Orange Butter Shrimp

Orange Butter Shrimp served over noodles

Today’s bargain find at the local Gulf Coast seafood market was unassuming, small Gulf shrimp. These little guys might not be the most exotic item at the market, but wow are they delicious! This simple preparation will have you dining on tasty shrimp in minutes. Enjoy!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 pound fresh shrimp, shelled and deveined

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons salted butter

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup sliced orange segments, sliced

Directions

Step 1) Sautee garlic in butter and olive oil over low-medium heat for one minute.

Step 2) Add shrimp and orange juice. Sautee for three minutes or until shrimp have turned pink (make sure there are no opaque sections on the shrimp remaining).

Step 3) Serve over noodles, spiralized zucchini, or lettuce. Garnish with sliced orange segments.

How easy was that?!

Simple Fish Head Stew

At a local Gulf Coast seafood market, I was able to procure the head of a red snapper for $1. It was big – around 1 1/2 pounds, and sizeable enough to almost fill the bottom of a stockpot – quite a deal for $1! To put that in perspective, if you would like a fresh red snapper head with the rest of the red snapper attached, well, that will set you back upward of $30. Red snapper is not an economical fish, so we’re getting creative to capture red snapper flavor without the red snapper cost!

To make fish head broth, just get yourself a fish head and drop it in the bottom of a stockpot. Ask your butcher or fishmonger for a fish head if you don’t see them… if a market sells fresh fish fillets, they must have had heads at some point, yes? Cover the fish head with 10 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Strain the liquid into a separate pot, and Voila! Now you have mild and delicious red snapper broth as a base for your fish head stew.

If you’d like to pick the meat off of the cooked fish head, go for it. I pulled a bit of meat off of each of the sides or “cheeks,” but that’s about it. Fully dissecting a large fish head is not for the faint of heart; if you’re a little squeamish, just strain your broth and discard the head entirely. No worries.

NOTE: This version of simple fish head stew is low-carb and keto friendly. If carbs are not an issue, consider adding 1 or 2 peeled, cubed raw potatoes and 1 cup of corn kernels along with your seafood in step 1. Either or both would make delicious additions to your stew!

Moving on, here’s what you’ll need to turn your fish head broth into a delicious fish head stew:

Ingredients (Makes a big pot)

10 cups fish head broth (see above)

2 chicken bouillon cubes

1 pound of seafood (I used tilapia fillets because they’re inexpensive; other ideas include raw peeled shrimp, canned minced clams, or small bay scallops – use about 1 pound total, in any combination.)

2 slices bacon, diced

1 cloves garlic, minced

1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1, 16oz bag “California blend” frozen vegetables, chopped small

1 cup firmly packed chopped spinach

1/2 cup half and half cream

Directions

Step 1) Bring strained fish head broth (see above) to a boil. Add seafood and bouillon cubes. Immediately reduce heat to low. Simmer over low heat, uncovered.

Step 2) While seafood is simmering in broth, fry diced bacon in a small skillet until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside; do not drain or clean the skillet!

Step 3) Add zucchini and garlic to the skillet with the bacon fat. Sautee for about 3 minutes, until you can smell the garlic and the zucchini peel turns bright green. Remove from heat and set aside.

Step 4) Check your seafood. If you are using tilapia fillets or bay scallops, they should be turning from an opaque color to white. If you are using shrimp, they should be turning pink. When the seafood appears almost cooked through (i.e., mostly white or mostly pink), add all of the vegetables to the pot. Continue simmering over low heat until the seafood is completely cooked, and any fish in your stew flakes easily.

Step 5) When the seafood is completely cooked, remove stew from heat and allow to cool for one minute. Then, add half and half cream.

Step 6) Ladle your fish head stew into bowls. If desired, ladle into bowls over a scoop of cooked white rice (optional). Garnish with crispy fried bacon and serve immediately!


Shrimp Alfredo Two Ways

Shrimp Alfredo is a really simple dish that tastes like you cooked all day. Rich alfredo sauce packs a caloric punch, but served over zucchini noodles it is low-carb and keto friendly. If you prefer an old school helping of pasta under your shrimp alfredo, well, that’s great too. We’re all friends here at Crowded Earth Kitchen.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 pound small fresh shrimp (41/50 per pound), peeled and tails removed

2/3 cup salted butter

1 clove garlic, minced

2/3 cup half and half

2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1 pound cooked pasta OR 4 small zucchini, spiralized

Directions

1) Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet. Add minced garlic and shrimp. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side, until shrimp are no longer pink.

2) Remove shrimp from skillet and set aside. DO NOT DRAIN THE SKILLET. There will be some liquid in the skillet, and that’s OK!

