Curry Cabbage Slaw with Sauteed Curry Shrimp

Curry Cabbage Slaw with Curry ShrimpIt was midweek and we needed something for lunch.  It was late in the day and I had a craving for shrimp. I was wondering if there was a way I could make some sort of shrimp and veggie salad.

Light enough for lunch but hefty enough to keep you full and satisfied for the rest of the day.

I’ve made a cabbage and radish slaw as a topper for fish tacos.  So I wondered if I could make a curry based slaw?  Full of curry spice but no heavy sauces to weight down the dish.

Crunchy cabbage and carrot slaw with curry topped with some curry spiced shrimp turned out to be one of the best dishes I’ve made recently.

Light enough for a late lunch but substantial enough that you can have this for dinner on a warm evening.

Andrea’s Curry Cabbage Slaw with Sauteed Curry Shrimp

For the Slaw:

  • 1/2 of a small to medium head of cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 Large Carrots, shredded
  • 1 handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 4 Green Onions, chopped, white and green parts
  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • 1TBSP Light Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Curry Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Cane Sugar

In a large mixing bowl, add in the cabbage, carrots, and green onions.  In a small mixing bowl add the remaining ingredients and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.  Pour dressing over the veggies and toss until everything is coated.  Set aside for at least half an hour before serving.  Gently stirring every few minutes.

For the shrimp:

  • 16 Raw EZ Peel Shrimp, remove also the tail
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Curry
  • 1/2 tsp Light Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1/2TBSP Light Olive Oil for sauteeing

In a medium mixing bowl, add all ingredients except for the 1/2TBSP olive oil, and gently toss together.  Heat the 1/2 TBSP of oil over medium heat and then add the shrimp in.  Cook shrimp about 2 minutes on each side and remove from heat.

Scoop out large spoonfuls of the slaw onto a plate and then top with the shrimp.  Serve and enjoy!

This makes two large servings with a little bit of slaw leftover.

Curry Cabbage Slaw with Curry ShrimpI’m not sure if Scott and I even talked with each other the entire time we were eating this dish!  It hit the spot perfectly and made for a great late lunch.

I think some extra chopped cilantro and maybe some crushed peanuts on top would be great additions and kick the dish up a little bit.

Have fun guys and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!

Coconut Shrimp Soup

I had some cans of coconut milk in my pantry that needed some attention, so I started experimenting around with them these past few weeks.

After seeing coconut milk used in a soup on Chopped, I decided that was going to be my experiment.

I had some cabbage that also needed to be used and thought a soup based off of that with some shrimp added in would make for a great weeknight dinner.

I used what I had on hand and ended up with a really great soup!  One that Scott seemed to love and wants more of in the future.  I love when that happens.

Andrea’s Coconut Shrimp Soup

  • 3/4lb Raw, Deveined Shrimp (or about 18 shrimp of 23/count size), Shell and Tail Removed
  • 1/2 Medium Sized Cabbage, finely sliced
  • 2 Large Carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 Clove Garlic, grated
  • 1/2C Coconut Milk (Full Fat Please, from a can)
  • 6C Chicken Stock
  • 1tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1/2TBSP Chili Garlic Sauce
  • 1/4tsp Tumeric
  • Juice and Zest of Half a Lime
  • Olive Oil for Sauteeing
  • 5-6 Green Onions, chopped

In a large soup pot, add in about 1/2TBSP of olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Add in the carrot and cabbage and saute until the cabbage starts to cook and become translucent.  About 10-15 minutes.

Add in the grated garlic and sautee for about a minute.

Add in the chicken stock, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and tumeric.  Stir and bring mixture up to a simmer.

Simmer soup for about 15 minutes to let the cabbage cook down a little further and to cook the carrots.

Add in the coconut milk, and green onions, and stir.  Then add in the shrimp and stir.  Cook for about another five minutes or until shrimp are pink, curled, and cooked fully.

Add in the lime zest, and lime juice, and stir.

Spoon soup into bowls, serve, and enjoy!


Makes enough for three large servings.

