Paleo Dinner: Maine Shrimp Curry

The Maine shrimp season has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy it frozen! I ordered a pound of Maine shrimp from Port Clyde Fresh Catch  (PCFC) through the Portland Food Co-op. PCFC is a collaboration of Port Clyde, Maine fishermen, who came together to preserve the local fishing economy and heritage of their community. They use sustainable fishing methods and have a Community Supported Fishery (CSF) available.

As you know, Maine shrimp is quite small, so you don’t really want to eat them like traditional shrimp. I’m also *technically still on a paleo diet, so I started hunting around for recipes. I found a great recipe, forgot where I found it, spent an hour googling around and relocated it on the Bangor Daily News website (note the Port Clyde Fresh Catch shrimp in the photo!) (*I may have caved and eaten a huge ice cream cone yesterday). 

I pretty much followed this recipe, but didn’t have a few of the ingredients and only had a pound of shrimp, so you can see my substitutions below. This made enough for dinner for two of us, plus lunch the next day – yum!

Paleo Dinner: Maine Shrimp Curry

  • 1 pounds Maine shrimp (fresh or frozen)
  • 1.5 cups green peas 
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup chopped baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Olive oil 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tablespoon fresh-grated ginger 
  • 1.5 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoons lime juice
  • Almost 1 full can coconut milk      

Heat up olive oil in deep cast iron pan until hot. Add the garlic, ginger, curry and lime and stir until you have a nice paste. Add peas, carrots and onions and saute for 7-10 minutes. Reduce heat and add coconut milk. Simmer for 10 minutes, occassionally stirring. 

When carrots are tender, add shrimp and cook for about 2-3 minutes (be careful not to overcook them). I had the dish as is, but you could serve over rice, couscous or quinoa. The original recipe called for lime wedges and basil for garnish – I did not have, but would be great!

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Coconut Nuggets

It was my father-in-law’s birthday a few weeks ago and coconut is his favorite, so I tried my hand at these double coconut muffins from smitten kitchen. I followed the recipe exactly, so head over there for all the details.

Tip: though super tasty and a bit of coconut heaven, make sure to eat these in one to two days, as i found they dried out pretty quickly. I also found that these were more like little coconut nuggets instead of muffins – almost like those energy blocks you can buy in bulk from health food stores.

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Guest Post – Four Looks with Thrifted and Vintage Clothes

Twitter has connected me to many great and interesting people from all over. Thanks to this social media network, on a cold Saturday morning my friend @cristymaldonado and I headed up north to Portland, ME to meet @joppathoughts who I already knew (and met through Twitter) and @mainebelle who I met for the first time.

The four of us headed to the Portland Museum of Art where we argued over Richard Nonas’ Stopped Bar Series, Two Down and talked about Shaker furniture, art, blogging, fashion, thrifting and so much more.  We went on a beer tasting trip to Shipyard Brewing Company and even visited several vintage clothing stores (of course).

It is vintage clothing and thrifting that brings me to Maine Belle as a guest contributor.  I love the thrill of the hunt. Spending countless hours on weekend mornings perusing through old vinyl records, books, magazines and vintage clothes has to be one of the most relaxing activities one can do. Thrifting isn’t for everyone, but if you have the patience, the eye and the vision to turn someone else’s “trash” into your own treasure, you’re in for a treat (I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but we know how fun and rewarding thrifting can be).

I love finding one-of-a-kind statement vintage items that can make my outfit pop or set me apart from the crowd. I know it when I see it, and never question whether I’d be able to pull something off or whether it will even look good on me. It’s all in the attitude. I rock it, walk out the door and never look back.

In this first (of many guest contributions on my vintage and thrifted clothes–I hope), I share some style photos—courtesy of my friend Cynthia Staples who was kind enough to spend around 3 hours with me and my friend Michelle H., photographing some of our (mostly) thrifted and vintage clothes.

