Sweet and Tart Spaghetti and Meatballs

Disclaimer: This post is brought to you in conjunction with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Back when I lived in Raleigh, I used to love to visit the Got to be NC Festival. It was like the State Fair but with more emphasis on local. Seeing all the local food vendors made my heart sing.

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Got to be NC Festival | Logo Used With Permission

Before this year’s event, I had the opportunity to speak one of the Homegrown Fare vendors, Fadia House of Floury Apron. Fadia started Floury Apron after her kids went to college. She’s always enjoyed cooking and creating new recipes and wanted to share her unique take on Eastern and Western flavors with others.

When asked if she had any advice to offer others interested in starting their own food-based company, she had this is say, “Love what you do and do it correctly.  Work hard and learn your customer’s needs and fulfill it.  Ask questions, attend seminars.”

While a few of her products are sold at Southern Season in Chapel Hill, they can also be purchased directly from her website.

Some of her products include wheat crackers (in flavors like zaatar and parmesan) and baklawa but her best selling product is her Sweet and Tart Tomato Sauces. Available in oregano, ginger, or spicy, her sauces are a great accompaniment to items like meatloaf, hot dogs, and my personal pick – spaghetti and meatballs!

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There is nothing simpler for me to fix after a long day of work than spaghetti and meatballs. Sometimes I will use jarred spaghetti sauce from the store, sometimes I will use our own tomato base that we can every year. This recipe uses store bought sauce for ease. Once the sauce is prepared, you can start to relax as everything bubbles away together. While Fadia’s Sweet and Tart Tomato Sauces are not intended as a substitute for spaghetti sauce, it is a great addition.

Sweet and Tart Spaghetti and Meatballs
(serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. spaghetti, cooked al dente in salted water
  • 2-30 oz. jars of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 1-8 oz. jar of Floury Apron’s Sweet and Tart Tomato Sauce, Oregano
  • 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1 eggs
  • 1/4 cup. panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 cup parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Place spaghetti sauce and the Sweet and Tart Tomato Sauce in a large saucepan and simmer over medium heat.
  2. In large bowl mix together beef, Italian sausage, egg, panko, garlic, salt and Parmesan.
  3. Shape into 9 large meatballs.
  4. Place meatballs in simmering sauce.
  5. When sauce returns to a simmer, cover and cook 50-60 minutes till cooked through.
  6. Serve sauce and meatballs over your spaghetti.

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Don’t forget to check out Floury Apron’s booth at the Homegrown Fare presented by Lowes Foods May 19-21 at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. The event, part of the annual Got To Be NC Festival, will feature 100 local food, wine and beer companies. Admission is $3, but you can get in free with your Lowes Foods loyalty card. Plus, you can get a free gift while supplies last by mentioning this blog at the Got To Be NC merchandise booth. More information about the Homegrown Fare and the Got To Be NC Festival is available at www.gottobencfestival.com

Also something neat to think about is that when you go and make a purchase in the Homegrown Fare tend, swing by the Got to be NC booth so you can get a selfie in the frame. Make sure to use #homegrownfare17 when you share it!

Want to see what everyone else made? Check out these Got to be NC Blogger Posts for #HomeGrownFare17

The Farmette Cookbook [Review]

[Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing through those links, I receive a portion of your sale which helps this blog continue to grow.]

I fell in love with Imen McDonnell’s blog Farmette long before she released her cookbook early 2016. Originally working in broadcast production, Imen met and married an Irish farmer and essentially uprooted her life to move to Ireland. Looking at the gorgeous photos that she posts on her blog of her life in the Irish countryside – who wouldn’t?

When I heard about The Farmette Cookbook, I knew that I wanted to get my hands on it. In the age of the internet and Pinterest with its slew of yummy recipes, for me to actually want to own physical cookbook is proof as to how magical her writing is. I added the book to my Christmas list and was thrilled when it appeared under my Christmas tree. Traveling home with my boyfriend from my mom’s house, I couldn’t help but to share my excitement with him as I flipped through the pages.

