Pan Fried Soft Shelled Crabs

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab

I love soft shell crabs…If they’re done right! It’s very easy to mess up this relatively simple dish, but when they’re done properly they are just fabulous! I’ve had my share of bad and good fried crabs. In fact in one case over on the Eastern Shore I had a fried soft shell crab that was so bad I couldn’t even finish eating it because it was just that horrible. Most of the other “bad” ones were at least edible, but in that instance it wasn’t the case.

For several years I’ve wanted to play around with soft shell crabs, but never found any that were live so I skipped the experience. I actually found some live, soft shelled crabs late last month and I was thrilled! I bought a couple, knowing I was the only one that would eat them. Jamison doesn’t like seafood (or much of anything for that fact) and Alexis won’t eat something that resembles the animal it came from. I have to agree with her on that point for the most part, given I can’t stand to see a fish served that still has a head. I have this thing about my food staring back at me, but that is neither here nor there at the moment.

Anyway…..

I bought a couple of live soft shelled crabs and the fish monger actually cleaned them for me. If you buy them from somewhere that you can have them cleaned for you I highly recommend you take that route. It isn’t hard to do, but I think it’s easier to just have it done for you. If you’d rather do it yourself Cooking Light has a very nice little tutorial on how to clean a soft shell crab that should set you in the right direction.

In my opinion there are two main ways to go wrong with soft shelled crabs: 1)You don’t season them properly or 2)They are either under or over fried. I remember once hearing Emeril quip that he wasn’t sure where we got our beef, but where he got his it didn’t come seasoned. This is true of most anything, including crabs. You have to season them properly for them to taste good!

I’ve been in Maryland now for 11 years and in that time I’ve steadily become more and more of a Maryland girl and in my mind crabs need Old Bay! This goes for soft shell crabs when you’re frying them. Have you ever heard of a Maryland crab that didn’t have a little Old Bay Seasoning thrown in for good measure? Crab soup, crab dip, crab cakes, more likely than not, if these dishes originated in Maryland you’re going to find Old Bay in the components of the dish. Old Bay is as big a part of Maryland as the crab or oyster themselves. Some people don’t care for Old Bay, but I’m a BIG fan!

As for frying it isn’t hard, but it’s essential that you do it right. I love sushi, but when it comes to crabs I want them cooked properly all the way done. This isn’t sushi grade salmon or tuna we’re talking about here. On the flip side if you cook them too long you’re going to end up with a hard, rubbery bit of nothing that is extremely hard to eat and doesn’t taste like much to boot. You want to look for a lightly browned outside that when touched still has a little bit of give to it over all. It takes roughly 2-3 minutes on the 1st side you fry and then 1-2 on the second. It’s quick, but don’t make it too quick!

Soft shelled crabs are a tradition around here. Everyone has their own spin on this little dish and this is mine. Eat them straight up, or make a sandwich with some lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce, but either way you’re in for a treat!

What You’ll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
Soft shelled crabs, cleaned
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1-2 tablespoons of Old Bay Seasoning (Note: Use less if spicy isn’t your thing.)
Sea salt
Finely ground black pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat heat olive oil until hot.

While oil is heating get started on your crabs.

Beat two eggs together in a dish and set aside.

Mix together flour and Old Bary seasoning on a plate. Set aside.

If your crabs aren’t cleaned (see the link above) you want to do that first:

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab: Soft Shell Crab, Cleaned and Ready to Cook

Sprinkle cleaned crab with sea salt and black pepper and then dip in to beaten egg:

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab: Egg Bath

Take crab from the egg mixture and dip one side into the flour mixture:

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab: Covering the Bottom Side

Flip crab over and place the other side in the flour mixture:

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab: Covering the Other Side

Make sure both sides are covered well by picking it up and inspecting both sides:

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab: Coated with Flour

Place on a plate and repeat until you’ve coated all of your crabs:

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab: Ready to Fry

When oil is hot place crab bottom side down and fry for 2-3 minutes:

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab: Frying the Bottoms

Once bottoms are lightly browned flip the crab over and fry the other side for 1-2 minutes:

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab: Frying the Tops

Fry until both sides are lightly browned:

Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab

Just as when you steam crabs they’ll turn red and you can see it through the cooked “batter” when they’re done. Remove from the oil and let drain on a paper towel lined plate for a couple of minutes and then serve.

