Apple Curry Butternut Squash Soup

This recipe for Apple Curry Butternut Squash Soup puts a spin on an autumn classic. Delicious curry and sweet apples add unexpected flavors, and a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds sends it over the top!

Apple Curry Butternut Squash Soup - a delicious twist on an autumn classic. www.BlueCrabMartini.com

Butternut squash is one of my all time favorite veggies. I’m so excited that they are in season right now and I’m even more excited that my mom decided to grow them in her garden! I was lucky enough to snag a few during a visit last week (along with some garlic, thanks mom), and I’ve been busy in the kitchen ever since.

The best thing about butternut squash is its versatility. You can roast them to get a sweet caramelized flavor, chop them up and add them to chili or stew, or puree them for an amazing ravioli filling. They also make a great addition to spicy Indian dishes like chicken tikka masala. No matter how you cook them, butternut squash retains its earthy, mild, slightly sweet flavor that is oh-so-good.

Apple Curry Butternut Squash Soup - a delicious twist on an autumn classic. www.BlueCrabMartini.com

One of my favorite things to make with butternut squash is soup. It’s healthy, hearty, and makes for a perfect early autumn meal. That’s exactly what I decided to make with the squash that my mom gave me, except this time I wanted to spice things up a bit.

When I told Shaun I was making butternut squash soup for dinner, he was excited. When I mentioned that I was adding apples to the soup, he was skeptical. But it was when I reached for the curry powder that he began to look really worried. The look on his face made it very clear that he thought I had absolutely lost my mind, but I assured him that the flavors would work. And work they did!

Apple Curry Butternut Squash Soup - a delicious twist on an autumn classic. www.BlueCrabMartini.com

This Apple Curry Butternut Squash Soup will have you licking your spoon and going back for seconds. It’s really that darn good, I promise! The soup has the sweet and nutty taste that you would expect from butternut squash, but the apples and curry elevate the flavors beyond the ordinary. You may think that curry and apples are an unusual combination, but they pair together amazingly well.

My favorite part of this soup (aside form the fact that it was made with homegrown squash), were the spicy, slightly toasted, pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top. They provided the perfect bit of crunch and texture to this creamy soup. Lightly toasting the seeds really brought out their earthy autumn flavors. They were the icing on the cake, so to speak, and I kept going back for more!

Have you ever used curry powder in an unexpected way? I’d love to hear about your dishes. Tell me about them in the comments below!

Apple Curry Butternut Squash Soup - a delicious twist on an autumn classic. www.BlueCrabMartini.com

Apple Curry Butternut Squash Soup

INGREDIENTS
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 butternut squash (medium to large in size), cubed
2 organic sweet apples (I used gala apples), chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
2-4 tsp yellow curry powder (depending on your preferences)
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
4 cups vegetable stock (chicken stock would work too if you have it on hand)
1/2-1 cup heavy cream (depending on how creamy you want the soup to be)
Handful of pumpkin seeds
Sprinkle of additional salt, pepper, nutmeg, and curry powder for the seeds

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot and saute the carrots, celery, and onion for about 3-4 minutes.
2. Next, add the butternut squash and apples to the pot.
3. Add the salt, pepper, curry, and nutmeg, stir to combine, and cook on medium heat for an additional 2-3 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure that the veggies cook evenly and do not burn.
4. Then, pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let the pot simmer until the squash is fork tender, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
5. Next use an immersion blender to puree the soup (or carefully puree in batches in a regular blender). Return the mixture to the stock pot and stir in the heavy cream.
6. Add any additional salt, pepper, or curry to suit your taste preferences.
7. In a small pan over medium heat, toss together the pumpkin seeds, and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, nutmeg, and curry powder.
8. Lightly toast them by gently tossing them in the pan until the spices are fragrant and the seeds have a light golden brown color.

Serve the soup with a sprinkle of curry powder and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.

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Garden Bean & Red Potato Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Crispy, oven roasted potatoes are lightly seasoned with rosemary and sea salt. Then, a trio of garden fresh beans and peas are sauteed to tender perfection. The potatoes and veggies are gently tossed together and drizzled with a homemade basil vinaigrette. This is the perfect side dish to any meal, and it’s definitely not your grandma’s potato salad!

