Archive for Seafood

Vodka Pasta with Shrimp

Shrimp Vodka Pasta

Believe it or not, I made vodka pasta with shrimp for my family a few weeks ago. Melissa made me touch fresh shrimp recently and literally pull off its legs with my fingers so when I was buying shrimp for this recipe, clearly I was going the “already prepared frozen” route. The uncooked, peeled and deveined shrimp looked too small. I wanted larger shrimp and the only option was cooked, peeled, tail on. Yeah me…I didn’t have to do ANYTHING except defrost it! Yes…one member of the family was irritated that she had to deal with tails herself, but when I told her she was lucky I don’t ever make her clean a whole chicken, she was good. My point in saying this is that you can easily use raw or frozen shrimp, precooked or uncooked for this particular recipe as it was delicious…or so I was told!! 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 20 min. 


9 oz. fresh refrigerated fettuccine

1 T. olive oil

12 shrimp (you can buy frozen that is already cooked and defrost it, or buy uncooked, peeled and deveined)

4 cloves of garlic, crushed, divided

1/3 c. vodka

1 1/2 c. mariana sauce

1/2 c. basil, chopped plus more for garnish, if desired

1/4 c. heavy whipping cream

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

Preparing Vodka Pasta with Shrimp:

Cook pasta according to directions and drain. Set aside. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp and half of the garlic (if it’s already cooked and defrosted, you are just heating it up. If it’s raw, cook until done, about 4-5 minutes). Remove shrimp from pan. Add the rest of the garlic and cook for about one minute. REMOVE PAN FROM STOVE and add the vodka (pouring alcohol into a pan that is a directly over a flame could be a recipe for disaster. I did it once….needed baking soda to put the fire out and ruined the dish). Anyway, cook the vodka for about one minute. Add the marinara, basil, cream, salt and pepper.

Shrimp Vodka Pasta

Bring to a simmer. Return pasta and shrimp to pan and heat all the way the through. Serve hot!

Shrimp Vodka Pasta

Important Tips:

When cooking shrimp, remember that when the shrimp looks like a “C” it’s cooked. If it looks like an “O” it’s overcooked! 


If you don’t like seafood, throw in some chicken instead of shrimp!


Smoked Wild Salmon on the Big Green Egg

I recently got a Big Green Egg and am learning to use it and love it more and more each day. The first thing I officially smoked on the egg was a nice piece of wild sockeye salmon. I figured it would be a short smoke and a bit on the forgiving side since I would not have to maintain a low temperature for hours and hours and hours.

salmon smoked on big green egg

Not bad for a first attempt! Flaky, slightly smoky and delicious.

Level of Difficulty:Easy
Time Required:Prep Time – 10min; Cook Time – 25-35 min


1 large wild salmon filet (don’t use the farm raised stuff for a good smoked salmon)

2 T brown sugar

4 T ponzu

1 jalapeno or Serrano pepper, finely diced

1/2 T fresh cracked black pepper

1t ginger powder

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Big Green Egg or smoker of your choice

Basting brush

Preparing Smoked Wild Salmon on the Big Green Egg:

Get your egg started and at about 275 degrees with the smoke plate on (notice how brand new and pretty mine was in this picture).

smoked salmon

Choose some wood for the smoke. I had apple wood on hand and used it and I liked it. A friend told me that alder wood is the best with salmon so I’ll try that next time. Soak those and get them smoking on the Egg.

When the smoker is ready, add the salmon. Mix the other ingredients in a bowl and baste them on the salmon. I basted a few times during the cooking process.

After about 20 minutes, check for your desired level of doneness. Even on a smoked salmon, I like mine a bit on the just done side. I pulled mine off at about 25 minutes. When it flakes just slightly, you’ll know it is at least ‘done’. Then you can just cook until you like it.

smoked wild salmon on big green egg


When I make this again, I might add some more heat in the form of some red pepper flakes or a second pepper.

I’m sure this is fantastic if you like salmon. I’m just wondering at what point you will make something on the egg I will eat….AND invite me over! ~Denise

Crispy Fried Shrimp

Fried Shrimp with Panko

I love fried shrimp! Probably one of my top 5 foods. I have a real problem knowing when I’ve had enough to the point where I just don’t stop until all the shrimp are gone. As a kid, I thought it was hilarious that I’d eat the tails too and laugh with my parents that I had not eaten any shrimp. Yea. I know. Lame. But that’s what kids do!