3) Add remaining butter and the half and half to the skillet. Once the butter is melted, add parmesan cheese. Whisk lightly but constantly over low-medium heat until the parmesan is fully melted and the sauce thickens. Please note: right before the sauce is done, it’s normal for the parmesan to look sort of clumpy and weird. You haven’t done anything wrong – just keep whisking.

4) Once the alfredo sauce is smooth, add the shrimp back to the skillet. Heat everything for 30 seconds or so, just to warm up the shrimp.

5) Serve shrimp alfredo over pasta or zucchini spirals. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Life is short. Eat good food!

Amberjack Tacos

Fresh Amberjack Tacos

Spicy and smoky, sweet and savory, these amberjack tacos are a gulf coast delight. Amberjack is a prized fish on gulf coast menus. Mild and meaty, amberjack to me seems like a cross between swordfish and tuna in the kitchen. In the wild, amberjack prefer warm ocean waters, and grow up to six feet long!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

8 flour tortillas

1 pound of fresh, filleted amberjack, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 tablespoons bacon fat

1 cup romaine lettuce, sliced fine

1 fresh tomato, diced

2 ripe avocados, diced

Juice from 1/2 orange

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

For the creamy sriracha sauce:

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup mayonaise

1 tablespoon sriracha (more if you like things spicier)

2 garlic cloves, minced

Directions

1) Blend together creamy sriracha sauce ingredients. Set in refrigerator.

2) Toss diced avocado gently in juice from 1/2 orange. Set aside.

3) Add bacon fat to skillet over medium high heat. Add cubed amberjack to skillet. Allow to cook for 2 minutes without disturbing. Then, use a tongs to turn the pieces of fish over and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove fish from skillet with a slotted spoon.

4) To assemble your amberjack tacos, first spread some of the creamy sriracha on each tortilla. Top with lettuce and avocado. Add 5 or 6 pieces of cubed amberjack. Garnish with diced tomato and a sprinkle of cheese.

Enjoy! Life is short. Eat good food.

Autumn Biscuit Pie

Autumn Biscuit Pie fresh from the oven!

This recipe is adapted from Tomato Imperative, which we discussed while making Sweet Tomato Figs. You’ll notice that the ingredients are flexible, allowing you to use this recipe as a backbone for creating something delicious out of whatever goodies your garden is offering up today! Let’s get started!

Ingredients (Serves 4 – 6)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, sliced into several pieces
1/2 cup milk
3 – 4 ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 cup other garden vegetables (optional) such as thin sliced root vegetables or freshly cut corn
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used mint)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used muenster and gouda; cheddar would also work well)
1/2 cup real mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon horseradish
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Directions

Step 1) Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter or two forks to work butter into the flour mixture until the butter resembles small crumbs. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time. Use your hands to work the mixture into a smooth biscuit dough.

Step 2) Press biscuit dough onto the bottom and slightly up the sides of a greased, 8 inch x 10 inch glass baking dish.

Step 3) Layer vegetables, fresh herbs, and half of the cheese over the biscuit dough.

Step 4) Combine mayonnaise, horseradish, and garlic. Gently spread mixture over the vegetables and cheese. It’s ok if ingredients move around a bit. 🙂

Step 5) Top with remaining cheese and Italian seasoning. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until both the cheese on the top and the crust on the bottom (this is why we use a glass pan!) is golden brown.

Step 6) Serve immediately. Be well, friends!

Deconstructed Pumpkin Stew

IMG_2306Rich, earthy stews with layers of warm and savory flavors are ubiquitous with autumn. This pumpkin stew makes good use of one of the most wonderful offerings of late season gardens… pie pumpkins. It’s so flavorful that omnivores won’t even notice how the dish is entirely vegan.

Deconstructing the stew, i.e. layering the stew over slices of roasted pumpkin instead of mixing the pumpkin into the pot of stew itself, is an awesome way to preserve the satisfying texture of freshly roasted pumpkin. Try this for your next Meatless Monday. Three cheers for autumn!

IMG_2303Ingredients (Serves 4 with leftovers)

1 pie pumpkin, 7 or 8 inches in diameter Continue reading

Five Minute Salsa Chicken

IMG_2228Do you have five minutes? Great – because that’s about how long you need to prepare this delicious Salsa Chicken! Two ingredients + one slow cooker = a delicious dinner that you can prep early and forget about for a few hours.

Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we Continue reading

Pineapple Chicken Fried Rice

IMG_2139For some reason, fried rice has always sounded complicated. It’s not. The trick is to cook the rice the day before and refrigerate it overnight. It is much easier to stir-fry cold, day old rice. Trust me on this, and dive into this delicious, Thai inspired treat!