Notes: You can do this for shrimp too. I like to serve these with seared scallops along the side.

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Garnished

I’ve become obsessed with grilling. When I was in my late teens and early twenties I loved to grill! But once I met Jamison I didn’t grill as much because he’s very picky about how his food is prepared and hates being outside.

I know, I know! Have I mentioned lately my culinary skills are lost on him?

Anyway, I’m becoming snarky at my old age of 37 and I’ve decided by golly I’m going to grill more often and I have been! I like to grill in the spring, fall and winter, because I’m also not so keen on the heat during the summer. I don’t want to stand over a scorching grill when it’s 90+ degrees outside. But really that’s neither here nor there in the grand scheme of this salad, so we’ll move on.

I started thinking about making a grilled salad. The idea of warm salads intrigues me, but up until this point I had not had a warm salad that I actually cared for. I like potato salad warm occasionally, right after it’s been made, but that isn’t really what you think about when you think about a salad.

I’ve heard of people grilling lettuce chunks before, but that didn’t really appeal to me. I might try it someday, but for this I wanted more hearty/sturdy vegetables and definitely bread. What’s not to like about bread?

I also decided I wanted some sort of grilled seafood added to the mix. Alexis and I both love shrimp and lobster so I decided to go with one of those. I had some lobster tails in the freezer so that ended up being what I went with this night. Our local store puts them on sale occasionally for $3 to $5 for a nice sized tail, so when they do I buy a few and freeze them for later use.

The lobster is really a great grilling “fish” because of its shell. You don’t have to worry about putting it on a cedar plank because it will flake away on the grill like you would with a fillet of fish. When it’s a bright red color it’s ready to go! This usually takes 15-20 minutes depending on the heat of your grill.

So after I had the idea I started chopping and this is what resulted. This is a perfect summer time dinner that doesn’t take a lot of time, but you end up with a really fabulous result. My kind of dinner!

What You’ll Need for the Salad:
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tomatoes cut in half
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 small package of button or baby Portabella mushrooms
1-2 bell peppers, cut into big chunks
2 carrots, cut into thick sticks
1 large zucchini, cut into big chunks
1 large red onion, cut into thick strips
1/2 loaf of day old french or Callah bread, cut into cubes
1-2 lobster tails
Grated Parmesan

First mix up your dressing and set aside:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Dressing

See the recipe below for the dressing. Shake again really well before adding to the salad.

Then sprinkle your veggies with a little sea salt and pepper and then toss with some extra virgin olive oil to thinly coat:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Veggies Ready to Grill

Next sprinkle your cubes of bread with sea salt and toss with a little olive oil as well:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Bread Tossed with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

Now we’re ready for the fun part…Grilling!

I like to use natural charcoal. It gives the food such a wonder flavor and it doesn’t have any of the weird chemicals in them that many other brands do. I like to use Stubb’s. They don’t have their charcoal listed on their website, but I’ve found it at Lowe’s.

Now to use a charcoal chimney or not?

I really love the ease of use of a charcoal chimney. You don’t need lighter fluid, which is again an accelerant and who wants to add that to your food, because if you’re cooking over it your food is absorbing whatever is burning underneath it.

BUT

I don’t think that a charcoal chimney holds enough charcoal to actually cook something well. I like a lot of coals going beneath my food. So lately I’ve been using brown craft paper spread throughout the coals to use as “wicks” if you will and splash a little PGA on top of the coals to get it going. Be careful if you’re using the pure grain alcohol because that stuff ignites fast and big!

Once your coals are hot you’re ready to start grilling!

I like to do the “sturdier” vegetables first. The softer the vegetable is the faster it will grill. You also want to get your lobster tails on first as well. The bread will come last.

So you grill and flip:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Grilling

And grill and flip:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Grilling

And grill and flip some more:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Grilling

As you can see some of my veggies “jumped” into the grill because I was careless when turning them. The bigger the chunk of vegetable, the less likely you are to lose it through the slits of the grill. Live and learn as they say. Or maybe in this case it would be do and learn.

