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Category Archives: Seafood

Shrimp Cocktail Bruschetta and a Dinner Party Plan

About a month ago, two of my favorite people in the whole world ran off to a funky little motel in the Catskills and secretly eloped. (This place looks seriously cool! You can check out some of the wedding photos on the Roxbury facebook page.

I was ecstatic when I heard the news. And then, almost instantly, my mind went into dinner party mode. If there were ever a perfect reason to throw a dinner party, this was it.

Don’t you just love the idea of a dinner party?? Good food, plentiful drinks, amazing company… I love every bit of it; planning the menu and decor, preparing the meal, presenting each course, coming up with a few special touches… It’s something that I wish we could do more frequently.

But with three little kids (including a teething four-month-old, who’s fully convinced that sleep is for suckers), it’s hard enough to get a simple macaroni and cheese dinner on the table on any given day of the week. The thought of preparing an elegant, five-course plated dinner for ten is a bit overwhelming even to consider. It can be done though. It just requires a little careful planning.

A carefully crafted menu is the most essential component of any successful dinner party (aside from your guest list, that is). For our feast, I wanted to use fresh, seasonal foods which would bridge the transition from summer to fall. In order to spread the preparation throughout the week and keep things as simple as possible during the party, I wanted to serve dishes which could be easily reheated without any loss of quality. And then the big thing… I wanted to be able to sit down to enjoy each course with my guests. I mean, who wants to spend the whole time in the kitchen while your guests are laughing at the table (and threatening to eat the cupcakes prematurely)??  My goal was to create a menu where each course could be effortlessly completed and served within ten minutes of the previous course.

Here’s what I came up with…

Sunrise Champagne Cocktail

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Shrimp Cocktail Bruschetta on Toasted Baguette

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Heirloom Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart in a Pine Nut Crust with Balsamic Reduction

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Seared Scallops over Sweet Potato Bisque with Applewood-Smoked Bacon

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Braised Beef Short Ribs in a Fig and Red Wine Reduction

with

Creamy Brie Mashed Potatoes

Roasted Asparagus

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Pumpkin and Nutella Wedding Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

Aside from the anti-sleep demonstration, which my four-month-old staged throughout the entire party, the dinner went off without a hitch. Preparation between the courses was a cinch and everyone enjoyed the meal.

Interested in hosting your own simple and elegant dinner party? Here are a few little tips:

Start with a signature drink; something fun, unique, and fitting for the event. We were celebrating a wedding and what wedding celebration is complete without champagne?? My Sunrise Champagne Cocktail is a simple twist on a classic Bellini. Fill champagne glasses a little more than halfway with champagne. Top with passionfruit juice. Finally, drop about 1/2 teaspoon of grenadine into the glass. The grenadine will fall to the bottom and disperse, creating a beautiful layered color effect…an effect which happened to match the layered colors of the bride’s wedding dress. Coincidence? I think not.

As guests arrive and mingle, have some little hors d’oeuvres available. Keep ’em light though. You don’t want your guests to overfill their bellies before dinner. And, you don’t want to be busy in the kitchen fussing over snacks as your guests are arriving, so keep it easy. The shrimp cocktail bruschetta I served during our party is an ideal option. It takes the concept of a tomato bruschetta on toasted baguette and combines it with chunks of fresh shrimp and the flavors of cocktail sauce. Simply arrange on a platter and set out for your guests to enjoy. You’ll be free to greet your guests and enjoy a cocktail as you focus on preparing the first plated dinner course.

For the first plated course, serve something cool or at room temperature. It will make it easier to get things started. I served the heirloom tomato and goat cheese tart I recently shared with you. You can prepare and freeze the crust a week or more ahead of time. It takes only a few minutes to finish the tart on the day of your party. Pop it in the oven just as your guests begin arriving. It will make your house smell delicious and will be ready in perfect time for the first course. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with a drizzle of balsamic reduction.

Serve a soup as part of your second course. They’re easily reheated and offer a ton of options depending on the season. I served my seared scallops over sweet potato bisque with applewood smoked bacon. The bisque can be completely prepared a few days ahead of time. Refrigerate the bacon pieces and freeze the bisque to keep it fresh. During the party, you’ll only need to quickly sear the scallops and reheat the bisque and bacon before serving. Within 5 or 6 minutes, the second course will be ready to serve.

