With the warm weather finally settling in, our family has been spending every moment we can outside. We’ve gotten our toes sandy at the neighborhood beach, spent hours planting our summer garden (aka- playing in the dirt), and last weekend our oldest son even made his first splash in the (frigid) pool! Spring took it’s dear old time getting here, but we’re not wasting any time enjoying it. Sunscreen, flip flops, and beach towels are now part of our daily routine!
When dinner time rolls around we don’t want the fun to end, so we’ve been enjoying meals outside on the patio. There’s something so relaxing about eating outside- feeling the evening breeze, watching the birds and squirrels flutter about, and listening to the boats roar through the nearby South River. Sometimes, if we’re really lucky, a passing hummingbird or even a bald eagle will fly overhead- two very welcome dinner guests that we would miss if we ate inside.
Of course, in our crazy house full of kids and dogs, no meal is completely relaxing, but we try to make the best of it! Last weekend Shaun and I really wanted to enjoy a peaceful meal outside, just the two of us. We cooked Maine lobsters, baked some delicious crabcakes, and steamed mussels in a white wine sauce. Once the kids were tucked into bed we headed outside to eat dinner together. Of course, by then it was completely dark so we lit a few candles (instant romance)!
We dove into our plates, secretly high-fiving ourselves for pulling off the impossible- simultaneously preparing dinner and getting through the bedtime routine. Just when I was starting to relax I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I looked again and saw the shadow of a sneaky little 5 year old snooping around the kitchen. I bolted inside to whisk him back to bed. He took off running upstairs, suspiciously trying to conceal a plastic bag. When I reached his room he was standing there, with a sheepish grin on his face. I asked what was in the bag, and he said “nothing, it’s not candy mom”. Mmm-hmm, busted! I found the bag, stashed under his bed, stuffed to the brim with candy.
After handling that fiasco, I headed back outside to finish dinner with Shaun. I sat down, cracked a lobster claw, and just as I was taking my first bite, it began to rain! Not just a light drizzle, but an all out downpour. I couldn’t help but laugh. After all of the chaos we’d already dealt with, now Shaun and I had to finish our meal inside. We still enjoyed our dinner and had a few moments of peace and quiet, so the night was a success despite the interruptions.
The next evening we headed back out to the patio for dinner, this time accompanied by two hungry kids and two eager pups. I had some jumbo lump crab meat left over from making the crabcakes, so I put it to good use in this delicious Blue Crab Spaghetti. This recipe combines my two favorite foods- hearty pasta and sweet Maryland crabs! I started with a light buttery sauce with hints of tangy lemon and splashes of white wine. Then I tossed some spaghetti, fresh spring veggies, and crab meat in the sauce.
The best thing about this recipe is that it’s elegant enough to serve at a dinner party, but it’s incredibly easy (and fast) to prepare. The sweet cherry tomatoes and fresh asparagus make this dish a perfect meal for spring time. Of course, the star of the meal is the light and buttery fresh Maryland crab meat, straight from the Chesapeake Bay!
Our whole family loved this dish and I had to keep the food-snatching dogs from gobbling it up too! We finally got to have a nice relaxing meal outside (well, as relaxing as a meal can be with a toddler, a 5 year old, and two crazy dogs)!
Blue Crab Spaghetti
1 stick of cold organic butter (will make 1/3 cup of clarified butter)
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 shallot, minced
2 oz. white wine
2 tsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. organic heavy cream
1 pint of cherry tomatoes (organic), quartered
1-2 cups of chopped asparagus (depending on your preference)
Several handfuls of jumbo lump or backfin crab meat (Maryland blue crab meat fresh from the Chesapeake Bay is best!)
About 8-10 oz. of cooked spaghetti (we use a gluten free variety)
1. First you will need to make the clarified butter. To do this, place the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has fully melted, remove the pan from heat. Let it set for about 5 minutes. Then, gently skim the milk solids from the top of the butter. The liquid portion in the pan is the clarified butter. Carefully pour this into a small bowl, and discard the milk solids at the bottom of the pan. One stick of butter should yield about 1/3 cup of clarified butter.
2. Next, in a large saucepan on medium heat, add the butter and minced shallot. Lightly saute until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
3. Then add the lemon juice and white wine, gently stir and let simmer so that the alcohol cooks off, about 2-3 minutes.
4. Next add the 2 Tbsp. of heavy cream, one at a time, stirring in between each addition. Sprinkle in the Parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
5. To the pan, add your cooked spaghetti, cherry tomatoes, and asparagus. Gently toss so that the sauce evenly coats all of the ingredients.
6. Sprinkle the crab meat on top of the pasta and lightly stir to combine.
7. Dust the spaghetti with the lemon zest, and you’re done!