Dianne’s Maryland Crab Soup

Maryland Crab Soup

I had intended to do a Halloween themed recipe for today, but it just didn’t come together. So you’ll have to settle for Maryland Crab Soup instead. Happy Halloween to all you out there that celebrate the spooky day and especially to my best friend Darlene, since it’s her favorite holiday!

Now let’s talk some soup!

I love crab. I’ll readily admit though when I think of eating crab I think of crab cakes or crab legs or a crab boil or even deviled crabs, well before I think of Maryland Crab Soup. In fact since I moved to Maryland in 1999 I’ve had Maryland Crab Soup exactly once at a restaurant out on Tilghman Island called Harrison’s Chesapeake House and I instantly fell in love. Despite that fact I still hadn’t had it since then, even though I’ve been back to the Chesapeake House itself several times since then. That however was about to change.

A while back I picked up some fresh Maryland crab meat and I knew I wanted to make some soup this go around and the result was fabulous! This soup is tomomatoey, spicy and oh so lovely! If you like Maryland Crab Soup, then give my version a try. I think you’ll be glad you did!

What You’ll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large potato, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons of Old Bay Seasoning (Note: More if you prefer spicy, less if you don’t.)
2 – 14.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes, drained
1- 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1/2 of a 16 ounce package of frozen peas (Note: Normally lima beans are used for MCS, but I didn’t have any on hand since Miss G tends to adore them and go through them quickly, so I went with peas instead.)
1/2 of a 16 ounce package of frozen corn kernels
2 cups of water
1 pound of crab meat, rinsed and picked over for shells (Note: No matter how well you do this, inevitably some shells might make it into the soup.)

In a large stock pot saute onions and potatoes with a little sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until onions are tender and both onions and potatoes are slightly browned.

Next add Old Bay Seasoning and stir to coat. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, frozen peas and frozen corn, along with water and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.

Once potatoes are tender add crab and cook for 5 minutes to heat through. Serve immediately.

Notes: This soup is extremely easy to make and has a bit of a wow factor to it too. It is also very healthy, so that is always an added plus. You could use lima beans in place of the peas as I mentioned above.

Shrimp and Veggie Kabobs with Thyme

Shrimp and Veggie Kabobs

These kabobs are so versatile! You can add the veggies you like and/or meat of your choice. You can bake them, pan fry them or even cook them on the grill. It’s a perfect way to utilize fresh veggies from the garden for a quick, easy dinner. Pair with some wild rice and you’ve got the perfect, healthy, summer meal!

What You’ll Need For Two People:
1 small zucchini, cut into chunks
1 small yellow squash, cut into chunks
4 small tomatoes, your choice of type
4 whole mushrooms, your choice
2 small chunks of onion, your choice of type
8 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Kabob skewers(Note: If you choose to grill the kabobs it is wise to soak the kabob sticks in water if they’re wooden for at least 20 minutes so that they won’t catch on fire.)

Preheat oven to 425 F, heat frying pan over medium heat or ready grill.

Arrange veggies on kabob stick. Brush each kabob with olive oil, sprinkle with thyme leaves, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Veggie Kabobs

Repeat process with shrimp by placing 4 large shrimp per kabob.

Shrimp Kabobs

Bake vegetable kabobs for 25-30 minutes, pan fry with a little non-stick spray for 20-25 minutes or grill for 10-15 minutes until veggies are tender. Bake, pan fry or grill shrimp kabobs for 3-5 minutes until pink. Serve immediately.

Notes: I used both red and yellow tomatoes. I also used button and baby portabella mushrooms. I also chose red onion. Asparagus would be a nice addition. Leeks would be good too. Any veggies that you like works. Mix it up! You could also use chicken or beef in place of the shrimp. Beef and chicken would take longer to cook than the shrimp so they could be placed on the same kabob as the veggies.

Tuna Salad

Tuna Salad

I love tuna, but I don’t eat it that often due to mercury concerns. Every once in a while I grab some a tuna roll, grill a tuna steak or make some tuna salad. Yesterday was one of those days that started on a bad note and unfortunately when you start on that path you get caught up in a negative feedback loop and it’s hard to snap out of it and it was just a sour day all over. Tuna salad is one of those ultimate comfort foods for me, so I whipped up a batch.

