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Recipes by Type

World Cup Soccer Snacks

With World Cup fever running strong the next game the US team plays against Germany is sure to draw a large viewing audience world wide. Even though I’m not a big soccer fan I love watching the skill and drama that goes with a World Cup series. I had the pleasure of watching the US team hold its own against mighty Portugal on Sunday and look forward to the next match against the even higher ranking team in the group, Germany.


With this being a midweek game most of us are too busy to spend much time preparing food for this round. No worries. There are still some healthy home made goodies you can serve during the game. Take for instance this chips and dip recipe I eat occasionally at home. Just a few simple ingredients and you have a great tasting chip and dip appetizer that goes great with beer, wine, mojitos or margaritas. It takes less than five minutes to make too.


This recipe can be tweaked to include crab, shrimp, hot jalapeño slices or whatever your taste buds desire. It can be served with tortilla chips, pita bread, or baguette rounds with equal yumminess. It can be made fresh and served right away or chilled for a couple hours if needed.

So pull up a chair and root for the home team that has come a long way to get where they are on the world stage, and give this recipe a try. With any luck I will get to add another world cup post for our US team next week!

Avocado and Salsa Dip

2 ripe avocados, about 2 cups total
1 small red and ripe tomato, enough for 1/2 cup will do
1/2 cup of your favorite salsa, Pace Picante medium hot will do
1/2 lime
sliced fresh jalapeños, optional

Wash avocados then slice long ways into four equal sized pieces. Peel then cut into about half inch sized pieces.
Cut tomato into half inch sized pieces.
Put tomatoes and avocados in a medium sized bowl and pour salsa over it.
Squeeze lime over it and mix.
Stir gently so you don’t break up the avocado slices.
Add salt to taste and serve with sliced jalapeños.

game time!

game time!

A half cup of jumbo lump crab meat is a fine addition to this recipe as is cooked small shrimp.

For those who love fresh cilantro chop up a bit and mix it in leaving some sprigs whole to garnish the dip with.

If you love garlic toss in a small clove that is minced fine.

Don’t worry if your avocados have some bad spots. Just cut them out and use the good parts. Perfect avocados are hard to come by.

Asparagus Bell Pepper Salad

It’s been a hot and humid week here in the Baltimore area and I have been concentrating on summer recipes. Even though my tomato plants seem to like this heat and humidity I don’t! When the weather is like this I don’t want to be in the kitchen for very long.


fresh oregano in my gardenOne of the things most people forget about in summer is the crockpot. In summer I love to use my crockpot so I’m not in the kitchen come dinner time except to serve it up. Think about it. You spend may five to ten minutes in the kitchen in the morning putting together a crockpot dinner and eight hours later there it is ready to serve. The ultimate in easy healthy home cooking.



IMG_5900I have also been grilling three to four times per week to get out of the kitchen. This keep the cooking heat outside instead of inside. I’ve mostly been cooking up Alaskan salmon, and lots of grilled veggies too. Since it is about the end of asparagus season I have eaten it a bit more than usual. I’ve grilled it, stir fried it and eaten it on salads delighting in that special taste unique to the green spear from the garden.



Today I decided to create something different with asparagus using fresh herbs from my garden. I bought asparagus and bell peppers from the grocery store for a new salad recipe. Oregano is not just for pasta and Italian cooking. This year I have a lot of oregano.  Fresh oregano is high in vitamin A and also contains calcium, but most importantly it tastes great.


Oregano is a member of the mint family and has that fresh mint taste like  spearmint when fresh. I found a new kind of spicy oregano at my favorite farm back in May and decided to mix it with my Greek Oregano for this new salad. I thought that the blended oregano would pair well with asparagus and bell peppers with an oil and apple cider vinegar dressing. It’s a fairly quick and easy recipe that anyone can make. Check it out and stay cool.

As always I welcome your comments and suggestions.


Asparagus and Bell Pepper Salad with Fresh Oregano


1 pound fresh trimmed asparagus , see note

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

1 orange bell pepper

1 1/2 quarts water

1 tablespoon salt

1 cup fresh oregano, or 3 tablespoons of dried oregano

2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives

1/4 cup Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, or Spectrum brand

1/2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


In a 2 1/2 to 3 quart pot bring water, and salt to a boil. While water is heating up trim asparagus.


After trimming the tough parts of the asparagus rinse and set aside.