The main course should typically be the heaviest item on the menu. Try to plan something which gives you flexible timing. I served braised beef short ribs in a fig and red wine reduction. This dish is an ideal main course, since it actually does best when prepared a day ahead of time and can be reheated and held until you’re ready to serve. Preparing a day before allows the sauce to chill, making it easier to remove the excess fat which will rise to the surface. You can then adjust the seasoning of your sauce and slowly reheat the short ribs, keeping them hot and ready in the oven until it’s time to serve.

To keep things easy during the party, do whatever little preparations you can ahead of time. On the side of the short ribs, I serve creamy brie mashed potatoes, which can be fully prepared a day ahead of time, and roasted asparagus, which take only a few minutes in the oven. Get your asparagus ready for roasting by washing, cutting, and arranging on a baking sheet earlier in the day. Before roasting, toss in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then simply pop them into the oven.

For dessert, serve something which can be made ahead of time and requires little or no preparation during the party. I served pumpkin-nutella cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. They made a beautiful centerpiece on the table and were ready to eat when the time came. This meant that I could sit back and relax once the short ribs were served…Well, I would have been able to sit back and relax if the aforementioned anti-sleep demonstration weren’t still underway. Alas, what can you do?? He’s lucky he’s so stinkin’ cute!

Recipes for the short ribs, creamy brie mashed potatoes, and cupcakes will be coming up soon! For now, let me whet your appetite with this simple and delicious shrimp cocktail bruschetta!

Shrimp Cocktail Bruschetta

Ingredients

  • 6-8 plum tomatoes, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 2 cups shrimp, deveined, cooked, and chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Tabasco, to taste
  • 1 French Baguette, sliced
  • Olive Oil

Directions

Combine tomatoes, shrimp, green onions, horseradish, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, salt, and tabasco. Adjust seasoning as desired. Refrigerate until serving. Brush the slices of baguette with olive oil. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a 375 degrees oven until lightly toasted. Serve shrimp bruschetta topping with toasted baguette slices.

Asian-Style Fish Tacos

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We’re having the windows in the entire house replaced this week, turning a couple of windows into doors, installing new shutters; the works. We’re ecstatic.This project has been long awaited and will be a huge improvement to our home. But due to the age of our house and New York state laws regarding the presence of lead in the paints used around the old windows, I’m required to keep the kids out of the house while the work is being done. Makes sense, but leaves me in a bit of a pickle; semi-homeless for the week with a four year old, two year old, and a two month old in tow. Oh dear!

Oh, and did I mention that we’ve got a houseful of weekend guests arriving on the last day of the window installation?? This ought to be an interesting week.

As a result of our temporary displacement, I don’t expect to be cooking or writing very much this week. We’ll be living off of the BBQ Beef Chili, Sweet Honey Cornbread, Sausage, Rapini, and Bean Ragout, and Chicken Tikka Masala I’ve got stocked in the freezer. We’ll be back to cooking once I’m allowed back into my home. In the mean time, here’s a tasty twist on fish tacos; pan-seared tilapia fillets, combined with a crisp broccoli slaw and a spicy hoisin-peanut sauce. Enjoy!

Asian-style Fish Tacos with Broccoli Slaw and Hoisin-Peanut Sauce

Ingredients

For the Broccoli Slaw:

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups broccoli slaw mix (julienned broccoli, carrots, and red cabbage)

For the Hoisin-Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/8 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red curry paste (or Cayenne Pepper)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

For the Fish:

  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Vegetable Oil
  • 4 small flour tortillas

Directions

For the slaw: Combine mayonnaise, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt, and cayenne until well blended. Add the broccoli slaw mix. Stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, stirring occasionally to distribute the dressing.

For the sauce: Whisk together all ingredients until smooth. If preparing ahead of time, refrigerate until serving. The sauce will become thick when cooled. Warm for a few seconds in the microwave to loosen up the sauce before serving.

For the fish: Combine the flour, salt, and cayenne pepper on a plate. Press both sides of the fish fillets into the flour mixture. Shake off any excess. Heat a few tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the fish fillets into the hot oil. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until the outside is golden brown and the inside is fully cooked. Place on a paper towel to remove excess oil.

To assemble the tacos: Warm the flour tortillas for a few seconds in the microwave or a warm oven. Place a mound of the broccoli slaw on one half of each tortilla. Place a fish fillet into each tortilla. Drizzle with the hoisin-peanut sauce.

