Barbecue Alaskan Salmon

Barbecue Alaskan Salmon

Yesterday the parentals came to town for a few hours to help me begin my apartment search for the pending end of summer move. After five hours driving in an approximately 3-mile radius, I was tired. Done. Even though I was left with two good options, I don’t even want to think about it anymore this week. Or this month. And don’t get me started on what can qualify as a “kitchen,” or for that matter, “clean…”

Mom has a way of laying on the guilt when I talk about a new recipe I’ve cooked for our weekly girls’ night dinner or a dessert I’ve baked to only be devoured by 20 intoxicated so-called adults floating down a river in tubes. I get it — I may be the only person in history to make homemade Oreos for a day of river tubing. Apparently I don’t cook very often for my family outside of holidays. Since Dad was willing to leave the compound for the day and miss out on watching the O’s or hitting golf balls, I decided the least I could do was cook dinner and provide a cold adult beverage.

This is my favorite basting marinade for grilled salmon. I always triple or quadruple the recipe below since I like to reserve some of the sauce to pour over the salmon after it is cooked. I usually pair it with scalloped potatoes or risotto and grilled vegetables. Yesterday I experimented with a new Mediterranean orzo salad (recipe to come!). All in all, it must have been a hit because Dad also repaired my vacuum cleaner. Score! Then again, he does do anything I ask him. :)

Barbecue Alaskan Salmon

Barbecue Alaskan Salmon

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 – 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
4 salmon steaks (1 inch thick)

In a small saucepan, combine the first six ingredients. Cook on medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Heat a grill to medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Note: If you don’t have a charcoal or gas grill (or maybe you want to make it in the winter and don’t have a boy to venture out in the cold to the grill!), this recipe can also be made in a glass baking dish uncovered on broil at 500 degrees in the oven until desired temperature by pouring 3/4 of the marinade over the salmon and basting every 5 minutes. It does not need to be turned.

Grill the salmon, basting with the marinade for 7-9 minutes. Turn and continue to baste until salmon flakes easily with a fork.


Baked Shrimp Scampi

Just about every weekend I sign into Facebook now there’s another upload of wedding photos or an engagement announcement. In the next two months I have two bridal showers, an engagement party, a bachelorette party and two weddings on the calendar. Just this weekend roomie and I went bridal gown shopping with our first friend from college to get married and celebrated their future nuptials with an engagement party. Of course this also meant lots of yummy food and champagne.

Being the host I am I wanted to make said yummy food. I whipped up some chardonnay citrus cupcakes with chardonnay frosting topped with fresh raspberries (I mean, can you really go wrong with any dessert made with wine?), and baked shrimp scampi since I know it is one of the couple’s favorite recipes I’ve passed onto them. I won’t share how she described the groom’s reaction the first time she made him the recipe (it’s not exactly PG-13), but let’s just say he thinks it’s pretty amazing.

This recipe is so much simpler than the average shrimp scampi because there’s no stove cook time involved. It’s great if you’re hosting a party and need a dish that can be prepped before and popped in the oven. I have to give credit to Ina Garten on Barefoot Contessa from the Food Network for this one. I love watching her show every evening when I workout at the gym (I may also be the only person who watches the Food Network while working out… this could also explain the glares).

This shrimp scampi would be best served over jasmine rice, risotto or pasta, or served as a hot appetizer.

Baked Shrimp Scampi

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa: Ina Garten

2 pounds (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell (I’ve bought frozen, already peeled shrimp… made it quicker!)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 extra-large egg yolk
2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp. You can leave the tails on or take them off. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.

In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until combined.

Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp.

Bake for 20 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

Maryland Shrimp Pasta Salad

I had a very relaxing 4th of July at the beach… minus the really weird tan lines, sleeping in an igloo (not literally, but it felt like it!) and coming home sick. It was filled with sun, friends, drinks and good food. It had me thinking of all the summers spent at the beach throughout high school and what I love most about summer.