Look #1

I wore this ensemble for the first time in 2010 out to dinner followed by a rocking concert by Florence and the Machine. I rocked it as much as Florence rocked her concert–and it felt super great!  It is put together with mostly vintage pieces–Red plaid piped blazer (which I LOVE): I got at The Garment District in Cambridge, I think I paid less than $20 for it. It has attitude and never fails to get me a compliment or two. The blue ruffled tuxedo shirt has an interesting story (I’ll probably tell someday) and I bought it from the lovely Hilken Mancini over at 40 South St. in Jamaica Plain. The necklace is another awesome find. I found it by digging through a box full of jewelry at the SoWA Vintage and Antique Market in Boston. I paid a whooping $5 for it and as it turns out, even the stones are real! Jeans: Super Skinny Levi Jeans. Boots: Martin & Osa. Scarf: Thrifted at Goodwill.

Look #2

This is a nice outfit for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon walking around the city looking at architecture or browsing through books at an used bookstore. The navy blue peacoat (not thrifted): Ralph Lauren and is an essential item in any guy’s closet. The grey asymmetrical ribbed long sleeve shirt is Zara but thrifted from The Garment District. I borrowed the scarf (I own around 30 scarves) and the cameo bracelet from my friend Michelle H. and I made the beaded wood bracelets. The other accessories are the gloves –these are unlined leather and weren’t thrifted (a bit expensive) but they add some punch to any outfit. Last but not least, the sneakers: These are Air Jordan Retro 1 Hi Premier Gucci–inspired by the Gucci colorway. It was love at first sight when I saw these in Portland, Oregon–my heart started screaming–I listened and got them. Have never looked back since then. The sunglasses: I claimed those after being abandoned by their respective owner at my job’s lost and found box. They were meant to be with me, obviously :).  Note: the Air Jordan photo was taken by me using my cellphone.

Look #3

I love this outfit. The red plaid shirt was thrifted from Goodwill; the red v-neck sweater was thrifted from a shop in Valparaiso, Chile; extremely funky plaid pants are Levi’s 511 and were thrifted from The Garment District; the stone and wood necklace was a gift from a friend; the 1970’s brown leather jacket was thrifted from The Garment District (I think I paid around $20 for it and it is such an awesome piece I couldn’t be happier with it-the brand is Wilson Leather and the label is pretty cool). The boots are Carhartt and I thrifted them from Rescue on Newbury Street (turns out they are a sample model and were sold to the store by a sneaker designer–who helped design these–I love these to death also). You can’t see its details, but the watch is white and is made by Diesel; the bracelets are my own.

Look #4

I’m not afraid to rock loud colors and the lime-green and blue vintage jacket (brand is Speedo Australia, it has a cool label too), the yellow, maize blue, green Nike Cortez “Brazil” sneakers and the watch prove this point. I got the jacket last spring at Dame Vintage in Jamaica Plain; the scarf is thrifted from Goodwill, the face of the watch is Neves, but the strap (interchangeable depending on look, mood, or in my case–sneakers) I made myself using old ties which I cut up, measured to appropriate length and had my mom sew it and add gromets and a buckle. The sunglasses are Oakley and I bought those from Oakley while a poor college student in New Hampshire.


Thanks to my friend Cynthia Staples for tagging along to take these photos. Thanks to Michelle Smith for letting me guest blog here. You can catch me on Twitter @EvolvingCritic or at The Evolving Critic (on indefinite blogging vacation at the moment, but do check the archive).

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Paleo Diet: Blueberry Spinach Smoothie

For the past two weeks, I’ve been on a “paleo” diet. I started seeing a nutritional therapist to check in on my diet – what foods are good for me, what should I avoid? I think I tend to eat pretty healthy, but I wanted to learn more about nutrition and why we eat what we eat.

To “reset” my body, I’ve been following a restricted diet – sometimes I can’t believe I made it through two weeks (as of today!). The paleo diet is a low sugar diet – that means no sweets, breads, pastas, grains or other carbohydrates that turn into sugar when digested. No alcohol, coffee or fruits (except berries and apples now and then, which have a low sugar content). So what have I been eating? Lots of vegetables and meat! I’m also eating lots of good fats and proteins – whole milk yogurt, avocados, almonds, eggs and cottage cheese.

To try and make breakfast more exciting, I’ve been experimenting  with smoothies. It took a few tries, but I assembled a great “paleo” smoothie that I will continue to make – super simple, delicious and fills you up so you don’t get hungry just a few hours later. Enjoy!

BlueberrySpinach Smoothie

  • Handful of fresh spinach
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries (if using fresh, add a few ice cubes)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 1 Tbsp flax seeds
  • Bit of water

Assemble all ingredients and blend – I use an immersion blendbicultural a regular blender or Vitamix should do the trick.

