to a slow simmer.

Add in the seafood medley, and cook according to the package directions {mine took about 12 minutes}.

Now would be the time to add in the thickening mixture, if desired. Once drizzled in, stir to combine and simmer for 5 minutes or so, until you can see the difference in texture.

Dish into large soup bowls, and top with the julienned basil leaves. I also like to add a bit of extra crushed red pepper flakes, too, for a bit of extra heat.

Serve with toasted bread for dipping. Enjoy!

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light & fresh crab dip

When you don’t live ocean side, sometimes you just need to bring the beach to you…no?

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I love to create dishes that remind me of previous trips; food is such a powerful way to evoke wonderful memories that might not often be remembered just through a photo. After all, an image doesn’t create a sensory experience other than just looking at it. While there is nothing wrong with that {in fact, I find myself looking at old photos quite often!} I have so much more fun when I can wrap multiple senses around a memory.

That is where this crab dip comes into play. While I have no particular dish to draw on for inspiration, crab dip is something that we enjoyed on beach vacations as children; later on in life, the hubs and I would have several trips with his family where we picked crabs for dinner all night long. This dish is my homage to those nights – times spent sharing stories and creating memories with those that I love.

This dish is simple to prepare; many of the ingredients you probably have on hand already. A few fresh green onions, dried herbs, and bread crumbs…in addition to the cream cheese and Greek yogurt, these are considered staples for many people {I’ll admit, I had to run out for green onions this time around, though!}.

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The only thing that I request is that you please, please use high-quality crab meat…no room for imitation here! This is a lightened up twist on traditional crab dip; that is, we’re relying very little on creamy ingredients, so it’s vital to the recipe that you not skimp here. The crab is the star, and the other ingredients are merely there to accent it. One bite, and I promise you’ll understand.

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Light & Fresh Crab Dip

Hands-down a favorite in our household, this dip is perfect for any occasion – we love to enjoy it on date nights with a good bottle of wine, or spread between toasted bread for sandwiches. Easily enough to double or triple, too! 

Ingredients:

1 {8 ounce} container of good crab meat…claw, back fin, jumbo lump all work well

1 heaping tbsp. Old Bay seasoning

2 tbsp. dried parsley

2 green onions, finely chopped

2 ounces cream cheese {I opted to use my favorite Greek yogurt and cream cheese blend}, room temperature

3 ounces plain, non-fat Greek yogurt

1/4 cup plain bread crumbs

non-stick cooking spray

salt & pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray an oven-proof glass serving dish with non-stick cooking spray, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, yogurt, green onion, and herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently fold in the crab meat, making sure to keep the pieces as intact as possible.

Carefully spoon into the prepared baking dish, then top with bread crumbs. Spritz with non-stick cooking spray {this will help ensure a crisp exterior}.

Bake, uncovered, about 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the edges are bubbling. Serve with assorted crackers, toast points, and vegetables for dipping.

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lately: annapolis!

Labor Day weekend was a weekend full of fun, adventure, and ANNAPOLIS! We were lucky enough to spend time with one of my closest friends – and in true form, it far exceeded any sort of expectations we could have set. From crab cakes to cocktails, water taxis to rickshaws, explorations to excitement, it was a trip for the books.

Friday night was a drive through of the city, touring gorgeous homes and of course…starting the weekend with some seafood!

Saturday saw an early morning exercise session, followed by brunch and exploring. A boat tour {on the  yacht from Wedding Crashers!} was a fabulous 2 hours spent. ‘Twisted History’ was the majority of the evening – think scandalous history lessons told table side at historic bars – it was so neat!

Sunday led us to bottomless mimosas at brunch, followed by a bar hop of some of the coolest spots we could have hoped to experience.

Here’s a peak at some of the shenanigans…enjoy!

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crab dip baked into a brioche roll started us off at dinner Friday night

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gazpacho topped with crab and drizzled with finishing oil and fresh herbs…with a side of amazing blue cheese coleslaw

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a power breakfast omelet after an early Saturday morning workout

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signs at the Boatyard Saturday morning…and $2 mimosas before 10am!

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the hubs and Rick, tour guide and party planner extraordinaire

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sharing a smooch on the yacht Saturday afternoon

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future magazine cover, am i right?