“Oh my god babe! There is a chapter on making items from dairy.”

A few minutes later.

“Oh my god babe! There is an ENTIRE chapter on just potatoes!”

I’m sure it was a long ride back home for him.

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Even months later as I flipped through it yet again, I found myself still completely in love with every page. This cookbook can easily be considered one of my favorite cookbooks. The recipes tend to be more on the simple side (i.e. rustic) but produce fantastic results (such as the dairy section which shows you how to make items such as cream cheese or sour cream). The ingredients either already exist in my pantry or could be picked up at my local grocery store.

Some of my personal picks from this cookbook are:

  • Buttered Eggs (page 10) – A seemingly simple recipe that produces a rich, buttery flavor in eggs. This is a great recipe to use the fresh eggs from our girls.
  • Best Brown Bread (page 41) – Long before Imen’s cookbook was published, I found her blog by doing a search for an Irish brown bread recipe. I came across this easy recipe and fell in love with her blog.
  • Sweet Farmer Cheese Danish with Elderflower Glaze (page 135) – A danish is the perfect addition to a weekend breakfast and the idea of making it from scratch tickles me. Plus, you get to use the Basic Farmer Cheese recipe from page 12 as well! The use of Elderflower in recipes is still a bit of a novelty stateside I think.
  • Pasty Pies (page 185) – I love anything wrapped in pie dough and this recipe will lead to a delicious end product without a lot of work.
  • Buttermilk Fried Chicken (page 237) – Now this might get my Southern card revoked, but I have never made fried chicken. It just seems so labor intensive to me (even though I know it’s not). Imen’s recipe looks so nice and crispy that I think I’ll give it a shot one day.

I can’t say this enough – go and buy this book. You won’t regret it.

Food in Jars Mastery Challenge: Shrubs

For March’s Food in Jars Mastery Challenge, we had the option of choosing between making a jelly or making a shrub. Since making a shrub has been on my agenda for a while, I decided to go with that option. We already have quite a few jars of grapes jelly canned so it was nice to have the option to try something else.

So exactly what is a shrub? There are a couple of different beverages that go under this category – one being liquor mixed with sugar and citrus, the other being what we are going to focus on. Popular during the American Colonial area, a shrub (also known as drinking vinegar) is a combination of fruit, sugar, and vinegar left to infuse for a few days to create this wonderfully sweet/tart liquid. The resulting liquid can be added to cocktails, sparkling water (for a healthy drink that gives you the feel of soda), salad dressing, or really anything you can think of. It was developed as a way to help preserve berries and fruits at the end of season.

Food in Jars recommends a ratio of 1:1:1one part sugar, one part vinegar, and a handful of fruit – easy enough, right?

March isn’t exactly the best month around here for fresh, local fruit. It’ll be another month or so before strawberries start popping up in the fields and our fruit trees have only just began to bloom. That’s sort of a bummer to me as it feels a bit like cheating to purchase fruit from the grocery store.

I already knew that I wanted my shrub to have ginger. I love ginger (in fact, I just purchased plants a few days ago to grow my own ginger to get fresh-fresh ginger). I combed the grocery store looking for the best looking fruits before settling on a mixture of blueberries and blackberries. Robb loves both of those berries so I knew that he would enjoy eating what I didn’t use.

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In a quart mason jar, I added one cup of berries and one cup of organic cane sugar, muddling them together. Then I added 1 cup of vinegar. In any other circumstance, I would have used apple cider vinegar, but I had a bottle of homemade peach vinegar in my pantry that I had purchased from my local farmer’s market a few months ago.

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I gave everything a quick stir and grated about a 1.5 -inch piece of ginger on top. Stirring one more, I covered the jar with a lid and stuck it in the fridge.

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After two days in the fridge, I did a quick strain (to get out more of the pulp, you’ll probably want to use cheesecloth or something similar). The leftover berries went straight to the chickens! I packaged my finished shrub in a leftover Kombucha bottle.