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Cumin & Cilantro Fish Tacos with Pommes Frites

Doesn’t that title sound fancy? This is actually one of the more simple meals we have made. Our good friends Chris and Laura came down from Rochester, New York last weekend for our annual winter visit. We have established a tradition that we see each other every year in the winter – not sure how that happened, because February and March is usually the best time in the northeast – right?

Also, because it’s not cold enough for us, we usually head north. Two years ago we went to Quebec City, where we experienced freezing rain the entire time; last year we went to Montreal, where the temperature was consistently 3 F. I guess we like to challenge ourselves – no matter what we do, however, we always have the best time (as an example of how weird the weather has been this year, when we went to visit them in Rochester in October, we actually went swimming in Lake Ontario – in October!). This year, we simplified things with a visit to Portland, where the weekend turned out to be beautiful.

Morse Mountain, Phippsburg, Maine

It is also a tradition for us that we have a warm meal (and plenty of wine) prepared for the arrivals (it is after all, a 9 hour drive from Rochester to Portland!). We didn’t want to make anything heavy, like lasagna, or something that was too complicated – we wanted to enjoy each other’s company, not spend the whole time cooking. Then it came to me – fish tacos! I don’t know if I had summer on my mind, or dreams of southern California, but it was the perfect solution – they are easy to make and great for eating with a group of friends, as everyone participate in making their meal. And homemade french fries were the perfect accompaniment to the tacos.

Pommes Frites
(entirely from Smitten Kitchen)

Smitten Kitchen has once again taught me a valuable cooking lesson. When I made french fries or potato crisps in the past, I would simply slice potatoes, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake in the oven. What I ended up with was hit or miss – some pieces were golden brown perfection, while others were undercooked or burnt. But as I learned from this recipe, the key is boiling first. It really works – every piece came out perfectly.

  • 3-4 russet potaotes
  • olive oil
  • salt pepper

Thinly slice potatoes (I keep the skins on) and place in a cold, salted pot of water. Bring to a gently boil and cook until almost done. Drain the water and place potatoes on a baking tray. Bake until golden brown (in our oven, it took about 40 minutes).


While the fries are baking, make the sauce for the tacos next, so the flavors have some time to meld. I tend to like things spicy, so adjust the hot sauce to your liking.

  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 or 2 squeezes of lime
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • hot sauce
  • salt
  • pepper

Mix all ingredients and adjust to taste. Cover and keep in refrigerator until ready to use.

Fish Tacos

  • White corn tortillas (small)
  • 1-2 pounds white fish (we used hake – it was on sale at the Harbor Fish Market at the time, but it’s normal retail price is affordable and worked really well for this dish)
  • 3 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2-3 eggs, beaten
  • Assorted vegetables for your toppings: we used avocado, red cabbage, green and red bell pepper and lots of cilantro

Cut and prep all your toppings so they are ready to go once the fish is done.

Mix the panko bread crumbs, cornmeal, chili powder and salt and pepper. Cut the fish into bite size pieces and dip each piece in the egg mixture, then the panko bread crumbs. Fry the pieces on medium heat in a cast iron pan until both sides are crispy brown and the fish is cooked all the way through. You may  have to do this in two rounds – keep the first batch in the oven on warm.

Set up all the toppings buffet style and put out the fish. Warm up the tortillas in the cast iron and hand out to your guests and let them assemble – enjoy!

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Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

I guess you could call this my unhealthy snack series. However, I made these for a party, so I justified it by telling myself other people will eat most of these – and let’s say that pretty much happened.

I had President’s Day off last week and got the mid-winter urge to do some serious baking (I also made oatmeal cookies). I was scrolling through dessert recipes on Smitten Kitchen and the peanut butter brownies literally screamed at me to make them. A quick scan of the pantry confirmed that I didn’t even need to leave my house – all the ingredients were  on hand (or so I thought – more below!)

These brownies are very decadent, but oh so good. The brownie is thick and dense and the chocolate ganache is the perfect complement. Because they are so heavy, I ended up cutting them in smaller bites – enjoy!

Peanut Butter Brownie Bites
(based on a recipe from Smitten Kitchen)

For brownies

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter,
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  •  3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For ganache

  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I did not have enough, so I improvised – see below)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (which I didn’t have, see below for substitutions)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 13 pan or line with parchment paper.

