Tag Archives: Seafood

Quick Recipe: Cajun Shrimp with Cheese Grits

14 Jan
Spicy shrimp and cheese grits: the perfect winter warmup.

Red Fork Hippie here, dishing up a warm, hearty way to begin or end a chilly January day: thick, buttery cheese grits spiked with bacon and topped with sauteed shrimp in a spicy roux.

Be forewarned: This ain’t diet food.

The recipe is a riff on an idea I swiped from my favorite Cajun restaurant, Chicory and Chives, which is an awesomely awesome place to have brunch on Saturday mornings, but which also happens to be several miles (and two or three construction zones) away from Red Fork, making it a less-than-ideal choice for weeknight dining. Continue reading


Simple Recipe: Quick & Easy Salmon Teriyaki

1 Dec

For a text-only version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

This is a great recipe for when the pantry and crisper drawers are looking low. It’s also a dead ringer for the Carribean salmon platter from Red Lobster. You can keep frozen salmon (or other fish) at the ready for these kind of evenings because fish filets really don’t take very long to thaw even when you haven’t planned ahead.

Plus, it just tastes delicious. It kills me that I sometimes will spend an hour or more in the kitchen whipping up something my family eats without comment, when this little baby is ready in under 30 minutes, requires few ingredients and always draws compliments. That’s life, I suppose. 🙂 Continue reading

Low-Carb Recipe: Spicy Southwestern Ceviche

8 Jul

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

This is a great make-ahead seafood recipe for party dishes or long weekends around the house. If you’ve never tried ceviche before, think of it as a sort of “fish salsa.”

Chef’s Note: Because you’re using time+acid to “cook” your seafood (rather than heat), you’ll want to be sure to use nonreactive dishware and utensils during the marinating process.

Begin with about 1 lb. of boneless, raw fish or seafood.

(I used red snapper, but anything will work, including shrimp, scallops, calamari, or other items on sale at your local grocery.

I’ll warn you; thawed frozen fish will have a mushier final texture than fresh, so if you’re using frozen, be aware of that caveat up front.

Also, you may want to rinse thawed filets in cool water before beginning, depending on what sort of liquid they may have been frozen in, to help the flavor. Basically: the fresher, the better.

Cut the filets into small (3/4″) chunks and place in the bottom of a large glass or ceramic bowl.

Chop one seeded cucumber, one seeded poblano pepper (or other variety) and several green onions into small tidbits and add to the fish.

Sprinkle mixture with 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, and 2 teaspoons salt.

Splash mixture with 1-2 teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce and add 1 (15-ounce) drained can of diced tomatoes. (You can always use fresh, seeded tomato chunks but I just use canned to save time.)

If desired, canned black or pinto beans are a festive addition to this dish, and also help your seafood budget stretch further!

Squeeze the juice of 4 limes and 3 lemons over the raw fish mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until evenly coated.

Cover mixture with plastic wrap or lid and refrigerate overnight, stirring at least once sometime after the first hour has passed.

Serve chilled in a large dip bowl with vegetables or chips for dipping, or spooned over a lettuce and cheese salad base. Garnish with chopped flat parsley if desired.

Fancy Recipe: Seafood-Stuffed Manicotti with Cream Cheese Marinara

14 Apr

 For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Seafood-stuffed manicotti in creamy marinara sauce.
So fancy.

This scrumptious meal is a great substitute for dining out on celebratory occasions or “date night,” with the added bonus that there’s often leftovers to reheat the next day!

Jamie (my three-year-old son) helped with portions of today’s recipe post. He LOVES stirring things, and brought his little milk stool over to the counter while I was working on the filling and made sad faces at me until I let him climb up on it and help me. 🙂

For this recipe, you’ll need about 12 ounces of small (or chopped), thawed seafood. I used a bag of bay scallops I scored for dirt cheap before Lent ended, but you can just as easily make this out of shrimp, tilapia, imitation crabmeat–whatever’s on sale.

Saute seafood with butter.

Saute seafood with butter.

Warm a skillet over MEDIUM burner heat. Melt 2 tablespoons butter/margarine (cheap tub margarine is fine!) and toss in thawed (drained!) seafood.

Let seafood cool over paper towels.

Let seafood cool over paper towels.

Sprinkle seafood liberally with garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Simmer about 4 minutes,stirring often, until fish is opaque in color. Remove from heat and immediately transfer onto paper towel lined plate to absorb grease. If desired, squeeze lemon juice over the cooked seafood before sticking it in the fridge to chill quickly.