Tuna salad is usually heavy, but it doesn’t have to be bad for you. In fact it can be good for you, though as I mentioned above with mercury concerns it’s not something you want to eat everyday, but it is possible to make a lighter version of the heavily mayonnaised versions you might get in a deli or even grandma might have made. You can make it into sandwiches, serve it in a bell pepper or tomato or even just eat it plain. The possibilities are endless and it’s quick and easy to mix up. What’s better than that?

What You’ll Need:
2 – 8 ounce cans of tuna packed in water, drained
2 ribs of celery, chopped
2 eggs, boiled and chopped
1/4 cup of sweet pickle relish
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon of light mayonnaise
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl to incorporate. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.

Notes: I sometimes add in chopped bell pepper and/or chopped cucumbers to the mix as well. I also sometimes omit the pickle relish. I always use light mayo because it has half the calories and fat, but still tastes like the full fledged equivalent.

Shrimp Salad

Shrimp Salad

What better to do with left over Salt and Pepper Shrimp than make some shrimp salad! It’s cool, delicious and not so bad on the waist line either. You can’t go wrong with that.

What You’ll Need:
2 cups of shrimp, cooked and chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 teaspoon of celery seed
1-2 teaspoons of Old Bay Seasoning (Note: More if you like it with a zing, less if you don’t. If you’re not a fan of Old Bay you can leave out the seasoning and add a pinch of sea salt and black pepper instead.)
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise

Dump ingredients into a bowl and stir to mix. Let set in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving.

Serve on lettuce leaves, a split tomato or on bread as a sandwich.

Shrimp Salad Sandwich

This makes four generous sized servings at about 170 calories a serving without the bread. You can’t beat that!

Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Shrimp are a quick, simple and delicious addition to a healthy meal! They are perfect along with a few steamed or baked veggies. They are even good the next day right out of the fridge! What’s not to like?

What You’ll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Rinse and dry shrimp. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. (2 pounds to 1 tablespoon ratio.) Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Bake for 3-5 minutes just until shrimp turn pink. (Note: Don’t overcook or the shrimp will become rubbery. Keep an eye on them and as soon as they turn pink bring them out!)

How is that for fast, easy and delicious?

Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Notes: Jumbo shrimp work the best. Don’t want to heat up the oven? You could easily do this in a steamer as well. Just steam for 4-5 minutes until pink. You could also put them on a skewer and do them outside on the grill. The guy at the fish counter said you should figure one pound of shrimp per persons served so I bought a pound for Alexis and I, but it could have easily fed 3 or 4 grown people along with the steamed veggies.

Crab Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Crab Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

This recipe is a cross between deviled crabs and crab cakes, nested on a portabella mushroom cap. I initially got the idea a few years ago when watching Rachel Ray (Note: This was a LONG time ago given now I can’t even see her without immediately flinching. Good God, that woman is annoying! How many freaking times does she have to explain what EVOO is? Every single time apparently!) and I tweaked majorly, because her recipes often don’t turn out the way they are supposed to. It’s hearty enough to easily be a main dish.

What You’ll Need:
1 cup of lump crabmeat (Note: NOT imitation crab.)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 a bell pepper, chopped
1/2 a red onion, chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
1 slice of whole grain bread, toasted and crumbled into bread crumbs
1-2 teaspoons of Old Bay Seasoning (In my opinion the more the better, but it’s a little spicy so if you’re not into that then go with less)
A pinch of sea salt
2 large portabella mushroom caps
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a baking dish place two portabella mushroom caps gill side up and set aside.

In a bowl mix all ingredients except for olive oil and mushrooms. Stir to incorporate thoroughly and spoon mixture evenly between the two mushrooms to form a mound. Sprinkle with some extra virgin olive oil and bake for 15-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes two servings.

Dublin Lawyer

Dublin Lawyer

And last but not least of our Saint Patrick’s Day feast was the Dublin Lawyer! I would guess that it is named thusly since lobster is a bit pricey and lawyers usually make good money, but I’m completely guessing on that front! It’s creamy, rich and oh so delicious! A little most definitely goes a long way!

