We eat a lot of shrimp in the summertime. Fresh with the heads still on, they are almost cheaper than chicken here. We also eat alot of Mexican, so to combine those two loves into one dish was a no-brainer. I’d had shrimp tacos on my mind, but when I came across this recipe in a cookbook I had the opportunity to review, I put it on our menu plan immediately.

The shrimp undergo a quick marinade before being sauteed, then topped with a delicious mango-avocado salsa and thinly sliced red cabbage for a bit of crunch. All wrapped up in a lightly toasted corn tortilla. Comes together in less than 20 minutes, making for a perfect dinner to throw together after a long day at the beach – which, we’ve been enjoying a lot of these days.

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In the summertime here on the Eastern Shore, it’s rare to go a week without enjoying blue crabs in some way, shape, or form. Crab cakes, crab soup, or crab dip are all shining examples. But, nothing beats a good old-fashioned crab feast in my book! A big tray of freshly steamed crabs, some corn-on-the-cob, and plenty of ice cold beer. It’s just not summer without it!

Now, I know that many of you folks don’t have access to live blue crabs. But, many folks who do buy them already steamed and seasoned. And, that’s just no good! You don’t know how long ago they were cooked, and you usually end up paying more money to have them do it for you.

The steaming instructions listed below apply to any amount of live crabs – whether it be 1 dozen, or one bushel. Quantity does not matter. Bear in mind if you are steaming a whole bushel, you’ll need a very large cooking device. We have an old keg that we’ve converted to a steam-pot, and it’s great! I also recommend cooking outside if possible. A turkey frying rig is wonderful for this purpose. A side burner on a grill can usually do the job as well. I find that when I do steam them inside, it creates a funk smell in the house that lingers for a day or so. Kind of like when you fry something!

Line a table with multiple layers of newspaper, and dump the crabs right into the center of the table. Have wooden mallets and picking knives at the ready. We like to serve melted butter, and cider vinegar that’s been seasoned with plenty of Old Bay.

Strangely enough, I don’t care for cream-based soups. Keep all your chowders, and cream of mushrooms – I’m a tomato in my soup kinda gal. Jon, my husband, however – LOVES all creamy soups. And, cream of crab is right at the top of his list! The sweet cream and the crab are just perfect together, the flavors mingling and playing off each other.

It’s a quick and easy dinner to make too, which is why I love it – a light roux, a quick saute of some celery and onions, then adding the liquids and thickening. I like to add the crab in the last few minutes of cooking time. You want the meat to remain in chunks, and not disintegrate. Don’t sweat it if it does though,  it will still be delicious!

I usually do not tend to think of soups as elegant dining – but cream of crab definitely is. It’s heavier and filling, so it would be great for dinner served with a green salad. But, served in a cup and saucer it makes an impressive first course. The sherry on top is optional, but I really like the sharp bite it lends to the creamy soup. Enjoy!

My all time favorite appetizer, hands down. When crab dip is good, it can be soooo good. But, when it’s bad …yowza. I’m fortunate enough to live in a place where a bushel of the bay’s best crabs are just a 30 minute drive on the backroads – to Crisfield, Maryland. You buy them directly off of the boat, for insanely cheap price (well, most of the year anyways. They mark them up Memorial Day and July 4th). Jon has converted a beer keg into a cooking vessel – so we can cook a whole bushel at a time. Combine that with a kegerator in the garage and it makes for one awesome crab feast!

If there are any leftover soldiers, I’ll usually pick them to make a batch of crab dip up the following night. It’s so rich and creamy, it really makes a meal. This recipe was given to me by a very dear friend of the family, who shall go unnamed to maintain her anonymity.  But, I love her forever for sharing it with me. It’s just the right balance of everything, really allowing the crab to shine.

One word of caution though, do not to skimp on crab meat. The plastic tubs are usually okay, but that canned stuff is just whack. No one wants crab meat all the way from Vietnam. Enjoy this one if you can, it’s definitely one of my favorites!