When things become done you’ll remove them to a plate or platter and set them aside until the other aspects of the salad become done:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Grilled Lobster and Bread

When you grill the bread be careful. Each side will literally grill in 30 seconds or less over direct coals!

Once everything is grilled it’s time to assemble your salad!

First place the bread in the bottom of a bowl:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Bread

Next cut the grilled tomatoes into wedges and then add to the bread:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Tomatoes

And then the mushrooms:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Mushrooms

And the bell peppers:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Bell Pepper and Carrots

Zucchini:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Zucchini

Onions:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Onions

And then add the carrots and roughly chop the lobster meat and add to the bowl as well:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Lobster

Finally sprinkle the veggies with some Parmesan:

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Parmesan

And some of the dressing (see recipe below):

Grilled Vegetable and Lobster Salad: Ready Toss

And it’s ready to toss!

Now dig in and enjoy!

Notes on the Salad: As I mentioned above you could use shrimp in place of the lobster or even a cedar grilled salmon would be great too. I sometimes like to serve this with extra grilled vegetables as you can see in the picture at the top of the entry. You could also use grilled squash or cherry tomatoes, or whatever you like in place of, or in addition to what I used.

What You’ll Need for the Dressing:
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of balsamic or champagne vinegar
A pinch of sea salt
Black pepper
1 tablespoon of dried Italian Seasoning mix
~OR~
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of dried basil
2 teaspoons of dried oregano

Add all ingredients to a glass jar. Put on an air tight lid and shake until mixed. Use to toss the salad.

Notes on the Dressing: You can use either type of vinegar that you like. I like to use balsamic when I want a bigger flavor punch. I use champagne when I want it a more delicate flavor.

Grown Up Tuna Casserole

Grown Up Tuna Casserole

I have to admit I didn’t grow up with tuna casserole. My mom wasn’t a fan, so we skipped over that version of culinary “delight” but many of my friends complained about their mother’s subjecting them to the horror that was tuna casserole.

I never actually encountered a tuna casserole until the last full year I lived in Knoxville, Tennessee, which would have been 1996. I worked at this really horrible, hole in the wall sort of preschool/daycare. It was a definite step down from the preschool/daycare I had worked at before, but this place actually had a cook on staff. Most of what she made was very good, but I dreaded, as did the children, the days that tuna casserole would make an appearance on the menu. It was a sloppy, icky mess, and even back then my mind went in to gear and I thought there had to be a better way to make a tuna casserole that was actually good.

Years passed, and that little thought was filed away into the “I’ll do that someday!” file and I never got around to getting back to the idea. Recently I decided it might be time to pull out that little thought, dust it off and see if I couldn’t come up with something a little more sophisticated than the standard tuna casserole fare. And you know what? It worked! If you want a tuna casserole that is a little more grown up and not a big old sloppy mess, this is the casserole for you!

What You’ll Need:
4 cups of uncooked egg noodles, cooked according to package directions
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Finely ground black pepper
1 large tuna steak
1/2 a large red onion, chopped
6-8 Crimini mushrooms, chopped
1/2 – 16 ounce package of frozen peas
1/2 cup of half and half
1/3 cup of light sour cream
1 cup of Parmesan
Harvati cheese, shredded
Panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cook egg noodles, drain and set aside:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Egg Noodles

In skillet add a little extra virgin olive oil and place your tuna steak in the heated pan sprinkling it with some sea salt and a little finely ground black pepper:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Tuna Steak Cooking

Cook tuna steak until it is browned on both sides and mostly done through:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Tuna Steak

Once tuna steak is cooked use a fork and flake the steak into pieces:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Flaked Tuna

In the same pan that you cooked your tuna steak add a little bit more olive oil and saute your mushrooms and onions with a little sea salt and some finely ground black pepper until tender:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Onions and Mushrooms

Next stir in peas and cook for 2-3 minutes until mostly thawed:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Veggies

Stir flaked tuna in to the vegetable mixture:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Tuna and Vegetables

Next mix tuna/vegetable mixture with noodles and stir to mix. Add sour cream, half and half and Parmesan and stir to incorporate:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Filling

Pour mixture into a baking dish that has been brushed with olive oil:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Ready for Cheese

Sprinkle with Harvati cheese:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Havrati

Then sprinkle with Panko bread crumbs:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Ready to Bake

Bake for 25-30 minutes until slightly browned:

Grown Up Tuna Casserole: Baked

Serve immediately.

