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!

This weekend we went over to my parent’s house for dinner. My dad had gone fishing earlier in the day, and came home with a nice sized “rock” as we call them around here, striped bass to the rest of the world. He cleaned it when we were finished with dinner (a gorgeous bushel of steamed #1 blue crabs) and sent us home with a nice sized filet, that I portioned into 4 smaller sized filets.

We get so much gorgeous, fresh seafood around here, I really take it for granted. I already had a menu set for the week, so I decided to make the fish for lunch on Sunday. Usually, I’d fry it an call it a day –  but the filets were so gorgeous, I wanted to do something special. I came up with this dish with what I had on hand, and it really knocked our socks off. I was afraid the salsa would be overpowering, but it wasn’t. The smokey sweetness just played up the flavor of the fish, and it was a nice change of pace from our standard fish fry! Plus, I got to use the pea shoots I’d bought on a whim at Trader Joe’s the week before. They soaked up all the juices from the dish, made for a surprisingly good salad.

If you’re looking for something to do with that abundance of rockfish we’re so lucky to have in our waters right now (or any other substantial white fish – mahi, halibut, etc.) bookmark this recipe! I’m hoping Dad shares some more with us this spring. I’m more than happy to send out a First and Second mate with him!

These fish tacos are a new favorite dinner in our home. While I love the beer battered version, I think I’ve grown to love this lightened version better. Light, fresh, and bursting with flavor – it’s a meal that comes together in a half an hour or less. Plus, they’re relatively figure friendly (well, compared to their battered and fried cousin at least). This is the kind of meal that I’ll be looking forward to making after a long day at the beach with my guys!

The fish filets are quickly pan seared and piled into warm corn tortillas. Then topped with a spicy chipotle cilantro aioli, a refreshing mango salsa, and some finely shredded cabbage. The sweetness of the salsa, alongside the spicy smokiness of the aioli is sheer perfection. If you’re looking for a new time-friendly dinner to add to your menu, add these tacos. I’m fairly certain you’ll love them too!

Gumbo. What’s not to love? I actually have a funny story involving gumbo, so spare me a minute.  The year was 2005, and we were flying down to see my husband’s (actually, we weren’t even engaged yet. He bought the ring on the trip!) mother in Texas. Since Norfolk’s airport has very  few direct flights, we had a layover in Charlotte, NC. There were horrible storms over Texas, so it was delaying our final leg of the stretch. We waited for hours, finally loaded onto the plain at 1 AM, only to discover that the plane was having mechanical problems and the flight was finally canceled and rescheduled for the morning.

In all the waiting and delays, we struck up conversation with a very nice gentleman whom had been to visit his mother, and was heading home. He carried with him a plastic bag, filled with 2 containers of gumbo that had been frozen in order to transport back to Texas. By 1 in the morning, it had been thawed out for hours, and the poor guy reluctantly threw it in the trash. I remember feeling bad for him, but not really understanding what all the fuss was about in the first place.

“Gumbo Guy”, I can now say that I feel your pain. A couple of months ago, I finally broke down and made this Cajun staple. I thought it would be something I’d make for the boys, but that I wouldn’t really enjoy. So wrong. The roux  is the backbone of gumbo, and adds so much depth of flavor. I’ve made this a couple of time now, once with fresh okra, and once with frozen and didn’t notice much of a difference. Some folks use okra as a thickening agent, and others use filé (ground sassafrass ro0t). But, apparently it’s a cardinal sin to use both! So, I stuck with the okra. I have some filé in my spice cabinet though, so I think I might try that next time around to see if it lends different flavor. If you’re looking for a dish to celebrate Mardi Gras, look no further. This makes enough to feed an army, and it virtually takes care of itself on the stove. Can’t beat it with a stick!