We’ve been enjoying the final days of blue crab season here in Maryland, as it will be coming to a close in the next month or so. It’s actually the best time of year for them, as crabs are at their fattest and heaviest late in the year, right before they burrow into the mud for a long winter’s nap. While  my favorite thing to do with them is steam them, and eat them as is – often we’re left with a plethora of meat that we’ve picked to use up. I usually go with our standard favorites – crab cakes or crab dip (which reminds me, I was featured on our local news recently making the crab dip – check it out here!) but I wanted to do something a little fancier.

I’d been wanting to try my hand at homemade ravioli, so I thought why not stuff it with crab? I just took my basic ricotta pasta filling and gently folded the crab meat into it. The sauce takes only a few minutes to throw together. I more or less did an alfredo sauce, adding in some saffron and a bit of tomato paste at the last minute, to give it a gorgeous pink hue. It was insanely good, and definitely a cut above our standard weekly fare. I think I may have to treat us to a pound of crabmeat come December to make these for New Year’s Eve dinner. A special dinner, indeed!

Shrimp and feta is one of those combinations that I’ve been wanting to try for what seems like forever now, but just never got around to it. So, when my friend Tara raved about this dish after they’d had it for dinner last week, I had to get the recipe and finally give it a try.

This meal couldn’t get any easier. The step that takes the longest amount of time, or the most effort, was peeling the shrimp. This is a great way to use up the last of the tomato plants that are on the vines – and roasting them just intensifies their flavor. Then, to bring feta to the party too? Flavor bomb, people. This dish kind of reminded me of a good shrimp scampi – only more amped up flavor profile.Next time I’ll probably give the shrimp a quick saute in a skillet before adding them to the oven. The texture was just a wee bit mealy on the outside – I think due to the fact that you don’t have that quick burst of intense heat to sear the outside. And that’s all you’d need – less than a minute. Just enough to get them started, then finish off the cooking in the oven.

I served it over pasta, but next time I’ll probably just go with some crusty bread and a salad. This dish will definitely be making more appearances in our kitchen!

Coconut shrimp have always been one of my favorite appetizers. Whenever I see it on a menu, I can’t help but ordering them, just to see what their version is. Many times I’ve been severely disappointed. The best I’ve ever had was at Waterman’s Inn in Crisfield, Maryland. Big shrimp and copious amounts of coconut, fried to golden perfection.

So, with most of my other restaurant favorites, I came home with the resolution to make coconut shrimp at home that were just as good. That was over 3 years ago now, and the road was bumpier than I’d imagined. There were many casualties on the coconut front, but I finally got the batter down just right. The key is to do a beer batter coating on the shrimp – then roll them in the shredded coconut. Also, letting the shrimp chill for 30 minutes once coated really helped to keep the coconut on the shrimp – and not come off in the oil.

These make an impressive appetizer, as well as a delicious main course. I paired them with a tropical quinoa salad, for something on the lighter side, and it was a perfect meal!

Today marks the Opening Ceremonies of the XXX Olympiad. London 2012. I always look forward to the Olympics – something about everyone coming together to compete and celebrate. The stories of sportsmanship that arise every year are so moving. I had the opportunity to attend the equestrian events in Atlanta 1996, and it’s something I’ll never forget. My mom and myself went, along with my best friend’s family. The bustling streets filled with people of all different nationalities and cultures; I was only 13 at the time, but I still felt connected to something so much larger than myself. I guess that’s what the Olympic Games are about, really.

And, London. London! What a fabulous city to be hosting. So rich in history and lore, the UK is at the top of my travel bucket list. So, for today’s post I wanted to share something that was a nod to this great city – and fish and chips immediately came to mind. I don’t fry fish often, usually preferring to pan-sear or grill it. But, we like to indulge in a good old-fashioned fish fry once in a while! I chose cod, which is a traditional choice for this dish. But haddock, flounder, or tilapia would be fine too. I recommend using a full-flavored beer in the batter, a hoppy IPA is always my go-to choice for this application.

Good luck to all the competitors these next couple of weeks, and go Team USA! Looking forward to curing up with our family tonight and watching the Parade of Nations and the lighting of the torch. Below you’ll find a picture of myself in Atlanta, circa ’96. Right in the thick of Olympic Village, posting next to a full chrome Chevy pickup. I’m pretty sure I was rocking a hot pink fanny pack as well. I hope everyone has a great weekend!