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some of the brunch spread at Blackwall Hitch on Sunday morning

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could not get enough of the decor at Blackwall

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nautical details abound

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specialty cocktails at Level – one of our Sunday bar hop stops

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stopping in for some whisky and bourbon at Dry 85…another Sunday stop

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Dry 85

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Red Red Wine {bar}

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painkillers at PUSSER’S!

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the hubs is making the best face. ever.

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keeping the fun rolling on the yacht!

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1/2 lb. crabcake at Chick & Ruth’s on Sunday morning…so amazingly tasty

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champagne, yacht style!

 

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a view into the kitchen at Chick & Ruth’s…talk about a well-oiled machine!

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how amazing is this view!?

shrimp taco bar {at home!}

We’re bringing the outdoor taco stand from the outside in to our kitchen today!

I don’t know about y’all, but there are certain foods that just scream “summer” to me – and tacos are certainly one of them! I hardly ever find myself craving them during the year, but there’s something so satisfying about biting down onto a perfectly warm corn tortilla wrapped around a myriad of fillings that just is heavenly.

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More often than not, good tacos are somewhat hard to come by around here. We are fortunate enough to have an excellent Mexican restaurant not too far from where we live, but sometimes, when the craving strikes, there’s just no time to change out of your yoga pants run out for dinner! Enter these tacos.

Being completely honest, this was one of those recipes I happened upon while preparing dinner a week or so ago. I love to keep shrimp on hand {we have it almost every week…sauteed, grilled, broiled, cocktail-style, etc.} because it’s so easy during these hot months to quickly and easily throw together a delicious and filling meal. Not only is it an excellent source of protein and super lean, but it’s a great vehicle for any sort of dish.

That’s where these tacos come in! I was going for a slightly sweet/smoky overall flavor, with accouterments that would play off those flavors nicely. This is a very easy dish to prepare, and can be adjusted according to your heat preference, flavor combinations, taco styles, etc.

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Shrimp Taco Bar {at home!}

the below ingredients/sauces provide enough “materials” for two people at three tacos each…simply double/triple/etc. to come up with the correct amount for you at-home bar!

Ingredients: {sauteed shrimp filling}

8-10 jumbo shrimp, rinsed and deveined

extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper, to taste

several tbsp. of your favorite Mexican beer

pinch of cumin, to finish off the shrimp {anywhere from 1/2 to 1 tsp.}

pinch of Cajun seasoning, to finish off the shrimp {I probably used a good tsp. or two}

Cook the Shrimp:

Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once nice and warm, add in a good drizzle of olive oil. You’ll want to turn it around the pan several times, to give it a good coating.

Once the oil is warm, add in the shrimp. Toss immediately so the shrimp don’t stick, and season with the cumin, Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper. Allow to cook for a minute or so, to develop initial color.

Add in the beer {away from the heat!}. Once back on the burner, turn up the heat to sear off the shrimp – you’ll want some good caramelized color on the sides! Being careful not to overcook, finish off until the beer has reduced. Remove from heat and set aside.

tip: pour off the cooking liquid and save as a drizzling sauce for the top of your tacos; it’s delicious!

Wraps & Fillings:

finely shredded napa cabbage {about 1-2 cups}

mini sweet bell peppers, assorted colors {I julienned about 7}

fresh cilanto

diced roma tomatoes {2-3 small ones is perfect}

julienned onions {green onions or scallions would be great as well}

wedges of lemons and limes

salsa {I used Trader Joe’s}

crumbled queso fresco, about 1/2 to 1 cup

crema**

corn tortillas {I assumed 3 per person, which was the perfect amount for the hubs and I}

Assemble the Taco Bar:

I find it easiest to put out different serving bowls for each topping, spreading out all along the sides of the table for easy access.

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Whatever combination strikes your fancy for your taco stuffing is the way to go! I love a healthy dose of crunchy cabbage, fresh cilantro and tomatoes, drizzled with the crema and sprinkled with queso fresco. Such simple combinations are often the best – I hope you enjoy this fun and easy dinner! And make sure you enjoy it with a cold and refreshing Mexican beer, complete with a lime wedge!