I cook fried shrimp so many different ways but this is one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy.

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Time Required:Prep Time – 30min; Cook Time – 20 min

Ingredients for 4:

2 dozen large shrimp

1 cup Italian bread crumbs

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

2 eggs

1/2 cup water

Vegetable oil

Lemon to serve with

You’ll need sauces. I made cocktail sauce with ketchup, horseradish, lemon and Worcestershire. Sriracha mayo would be good too. Tartar sauce is clearly a staple too.

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Cast Iron Skillet. If you don’t have one of these, you need one!


Peel and devein the shrimp. We’ve talked about this before if you need to know how. Place the bread crumbs (both kinds) in a bowl. Add salt and pepper and whatever other spices you like. I usually add some cayenne and chili powder.

In a second bowl, add the eggs and water and beat to make an egg wash. Add spices to this bowl too!

Dip the prepared shrimp in the bread crumbs then the egg wash and then back in the bread crumbs. Repeat for all shrimp. Place back in the fridge for a couple of minutes to help the breading adhere to the shrimp.

Place about 2 inches of vegetable/canola oil in your cast iron skillet and place over medium high- heat until the oil is hot. You’ll know it is ready to fry when you place a bit of bread crumbs in it and it bubbles quickly.

Add the shrimp, but don’t overcrowd, and cook until lightly brown on one side. Then flip and cook until lightly brown on the other side. Remove from oil and let drain on some paper towels. Repeat for remaining batches. Serve with some yummy sides and a great sauce. Yummm!

Fried Shrimp with Panko


Important Tips:

Don’t overcook the shrimp. Remember the ‘C’ shape means done. If it closes to an ‘O’ shape, it is overcooked.


So many ways to cook fried shrimp. This is just one of my favorites.

Meal Ideas:

Served here with macaroni and cheese and sugar snap peas

Don’t faint, but now that I have a cast iron skillet, I would actually make this. Of course, I’m not peeling and deveining anything. I bet I could use tongs to make sure I don’t touch them either!!! I’ll keep you posted! ~Denise

Roasted Tomatillo and Lobster Salad

When Denise and I made our video on How to Kill a Lobster Humanely, I had the pleasure of eating the lobsters since Denise won’t touch them, let alone eat them. I still laugh out loud every time I think of her jumping out of her skin about Thelma and Louise.

After eating some of the freshly steam lobster, I saved the rest for my husband to enjoy with me. We ended up with a daytime meal, so I made this tasty and light salad to enjoy the perfectly decadent lobster. Oh so good!

I blended these perfect lobsters with some Roasted Tomatillo Salsa I had just made and had leftover too. Yum!

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Time Required: Prep and Cook Time – 40min


3 tomatillos

1 onions

1/2 bunch of cilantro

1/2 large poblano pepper

3 cloves of garlic

2 medium lobsters

juice of 2 limes

1/4 cup Greek yogurt


2 avocados

Salt and Pepper

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Steam basket

Preparing Roasted Tomatillo and Lobster Salad:

Make the tomatillo and poblano salsa according to the recipe in the link above. For this amount of lobster, I would cut the recipe in half which is what is indicated in the quantities above.

Steam the lobster and remove from the shell as described in the video. Simple and easy. Just takes a few minutes…if Denise is not in your kitchen freaking out!

Mix the tomatillo salsa, yogurt and juice of one lime. Taste. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Add in the lobster and stir gently to combine.

Plate with fresh spinach tossed with salt and pepper and the juice of the other lime.

Cut an avocado and add to the side. Top with the lobster and tomatillo salsa mixture.


lobster salad with tomatillo


Grilled Main Courses

Grilled chicken

Grilled main courses used to be something that I had only on the weekends when my husband was home to cook them. I was tired of always cleaning the kitchen after using the stove or oven to prepare dinner so I decided to “man up” and learn how to grill. I will say that it was one of the best things that I ever did in my cooking adventures. Not only is there less mess in the kitchen (I think I’ve said that lots this week), but grilled meat is typically healthier since there is less oil or butter used! For those you who have never grilled…give it a try. Just once!! It could change the way you eat and cook forever!!!


Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs

Mustard Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken Wrapped in Bacon and Rosemary

Beer Can Chicken

Ranch Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken in Garlic and White Wine Sauce

Grilled Chicken with Tzatziki Sauce 


Pork Tenderloin

Honey Garlic Pork Chops

Bone in BBQ Pork Chops


Pork Chops with Brown Sugar Glaze


Beef Tenderloin

Blackened Steak Salad

Flank Steak with Lime, Honey and Garlic

Gourmet Burger Bar

Tri Tip Steak

Filet Mignon Stuffed with Spinach and Manchego


Spicy Grilled Shrimp



Lamb Chops with Garlic and Rosemary

Turkey Breast with Garlic and Lemon








Shrimp Saganaki – Sauteed Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta

For Greek Week and our amazing Greek inspired food and recipes, I thought we had to have a seafood dish. I knew Denise was not going to touch that so that meant I would have to represent all the Greek folks out there.

In fact, I was going to do a whole fish – head on – and take a nice closeup picture just to watch Denise jump! ~Melissa

But, I’m not Greek. Nor do I have heritage from the area (like Denise does in the ‘general’ vicinity). But, I do live in Atlanta, home of one of the most fantastic Greek restaurants – Kyma.

I was hoping to blow Denise’s dish out of the water by getting some professional help from an old acquaintance but instead, I took my inspiration from their menu with a dish called Prawn Saganaki.

Now, mind you, I’ve never eaten Prawn Saganaki. But, the menu described it as sautéed shrimp with tomatoes and feta and Ouzo, a Greek anise flavored liqueur. I can do that! So off to the store!

This was by far the best shrimp preparation I’ve ever made apart from good old Southern fried shrimp (a heritage I definitely have in my blood). It had such amazing flavor and it really was easy to make, regardless how traditional it might be.

Level of Difficulty: Moderate  (only because it is seafood and people freak on the cooking their own seafood thing and because seafood is easily and often overcooked).
Time Required: Prep Time – 20min; Cook Time – 20 min

Ingredients for 2 people:

12 large shrimp (I like a lot of shrimp, even big ones! A normal person eating U10 shrimp would probably eat 4, maybe 6. Me, I can eat a couple of dozen on my own!!)

Juice of 2 lemons

2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup parsley

1/4 cup ouzo

1/2 cup chicken or seafood stock

1 clove garlic, sliced thin

salt and pepper

red pepper to taste

4 oz quality feta

How to make sautéed shrimp with tomatoes and feta:

First, you’ll want to get all the items you need ready because it is not a dish that takes very long to cook.

Dice the tomatoes into a large dice. I used Campari tomatoes and cut into eighths.

Chop the parsley.

Peel the garlic clove and slice really thin. You can dice or mince but I liked it sliced thin. In fact, we’ll add it late in the preparation to get more of the garlic flavor.

Get your spices in ready and set aside

Crumble your feta

Portion out your ouzo and stock and juice your lemons.

Clean your shrimp. I deveined them but left their shells on for flavor. That is the best choice but really up to you. Since I was just serving to my family in an informal setting, peeling shrimp was not a big deal. In a more formal setting or with friends/family who don’t want to get their fingers dirty, peel the shrimp for them. If you take the shells off or buy them with heads on, keep them for the next step. If you decide to keep the shells on, take the shells from a couple of shrimp and follow steps below.

Now we are ready to complete the sautéed shrimp with tomatoes and feta!

 When I cooked this, I had to cook some chicken before I cooked the shrimp for the kiddos. I decided to use the same pan and had some brown bits in the bottom…perfect for deglazing.

If you are not cooking for kids too (or for Denise as a non-seafood lover), take the shells, roll in a couple of tablespoons of flour and sauté them in some oil. Let them get brown but not burned. This will give some flavor to your pan prior to deglazing with the ouzo. When done, discard the shells and move on.

Now, I say deglaze and some of you will freak out. Don’t!! It’s not a big deal.

Remove your skillet from the heat, add the ouzo, return to the heat and be prepared for a flash of fire. You are not adding a lot of alcohol so it will dissipate quickly but it will flash.

Use a wooden spoon and scrape up the brown bits and let the alcohol cook off. When reduced by about half, add the lemon juice, tomatoes and stock.

Shrimp Saganaki - Sauteed shrimp with tomatoes and feta and ouzo

Let cook and reduce for about 5 minutes. Then add 1/2 the parsley and the garlic. Then add some salt, pepper, and red pepper. Taste and add more as desired. My husband likes some heat, so I added more red pepper.

When ready, add the shrimp and let sauté in the sauce for a few minutes. To cook a U10 shrimp over medium high heat will only take about 4-5 minutes a side. Remember, “C” means cooked. “O” means overcooked. When the shrimp cooks and naturally forms the letter C and is more pink, then it is done.  Shrimp are amazing when NOT overcooked.