The perfect side dish for any meal! Garden Bean and Red Potato Salad with Basil Vinaigrette www.BlueCrabMartini.com

Whenever I think that I’ve lost something (my keys, my wallet… my sanity) I know that my two little boys are probably to blame. They have an incredible ability to hide things where I can’t find them. Like the time I found my long lost credit card in my running shoe. Or the time my hairbrush went missing, only to show up several days later… in the freezer.

I’ve gotten used to the random Lego dude showing up in the washing machine or the Matchbox car in the dishwasher, but when something important (usually belonging to me) can’t be found, the shtick gets bit old.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because the most recent item to disappear was the memory card for my camera! The very same memory card that holds every photo I’ve taken over the last two years – all 6,500 of them. That teeny tiny speck of plastic contains every important moment of our lives from 2012 thorough now. The pink and wrinkly feet of our newborn son, Christmas mornings by the tree, birthday parties, and soccer games. If we did it, it was captured forever in time on that little memory card. 

garden sweet peas

It also contains a lot of the photos that I take for this blog. Including the pictures that I snapped for this post. So imagine my horror several months ago when I went to grab the memory card from it’s usual hiding place, only to find it missing. I looked everywhere, and I mean absolutely, positively, turn-this-house-upside everywhere! No luck.

Then, the other day, my oldest son walked up to me with something in his hand. I couldn’t believe it when I saw my memory card in the palm of his hand. Where had it been all summer? Why did it disappear? And why did he all of a sudden remember where it was?!

So many questions, all of which I’m certain will forever remain unanswered. Questions aside, I was ecstatic to have it back in my possession again. At this point I figured it had long ago been flushed down the drain or buried in the back yard (very legitimate possibilities with my two crazy boys).

garden fava beans

At the time I created this recipe, I was so excited to share it with you all. It’s packed with garden fresh, seasonal veggies and is a perfect summer side dish. The fava beans, which were the inspiration for the dish came right out of my mom’s garden. These pictures are of the bean plants that she grew this year!

Now it’s September and we’ve traded in fava beans for fall veggies, and peas for pumpkins. I decided to go ahead and share this recipe for Garden Bean and Red Potato Salad with Basil Vinaigrette with you any way. Why? Because even this time of year, it makes one heck of a side dish. You can leave out the fava beans if they’re not available and just add a handful more of peas and green beans instead. Also, I figured if I share it now, you can Pin it on Pinterest to save it for next year. Gives you something to look forward to next year!

This isn’t your average potato salad. There’s no mayo or wacky ingredients, just pure and simple garden fresh goodness in every bite.  The potatoes are crispy and the peas and green beans are fresh and crunchy. Of course, basil makes everything taste better, so tossing everything in this bright green, bold, basil vinaigrette takes it top over the top!

The perfect side dish for any meal! Garden Bean and Red Potato Salad with Basil Vinaigrette www.BlueCrabMartini.comGarden Bean & Red Potato Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

For the Potato Salad:
INGREDIENTS
3 lbs small red potatoes (organic if possible), cut into small wedges
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp course sea salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp dried rosemary
1 cup fava beans, shelled
2 cups of peas (fresh, not frozen, is best)
1 cup of fresh green beans, cut into 1″ pieces (I used the green & yellow beans from my garden, but regular green beans will work just fine)
1/2 red onion, diced
2 Tbsp organic salted butter
Additional salt & pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat your oven to 450*.
2. In a large bowl, combine potato wedges, olive, salt, and pepper. Mix until all potatoes are evenly coated.
3. On a parchment lined baking sheet, spread the potatoes out into a single layer. Sprinkle with the dried rosemary.
4. Bake the potatoes at 450* until they are tender and golden brown (you want the outer part to have a nice crispness to it), about 30 minutes. Once the potatoes are done in the oven, allow them to cool for a few minutes before mixing the salad together.
5. Meanwhile, in a saute pan over low heat, saute the fava beans in the butter until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
6. Add the green beans and the diced onion, stir, and continue to saute for 2 more minutes.
7. Next, add the peas, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the Basil Vinaigrette:
INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Large handful of fresh basil leaves, about 1 cup

DIRECTIONS
1. Place all ingredients into a blender and pulse on high speed until everything is well incorporated and the texture is smooth.

To Assemble the Salad:
1. Combine the pea/bean mixture with the roasted potatoes in a large bowl.
2. Drizzle on the basil vinaigrette and toss to evenly dress the potatoes and beans.