Nothing reminds me more of summer growing up in Maryland than steamed crabs and BBQs. When I moved to North Carolina, my piece of summer away from home came to be my mom’s Maryland shrimp pasta salad. It was always a staple side dish at all family BBQs and steamed shrimp was the closest to Maryland seafood I could get my hands on, especially since I kept an economy-sized container of Old Bay in my spice cabinet (yes, I have a spice cabinet… a rack just doesn’t cut it!).

I don’t think this recipe is “famous,” but it’s become famous among friends and at parties I’ve taken it to as a side dish. I’ve passed the recipe on more times than I can count–it’s easy breezy and you only really need to know how to boil pasta. It’s even been eaten alone as seconds and thirds, or as a cold salad for lunch. I’ve also made this recipe vegetarian by eliminating the shrimp and adding additional fresh vegetables. The list of vegetables I use isn’t all-inclusive, so feel free to experiment with what you like!

Maryland Shrimp Pasta Salad

1 lb. shaped pasta (Rotini or Trio Italiano)
2 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 carrots, shredded
1 small Vidalia onion, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 bell green pepper, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 lb. steamed shrimp, peeled (optional)


1 cup mayo
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Old Bay to taste

Boil and cook pasta. Drain and chill immediately using cold water and ice cubes. Chop the vegetables and peeled shrimp in a large bowl.

Mix and pour the dressing over the pasta and vegetables and mix well. Next, season with Old Bay to taste (Note: As a Marylander, I literally *dump* Old Bay on it when I make it… easily 6-10 tablespoons if not more. It also depends on if you have Old Bay on the steamed shrimp already.)

Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving. See, didn’t I say it was super easy?!

Seared Scallops with Greek Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Seared Scallops with Greek Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

I’ve been teasing some of my friends since I discovered the deliciousness of this dish last week. A scallop seared perfectly is savory, seasoned simply and will melt in your mouth. Paired with this Greek roasted red pepper sauce inspired by a grilling recipe from Kalofagas, you’ll also enjoy both sweet and spicy. So without any further ado, I give you seared scallops with Greek roasted red pepper sauce (and a few tips on searing the perfect scallop).

Seared Scallops with Greek Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Seared Scallops with Greek Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

1 lb. large fresh sea scallops, washed and patted dry
2 red bell peppers
1/4 cup EVOO
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons strained Greek yogurt
Tops of 3 scallions, chopped (or green onions in this part of the country)
Sea salt and oregano for seasoning
Oil to coat the bottom of pan, plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter for searing

Preheat oven on broil at 500 degrees. Wash, core and cut in half red bell peppers and place on a baking pan. Broil about 10 – 15 minutes until soft and roasted. Place in a zip lock bag or bowl covered in saran wrap and allow them to sweat for about 20 minutes. This will make them easier to handle and to peel away the skins. After outer skin is peeled away, chop, place in food processor or small electric food chopper and puree.

Greek Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Place a small saucepan on stove over medium heat and add olive oil, chopped scallions, garlic, and red pepper puree. Slowly bring to a bubble while mixing. Add red pepper flakes, cooking for about an additional 5 minutes. Take off heat and add Greek yogurt. Keep warm.

Now for searing the scallops. Scallops cooked incorrectly have a tendency to become rubbery and chewy. Bay scallops are great for seafood pasta dishes, but you’ll want to spend the extra money and use its larger counterpart, sea scallops, for this recipe. You’ll also want to make sure your scallops are dry before searing.

Coat the bottom of a non-stick pan with a thin layer of oil and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter. Heat on medium to medium-high heat until butter is melted and is no longer foaming.

Seared Scallops

Add scallops to pan. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt and oregano on each scallop. Sear scallops on each side for about 4 – 6 minutes until golden brown (see how the scallops in toward the top of the pan have a golden brown color?). You will only need to turn scallops once. Remove to paper towel lined plate.

Serve scallops on top of a small spoonful of roasted red pepper sauce. Leftover roasted red pepper sauce is also tasty spread on pita chips.