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Eager to try it out, I poured a glass of water and added a bit of my shrub – yum! I want to pick up some sparkling water for next time, but I loved the almost kombucha-like taste of this shrub.

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Two Roads Tavern [Outer Banks]

This weekend was a cold, rainy weekend in Northeastern North Carolina. We even experienced snow flurries on Sunday (none of the snow flurries had the opportunity to stick as the ground was already so saturated). My initial plan for this weekend was to venture up to Williamsburg, Virginia to scoop out their farmer’s market but once I saw the weather forecast, I changed my plans and decided to take a drive to the Outer Banks.

Our agenda was simple: Duck Donuts, Two Roads Tavern, and the Manteo Aquarium. I came across Two Roads Tavern’s website a few months ago and have been interested in trying their food since then. Two Roads Tavern is a burger joint with a neat retro vibe inside. But the burgers aren’t just your regular run of the meal burgers. They are a mix of 80/20 Hereford ground chuck combined with amazing toppings. Now, you can build your own burger but I scoped out the menu and knew I wanted one of their Specialty Burgers.

We started with the Cajun Fried Cheese Curds served with a Jamaican jerk aioli that we couldn’t get enough of. The cheese curds were crunchy and flavorful and the gooey cheese inside was just what we needed on a dreary day.

I ordered the Hangover [bacon, hash browns, fried egg, and cheddar cheese with maple bacon jam] while Robb ordered the Sounds Good [American cheese, BBQ sauce, bacon, onion rings, jalapenos, and a fried egg]. I ended up stealing a couple of Robb’s jalapenos (I trades him a hash brown for some) and he opted out of the BBQ sauce, instead requesting Jamaican jerk aioli on his burger – the sauce was that good. Even though the menu says no substitutions, they were willing to accommodate his request.

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“Sounds Good”
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“Hangover”

Though I didn’t try Robb’s burger, mine was absolutely delicious. The meat was juicy and the flavors melded together well. The maple bacon jam gave my burger a whole “French toast” vibe that I loved. It was like eating breakfast!

The burgers come with hand-cut fries that were perfect. I couldn’t get enough of them and continued to shove them in to my mouth like I was starving.

All in all, this place is awesome. The food is delicious and the entire staff is great. It’s been awhile since I’ve been this excited about eating out at a place.

We followed up our lunch with a quick jaunt to Duck Donuts. I cannot say enough good things about this place and I plan my Outer Banks trips around getting my donuts. Even though we showed up near closing time, they had donuts left and were more than happy to fix us right up.

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Don’t worry – it rained on the box but the donuts were safe and warm inside.
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Cinnamon Sugar | Chocolate Glazed with Peanuts| Powdered Sugar | Blueberry with Powdered Sugar (a surprise favorite)

Continuing our beach adventure, we made our way down to the Manteo Aquarium. I hadn’t been there since they completed the sea turtle conversation area and enjoyed looking at their work. The last time I was at the aquarium, the otters weren’t out so I was tickled when I saw them swimming about. Robb attempted to touch a sting ray at the touch tank but every time one drew close, they would suddenly realize he was there and ran away from him.

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Sharks!
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The sea turtle conservation area – and I managed not to be a single good shot of a sea turtle.
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Alligators!

Even though it was raining, we didn’t let it ruin our fun and explored the Nature Play Area/Nature Trail. It was great fun and made us both feel like children again! I can’t wait to go back to the aquarium once they have their jellyfish exhibit complete.

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[Note: I just got a new cellphone on Friday so during this trip, I relied only on my cellphone for photos. I still need to play with the built-in camera so that I can take better quality photos without lugging around my big camera. I might have accidentally turned on MACRO for some of these.]

Two Roads Tavern
3105 N. Croatan Hwy (Milepost 5.5)

Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
In The Seagate North Shopping Center
Monday – Saturday 11:30 am to 9:00 pm

Berry Crumb Pie for Pi Day [Recipe]

It’s Pi day! Get it? March 14 – 3.14? No? Hmm.