When water is boiling add asparagus and cook thin asparagus for thirty seconds, thick asparagus for one minute. Drain and rinse well in cold water. You may need ice water if your tap water is not very cold as you want to stop the cooking process quickly. See note.


Wash and dice bell peppers into 1/2 inch size.


Wash oregano if needed, and dry. Take about 1/4 of the oregano and slice in thin shreds. This will help distribute its flavor better.


Wash, dry and mince fresh chives and set aside.


In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients. Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste and serve right away or chill for one or more hours.

Serves 6-10.



One pound of asparagus will not yield one pound trimmed. It takes about a pound and a half, but asparagus is usually sold by the pound. No worries, just buy two pounds and use the extra for steamed asparagus at dinner or cook in an omelet for breakfast.


I use a bowl of ice water to submerge the hot asparagus in. First I drain off the hot water then dump the asparagus in the big bowl of ice water, but remove any unmelted ice cubes before submerging the asparagus. Otherwise they tend to melt and dilute the dressing later.




The Best Salmon in the World?

What is the best Salmon in the world?  The first Alaskan wild salmon to hit the market in significant amounts is the famed Copper River Salmon. Both Copper River king salmon and sockeye salmon show up in restaurants, grocery stores, and various other outlets to the delight of those who know. Even if you don’t know much about salmon quality I believe if you were served Cook Inlet sockeye salmon alongside Copper River sockeye you would be able to tell the difference. The Copper River variety is more flavorful and the texture is very soft and tender without being mushy.

nice fish caught on a typical rainy day from the Kenai River

nice fish caught on a typical rainy day from the Kenai River

Don’t get me wrong. I do love all Alaskan sockeye whether it comes from Ketchikan, Dillingham, Kenai, or Cordova, but this first salmon of the year is worth a celebration. Other than its superior flavor profile Copper River salmon hits the market first adding to its popularity. It is so popular some of it is airlifted by helicopter to speed up its travel from fishing boat to high end restaurant serving it in Seattle, Chicago and other US cities.

red salmon in their spawning grounds

red salmon in their spawning grounds

I was so fortunate to live in Cordova, Alaska and Kenai, Alaska to see the difference from the perspective of a local. Both areas rejoice when the salmon return and the economies as well as spirits are lifted with the arrival of this gift from nature. Much has been said about the sustainability of the salmon in Alaska, but I’ll add my two cents worth. I have seen lean and fat years in my four plus decades of living in and visiting the Great Land, and even though my favorite salmon, the Kenai King salmon is in danger, most of Alaska’s salmon are doing just fine.

So don’t fret about the wild salmon in the stores and restaurants being in danger. Instead choose wild salmon over farmed whenever you can as farmed salmon endanger wild salmon when they escape and interbreed with wild stocks. They are also more susceptible to disease than the wild ones. How do I know so much about salmon you might ask? I cooked for the salmon processing family and crew of Keener Packing in Kenai, Alaska before it went bankrupt. And in my first marriage I married into a fishing family in Cordova, Alaska where most of the Copper River commercial fishermen and women live. I also return to Alaska almost every summer to visit friends and catch enough salmon to last the year.

ready for the grill

ready for the grill

My first purchase of fresh Copper River sockeye this season was yesterday at Costco. The price was a reasonable $14.99 per pound. The taste was incredible. I grilled it two ways on my Smokey Joe Weber. I seasoned half with just salt, pepper, and a bit of olive oil. The other half I seasoned with Urban Accents Kodiak Salmon Rub seasoning. Both came out great but my favorite was the Kodiak rub seasoned salmon. It has several ingredients that match the salmon well, especially cumin. Never in all my years did I use cumin in salmon cookery unless I was using a blackening spice that had a bit of it in the mix. It was in the Galapagos Islands last year where I had tuna grilled with cumin, olive oil and lemon that knocked my socks off and got me started using cumin with grilled and baked fish.

Beautiful Kachemak Bay Alaska

Beautiful Kachemak Bay Alaska

So get some of this awesome tasting salmon and cook it up however you like. As long as you don’t overcook it it’s hard to goof it up. If you need a recipe I’ve included my simple preparation from last night. Please leave comments and share this with friends and family.

I have a giveaway box of OXO kitchen tools and other goodies for one lucky winner that will be drawn next week. Just leave a comment on my Facebook page mentioning salmon, or here on my blog to be entered.