Cilantro would be a great addition to this soup but I didn’t happen to have any one hand.  Next time though!

This soup was flavorful and very filling.  The tumeric gives it a lovely color and a slightly floral flavor.  The lime brightens everything up!

Next time I make this, I do think that I’ll add in more shrimp and a little more coconut milk.  This was my first time playing around with coconut milk in soup so I didn’t want to over do it.  We love shrimp and can never have too much.

I’m already thinking about what other things I can add to this soup and when I’ll be able to get more coconut milk!

Have fun guys and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!

Crab Chili

I’m not sure what I was doing when I thought of it, but the idea of crab chili popped into my head and I knew I had to run with it.

When I experiment either things turn out like I had envisioned or they go the complete opposite.  Still tasty just not what the original image in my head looked like.  This crab chili is the perfect example.  I’m still tinkering with it and plan on trying to make the version that I had in my head, but for now this is a winner.

It’s spicy with a good heat and mellow sweet crab to balance it out.

Andrea’s Crab Chili

  • 16oz Lump Crab Meat, rinsed and checked over for shell
  • 1 Green pepper, chunked
  • 1/2 Large Onion, chunked
  • 1 Jalapeno, chunked
  • 1 Fresno pepper, chunked
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 4 1/4C Chicken Stock
  • 2 15oz Cans of Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14.5oz Can of Diced Tomatoes with Chilies
  • 1 6oz Can of Tomato Paste
  • Big pinch of Salt and Pepper
  • 2tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/2tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 2TBSP Olive Oil for Sauteeing

In a food processor, add in the peppers, onion, and garlic and pulse until they are broken down and finely chopped.

In a large soup pan, add in the oil and heat over medium heat.  Add in the veggies and season with salt and pepper.  Satuee for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.  Add in the chili powder and the smoked paprika and stir.

Add in the tomato paste and stir.  Allow that to cook for about two minutes and then add in the diced tomatoes.  Stir and add in the chicken stock, slowly.  Now add in the beans and bring the mixture up to a simmer.

Simmer for half and hour to 45 minutes.  Add in the crab and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and serve!

I didn’t remove the seeds from the fresno and jalapeno chili, and whew it was hot!

Keep in mind my heat tolerance is low so this to me was over the top hot.  Scott thought it was fine, so it’s up to you and how spicy you like your chili.

This kind of took us by surprise.  Crab chili? We weren’t sure how it was going to work out but it tasted amazing.  Spicy tomato based chili which is a familiar taste paired with sweet crab stops and makes you think for a minute.

Does this go together?

Yes it does!

Add in a cold beer (A hoppy one would be great, or Dortmunder Gold by Great Lakes would be a good choice as well), and some oyster crackers and you’ve got a party.

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food! Enjoy!

Crab Stuffed Twice Baked Potatoes

There’s been a lot of experimenting going on with crab here at the HQ. Both Scott and I adore crab and while crab cakes are tasty, sometimes you need a little more out of life.

I’ve been hesitant in the past to mess around with crab because it is a pricey protein option and the idea of messing something up didn’t sit well with me.

However I reached a point where I realized that if we don’t experiment in the kitchen we won’t grow as cooks.  And that doesn’t do anyone any good.  So in the name of Embracing Cooking, I decided to start experimenting more with crab.

And that lead to twice baked potatoes!

Andrea’s Crab Stuffed Twice Baked Potatoes

  • 2 Large Russet Baking Potatoes, scrubbed
  • 8oz Crab Claw Meat, drained, rinsed, and checked for shell
  • 1/2 Red Pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 Green Pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 Red Onion, finely chopped
  • 4 Slices of crispy bacon, chopped
  • 1TBSP Grainy Mustard
  • 2tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2TBSP Prepared Horseradish
  • 1/2C Shredded Cheddar
  • Big Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2-1tsp of Garlic Powder
  • 1tsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • Olive Oil for sauteeing, about 1/2 TBSP

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, poke holes in the potatoes with a knife, and wrap in foil.  Bake for about an hour until potatoes are soft and cooked through.

Remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool enough to handle.

Cut the top off of the potato and scoop out insides into a large mixing bowl.  You want the potato to look like a boat but don’t scoop so much out the potato loses structure.

In a medium sized skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add in the peppers and onion and sautee just till they start to soften.  About 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add to the mixing bowl.

Add in the crab, bacon, mustard, horseradish, worcestershire, and seasonings along with 1/4C of the cheddar.  Start to stuff the potatoes.  This makes a lot of filling and the potatoes will be stuffed to the tippy-top.

Before serving, heat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.  Spray or brush olive oil on the baking sheet and place the potatoes on top.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until the insides are hot.  Sprinkle on remaining cheddar and allow to melt.

Remove from oven and serve!

These potatoes hit the spot! And because they are large, they can be used as a main dish.  Just add some veggies or a salad on the side to round things out.

I kept the flavors similar to that of a crab cake with the use of the peppers and onion.  I knew that combination already worked so I ran with it and incorporated it into the twice baked.

The potato is very filling! So much so, that I could only eat half and saved the other half for the next day.

One reason I loved twice baked potatoes is because they can be made up to a day ahead of time, then you just have to heat them right before serving.  Add a few extra minutes to the time if they are going from fridge to oven.

They also are perfect for freezing!

Remember guys, have fun and always play with your food! Enjoy!

Spicy Shrimp and Crab Corn Chowder

Scott and I were out to dinner recently and he ordered some corn and jalapeno soup as a starter.  The soup flavor was great, there was bacon in it providing a smokey background and the corn stood out.  As I always do, I started trying to figure out how I could make this at home.

I had some crab that needed to be used and it occured to me that I could make a sort of crab and corn chowder.  I pondered over this for a few days until I had a set idea in mind.  Then I put it into motion and came up with a chowder that just might be one of my favorites.

Andrea’s Spicy Shrimp and Crab Corn Chowder

  • 8oz Lump Crab Meat
  • 2C, Frozen cooked shrimp (if using fresh, about 10-12 peeled and deviened shrimp)
  • 1/2 Large Onion, chopped
  • 2 Carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Ribs Celery, chopped (if you have some of the leafy hearts, use those)
  • 2 Jalapenos, seeded and chopped
  • 3 Slices of bacon, chopped
  • 3 Ears of Corn, corn removed, keep the cobs (or 3C frozen corn)
  • 1 1/2 QT of Chicken Stock
  • 1tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/2tsp Smoked Paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce

In a large soup pot, add in a little bit of olive oil, about 1/2 TBSP and heat over medium heat.  Add in the bacon and cook for about 2 minutes.  Let it start to crisp up.  If the bacon produced a lot of fat in the pan, you can discard some of it.  Completely up to you!  Next add in the onions, peppers, carrots, and celery.  Stir and season with seasonings.  Sautee for about 5 minutes until the veggies start to soften and break down.

Add in the chicken stock and the corn.  Also add in the cobs.  Bring up to a simmer and cover. Allow to simmer for about 30-45 minutes.  Remove cobs from the soup. With an immersion blender, blend up the soup unti everything is broken down and it starts to thicken up just a bit.

Stir and add in the crab and the shrimp.  Bring back up to a simmer and simmer for about 5-7 minutes until the crab and shrimp are heated through.  Add in a few dashes of hot sauce, to your taste.

Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Keep the hot sauce handy because you’ll want to add in some more at the table! Along with some oyster crackers of course!

This soup completely blew my mind.  By keeping the cobs in while it simmers that helps to really bring forth the corn flavor and sweetness.

The bacon isn’t overpowering, it provides just enough smokey goodness to the background.

The crab and shrimp are also a bit sweet which really pairs well with the corn.  However by adding in that extra hot sauce, the sweetness isn’t overpowering.  The hot sauce also provides a nice heat that builds up the more you eat.

This isn’t a super thick chowder, it’s right between chowder and soup.  Creamy texture but not a real heavy chowder consistency.