But truly the most fun part about this dish is you get the set it on fire! I’ve never made a dish you had to do that with before, but I’ve always wanted to! And on Saturday I finally got to give it a whirl! 😉

What You’ll Need:
1- 1/2 to 1 pound lobster, steamed and meat removed
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2-3/4 cup of Jameson Irish Whiskey
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of heavy cream
2 tablespoons of unbleached all purpose flour

Melt butter and stir in lobster meat into a skillet. Add whiskey and flame the dish:

Dublin Lawyer Flame

Yes, my friends you’re going to light it on fire! (Jamison actually lit it…I think he was afraid I would blow up the kitchen! 😉 Alexis thought it was a hoot that there was a fire burning on the stove top!) Let the flame burn until the alcohol is burned off and the fire extinguishes itself. Add a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Mix heavy cream with flour until smooth and pour into the skillet. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is slightly thickened. Serve warm.

Baked Salmon Dip

Baked Salmon Dip

I LOVE salmon! But I don’t like it smoked and I don’t like the stuff they put into a can. It’s a waste of perfectly good salmon! Over the years most of the salmon dip recipes that I came across called for either smoked or canned salmon and that just wouldn’t work. So I came up with this little recipe. I play with it from time to time, but it’s delicious none the less!

What You’ll Need:
1 – 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 a red onion, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon of dried dill (at least)
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 baked salmon filet, skin removed and flaked

In a bowl cream cream cheese until smooth and set aside.

Chop red onions and microwave for 1-2 minutes until tender, but the onions retain their color. (This helps take a little of the bite out of them.) Add chopped scallions to the bowl with red onions and microwave for 30 seconds to a minute.

Stir cooked onions into the cream cheese mixture until mixed.

Stir in seasonings and mix well.

Last add flaked salmon and stir until just mixed so as not to completely tear apart the salmon pieces. Serve with crudités and/or bread and crackers.

Baked Salmon Dip

Note: Baking salmon is easy. Just take a salmon steak, drizzle it with a little olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and dill (optional) and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 F or until done.

Dianne’s Kicked Up Clam Chowder

Dianne's Kicked Up Clam Chowder

I love New England clam chowder. I mean I LOVE it! I have loved New England clam chowder since I was a child and for years I have ordered it at restaurants whenever I had the chance. A few years ago I set out to make some myself. I’ll admit at first I was a bit intimidated, because it’s yet another one of those recipes that have a “hard” mystique about it, though it’s a mystique that is unfounded as I’ve found with many recipes over the years that have that aura about them . So I developed a basic clam chowder that was creamy and good!

A year or so ago I happened to try the clam chowder at Outback Steakhouse and it had a zing to it. It took me about two seconds to realize their “zing” was Old Bay Seasoning or something like it and I decided to take my basic clam chowder recipe and add a little Old Bay and see what happened. The results were delicious!

What You’ll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 large celery ribs or 4 small ribs, chopped
1 potato, unpeeled and cut into small cubes
1 pinch of sea salt
1 pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of Old Bay Seasoning (Add the amount of Old Bay in preference to your own tastes. If you want it a bit zingier go for the tablespoon, less so go for the teaspoons instead.)
1/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
2 – 8 ounce bottles of clam juice
1/2 a quart of half and half
3 bay leaves
1 -15 ounce cans of steamer or baby clams, drained and rinsed(If you’re in the mood for bigger clams go for the steamers. If you’ve in the mood for small bits of clams then go for the baby clams. Last night I chose the steamer clams.)

In a large stock pot over medium heat saute onion, celery and potato with salt, pepper and Old Bay seasoning until tender, but celery and onion still retain some of their color. Add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add clam juice, half and half and bay leaves and bring to a quick boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook covered stirring occasionally for 30-40 minutes. Add clams and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes and serve immediately.

Notes: I drain and rinse my clams because sometimes there is some residual sand and it’s always better to wash that away.

You add the clams at the last minute because you just want them to heat through since they are already cooked. You don’t want them to get too tough.

You can also serve this with chopped parsley if you like.

If you leave out the Old Bay seasoning you have just basic New England clam chowder.

One day I’m going to make it starting with fresh clams, but I haven’t gotten that brave yet.