Ricotta (but cottage cheese will work just fine).

Ricotta (but cottage cheese will work just fine).

While fish is cooling, empty a 15-ounce carton of ricotta (or cottage!) cheese into a large mixing bowl. Add 4 ounces (about 1/2 cup) cream cheese and 1 cup shredded mozzarella.

Jamie helping stir.

If your arm tires, recruit a local superhero to finish the job for you.

Break an egg over the cheese and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon oregano, and 1 teaspoon salt (optional). Stir well.

By this time, the seafood should be cooled off. Add it to the cheese mixture and stir again. Set aside.

Prepared marinara.

Prepared marinara.

At this point, you want to both preheat your oven to 375 degrees AND bring a pot of water (with 1 tablespoon oil) to a rolling boil over HIGH heat.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, mix 1-1/2 cups prepared marinara sauce (any variety) with another 4 ounces cream cheese. Heat over LOW burner heat, stirring occasionally.

Once water is boiling, reduce heat and add 12-ounce package (about 14 pieces) manicotti tube pasta.


Don't have manicotti? Cut cooked lasagna noodles in half length-wise & roll them around filling mixture! (Technically, you're then making "cannelloni," but who's checking?)

Chef’s Note: If you’re shopping at a discount grocery store where manicotti pasta is unavailable, you can always buy regular lasagna noodles, cook them, cut them to half-length, and roll them around the filling mixture.

Now, technically, if you’re rolling the noodle around the filling, then it changes from being manicotti to being canneloni, but hey–if someone feels cocky enough to question your authenticity, I heartily recommend a third Italian phrase:

Bacio il mio culo!

Seafood & cheese mixture.

Seafood & cheese mixture.

Because you only want the pasta to cook to almost-al-dente, keep a close eye on the pot and don’t let it boil past seven or eight minutes at the most. Stir often to avoid tubes getting stuck together.

When pasta is ready, immediately drain hot water and replace with cold (faucet) water over the manicotti. Add another teaspoon of oil if necessary to prevent them sticking together.

Spray a 9″ x 13″ pan and give filling mixture a good quick stir. To make filling pre-formed manicotti tubes easy on yourself and avoid breaking/tearing cooked pasta, try this simple trick:

my manicotti trick

There's a trick to filling perfect manicotti. Here it is!

Take a gallon-sized freezer bag or a plastic icing-decorating bag and hold with one tip or point hanging straight down. Fold top edges of bag down around the hand that is holding it, and begin spooning filling mixture into the bag. Use scissors to trim the bottom “point” about 1″ to 1-1/2″ from tip (large enough to allow cheese AND seafood to pass easily through the opening), and twist the top opening of the bag shut over the cheese, creating a tube through which you can squeeze the filling.

filled manicotti

Go ahead. No one is looking. Wolf it.

Use a paper towel to pat-dry each piece of pasta right before filling it. Squeeze mixture into pasta, and begin placing filled tubes in two rows in sprayed casserole pan.

When all tubes are filled, top pasta with cream cheese marinara sauce and sprinkle with an additional 1 cup mozzarella.

creamy marinara

Creamy marinara just waiting to be drizzled...

Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake approximately 20 minutes, or until cheese topping is melted.

Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

Remove pan, uncover, and serve immediately. Refrigerate any leftovers–they reheat beautifully!

Cheap Recipe: Pan-Fried Alaskan Pollock in Browned Butter Sauce

2 Apr

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Pan-fried Alaskan Pollock
This sweet and savory dish is a snap to prepare on evenings when dinner doesn’t get started on time. What a lifesaver!

I got home the other evening to find that not only had I forgotten to plan anything for dinner, I also had nothing thawed.

My eyes eventually landed on two small pouches of fish, which I knew would thaw in just a few minutes in a water-filled sink.

Alaskan Pollock (raw)

Thawing pollock fillets.

While the fish defrosted, I whipped up a tangy little marinade from this-and-that.

melted butter

Melted butter.

Hoping just to come out with something edible and with no greater expectations, imagine my surprise when Hubby gave it a four-star rating and asked when we could have it again! I have to admit, too, it was pretty dang good.