Note: I’ve made this a few times and I’ve decided that this dish is at it’s best when it’s served room temperature. When the potatoes get cold, they tend to get too firm.

Garden Bean & Red Potato Salad with Basil Vinaigrette- the easiest, healthiest, side dish ever! Give it a try and see how easy clean eating can be! Recipe can be found at www.BlueCrabMartini.com #vegan #vegetarian #glutenfree #sidedish

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Moments that Matter: August 2014 Edition

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I guess it’s about time I post the August edition of Moments that Matter, right? Since it’s already the middle of September and everything! (How on earth did that happen? Wasn’t it just the beginning of summer yesterday??)

In case you’re a new reader, here’s the scoop- this monthly series will give an up close look at what life on the Chesapeake Bay is all about. Through photos of our adventures, our family, and scenes from the Bay area, we hope to give you a taste of what inspires us (and our food).

So without further ado, here’s a look back at the month of August and all of our adventures!

Yeehaw! We went to the rodeo and saw some great barrel racing and bull riding.

Yeehaw! We went to the rodeo and saw some great barrel racing and bull riding.

Sleepy boy skipped his nap in favor pf his first watermelon. He loved it!

This sleepy boy skipped his nap in favor of his first watermelon. He loved it!

This cutie pie helped make his own pizza one night for dinner. I think more sauce ended up on the floor than on the pizza!

This cutie pie helped make his own pizza one night for dinner. More sauce ended up on the floor than the pizza!

We were so excited to go to the Peach Festival at Godfrey's Farm in Sudlersville on August 9th. Except, guess what? I messed up the dates and we went on August 10th! There was no festival (of course) but we made a great afternoon of it any way.

We were so excited to go to the Peach Festival at Godfrey’s Farm in Sudlersville on August 9th. Except, guess what? I messed up the dates and we went on August 10th! There was no festival (of course) but we made a great afternoon of it any way.

We spent a gorgeous late summer evening at the Bowie Baysox baseball game.

We spent a gorgeous late summer evening at the Bowie Baysox baseball game.

Holy jalapenos! My plant was overloaded with peppers.

Holy jalapenos! My plant was overloaded with peppers.

I finally got to try stand up paddleboarding and I LOVED it! My mom took me out for my first lesson and I can't wait to go again.

I finally got to try stand up paddleboarding and I LOVED it! My mom took me out for my first lesson and I can’t wait to go again.

Omelette anyone?  Spotted these beautiful farm fresh eggs while visiting the Queen Anne's County 4-H Fair on the Eastern Shore.

Omelette anyone? Spotted these farm fresh eggs while visiting the Queen Anne’s County Fair on the Eastern Shore.

We went crabbing! Best day of the summer!

We went crabbing! Best day of the summer!

Captain Christin, cruising the Chesapeake Bay!

Captain Christin, cruising the Chesapeake Bay!

Go O's! Shaun and I went to an Oriole's game. It was at least 10,000 degrees in Baltimore that day, but getting to see a grand slam made up for the heat!

Go O’s! Shaun and I went to an Oriole’s game. It was at least 10,000 degrees in Baltimore that day, but getting to see a grand slam made up for the heat!

You've seen the "smile and look happy for the camera" version of his back to school photo, but this is how he actually felt about kindergarten :)

You’ve seen the “smile and look happy for the camera” version of his back to school photo, but this is how he actually felt about kindergarten🙂

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Crab Tostadas with Peach and Corn Salsa

Savor the last few days of summer with homemade tostadas topped with fresh peach and corn salsa, and crab meat straight out of the Chesapeake Bay. Summer’s not over just yet, and this recipe sure proves it!

Crab Tostadas with Peach & Corn Salsa! www.BlueCrabMartini.com

Hey there, Halloween candy. I see you, lurking on the grocery store shelves, trying to entice me with your pretty orange wrappers and sugar-coated promises. Well, guess what? You’re gonna’ have to sit there and look pretty for another month before I’ll even give you the time of day. You see, according to the calendar (and our fabulous sunny weather), it is still SUMMER until September 22nd!

That said, I realize that our beautiful season full of long days and firefly nights is quickly winding down. Soon it’ll be pumpkin e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. But summer is my favorite time of year and I’m determined to wring every last ounce of fun that I can from it.

