Chicken, Shrimp, and Andouille Gumbo


When cooking there are a few dishes that I am convinced can’t be made as good in my kitchen as in restaurants. Or I’ve tried to make a dish and failed every time.

Gumbo was always one of those dishes. I was just convinced that it would be 1) too much work with making a roux and 2) just not taste as good despite my efforts. Well, one day something convinced me to try a Gumbo recipe. It was from Cook’s Illustrated, which is my one recipe source that can gives me hope that it will turn out. But then it was a lightened up/healthier gumbo, so I was skeptical all over again. Anyone who knows gumbo is that “light” is not typically a word you read to describe it.

Well, don’t be skeptical about this recipe. This is not a traditional roux in any sense, but it is so much easier and the taste is spot on. I have adapted a few things based on what ingredients I have had around


Crab “Cake” Sandwich with Tartar Sauce


Living in a landlocked city, I often mourn my lack of access to fresh seafood. I once had a crab cake sandwich in Lubbock and then spent the night laying on the bathroom floor, pondering my regrets about my menu selection.

Well, needless to say my own crab cake creation had much more positive consequences.  No bathroom floor, only a content stomach.

Now, here is a secret about crab cake sandwiches. Even when the cakes fall apart they still taste delicious. And since these are just going between two pieces of bread, you can hardly even tell that I had some patty assembly issues.  I just quickly placed my crab cake pieces on the bun, pushed them together, and then places the top bun on top and voila: a faux crab cake.  I’ve never had any luck getting my crab cakes to stay together and so my version of a crab cake sloppy joe came to be.

Since you’re making this crab mixture to smash between two buns, there is no need to add extra breading to dilute the crab filling just so the patties stay together. This is pure crab taste with tangy tartar sauce. Serve with some salt and vinegar chips and you are good to go.

From Cinnamon Freud


12 ounces lump crab meat
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon celery salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon butter
4 hamburger buns
2 tablespoons olive oil
Tartar sauce, recipe follows
Sliced red onion, for serving
Chopped lettuce, for serving


In a bowl combine crab, mayonnaise, scallions, panko, smoked paprika, celery salt, and black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Fold in egg, adding more bread crumbs if mixture is too wet.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Butter the hamburger buns and place butter side down. Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Set aside. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Pour crab mixture in a single layer. Cook for 3-5 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Divide mixture between buns and top with tartar sauce. Top with red onions and lettuce if desired.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

From Cinnamon Freud


1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
8 sweet pickles, chopped
2 tablespoons minced shallot
Salt and pepper, to taste


Combine mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, sweet pickles, and shallot together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld before using.

Mussels in White Wine Sauce


I have missed being near water and having access to fresh seafood.   The closest open water in town is an artificial lake outside the city’s mall that is probably about 50% water and 50% trash.  While I do see people fishing there, I think I will be sticking to the local grocery store for my seafood needs.

Even at our local grocery store the seafood selection is more limited than what I am used to, so when I was home for vacation, I knew I needed some seafood in my diet ASAP.

I first had mussels at a Chinese all-you-can eat buffet. Yes, let’s let that fact sink in. Our family’s tried and true childhood favorite restaurant was the Chinese buffet Cafe East, which had approximately 33% Asian food, and 65% miscellaneous American food. and 1% all you can eat soft serve ice cream,  And 90% of all food was deep fried.  It was childhood heaven.

Having mussels there was probably a risky option, but I was young and carefree. And they were covered with lots of melted cheese, so really the choice was a no-brainer for me.

These mussels aren’t covered in cheese, but I promise they are delicious. They are buttery, tender, and salty perfection. They are also an incredibly quick dinner- cook some onions, simmer a little broth, and steam the mussels for 5 minutes. My suggestion is to serve this up French style: moules et frites, mussels and fries. Or with a big loaf of crusty bread.

Local Chinese buffets better watch out.

From Cinnamon Freud


2 pounds mussels, debearded and cleaned*
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, sliced
1 onion, sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup white wine
Parsley, chopped


Sort through mussels and discard any that have already opened.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add butter, shallots, and onion. Cook until just tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add heavy cream and white wine. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, about 7-10 minutes.