Red salmon with red quinoa, steamed peas, and salmon skin chip

Red salmon with red quinoa, steamed peas, pickled green bean salad, and salmon skin chip

Grilled Copper River Sockeye Salmon
1 filet of salmon, (about 2 pounds)
2 teaspoons Urban Accents Kodiak Rub and seasoning blend
2 teaspoon olive oil

Rinse salmon and pat dry with paper towels.
Cut into two or three pieces leaving skin on.
Season flesh side of salmon with rub and oil, and let sit for ten minutes. Save a little of the oil to rub the skin with.
Grill skin side down for about five minutes with grill lid closed.
Flip salmon and cook on other side for three or four minutes. Sprinkle a bit of salt if desired, or do it at the table after tasting it first.
At this point the skin comes off very easy by sliding a spatula between the skin and flesh. You can discard it or do what I do and cook it for a minute or two longer and serve alongside the salmon. It’s a tad fishy but crunchy and yummy with a bit of salt and pepper added.


Your grill might be hotter or cooler than mine so the cooking time is just an estimate.


Enjoy with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or a good Pinot Gris from Oregon.

Of Fireflies and Beans

It was like walking in a dream with fairies and magic all around me the first time I laid eyes on fireflies. I was about ten years old and we were visiting relatives in Missouri for a camping trip in the Ozark Mountains. Since I lived in Colorado I had only heard tales of such magical creatures so it was quite a treat to see and catch them. When I moved to Maryland in 2008 I didn’t know I’d be treated to the same spectacle each spring.


For several nights over the last week when I’m outside walking my dog Tucker we are on alert for the first fireflies. Last night around 10pm we finally spied the first of what will soon be many. They were high up in the trees and it took some patience to spot them. Last spring when Tucker was just a frisky four month old puppy he delighted in trying to catch the fireflies on our last-of-the-night walks. It was pretty funny until he finally caught one and I put an end to that game. I don’t know if eating fireflies is unhealthy for dogs, but I know it’s unhealthy for the fireflies! I can’t wait to see what he thinks of them this year now that he is all grown up and almost fifteen months old. Soon they will come down from up high in the trees and be flying about us on our night time walks.


It’s this sort of thing that instills an awareness of nature and the coming and going of seasons. So many kids these days are removed from this awareness of the natural world and how it is all intertwined. We could lay part of the blame on grocery stores that stock fresh cherries in the Fall and Winter, as well as asparagus. Just forty years ago these foods only came available to most of us “in season”. I applaud the little firefly for being a remnant of times gone by where most people were aware of what seasons meant to our culture especially as it pertains to our eating habits. The firefly does not show up in winter! How preposterous it would be if it did. The firefly can remind us of what the natural world is about, and the important cycles of plants, animals, and insects.


Almost as crazy as buying fresh cherries and asparagus in winter is eating half the crap sold in grocery stores these days. For a healthy food that is always in season  I share with you one of the most amazing foods that’s available year round in fresh, frozen or dried form. Yes beans of many types are good tasting and good for us. Beans can be found in just about every grocery store in North America in one form or another. Beans are high in fiber and protein and come in many shapes and sizes. They are great as a side dish or as a main dish and are very affordable. You can flavor them with so many herbs, and spices that the choices are almost endless.



Thanks to Urban Accents gifting me a selection of five of their products I’ve been playing around in the kitchen and want to share this easy crock pot recipe with you. I have known for several years that commercial steak seasonings are usually good for bean cooking.  I had used Urban Accents Argentina Steak Rub seasoning on beans before but I have a new favorite. I tested their Chicago Steak and Chop Seasoning in a couple of bean recipes and share one with you that takes under five minutes to prepare before walking away from your crock pot for hours. This great tasting bean dish will go well with grilled chicken, pork or beef as well as stand on its own as an entree when served over rice with a dollop of hot sauce. So give it a try and see if you agree that this is one easy and tasty dish. And by all means give the Chicago Steak and Chop a try on steak if that floats your boat!

Red Beans with Chicago Steak and Chop Seasoning


1 and 1/2 cups red beans, see note

7 cups of water

1 cup chopped yellow or white onion

1 clove fresh garlic minced

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Urban Accents Chicago Steak and Chop seasoning


Crock pot  method:

Put all ingredients in at once and cook on low for 9-10 hours. You can also cook on high for about 7-8 hours. I like to load the crock pot at night before going to bed and have the beans ready to pack in a thermos for lunch.