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One sure-fire way to beat the end of summer blues is to get out on the water. Fortunately for us, my dad provided the perfect opportunity to do so when he invited us to go crabbing! We headed out of the Watermen’s Basin in the Kent Narrows and after a serene little boat ride to Eastern Bay, we set out the trot line. Dad, aka Captain Steve, manned the boat and dipped the first few runs down the line. Then, it was my turn to try my hand at dipping the crabs.

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I have always loved crabbing, even when I was barely big enough to hold the net. On this crisp morning I showed the boys how to crab, like a boss! Only a few escaped my net, and I’m sure none of them were keepers anyway😉 I earned the nickname Beast Mode Crab Girl (Big Brother nerd alert) after catching a crab with claws so big that even Old Bay tweeted about it:

CrabTostadasPictwitter

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Ok, so perhaps I missed nearly as many crabs as I caught, and maybe I gave myself that nickname, but we still had a great day out on the Bay! After docking the boat we headed back to enjoy steamed crabs and an ice cold beer. Normally, Shaun and my dad have no problem putting down a few dozen crabs. However, these crabs were so packed full of meat that we had quite a few leftover. Gee, what a problem to have, huh?

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Typically whenever we have leftover crabs, I make crab cakes. Although that was my original plan, I had a sudden change of heart right before dinner time. The ripe and juicy peaches sitting on my kitchen window sill were calling my name. I pondered for a few minutes on what to do with them and then it hit me- tostadas! I whipped up a quick batch of peach and corn salsa using the jalapenos from my garden. Then I grabbed a container of plain Greek yogurt from the fridge, stirred in some lime juice, and voila I had the perfect elements for a tostada!

Crab Tostadas with Peach & Corn Salsa www.BlueCrabMartini.com

When you bite into these tostadas, you taste both heat and sweet, a punch of tangy lime, and of course rich and buttery crab meat. The Greek yogurt compliments the bold peach and corn salsa, offering a cool and creamy texture to the tostada. I was really pleased with how these Crab Tostadas with Peach and Corn Salsa turned out, and they were so easy to prepare (on the table in under 30 minutes- score)!

So take that, Halloween candy. It’s still summer, and this recipe proves it! Peaches, corn, and crabs (oh my)! There’s no better way to beat the end of summer blues than eating some Maryland ‘True Blues’… blue crabs that is!

Crab Tostadas with Peach & Corn Salsa www.BlueCrabMartini.com

Crab Tostadas with Peach & Corn Salsa

For the Peach & Corn Salsa
INGREDIENTS
2 ears of sweet corn, kernels removed
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 medium red onion, diced
1 ripe peach, diced
2 jalapenos, diced
1/2 lime, juiced
Salt & pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Saute the corn kernels in the coconut oil over medium heat, add the salt and pepper, simmer for only 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and place into a medium sized bowl.
2. Next, add all other ingredients to the bowl. Stir to combine the corn and other salsa ingredients. If needed, add additional salt and pepper.

For the Crab Tostadas
INGREDIENTS
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 1/2 limes, juiced
Several tostadas*** (depending on how much or how little you want on your tostada)
Several ounces of jumbo lump (or backfin) Maryland blue crab meat
2 cups of cooked plain rice
2 Tbsp butter
Salt & Pepper
Additional limes for garnish
Cilantro for garnish

***Note: to make a tostada, lightly fry a corn tortilla in a small amount of grapeseed oil. When the tortilla becomes golden brown and crispy, you will know that it’s done cooking.

DIRECTIONS
1. First, in a mixing bowl, combine the cooked rice, 1/2 of a juiced lime, butter, salt, and pepper. Set aside until you are ready to assemble your tostada.
2. Next, in a separate mixing bowl, combine the Greek yogurt and the remaining lime juice. Stir until the lime juice is evenly incorporated into the yogurt.