Note: You could add other vegetables if you liked. This method could be used with a salmon steak too, but I’d add in some dill if you were using salmon.

Not Your Mama’s Tuna Salad

Not Your Mama's Tuna Salad

I’m a big fan of tuna. I don’t eat it that often due to mercury concerns, and really I’m not going to get into bio-magnification or anything, no need to make you eyes glaze over on a food blog, but tuna is not something I’m going to eat everyday. When I do eat it though I like to shake things up a bit.

One of my favorite things to do with tuna is simply bake of pan fry a tuna steak, but I’m not adverse to tuna in the pouch either. Sure there is always a more traditional tuna salad, but why not take that to a whole new level! Who says you can’t wow them with something really simple?

What You’ll Need:
1 small cucumber, cut in half and sliced
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3/4 cup of green olives, sliced
1 bell pepper, chopped (Note: I used a red bell pepper this go around, but any color will work.)
1 small red onion, chopped
1 large pouch of tuna
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Brown rice vinegar

In a large bowl toss together cucumbers, tomatoes, green olives, bell pepper and red onion until incorporated. Add tuna and stir to mix.

Sprinkle the top of the salad generously with sea salt and black pepper and then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and brown rice vinegar. Toss to coat.

Serve immediately.

Notes: This is really an eat it immediately sort of salad. The vinegar will start to break things down if you let it sit. Left overs aren’t really that great. This really isn’t a sandwich type of tuna salad either. It’s better eaten as is.

Creamy Salmon Potato Soup

Creamy Salmon Potato Soup

I love snow. I really do. I love watching the flakes swirl and twirl through the air on their way down to the ground. I love how the snow clings to everything in its path, giving the world a quiet, beautiful, bright glow. And surprisingly enough I even enjoy shoveling (though my back wasn’t up for it this past weekend)…I know, I know, I’m weird. But snow also makes me want to cook!

This weekend we had our first snow of the season. I actually didn’t think it was going to amount to much, but we got a very nice little snow, right around 5 1/2 inches the last time I measured, that was fun to watch and play in. You can’t ask for a better weekend than that!

On Saturday I decided I wanted to make some soup. You see snow falling and it makes me think that a nice hearty soup is in order. I had some left over salmon and I was in the mood for potato soup so I thought I’d combine the two. Add some bacon and a few other simple ingredients and you’ve got the perfect, hearty soup for that lovely snowy day!

What You’ll Need:
3 slices of thick center cut bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 a sweet onion, chopped
3 potatoes, 2 chopped, 1 baked and mashed
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 quart of broth (Note: I used turkey, but chicken broth will be fine too.)
1 cup of heavy cream
1 cooked salmon fillet, flaked (Note: I usually cook my salmon with dill, so there was an underlying dill flavor there.)

Add bacon to a medium sized pot and let cook over medium heat for a minute or two:

Creamy Salmon Potato Soup: Bacon

Next add butter and let melt and then stir in onions:

Creamy Salmon Potato Soup: Onions, Bacon and Butter

Cook until onions are tender, stirring often.

Next add a pinch of sea salt, some freshly grated black pepper and chopped potatoes and stir to mix:

Creamy Salmon Potato Soup: Ready for Broth

Add broth and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until potatoes are tender.

For the baked potato you can use a left over baked potato, or you can “bake” (i.e. steam) one in the microwave. Cut the baked potato into pieces, skin and all, and add to a food processor and process until smooth:

Creamy Salmon Potato Soup: Mashed Potato

This mashed potato mixture helps thicken the soup slightly. Add the mashed potato mixture to the soup as the potatoes are cooking and stir to mix.

Once the potatoes are tender stir in salmon and heavy cream to mix. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes to heat through and serve immediately.

Notes: This soup could easily be made without the salmon. Bacon could also be added to the top of the soup as a garnish, along with a little cheese.

Better Bites: Pan Seared Salmon with Avocado Salsa

Better Bites: Pan Seared Salmon With Tomato Avocado Relish

I love wild salmon. Growing up I wasn’t so fond of salmon, because I had only been exposed to the canned variety and I was not impressed. Several years ago I decided to try a fresh fillet and I immediately fell in love!

