Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sea Food and Eat It!

As you all know. I am here is sunny Florida and there is nothing better than fresh local seafood. Shrimp happens to be one of my favorite foods. Right next to scallops, lobster, crab, and just about anything else you find in the ocean. Other than jelly fish. Oh, by the way, there are jelly fish everywhere! People are playing with them, petting them, stacking them up, stabbing them with sticks. It is really disgusting. I know there are even kids trying to convince their parents to let them bring one home as a pet. I remember thinking that this made sense as a kid too. For me, I am completely grossed out. I mean seriously nasty! My sister had a brilliant idea yesterday to use them for breast implants. Just throw a little jelly fish in your bra and you are set to go. Instant implant. At least my sister thought that was a good idea and it would look and feel like a real breast, all giggly and soft. Not sure it would really work, but I commend her creativity. She really is the brilliant one out of the two of us.

We have spent the week laughing in the sunshine, drinking really good wine, and cooking really good dinners. There was a great seafood market right across the street that my aunt fell in love with and she secured all of our fresh shrimp the night we made our traditional Shrimp Boil with Baked Potatoes and salad. This is another extremely easy recipe and a tradition of ours each year when we spring break in Florida. It is healthy, clean, and really fun. I got to peel my own shrimp as the delicious juices ran down my arms while I was sitting on the floor in front of the television with my dad.

Yeah, I finally relented and joined the club. I realized that every dinner doesn't have to be spent around the table as long as we are all happy and enjoying a healthy meal together. It doesn't matter where it happens. If you can't beat them, join 'em. So I did! The shrimp was perfect served with a simple baked potato and a spinach salad. The great thing about this is you can use frozen shrimp, scallops, muscles, or whatever you like best and the cooking technique works the same and is sure to please.

The next night staying true to our seafood surroundings, we decided to make the Italian fish stew called Cioppino. It is similar to a bouillabaisse, but having made both, I think the Cioppino is far easier and just as delicious. We bought some crusty sourdough bread to serve with it and made some olive oil herbed dipping sauce and another green salad. In case you haven't picked it up we are salad freaks! We love salad with artichoke hearts, radishes, tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, red onion, you name it! A salad doesn't have to be boring. I usually don't make two salads alike. I try to add fresh ingredients that I have on hand and have been known to add fruit and nuts for fun too. Salads are only confined by the limits of your imagination.

And this fish stew brought everyone back to the table where we remained the rest of the vacation. Good food, better people, and lots of wine. What could possibly be better than that?

My aunt has recently gotten into growing her own yeast to make sourdough bread and has turned us on to it and this may be a new experiment in my future. The seafood here is so fresh it practically tastes like it jumped from the ocean to our plates. However, you can substitute fresh fish that you have at your local market or even frozen and it will still turn out delicious and healthy.

Between the sunshine, fresh salty air, delicious seafood, and the best company, I am feeling like I am back on track. I have been swimming, walking, and cooking again and I feel great. I hope you will share these healthy seafood recipes with your family this spring and get out in the sunshine and soak up a little vitamin D with me!

Bon Appetite!

Shrimp Boil

4 lb. shrimp
1 package Old Bay Shrimp Boil Seasonings
1 lemon; quartered
Pinch of salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil with the seasoning packet, lemon, and salt.  Once a rapid bubble is reached, add the shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. The shrimp should be pink. It is that easy folks. Pretty much.

Cioppino

For Broth:

2 medium white onions, diced
4 cloves garlic; minced
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 cans stewed tomatoes (16 oz)
1 can fish stock (16 oz)
1 can lobster stock (16 oz)
2 bay leafs
3 tbsp. Italian Seasoning
2 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. pepper
2 sprigs fresh rosemary; chopped
1 cup fresh vermouth
1 cup parsley; chopped
1/4 cup dry
1 1/2 cup dry white wine

For Stew:

1 lb. uncooked shrimp
1 lb. bay scallops
15 clams; scrubbed
15 muscles; scrubbed
8 oz. jumbo lump crabmeat

Saute the onion, garlic, and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until the onions become transluscent. Transfer to a large cooking pot and add the additional ingredients. Cook all of the above ingredients on low heat for 1 hour to allow the flavors to really pop together.

When you are a few minutes from serving add the seafood. make sure the muscles and clams are scrubbed clean of the grit before you add them. I just soaked them in cold water and scrubbed the shells with my fingers. The seafood will cook in 5-7 minutes. The stew is done when the shrimp is pink and the clams and muscles have popped open.

We served this Italian seafood stew in bowls topped with freshly grated parmesean cheese alongside some crusty bread. I also made a great olive oil dipping sauce and a fresh green salad. It was the perfect end to a wonderful day on the beach!

Olive Oil Dipping sauce

4 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup parmesean cheese
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. italian seasoning
1 spring fresh rosemary; minced

In a large boil, pour the olive oil in and top with the remaining ingredients. Serve on the table with fresh crusty bread alongside to dip in this delicious and healthy olive oil.

Mental Health Travel Tip: One of my favorite things about Destin, Florida besides hanging out with my fantastic family, is getting the opportunity to cook. One of the largest expences of travel is eating out. Not only is it not cost effective it is often calorie soaked and dripping with sodium. Like I said before, it can be terrible on your wallet and wasteline. Renting a condo with a full kitchen is one of the smartest things we do as a family. We get to cook together, eat healthy meals together, and share laughter in the privacy of our own intimate space. My tip however, is whoever cooks should let someone else do the dishes. This night my aunt volunteered and I am forever greatful! The great thing about sharing a kitchen is sharing the responsibilities! Everyone has a role and everyone gets involved that way. As a kid, my sister and I were always in charge of doing the dishes and putting away leftovers starting at a really young age. We also used to set the table too. I would like to think that it has helped me be a well rounded grown up (well I guess sort of oval if you want me to be honest!) So share responsibilities and meals as friends and family!

Here's to sharing a meal and cooking with your family!

~ "Too Lovely" Hot Messes from the beach

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oval? Hourglass; a sassy hourglass! -your wife

Hot Mess Cooking said...

Thanks honey! I miss you! I'm writing about dinner with you and Jon when he called me a Wack Job. He wasn't that far off! :)