Note: The only FIVE-star rating Hubby’s ever given is for my homemade meatloaf (here are some links to printer-friendly versions of my Original Recipe & the absolutely divine Cheese-Stuffed Variation Recipe). Hubby says if that is a five, then the best

minced garlic

Minced garlic...



any other food in the world can ever hope to be is “almost as good as Grace’s meatloaf” (a.k.a., four stars). 🙂 Aww, shucks.

 Begin by thawing (4) 2-ounce boneless pollock (or cod/haddock) fillets. They can thaw very quickly in the sink under a small stream of running water, or in sealed packages in a large bowl of water, refreshed every few minutes.

fresh parsley

A bit of fresh parsley is lovely, but expendable.

Warm a skillet over MEDIUM burner heat. In a small bowl or spouted cup, melt about 2-3 Tbsp. butter/margarine.

Fry 4-5 minutes per side

Fry at least 4-5 minutes per side.

To the liquid butter, add 1 teaspoon minced garlic pieces and 1 teaspoon dried dillweed. Mix well. Stir in 1 tablespoon steak sauce (my heart belongs to Country Bob’s All-Purpose Sauce–click here to get a manufacturer’s coupon for a free bottle!) and if, desired, about 1 teaspoon shredded fresh parsley.

When fish is skillet-ready, pour butter mixture into pan first, immediately followed by fish. (Careful–any higher than MEDIUM heat and you’re liable to get popped at by grease!)

Keep spooning marinade from pan back on top of the fish.

Allow fish pieces to brown for 4-5 minutes per side, or until outside is brown and carmelized and inside flakes easily.

Chef’s Note: Salad tongs work best for flipping the small-sized fillets without tearing them apart prematurely.

Cheap Recipe: Sweet Onion Spanish Paella

31 Mar

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Spanish Paella

This particular version of the Valencian dish is known as "paella mixta" (meaning "mixed paella), indicating that both meat and seafood are used.

This is a great dish when you’re not certain how many are coming to dinner in advance, because it’s super easy to stretch both of the recipe’s protein sources without anyone being the wiser!

In your face, Hamburger Helper!

I know, this may sound a bit dodgy at first, but if you look at it another way, you’ll still be getting more protein (and fiber!) than you would by feeding your family Hamburger Helper, which loses a lot of meat bulk when it’s browned/drained.

(And there’s no disgusting fluorescent-orange-colored powdered cheese packet involved in MY recipe! Take that, stupid-white-glove-with-no-middle-finger! Ha!)

chopped ingredients

Chopped veggies and sausage.

Begin by chopping about six green onions, one whole Vidalia onion and half of a green bell pepper into fine pieces. Next, dice about a cup of fresh tomatoes (I halved some leftover cherry tomatoes), or drain a 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes.

 Grease a large, deep skillet with about 2 tablespoons butter/margarine and set over MEDIUM HIGH burner heat. While skillet is warming, prepare your meat. You will need one long smoked sausage (about 7 ounces) and half a pound of thawed, cooked cocktail shrimp.

Let sausage begin to brown.

(If using raw shrimp instead, make sure heads/shells/tails are removed and add shrimp a few minutes earlier than described below.)

The original recipe serves about four, but you can double the other ingredients to stretch the protein by cutting the sausage into thinner pieces and slicing the shrimp in half lengthwise. (The shrimp will only look flat on one side until they start cooking–then the other side will “plump” a bit and no one but the cook will know your dirty little sercret!–Thanks to Dawn Welch over at the Rock Cafe/Dollars-2-Donuts for that great cookbook tip!)

♥ Chef’s Note: If you are feeding a herd, you can use the whole 14-oz package of sausage and a pound-bag of shrimp, tripling or quadrupling the other ingredients. You can also add a can of beans to the skillet without compromising any authenticity. Otherwise, freeze those “assets” for another whole meal!

Stir in rice.

Stir in rice.

Toss onions, green pepper, tomatoes and sausage in the buttered skillet. Sprinkle with garlic powder to taste. Add three boullion cubes (any flavor), 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 tablespoon hot sauce (either Tobasco or Louisiana-style).

The brown sugar will help to marry the flavors of the Tobasco with the turmeric (see next stage). Avoid salting until sausage has had time to brown, as the boullion cubes will release a substantial amount of sodium as they cook down.

Add water.

Add water and reduce heat.

When sausage is slightly browned, reduce heat to MEDIUM and add 1 cup dry white rice to the skillet. Stir fry dry rice in the mixture until grains begin to darken, moving often with spoon to prevent sticking. If desired, you can add saffron or turmeric to taste. I used a scant teaspoon of ground turmeric (the much cheaper option).