Sauteed shrimp with tomatoes and feta and ouzo

Crumble the feta on top, add the remaining parsley and serve. DAMN!! it is good!. Enjoy big flavor with this dish.

Sauteed Shrimp with tomato, ouzo, feta and parsley

Shrimp Saganaki over Arborio rice

Important Tips:

Don’t overcook the shrimp!! Add flavor.


Ok, so truth be told, I was in a rush and could not get to a store on a Sunday in the South that sold Ouzo. What did I do? I deglazed the pan with tequila and added about 1/4t of anise seed. It was delicious!

Also, I think this would be FABULOUS with chicken. Just sauté the chicken first, then make the sauce and then return the chicken to the pan. I think it would be perfect.

Meal Ideas:

I topped some basic risotto with the sautéed shrimp and it was a perfect pallet!

Got Leftovers?:

Great cold the next day or you could chop it up and top a nice salad with it!

U10 shrimp? What does that mean? Are they playing a sport or something in the Under 10 league? And you’re right….not for me. I’m always turned off by deveining, peeling and chopping off heads. However, if  you are into that sort of thing, I bet this is delicious!” ~Denise

Clearly you don’t read my posts because in a previous post on shrimp I discussed the size classification used. I read your posts you know….~Melissa

I do read your posts…but this U10 thing really threw me.   Maybe I read it when I was eating hummus from Greece and didn’t remember. ~Denise

Or drinking a bottle of Kim Crawford??? ~Melissa

Nice ~ Denise


Chicken and Shrimp Etouffee


Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday only comes once a year and this year I opted to celebrate by making a Chicken and Shrimp Etouffee recipe. I’d never made it myself but knew I wanted something that was a bit lighter than what you might get from a more standard etouffee, so I adapted it from this recipe. Although everyone doesn’t like seafood, I made this with shrimp as well as the chicken as they are super easy to pick around and that just means more shrimp for me!!

Level of Difficulty:Moderate
Time Required: Prep Time – 20min; Cook Time – 30 min

Ingredients for 4-6 people:

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup flour

1/2 jalapeno, diced

1/2 onion, diced

Yellow bell pepper, diced (I don’t like green bells and I did not want the color to stand out)

1/2 celery stalk, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups chicken stock

1T seasoning mix like fajita seasoning, southwest seasoning, or Cajun seasoning

1T sweet paprika

1t celery seed

1/2t salt

Green onions for garnish

1 1/2 lbs chicken tenders or boneless skinless chicken breasts

18 shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 cups rice

How to make Chicken and Shrimp Etouffee:

Season your chicken with salt and pepper or the same seasoning you are using in the etouffee and cook until just barely done in a skillet on medium-low heat. Set aside.

In order to have the time to devote to your roux, make sure you dice all your vegetables and measure out all your spices and chicken broth before you start anything else. Put the broth on the stove on low so it is nice and warm when you add it in a few minutes to your roux. Once your vegetables and spices are ready to go, start the water for your rice and have your 2 cups of raw rice ready to dump in the water when it boils. Now you are ready….

All good etouffee starts with an amazing nutty brown roux. Although making a roux is not difficult at all, you have to devote the time to do it, no walking away or checking a text message. Just stand in front of your pot and stir. If anyone asks you a question, tell them your busy and you’ll get back to them. Seriously, barring a catastrophe, don’t walk away!(I think I made my point).

Ok, in a large enough pot for all the rest of the etouffee ingredients, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Once warmed through, add the flour. Stir briskly to remove any clumps. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. You don’t want this to burn and you don’t want this to not cook long enough. You’ll know it is good when it is a caramel brown color.

Once the color looks good, add your veggies and cook until tender (you can stop sweating now over the roux).

Slowly add the chicken broth, stirring constantly so it incorporates. Add the seasonings. Taste and add any more seasoning as desired. Let simmer a bit until the rice is almost ready. Cut up the chicken into bite size pieces and add to the pot. Add the peeled and deveined shrimp, cover and cook about 10 minutes on medium-low until the shrimp is just cooked through.

In a shallow bowl, add the rice, top with the etouffee and the green onions and enjoy!



Change out the proteins to any mixture of crawfish, shrimp, chicken, sausages, etc.

Meal Ideas:

This was the meal although I added some steamed broccoli because it is good for you!

Got Leftovers?:

This tasted even better the next day for lunch!!