Makes 4 fish tacos

Salmon, Cucumber, and Orzo Salad in Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette

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Well, hello again! It’s been almost three weeks now since the birth of our third son and we’ve all been enjoying our babymoon period with the new little guy. Though it’s only been a few short weeks, it feels as if he’s always been a part of our family. Life is good. And aside from the growing deficit of sleep, we’ve all adjusted nicely to our new routines as a family of five.
My meal plan for the first few weeks was simple. I had no intention of cooking anything. We’d keep things simple and easy while we focused on adjusting to life with our newborn son. I’d prepared a couple tins of baked ziti and macaroni and cheese in advance and stocked the freezer with frozen pizza and a few packages of our favorite frozen chicken tikka masala (with plenty of garlic naan, of course). Takeout from our local Panera and Five Guys would round out our no-fuss dining options for the first few weeks.
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Well, it took my husband all of a week before he went stir-crazy with the frozen foods and takeout. I knew he’d reached his breaking point when he came downstairs with a cookbook in his hands and started asking questions about the flavor of cumin and how to poach chicken. Apparently, one week is the frozen food and takeout limit for someone who is accustomed to home-cooked meals.
Now, my husband has many talents, but ever since he tried to cook the cardboard packaging along with a frozen pizza, I have a hard time handing him the reins in the kitchen. So, one week after the birth of our son, it was back to the kitchen for me. And somehow, with a few little tweaks to our routine, I’ve managed to put food on the table each night (and my husband has put down the cookbook).
Slightly-frazzled, busy moms (such as myself) will appreciate the simplicity of this make-ahead, one-dish meal. Broiled salmon is combined with crisp cucumber slices and orzo pasta in a flavorful lemon-dijon vinaigrette for a refreshing dish, which would make a perfect addition to any summer potluck! The entire dish can be prepared ahead of time and is served cold, leaving more time and flexibility to enjoy the warm days with family and friends.
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Salmon, Cucumber, and Orzo Salad in Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette
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Ingredients
  • 1 pound salmon fillets
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, for salmon
  • 2 cups orzo pasta, uncooked
  • 1 cucumber, cut into fourths lengthwise and sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, for vinaigrette
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons djion mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

Preheat broiler. Place salmon fillets on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the salmon several inches below the broiler and cook for about 10 minutes, until cooked through. Cool completely, then break or chop the salmon into small pieces.

Cook the orzo according to package directions. Rinse with cool water.

To prepare the vinaigrette, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

Add the salmon, cucumbers, and parsley to the pasta. Toss with the vinaigrette, adding a little at a time, until the salad is well-dressed. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve cold.

Lobster BLT Sandwiches

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Ding! Ding! Ding! Balloons are dropping from the ceiling all around you. The crowds are cheering. The sirens are ringing. Brightly colored bits of paper confetti are obscuring your vision. Your heart is racing with excitement and your mind is filled with utter bewilderment…

You MAY have just been the 100,000th visitor to this blog. CONGRATULATIONS! I’d send you a real prize if I could, but I have no way of determining who the actual 100,000th reader will be. So, simply beam with pride in knowing that it might be you and accept this celebratory recipe as your grand reward!

According to my stats, some time today, this little food blog will reach its 100,000th view. Yowzers! I can only hope that this milestone represents 100,000 happy customers, 100,000 delicious meals,  and 100,000 satisfied bellies!

In celebration of this momentous occasion, I’ve got a special little dish for you; elegant in its simplicity, an unassuming sandwich on a croissant. But between those flakey, buttery layers of golden croissant lies a decadent lobster salad, lightly tossed in a champagne tarragon dressing. A few slices of crispy applewood smoked bacon and some ripe red tomatoes complete the dish. It’s a BLT sandwich in every sense of the word, simply swapping the traditional lettuce for a bit of luscious lobster; the perfect way to raise the level of a classic BLT sandwich into a celebratory meal!

Pescetarians, rest assured. This dish is for you too! Simply omit the bacon for a luscious lobster salad delight!