**To Make the Crema: simply mix together one 6 ounce container of plain Greek yogurt with fresh lemon juice, fresh lime juice, a little dash of honey {to cut the tartness of the acidic juices and tart yogurt}, salt and pepper, and a pinch of two of fresh herbs {I used a combination of cilantro, cumin, and a dash of oregano}. You’ll want it thin enough to drizzle over the tops of the tacos, but still not run down to your elbows!

summer salmon with roasted asparagus

Hands down, one of my favorite things about this time of year is the abundance of fresh, bright produce and gorgeous seafood. It just doesn’t get any better than that, no?

Happily making my way down the produce and seafood section not too long ago, I couldn’t help but notice lovely stalks of bright green asparagus. This being one of my favorite vegetables, I quickly scooped up a bunch, knowing that half of dinner was already taken care of. Thinking to myself what kind of protein to pair with it, I immediately thought a filet of wild-caught salmon would be absolute perfection. I knew that I had some leftover artichokes and Roma tomatoes at home waiting to be used, so I thought that this would pair well with the salmon as well.

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Not only is this a healthy dinner, bursting with flavor and color, but it comes together in a flash. We start by making a quick dressing of herbs and mustard together, then setting it aside so the flavors can merry together. The salmon gets seasoned well with salt and pepper then placed, skin side down,  onto a lightly sprayed piece of foil. We then build layers of flavor by adding first the tomatoes, then the artichokes, then finally, everything gets drizzled with the marinade. Covered tightly with foil {we’re doing foil packet baked fish, after all!}, everything gets roasted off in the oven.

And, dears, the asparagus couldn’t be any simpler. All we’re doing with these lovelies is tossing generously with salt and pepper, a good drizzle of olive oil, then spreading evenly onto a baking sheet. The end result is a perfectly roasted vegetable, with crispy bits.

A lovely plate for dinner, easy enough to throw together during the week but can be trussed up into a date night at home. Light some candles, pour some wine, and enjoy!

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Summer Salmon with Roasted Asparagus {original recipe}

Serves: 2, & can easily be doubled

Ingredients for the Salmon 

1 lb. fresh, wild caught salmon

1/2 can artichokes, drained and rinsed well

1 large Roma tomato, sliced thin

1/2 tsp. dried dill

1 tsp. dried thyme

2 tsp. dried basil

1 T. honey

2 T. dijon mustard

1 T. whole grain mustard

few teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil, or chicken stock {used to thin the marinade}

salt & pepper, to taste

 

Ingredients for the Asparagus

1 bunch asparagus, rinsed well and trimmed of any undesirable leaves/stems

salt & pepper, to taste

extra virgin olive oil

 

To Make {both the salmon and asparagus!}

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine the dill, thyme, basil, honey, both types of mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk well to combine, and then drizzle in the liquid as needed {I ended up using about 2 tsp of stock}. Set aside.

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Line a baking sheet with foil, and drizzle with olive oil. Place the two pieces of salmon, skin side down, on the foil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Layer each piece with the tomatoes first, then the artichokes, and finally finish with the marinade. Seal tightly and set aside.

Place the asparagus on a piece of foil. Drizzle generously with olive oil, and season well with salt and pepper {sometimes I even like to squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice on there as well – be careful of seeds if you do!} Toss to coat, then either place that sheet of foil on the same pan as the salmon packet {if large enough} or on a separate sheet.

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Roast both the salmon packets and asparagus in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until desired done-ness is achieved {I prefer mine slightly on the pinker side, with a velvety texture}. Give the asparagus a turn about halfway through, to ensure even cooking.

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For an even crispier roasted asparagus, place in the oven 5-10 minutes before the salmon goes in, making sure to toss halfway through. 

kicked up fish & chips

Raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced cafeteria food.

This, I know for a fact, is something that every single one of us has been exposed to in our lives, whether it be long or short. School age children do it {practically} daily, adults may have a workplace cafeteria they frequent for lunch, or you just can’t stay away from the beloved “all you can eat buffets”.  Regardless of location, I find there is always one thing you can count on – that, my dears, is the classic “fish stick”.

I am confident in saying that this is one meal that gets a terribly unfortunate reputation. My reasoning for asking about your cafeteria dining experience is because, almost always, you can ask a person about said fish sticks and I’m willing to bet you will get the same reaction…eyes rolling, hand flies to mouth, perhaps a dash to the bathroom {from a particularly terrible experience} or just a collective sigh of disappointment. It’s just one of those foods that no one liked, myself included.

