Tag Archives: seafood

Catch and Escape

Happy Valentine’s Day if you’re celebrating!  In the spirit of the day, it seemed only fitting that the fourth film in this year’s 12 Days of Oscar would be something romantic in nature. Today’s film, the 1984 romantic comedy Splash was nominated for Best Writing, Screenplay written directly for the screen (and lost to Places in the Heart). Splash stars Tom Hanks as Allen Bauer who, while visiting Cape Cod with his family as a boy, jumps off of the ferry into the water where he is saved by a mermaid (Daryl Hannah). Years later, the mermaid comes ashore and is placed in Andy’s care telling him she will be visting for six days.

There are a lot of memorable scenes in Splash as Madison the mermaid visits New York.  She learns English watching game shows on the televisions at a department store, she names herself Madison after seeing a street sign for Madison Avenue, and perhaps my favorite is when she eats lobster at a fancy restaurant by biting through the shell. If you’ve never eaten a lobster, Real Simple has a handy video.  Eating lobster is a pretty messy affair whether you eat it like Madison does (which I really can’t recommend) or as the video suggests, so I’m a big fan of having lobster at home.  Steaming a lobster doesn’t have to be difficult but you do have to get over tossing a live lobster into a pot of steam so there’s that. I can’t help you get around that part; I’ll be the first to admit that I get someone else (my very brave husband) to handle it.  I use a stock pot with a steamer insert, but I have seen sources indicate that you can steam the lobsters using this method without the steamer insert.

steamed lobster

Steamed Lobster


  • 1 lobster per guest (I like to stay around 1- 1 1/4 lbs)
  • enough water to put 2 inches of water in a 4 to 5 gallon pot
  • 1 Tbsp. salt (optional- stir into the steaming water if using)


Fill a 4-5 gallon pot with 2 inches of water and insert the steamer insert.

Bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat.

You can either remove the rubber bands from the lobsters claws or leave them on.  I personally leave them on but it’s a matter of preference/ bravery.

Add the lobsters one at a time, head first, until the pot is full. A  4-5 gallon pot can hold about 6-8 lbs. of lobster so you might have to do this in batches depending on the size of your lobsters or your crowd.  If you can’t see to the bottom of the pot, use a second pot or steam them in batches. Do not overcrowd the pot.

Cover the pot and steam for 10 minutes for 1 lb. lobsters (12 minutes for 1 1/4 lb. lobsters, 14 minutes for 1 1/2 lb. lobsters). The cooking time is total time, not per pound of lobster.

Halfway through steaming, very carefully lift the lid so the steam exits away from you and shift the lobsters around so they cook evenly.

The lobster is done when cooked to an internal temperature of 180 degrees. Do not use the color to determine done-ness.  Lobsters will turn bright red before they are completely cooked.  If you don’t have or don’t wish to use a thermometer, you can check for done-ness by tugging on one of the antennae or small walking legs.  If the lobster is done, either one will come off easily.

Source: Tips from too many places to remember, and many steamed lobsters bravely prepared by my husband Lane.


