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!

We love Mexican food. In fact we love it so much, we eat it at least twice a week in our house. It’s always fairly cheap, quick, and always delicious and filling. While we love my notorious chicken enchiladas, or beef tacos in a crispy fried shell, sometimes you just want something a little lighter and different. Which, can be hard to come by in Mexican cuisine. Enter these shrimp enchiladas. Now, I’m always a fan of anything shrimp – because we can get them so fresh, for a great price. But, to then cover them cheese sauce an wrap it in a tortilla? Sign me up!

These have become my new favorite meal. We’ve already had it twice in two weeks, and that’s not like us. They come together so quickly, with minimal effort. The most painstaking part was peeling and deveining the shrimp, which I’ve become pretty proficient with in all these years of practice. I used Pepper Jack, and I liked the hint of spice that it lent to the dish. I’ll admin, I was a little bit hesitant that the enchiladas had no sauce on the top. Believe me when I say this, you won’t miss it! The filling is so gooey and delicious, I think that sauce on the top would just be overkill. I did have some leftover cheese that I sprinkled on before baking. If you’re looking at a few blanks on your menu plan next week, fill one of them in with these delicious enchiladas. I’d bet they’ll become a new favorite for you too!

After our Super Bowl party this year, I was left with about a pound of leftover shrimp from a platter that a friend so graciously brought over to share. We left to go out of town for a couple of days yesterday, so I wanted to use up all the leftovers we had in the refrigerator before we left. What better to do with it than make shrimp salad? It’s a perfect lunch over a bed of baby spinach.

While chicken salad can be dense and heavy, shrimp salad is light and airy. I like to season it lightly; a little bit of salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice, and some fresh dill – to really let the flavor of the shrimp shine through. Next time you have some leftover shrimp hanging around (or take the shortcut, and buy them pre-cooked) do yourself a favor and whip up a batch of this salad. You just may have a new favorite for your lunchbox!

Frankly, I’m embarrassed that crab cakes haven’t made it onto the site yet. Any Maryland blogger worth their grain in salt NEEDS to have a good crab cake recipe to share. The world doesn’t turn to us for much in the way of famous foods. We’re notorious for our fried chicken, pit beef, our Smith Island cakes, and of course…crab cakes. Let me start off my saying, I’m not a big fan of crab cakes. My mom always made great ones, but they were just never “my thing”. When I see recipes online, or in cookbooks, often I am disparaged by the amount of filler that people put in their cakes. Bell peppers, bread crumbs, eggs, herbs, avocado, cheese – the list goes on. It’s a travesty, people! A GOOD crab cake only needs crab meat, and a little bit of a binder. I had a recipe that I used forever, and it was great. But, I would use a good amount of breadcrumbs to get them to hold their shape. That always kind of bothered me. Then, one of my best girlfriend’s aunt shared this recipe on a local recipe swapping group that I’m a member of on Facebook. It had virtually no binding agents! Flour, a bit of mayo and mustard, an egg, and a bit of seasoning. I should also mention the fact that this said Aunt is a purveyor of crab meat. As a side-job she picks crabs and sells the meat in the summertime. The woman knows her crab, ya’ll. I knew I had to try it…

Talk about blown away! Like I mentioned above, I don’t even like crab cakes, and I ended up scarfing one down. These cakes are solid packed full of meat. It is definitely my go-to recipe for crab cakes now. They formed in your hands beautifully, fried up beautifully, and as you can see from the picture – were gorgeous inside too. I realize that not everyone can get their hands on blue crab meat. I’ve not tried myself, but I’m fairly certain this recipe would work with Dungeness crab meat, or even snow crab meat. Whatever is good, and fresh in your neck of the woods! I served with baked oven fries, as well as a green salad. They make a delightful sandwich too. Oooh, or over a bed of fettuccine Alfredo. Hea-ven!

This recipe makes about 5 crab cakes. If your budget allows, I’d highly recommend doubling the recipe, and then freezing half of the cakes. They freeze great! And, frozen crab cakes are one of my favorite “go to” easy meals on those nights when I’m just too tired to cook. Simply form and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Freeze on the cookie sheet for about 2 hours, until frozen. Then vacuum seal or wrap securely in freezer paper. Cook the frozen cakes just as you would if they were fresh, adding a few minutes of cooking time to each side of the cake.