Cioppino is a Christmas Eve tradition in my family. For as long as I can remember, my grandmother would throw it together every Christmas Eve and serve it with salad, white rice, and freshly baked bread rolls. It is a dish everyone expects when the holidays come around. Cioppino is the Italian equivalent of Paella seafood casserole.

My sisters and I would normally join her in making this dish. Now that my grandmother is gone, it is my turn to take on the cioppino and prepare it for Christmas Eve. Thankfully my grandmother left helpful notes on the recipe, like to triple to recipe in order to feed the 12 person group that gathers at her house on Christmas Eve. And to cut the salt in half to avoid it being too salty. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can prepare the sauce a few days before and freeze it. Then on the day you are ready to serve, simply heat up the sauce and pour over the fresh seafood, cooking it for about 20 minutes more. You serve it immediately, but it also reheats very well as leftovers.

Rating 5/5



Cooking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours


1 minced large onion

1/2 cup minced celery

1/2 cup minced green pepper

1 or 2 minced garlic cloves

1/2 cup olive oil

2 1/2 cups canned tomatoes

1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce

1 tsp dried basil

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1 small bayleaf

6 black peppercorns

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup dry white wine (find a cheap dry wine like pinot grigio)

2 lb fresh fish (halibut, cod, sea bass, or rockfish), cut into 2-inch squares

1/2 lb mussels in the shell (live and scrubbed)

1/2 lb clams in the shell

2 large king crab legs

1 lb shelled raw shrimp

1/2 lb scallops

Cook the onions, celery, green pepper, garlic cloves and olive oil in a large deep pan until translucent. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, parsley, bayleaf, peppercorns, salt and pepper; stir. Cover the pan and simmer for one hour, thinning with hot water as needed.

Add white wine and cook for 10 minutes, bringing it to a boil.

Place the seafood in layers in a deep stock pot and pour the boiling sauce over it. Cover and simmer for another 20 minutes. Serve immediately.



Shrimp Ceviche

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Ceviche is the perfect dish to make for lunch or dinner on a hot summer day. That is exactly what my boyfriend and I did this past weekend. It’s the middle of summer and I suggested we make something that wouldn’t make his apartment even warmer. We are both fans of ceviche and it’s very simple to prepare.

What is ceviche? It’s a seafood dish that is usually prepared with raw fish or raw shrimp marinating in citrus juices, both lemon and lime. Then different seasonings are added, like onion, cilantro, tomato, salt and pepper, and chili peppers.

1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

3/4 cup lime juice (about 5 limes)

3/4 cup lemon juice (about 4 lemons)

1/2 small onion, chopped

1 medium tomato, chopped

1 serrano chile pepper, seeded and minced

2 tsp chopped cilantro

1 cucumber, peeled and diced

1 avocado, cut into slices

salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste

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In a large pot, fill with water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute. Drain shrimp and place into a bowl of ice water to stop the shrimp from cooking.

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Drain the shrimp and cut each shrimp into 1-inch pieces. Place shrimp in a large baking dish. Juice the limes and lemons then add to the shrimp. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Chop and mince the onion, tomato, chile pepper, cilantro, and cucumber. Mix into the shrimp and citrus mixture. Spread mixture out in the baking dish to get everything submerged in the citrus. Refrigerate for an additional 30 minutes.

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Top off the ceviche with sliced avocado and enjoy with tortilla chips.

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The ceviche is best served cold and I like to get some freshly made tortilla chips to enjoy with it. You can add in any other seasonings you’d like to change the taste. Ceviche is also made with raw fish. While the citrus juices cook the seafood by denaturing the proteins, it does not kill any bacteria that may be present. In this recipe, cooking the shrimp in boiling water for 1 minute takes care of that problem. However, with raw fish, just keep in mind the dangers of consuming raw seafood.

Rating 4/5

Crawfish Boil

This past Sunday I attended my first crawfish boil. I had never had crawfish before and I was wondering if it tasted similar to shrimp. This was an event hosted by LSU and it was open to the public. At $60 a ticket you were placed at a table of ten people, 50 lbs of crawfish, potatoes, and corn dumped onto your table accompanied by free all-you-can-drink Bud Light. Figuring out how to pull apart and devein the little crawfish took some getting used to and there were a couple I just couldn’t eat because their insides were too messy. The cajun spices were pretty delicious and I enjoyed the potatoes and corn with a spicy note. Turns out the crawfish were only slightly similar to shrimp and a little more like lobster. Either way they were really good and I tried my best to make a dent in the 50 lb pile.

Does anyone actually suck the heads of the crawfish??

Along with the crawfish and beer, there were a few vendors selling other foods like gator gumbo, king cake, sweet potato fries, beignets, po’ boys, and other dishes from the South. My boyfriend and I tried the gator gumbo and finished it off with some beignets. I have had beignets before and they are basically like powdered doughnuts. However the gator gumbo was something completely new and it tasted really good. It had some kind of meat stock with rice and what looked like onion and bell peppers. And of course, the gator. It had a chewy texture to it that reminded me a little of pork and beef. Thinking about the gumbo, I definitely wouldn’t mind having again. Add a little Tabasco sauce and I’m set.

Overall it was a really good meal. The sun was out and there was a nice breeze. Plenty of crawfish and beer to keep you busy along with the music and hundreds of people there.