Lobster BLT Sandwiches

Ingredients

For the Champagne Tarragon Lobster Salad:

  • 1 pound lobster tail(s), cooked and chopped*
  • 2 tablespoons good-quality mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar (can substitute white wine vinegar or lemon juice)
  • 1/2 shallot, finely diced
  • 5-6 fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

For the BLTs:

  • 2 croissants
  • 4-6 slices bacon, cooked
  • Tomatoes, sliced
  • Romaine lettuce, optional

Directions

To prepare the salad, whisk together the mayonnaise and champagne vinegar until smooth. Stir in the fresh tarragon and shallot. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, as desired. Toss the lobster with dressing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To assemble the sandwiches, split a croissant in half. Place 2-3 slices of crisp bacon on the croissant. Top with fresh tomato slices and a generous scoop of lobster salad.

Makes 2 Sandwiches

* For ease and convenience, this recipe utilizes lobster tails. (You can use the meat from a whole boiled or steamed lobster, if desired.) My grocery store carries freshly frozen lobster tails in the seafood department. Defrost the tails in the fridge for several hours before using, until they are mostly defrosted and flexible. To roast the lobster tails, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Use kitchen shears to snip a slit through the top of the shell from the body end to the fan end. Carefully separate and lift the lobster meat from the shell, leaving it attached at the fan end. Rest the lobster meat atop the split shell. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of melted butter. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the lobster reaches an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees. Adjust cooking time based on the size of your lobster tails and how frozen/defrosted they are.

Shrimp Scampi Flatbread Pizza

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As predicted, every pizza joint in my area is suddenly a fish fry too! After Easter, the Friday fish fry specials will gradually fade away, but for anyone who abstains from meat on Fridays during this time of the year, your local pizza shop is probably your one-stop-shop for Friday takeout!

If you’re feeling like something other than pizza, fried haddock or frozen fish sticks, I’ve got a few ideas for you. For starters, I’ve got a new recipe for a shrimp scampi flatbread pizza. We’ll start with a basic shrimp scampi, which will drizzle over individual flatbread crusts, and bake with a bit of asiago and mozzarella cheese. Garlic-flavored naan (Indian flatbread) makes an especially tasty crust for this pizza. Many supermarkets now carry prepared naan, either fresh in the bread or international section or frozen. If you can’t get your hands on flatbread or naan, a thin prepared pizza crust would do the trick.

For the purpose of this pizza, small salad shrimp (the kind you can typically find cooked and frozen) work perfectly. If you’d like to use this scampi recipe for serving over rice or pasta, substitute the salad shrimp for larger, fresh shrimp and allow them to cook in the buttery garlic sauce.

Shrimp Scampi Flatbread Pizza

Ingredients

  • 4 flatbreads, Indian naan, or a thin-crust pizza shell
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups cooked salad-sized shrimp, defrosted
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Salt
  • 2-3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup asiago cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the garlic just begins to turn a golden brown. Lower the heat, if necessary, to prevent burning. Add the white wine and lemon juice. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and gently simmer until heated through. Season with crushed red pepper and salt, as desired. Stir in the fresh parsley. Allow the scampi mixture to cool slightly.

To assemble the pizzas, place the flatbreads or naan onto baking sheets. Sprinkle approximately 1/4 cup asiago cheese over each flatbread or naan. Spoon some of the shrimp mixture, with a small amount of the buttery sauce, over the cheese. To prevent your pizza from becoming soggy, do not use too much of the sauce. A light drizzle around the pizza will be perfect. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese over the top of each pizza. Bake for about 12 minutes.

Makes 4 Individual Flatbread Pizzas

Looking for a few other meat-free dinner options? Check out these previously posted Gourmand Mom recipes:

Codfish Cakes


Pan-Fried Tilapia with Grapefruit and Shaved Leeks


Broiled Salmon Bruschetta


Coconut Crusted Tilapia with Tropical Fruit Salsa


Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese in a Citrus-Honey Vinaigrette


Cinnamon Apple and Brie Quesadillas


Broiled Halibut with Olives, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Capers


Tropical Fish Tacos with Spicy Mango Salsa and Coconut Rice


Salmon Burgers with Horseradish Sauce


Heirloom Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella


Chilled Avocado Soup and Crab Cakes with Chipotle Remoulade


Buttermilk Battered Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Chipotle Dipping Sauce


Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp


Shrimp and Asparagus in a Lemony Basic Alfredo Sauce


Fishcake Friday

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During this time of year, when many people choose to abstain from meat on Fridays, pizzerias and fish fry shops revel in the boost in business. You can often tell it’s Lent simply by counting the number of billboards advertising the best fish fry special in town. Suddenly, every restaurant’s specialty is fried haddock.