Let the butter soften and bear with sugar. Add peanut butter and beat until mixed. Beat in the three eggs and vanilla. Once well mixed, add the flour until just combined.

Mix in chocolate chips and spread in the pan (it will be a pretty thick batter)

Bake until brownies are golden – it my took my oven about 40 minutes.

Chocolate Gananche

While the brownies are cooling, work on making the ganache. Because I didn’t have heavy cream, I combined 2% milk and unsalted butter (about 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup butter). Heat up the mixture until gently boiling and pour over the chocolate chips. I was completely out, so I substituted baking cocoa and sugar (3/4 cup cocoa, 3/4 cup sugar).

Mix in the butter until well mixed. Spread the ganache on the brownies and let it set (it took about 25 minutes for me).

I found the brownies lasted about one week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Guest Post: Swapaholics

Head on over to the Swapaholics blog to see a complete post about the ModCloth Swap hosted this week by Julia from Jeeze, Julia! More importantly, read Julia’s blog about how she organized the swap, chose the theme and pulled off a fantastic clothing swap that has me hankering for more clothes, shoes, accessories, hats…

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ModCloth Swap: Sneak Peek

Spring must be coming, because all I want to do is participate in and organize clothing swaps. It’s definitely that time of year – look for a guest post on the Swapaholics blog later this week about the lovely ModCloth swap I attended last night with Ashely from Sweet William. Hosted by Julia from Jeeze, Julia!, the swap featured a mid-century camping theme, a specialty cocktail and handmade favors. In the meantime, here is a sneak peek of some of the great items I picked up:

Turquoise & Silver Necklace

Wood Earrings

Brown Turtleneck Sweater

Black Aldo Zipper Boots

Are you organizing any mid-winter clothing swaps?

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Healthy Snacks: Coconut Cocoa Date Balls

I never even tried dates until last year. I always looked at them as a weird, amorphous food akin to prunes. They are now one of my favorite snacks – while they are great to eat on their own, they are even better when made into these babies. These are super easy to make and last in the fridge for about two weeks, so make plenty to have on hand for a healthy snack!

Coconut Cocoa Date Balls

  • 2 cups organic dates, pitted
  • 1.5 cups organic raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup + 1/2 cup organic non-sweetened coconut (for rolling in)
  • 3 tsp organic vanilla
  • 1/2 cup organic raisins
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tbs raw cocoa powder

Put all ingredients in food processor and pulse until smooth. Roll into balls and roll in  coconut flakes. Enjoy!

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Sunday Dinner: Veggie Pot Pie

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted here – I have a backlog of recipes ready to be posted, as well as some great thrifting finds, so I hope to be more consistent! Tonight’s recipe came from assembling a hodge-podge of ingredients in the fridge. The inspiration was the frozen pie dough I found in the freezer, leftover from holiday pies. If you have dough ready to go, this is a really quick recipe. I included my go-to dough recipe below if you need to make it from scratch. Feel free to substitute any veggies you have on hand!

Sunday Dinner: Veggie Pot Pie

  • 1 pie crust recipe (see below)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • salt
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 cups mushrooms, diced
  • sprinkle of oregano
  • 3 small potatoes, diced
  • 2 tsp cornstarch dissolves in 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp siracha
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 cup veggie stock
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup corn kernels

Sautee onion, garlic, salt and chili powder until translucent. Add the carrots, celery, mushrooms and oregano. Cook for about 10 minutes and add the potato and cornstarch. Stir and cook for five minutes or until potatoes are slightly softened. Add the siracha, tamari, veggie stock, milk and corn. Cook until mixture thickens (10 minutes or so).

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Pour mixture into oven-safe deep dish. Place the pie crust over the top and gently pinch the sides. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the pie crust is golden brown and the veggie mixture is gently bubbling.

To make the pie crust:
(makes 2 pie crusts – freeze one for later use!)

  • 2 2/3 cup flour
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (cold, cut into cubes)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3-6 Tbsp ice water

Put all ingredients (except water) in food processor. Pulse and gradually ice water. Take out dough and form into ball. Let sit in fridge for half hour before rolling out dough on floured surface.

What’s your go-to recipe to use up old vegetables?

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