That is…until I was introduced to the British staple of “Fish and Chips”.

Photo courtesy of  tripadvisor

While insanely delicious and filling, the meal itself is a calorie and fat bomb. Yes, this is what makes it so utterly delicious, and I am never one to pass up the occasional indulgence, but when I find a meal that I adore oh-so-much, I want to enjoy it more than once in a blue moon. So naturally, I decided to take matters into my own able hands.

Enter these kicked up fish and chips. I have been making these on a regular basis for several years now, and figured it was time to get them on rotation here. By subbing out the deep-frying aspect of the dish for an insanely hot roast in the oven, swapping out the large portion of French fries for thick strings of roasted vegetables, you’ve got a pretty darn good fill-in, if I do say so myself. I cannot tell a lie – I may have even patted myself on the back for this meal. It’s truly a winner. You won’t miss any of the greasy outer layers because the panko batter is so crispy from being roasted, and the fish inside stays so incredibly tender and moist.

It’s time we give those sad fish sticks from yesteryear a second chance – let’s start here, shall we?

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Kicked Up Fish & Chips

{serves 2 generously, 3 for a more “tapas” style dining experience}

Ingredients:

cooking spray

1 lb. {give or take} of cod, cut into thick strips

1 to 1-1/2  C. all-purpose flour*

1 to 1-1/2 C. panko bread crumbs *

1 large egg*

2 egg whites*

2 to 4 Tbsp. milk*

a few dashes of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, or your preference of sauce {optional}

your favorite dried herbs {optional}

salt and pepper, to taste

 *for a thicker style coating, double the amount of coating mixtures in each bowl – essentially, you’ll run the strips first through the flour, then the egg, then back through the flour, then back through the egg again before ending up in the panko mixture. This is a great way to get that extra crackly coating!…and my preferred choice. 

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, making sure to come up the sides. Place a wire cooling rack atop the baking sheet and spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray.

Line up three shallow dishes:

-In the first bowl, add the 1 cup of flour and season to taste with salt and pepper. This is where you can add your favorite herbs, if choosing to do so.

-In the second bowl, whisk together the egg, both egg whites, milk, and a few dashes of hot sauce.

-In the third bowl, mix together the panko, making sure to season again with salt and pepper {we’re building layers of flavor here, folks!}.

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Bread fish strips by first dredging in the flour mixture, making sure to coat all sides thoroughly – don’t forget the edges! Shake of any excess, then run through the egg mixture bowl, allowing any excess to drip off. Finally, pat into the panko mixture, making sure to get a good coating on all sides.* Place on wire baking rack, then repeat the steps with the remaining strips of fish.

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Spray the tops and sides of fish strips with cooking spray – this will help them further crisp up in the oven.

Bake in the preheated oven for at least 10-15 minutes {I often find that it can take upwards of 20-25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish}, until the flesh is opaque and flaky.

I like to serve this dish with a side of roasted vegetables – whether it’s sweet or russet potato wedges, asparagus, carrots, etc. – or a good basket of crispy French fries. You cannot go wrong!

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Happy dining!

cioppino {san francisco’s famous seafood stew}

At this point in my life, I’m about 6 hours (in all directions) from the nearest ocean. Virginia Beach, Ocean City, the Outer Banks – you name it, they are all far away. The hubs and I try to make it out to the beach at least once a year. Usually in those trips…and especially when family is involved, a big old seafood dinner is always on the books weeks in advance. Because let’s face it, there’s nothing better than a fresh piece of seafood, caught that day, and not far at all from where you’re dining. I wish I was fortunate enough to enjoy that luxury year round, but for now, special seafood dinners at the beach will have to do

…that is, until I started making cioppino.

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By no means am I trying to compare grocery store seafood to the fresh caught bounty of the shore, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, amiright? Sometimes, and I’ll be the first to admit it happens more often than not, I will get a craving for seafood so big I just have to do something about it. This is where cioppino comes into play, my dears. Easy to throw together, a one pot wonder, and the best part is that you can use whatever seafood you might like.