Add shrimp last.

Hey, who're YOU callin' a shrimp???

Chef’s Note:

If you like to cook with saffron and are looking for ways to reduce the cost of the pricey threads (anywhere from $12-19 a bottle at a regular grocery store!), either try stretching a saffron rice pouch (usually around 50 cents) or consider going halfsies on a bottle with a neighbor or coworker.Finished paella.

Clean baby food jars make excellent spice storage for splitting/sharing expensive spices because baby food is not spiced, and metal jar lids will not have soaked up other strong odors before storing your spices. Also, they are ubiquitously available and a perfect size.

Once rice is coated, add 2-1/2 cups water to the mixture and stir well. Cover immediately. Simmer about 25 minutes, stirring often, until rice is mostly tender and excess liquid is absorbed. I like to err on the side of “saucy”; you can reduce water a little if you want a drier skillet. If necessary, add additional water or margarine to rice during cook time to tenderize the rice. When rice is almost done, add the cooked shrimp. Stir until shrimp is uniformly heated; remove from burner.

Garnish with tarragon or fresh parsley if desired. Sweet iced tea makes a lovely companion.

Cheap Recipe: Oven-Baked Cod with Potato Chip Batter

13 Nov

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

These homemade fish nuggets pack lots of flavor into small bites!

I caught a great sale on boneless cod this week at the store, so I decided to try my hand at homemade battered fish. Rather than deal with the mess of frying them, I decided to bake the nuggets instead. They came out crispy and wonderful!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a pan with aluminum foil and place a raised wire rack on the pan; set aside.


Try to chop fish as consistently as possible to ensure even baking.

Cut 3/4 lb. cod or haddock (thawed) into small nuggets. In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine 2 tbs. melted butter/margarine with 1 teaspoon lemon juice or malt


Two heaping handfuls of potato chips makes plenty of breading.


In a mixing bowl, crush about 2 handfuls potato chips, any variety, to make about 3/4 cup crumbs.

Add 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon dill weed and 1 teaspoon lemon pepper (optional). Mix all dry ingredients together.

Construct an “assembly line” by placing items in the following order from left to right: (1)


Liquid butter mixture.

raw fish chunks, (2) liquid butter mixture, (3) dry potato chip mixture, and (4) wire rack/baking sheet.


Cover buttered fish in crumb coating.

Begin dipping fish chunks first into butter mixture. Next, cover fish in dry batter coating and place in rows on the baking rack.

Continue battering with this method until all fish has been coated and prepared for oven. To avoid crumb coating becoming soggy in bowl, you can hold the fish over that bowl and sprinkle crumbs on


Place coated fish on wire rack for baking.

instead of rolling each piece in the batter.

Bake fish pieces for 15-20 minutes, or until coating begins to brown and the center of a sample fish nugget is flaky and opaque.


Finished nuggets will be flaky and well-browned.

Remove fish from oven and serve immediately with tartar sauce or ketchup.

Brown rice makes an excellent side dish, especially rice prepared with minced onion and soy sauce.

Cheap Recipe: Sea Scallops Parmesan with Angel Hair Pasta

15 Oct

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

A great alternative to scampi when scallops are cheaper than shrimp!

A great alternative to scampi when scallops are cheaper than shrimp!

Sorry I missed a couple of days’ posts this week; our little guy, Jamie, has been sick (just a virus going around, in the end) and was home from preschool Tuesday and Wednesday, so my attention was on him. He’s doing much better today, though, and even went back to preschool, so it’s good to be out of the woods on that one!

Meanwhile, I made this a while back but never got around to posting it–so here it is at long last!

This is a great quickie dish for those nights when pasta sounds good but you just don’t feel like having any more marinara sauce in your life.

Also, the freezer section of your grocery store may have some hidden surprises for you–I scored a giant bag of scallops (big enough for two different nights’ meals) for exactly $5.00 at Wal-Mart.

I’ve seen 1-lb. bags of bay scallops as low as $3.99 at ALDI, and Kroger is notorious for their buy one, get one free sales on scallops and

This $5.00 bag of scallops was large enough for two nights' meals!

This $5.00 bag of scallops was large enough for two nights' meals!

 other fish packages.

So, if you think you’re too thrifty to dine on fancy seafood, you might just not be looking in the right place at the right time!