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Places That Belong to You

What happens when you always run a 12 days of Oscar feature in the twelve days leading up to the Academy Awards ceremony, and you’ve decided to run a Winter Olympics feature like the one you ran for the Summer Olympics?  Add in the fact that no posts of any kind were churned out for months, you just accepted a promotion and are working some long hours, and that you barely ever see daylight much less have any of it left by the time your dinner is ready for its close-up- then what? That’s right, you run two features.
8 prince_of_tides_the_1991 dancing
For day one, we have a film that was nominated for but did not win an Oscar.  The 1991 film The Prince of Tides, based on the book by Pat Conroy, was nominated for seven Oscars.  Nick Nolte was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Tom Wingo, a man unhappy with his life who travels to New York City following his sister’s suicide attempt.  Tom meets with his sister’s psychiatrist, Dr. Susan Lowenstein (Barbara Streisand), initially in an attempt to help with his sister’s recovery.  Over the course of the film both Tom reveals a great deal about his childhood, and they both explore their own unhappiness as they grow closer.
There are many memorable scenes in The Prince of Tides, but one of the most memorable has to be the scene from Tom’s childhood where dad gets served a special dinner.  Tom’s mother, Lila, frequently would try new recipes in an attempt to get a recipe into the local ladies auxiliary cookbook.  Tom’s father, having had enough of this “foreign” food, starts a shouting match at dinner prompting Lila to go into the kitchen and cook him up some dog food, which he applauds as one of the best meals he’s ever eaten.  The children, including Tom, are fully aware that their mother has served their father dog food and it makes for quite a memorable revelation to Dr. Lowenstein later.  The “exotic” meal that Lila has prepared and served is shrimp Newburg.  Shrimp Newburg is shrimp in a cream sauce, traditionally served over toast points or a puff pastry.  Here, it is served over rice both to make it a little healthier and to be reminiscent of the dog food hash Lila serves, over rice.
shrimp newburg
Shrimp Newburg
  • 1 1/2 C. brown rice
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 lbs. large shrimp- cleaned and cut into thirds, shells reserved
  • 1 1/3 C. 2 per cent milk
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 C. sherry


In a small saucepan, combine the rice with 1 1/2 C. water.

Bring to a boil, cover, then lower the heat and simmer until the rice is tender, 20-30 minutes.

Fluff the rice with a fork and cover to keep it warm.

While the rice cooks, melt 2 tsp. of the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan.

Add the shrimp shells and cook about 5 minutes, stirring, until crisp.

In a small bowl, whisk the milk with the cornstarch and then whisk the cornstarch mixture into the shrimp shells.

Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, whisking, for 1 minute.

Strain the mixture into a bowl, pressing on the shrimp shells with a large spoon to be sure all of the mixture is drained out.

Wipe out the saucepan, then melt the remaining 2 tsp. of butter over medium-low heat.

Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until softened.

Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Slowly whisk in the milk mixture and bring to a boil

Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute.

Stir in the shrimp and sherry and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes until the shrimp is firm.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over rice.

Source: adapted from Rachel Ray

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Quiet Storm

It’s hard to believe that it’s been three weeks since I last posted here.  I freely admit that I haven’t done much cooking.  We have been doing plenty of anniversary partying, coffee date with friend-ing, camping, vacationing, amusement park-ing, and drive-in move going.  What we have not been doing plenty of is meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking.  There’s been some cooking, just not blog-worthy cooking.  We’ve slathered pork chops with barbecue and grilled them, and enjoyed many a corn on the cob or a burger.  We’ve also enjoyed plenty of meals out either celebrating or due to time constraints.  So, while I’ve been completely neglecting my blogger duties, I have been completely busy loving my new job, loving time with Lane and the kiddos, and celebrating both our own milestones and those of the people we love.

With nothing planned or thawed out ahead of time and with no real plan in hand, I made a great dinner last night that took less than half an hour from start to finish.  The next time I come home from work and decide that it’s faster to order something or head to a restaurant, I am going to remind myself that in the amount of time it would have taken to peel M away from her Kindle and O away from his Legos, we could be sitting down to dinner.  I thawed some shrimp, boiled some water, and got to work.  It did help that I had a hunk of Asiago cheese on hand, so if you don’t I strongly suggest putting a hunk of any sharp Italian cheese on your next grocery list.  Just in case.  If you’re looking for a great macaroni and cheese recipe, you can follow the instructions and skip the shrimp and peas.  I love this pasta with bacon or ham and broccoli as well.

pasta with cheese sauce shrimp and peas

Penne in Cheese Sauce with Shrimp and Peas


  • 1 lb. penne pasta, cooked to package directions and drained
  • 8 oz. sharp Italian cheese (such as Asiago), grated
  • 1 1/2 C. whole milk, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 C. frozen peas, thawed
  • 12 oz. uncooked large shrimp (25-30 per lb.), peeled and deveined
  • 2 tsp. olive oil


While the pasta is cooking, prepare the shrimp.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the shrimp in a single layer, sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.

Cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes, then flip them and cook for 2-3 more minutes just until they are pink and opaque.  Remove from the heat and keep covered.

To prepare the cheese sauce, warm 1 C. of the milk in a medium saucepan.

While the milk in the saucepan is warming up, whisk the remaining 1/2 C. of milk with the flour in a small bowl until there are no lumps.

When the milk in the saucepan is just starting to release steam, whisk in the flour and milk mixture and whisk constantly for 3-4 minutes over medium heat until the mixture resembles heavy cream.

Reduce the heat to low and add the grated cheese, a handful at a time, stirring until the sauce is smooth after each addition.

Continue until all of the cheese has been added to the sauce and stir until the sauce is creamy.

Stir in freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Stir together the cooked shrimp, pasta, and peas.

Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta mixture and stir to evenly coat the pasta mixture with cheese sauce.

Makes 6 generous servings.

Source: pasta and cheese sauce adapted from The Kitchn.

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Versatile Freestyle

Having a handful of versatile ingredients on hand makes it easy to decide what’s for dinner on the rare occasion that I have a gap in the meal plan.  Because I meal plan and like to make just one trip to the grocery store per week (or longer), gaps don’t happen very often.  On days when there’s four inches of rain falling and I really want to skip the trip to the grocery store, gaps happen.  Gaps also happen when life gets in the way of my regularly scheduled “programming.”  Just this weekend, the meal plan went right out the window when soccer was cancelled on Saturday.  The weather promised to play nice, so we made a spur of the moment decision to visit Brooklyn.  I spent Sunday celebrating my cousin’s upcoming wedding at a great bridal shower.  By the time I came home (there was a total of eight hours of travel round-trip involved for me), dinner was the remnants of Friday night’s pizza.  Gaps happen.  Meal planning wasn’t always my “thing.”  Especially when I lived alone, I would go to the grocery store and buy a few things that I considered to be staples and then half of the excitement would be how to put them together when I felt like having an actual meal.  Now I meal plan because while I think it’s an adventure to stare at an open refrigerator while trying to visualize whether or not I have this or that other ingredient, we try to keep dinner time more consistent.

Life happens, the plan isn’t always perfect, and this is where my single-girl foraging skills, some basic ingredients, and creativity are a life saver.  Okay, so by “foraging” I really mean “standing in front of the open refrigerator like I used to,” but that foraging procured a jar of roasted red peppers that I had on hand to use as a sandwich topping, and a bag of tortellini that I had hanging around to use for a tortellini salad.  It didn’t take long for me to decide to turn that jar of peppers into a sauce, use it to top the tortellini, and avoid venturing out to the grocery store in the pouring rain.  I’m glad I made that decision.  This was a tasty dinner that took almost no time to prepare.  I added shrimp as an afterthought because I felt like the tortellini needed a protein to make it a more substantial dinner.  Okay, so I rarely need an excuse to add shrimp to anything, but shrimp wasn’t part of the initial plan here.  I’m glad I added it in, it cooks very quickly and was perfect for scooping up the sauce.  Chicken would have been great here as well.

roasted red pepper sauce tortellini with shrimp

Tortellini with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Shrimp


  • 14 oz. bag cheese tortellini
  • 7 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained (or roast your own red peppers)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 C. milk or heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined


Boil the tortellini in a large pot of water according to package directions, until al dente.  Set aside.

Blot as much excess moisture as you can from the roasted red peppers using paper towels.

Place the roasted red peppers and garlic into a blender and puree for 2-3 minutes until smooth.

Pour the red pepper mixture into a small sauce pan and stir in the oregano and salt and pepper to taste.

Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until the sauce comes to a boil and starts to thicken.  Reduce heat to low and stir occasionally while preparing the shrimp.

To prepare the shrimp, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.

Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over the shrimp, then add them to the heated skillet in a single layer.