IMG_2138Ingredients (Serves 4 with leftovers)

1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided

2 cups Jasmine rice, cooked to package instructions and refrigerated overnight

1 cup diced, fresh pineapple Continue reading

Easy Zucchini Boats

IMG_2135Delicious, very easy to prepare, and uses up a few famously prolific garden zucchini – what’s not to love about Zucchini Boats? Medium sized zucchini, 10 to 12 inches long and about 3 inches in diameter, work well for Zucchini Boats. If you happen to find a “baseball bat” sized zucchini lurking in your garden (it happens), you can use it in this recipe, just add a few minutes to the baking time.

IMG_2133Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 medium sized zucchini, halved lengthwise and seeds scooped out Continue reading

Chicken Noodle Spring Rolls

IMG_2131During the height of summer, fresh spring rolls are a refreshing afternoon lunch. Spring roll wrappers used to be tricky to find, but as Asian cuisines have increased in popularity throughout the US, these wrappers have become readily available in supermarkets and online. This recipe uses other easy to find ingredients as well. For the cooked chicken, either a can of chicken or part of a supermarket rotisserie chicken will work. For the noodles, feel free to experiment! I really enjoy Japanese sweet potato noodles, but a cooked package of instant ramen noodles will work just fine.  Have fun!

Ingredients (Makes 12 Spring Rolls)

IMG_212712 round spring roll wrappers (rice paper)

1 cup cooked chicken cut into small cubes

3 ounces cooked noodles cut into 2 inch pieces

1 cup shredded cabbage

1 large carrot, grated

1/2 cup crushed peanuts

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons chili vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon sugar

1 inch piece of ginger, finely grated

Directions

IMG_2126Step 1) In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the five sauce ingredients. Fold in chicken, noodles, cabbage, carrot, and peanuts.

Step 2) Place about 1 inch of water in a 12 inch skillet and bring to a simmer (not a boil) over medium heat.

Step 3) When water is hot but not boiling, place ONE spring roll wrapper in the water for 2 SECONDS (really… just two seconds). Use a spatula to gently remove the spring roll wrapper from the water and place it on a wood cutting board. Gently smooth out the wrapper; a few wrinkles are fine. If parts of the wrapper are still hard, you can dip the wrapper in water again for an extra second.

Step 4) Place 1/4 cup of filling in a small rectangle near the center of the wrapper.

WIN_20160502_170716Step 5) Fold the sides of the spring roll wrapper over the short sides of the rectangle of filling, as shown. Then, gently roll the spring roll from top to bottom, sealing the filling inside of the spring roll. The wrapper will stick to itself and form a nice seal.

Step 6) That’s it! Repeat steps 3 – 5 until you run out of filling.

Spring rolls are a FRESH food and are best enjoyed within a few hours of rolling (store in the refrigerator if not enjoying immediately). Try dipping your spring rolls in soy sauce, plum sauce, or peanut satay sauce – delicious! Spring rolls are inherently low in fat and are gluten free. You could also omit the chicken and add some shredded greens for your vegan friends. Have fun!

Korean Bibimbap

Bibimbap

Korean Bibimbap is a surefire crowd pleaser. The combination of white rice, vegetables, marinated beef, chili pepper paste, and egg is hearty, delicious, and can be tailored to the palate of each of your dinner companions. Love all the veggies and knock-your-socks-off spice? Great! Prefer your food mild and hold the greens? That’s fine, too! Let everyone prepare their own bowl, and everyone will be happy. Let’s get started!

Ingredients (Serves 6)* Continue reading

Tsukemen (Japanese Dipping Noodles)

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Who says you can’t play with your food? Tsukemen is not only delicious for adventurous diners, it’s a guaranteed kid pleaser and appropriate for serving to finicky friends. If you enjoy sampling dishes from around the world but are also cooking for reluctant diners, Tsukemen is a must-try.

Tsumemen is basically Continue reading

Potato Leek Soup

S1Hearty potatoes, earthy leeks, rich butter, and savory broth combine perfectly in this recipe to offer a lush, warm autumn meal. You’ll be impressed with how simple this soup is to prepare, leaving you plenty of time for carving pumpkins, jumping in piles of leaves, or enjoying an evening fire.

S4

These leeks from my garden are about 1 inch in diameter, but leeks can easily grow to 2 inches in diameter.

If you haven’t cooked with leeks Continue reading

Chickpea Stew

S1Today’s recipe is an autumn favorite here at Crowded Earth Kitchen. Simple and hearty, Chickpea Stew combines everyday ingredients to capture flavors reminiscent of West African dishes. Chickpea Stew may be served over rice, couscous, or simply enjoyed on its own!  Continue reading

Ratatouille

R2If you search online for “Ratatouille,” you’ll find some pretty fancypants recipes. They look lovely. The thing is, traditional Ratatouille really isn’t fancy. For hundreds of years, Ratatouille was understood to be a vegetable-based French country stew, made from whatever the cook’s garden happened to offer up for harvest that day. In that spirit, today’s Ratatouille recipe is both flexible and delicious! Save the silver and china for another dinner.  😉 Continue reading