Bring pasta water to a rolling boil.

Bring pasta water to a rolling boil.

Begin by filling a large pot with water. Add a teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon butter to water and bring to boil.

Once water has achieved rolling boil, add about 6-8 ounces (1/2 box) of angel hair/vermicelli pasta and cook to al dente texture.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons

 lemon juice in a small skillet over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add 1/2 lb. thawed, drained bay scallops to pan.

Skillet-fry scallops until all pieces are completely opaque.

Skillet-fry scallops until all pieces are completely opaque.

Sprinkle scallops with 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon black or red pepper. Add fresh or dried parsley if desired; salt to taste.

Stir contents of skillet until scallops are uniformly opaque and edges become golden. Add more butter if sauce begins to disappear.

Use butter and parmesan cheese to keep pasta from forming a solid mass!

Use butter and parmesan cheese to keep pasta from forming a solid mass!

Drain cooked pasta and stir in additional butter or oil if strands are sticking together. Toss pasta in pot with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese until evenly coated.

Scoop vermicelli into 2-3 large individual pasta bowls. Top with scallop mixture and serve immediately.

Such buttery little bites!

Such buttery little bites!

Cheap Recipe: Southern Grits with Sea Scallops (Ingredient Challenge Winner!)

5 Oct

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

These grits finally made a believer out of me...

These grits finally made a believer out of me...

We have a winner from the Ingredient Challenge Contest! Congrats to Emily, whose ingredient (grits) was drawn for my ingredient challenge! And, so the rest of you know, in the coming week or two I am going to attempt to post recipes for ALL of the contest ingredients suggested! So keep checking back for yours!

Actually, during the drawing, my brain was saying, “Please don’t be the grits, please don’t be the grits…” because I’ve never eaten grits I liked. So, of course, Jamie drew that out of the box.

I told Hubby, who is also a firm non-grit-eater, and he mentioned that the only time he ever enjoyed them in his life were in a New Orleans brunch recipe that involved shrimp. I’d heard of lobster grits as well, so I thought perhaps seafood might be the way to go in my recipe.

I didn’t have any shrimp on hand at the house, but I did have

Scallops were a perfect pair with Southern-style grits.

Scallops were a perfect pair with Southern-style grits.

 half a pound of scallops leftover from another recipe. I decided they would do the trick. After thinking up some good companion ingredients for my recipe, I came up with a dish that, in the end, was quite tasty and satisfying. It would lend itself perfectly to a lovely breakfast, although we actually had them for dinner Saturday night.

The chopped onions, celery and parsley will equal about 1/4 cup each.

The chopped onions, celery and parsley will equal about 1/4 cup each.

Begin by warming most of 2 cans of chicken broth (reserve 1/4 of one can) with 1 tablespoon butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cover and bring to boil.

Meanwhile, chop 1 celery rib, 3 green onions, and a small bunch of fresh parsley (about 1/4 cup) into very small pieces. Heat 3 tablespoons butter in skillet until melted. Add remaining 1/4 can chicken broth to skillet and bring to simmer.

Add chopped celery/onions/parsley to skillet and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and salt/pepper to taste. Saute until tender.

Saute chopped greens in the skillet for a couple of minutes.

Saute chopped greens in the skillet for a couple of minutes.

3/4 cup grits doesn't look like much dry, but it makes a LOT of cooked grits!

3/4 cup grits doesn't look like much dry, but it makes a LOT of cooked grits!

To boiling saucepan, add 3/4 cup grits; cover and reduce heat, stirring often. Simmer about 5 minutes. Add 4 ounces cream cheese and 2 tablespoons milk to grits and simmer an additional 5 minutes or until grits thicken and tenderize.

Add 1/2 lb. bay scallops to sauteed vegetable skillet; cook over medium high heat until scallops appear firm and well-cooked. Remove from heat.

Just before serving, add 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese to grits; stir well.

The scallops will turn a pinkish-tan when done.

The scallops will turn a pinkish-tan when done.

Cream cheese will thicken the texture of the grits.

Cream cheese will thicken the texture of the grits.

Divide grits into 2-3 bowls; spoon scallop sauce over each serving of grits. Serve immediately.

For other deviations on this flavor, I think it would be yummy to mix in creamed spinach or artichoke hearts or mushrooms with the scallop sauce. Mmmm…

Ever seen grits look this good before???

Ever seen grits look this good before???