For my family, Fridays during Lent usually meant one of four things; pizza, fish sticks, my Daddo’s tuna burgers, or fishcakes. Fish sticks have never been a favorite of mine and I didn’t really learn to appreciate pizza until my college days, when my upstate New York classmates taught me to dip it in bleu cheese dressing. For me, my Friday favorite was always a toss up between the tuna burgers and the fishcakes.

The fishcakes, which my dad prepared for us, came from a recipe passed down from my grandmother. As my dad explains it, this is a meal which was designed to stretch the food budget for a family of eight. One pound of salt-preserved cod is combined with mashed potatoes and a few simple seasonings to form a dozen delicious fish cakes! Served over a heaping pile of spaghetti, this budget-friendly recipe makes a hearty meal for a big family!

Salt cod, or baccalà, can usually be found near the seafood section of your grocery store. Try asking at the seafood counter if you don’t spot it!

Codfish Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound salt cod (baccalà)
  • 4-5 potatoes, chopped*
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 Tablespoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Additional salt, if desired
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Shortening or Vegetable Oil

*You can adjust the quantity of potatoes based on how fishy you prefer your cakes.

Directions

Soak the salt cod in cold water (refrigerated) for 6 -24 hours. Change the water once, about halfway through. (The longer the fish soaks, the less salty it will be.) Gently simmer the fish for 10-15 minutes. Remove the fish from the water and set aside to cool. Save the water. Add the potatoes to the hot fish water. Boil until fork tender. Strain and mash the potatoes with the butter. Flake the fish, while carefully checking for bones, and add to the mashed potatoes. Add the onion, parsley, black pepper, paprika, and additional salt (if desired). Knead the mixture until well combined. Form the mixture in large 2-3″ balls, then flatten into thick patties. Coat both sides with flour. Heat shortening or vegetable oil* over medium heat. Cook the patties in the oil for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Serve over spaghetti with tomato sauce or stewed tomatoes.

*My grandma says it should be shortening, but I admit to using vegetable oil. Shhh…don’t tell my grandma!

Makes 10-12 Fish Cakes


The Kids Cook Monday – White Garlic Shrimp Pizza

Don’t get me wrong…I love a traditional slice of saucy, cheesy pizza as much as the next person (preferably dipped in a bit of bleu cheese dressing). But there’s something about a slice of white garlic pizza which makes my taste buds do a little happy dance. And last week, my happy-dancing taste buds decided that a homemade white garlic pizza, with a generous topping of tiny shrimp, was exactly what we needed.
Truth be told, I made this pizza twice last week. I had initially planned to post the recipe on Friday, but my first take on the pizza was less than ideal. It was garlicky and delicious, but the proportions of sauce and cheese to the dough were off kilter. On top of being too heavily sauced, the ricotta layer cooked up into a bit of a mess. I figured that all it needed was a little reduction on the toppings and a touch of egg white to bind the ricotta. I was about to post the recipe with my theorized improvements, but made a last minute decision to run another test. There were no complaints in our household about having this pizza twice in the same week! The second run-through was a definite winner!
As part of our Kids Cook Monday series, I invited my little helpers into the kitchen. Pizza making is ripe with opportunities for young children to get involved. Stretching dough, spreading sauces, arranging toppings, and scattering cheese are ideal tasks for little hands. Kids benefit in a number of ways while cooking. They develop math skills while measuring, fine motor skills while spreading and arranging pizza toppings, health and safety skills while washing up before cooking, and language skills while following directions. But, in my opinion, there’s no bigger reward than the proud smiles on their little faces as our family sits down to enjoy the meal they had a hand in creating.
White Garlic Shrimp Pizza
Ingredients
  • 1 large pizza shell or pizza dough, prepared or homemade*
  • 2 cups salad shrimp, cooked
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

For the Ricotta Layer

  • 3/4 cup Ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Garlic Sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 Tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup Asiago or Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper

*Click here to see my post on making homemade pizza dough.

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. If using pizza dough, stretch the dough into a large round and arrange on a pizza stone or large baking sheet, lightly greased with olive oil.

Prepare the ricotta by combining the ricotta, egg white, garlic, parsley, and salt.

