Shrimp Cocktail



Greetings blog readers! No excuse for my long hiatus. With the current busy state of my life, I think blogging may continue very sporadically. My kitchen equipment and I are still a team, though, and I’ve whipped up a few dishes worthy of sharing.

And this Shrimp Cocktail is definitely worthy of sharing, yet I’ve hoarded it in my files for almost two years now. I resurrected the recipe recently when Hubby requested this for his birthday.

My mom and my aunt, both stellar cooks, often include shrimp cocktail as an appetizer for holiday gatherings. This version blows away theirs, though. The shrimp only cooks for a few minutes in water combined with a multitude of flavorings, but it really absorbs the aromatics yet not overpoweringly so. Instead, the flavors subtly creep in and stay, providing a light and refreshing citrus hint.

The cocktail sauce provides a spicy kick. Now, I am not a huge fan of cocktail sauce, but I did allow my index finger to take a teensy tiny dip into the sauce for a taste, and I could feel that spice. Hubby, however, reacted by mumbling with a mouthful of shrimp, “Mmmmmm, that’s f@#!% good.” Yep, that’s my man for ya. But his reaction definitely informed me that this recipe goes in the winner pile.

Best of all, the recipe is easy to make. For the cocktail sauce, just stir together a few ingredients. As for the shrimp, add a few seasonings to water, heat, then cool. And you can prepare all of this a day or two in advance. Go ahead, add shrimp cocktail to your cooking repertoire and impress the heck out of your guests.

Shrimp Cocktail

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  • 2 pounds jumbo shrimp, raw & deveined
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp. peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seed (I bought from bulk bins at Sprouts since I don’t often use this spice)
  • 2 lemons: cut 8 (2-inch) strips lemon peel
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (save the lemon halves for later)
  • 8 cups ice

Cocktail Sauce

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup prepared horseradish (not horseradish sauce)
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper


  1. Rinse the shrimp. Devein if needed. In a large pot, combine shrimp, cold water, salt, thyme, peppercorn, bay leaves, and celery seeds.
  2. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until water reaches 170 degrees F and the shrimp just begin to turn pink, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Remove pot from heat; add lemon peels, lemon juice, and the squeezed lemon halves. Cover the pot for 5-7 minutes, allowing shrimp to turn completely pink and firm as well as absorb the flavors.
  4. Stir the ice into the pot and allow shrimp to cool completely, about 5 minutes.
  5. Drain water. Peel shrimp, leaving tails intact. Refrigerate until ready to serve (can chill for 24 hours in advance).
  6. For the cocktail sauce, whisk together all ingredients until combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be made a day or two in advance.

SOURCE: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe via Cooks Country Dec/Jan 2013

Shrimp Enchiladas with Roasted Poblano Sauce


I do hereby declare that this Shrimp Enchilada with Roasted Poblano Sauce represents my taste buds fully grown up…almost 5 decades after my birth…yep, took that long. I’ve always loved shrimp. However, onions? Ugh. Hot chili peppers of any kind? No way. And not only does this recipe have one type of chili, but a whoppin’ two! With one of ‘em visible in the white sauce…gasp!

But I ate it. And I loved it. And my taste buds are so proud of the big girl in me ;  )

Honestly, I feel like this is a very grown-up dish for me to eat because it contains so many things I run far far away from. Actually, I’ve grown to tolerate onions–but only when chopped very very very fine and sauteed until absolutely no crunch is left. My skin totally crawls with heebie jeebies from raw onions or any form of onion close to its raw state. I must admit that I did chop them very fine for the inclusion in this dish, though, to up the tolerance factor.

When I chopped the poblano chili peppers after roasting them (I actually used pasilla peppers–see Chowhound for a discussion of the two), I hesitated to toss them into the sauce. I felt it would ruin it and my slaving over this dish would be for naught. I took a deep breath, though, and forged ahead. So glad I did. A myriad of flavors barrel forth from these enchiladas and the sauce.