Salmon is a very healthy option overall as long as you focus on wild salmon and not the farmed variety. It’s also quick cooking and delicious! Both pluses in my opinion!

So what you should look for?

First follow your nose. If it smells fishy, then you don’t want it! Next give it a poke. Is the flesh firm? You want it to be firm, with just a bit of give. And don’t forget to read the label! Remember you’re looking for a variety that was not farm raised!

This dish can be done year around, but it’s especially nice in the summer when the vegetables are fresh. It takes about 4 minutes to throw together and 10-15 minutes to cook and assemble. How’s that for quick? There is just nothing better than a quick, healthy, delicious meal!

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What You’ll Need for the Salmon:
A nice sized salmon fillet (Note: The one I used would feed roughly four people.)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Lime juice

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a large skillet over medium heat a thin layer of olive oil. Sprinkle a salmon fillet with sea salt and black pepper. Right before you put it in the skillet drizzle the top with freshly squeezed lime juice and place it skin up in the pan until brown nicely browned:

Better Bites: Pan Seared Salmon With Tomato Avocado Relish: Browning

This take about 1-2 minutes:

Better Bites: Pan Seared Salmon With Tomato Avocado Relish: Ready For Oven

Flip the fillet over, with the skin down and place in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until almost done through.

Remove from oven and place on a cutting board:

Better Bites: Pan Seared Salmon With Tomato Avocado Relish: Salmon Resting

Let sit for 5 minutes. It will continue cooking as it sits.

When ready to serve, cut into individual servings and top with relish. (See below.)

Now move on to your relish.

Better Bites: Pan Seared Salmon With Tomato Avocado Relish: Relish

What You’ll Need for the Tomato Avocado Relish:
2 cups of cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters (Note: Any kind of tomatoes will work, but I like to use the smaller variety for this.)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/3 cup of fresh dill, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of freshly squeeze lime juice

In a large bowl toss together all ingredients to mix well. Place a nice sized scoop on top of the cooked salmon fillets.

Notes: This relish is good on most any fish or even grilled chicken. Don’t add the avocado until the last minute. The salmon is also good by itself cooked this way.

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips

First up be sure and stop by over at the Greenists today. It’s my day to post and this time I’m sharing some great ideas for what to do with your bounty of summer vegetables! Pop over and take a look and then let me know what your favorite things are to do with your summer veggies, because I love to see what others do and you may give me a new idea or two!

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Now let’s get started with Better Bites!

Fish and chips…What’s not to like? This combo is one of my all time favorite comfort foods! I don’t make it often though because although I don’t have an issue with frying from time to time, it’s a lot of work! It would be nice to have fish and chips more often so I started thinking about ways to take them and make them a little lighter, all while having a fabulous meal and not losing any of the taste! That’s just what this oven version does!

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Chips

What You’ll Need For the Chips:
2 pounds of potatoes, cut into wedges roughly the same size (Note: I used Yukon Gold, but you can use whatever you like.)
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Finely ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Wash potatoes and cut them into wedges. Make sure the wedges are roughly the same size so they’ll cook evenly. Place them in a glass bowl.

Pour olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and some finely ground pepper over the potatoes and toss to coat:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Coated

Add potatoes to a 13 X 9 inch dish and spread out evenly:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Chips Ready to Bake

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until “chips” are golden brown and fork tender:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Chips

Let sit for 3-5 minutes before serving.

Notes: These are fabulous sprinkled with a little malt vinegar just before eating.

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Baked Fish

What You’ll Need For The Fish:
1 lb of cod, cut into 4-5 pieces (Note: Any firm fish will work.)
Sea salt
Hot sauce
1 1/4 cups of stone ground yellow corn meal, divided
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of fine ground black pepper
2 heaping teaspoons of Cajun seasoning (Note: If the Cajun seasoning you are using has salt, then omit the teaspoon of sea salt.)
1/2 to 3/4 ups of buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 F. (Note: If you’re making “chips” too then you can just add the fish toward the end of the baking time for the “chips”.)

First rinse your fish and pat dry. Cut into 4-5 pieces:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Cod

The little one there is for Lex.