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I can remember the first time that I made this dish. I had just returned home from visiting my parents, and was lucky enough to hit up the wonder that is Trader Joe’s. A bag labelled “seafood medley” had caught my eye so I quickly snatched it up, not exactly knowing what I would do with it, but I knew it would be delicious. I ended up tossing it with some tomatoes, broth and veggies, and called it a night. It was tasty, to be sure, but certainly not spectacular.

The recipe I want to share with you all today is one that I happened upon when I was planning a date night menu for the hubs and I not too long ago. We always like to have one weekend night ‘in’ so to speak – we experiment with cocktails, and I whip up a few quick and easy dishes for dinner. Date night in comfy clothes…can I get an AMEN! I know you ladies are with me on this one.

But getting back on track. As I said, I was perusing different sites and this particular recipe caught my eye. Brimming with a variety of seafood, spices, and other wonderful flavors, I immediately knew that this would be it.

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This dish is truly easy to prepare; don’t be fooled by the long list of ingredients and steps. The majority of the time you’ll dedicate to it is watching it on the stovetop, and the longer you let the tomatoes and broth merry with the wine and herbs, the better it will be. And you know how I mentioned this is perfect date night food? I’m not even kidding. It’s a wonderfully light dish, and won’t leave you feeling heavy afterward. So pour yourself a glass of white wine, settle in for the evening, and get to cooking. :)

Bon appetit!

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Cioppino

{adapted slightly from American Food}

Note: Please, please, please make sure you use fresh and not frozen seafood when preparing this dish! It is going to make a difference in the final flavors of the cioppino. It’s worth the slight splurge. And by no means do you have to use the fish listed below – feel free to swap out whatever you may like! Shrimp would be wonderful, as would halibut, or any other thick white fish. 

Makes 6 large portions

Ingredients:

1/4 C. olive oil

1 rib celery, diced

1 onion, diced

2 (14 ounce) cans of tomatoes, one diced and one crushed

1 small can of canned clams, with the liquid

1 C. good chicken stock

6 cloves of garlic, minced

juice of half a lemon

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp.red pepper flakes, or to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

3/4 lb. cod, cut into 1″ strips

24 fresh scallops (I used a smaller scallop)

8-12 fresh clams

1/2 bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped

In a large pot (I used my favorite Le Creuset braising pan), on medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add in the carrots, onion, and garlic, and saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Add in the rest of the above ingredients, except the chicken stock, seafood and fresh parsley. Simmer on low, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes. Add the chicken stock in every 10 minutes or so, stirring to combine. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper as needed.

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Add in the cod and cover, cooking for about 7 minutes. Add in the canned clams with their liquid, the scallops, and the clams. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the clams open.  Serve in large bowls and top with parsley. Make sure to serve lots of crusty bread on the side (I love a good French or sourdough loaf) and a good white wine!

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The cioppino, less the seafood, also freezes amazingly well. I like to scoop out half the broth before cooking the seafood, letting it cool in a freezer-safe container, and then storing it for a later meal. Simply thaw it in the refrigerator, and when you are ready to cook it, simply add it into your pot, bring to temperature and proceed to cook the fish in it as directed above. Two meals, one prep – it’s fabulous! 

citrus-sriracha cod with sauteed vegetables

I cannot tell a lie. Today was one of those days.

The days where, as much as I love cooking, I just want to come home from work and not.do.anything. It took all effort and energy I had left to even open the fridge and think about what to make for dinner. I just wasn’t feeling it.

Fortunately for me, the hubs had gone on a grocery run the day before, so I had a beautiful piece of cod that was just calling my name. I pulled it out and started thinking about what to marinade it in. And guys – I’m being honest…this marinade I completely threw together on a whim. And I’ll tell you what, it just clicked.

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The flavors in this marinade balance each other out so beautifully. The srircacha is just hot enough, and the honey cuts a little bit of that heat. The citrus juice adds that perfect kick of acidity, and the soy sauce brings a deeper level of flavor. The smoothness of the cod was the perfect vehicle – it absorbed all those great flavors, and stayed so moist from cooking it in a foil packet(!). Served atop a bed of sauteed vegetables, it truly was the perfect weeknight meal. I used onion and squash because it’s what I had on hand, but you could really use anything. The hubs devoured it, and so did I. One of my most favorite meals are the ones thrown together without a thought, and when they turn out so perfectly, everybody wins.