This makes enough for four big servings.  If you’ve got leftovers, you’ll want to eat them the next day.  Seafood doesn’t keep very long in the fridge. And just like with most soups, this one is even better the next day!

What’s your favorite kind of chowder?

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!


Fancy Tuna Salad

We didn’t go out to eat a lot when I was growing up. Occasionally we would get hoagies or pizza out. Sometimes hitting up the golden arches but that was rare and my mom really really really didn’t feel like cooking on those instances.

On the off chance that I was out at a restaurant some place, I noticed that the chicken salad and tuna salad sandwichs were always on croissants.

Being at a restaurant and seeing a croissant instantly equaled fancy in my mind.  Dining out was a privilege and meant for special occasions.  Croissants were exotic and Parisian, automatically labeling them as decadent.

I never ordered those sandwiches though, always admiring them but not connecting.

On a recent grocery trip, Scott noticed that the croissants were on sale and suggested picking some up.  The thing to know about Scott is that he doesn’t often suggest getting food.  The only requests are that he will on occasion ask me to prepare a specific dish but otherwise not a peep out of him.

The rare moment when he suggests purchasing something, it immediately goes in the cart.

Croissants on sale and I knew exactly what I was going to do with them.  Fancy tuna salad sandwiches!

Not a specific recipe because I just tossed this together but you’ll get the gist of it.

Andrea’s Fancy Tuna Salad 

  • 2 Croissants
  • 1 can of Tuna, (in oil or water, your choice)
  • Chopped Red Onion
  • Chopped Celery
  • Greek Yogurt (2% Fage for us)
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Sea Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Romain lettuce leaves, 2-4

Drain tuna and add to a medium sized mixing bowl. Add all ingredients except for the croissants and lettuce leaves. Gently combine and allow to sit for about 10 minutes in the fridge before serving.

Cut croissants in half, add lettuce and tuna salad.  Serve and enjoy!

If I hadn’t been out of dill, there were have been some of that in the salad as well!

I didn’t put amounts with the ingredients because that is entirely up to you!  I will say that just one small can of tuna, you don’t need much dijon and yogurt.  I probably used about a tablespoon of dijon and may two tablespoons of yogurt.  The onion and celery are just enough for flavor and crunch.  Not too much otherwise they will overpower the tuna.

I like a lot of ground pepper in with salads like these, so I used a bunch and just a pinch of sea salt and garlic powder.

This was a quick and simple lunch to put together.  Of course being on the croissant made the lunch more fancy and special.

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy! 

Sauteed Kale with Shrimp and Wheatberries

One pot meals are my favorite. When I cook dinner, most nights I play a game with myself to see how I can reduce the number of pots and utensils I have to use.  This makes cleanup faster and easier!

My goal is to try and only use one pot.  Sometimes I’m successful and other times I’m not but at least I gave it a try!  Wheatberries are a new obsession for me.  I love them!  They cook up fast, can be made ahead, and the chew factor they have is outstanding.

Little nuggets of goodness! They are a lot chewier than brown rice and have a more intense slightly nutty flavor.  I can purchase these in the bulk bin section at my local Whole Foods.

Place some wheatberries in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Boil for a few minutes, maybe 10, until they are softened and chewy.  Not crunchy but a lovely soft chew to them.

Because I had made the wheatberries ahead of time, I’m considering this a one pot dish!  It is so easy to put together and cooks quickly making it perfect for when you’re short on time or it’s late and you need to eat fast!

Andrea’s Sauteed Kale with Shrimp and Wheatberries

  • 2C Cooked Wheatberries
  • 3-4C Cooked medium to small sized Shrimp
  • 1/2 Large Onion, chopped
  • 1 Green Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Red Pepper, chopped
  • 1C Shredded Carrot
  • 1.5 Bunchs of Kale, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 15oz Can of Butter Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15oz Can of Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies
  • Big Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1tsp Chili Powder
  • Olive Oil for sauteeing, about 1TBSP

In a medium sized high sided skillet, add in olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Add in the onions, peppers, and carrots, stir to coat with oil.  Sprinkle in the salt, pepper, pepper flakes, garlic powder, and chili powder.  Sautee for about two minutes until the onions and peppers start to soften.  Add in the kale a little at a time, combining with the veggies and turning so it starts to wilt down making room for more kale.  Continue doing this until all the kale is in the pot.  Once all of the kale has wilted down, add in the beans and canned tomatoes.  Stir and allow to cook for about two minutes.  Then add in the shrimp and wheatberries stirring and allow to cook until everything is warmed through.