Cook the shrimp for about 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook for 2-3 more minutes, until the shrimp are pink on the outside and opaque inside.

Add the milk to the sauce and stir to combine.

Cook for 2-3 minutes to heat through, then add the tortellini to the sauce and stir to completely coat the tortellini.

Top the tortellini mixture with the cooked shrimp (you can add the shrimp to the sauce as well and stir it in with the tortellini).

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Diana Dishes original

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Good fried rice is hard to come by in this town.  I’ve been known to skip the greasy, salty, it-all-tastes-the-same fried rice that’s offered in favor of brown rice.  Any time I have veered from that plan, I find that I’m eating the fried rice just because it traveled home in the same container as my chicken and broccoli and I don’t actually enjoy it.  The chicken fried rice tastes exactly like the pork fried rice, and exactly like the shrimp or veggie fried rice.  None of the ingredients stand out, and it seems silly to choose your protein (or lack of protein) and have an end result that tells me it wouldn’t have mattered.  There’s something to be said for consistency, I suppose, but I like each ingredient to still retain some of its flavor.  Perhaps I expect too much from the local takeout places.  Fried rice made at home, is an entirely different story.

After I finished being more excited than any sane person should be about wild scallions in the yard and decided to make scallion pancakes, I knew I needed a meal that would be a good following act.  Homemade fried rice was an obvious choice, and a great one-pot meal.  Everything went into the wok, and it all came out of the wok full of flavor.  Each ingredient contributed something and didn’t overwhelm the others.  This was especially important because instead of the simpler fried rice I usually make at home, this one has Sriracha and pineapple.  I’ve mentioned before how much I adore the tasty firestorm that is Sriracha, so it’s not much of a surprise that I loved this fried rice.  The sweetness of the pineapple plays really well with the Sriracha and the finished fried rice isn’t overly spicy.  Combined with chicken, peas, carrots, and the scrambled egg that my fried rice just isn’t complete without, this makes a tasty meal in no time.  I used brown rice as the base because I’m the weird kid who loves brown rice but Jasmine rice would work perfectly as well.  For fried rice, I really like to use rice that’s been cooked at least a day before (the remaining ingredients just “stick” better), but this time I forgot and instead made the rice in the morning and it was plenty sticky in time to make this.  Making the rice that far ahead is a time saver and I think it makes for a better end result, but it isn’t entirely necessary.

sriracha pineapple chicken fried rice

Sriracha Pineapple Chicken Fried Rice


  • 1 1/2 C. brown or Jasmine rice
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 8 oz. boneless skinless chicken, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (optional, or substitute shrimp)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 7 green onions, white and light green parts only, sliced
  • 1 1/2 C. pineapple chunks (either fresh or canned in juice and drained)
  • 1 C. frozen peas, thawed (or fresh shelled peas, or edamame)
  • 4 Tbsp. light (low-sodium) soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. Sriracha, plus additional for serving


Prepare the rice according to package directions (I like to do this at least a day ahead of time but it isn’t necessary), using very slightly less water than the directions call for.  The rice should be slightly firmer than serving consistency, because it will continue to cook during the rest of the process.

Heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or wok.

Saute the carrot and onion for about 5 minutes, until soft.

Add the chicken to the skillet and cook, stirring, until chicken is cooked through.

Remove the chicken, carrot and onion from the wok or skillet to a separate bowl.

Heat the remaining tsp. of oil in the wok and pour in the eggs.

Cook the eggs, stirring occasionally, for 2-4 minutes until cooked through.

Add the rice to the eggs in the wok or skillet and stir to combine.  Let cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the onion, chicken, and carrot mixture to the rice mixture in the wok or skillet.

Stir in the green onions, pineapple, and peas and stir to combine.

Add the soy sauce and Sriracha to the mixture and stir to combine.

Cook for 3-5 minutes without stirring, then stir the mixture and cook for 3-5 minutes more without stirring.  Repeat this process 2-3 times so all of the rice gets close to crispy.