Add mussels and cover pan with a lid. Steam for 5 minutes, until mussels have opened Serve mussels in a bowl with a little bit of sauce. Serve with garlic bread.

Serves 2-3.

*I bought mine already debearded and cleaned- just ask your seafood guy/gal.

Clam Pizza

Yes, clams on pizza.  It’s salty, cheesy, and delicious.  Don’t doubt me now, people, just try it!

Nothing more to say other than: YUM.

From Cinnamon Freud
For the Crust:
1 package active yeast
1/2 cup water, at 110°F
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Tartar Sauce:
2 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 sweet pickle, chopped
1 tablespoon minced shallot
Salt and pepper
For the Pizza:
6 ounces canned clams, drained
2-3 ounces Fontina cheese, sliced
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
Garlic  powder
2 scallions, chopped
For the Crust:
Preheat oven to 475°F.

In in small bowl, dissolve yeast in water with granulated sugar.  Let sit about 10 minutes, until foamy.  In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.  Pour dissolved yeast over flour.  Stir together with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.

On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 10 minutes.  Let sit in a warm place and rise for at least 1 hour.
For the Tartar Sauce:
In a bowl, combine mayonaise, yogurt, mustard, pickel, and shallot.  Season with salt and pepper and stir together.  Let chill for at least 30 minutes (great to have sit while the pizza dough is rising).For the pizza:
Prepare your pizza stone or baking sheet.  Roll dough out to desired consistency. Spread tartar sauce over the base of your pizza, leaving a border for the crust.  Top with clams, cheese, and sweet onion.  Season with garlic powder and salt and pepper.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.  Top with scallions.

Serves 2-3.

Linguine with Clams

I do spend a lot of time trying to think up new ideas for dinner.  I am a huge fan of strange combinations that don’t seem like they would work together but magically do somehow.  This involves eating a lot of combinations that don’t work to come up with the rare magical one.
However, some nights I just want a classic (and it’s much easier on my palate and my overworked brain).  Linguine with clams is a dish that deserves the title of classic.  There is something great about tender pasta with a little butter, garlic, and clams.  Simple and delicious.  Dinner can easily be on the plate in less than 30 minutes.
Now after this traditional use for clams, look out for my nontraditional way of how I used up the rest of my extra clams soon…
From Cinnamon Freud

4 ounces linguine
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste
6 ounces canned clams with juice
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons butter


Cook linguine until al dente, according to instructions.  Drain and set aside.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add olive oil, then garlic.  Cook until golden brown and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.  Add anchovy paste, clams, and thyme.  Bring to a simmer and let cook for 10 minutes.  Add linguine and toss.  Add butter and let cook for 2-3 minutes.  Serve warm.

Serves 2.

Hawaiian Shrimp Skewers

Summer is coming. Our family motto is the opposite of the Starks, it always feels like it gets hotter and hotter here in Texas.  With the sweltering heat comes grilling season!  Nothing is easier than slapping some meat with some sauce on a grill and calling it dinner.
Skewers are an especially fun way to grill for dinner.  Slide on some meat and vegetables/fruit, baste with some yummy sauce and then each person gets to eat their own skewer for dinner.  This combination uses shrimp, pineapple, and red onion with a teriyaki-like sauce for a little Hawaiian twist.  Delicious with the sweet sauce and the crunchy charcoal grilled outside.  Yum.
(PS- If you aren’t watching Game of Thrones, fix that now!  These skewers are a perfect dinner to eat while watching…)
From Cinnamon Freud
For the Sauce:
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cornstarch
For the Skewers:
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pineapple, chopped
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
For the Sauce:
In a small saucepan, combine apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, and honey.  Bring to a boil then simmer.  Mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water.  Whisk in cornstarch mixture.  Continue to simmer for 8-10 minutes, until sauce is thickened.  Set aside.
For the Skewers:
Prepare and preheat your grill.  Alternatively, thread shrimp, pineapple, and red onion onto your skewers.  Spoon our some of your sauce and brush onto raw skewers.  Grill skewers, about  6 minutes for each side.  Continue to brush with sauce as the skewers cook.
Serves 4, makes about 8 skewers

