Seafood Spaghetti

Music: Jose Gonzalez, Veneer – His song Heartbeats is a popular one, but the rest of the album leaves you with the same feeling, a little tickle and the yearning to press “REPLAY”.
Menu: Seafood spaghetti and garlic bread


First, I apologize if you got a little preview of the pics from this meal! I unfortunately have been couch ridden with some torn muscles is my back…yea, ouch. I have been sleeping about 4 hours each night, which means early mornings spent in front of the computer and I accidentally pressed the wrong button, whoops!


But my little back injury has not prevented me from cooking ๐Ÿ™‚ Quite the opposite, I have been in the kitchen non-stop with random yelling spurts to BJ when I can’t reach something. Funny story: the doctor told me that in order to heal, I need to keep my arms within the “beach ball zone”. So, picture that you are holding a beach ball just in front of your body…I’m not supposed to move my arms beyond this. This has lead BJ to his own yelling sprees! When he sees my reaching for something and my arms beyond the beach ball zone, he yells, “BEACH BALL!”


Anyways, this meal was great. There is definitely room for improvement and there will be a few changes next time we venture with a seafood spaghetti. But all in all it hit the spot. I crave seafood. The Florida girl stuck in the middle of the U.S…go figure. It’s difficult to find quality seafood, but I thought this would be a safe bet with shrimp and clams. The clams were okay.


The first step of cooking was homemade oven dried tomatoes. Well worth the extra step instead of using the store bought oil packed sun dried tomatoes (I can’t find the ones not packed in oil!). We had a bunch of romas and san marzanos from the garden and they were on the verge of going overboard, it was just meant to be. So, I drained the tomatoes well (salted and then pressed into paper towels for an hour or so) and threw them in a low heat oven for while. They burned a little on the edges, but had tons of flavor.

The clams and shrimp cooked in wine. This took a lot longer than I thought. The clams took over 10 minutes to open. The recipe I used said to put the shrimp and clams in at the same time, but this left the shrimp a little over cooked and me begging the clams to open…all but one did.

Tossed with whole wheat spaghetti, fresh spinach and topped with lots of parmesan and we felt like royalty eating this one…it was definitely the perfect meal for a romantic night with your honey.


On another note, I have recently been getting fresh batches of grown spinach as opposed to the baby spinach in the box from Costco and I must say we’ve been missing out. The spinach is usually pretty dirty, so washing and washing again in advance is a must. However, the final product is far better. The fresh spinach is more like thick hearty greens as opposed to the baby spinach, which is much more like lettuce.


I usually make a lot of dinner, so that we have leftovers for lunch for the week. But this time there were no leftovers…

Seafood Spaghetti
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 3 shallots, chopped (not minced, you want pieces for texture in the sauce)
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup oven dried tomatoes
  • S & P
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup dry white wine, we used a light Chardonnay
  • 1 lb. shrimp, deveined and peeled with tails left on
  • Clams – I thought 3/person was good, but whatever you feel is best.
  • 2 cups of tightly packed spinach or arugala
  • Parmesan cheese and basil strips for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a large stock pot, heat water and salt generously. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 – 10 minutes. Drain pasta and set aside.
  2. Heat EVOO in large pan. Add shallots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, and seasonings. Cook for another minute.
  3. Turn the heat to high and add wine. Place clams in the pan and scatter shrimp. Bring to a boil and turn heat down to simmer. Cover and let the seafood cook, until the shrimp are pick and clams open, 7 – 10 minutes.
  4. Add spaghetti and spinach to pan and stir to combine.
  5. Top with cheese and basil and serve!

PS – Garlic bread is great for soaking up the sauce ๐Ÿ™‚


Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce

Music: Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, “Who Is This America?”
Menu:
Brown basmati rice, sauteed spinach


This was a great, quick, very flavorful weeknight meal. I put the rice on the stove, went for a quick run, came back chopped the veggies and ate dinner within 20 minutes…a-mazing. The recipe is not spicy, a little salty, but lots of flavor. I made the full amount of sauce for just the two of us (can’t say two fillets, because BJ had two himself!). But the rice was great drenched in the sauce. MMMMMM, and the most perfect bite was a little bit of spinach, rice, and fish with lots of sauce.

Actually, I am thinking about making some of this sauce just to have to dip things in. Yes, maybe I will.


Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce
from Cooking Light

Ingredients:

  • 1 tspn. dark sesame oil, divided
  • 2 tspn. peeled minced ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tspn. curry powder
  • 2 tspn. red curry paste
  • 1/2 tspn. ground cumin
  • 4 tspn. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 TB brown sugar
  • S & P
  • 1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 2 TB chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 cups hot cooked basmati rice
  • Lime wedges, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Heat EVOO in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add pepper and onions; cook 1 minute. Stir in curry powder, curry paste, and cumin; cook 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer (do not boil). Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.
  3. Brush fish with 1/2 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with sauce, rice, and lime wedges.