Remove the mixture from the heat, serve with extra Sriracha on the side.

Makes 6 generous servings.

Source: adapted from Passports and Pancakes

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By Request

For Lane’s birthday dinner last year, it was warm enough that I was in flip flops grilling steak and shrimp.  It isn’t quite flip flop weather yet this year, so I stuck to indoor options when deciding what to make.  Lane never really requests anything in particular for dinner, so when he mentioned paella, I was all over it.  I just wasn’t all over it in time to order any bomba rice, the best kind of rice for paella.  We don’t have any stores nearby that sell bomba rice and I didn’t have time to order online and wait for delivery so I used the next best thing, Arborio rice (the kind used for risotto).  The Arborio rice worked just fine and made the base for a great paella.  My next obstacle was the kiddos- rice, shrimp, and chicken they’ll devour without issue but mussels, I wasn’t so sure about.  When I served this, I put one mussel on each of their plates, showed them how to scoop the mussel out of its shell and waited for the reaction shot.  O slowly chewed his like he wasn’t sure what to make of it but ultimately gulped it down without complaint.  M devoured the one on her plate and then had about five more and was pretty excited when I showed her how to use the empty shell from one mussel to pull another mussel out of its shell.  The birthday boy was very happy with his birthday paella dinner, and the kids tried another new food without it becoming a disaster.  I declare this paella a win.

This varies from a more traditional paella slightly in that instead of cooking the chicken, shrimp, and mussels in the same pan as the rice while the rice is cooking, they are cooked separately then added in at the end.  Doing it this way helps ensure that the chicken and seafood don’t become overcooked and dry which can be a common problem.  It also helps the rice cook a little faster, because it doesn’t have any competition in the pan.  Saffron, expensive though it may be, is really the best seasoning for this.  If you really can’t use saffron due to expense or for other reasons, you could use turmeric and paprika to replicate the color it gives the rice.  There really isn’t anything that will provide the same flavor as saffron.  Another option is to use Goya’s Sazon with Azafran seasoning (stir a packet into the 1 1/2 cups of water you’ll add to the rice).  It isn’t going to be exactly the same as if you’d used the saffron (and it does contain a good amount of sodium so watch the amount of salt in other parts of the dish), but it will still give the rice a good flavor and color.

chicken and seafood paella

Chicken, Chorizo, and Seafood Paella


  • 4 oz. fresh chorizo, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 C. Arborio (or bomba) rice
  • Pinch of saffron threads dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 1/2 C. water
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/4 c. dry white wine
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lb. mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
  • 1 1/2 C. cooked cubed chicken thighs (or any cooked chicken but dark meat works best)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced


In a large ovenproof skillet, cook the chorizo over medium heat for about 4 minutes, until some of the fat is rendered.

Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring for 8 minutes until softened and beginning to brown.

Stir the tomatoes (with juices), rice, saffron with its liquid and the 1 1/2 C. water into the skillet.

Add salt and pepper (use the salt sparingly if you’ve substituted Sazon for the saffron), and bring the mixture to a boil.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and cook for 15-20 minutes without stirring, until the rice is al dente and the liquid has been absorbed.

Add the olive oil to a large skillet and swirl to coat the bottom of the skillet.

Heat the skillet and oil over medium-high heat and season the shrimp with salt and pepper.

Add the shrimp to the skillet and cook, turning once, for about 3 minutes until the shrimp are pink and cooked through.

Transfer the shrimp to the rice mixture using a slotted spoon, and discard the cooking oil.

Wipe out the skillet and pour in the wine and lemon juice.

Add the mussels to the skillet, then cover and cook the mussels for 3-4 minutes over high heat, shaking the skillet on the burner, until the mussels open.  Discard any mussels that do not open and pour the remaining mussels and the cooking juices over the rice mixture.

Stir the cooked chicken into the rice mixture, then cover and place into the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the paella is heated through.

Garnish with the parsley and scallion, and serve hot.

Makes 6 large servings.

Source: adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, July 2008

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