Spoon into bowls and enjoy!

I always keep some bags of precooked and raw frozen shrimp in my freezer for when I want something quick.  The precooked are the perfect size for tossing into soups, stir-frys and other dishes.  I just dump them in the dish frozen, cover with a lid and give them a few extra minutes to heat through.

The great thing about this dish is that you can sub out the wheatberries and use whatever grain you like.  Brown rice, long grain rice, quinoa, or even some whole wheat pasta would be great with this combo.

This dish is very flavorful and wide open to being seasoned more to your liking.  It also makes a bunch so there is plenty for leftovers.

You can use whatever beans you like, I just happened to have some butter beans on hand so that’s what I used.

After I took pictures, I sprinkled a little pepper jack cheese on top and added some hot sauce.  Divine!

This winter I have been very into comfort style meals.  Dishes that I can load up into a bowl and am able to eat while be snug on the couch. This dish fits that requirement perfectly!

Full of greens, grains, and protein, this dish has it all!

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food! Enjoy!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna Noodle Casserole is a new one for me.  I didn’t eat it growing up.  My mom might have made it once but eating warm tuna sort of threw me for a loop and I didn’t dig on it.  At all.  No one must of liked it because she never made it again. My previous tuna experience was tuna salad which of course is cold, that I can handle. Warm tuna, not so much.

I know it’s a staple and source of comfort food for many though and that includes Scott.  They apparently had it in their dinner rotation and somehow a box with a giant hand on it was part of the equation.

I never made it for him because I couldn’t get past the idea of warm tuna.

Then a few months ago I decided to give it a try.  Hey I’m eating lots of new stuff I never liked before, might as well hit up tuna noodle and see what it has to say for itself.

A meal made of some pantry goods is a great way to use up products while keeping costs low.

Andrea’s Tuna Noodle Casserole

  • 1 6.5oz Package of Tuna
  • 1 12oz Package of Whole Wheat Egg Noodles
  • 1/2 Large Onion, chopped
  • 2 Medium Carrots, chopped
  • 1 1/2C Peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 2C Chopped Green Beans, bite size pieces (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, grated
  • 2 Tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 3TBSP All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2C Chicken Stock
  • 1/2C So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut milk
  • 1/2C Shredded Cheddar, plus more for topping
  • 1tsp Soy Sauce
  • 2tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2TBSP Dijon Mustard
  • Big Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Olive Oil for sauteeing (About 2TBSP)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add in the noodles and cook about halfway through.  Drain and set aside.  In a large high sided skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add in onions and carrot, plus seasonings.  Stir and allow to sautee for about 3-4 minutes.  Add in the green beans, peas and grated garlic, combine and cook for about a minute.  Sprinkle in the flour and stir until all the other ingredients are coated.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes.  Slowly add in the chicken stock while stirring the ingredients.  Add in the soy sauce and dijon once the chicken stock is added and combined.  Stir, then slowly add in the coconut milk and stir.  Allow to simmer for about 2 minutes.  The mixture should thicken by this point, add in the tuna and stir mixture.  Then add in the 1/2C cheddar and stir until the cheddar is melted.  Add in the noodles to the mixture, combining the ingredients well.  In a large, greased (with nonstick spray or olive oil) casserole dish, add in the tuna noodle mixture.  Place dish in oven and cook for about 10 minutes or until bubbling.  Sprinkle with more cheddar on top and add on the chopped tomatoes.  Place back in oven till the cheese is melted and the tomatoes are warmed through.

Remove and serve!