Moving on. Pie is one of my boyfriend’s favorite desserts so what better way to celebrate Pi day than to bake him a pie? Regardless of what he might say, I am not good at making pies and often wonder why his favorite dessert couldn’t be something like brownies – a dish that I can knock out of the park.

But being that I love him, this is the 3rd pie that I’ve made for 2017. The first was a lovely berry pie with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. The second was a lemon meringue pie (using fresh meyer lemons) that nearly kicked my butt.

That lemon meringue pie was a mess. My meringue fell, twice, because I got distracted when I dumped out half of my pie as I tried to readjust it in the oven (note to self: always place your pie on top of a baking sheet). I threw a hissy fit, threatened to the pie in the trash, but still continued to cook it. I never tried the pie but Robb said it was delicious.

I went simple with this pie. I have a freezer full of frozen fruit that I need to start utilizing so I decided to make him another berry pie (which I think is his favorite kind of pie) with a crumb topping. I ended up going with a mixture of red currents, strawberries, and blueberries.

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Berry Crumb Pie

  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie shell

Filling

  • 4 cups of thawed berries (drain some of the juice if necessary)
  • ¾ cup sugar (I used Florida Crystals Organic Pure Cane Sugar)
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt

Topping

  • ⅔ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoon butter, cut into 1/4″ cubes
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine your fruit with granulated sugar, flour, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Pour into pie shell.
  2. Combine brown sugar, rolled oats, all-purpose flour, cinnamon, and butter until crumbly Spread the topping evenly over the pie filling.
  3. Place on foil-lined baking sheet in lower third of oven. Bake until fruit bubbles and crust browns, approximately 1 hour. If topping begins to brown too quickly, tent with foil. Let cool.

Did you celebrate Pi day?

North Carolina Oysters

During the late 1880’s, North Carolina oysters were being harvested as an alarming rate and shipped out all over the country. At it’s peak in 1902, 800,000 bushels of oysters were harvested, exhausting the supply and threatening the future of the species [information from NC Oysters]. Thank goodness that efforts have been made to rectify this and increase the population.

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Like I’ve said before, I have been fortunate to grow up surrounded by fresh seafood. Oysters aren’t a delicacy to me but are simply another reason to gather around at my grandparent’s house. We’ve had oyster roasts for as far back as I can remember, though when I was younger, the oysters were heated on top of a wood stove until they popped open. Now we steam them over a cooker but they taste just the same – delicious. Typically we wait until January to cook oysters the first oysters of the season(sometimes we will have them on Christmas Eve) though the recreational harvest season runs from October 15 through March 31.

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I tend to like my oysters a bit firmer than most (otherwise it tends to look like snot). I also  chew my oysters (unlike most of my family). Once I’ve waited as long as I can wait, I snatch the oyster from the cooker, careful to avoid the steam. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve learned to open an oyster with moderate success. You lay the blade of your oyster knife into the hinge of the oyster and twist until it pops apart.

If there is any juice, I sip it. The salter the better and where/when your oyster was harvested sometimes dictates the saltiness. I slather the meat in homemade cocktail sauce (a mixture of horseradish and ketchup, though I’m a bit heavy handed on the former) and eat it.

When we get fresh oysters, we always eat them steamed. If we are wanting to fry oysters, we usually will pick up a jar of already shelled oysters from Quality Seafood.

This wouldn’t be a post on oysters if I didn’t highlight the oyster knife of my dreams. Made by Carolina Suckers from an old railroad spike, this oyster knife is practically a work of art to me.

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The Mother Shucker

Maybe one day I’ll get my hand of one of these beauties. For now, I’ll just keep using the crusty – well, let’s call them vintage – oysters knives rummaged from drawers at my grandparent’s house.

Do you eat oysters? What is your favorite way to eat them (steamed, fried, make into an oyster stuffing)?