To Assemble the Crab Tostadas with Peach and Corn Salsa:
Place one or two spoonfuls of the yogurt mixture onto the tostada shell. Then, add the rice and the peach and corn salsa. Top with Maryland crab meat and garnish with a drizzle of lime juice and freshly chopped cilantro. 
CrabTostadasPic11
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Caramel Apple Baked Donuts & Why I Sent My Son to Kindergarten with a Tattoo

Take comfort food to a whole new level with Caramel Apple Baked Donuts. Cinnamon coated apples and real applesauce are baked right into these sweet treats. Though tasty straight out of the oven, a caramel glaze sends them over the top! These are donuts that you can feel good about serving your family as they are gluten free and contain absolutely no refined sugar. 
Caramel Apple Baked Donuts- try these delicious, easy, and healthy donuts and you will never buy them from the store again! Gluten Free and contains no refined sugar. See the recipe here: www.BlueCrabMartini.com

The day has come. The day that I must put my sweet little boy on a school bus and send him off into the big, big world. The first day of kindergarten is here, whether I’m ready for it or not. Wasn’t he just in diapers? How did we get here so fast?

I’ve fearlessly done many things that would scare the pants off of most people. Repel into a cave in Mexico? Peace of cake. Navigate the chaotic streets of Morocco? Easy peasy. Jump my horse over a 4’9″ fence? Walk in the park. But put a kindergartner on a bus? A BUS?! Quite possibly the most anxiety inducing, stressful, emotional moment of my life.

Back to School! www.BlueCrabMartini.com

I sent my little man off with a hug, a kiss, and a dinosaur tattoo. Yes, that’s right- a tattoo, and here’s why it was probably the most important thing he took with him that morning. Have you ever read “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn? It’s about a little raccoon that’s nervous to start school. His mom gives him a kiss on his hand that he can turn to whenever he’s feeling afraid or lonely.

This book has been on heavy rotation this summer during our bedtime reading routine. I loved the idea of sending him to kindergarten with something that would be comforting and remind him of home. However, being a typical 5 year old boy, kisses just too mushy-mushy to be cool. So, I put my super-mom thinking cap on and came up with the dinosaur tattoo idea. On the first day of school, we both wore matching dinosaur tattoos. It was our little secret, and he could look at his tattoo whenever he was feeling nervous, just like Chester the raccoon in “The Kissing Hand”.

"The Kissing Hand" is a great book to read when your child is starting school. Here's how I made it less mushy-mushy for my son starting kindergarten!

I anxiously counted down the hours and minutes until he arrived home from his first day of kindergarten. As any mother does, I couldn’t help but feel anxious. Was he making friends? Did his lunch stay cold enough? Were the big kids being nice to him? At times it felt absolutely overwhelming!

When I feel stress getting the best of me, I often turn to my kitchen for some relief. On this all-important day of days, I felt the need for comfort. For me, for my son when he returned from school, and for our family. Since donuts are one of my son’s favorite treats, I decided to try my hand at making some at home. I pondered for awhile on what kind to bake, before settling on apple cinnamon donuts with a caramel glaze. Keeping my hands busy in the kitchen was the perfect distraction for this nervous momma!

Soon, the sweet scent of apple donuts filled my home and before I knew it, it was already time to meet the bus! I headed out to the bus stop and waited… and waited… and waited. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, I saw that yellow bus crest over the hilltop. I held my breath. The story of his first day would be written all over his face. My heart skipped a beat. Then I saw his blue eyes shining and a huge smile plastered on his face. Success!

Caramel Apple Baked Donuts- try these delicious, easy, and healthy donuts and you will never buy them from the store again! Gluten Free and contains no refined sugar. See the recipe here: www.BlueCrabMartini.com

On the walk home I eagerly peppered him with questions about this first day of kindergarten, but all he would share was that recess was cool, he loved the hula hoop game in PE, and that he was staaaaarving! His eyes lit up when I showed him the donuts I had baked that afternoon. One bite and all he could say was “yummmm”!

Over the course of that evening, bits and pieces of his first day slowly spilled out. I learned that he made friends, he loves his teacher, and that riding the bus was really exciting to him. When I asked if he had to look at his dinosaur tattoo while at school, he said “only twice mommy, but it really made me feel better”! My heart pretty much melted right then and there into a giant puddle of mush.

Not only was he able to conquer this big day, but so was I. In my own way I was able to comfort him throughout the day with the dinosaur tattoo, and again when he arrived at home with a special homemade treat. I realize that we’ve reached the point where I will no longer be able to hug away playground scuffles or kiss every bruised knee. But I’ve learned that I can be there for him in other ways, and that comfort is something that can be dished up in many forms. Sometimes it’s a dinosaur tattoo, and sometimes it’s a donut.