Stovetop method:

Bring water and onions to a boil.

Add beans, garlic, Chicago Steak and Chop seasoning and simmer covered on low heat until beans are tender(about 3-4 hours). Add more water if needed.


Note: I like Christmas Pole Lima beans for this dish but red beans are good too and easier to find.

Even though Urban Accents gifted me the package of five of their products my opinions are my own and not influenced by them or anyone else. I write about what taste good to me!

Shitake Mushroom and Asparagus Scramble Recipe

Shitake mushrooms, and most others are a powerhouse of health! Shitake mushrooms are a great source of vitamins B2, B3, B6 and vitamin D. With more and more studies being done on the health effects of mushrooms it seems clear that we should eat them often. Some studies have shown that just one white button mushroom per day can reduce a women’s risk of getting breast cancer by 50%. Check out this video I found on the Phillip’s Mushrooms website explaining this and more of the many health attributes of mushrooms: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkf0AGxblAA That’s great that mushrooms are good for us since they are not expensive and are widely available. You can incorporate them into your meal plan easily as they blend with many recipes for breakfast lunch or dinner.

assemble the goods

assemble the goods


I used to only eat mushrooms when they were sautéed with onions meant for topping a steak, or in cream of mushroom soup. After I became a professional chef I was more open to eating mushrooms in other ways, but still I was mostly in the dark. It wasn’t until I moved to Baltimore and discovered Kennett Square, Pennsylvania the World’s Mushroom Capital that I really started to understand mushrooms. In the five years that I have been making the one hour and twenty minute drive to the holy grail of all things mushroom I’ve learned many more ways to cook mushrooms. I’ve also learned to cook with several types of mushrooms that I had not used before like: Maitake(my favorite), Shitake, Royal Trumpet, Pompom, and Portabella mushrooms. All these new types of mushrooms opened up a whole new world of shroomy good cooking possibilities. I developed a chowder recipe from the Maitake that rocks the soup world, and with portabella’s I made up a grilled portabella recipe that needs no marinating to produce a flavorful burger substitute.

sauté the shitake

sauté the shitake


It’s hard to beat the flavor of a grilled or baked Royal Trumpet Mushroom basted in garlic infused olive oil then seasoned with fresh ground five pepper blend and a bit of salt. For a quick and easy cold appetizer I wrote up a recipe for roasted corn, guacamole stuffed mushrooms using white button mushrooms as the vehicle for the green goodness I love so much. Just another excuse to eat avocados and mushrooms often! I have been working on some new breakfast recipes to fill the need for more morning mushroom munchies. Mushrooms are mainly thought of as lunch and dinner provender, but sautéed kale and white mushrooms go great in an omelet with a bit of cheddar cheese for breakfast. Last week I came home from Kennett Square with the usual suspects. A one pound bag of Maitake, Shitake, and Portabella mushrooms and set to work in the Fast and Furious Test Kitchen madly making mushroom meals. The first item was to try baking small sprigs of Maitake in garlic infused olive oil on high heat until crispy. The result was an addictive snack of earthy garlicky fragrance that had just the right amount of crispiness. I pronounce it the next best thing to potato chips it’s that good! Next up was a breakfast experiment to see what would happen when fresh asparagus meets fresh Shitake and eggs? The result was sure to be a Fast and Furious classic, and I share with you this week the oh-so-yummy Shitake, Asparagus Scramble. Please give it a try and let me know what you think of it in the comments section.

add asparagus

add asparagus

Shitake Mushroom and Asparagus Scramble

6-8 shitake mushrooms with stems removed

4-6 asparagus spears

1 tablespoon garlic infused olive oil

3 large or 4 medium sized eggs beaten

1/4 cup shredded cheese(cheddar, swiss, or cotija)

1 tablespoon minced jalapeño pepper, optional

salt and pepper to taste

Clean and slice shitake about 1/4 inch.

Clean, trim, and cut asparagus into one inch lengths.

In a sauté pan on medium heat cook slice shitake mushrooms in the oil for 5 minutes stirring every minute.

Add asparagus and jalapeño if using, and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add eggs and and turn up heat a bit stirring often for two minutes.

Add cheese and cook for just one more minute while stirring in the cheese.

Serves two, but is easily doubled.



What is Fast Enough?

