Shrimp with Spicy Garlic SauceIf I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – we eat our fair share of shrimp in this house. In season, they’re cheaper than chicken – so how can you argue with that? I saw this recipe on Pinterest a few months ago, but always passed over it when making my menu plan for the week. Then Tracey posted it, bringing it to myΒ fore thoughts, and I immediately added it to our menu.

I figured it would be super spicy – but it wasn’t, it was just right. We loved it, and so did the boys. I wasn’t sure they’d be able to eat it, but they eat what we eat, and it wasn’t their first time being introduced to something with a little bit of heat. The original recipe calls for chili sauce, which is like Sriracha. But, I used chili paste in a jar – which is like a chunky version of the infamous rooster bottle. I liked the little pieces of chili in the sauce, but Sriracha would work just fine as well.

We will definitely be making this one again, and again. Might throw some veggies in with the shrimp next time around – maybe some snow peas, perhaps? The sauce was so good, I’m looking forward to trying it with other proteins in the future as well. Take heed, and don’t pass this one over for months like I did!

Easy Steamed ShrimpI’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I’m so fortunate to live here on the beautiful Eastern Shore, with the abundance of fresh seafood and wonderful produce available all throughout the year. Whether it’s buying crabs right off the boats in Crisfield in the summer, buying bushels of oysters from the Chincoteague Bay in December, or getting up early to do some rockfishing with Dad in the fall – it’s the environment that I’ve been raised in, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. I’m so thankful to call this place home, and have the opportunity to raise my family here.

That being said, I’m very excited to announce that tomorrow I’ll (along with Jon) be heading to Charleston, SC to compete as a finalist in the Avalon Great Foods Of America Recipe Challenge at the Charleston Food & Wine Festival. It’s such an incredible honor to represent my great state of Maryland, and I can’t thank Avalon Winery enough for sponsoring it. For this foodie who also happens to be a history buff, visiting Charleston is pretty much a dream come true. I’ve got a couple restaurants lined up that I have to visit, and the old tree on John’s Island is on my list too. Any other must-do’s in that wonderful city? It’s going to be our first time visiting, but I’m fairly certain it won’t be our last!

Ok, so enough about me. Let’s talk about these shrimp! My favorite fish monger closes for a couple months after Christmas, but thankfully – he just reopened on Valentine’s Day! Ray has been a waterman for as long as I can remember.Β  He’s also had his restaurant, Ray’s Shanty for about as long as I can remember too. It’s the place to go for fresh fish, THE BEST hushpuppies known to man, and gorgeous fresh shrimp. There’s a seafood market on the side of the restaurant too – gorgeous scallops, heads-on shrimp, and various filets of fish; most of which Ray has caught himself on his charter boat. Ray taught my mom his way to cook shrimp over 20 years ago, and it can’t get any easier. While technically, they aren’t steamed – they are always perfect, and you’ll never have an overcooked shrimp again. They’re great to season with lots of Old Bay and eat as is, peel and serve in a martini glass for a fancy shrimp cocktail, or chill down and make shrimp salad with.

Cajun Shrimp Pasta

Shrimp. Pasta. Spicy cream sauce. What’s not to love here? This Cajun chicken pasta has long been one of our weeknight favorites. Comes together so quickly and easily, it’s a dish I know I can always turn to on those nights where I want something good and comforting – but I don’t feel like putting that much effort into dinner.

So, it was only a matter of time before I swapped out chicken for other proteins. Like, shrimp. All truths being told, I think I love this dish with shrimp, even more than the chicken. Think shrimp alfredo, but kicked up with the addition of cayenne pepper, sliced bell peppers, and onions that have been sauteed for a bit of a crunch amidst the tender pasta. Rich and decadent, with a bit of heat – it would be a perfect dinner for Fat Tuesday. Or, for Valentine’s Day for that matter. Dinner is ready in under 30 minutes, leaving you plenty of time to do “other” things with your Valentine πŸ™‚

Every day, I thank the sweet Heavens for this place I call home. Within a 20 minute drive I can procure some of the freshest seafood imaginable. Shrimp, crabs, fish, oysters, clams – even lobsters. And, I don’t go to some fancy supermarket to get them. Most of places I go to buy my seafood are little run-down shacks, ran by the waterman themselves.

Seaside Lobsters in Atlantic, VA is one of those places. They’re only open a few afternoons a week, but there’s nothing like having Jon stop on his way home from work to pick up a couple of big lobsters to have for dinner, for around $25. They run about $8 a pound, which is unbelievably reasonable. They also often have “culls” or one-clawed lobsters for even less, around $6 a pound. Which are great for recipes that just include meat – lobster rolls, anyone?

Needless to say, I love to support my local waterman. Those guys are out there working in the blistering cold and heat – all year long, to put food on our tables. The Eastern Shore wouldn’t be what it is today without them, as so much of our local economy relies on the seafood industry – and has for hundreds of years.

Steamed lobster couldn’t be easier, or more special. It’s a perfect decadent dinner for a special evening like Christmas or New Year’s. And, it takes only 20 minutes to cook. Paired with simple sides like a baked potato and salad – a meal like this gives you more time to spend with the family around the Christmas tree, and not in the kitchen slaving over a stove.