Caramel Apple Baked Donuts www.BlueCrabMartini.com

Caramel Apple Baked Donuts
(makes 6 donuts)

For the Donuts:
INGREDIENTS
3 Apples (organic), chopped
1 tsp + 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, divided
1 Tbs butter (organic)
1/2 cup all purpose gluten free flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 egg, whisked
4 oz organic applesauce
1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3-4 oz organic Greek vanilla yogurt
2 Tbsp maple syrup

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat your oven to 400*.
2. Toss the chopped apples with the melted butter and 1 tsp of cinnamon. Place into a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 400* for 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden brown.
3. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
5. Next, make a well in the bowl with the dry ingredients and slowly add in the wet ingredients. Mix only until combined.
6. Gently fold in the baked apple pieces.
7. Lightly oil a non-stick donut pan (I used a little bit of coconut oil). Then, using a spoon, carefully fill each section of the pan about 2/3 of the way.
8. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 400*. Let cool completely before topping with caramel sauce. Store in an airtight container.

For the Caramel Sauce:
I really love the paleo caramel sauce recipe found on Living Healthy with Chocolate. This recipe uses coconut sugar and coconut milk instead of traditional caramel ingredients- tasty and healthy! Of course, you can use any caramel sauce recipe that works for you. Just be sure to make enough of it to cover the donuts because they are sooo good smothered in sweet caramel sauce, yum!

Caramel Apple Baked Donuts- try these delicious, easy, and healthy donuts and you will never buy them from the store again! Gluten Free and contains no refined sugar. See the recipe here: www.BlueCrabMartini.com

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Fresh Tomato Soup in the Crock Pot (…and why I should have been building a boat instead of cooking)

Fresh tomatoes straight from the garden, garlic, and savory spices all combine to create one amazingly delicious (and healthy) soup. Perfectly creamy with a hint of heat, this is a soup that will keep you coming back for seconds! The best part? It cooks in the crock pot and requires very little effort to prepare!
Fresh Tomato Soup that cooks in a Crock Pot! Load the Crock Pot with fresh ingredients and let it work it's magic! A soup the whole family will love. Gluten Free and Vegan! Recipe found at www.BlueCrabMartini.com

Last Tuesday it rained, and I made tomato soup. 

You may be wondering why these two events are related, and why they are worth mentioning. A rainy day and some homemade soup, yawn, doesn’t sound too exciting, does it? Well, read on my friends because this was no ordinary day and this was certainly no ordinary soup!

Normally, a rainy day in mid August would be a real downer. However, we needed the rain so badly that this gloomy day was actually a welcome surprise. It wasn’t long before little rain drops began to spit and spatter on the dry ground. There’s something about a good rainy day that makes me reach for my crock pot, and this day was no exception. I had just picked a bunch of ripe tomatoes from the garden the day before, so I tossed them in the crock pot with some garlic and savory spices. All afternoon I watched the rain come down while the smell of delicious tomato soup filled my house, teasing me with the promise of an amazing dinner.

Fresh Tomato Soup that cooks in a Crockpot! Load the crockpot with fresh ingredients and let it work it's magic! A soup the whole family will love. Gluten Free and Vegan! Recipe found at www.BlueCrabMartini.com

After lunchtime, the light drizzle turned into a steady rain, and then progressed to a downpour. By the time 4:00 rolled around and I had to make the hour long drive to pick our son up from Pre-K, the rain had turned into an all out monsoon. Water was no longer coming down in drops, it was falling from the sky in sheets! The air was saturated with water, seemingly coming from every direction. I stepped outside, braced myself, and made the 10 foot dash from the porch to my car. By the time I was seated in the driver’s seat, I was soaked from head to toe. Going back inside to change my clothes would be pointless, so I put the key in the ignition, turned my windshield wipers to their highest setting, and slowly pulled out of the driveway.

I didn’t get very far. What was once my quiet little street was now a lagoon with water up to the running boards on my SUV. Looking further up ahead I could see that even more water was pouring across the road and I knew there was no way I would make it all the way to our son’s school! I called Shaun and we agreed that it would be best for him to go instead of me (he has a big truck that can handle the rain better than my SUV). After a quick car seat switch-a-roo, he was on his way and I was able to put my anxieties to rest.