Place the pieces of fish on a plate and sprinkle generously with sea salt and hot sauce on both sides:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Hot Sauce

Set fish aside and prepare your batter. (Note: You can do this step the night before if you like and place the seasoned fillets in the fridge in an air tight container until ready to cook the next day.)

Mix one cup of corn meal with sea salt, black pepper and Cajun seasoning. Stir to mix. Add buttermilk slowly until a very thick batter forms. (Note: Depending on humidity you may need part of the buttermilk or all of it…Just keep an eye. Your batter should support the weight of your fish without sinking much.) Let sit for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the fish with the remaining 1/4 cup of corn meal on both sides of the fish:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Sprinkled with Corn Meal

Once the fish is sprinkled place one piece in the batter:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Ready to Coat

Next turn the fish over and make sure both sides are coated well with the batter:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Coated

Place coated fish in a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Ready to Bake

Repeat this process until all of your fillets are coated.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until fish is golden brown and done through.

Notes: Surprisingly the hot sauce and the Cajun seasoning doesn’t make the fish “hot”. It just gives it a nice over all flavor. You could really do this with any seasoning….Old Bay, Soul Food Seasoning, etc. Jamison’s dad makes his fish this way and then fries it. We like the method so well that we do all of our breaded fish that way!

Shrimp with Pan Fried Cabbage

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage

I’ve never been a big fan of cooked cabbage, though I do like raw cabbage. Recently I’ve had the desire to play around with the cooked variety so when I was at the market the other day I picked up a small head of Chinese Cabbage.

Most of the time cooked cabbage is cooked in a way that just becomes this big, mushy, sort of sulfuric tasting mess, thus why I didn’t like it. I have had cooked cabbage in Asian dishes before that didn’t turn out that way and actually tasted good, so I knew it was possible. I decided to play around with pan “frying” in a little bit of olive oil to see what would happen and I have to say I was very pleased! Paired with some cooked shrimp it made the perfect meal!

What You’ll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small Chines cabbage, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Brown rice vinegar
1 pound of shrimp, shelled and deveined

Chop cabbage and place in a medium sized pan or pot with some extra virgin olive oil, garlic, a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper:

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage: Cabbage Ready to Cook

Sprinkle with a few shakes of brown rice vinegar and cook until cabbage is slightly soft and browned, stirring often:

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage: Cooked Cabbage

Be careful and don’t let it get mushy. No one wants mushy cabbage! ;oP

While the cabbage is cooking you will also begin cooking your shrimp. The last time I made shrimp someone asked me how to actually devein them so I’m including a little “how to” on that. Excuse my green fingernail polish…Miss G wanted to paint our fingernails and she picked the colors. She got “Blu” and I got “Emerald City”. The things I do for her! ;oP

Now shrimp…You can buy them already deveined if you can find them that way, if not see below.

First rinse your shrimp well and remove the shells. Next you want to locate the vein:

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage: Vein

Now here’s the tricky part…Sometimes the vein is on the underneath of the shrimp and other times it is along the back. I guess it depends on the type of shrimp. I’ve bought shrimp that had them in either location. The removing process is the same despite of where it is located. As you can see the vein is running just below the surface of the under side of the shrimp in this variety.

Take a paring knife and run it along the meat of the shrimp just above the vein:

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage: Cutting

This will open up the shrimp and expose the vein.

Take your knife and run it under the edge of the vein:

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage: Removing Vein

Gently remove the vein and throw away.

Once you’ve done that your shrimp will look like this:

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage: Deveined

See the vein is gone!

Repeat that process until the shrimp are all deveined.

Next you want to generously salt and pepper your shrimp:

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage: Ready to Cook

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add some olive oil and then place the shrimp in the pan. Cook shrimp on each side roughly 30 seconds to 1 minute until pink on both sides:

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage: Cooked Shrimp

Be careful when cooking shrimp…They literally cook within a minute or two. If you take them too far you’ll end up with rubbery, tough shrimp and that’s no fun.

Place a bed of cabbage on a plate and top with cooked shrimp.

Notes: You could do this with scallops instead if you preferred.