When it comes to putting healthy food on the table what is fast enough? My idea of a fast dinner prepped and plated in twenty five minutes might be too long for some, just right for some, and too fast for others. Not to mention that some days you might have more time and inclination to cook than others. Some folks just can’t live without their microwave oven to facilitate fast cooking. To me, the microwave  oven is a food destroyer,  myself and other purists won’t use one.


pasta tonight?

pasta tonight?

What you will get from me is my original fast and healthy recipes using whole foods, and occasionally some healthy convenience foods to help you eat better while spending less time in the kitchen. I follow food news closely and read many a book on diet and nutrition every year. With all the food news out there it can get downright confusing at times wondering what is healthy to eat. Not to mention all of us are different and don’t respond to the diet of the month the same as everyone else.

I like to write about, and eat  healthy foods that are in season. Especially the ones I am growing in my own garden. This year I’m growing arugula for the first time. Arugula contains about 8 times the calcium, 5 times the amount of vitamin A, C, and K, and 4 times the iron of iceberg lettuce according to livestrong.com. I like the intense flavor that goes well in salads as well as hot pasta dishes. If you have never cooked with greens in your pasta try this simple dish in your home soon. Assuming your pasta takes ten minutes to cook, this dish takes less than twenty minutes from start to finish and wow does it taste great! Is that fast enough for you? Please leave your comments on what your idea is on fast food in your kitchen, and please share this with friends and family.

the goods

the goods

Fettucine tossed with Arugula

16 ounces fettuccine, or other pasta

about 3 ounces fresh arugula

2 cloves minced fresh garlic

1 cup walnuts, halves and pieces will do

2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated

optional, 1-2 ounces of fresh oregano whole leaves, or sliced

salt and pepper to taste

Start by heating water in a pot per pasta cooking directions.

On medium heat in a sauté pan toast the walnuts in 1/2 teaspoon olive oil for five minutes tossing or stirring often. Season with salt and pepper then set aside.

Cook pasta and when pasta is done cooking rinse and drain.

In a large sauté pan add garlic and oil cooking for three minutes over medium heat stirring once or twice.

Add pasta and cook over medium heat for three minutes stirring often.

toss or stir

toss or stir


Add arugula and continue cooking for two minutes stirring, or tossing.

Add walnuts, cheese, and oregano if using and cook one more minute stirring, or tossing as you go. Serves four.

Note:Makes a great entrée or side dish. Serve as a side with grilled chicken breast.

Fresh parsley may be used instead of oregano.

A bottle of Pinot Blanc would go great with this dish, or a Verdejo.


Spring Greens and a Great Salad Dressing Recipe

In many ways I’m new to vegetable gardening. Sure I helped my room mate in Alaska with his garden for a couple of years, and I grew vegies in the backyard where I grew up in Colorado. That was all just dabbling in gardening compared to what I’m growing over these last three years. I don’t just grow many types of vegetables in my garden, I preserve and can them, develope new recipes based on them and write about it the experience too.

My first arugula crop

My first arugula crop

Rocky Top Blend from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Rocky Top Blend from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

The Mission of the American Community Gardening Association is to build community by increasing and enhancing community gardening and greening across the United States and Canada.

and it’s cool that they connect people through gardening. What a great way to meet people in your community through growing something healthy to eat. In a day and age when people are getting more and more detached from this amazing planet that gives us so much it’s important to get your hands dirty and grow something with yourself to enjoy at your table. It’s also a great opportunity to teach children seasonal cycles known to all just a few short generations ago when you didn’t get asparagus, or peaches year round. Many kids love to help in the garden, even in this day and age of video game addiction.

If you want to try the container method my favorite is Earthbox containers. The Earthbox website has tons of free information and a forum that will help you understand the concepts for just about any climate and types of plants as it pertains to using their planters. Check out their website at http://earthbox.com for more info. For the record they don’t pay me to talk about their products, I just love the results I get from my Earthboxes and want to share that with you. I used Earthboxes for four years now with great results, especially with tomatoes and okra.

Blue Kale and May Queen lettuce

Cilantro, Petite Rouge lettuce

For most parts of the country it’s not too late to get something planted. This week I’m planting tomatoes that I started from seed. I’ll put some in my Earthboxes and some in the ground and see which ones do best. I never know until I grow them in both places to see which plant prefers real dirt to the Earthbox growing medium(soil). It’s also time to visit local nurseries and farmer’s markets for the other vegie plants I’ll buy and transplant to my garden. I usually buy some of my tomatoes, peppers, and okra this way to get a head start.

So give it a try and let me know if I can help you in anyway to get started or maintain your very own vegie garden. I think you will love it!

Kale and two types of heirloom lettuce

Kale and two types of heirloom lettuce

Here’s a recipe for a salad dressing that’s become one of my favorites. It calls for a special ingredient “Mushroom Truffle Hunt” by Urban Accents. This weeks give away will be a jar of Mushroom Truffle Hunt for three lucky winners who leave a comment on this post. Please enjoy this recipe of mine in either of it’s forms, Italian or Asian.


Mushroom Salad Dressing(Italian)


1 tablespoon Mushroom Truffle Hunt Blend

1 tablespoon red wine, or red wine vinegar, or white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

7 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon finely grated parmigiano reggiano cheese


Soak Truffle Hunt blend in vinegar and red wine for 5 minutes.

Combine all ingredients and mix well by shaking in a jar or in a bowl with an immersion blender.

Enough for 6-8 salads.



Goes well on mixed baby greens or romaine lettuce.


Minced garlic or shallots(1 teaspoon) may be added for more zip!


Top each salad with 1 tablespoon feta cheese crumbles, and 2 teaspoons of toasted pine nuts for extra goodness.


For an Asian version omit oregano, basil and cheese. Use 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 4 tablespoons of sesame oil plus a tablespoon of soy sauce. Minced fresh ginger(1/2 teaspoon),and/or minced shallots(1/2 teaspoon) would work well too.


Even though Urban Accents has agreed to furnish me and the winners of the drawing their products for free my opinions are my own. The products I have tried from them over the years are very good and I can’t wait to try more.


Fast and Easy Avocado and Salsa Salad

Avocado and Salsa Salad


3 simple ingredients

3 simple ingredients

In the world of fast, and healthy recipes this original salad I made up is one of my favorites. It takes no more than five minutes to prepare and it tastes great. You can use almost any store bought tomato salsa or home made like I do to make this salad. I think a salsa that has a fair amount of tomato juice in it works best, but if you are using something like Pace picante that is a bit thicker just squeeze some fresh lime on the greens before topping them with the avocado tomato mix.

It can be a meal or just a salad starter for lunch or dinner. Add jalapeños for a kick, or even olives. Let your imagination play around with this one. You could snap peas, broccoli, or shredded cabbage in it also.


The recipe is a simple as it gets:

one ripe avocado, cut into one inch cubes

1/3 cup salsa

about two cups of your favorite greens


ready to mix

ready to mix

Mix the cut up avocado with the salsa in a mixing bowl and spoon it over your greens.

I love avocados so much I’m always looking for new ways to incorporate them in my diet.


This weeks giveaway is a beautiful solid cherry cutting/serving board that I bought in Fairhope, Alabama while there visiting my Aunt. It’s so nice I’m having a hard time parting with it, but someone will win it just for taking the time to comment on this post. Could it be you?

cherry wood cutting board up for grabs

cherry wood cutting board up for grabs


Well Hush My mouth and Pass the Shrimp

Fairhope, Alabama is different! In a good way mind you. It has an artist colony feel to it with lots of cute little shops and restaurants. This town’s motto is “You’ve arrived”, and indeed I have arrived with brother in tow to visit our 93 year old Aunt. Our Aunt has lived here twice in her long life but I never visited during her first residence due to my visions of Alabama as a place I would never want to visit. Lucky for me I grew up and got over my negative thoughts about the South, and it’s hot and humid weather. A sunset walk in Fairhope along the pretty waterfront park that looks out on Mobile Bay is one of the nicer walks I can think of in the U.S.

A nice walk by the bay

A nice walk by the bay


This is about my fifth visit and I have enjoyed every one of them by exploring the Mobile Bay, eating at very good restaurants, strolling the charming old downtown area and hanging out with my amazing Aunt. My aunt is one of my most important role models I have on how to retire right. Some of the key points she has taught me are to move to a town where you have a “sense of place” that you know you belong in. A place where you will already have or be able to build a social network to provide a rich life. A place that has a great variety of things of do is important too. Our Aunt is involved in a weekly writer’s group, has been in a singing group, a community band, and attends a church nearby. The weather suits her just fine too as she has never tolerated cold climates well and this is definitely not a cold climate.