Anne Arundel County firefighters performed a swift water rescue. Photo credit: AA Co Fire Dept

Anne Arundel County firefighters performed a swift water rescue. Photo credit: AA Co Fire Dept

Or so I thought. Only a few short minutes passed before my phone rang. It was Shaun. Police were shutting down the only road that leads in and out of our neighborhood. Traffic was at a standstill and no one was getting into our out of the peninsula. Why? Because the road washed away. That’s right, washed away! All of the rain had caused a section about 7 feet wide to cave in.

Flooding washed away part of the road, bringing traffic to a halt. Photo credit: Woodland Beach Fire Dept

Flooding washed away part of the road, bringing traffic to a halt. Photo credit: Woodland Beach Fire Dept

Our 5 year old was still at school and we had no way of reaching him. Talk about a stressful situation! Fortunately, Shaun’s sister was able to pick him up just in time. Later that evening we got word that the road had reopened. Shaun jumped in his truck and headed off to pick up our son.

They returned home an hour later, soaking wet, tired, and absolutely starving! I put on my Super Mom cape and came to the rescue with a nice hot bowl of homemade tomato soup. Like magic, everyone seemed to calm down and unwind with every sip of soup. We were all weary, but having a delicious dinner together erased some of the day’s stress.  

Over 10" of rain brought flooding to all of Maryland. Photo credit: Grasonville Volunteer Fire Dept

Over 10″ of rain brought flooding to all of Maryland. Photo credit: Grasonville Volunteer Fire Dept

Looking back on that day, I am thankful. Thankful that everyone made it home safely, and thankful that I was able to bring some comfort to my family (especially the kiddos) during a stressful situation. News reports the following day indicated that our area had the rainiest single day on record since 1933! Parts of Anne Arundel County received over 10″ of rain in just one day! 

Here’s a recap of the flooding from our local news media:

Heavy rain floods low-lying areas in Maryland (WBAL)

Rescue Crews Helping Motorists Stuck In Flooding Across Md. (CBS)

Baltimore-Washington D.C. Area Flooded By Record Rainfall (www.weather.com)

Now… on to the recipe!

Fresh Tomato Soup in the Crock Pot

INGREDIENTS:
12-15 Roma tomatoes
12 cherry tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
Pinch of caraway seeds
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
Pinch of red pepper flakes 
Handful of fresh basil
1/2 cup half-n-half (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Combine all ingredients (EXCEPT basil and half-n-half) into a crock pot.
2. Cover, and cook on high for 5 hours. Do not remove the lid, let the crock pot do it’s thing!
3. Once the soup has finished in the crock pot add the fresh basil and carefully puree it in a blender (in batches). If you are skipping the optional half-n-half, then you are finished! If you are choosing to add the cream, continue on to step #4.
4. Pour the pureed soup into a large stock pot. Slowly stir in the half-n-half until the soup reaches your desired creaminess. You made not need the full 1/2 cup, or you may choose to add more depending on your preference.
5. Serve with additional fresh basil, or stir in a spoonful of fresh pesto. Yum!

 Fresh tomatoes straight from the garden, garlic, and savory spices all combine in the crock pot  to create one amazingly delicious (and healthy) soup. Recipe: www.BlueCrabMartini.com

 

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Yellowfin Tuna Tacos with Pickled Jalapeno Salsa

Yellowfin Tuna Tacos with Pickled Jalapeno Salsa - Fresh flavors of the coast and the garden combine into one amazing bite! See the recipe: www.BlueCrabMartini.com

Every summer, Shaun and some of the other “guys” in the family get together for a deep sea fishing trip in Ocean City, MD. They meet down at the dock around 3:00am and then take a three hour boat ride out into the Atlantic Ocean. This is a “guys only” adventure, so I’ve only heard second-hand tales about the giant fish that got away and the waves as big as the boat. (Secretly, I think they all take naps until it’s time to reel in the fish!)

Yellowfin Tuna fishing in Ocean City, MD on the "That's Right: charter boat www.bluecrabmartini.com

This summer marked the fourth year that they have ventured out into the big blue ocean, hoping to snag the day’s trophy fish. They’ve been known to catch bluefin tuna, white marlin, and wahoo, but it’s the yellowfin tuna that get’s the foodie in me excited! I anxiously await the phone call from Shaun after the day’s fishing trip to tell me what they caught that day.