Let’s talk sauce first. Creamy. Tiny tang from the sour cream that offsets any heat from the chili peppers. Depth from homemade chicken broth. And a light freshness from the cilantro.

Now the sauce certainly enhances the enchiladas and in my opinion makes this delectable dish rocket out of this world, but the combo of shrimp, cabbage, onion, carrot, and spinach all complement each other. You get some crunch and sweetness from carrots, some chew from the shrimp, some kick from the chipotle peppers that lingers in a pleasing way. And I like that a handful of healthy veggies are incorporated; it makes me feel good eating this despite the fact that it gets doused in a sour cream sauce and layer of cheese.

I made homemade tortillas for the first time ever the day I made these. They came out very misshapen and rustic looking, but the taste––tender and…well, just tastes like real food vs. chemicals. I’m never going back to store-bought again. Never! Anyhow, once you roll it up, the homely appearance makes no difference, for it all disappears into the roll.

And let’s not forget the layer of cheese on top–all bubbly and crusty and gooey…mmmmm!!

You won’t find this recipe categorized under “quick and easy,” nor is it overly challenging. It just has a bit of chopping and roasting and sauteing that takes some time. However, the end result makes all the effort worthwhile. Very worthwhile.

P.S. I do offer a couple of shortcuts in the recipe below for those desiring a quicker version of the recipe.

Shrimp Enchilada with Roasted Poblano Sauce 

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  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp. unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth or veggie broth
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • dash cayenne pepper (or more, if you like the heat)
  • kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups green cabbage, shredded
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded

  (or you can use pre-packaged cole slaw in place of shredding your own cabbage and  


  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (found in cans in the market), seeded and finely minced or 1 tsp. chipotle powder (tip: freeze extra peppers in ice cube trays & store in freezer bags)
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (save time by purchasing already peeled/deveined shrimp)

To assemble

  • 10 to 12 (8-inch) flour or corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese


  1. To roast peppers: Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Place peppers in a medium baking dish. Bake, turning every 6-8 minutes until the skin is blistered over most of the surface, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover, and let sit 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel away the skin and discard. Remove the stem, seeds, and ribs. Coarsely chop the peppers and set aside.
  2. To make the sauce: Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then stir in the chopped poblanos. Sprinkle in flour, cooking briefly just until golden, 1-2 minutes.
  3. Whisk in the broth, adding a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture bubbles and thickens.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream and cilantro.
  5. To make filling: Begin by spreading shrimp on baking pan in one layer, then sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper (alternatively, you can sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. chipotle powder if you aren’t using actual chipotle peppers). Bring shrimp to one pile and pour 1 tbsp. olive oil onto shrimp. Toss to mix, then spread shrimp out in one layer. Roast at 400 degrees F. for 6-8 minutes, just until they are pink and cooked through. When cooled enough to handle, coarsely chop the shrimp.
  6. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, oregano, and cayenne; cook until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Stir in cabbage, carrots, and spinach; cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is fully wilted, 3-4 minutes.
  8. Stir in chipotle peppers; cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  9. Add chopped shrimp; stir them into filling.
  10. Allow to cool slightly, then stir in one cup shredded cheese.
  11. To assemble: Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking dish.
  12. Place 3-4 tortillas on a plate, cover with a light cloth, then heat them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to make them pliable. Alternatively, wrap in foil and place in the oven for a couple of minutes. Place about 1/3 cup filling down the center of a tortilla. Roll up tightly and place in prepared pan, seam-side down. Repeat with remaining filling and tortillas.
  13. When pan is filled, pour the poblano sauce over the enchiladas.
  14. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese.
  15. Bake until bubbling and slightly golden, 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle with additional cilantro. Serve immediately.

SOURCE: adapted from Annie’s Eats via Damn Delicious via the inventor, Gimme Some Oven

Seafood Boil

I’m writing this on the Fourth of July, and I just got back from my evening walk around the neighborhood. I’m salivating from the tantalizing smells of the barbecues wafting through the air.