Sushi in a Bowl

There are certain foods that I only crave once in a blue moon, but when that craving hits, I have to have it and I have to have it NOW.  Sushi falls under this category.  I am by no means a connoisseur of sushi- I basically enjoy the California roll, or if I feel a little crazy, I may have the Philly roll with cream cheese instead of avocado.  The most daring I’ve ever gotten is eating unidentified sushi at our a Chinese buffet our family has frequented for years, and I’m pretty sure I was just eating chicken a lot of the time (or maybe that’s what my mind wants me to think).
Anywho, when I crave sushi, I turn to the basic rolls they have made at the grocery store.  Nothing special but as always, slightly overpriced.  I wanted to try making sushi at home (but then I realized it would take too much time and involve having to buy a bamboo mat).  So, enter the ingenious idea of a sushi salad.  I was skeptical at first if this could really satisfy a sushi craving, but as I took my first bite, I announced “This tastes like sushi!”
This salad is easy to prepare and a perfect quick and cheap fix to any sushi craving.  Customize it to your sushi preferences, I have written the recipe as I make it.
For the Salad:
4 cups brown rice, refrigerated
2 cups crab, chopped
4 carrots, julienned
1 cup edamame beans
Seaweed, for topping
For the Sweet Chili Sauce:
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1-1 1/2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
Sriracha sauce, to taste
In a large bowl, combine brown rice, crab, carrots, edamame, and seaweed.  Toss.
In a small bowl combine Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, sweet chili suace, and sriracha.  Pour over salad.  Toss to mix.  Serve cold or at room temperature.
Serves 4.

Shrimp Salad

Everyone knows tuna salad, but have you met its cousin shrimp salad?

I’m sure someone has thought up the idea of replacing tuna with shrimp before me, but I thought of this one night when I needed to use up ingredients sitting in my fridge.  I think’s it is a genius idea.

I like tuna but only eat it when a strange craving overcomes me.  The last time such a craving came over me was 4 years ago when I was a freshman living in the dorms.  At first, the freedom of getting to eat out every night at the dining halls and being able to eat as myself into a nutrition wasteland was great.  But slowly the novelty of college dining wore off, and I began to crave homemade food the dining halls didn’t have.  One day I got the idea of a tuna salad on crackers in my mind.  I had to have it then and there (even though I never ate tuna salad).  Luckily my friend had a communal kitchen in her dorm, so we made a big trip to the grocery store (a whole ordeal back then), bought eggs, tuna, crackers, and mayo.  We made tuna salad and ate it all up in one sitting.  And then we never used the kitchen again.

Luckily now I have my own kitchen and can make this shrimp salad whenever I want.  Mayo is one of life’s simple pleasures (you know you love it too), and it is combined with Dijon mustard and smashed egg yolks to coat shrimp and crunchy vegetables.  I like this shrimp salad on crackers, toast, sandwiches, or eaten straight from the bowl.  Serve warm or cold based on your preference (mine being warm).

From Cinnamon Freud

6 ounces cooked shrimp, chopped
2 eggs
4 small/medium pickles, chopped
1/2 cucumber, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Dill, salt, and pepper to taste

Place eggs in a medium saucepan.  Cover with water.  Cover with lid and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Once boiling, turn off the stove.  Let eggs sit in water with lid on for 20 minutes.  Drain and cover with cold water.  Peel over egg shell.  Coarsely chop egg white and egg yolk.
With paper towels, squeeze water out of cucumbers and shrimp as needed.  You do not need to drain the pickles because pickle juice will add flavor.  In a large bowl, combine shrimp, hard boiled eggs, pickles, cucumber, mayo, and Dijon mustard.  Season with dill, salt, and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.  Serve chilled, at room temperature, or warmed.
Serves 2-4.