I always visit before or after the hot season as I don’t do well in very hot and humid conditions for long. Each time I come down here I try and find new restaurants to eat at that will give me new ideas of healthy, simple recipes for my type of diet. When you think of the South you might think of fried chicken, shrimp and grits, fried catfish etc. You can find all of those here but you can also find a restaurant,(Sweet Olive) that serves a “Grain Bowl” special of the day, or a Mexican restaurant,(Agave) that serves excellent off the beaten path food beyond the regular tacos, burritos and enchiladas.


Every time I come down here Aunty lets me cook a meal or two and the supplies come from the local grocery stores that are plenty good. For regional delights I go to the Gulf Coast 15 miles away and hunt down fresh shrimp from one of the shrimper’s in the area. This trip I wasn’t able to find Gulf shrimp close by like I had in the past before the Gulf oil spill four years ago, but  I did find good Florida pink shrimp at the Winn-Dixie and fixed us some fast and yummy shrimp scampi. It made for a great meal served on brown rice with a side of Italian seasoned baked green beans. When I got back home and went to buy shrimp for this post I wasn’t able to find Florida pink shrimp so I substituted tiger shrimp  with good results.


For a special Fairhope themed giveaway I have two items from the area. I’m giving away a bag of B&B roasted and salted pecans to one lucky winner, and a fun book of short stories called Fairhope Anthology in which my Aunt is a contributing author. Two lucky winners will get one of these gifts by leaving a comment on this post. I’ll draw the winners randomly next week from all you faithful readers. Until then enjoy this simple recipe for shrimp scampi.

Scampi on rice with artichokes. Yum!

Scampi on rice with artichokes. Yum!


Shrimp Scampi


1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp

3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning, or a combo of 1/4 teaspoon each of dried basil, dried thyme, and dried oregano

4 teaspoons olive oil

2-4 cloves minced garlic depending on how much you love garlic


the goods

the goods

On medium low heat add the olive oil to a sauté pan and mix in the herbs and garlic, distributing it well in the pan.

Carefully lay the shrimp in the sauté pan so they make good contact with the cooking surface and cook on medium heat for 5-7 minutes until they turn pink and start to curl up.

press or mince the garlic

press or mince the garlic

Flip and cook for about four minutes more.

Serve over steamed rice and be sure and pour the oil from the pan over the shrimp as it’s full of flavor.

Serves two, and is easily doubled if needed.

arrange in the pan

arrange in the pan


flip and finish

flip and finish


A bit of red pepper flakes are a good addition. Use about 1/4 teaspoon, and add with the herbs.

Can be served as a hot appetizer too.

Chili-Garlic Edamame Appetizer Recipe

The weather is beautiful and it’s time to think Spring. Do you like those simple at home happy hour appetizers? I’ve got a spicy good one for you that is very easy to make and goes well with beer, sake or wine. Edamame is just soy beans in the pod and when cooked right can be great! If you like sushi and have gone to a Japanese restaurant you have probably seen edamame on the menu. Lucky for us it’s easy to find it at most grocery stores in the U.S. and it’s easy to prepare. This little green taste treat is good for you too. Here’s the nutrition breakdown for plain edamame:

one cup serving has 8 grams total fat, 9 mg sodium, 676 mg potassium, 15 grams total carbs, 17 grams protein, vitamins C and B-6, minerals including iron, magnesium and calcium.


For years I have simply boiled edamame, drained it and sprinkled it with kosher salt, but for the love of all things spicy I came up with a bold and hot version that just takes a few minutes to make. Since you will want to be out on the deck in the sun using that nice outdoor furniture you bought why not decorate your table with this lovely duo of beans and beer for your outside happy hour? As always I welcome your comments and suggestions.


Chili-Garlic Edamame


the goods

the goods

10 ounces frozen in-the-pod edamame

4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1-2 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce

1 tablespoon oyster sauce, or soy sauce see note

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, optional

boil time

boil time


sauce in the pan

sauce in the pan

Cook frozen edamame in water per the directions on the package, and drain but don’t cool.

In a sauté pan add chili-garlic sauce and oyster sauce and cook while stirring for one minute. Add edamame and cook stirring for two to three minutes then transfer to a serving dish. Top with sesame seeds if desired.

Serves four


add the beans and toss around

add the beans and toss around


If you don’t have or can’t easily find oyster sauce regular soy sauce will work, but it will be a bit thinner sauce that you toss the edamame in. It will also be less sweet since oyster sauce has a little bit of sugar in it.


at home happy hour

at home happy hour

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