Picnic Tuna Salad

Music: City Park Jazz – I LOVE Denver

Menu: Tuna Salad w/crackers, cheese, and veggie sticks.

I LOVE this tuna salad. It’s tasty without the mayo. So, for anyone who doesn’t like the mayo or if you need to transport the tuna salad to, let’s say, live free jazz concerts in downtown Denver in a beautiful park, then this is what you should make. It’s super easy, quick, and delicious. I made a massive amount of it and met about 10 people at the park and it was devoured in about 5 minutes. I think I even saw some licking their fingers ๐Ÿ™‚


And if you are a Denver-ite and have never been to Sunday evening, City Park Jazz, it’s a must! Sundays from 6 – 8pm FREE jazz! Just pack a cooler, join the crowds, and enjoy living in such a great city. Here’s a pic from last weeks fun…

Picnic Tuna Salad
Amanda

Ingredients:
  • 3 cans of tuna in water, drained well
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, sliced thin
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup Kalmata olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 TB parsley, chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • EVOO
  • S & P
Directions:
  1. Mix tuna through lemon juice and stir to combine. Add 1-3 TB EVOO to your liking and season to taste with S & P. Chill salad if you have the time. Serve!

Spicy Shrimp with Poblano Polenta

Music: Matisyahu, Live at Stubb’s
Menu:
Chips and salsa; Spicy Shrimp w/poblano polenta; red onion, zucchini, and corn saute (and much later becuase we are total lushes, I made bananas foster!)


If that photo isn’t making you drool, then sumthin’ is wrong with you…seriously…check your pulse. This meal was FANTASTIC. But I have a confession to make. It’s a bad one. I have never done this before, but it was just so hard to resist. This recipe….ready for this one…..???


Came from a product add. Hold your gasping and assumptions. If you read cooking magazines, then you should recognize this recipe. It is like THE add this month in (I’m pretty sure) every major cooking mag. It’s from McCormick’s. They call the recipe Smoked Paprika Shrimp with Poblano Polenta and Red Pepper Agave Sauce. I have adapted it to make it a bit easier and of course, used my own paprika and seasonings.

As for the music, Matisyahu (pronounced just like it looks, Ma-tis-ya-hu) hit the music scene running a few years back. I never really jumped on the band wagon then, but his Live at Stubb’s CD has been in my iTunes library for a while and recently have been playing it quite a bit. It’s the perfect for a late sunny Sunday afternoon. His reggae beats and killer songwriting are relaxing, but still make ya wanna swing your hips and sing along.

Spicy Shrimp and Poblano Polenta
from McCormick’s Gourmet

Ingredients:

  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 2 poblano peppers
  • EVOO (in all about 3 – 4 TB, divided)
  • 1/4 medium red onion, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 TB agave nectar or honey
  • 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock, divided
  • 1 TB tomato paste
  • 1/4 tspn cayenne
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tspn smoked paprika
  • 1 tspn garlic powder
  • 1 tspn cumin
  • S & P
  • Cilantro, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Cut tops and bottoms off peppers (red bell and poblanos). Remove seeds and white pith. On a cookie sheet wrapped in foil, place large pieces of pepper and press down to flatten pepper pieces. Place tops and bottoms and lightly drizzle with EVOO. Place under broiler and cook for at least 3 mintues or until skin is black and blistering. If you don’t cook peppers enough, they will be a pain to peel, so cook until the skin is blistering and black in large spots.
  3. Place peppers in a ziploc bag and set aside for 10 – 15 minutes. Remove and peel. Chop poblano peppers and set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat EVOO over medium heat. Add onion, saute for 2 – 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds – 1 minute. Add agave nectar and stir until nectar becomes watery and onions and garlic are incorporated. Turn off heat and set aside.
  5. In a food processor, combine the agave nectar mixture, roasted red pepper, 1/2 cup chicken stock, tomato paste, and cayenne. Puree until smooth or to your desired consistency. Season w/ S &P to taste.
  6. Place roasted red pepper sauce back into the same saucepan used to cook onion/nectar mixture. Place on law heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally (I cooked this down until the rest of dinner was finished).
  7. In a medium stockpot, heat 2 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of milk until lightly boiling. Whisk polenta into liquid and gently simmer for 15 – 25 minutes. Add chopped poblanos, season with S & P. Keep warm.
  8. While polenta cooks, season shrimp with paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and S & P. Mix to make sure each shrimp is coated.
  9. Heat 1 TB of EVOO in a large skillet over moderately high heat. Add shrimp and saute for 3 – 4 minutes or until shrimp a turn pick and are firm when you poke them.
  10. To serve, spoon a heap of polenta in the center of the plate. Top with a serving of shrimp and drizzle plate and shrimp with roasted red pepper sauce. Top with cilantro.