Prepare the garlic sauce. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the minced garlic to the butter. Cook for about two minutes. Add the flour to the mixture and stir. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth. Bring to a simmer and continue cooking for 4-5 minutes, until the milk begins to thicken. Turn down the heat. Add the cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

To assemble the pizza, spread a thin, even layer of the ricotta mixture over the pizza dough. Then, spread a thin, even layer of the garlic sauce over the ricotta. Scatter the salad shrimp over the sauce. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and parsley. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Pan-fried Tilapia with Grapefuit and Shaved Leeks

I bought a grapefruit a few days ago. Not sure exactly why. I don’t think I’ve ever actually purchased a grapefruit before and the last time I remember tasting one, it certainly wasn’t high on my list of favorite citrus fruits. It may have been seeing Natalie Portman sit down to enjoy a particularly pink grapefruit during an early scene in Black Swan. Perhaps if I eat a grapefruit, I will instantly transform into a lean and graceful prima ballerina too??

I’m starting to see the significance of subtle advertisements placed throughout movies and television shows. I suspect that Sunkist had a sneaky hand in this.

So, I’ve had this grapefruit sitting on my counter for a few days. I think I imagined that I was going to crack it open at breakfast one morning and dive in with a spoon, perhaps with a poached egg on the side, ballerina style. But, morning after morning, I glanced at that grapefruit and then reached for my Frosted Mini Wheats instead. Ultimately, I figured I should do something with the large, lonely citrus. After rooting through the freezer and locating a few frozen Tilapia fillets, I developed a plan.

I’d combine the sweet and bitter grapefruit segments with thinly sliced, mild-tasting leeks in a Honey-Dijon vinaigrette and serve over a simple pan-fried Tilapia fillet. A mound of quick-cooking cous cous completes the meal. You can thinly slice the leeks using a sharp knife or shave them with a mandoline. This recipe can easily be adapted for other types of fish or seafood. Simply adjust the cooking time based on the thickness of your fish.

Somehow, the combination of flavors, textures and temperatures in this dish managed to magically transform the grapefruit into a very welcome guest on my plate. Still not sure I’d ever enjoy sitting down for breakfast with half a grapefruit and a spoon. But I’d definitely invite a grapefruit to this dish again. Heck, I was never cut out to be a ballerina anyway!

Pan-fried Tilapia with a Melange of Grapefruit and Shaved Leeks

Ingredients

For the Fish:

  • 4 Tilapia Fillets
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • Olive Oil

For the Grapefruit and Leek Melange

  • 1 large Grapefruit, segmented*
  • 1 Leek, halved and thinly sliced or shaved**
  • 1/8 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
  • Salt and Pepper

To Serve

  • 2 cups plain Cous Cous, prepared according to package directions in lightly salted water

* Click here to see my photo guide on How to Supreme a Citrus Fruit.

**Click here to see my photo guide on How to Clean and Slice Leeks.

Directions

To prepare the melange, cut each grapefruit segment into thirds. Combine with the shaved or thinly sliced leeks. Prepare the dressing by combining the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl and whisking until well-blended. Pour a couple tablespoons of the dressing over the grapefruit and leeks. Set aside. Reserve the remaining vinaigrette for the cous cous.

For the fish, season each fillet with salt and pepper. Then, lightly coat each fillet with flour. Heat a thin, even layer of olive oil in a large fry pan over medium heat. Get it good and hot. Place the fillets into the hot oil and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown and fully cooked.

To serve, toss the prepared cous cous in a little of the reserved vinaigrette. Place a cooked fillet on top of a mound of cous cous and top with the melange of grapefruit and leeks.

Serves 4


Buttermilk Battered Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Chipotle Dipping Sauce

This recipe is a holdback from our New Year’s Eve celebration. Poor planning necessitated a few New Year’s recipe alterations. Namely, my lack of vegetable oil for frying the shrimp led to baking, which produced a delicious (and lower-fat) coconut shrimp, but not exactly my ideal result. I strive to present you with the ideal. So, I reserved this recipe until I had the opportunity to prepare it as planned.

The first time I ever made coconut shrimp was for a Caribbean-themed bridal shower, which I threw in honor of my sisters, who were having a double cruise-ship wedding. At the time, I used a recipe for beer-battered coconut shrimp which I’d found online. I’ve since developed my own buttermilk-based recipe, but I fully stand by the battering idea. A quick dip in a bit of batter helps the coconut to adhere to the shrimp and produces a fantastic, doughy coating around the shrimp.