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Citrus-Srircacha Cod with Sauteed Vegetables {original recipe}

serves 2

1 lb. cod (or really, any white fish – I think mahi mahi would be great here as well!)
3/4 C orange juice
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp srircacha
1/4 C low sodium soy sauce

salt and pepper to taste

1 yellow squash
3/4 of a large white onion
1/3 C apple cider
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1.5 tsp thyme

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with foil (we’re going to fold the foil over the fish to make a packet, allowing it to steam).

To make the marinade – in a small dish, combine the orange juice, lemon juice, lime juice, honey, srircacha, and soy sauce.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour over the fish, and fold up the sides of the foil, sealing in the fish. Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until fish is firm and white.

While the fish is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Preheat a medium, non-stick skillet over medium heat. Give it a few good turns of olive oil, and add in the sliced squash and onions. Season with salt and pepper, and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the onions become translucent. Stir in the apple cider, whole grain mustard, and thyme. Cook all together until the apple cider has evaporated. Cover to keep warm.

I like to serve the fish atop the sauteed vegetables, and drizzle the cooking liquid from the fish over top each bowl. A great, crusty French bread goes wonderfully with this dish, to sop up the broth.

“twisted” shrimp & grits

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I am not, what you would call, a “true Southerner”. Quite the opposite, actually. I was born in New York, lived for a short time in California, and have lived the majority of my life in the Virginia area. I’ve never spent more than a few days below the Virginia border, and have never even been to New Orleans(!). But alas, my love for Southern cuisine runs deep.  Bold and spicy flavors, the ‘holy trinity’ base for all things good, the seafood…I could go on and on, but then I might never stop rambling and daydreaming about it. I would probably also start drooling.  #awkward

I suppose you could say that, since because I have never been to the soul of the South, that special city of New Orleans, one might suggest that I have never really had shrimp and grits. And they may very well be right. Sure, I’ve had my fair share at different restaurants and in different cities, but I can only dream about what gets cooked up down there. Life changing, one might say. And their probably right.

I’m going to go ahead and just say it – this recipe that I’m about to share with you, is a bit of a stretch. These are not traditional shrimp and grits by any means. I’m certain that certain people would be horrified to see that I’ve even titled this recipe as such. Because you see, my dears, there is not one single morsel of cornmeal to be found in this recipe.

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::gasp::

This is why I’m calling these “twisted” shrimp & grits. It’s an easy weeknight meal, and most of the ingredients you probably have on hand. And in typical Alicia fashion, I kept it lighter than most grits you’ll find. With the fresh corn, herbs, and the sauce from cooking, there is no lack of flavor whatsoever (and I’ll go ahead and put it out there – cheese with seafood doesn’t always strike my fancy). However, it’s very important to use good wine when preparing this dish! Cook with wine you want to drink – the alcohol will cook out, and you’ll be left with the flavor only. If it doesn’t taste good in a glass, it won’t taste good in your final dish. Truth.

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Hopefully no one finds this recipe sacrilegious to the name of shrimp and grits. But maybe, just maybe, they’ll try this and see it in a new light. A girl can dream.

“Twisted” Shrimp & Grits {original recipe}

{serves two, can easily be doubled or tripled}

8 ounces extra large shrimp, defrosted (if using frozen, precooked shrimp)

2 ears of corn, grated

1/2 tsp. basil

1/2 tsp. rosemary

1/4 c. white wine

2 tsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. butter

arugula (3ish cups)

salt & pepper, to taste

olive oil

Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium-low heat.

Add white wine and lemon juice. Stir to incorporate. Add shrimp, and season all with salt and pepper; cover and cook until shrimp is just turning pink, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a bowl, adding most of the cooking liquid, and cover tightly with foil.

Into the pan add the grated corn, herbs, salt and pepper. Cook 7-10 minutes, until slightly thickened. Transfer mixture into a bowl and cover to keep warm.

Into the same pan, wiped clean, add in the arugula. Cook on low heat, tossing with tongs, until slightly wilted.

To plate: divide the corn mixture between two bowls. Top each with half of the wilted arugula, and finally, the cooked shrimp. Pour the cooking liquid over each bowl.

Bon appetit!