DRINKS.com on MavenX

About a month ago over at The Southern Belle Blogs, I posted about my BPI Sports Board on MavenX. MavenX is this great new site that is like Pinterest but with the opportunity to potentially earn money back when someone purchases an item you shared. So I’m back with another great board to show you! MavenX recently partnered with DRINKS.com to share some great deals with several wine sites: Wine Insiders, Heartwood & Oak, and Barclays Wine.

The assortments include great deals like the Winter Wine 6 Pack shown below which comes with a variety of wines making it the perfect package for your upcoming Ladies’ Night! The 6 pack includes wines from around the world and would make a great package if you were hosting a wine tasting event.

For more information on this great deal, click here

I’ve also created a Pinterest board that features some great recipes for using your wine as well as some neat food and wine pairings that are guaranteed to make your next Ladies’ Night a success.

Wine, Beer, and Booze – what more do you need?

There’s a sneak peak below of some of the other great assortments I feature on my MavenX board. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to purchase one of the larger assortments to have a bottle on hand just in case you needed a host/ess gift or a last minute birthday gift.

Want to check out the other assortments I featured? Click here.

What is your favorite wine, beer, or cocktail to serve at Ladies’ Night?

Food in Jars Mastery Challenge: Salt Preserving

Guys, I kicked butt on Sunday. I swiffered the walls (to get rid of cobwebs), scrubbed the toilets spotless, picked up dog poop in the backyard, swept/vacuumed/swiffered the floors, planted my tomato seeds, made the beds, did laundry AND did the dishes.

But somehow during all of that I found the time to process almost 13 total pounds of lemons I had purchased from Lemon Ladies Orchard. Based in California, Lemon Ladies Orchard offers delicious and fragrant meyer lemons which are Certified Naturally Grown.

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My first order – a 3 pound box.

Earlier in the week I made lemon bars, following it up with a lemon pie on Saturday. My big “lemon” day was on Sunday when I canned a lemon and ginger concentrate, dehydrated lemons, and made a lemon and rosemary salt for the Food In Jars mastery challenge.

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Starting the dehydration process.
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Done!
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One of 3 1/2 pint jars of a lemon and ginger concentrate.

I love canning and trying to preserve as much of my garden harvest as I can. I tend to stick to jams/soup bases/pickles but am always looking for ways to expand my skills. When I came across the year-long food preservation mastery challenge hosted  by Food in Jars earlier in the month, I knew I had to participate. The challenge focuses on a different skill each month.

Calendar of Preserving Skills

January – Marmalade

February – Salt Preserving

March – Jelly OR Shrubs

April – Quick Pickles

May – Cold Pack Preserving

June – Jam

July – Hot Pack Preserving

August – Low Temperature Pasteurization

September – Fruit Butter

October – Drying and Dehydration OR Pressure Canning

November – Fermentation

December – Fruit Pastes

Though I missed out on January, I was excited to hop right in with February’s challenge of Salt Preserving. Since I already have a jar of preserved lemons hanging out on top of the fridge that I started back in January, I decided to create a citrus salt.

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As I was making my lemon and ginger concentrate, I zested each lemon before juicing them. I spread the zest out on a pan and added coarse Kosher salt, mixing until I found the ratio I liked. I decided to make it a little heavier on the zest than on salt to reduce my overall salt intake. Using some fresh rosemary from my mom’s house, I clipped rosemary into small chunks, mixing them into the zest and salt mixture.

I’m letting it sit until dry (which if you are in a rush, you can heat it in the oven on your lowest setting until dry), stirring it around whenever I venture into the kitchen. It’ll probably take about 2-3 days for the mixture to dry before I place it in a jar.

I’m excited to use this salt mixture the next time we cook some of our Alaskan halibut. Lemon Ladies Orchard also included some fresh Bay leaves in my box and I can’t wait to use those as well.