To save a bit on the fat and calorie count, you can bake these little guys in a 400 degrees oven for about 15 minutes or so, until the coconut begins to turn golden and the shrimp is fully cooked. But, hands-down, my preferred method is frying. Go ahead and indulge! A sweet and spicy Pineapple Chipotle Dipping Sauce makes the perfect accompaniment to these tasty shrimp.

Buttermilk-Battered Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Chipotle Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

For the Shrimp

  • 3/4 cup Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 3/4 cup Buttermilk
  • 2 Eggs
  • Creole Spice Blend
  • 1 pound Jumbo Shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail-on
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 2 cups Shredded, Sweetened Coconut
  • Vegetable Oil, for frying

For the Dipping Sauce

  • 1 (12-ounce) jar Pineapple Preserves (or Orange Marmalade)
  • 1-3 Chipotle Peppers (from a can of Chipotle in Adobo)

Directions

To prepare the batter, combine flour and baking soda. Stir in the buttermilk and eggs until well blended. Season with a dash or two of Creole spice blend.

To prepare the shrimp, arrange a plate of flour, the bowl of batter, and a plate of the coconut. Holding by the tail, press each shrimp in the flour to lightly coat. Then, dip into the batter and allow the excess to drip away. Press into the shredded coconut to cover both sides. Place the coconut-coated shrimp onto a baking sheet until you’ve prepared all of the shrimp.

Heat about an inch of vegetable oil in a large frying pan, over medium heat, until it’s good and hot. Place several shrimp in the hot oil and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until the coconut is golden brown and the shrimp is fully cooked. The oil should sizzle around the shrimp as it cooks. If the coconut browns too quickly, reduce the heat.

Prepare the dipping sauce by blending the pineapple preserves and chipotle peppers in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender. Adjust the quantity of chipotle peppers based on your desired spiciness.

Serve the shrimp with a simple baby spinach and bacon salad, dressed in a honey balsamic vinaigrette.

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1/8 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Oil (Olive, Canola, Sesame)
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

Whisk together all ingredients until well combined or combine all ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously, until blended.

Broiled Salmon Bruschetta

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After weeks of overindulging in holiday treats, I’ve been craving a good healthy dose of fresh, nutritious fare. While this new year won’t be bringing any immediate weight loss goals for this expecting mom, I can certainly focus on improving nutrition and increasing my ratio of healthy foods to cookies and Cheez-Its. Oh, Cheez-Its, how I adore thee!


But, it’s still winter, and I yearn for heavy blankets and hearty foods during these chilly months. Salads and other light dishes just don’t fit the bill right now. As such, I decided on a hearty piece of broiled salmon for my main course. Full of healthy fats and flavor, it has the same satisfying effect as a nice piece of steak.

I decided to serve my salmon over a bed of fresh, garlic-sautéed spinach with just a bit of orzo pasta and parmesan cheese. Those of you who’ve taken on low-carb diets for the new year can easily eliminate the orzo for a perfect low-carb dinner option. A generous spoonful of fresh tomato and olive bruschetta topping adds a burst of Mediterranean flavors to the dish.

If salmon is not your fish of choice, you can easily substitute another type. Broiled sea bass or halibut would be delicious. Pan-seared or broiled shrimp or scallops would work nicely too!

Broiled Salmon over Sautéed Spinach and Orzo with Tomato and Olive Bruschetta Topping

Ingredients

For the Salmon:

  • 2 Salmon fillets (about 5 ounces each)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Spinach and Orzo:

  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic, minced
  • 3 cups Baby Spinach
  • 1 cup Orzo, cooked according to package directions
  • 1/8 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Bruschetta Topping:

  • 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Olives, chopped
  • 1/8 cup Capers
  • 1/8 cup Balsamic
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic, minced
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

Preheat broiler. Rub the salmon fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and cook, several inches under the broiler, for about 8-10 minutes, until the fish reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees.

Meanwhile, prepare the spinach. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two. Add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s wilted. Turn the heat down the low. Add the cooked orzo and cheese. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

To prepare the bruschetta topping, combine all ingredients in a small container with a tight fitting lid. Gently toss the mixture to combine.

To serve, place the broiled salmon over a bed of the sautéed spinach and orzo. Top with a generous spoonful of the bruschetta topping. Garnish with parmesan cheese, if desired.

Bonus: Serve your leftover bruschetta topping with slices of toasted bread.

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