In the past, I’ve stayed home with the kids or kept my rear end parked on the sandy beach all day. This year, my mother in law and I headed down to the marina before the guys returned. We found a great little dock bar right on the inlet where we could watch the charter boats return from their day out on the ocean. Orange crushes in hand, we soaked up the late day sunshine and excitedly awaited the guy’s return. Before we could order another round, we saw them entering the inlet (that pink camo boat is unmistakable)! 

Yellowfin Tuna fishing in Ocean City, MD on the "That's Right: charter boat www.bluecrabmartini.com

Yellowfin Tuna fishing in Ocean City, MD on the "That's Right: charter boat www.bluecrabmartini.com

I grabbed my camera and ran over to the dock, hoping to snap a few pictures of the guys and their prize-winning fish. As soon as I saw their faces, I feared that things may not have gone as planned! My heart sank, worried that they spent the day on the rough ocean with nothing to show for it. Luckily, I saw the dock hand pull out two fish (yellowfin tuna, yay)! The fish were not as big as those of year’s past, but considering that other charter boats came home empty handed, we were thrilled!

Yellowfin Tuna fishing in Ocean City, MD on the "That's Right: charter boat www.bluecrabmartini.com

Yellowfin Tuna fishing in Ocean City, MD on the "That's Right: charter boat www.bluecrabmartini.com

Once home and unpacked from our Ocean City adventure, I was eager to get to work in the kitchen making these Yellowfin Tuna Tacos with Pickled Jalapeno Salsa. We’ve made tuna tacos many times in the past, and they’re always a hit with everyone in the family. I really like tuna tacos as opposed to traditional fish tacos because they have so much flavor, but aren’t too heavy. Lightly seared tuna pairs brilliantly with fresh salsa and a drizzle of sour cream. Coastal flavors come together with homegrown garden goodness to create one amazing bite!

This time, Shaun and I sprinkled some homemade pickled jalapenos into the salsa for an added punch of tangy flavor. I was hesitant at first, but wow, the pickled jalapenos really take these tacos to a new level! We pickled them ourselves (recipe post coming soon), but you can find them in any grocery store if making them isn’t an option. Either way, you’re going to love the added flavor that they bring!

The guys are already planning next year’s deep sea fishing trip… and I’m already dreaming of ways to cook their fresh catch!

Have you ever been deep sea fishing? What did you catch (or did you come home empty handed)? I’d love to hear about your fishing adventures! Tell me about them in the comments below!

Yellowfin Tuna Tacos with Pickled Jalapeno Salsa - Fresh flavors of the coast and the garden combine into one amazing bite! See the recipe: www.BlueCrabMartini.com

Yellowfin Tuna Tacos with Pickled Jalapeno Salsa

For the Salsa:
INGREDIENTS
3 fresh jalapenos, diced
2 small (or 1 medium) tomato, diced (I used a Roma tomato because that’s what was ripe in the garden on that day)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 large sweet onion, minced
1/2 lime, juiced
Handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Handful of pickled jalapenos, as many or as few as you like, depending on your preference
Salt & pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside or refrigerate until you are ready to serve the tacos.

For the Yellowfin Tuna Tacos:
INGREDIENTS
1 fresh yellowfin tuna filet, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp butter

DIRECTIONS
1. In a small bowl, combine the spices.
2. Lightly coat the tuna pieces in the spice mixture.
3. In a saute pan over medium heat, melt the butter.
4. Then, add the tuna pieces, and cook for about 2 minutes. Then carefully flip the pieces over in the pan to evenly cook the tuna.

For the Cilantro Lime Rice:
Mix 2 cups of cooked white rice with the following ingredients:
1 handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
3 Tbs butter (organic & salted)
1 tsp honey
1 lime, juiced
Salt & pepper, to taste

To Assemble the Yellowfin Tuna Tacos with Pickled Jalapeno Salsa:
1. On top of a tortilla (we use a gluten free variety), place a few spoon fulls of the rice mixture.
2. Then, add a few pieces of the cooked tuna.
3. Top with the pickled jalapeno salsa.
4. Drizzle with a little sour cream (optional), and additional fresh cilantro.
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The very BEST tuna tacos you will ever eat! Fresh yellowfin tuna is lightly seared and then topped with garden fresh salsa with pickled jalapenos! Try these and you will never want those heavily battered (aka- greasy) traditional fish tacos ever again! See the recipe at www.BlueCrabMartini.com

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