Rather than a typical barbecue, though, I opted for something a bit different for us this year: a seafood boil. It smacks of summertime and the thought of something new appealed to me–that and the pictures on Nicole’s The Galley Gourmet blog looked stunningly delectable.

The ease of this recipe surprised me. Toss a few herbs and spices into a pot, immerse your potatoes and corn and sausage, then top it off with the shrimp and clams–and voila, you have a sumptuous seafood medley full of lip-smacking deliciousness. Well, there’s a bit more to it than that but not much, really. Try it. Easy. Fun. Delicious. What more could you ask?

Almost forgot: For the dipping butter, I used my zester to grate a couple of cloves of garlic into melted butter. I used some shrimp butter I had frozen in the fridge that I made last time we had shrimp. Save the shells from raw shrimp, rinse, then boil with a stick of butter for a few minutes, strain out shells, and you have shrimp butter. I froze mine in ice cube trays then popped the frozen cubes into a Ziploc baggie.

Seafood Boil

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  • 1 (12-ounce) beer
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 2 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 pounds small new red potatoes
  • 14-16 oz. kielbasa sausage
  • 14-16 oz. andouille sausage
  • 8 ears of corn, halved or cut into rounds
  • 2 pounds large shrimp, shell on
  • 2 dozen clams


  1. In a very large dutch oven or stock pot over high heat, bring beer, onion, water, bay leaves, lemon, Old Bay seasoning, and salt to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to a medium simmer and add potatoes. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the sausage and corn and cook for another 10 minutes or until potatoes can easily be pierced with a knife, the corn is cooked, and the sausage is warmed through.
  4. Add the shrimp and clams (or place in a steamer basket or steam separately), cover, and cook until the shrimp are pink and the clams have opened, another 3-4 minutes.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions, potatoes, sausage, corn, shrimp, and clams to a large platter. Ladle the broth over the meat and vegetables.

SOURCE: The Galley Gourmet


Ceviche (seh – BEE – chay) reminds me of Lol Ha Restaurant on the beach in the Yucatan Peninsula–in Akumal, to be exact. Several years ago, we found that lovely little bay by chance via internet research and rented the adorable Cannon House, steps from the ocean. Akumal is one of those places that imprints itself on my mind: quiet, relaxing atmosphere; uncrowded area; snorkeling in tropical waters; memorable food; lots of sun…

Ahhh, if only we could vacation there often.

Alas, we cannot; however, we can mimick that vacation feeling by making ceviche at home. We ordered it almost nightly at Lol Ha during our week stay. The waiters would bring out a cart elegantly covered in white cloth, atop which sat the various chopped fresh seafoods for this appetizer. We had the task of saying yes or no to the variety of goodies that were mixed into the dish, then watched the waiter mix the magic right before our eyes. Thank goodness we got to make choices, otherwise I would not have had the pleasure of discovering ceviche, for onions are typically included. And I’m not fond of raw onions. Needless to say, I emphatically said no the the onions, although they left a little dish of them for hubby to add to his half of the ceviche plate.

Just last year we finally got around to making our own ceviche. We had been on the hunt for octopus to include, and a friend directed us to the Asian superstore not too far from our home. Score! Not only did we find octopus, but we found conch and loads of other seafood yummies. Now ceviche often finds its way into our menu.

And who knew it was so darn easy to make? Basically, you chop up your raw seafood into bite-sized pieces, soak in lemon or lime juice (or a combo) along with some seasonings, and voila! The citrus juice “cooks” the fish–not technically, though, since heat isn’t used at all. The juice does this thing called denaturation which makes the fish flesh turn white, looking like it has been cooked. Check out for more info on this process and a few other tidbits.

Although this is an appetizer, we like to make a meal out of it. Just give us a bag of chips and we’ll polish off a big bowl of ceviche!