Barley’s Pizza [Elizabeth City]

Barley’s Pizza opened up last fall in Elizabeth City but it wasn’t until earlier this year that I was able to get out there (even though it’s located just a few miles from where I work). The restaurant is a good example of re-purposing the space you have. Located in an old Burger King building, Barley’s Pizza still sort of sets off that BK vibe. Little has been done to really impact the interior, which makes sense to me. When you decide to start any business, everyday you are unable to sell to customers is money down the drain. Besides, this is a pizza joint. As long as the food is good, we don’t need white table linens and fancy decor.

So how IS the food? Not too shabby really. After returning from Alaska in October, I compare all of my pizzas to the delicious one we ate at Moose’s Tooth and the pizza I had at Barley’s Pizza was almost there. I tend to like a more unique pizza so we ordered the Capri [Ricotta Cheese, Mozzarella Cheese, Garlic Oil , Mushrooms, Tomato, Spinach & Broccoli]. It may sound a little weird but all the flavors melded together nicely. There was a nice saltiness that I enjoyed and though we ate until we were stuffed, we still had plenty of leftovers.

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That’s another thing I noticed about Barley’s Pizza. The portion sizes are huge! A few weeks later, I ventured back and ordered a Reuben. I love Reuben’s but I’m not such a fan of corned beef sometimes, so I typically special order my Reuben with turkey. If you’ve never tried a Reuben with turkey then you are in for a treat. I ate half of my sandwich, a few waffle fries, and was beyond stuffed.

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Robb and I definitely plan to return and hope to someday have the occasion to order the party size pizza. That thing is HUGE!

If you read some of the reviews on the internet, you’ll find that most people say that the food is good but service is slow. While I don’t necessarily disagree with that, I think that in a new place, it can sometimes take a little while for the staff to get their footing. All in all though, definitely check out Barley’s Pizza for a great deal on good food.

Barley Pizza Family Restaurant
1333 N Road Street
Elizabeth City, NC 27909
Monday-Thursday 10am -11pm
Friday-Saturday 10am-12am
Sundays 10am-11pm

 

Shrimp Po’boys and Remoulade [Recipe]

Being raised on the coast, I grew up surrounded by fresh seafood to the point where I won’t order seafood typically in a restaurant if I have my doubts on its freshness. I hate frozen seafood as it tends to taste a bit… fishy to me.

A few months ago, my grandfather went and purchased several hundred pounds of fresh shrimp at a ridiculously cheap price so all of us in the family bought a few pounds off of him. Robb and I ate a couple of pounds freshly steamed and froze a few more pounds knowing that we would need to make it a point to eat them before they ended up freezer burned.

Enter shrimp po’boys.

The finished product – yum!!

My mom started fixing shrimp po’boys a few years ago when we were just looking for something new for dinner. I absolutely fell in love with them. Our shrimp po’boys are ridiculously easy to fix – fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato, and baguette, but it is our remoulade sauce that elevates the dish.

A remoulade is a sauce that typically mayonnaise-based with the addition of herbs and other spices. Our recipe is super simple but the secret is to fix it the night before to let all the flavors blend and meld together.

Remoulade for Po’Boys

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ⅔ cup ketchup
  • 3-4 tbsp minced horseradish
  • 1 tbsp creole seasoning
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Mix together and refrigerate. Best if made the night before.

I used House Autry fish fry seasoning to bread my peeled shrimp. I filled up a pot a few inches with vegetable oil, heated it up on medium high until the surface shimmered.
The finished shrimp. I tested the hot oil with a few shrimp of breading to test that it was ready then added the shrimp – SLOWLY – and fried for a few minutes. We don’t use napkins, so we used a piece of newsprint.

On Robb’s request, we steamed about half of the shrimp using some beer and a blend of Old Bay and a spicy seasoning that we had picked up at Whole Food’s earlier. The steamed shrimp were absolutely delicious and we certainly ate our fill of them!

Steamed shrimp!
Robb enjoying our feast before I fixed our po’boys.