First of all you know I cannot make a casserole style dish without some veggies to go with it.  I think peas may be common in tuna noodle but I’m not positive.  I was flying without a net on this one!

I was really pleased with the way this turned out!  It was exactly what I expected tuna noodle casserole to be like! I was able to handle the warm tuna with no problem. The dish has protein, veggies, and whole grain pasta which makes it a great healthy alternative to traditional tuna noodle casserole.  Apparently that has like potato chips or something on top?  Oh my!

Next time I might do it minus the tomatoes.  Not that they were bad but I think I might like the dish without them a little more.

This dish makes great leftovers which are so much better the next day!  Easy to reheat in the microwave and great to eat while snug on the couch watching a movie.

Naturally, like all my recipes, this is wide open to interpretation. If you want to use milk instead of coconut milk, please do! More cheese? Do it! No veggies or more veggies, knock your socks off! Remember recipes are guidelines, not set in stone.

Did you eat tuna noodle casserole growing up?  Did you like it or hate it?  Have you made it since?

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food! Enjoy!

Purchasing Smoked Salmon

The smoked salmon post generated a lot of feedback from you guys!  Two readers chimed in wanting to know more about smoked salmon.

Linzi asked:

I’ve been wanting to make a sandwich like that..yummy! Where do you typically find your Salmon? In the seafood area of the grocery store or somewhere else. That has been my biggest challenge. Knowing where to find it.

Great question!

I do typically find smoked salmon in the seafood department of the grocery store.  It is typically sold in vacuum sealed packs and can be found next to the area that also has crab and other seafood items that are prepackaged and ready to eat.

Occasionally the seafood counter will have smoked salmon in the case and you can ask them to slice you some.  I have never done this though, all the smoked salmon I’ve bought have been in packages.

Melissa asked:

MMMMM! I enjoyed sampling from a classic smoked salmon platter at a party the other night: smoked salmon, a creamy dip, red onions, capers, and crackers. I want to buy some smoked salmon for myself but hesitate because I assume it’s expensive. Any tips on a good affordable brand?

This is another great question! I think this also shows how most people view smoked salmon, that it’s expensive.  I for one had that same notion.  Now I will start off by saying that smoked salmon isn’t super cheap and probably not something you will be purchasing weekly.  However it isn’t crazy expensive either.

I have successfully purchased packages of it at Whole Foods, located in a cold case in the fish department.  I can purchase WF brand wild Alaskan smoked salmon for $4.99.  I can get four meals out of that one package, so that is a really great deal!  They also have Atlantic smoked salmon for $7.99.  I have not purchased that before so I cannot give details on how many meals it provides.

I have seen larger packages of smoked salmon at Sam’s Club which would be ideal for gatherings and parties.

Now that you have purchased smoked salmon, what can you do with it?

  • Sandwiches are always a great and quick option.
  • Lots of people mention eating it on a bagel with some cream cheese.
  • You can add it to scrambled eggs for some extra protein and twist to traditional scrambled eggs.
  • Add it to salads.
  • Have with some crackers and cheese.

The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Play around with smoked salmon and get creative in the kitchen!

Keep in mind that once the package is open, the salmon needs to be eaten within the next few days.  It can turn quickly, so open it when you know you’ll be able to use it up.

Do you like smoked salmon? Any fun tips or ideas to share?

OHC Cooks Bivalves

Next to pork, seafood is my favorite source of “animal” protein.  I could eat it all the time!  Well, okay not all the time as I sort of get tired of animal protein.  But I like it a great deal! Let’s go with that instead.

The first time I ever had bivalves to eat (clam chowder from a can doesn’t count!) was with Scott.  We lived in a small town outside of Philly when we graduated college.  There was a little Italian restaurant that we used to frequent  and they served clams in a white wine sauce.  Heaven!  It was the best thing I ever ate and it was amazing.

The first time I ever had mussels, we were living in North Carolina at the time and ordered mussels Rockefeller.  I hated them.  The mussels were chewy and just not something I enjoyed at all.  I left the rest for Scott to eat.  I’ll stick with clams, thank you!