  • 2 pounds white fish, such as cabazon or calico or even catfish, cut into 1/2-inch pieces of fish
  • 12 large, raw shrimp, chopped (3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cooked octopus (we bought it at the fish section of an Asian market)
  • conch, about 1/2 cup

If you can’t find the octopus or conch, just leave them out. The white fish and the shrimp are the must haves, in my opinion.

for Marinade

  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 1-2 medium lemons
  • 1/2 cup lime juice, about 3 large limes
  • 4 serrano chiles, finely diced
  • one small red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. (or more) of red pepper or any other seasonings to give a spicy kick
  • salt  & pepper to taste

Post Marinade

  • 3 small tomatoes, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 3 tbsp. roughly chopped cilantro


  1. Chop all seafood into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl.
  2. Combine marinade ingredients: citrus juices, chiles, onion, garlic, seasonings; add to seafood (the juice should just cover the seafood). Allow to soak in marinade 1-2 hours.
  3. Drain marinade; add cilantro, tomatoes, and avocado.
  4. Serve with chips and enjoy!

SOURCE: a Greg-and-Maria concoction

Lemon Pasta with Roasted Shrimp

Lemon Pasta with Roasted Shrimp lingers in my mind and on my taste buds. Fresh, fragrant and buttery, I crave more even though I’m ready to explode from overeating it just a handful of hours ago. Already I can hardly wait to prepare it again. Tomorrow. And the day after. And then again the day after that…

Well, I won’t really make it daily, but I will make it soon, like next week probably. And maybe once a week for awhile.

Yes, it is that delectable.

I saw it just a couple of days ago on the Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa cooking show and knew it wouldn’t be long before I attempted it. The opportunity arrived tonight as I prepared it for an impromptu dinner with my sister-in-law and the fearless palate of my young adolescent nephew. All three of us devoured it.

I figured it would come out a winner, for it involves shrimp, one of my all-time favorite seafood items, and lemon, whose tangy taste won my heart eons ago.

Overall, it’s a snap to pull together and uses simple ingredients that all combine to create a light, fresh fare yet rich and satisfying at the same time.

The recipe calls for roasting the shrimp, a method I’ve never seen used with shrimp prior to this dish. Ina Garten, the hostess of Barefoot Contessa, mentioned that she thought of it one day because roasting chicken deepens its flavor, so why wouldn’t roasting shrimp have the same effect?

And my goodness, does it ever! Who would have thought something as simple as six minutes of oven roasting would provide such depth vs. a three-minute boil in water? I may never use any other method with shrimp again!

As for the pasta, the delicate angel hair soaks up the lemon from the juice and zest, giving the dish a fresh and fragrant perfume while the butter provides a rich flavoring.

I made a couple of additions to the original recipe by adding garlic for a slight pungency and basil for a delicate citrusy complement.

Finally, I can’t think of a better way to conclude except to repeat my opening idea: Lemon Pasta with Roasted Shrimp lingers in my mind and on my taste buds.

Lemon Pasta with Roasted Shrimp

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  • 2 pounds large shrimp (17-21 count), peeled and deveined
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta
  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5-10 basil leaves, thinly sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Fill a large pot with water and 1-2 tbsp. salt (it helps flavor the pasta) and heat on high until rapidly boiling.
  3. In a large bowl, microwave butter and minced garlic until butter melts. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, 2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper. Set aside. Or, for an alternative layer of flavor, melt the butter in a large pan until heated; add garlic and sauté until butter browns, then add olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  4. Toss shrimp with 1 tbsp. olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper (option:  you can add the minced garlic in this step rather than mix with the butter). Spread shrimp on a sheet pan in one layer; roast for 6-8 minutes, just until they are pink and cooked through.
  5. Meanwhile, drizzle some olive oil into the large pot of boiling salted water, add the angel hair pasta, and cook al dente, about 3 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking liquid.
  6. Quickly toss the angel hair with the melted butter mixture and about 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid.
  7. Top with shrimp, garnish with basil, and serve immediately.

SOURCE: adapted from Food Network: Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa show