Stuffies

Stuffies-Stuffie-on-plate

recipe courtesy of Joyce Levesque

My husband, Mark, and our son, Bobby, are fans of the New England Patriots.  With football season just underway, I would like to pay homage to the reigning champions by preparing one of Mark’s favorite dishes from home.  A Rhode Island favorite, Stuffies are stuffed Quahog shells.  For all you folks out there who are not from New England; a quahog is a big clam, and until I met Mark, I had never heard of them either.  There are tons of Stuffie recipes out there, and they all vary just a bit, so we are going to use my Mother-in-law’s recipe.

To make a Stuffie, you remove the clam meat from the shell and chop it up.  You then scrub the clam shells (or buy the disposable ones),  and place the Stuffie mixture on the clam shell and bake it in the oven.  However, we live in land-locked Ohio, so we are using canned clams and baking our Stuffies in ramekins.

Once you get the mixture put together, you can either bake it all, or freeze what you don’t need for a later date.  If you plan on freezing some for later; spray the ramekins with Pam, scoop the Stuffie mixture into the ramekins and allow the mixture to freeze in the ramekin.  Once frozen, you can remove the Stuffie mixture and place it in a freezer bag for long-term storage.  Then when you get the urge for a Stuffie, all you have to do is take one (or two) out of the freezer and pop it into a greased ramekin to bake.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

1/4 cup onion, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons dried parsley

red pepper flakes, to taste

1 Tablespoon paprika

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter

juice from clams, diluted with water if too salty or bitter- use bottled clam juice if not using fresh clams ( I used 1-8 oz. bottle clam juice, plus the juice from the 3 cans of clams)

1 1/2 cups clams, chopped (I used 3-6 oz. cans of chopped, not minced, clams)

1 loaf stale Italian bread, with crust peeled off

pepper

paprika, for garnish

fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Stuffies-Italian-bread

Italian Bread

Stuffies-naked-Italian-bread

Naked Italian Bread

Directions

1. In a large skillet, melt the butter.  Saute onion, garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes, and paprika just until hot and bubbly.  Do not brown the onions and garlic.

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2. Add juice to the pan, bring to a boil, add clams and turn off the heat.

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3. Tear bread into small pieces and place in a large bowl.  Pour clam mixture over the bread.  Combine the bread and liquid until the bread is soaked and the mixture is somewhat loose.  At this point the mixture can be frozen for use at a later time.

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4. Spray ramekins or clam shells with Pam.  Mound Stuffie mixture in prepared ramekin, or on prepared clam shell.  Sprinkle lightly with paprika.

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5. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.  It will be slightly crispy on top, moist inside.  Garnish with fresh parsley.

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Cioppino

Cioppino-in-bowl

Recipe adapted from Cioppino by Star Pooley, courtesy of allrecipes.com

Cioppino is a seafood stew cooked with tomatoes, wine and herbs.  Even if you are not a seafood fan, the broth from this dish is to die for.  If you prefer, you can substitute cubed chicken and sliced smoked sausage for the seafood, and water for the clam juice.  Serve a crisp salad and crunchy bread and you will have an excellent meal.

This fish stew is very flexible, but make sure that you use at least four kinds of seafood so that the dish has a nice variety and looks appetizing, more than four would be even better.  Enjoy!

Cioppino-ingredients

Ingredients

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped fine

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 a bunch fresh parsley, chopped (or snipped with shears) I used dried parsley, but the fresh would be better

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 teaspoons basil

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/3 cup clam juice

3/4 cup white wine

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deviened (I used fresh, but frozen would work just as well)

1 pound bay scallops

10 small clams

10 mussels, cleaned and debearded (didn’t have them at the store)

1 cup crabmeat (I didn’t add this, but I will next time because crab adds a richness to the flavor)

1 pound cod filets, cubed

Cioppino-seafood

Directions

1. Pour olive oil into a large stockpot, heat to medium-high.  Add onions, garlic and fresh parsley.  Lower temperature and slowly cook until onions are soft (if you are using dried parsley, add it in with the other dried herbs and not here).

2. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, bay leaf, basil, thyme, oregano, (parsley), clam juice and wine.  Mix well, cover and simmer for 30 minutes-one hour.

Cioppino-in-pot

3. Place clams in pot, bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for about 5-7 minutes, or until clams are open.  Add other seafood, cover and let simmer for a few minutes while the rest of the seafood cooks.  Don’t overcook the scallops and shrimp.  Ladle into a bowl and serve with a crusty bread to sop up all the wonderful broth.

 

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This is the souvenir that I made from what Mark and I brought back from Florida; a gallon-sized ziploc bag full of sand from St. Pete’s beach and a smaller bag full of shells from Tampa Bay.  My friend Carol assured me that I needed to wash the sand and scrub the shells or else after a while they would take on a funk.  Because this is on the dining room table, I wanted to make sure it was extra clean.

I rinsed the sand about 40 times (not really, but seriously about 25 times).  I lined a rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil and poured the wet sand on it.  I baked the sand at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes, then I turned off the oven and left the sand inside until it had completely cooled.  Meanwhile, I put the shells in a sink of hot, soapy water and let them soak for about an hour.  I scrubbed them with an old toothbrush, then put them all in a sink of bleach water for about 10 minutes before I set them on paper towels to drain.  If any critters survived through that treatment, I would be surprised.  Hopefully, this will ward off the dreaded funky smell.

Jalapeno Crab Cakes with Hot Raspberry Sauce

Jalapeno-Crab-Cakes-with-Hot-Raspberry-Sauce-on-plate

Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Levesque

When Mark and I were in Florida celebrating our anniversary, we went out to a nice seafood restaurant one night and had these as an appetizer.  They were fabulous and I asked the waitress to please ask the cook to give me the recipe or at least a few hints as to the ingredients.  They turned me down flat and so I had to come up with this one on my own.  I typed in Crab Cakes on the computer and found tons of workable recipes.  After reading through about 50 of them, I was able to get the gist of how to make a crab cake.

I had to ride a fine line because I wanted them to be mostly crab (like the ones we had in Florida), but still hold together throughout the cooking process, with a minimum of binding and filler ingredients.  All of the recipes called for some sort of bread crumbs, or even torn bread.  I chose to use Panko bread crumbs because they are light and crispy.  Quite a few of the recipes suggested that you chill them before cooking because it helps them stay intact while they cook.  I chilled these for about 25 minutes before cooking and I only had a few pieces come off during the frying.  I used Mezzetta TAMED jalapenos and my crab cakes were just the right amount of spicy.  Enjoy!

Jalapeno-Crab-Cakes-with-Hot-Raspberry-Sauce-ingredients

Crab Cake Ingredients

1 pound cooked crabmeat, try to leave it intact as possible

2 heaping Tablespoons Miracle Whip (this is the minimum-you can use more if you like to ensure that the cakes are moist)

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 green onion, thinly sliced

about 4 sprigs of fresh parsley, snipped

2 Tablespoons diced “tame” jalapenos

1 teaspoon thyme

3 good shots of Green Tabasco

old bay seasoning (to taste)

Panko bread crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs), I used half of a small box

 

Crab Cake Directions

1. Pour Panko bread crumbs on a dinner plate and set aside.  You will use this to coat the crab cakes.

Jalapeno-Crab-Cakes-with-Hot-Raspberry-Sauce-mixture-in-bowl

2. Place all ingredients except Panko in a bowl and gently mix together with a rubber spatula, keeping the crab as intact as possible.  Add a generous handful of Panko flakes to the bowl and mix it in.

Jalapeno-Crab-Cakes-with-Hot-Raspberry-Sauce-mixture-in-measuring-cup

3. Make the cakes using a 1/3 cup measure as a guide.  Take the mixture out of the measuring cup, pat together with your hands, then roll and press on the plate filled with Panko crumbs until the crab cakes are nicely coated.  Place coated cake on a plate.  You should have about 6 nice crab cakes.

Jalapeno-Crab-Cakes-with-Hot-Raspberry-Sauce-raw-crab-cakes

4. Refrigerate the cakes for about 25-35 minutes.

5. While waiting for the cakes to chill, make the hot raspberry sauce (recipe to follow).

Jalapeno-Crab-Cakes-with-Hot-Raspberry-Sauce-in-frying-pan

6. Heat a skillet to medium high and melt about 2 Tablespoons butter (or you can use butter flavored Pam).  Add crab cakes and cook for 4 minutes on each side.  They should be golden and crispy outside with a tender, moist interior.  Serve drizzled with hot raspberry sauce.

 

Jalapeno-Crab-Cakes-with-Hot-Raspberry-Sauce-crab-legs

Hot Raspberry Sauce Ingredients

about 6 ounces seedless raspberry preserves

about 10 whacks on the Red Tabasco bottle, optional

2 big pinches dried red pepper flakes

water

Hot Raspberry Sauce Directions

1. Heat preserves in a small saucepan over low heat until very liquid.  Add Tabasco and red pepper flakes.  Cook on low for about 5 minutes. Taste it and add more preserves if it is too spicy, or more pepper flakes if it is not spicy enough.  The taste you are going for is sweet and rich with a little zing and warmth.  It should not be so spicy as to completely mask the rich taste of the raspberries.

2. Once you get the sauce flavored to your liking, add water to thin it down to a nice drizzling consistency and heat through for a few minutes.

3. Strain sauce to remove pepper flakes.  Use sauce to drizzle on the plates and on the crab cakes in an appetizing design.  This is enough sauce for 2 batches of crab cakes.

Jalapeno-Crab-Cakes-with-Hot-Raspberry-Sauce-summer-fruit

Dessert Buffet

Cajun Shrimp with Cheese Grits

Cajun-Shrimp-with-Cheese-Grits-in-a-bowl

Recipe adapted from Shrimp and Grits by Martha Nesbit, Bobby Flay and The Food Network

For our 25th wedding anniversary, Mark and I went to Tampa Bay, Florida for one week. We timed our trip to coincide with the Boston Red Sox coming to town to play the Tampa Bay Rays.  Our seats at Tropicana Field were in the Whitney Bank Club, Tampa Bay’s luxury seats.  It was our first experience with such splendor at a ballpark, and we loved it!  You had the option of watching the game from the stands (sitting on a black leather seat cushion) or sitting in a huge leather club chair in the lounge, surrounded by flat screen t. v. s that broadcasted the game.

All-you-could-eat-or-drink was included with the price of the ticket.  The food was served by chefs, varied, and delicious; everything from nachos, hot dogs and sloppy Joes to prime rib and pork loin.  There was a coffee and dessert bar, and salads galore.  One of the appetizers they served was Cajun Shrimp with Cheese Grits.  Mark had never had grits before, but he wolfed them down like he had been eating them his whole life. I wanted to make this dish for Mark when we returned home, so I went in search of a similar recipe.  Bobby Flay’s version really pumps up the flavor.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients 

4 cups water

salt and pepper

1 cup grits ( I used instant grits, but either kind will work)

3 Tablespoons butter

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese

1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined

6 slices bacon, chopped

4 teaspoons lemon juice

2 Tablespoons chopped parsley

1 cup sliced green onions

2 cloves garlic, minced

Zatarain’s Creole seasoning, to taste

Cajun-Shrimp-with-Cheese-Grits-herbs-lemon-and-garlic

Directions

1. Bring water to boil, add salt and pepper.  Stir in grits, cook 5 minutes for instant grits and 20-25 minutes for regular grits.

2.  Remove from heat, stir in butter and cheese.  Mix well and cover to keep hot until shrimp is done.

3.Rinse shrimp and pat dry.  Fry the bacon in a large skillet until browned; remove bacon and place on paper towels to drain.

Cajun-Shrimp-with-Cheese-Grits-raw-shrimp

4. Add shrimp to grease, cook on low until the shrimp turns pink.

5. Add lemon juice, chopped bacon, parsley, green onions, garlic and Creole Seasoning.  Saute for 3 minutes.

6. Spoon grits into serving bowl, add shrimp mixture and serve immediately.

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Honor Guard

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Before the Ballgame

 

Jason-Varitek-at-catcher

My favorite player on the Red Sox was their catcher, #33 Jason Varitek.

Jason-Varitek-at-bat

Tuna and White Bean Salad

Tuna-and-White-Bean-Salad-salad-with-bread

Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

It takes about five minutes to put this salad together and it does taste really yummy.  The tuna, beans and bread make it a very filling meal, while the lemon juice, garlic, tomatoes, and parsley are so nice and fresh tasting.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

12 oz. tuna, packed in water

15.5 oz can Cannellini beans, drained

1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half

salt and pepper

2 Tablespoons capers

3 cloves raw garlic, minced

3 Tablespoons olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

about 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 slices thick bread, toasted

Tuna-and-White-Bean-Salad-grape-tomatoes

Directions

1. In a large bowl, combine tuna, beans, tomato halves, salt and pepper, capers, and garlic.  Stir gently to mix, being careful to leave tuna in large clumps.

2. Pour olive oil and lemon juice over salad.  Combine gently to moisten salad,  add fresh parsley and mix.

3. Serve salad with thick chunks of toasted bread.

Roasted Shrimp Scampi

Roasted-Shrimp-Scampi-served-on-pasta

Recipe adapted from Roasted Shrimp Scampi

courtesy of Woman’s Day Magazine, October 2012

Hearst Communications, Inc.

Mark likes shrimp, and he’ll eat it cooked just about any way possible.  I usually make shrimp scampi in a big skillet on top of the stove, that is until I found this recipe.  This shrimp scampi dish is so easy to make, and Mark likes it better than the way I used to make it, so it’s a win-win.

The actual recipe uses sweet cherry peppers, but I never seem to have any on hand when I want to make this dish.  As a matter of fact, every time I have made it has been different because I just use whatever we have that I think will work with shrimp.  Tonight’s version had halved grape tomatoes and chopped green bell peppers.  Last time I used chopped orange bell peppers and zucchini.  As long as there is shrimp in the dish, I don’t really think that Mark could care less about the rest of it.  So I just go in the kitchen and experiment.  If you do not have wine, you can substitute chicken broth (I like the wine better), but whatever you do, don’t skimp on the garlic.  Six cloves of garlic may sound like a lot,  but the garlic is really what makes the dish taste so delicious.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

8 ounces linguine
1 1/2 pounds large peeled and deveined shrimp
2 Tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parley, roughly chopped
1/2 cup small sweet red cherry peppers, quartered (I used red bell peppers and cherry tomatoes)
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper

Directions

Roasted-Shrimp-Scampi-ingredients-in-pan

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.

 

Roasted-Shrimp-Scampi-mixed-before-cooking

2. In a large baking dish, combine shrimp, oil, garlic, parsley, peppers, salt, and pepper.

 

Roasted-Shrimp-Scampi-cooked

3. Roast until the shrimp are opaque, about 12-15 minutes.

 

Roasted-Shrimp-Scampi-served-on-pasta1

4. To serve, place pasta on the plate or serving dish and pour the roasted shrimp scampi on top.

Clam Chowder

 Clam-Chowder-bowl-of-chowda

Recipe adapted from My Best Clam Chowder by

Pioneer Girl @ All Recipes.com

Ingredients

3-6.5 ounce cans chopped clams

1 cup minced onion

1 cup diced celery

6 strips bacon

2 cups cubed potatoes

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup flour

1 quart half & half

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

ground black pepper, to taste

 

Directions

Clam-Chowder-bacon

1. Cook bacon until crispy. Remove from grease and allow to drain on paper towels.

Clam-Chowder-add-the-veggies-to-bacon-fat

2. Place onions, potatoes, and celery in bacon fat.

Clam-Chowder-add-the-clam-juice

3. Add enough clam juice to cover veggies (I used 3 bottles), and cook on medium  high heat until tender, about 15 minutes or so.

Clam-Chowder-add-the-clams

4. In a large, deep skillet melt butter over a medium heat and add flour. Stir constantly so that it does not stick or burn, for about 5 minutes. It will eventually turn a light brown. This roux will form the base for your chowder.  Slowly whisk in the half & half, breaking up the clumps of flour and butter. Continue to whisk until it is smooth and thick. Add the clam juice and vegetable mixture and cook until heated, being careful not to boil the chowder. Add clams a few minutes before serving. If the clams cook too long, they will become tough, so just add them at the end.  Stir in vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.

Clam-Chowder-pot-of-chowda

Serve with clam cakes, or a crusty baguette, and a nice green salad.  I made this chowdah, as my husband Mark’s New England family would say, in honor of our favorite baseball team, the Boston Red Sox.  Opening Day is almost here…Go Sox!  Enjoy!