Scott is the only one in this family who can dig on oysters.  I do not want to slurp a slimy mess thanks.

Eventually I grew to love mussels! I realize now that the first time I had them they were overcooked and not prepared properly.  Now I’ve had them on several different occasions and love them a great deal more.

Despite the bivalve appreciation, I have never cooked them before!  Mostly because I was afraid and I also didn’t have access to some fresh ones.  Now I am not so afraid because it seems super easy to make and I’ve watched people make them loads of times on TV.  The only obstacle standing in my way was finding some fresh.

My local Whole Foods has a fish department but it smells like fish.  There is also another local place that sells fresh fish, but most of the time it also smells really fishy and icky.  First rule of thumb when buying seafood is if it smells like seafood/fishy then it’s not good or fresh. Seafood should smell like the sea, slightly salty and bright! You shouldn’t say, “Ew” but “Hrm, I just barely smell anything!”

Last weekend while we were out running errands, we happened to be in the vicinity of the local place that sells fish.  It didn’t smell!  I walked over and checked everything out and then I came to the clams and mussels.  “Oooo that would be so good for dinner!”, I thought to myself.  The price was fantastic and I mentioned this to Scott.  He said to get them and I did! We came home with 1.5 dozen mussels and 1.5 dozen little neck clams.

I placed them in a bowl with some ice packs and kept them in the fridge till the next day.  They did not smell and my fridge did not smell like seafood at all.  Sunday Supper was going to be amazing!  Even though I ran a race that day, all my thoughts were focused on dinner and wine!  You know, the serious stuff.  Finally it was time to get cooking!

I cleaned the seafood and removed the beards off of the mussels.  I only had one little mussel that I had to throw away.  He was open, so as per the instructions, I gave him a tap to see if he would close.  He did not close all the way so out he went.  Everybody else was perfect!  The mussel beards are hard to pull off!  Some I didn’t get fully but it didn’t interfere with the cooking or eating at all.

I knew I would be using wine for the sauce and steam for the seafood.  We had an open bottle of Chardonnay and I used slightly more than a cup of that.  No sips for the cook!  I was waiting for dinner like a good girl.

Don’t mind the hair and outfit, it’s Sunday so that’s as good as it gets!  I sauteed up some sundried tomato chicken sausage and removed that from the pan.  Then I sauteed:

  • Red Onion
  • Banana Pepper
  • 5 Cloves of garlic

In a tablespoon of butter and some olive oil.  I added in some red pepper flakes, sea salt, and ground pepper.  Once those softened a bit I added the sausage back in and 3 large tomatoes chopped up.  Gave that a quick stir and then in goes the seafood!

Topped with the wine and given another stir.  Popped a lid on it and let it do it’s business with me watching of course.  I was so excited that I kept hovering around the pot!  Admittedly watching them pop open is kinda fun in a weird sorta way.  The house smelled delicious!

After about 10 minutes my little pretties were ready!

The clams took a few minutes longer than the mussels.  I was concerned that the mussels might be overcooked a bit but that was not the case at all.

Since this was a special night as we were having a special dinner that I made for the first time, I decided it should be more of a relaxing “date” night.  I set the table up all nice with just a few simple things I had on hand.

I lit some candles and put a tablecloth on the table with some placemats and things.  We had a lovely light red wine in the fancy wine glasses.  Some toasted bread and salads completed the dinner.

The dinner was amazing!  Everything cooked up beautifully and tasted fantastic!  Three dozen was the perfect amount for a meal and I couldn’t even finish my portion, I was stuffed!  The only thing I would change is using a spicier sausage next time but otherwise I’m sticking with this method.

This meal reminded me of the dates we would have at that small Italian restaurant in PA when we were out on our own living in our very first apartment.  This meal also reminded me that if you don’t expand and explore with your cooking, you will never know what all you are capable of.  I made a fancy pants dinner, one that I used to be afraid of, and it turned out to be really simple and easy!  I can’t wait to buy more!

Have you ever made clams or mussels? What is your method of choice?