Update: The next day I still had some left over shrimp and cabbage in the fridge so I thought I’d make a salad with them. Turned out great! I tossed in some mushroom, avocado and cucumber with the cooked shrimp and cabbage and it made a great lunch!

Shrimp With Pan "Fried" Chinese Cabbage Becomes Salad

It’s fun to take left overs and add to them! Who knew this would be good chilled too? But it was!

Spicy Black Beans and Shrimp

Spicy Black Beans and Shrimp

I love shrimp. I’ve always been fond of the tender little morsels. I also love spicy, and as I get older the more spicy I like things! A few weeks ago I made some steamed shrimp for dinner for Alexis and me and I had some left overs so I decided it would be fun to take the left overs, pair them with some rice and beans and make a healthy spicy shrimp/bean/rice dish and I did just that.

This dish definitely was spicy, but it was a nice heat. This makes for a hearty, yet healthy dinner that really hits the spot if spicy is your thing too. Paired with a tossed salad it makes the perfect meal.

What You’ll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2-4 ribs of celery, chopped
1 cup of wild rice
2 1/2 cups of broth or water
1 – 15.5 ounce can of black beans, undrained
2 tablespoons of Creole seasoning (Note: I used Tony Chachere’s)
2-3 cups of steamed shrimp

Spicy Black Beans and Shrimp: Veggies and Rice

In a medium sized pot saute onion, bell pepper and celery in extra virgin olive oil until tender. Add rice and Creole seasoning stirring to mix then cook for two or three minutes to toast the rice.

Add beans and broth or water then bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes covered stirring occasionally. Remove lid and cook 10 more minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is tender.

Once rice is tender and liquid is absorbed add shrimp and stir to mix. Cook for 3 minutes to heat shrimp through and serve.

Spicy Black Beans and Shrimp: Shrimp

Notes: You could use chicken if you aren’t a fan of shrimp, or leave out the meat all together for a vegetarian/vegan option. Also let me stress again this is very spicy so if spicy isn’t your thing you could leave out the Creole seasoning and add chili powder or just salt and pepper instead. It changes the dish fundamentally though.

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crab Cakes

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crabcakes

With the Chesapeake Bay right in our backyard, Maryland is sort of the home of the crabcake. Sometimes though those crabcakes get really heavy because they are either pan or deep fried. A few years ago I decided to try my hand at making a baked version and this is what resulted. Everyone I’ve ever served them to that is a crab cake fan has loved them!

Overall I have to say that I like my crab cakes a little lighter. You still have all the flavors that meld so perfectly together, but they are a little less heavy and a whole lot less greasy! Who says you can’t have your “crab” and eat it too…(Yes I went there! ;oP)

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What You’ll Need:
1 small red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (Note: I usually use 1/2 a red and 1/2 a yellow bell pepper. You can use one pepper of any color or mix it up. It’s your choice.)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of whole grain bread crumbs (Note: You want unseasoned for this dish. If you can’t find whole grain then regular bread crumbs will work too or even panko.)
2 tablespoons of Old Bay Seasoning (Note: I prefer Old Bay, but any seafood seasoning will work.)
16 ounces of crab meat, rinsed and picked over for shells (Note: You can use lump, backfin, claw, whatever you can find. Artificial crab will not work for this.)
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crabcakes: Peppers and Onions

In a large skillet over medium heat sauté onion and bell pepper with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground pepper until tender. Set aside to cool slightly.

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crabcakes: Peppers and Onions Cooking

In a large bowl mix bread crumbs and Old Bay Seasoning until completely mixed. Stir in cooked onions/peppers and crab meat and mix until incorporated. Add eggs to bind together the mixture and then it’s time to form the cakes.

I like to use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to make the cakes. Spray the cup with non-stick spray and then dip it into the bowl with the crab cake filling. Mash the mixture into the cup to give it good shape:

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crabcakes: Ready to Put In the Baking Dish

Then turn the cup over and dump the cake into a large baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray:

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crabcakes: Ready to Bake

Repeat this process until you run out of the crab mixture. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Makes about a dozen crab cakes.

Better Bites: Baked Maryland Crabcakes: The Inside

Notes: These crab cakes freeze beautifully. Freeze them fully cooked and then thaw and reheat and you are set to go! You can serve them all by themselves or pair them with some dill tartar sauce.