Copycat Joe’s Crab Shack Popcorn Shrimp

I love shrimp. Cooked any way, any time. Like the guy in Forrest Gump who listed off the many ways to enjoy shrimp. They’re all good. This copycat version of Joe’s Crab Shack popcorn shrimp is crazy good. There’s a nice crunchy breading. Tender tasty shrimp inside.
Copycat Joe’s Crab Shack Popcorn ShrimpI made up a batch of these and served them easy style, with two bottled sauces, both from Louisiana Fish Fry Products. The remoulade sauce has a hit of horseradish. It’s almost salad dressing-like, but with a kick. The seafood sauce definitely has a kick to it. Like grown-up cocktail sauce.

Copycat Joe’s Crab Shack Popcorn Shrimp
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound small fresh shrimp, deveined and shelled (I used 26-30 count shrimp)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 4 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup cracker meal (I substituted Panko breadcrumbs)
  • 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Oil, for frying
  • Dipping sauce, for serving (I used Louisiana Fish Fry Remoulade and Seafood sauces)
Instructions
  1. Put the shrimp into a resealable baggie or container.
  2. Add the garlic powder, brown sugar and hot sauce. Seal and shake gently to coat. Marinate in fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Set up three large bowls (I used pie pans).
  4. In the first bowl place the corn starch.
  5. In the second bowl, beat the eggs with the water.
  6. In the third bow,l mix together the cracker meal, breadcrumbs, Creole seasoning, flour and paprika.
  7. Heat oil to 350 F in a deep fryer or Dutch oven. You'll need at least 2" of oil.
  8. Working in batches, coat shrimp in corn starch.
  9. Shake off excess then coat in egg wash.
  10. Shake off excess then coat in breadcrumb mixture.
  11. Fry until golden brown (the shrimp will float to the top of the oil when done).
  12. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool slightly.
  13. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio

I’ve been secretly wanting to go to train display at EnterTRAINment Junction for years. I had a big train set as a kid and I’ve been fascinated by them ever since. EnterTRAINMent Junction combines the fun of watching trains with an amazing display and interactive features for kids of all ages. And it throws in a few history lessons to boot. The display begins with in the 1860s and continues to the modern times. The transition from period-to-period is very well done.

Here are a few of the pictures I took. You really have to experience this amazing place in person, but this will give you a feel for just how great it is. So let’s begin! All aboard!

As soon as you walk in you are struck by the quality of the displays. You feel like you are inside of them.

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioTrains are everywhere. 90 of them. With over 1200 cars!
EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioEnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio Entertrainment Junction 4I was fascinated by the bridges. They are very well done. Huge and amazing. I thought I wouldn’t be a fan of the larger (compared to the HO scale I played with as a kid) G-scale size, but I really loved it.

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio Entertrainment Junction 6As you walk along there are large red buttons along the way that you can press (Anita pressed them all!) that add sounds to the experience. You hear saw mills working, dogs barking, cars honking, all sorts of things. It’s like you’re there.

In the upper right of the picture below you can catch a glimpse of Imagination Junction, the kids railroad-themed playing area. Even though I’m a ‘kid’, I didn’t go in there but it looked like it had all sorts of fun things for the little ones to play with.

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioThe 40s-50s city scape was really very well done. The detail is again amazing.

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioThere are firemen playing ping pong inside the firehouse!EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioOne of the absolutely coolest things is that the entire train display transitions into night every so often. I didn’t know that this was going to happen so it was unexpected, and it was really amazing. The city and trains lit up and all you could say is ‘wow’.

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioLook at the detail! Dirty laundry hanging on the line!

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio The Woolworth’s is complete with a soda counter.

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioThis picture gives you a little feel for the scale of the display. It’s 25,000 square feet! You can see the 2nd floor area up ahead. That’s where the Coney Island display is.

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioWhat’s that? Something’s going on at the city jail!

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioThe 50s city had everything from a theater to a diner to a drive-in. There were things going on everywhere, with trains all over!

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioThis shot is back over the 40s-50s era of the display.

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioTrains also run along the ceiling. They’re everywhere!

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioThe Coney Island display was recently completed. It is so well done and it’s fun! The designers did a great job combining great modeling with interactive features. All the rides you see, from the roller coaster (crazy fast!) to the merry-go-round, run. Just push the corresponding red button and watch it go!

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioEnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioMore examples of the detail that is so well done. The volunteers (yes, volunteers!) that work on this display are amazing.
EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioEnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioNow we’re heading into the big city and more recent times in history.

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioHere’s a look down to the last section.

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioYou never know what’s around the next corner!

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioModern times.

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioEven the graffiti is very well done!

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, Ohio EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioThe journey is not complete without a stop in the volunteer’s workshop area. This is where the magic is created. How fun! There are also a few models and plans of the original design that just start to give you a feel of how much work and engineering wen into making this display. It’s huge and complex behind the scenes.

EnterTRAINment Junction, West Chester, OhioThere’s a lot more to do at EnterTRAINment Junction than trains. There’s a fun house, a gift shop, a hobby and toy shop, and a cafe. But for me, the train display was amazing and well worth the trip and price of admission (which isn’t much!).

Potato Salad With Peas

I could sit down with a huge bowl of this salad and eat it all day long. It has crunchiness. Creaminess. The pop of peas. And my favorite, Creole mustard.
Potato Salad with PeasI fought the temptation to add crumbled cooked bacon to this wonderful potato salad with peas. It’s ok if you’re not that strong. Add it and enjoy.

For a similar salad but one that uses pasta instead of potatoes, check out our peas and pasta salad recipe.

Potato Salad With Peas
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds red potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup red onion diced
  • 2/3 to 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons Creole mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Put the potatoes into a saucepan and cover with water.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.
  3. Bring water to a boil, cover and continue boiling until the potatoes are just starting to get tender. Do not overcook them. Start checking them after 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, drain, place in a large bowl, and let cool.
  5. Add the chopped eggs, peas and onion. Fold to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Whisk together 2/3 cups of the mayo, the sour cream and mustard in a medium bowl.
  7. Fold into the potato mixture. Add a bit more mayonnaise if too dry.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Sour Cream and Onion Hummus with Toasted Pita Wedges

Next to salsa, hummus is the most popular ‘dip’ in our house. I usually have everything on hand to make a batch. Like this sour cream and onion version.
Sour Cream and Onion HummusNope, there’s not any sour cream in this dish, but it does have that creamy sour cream taste. Perfect with some warm homemade pita wedges. Also check our another of our favorites, dill hummus.

Sour Cream and Onion Hummus with Toasted Pita Wedges
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6 servings
 
Ingredients
For the sour cream and onion hummus
  • 3 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed, 1 cup of can liquid reserved
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried minced onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • Dash of paprika, for garnish
  • Kosher salt
For the toasted pita wedges
  • 6 pita pockets
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt
Instructions
For the sour cream and onion hummus
  1. Put all ingredients except the paprika into a food processor and puree until smooth, adding some of the reserved liquid as required.
  2. Serve with a dash of paprika for color.
For the toasted pita wedges
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Brush pitas with a little oil and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Bake on a sheet pan for 5 minutes until crispy.
  4. Sprinkle with more salt while still hot and cut each pita into 6 wedges.

 

Mac and Jack Salad

I love a good pasta salad. And more and more, I like pasta salads that are a combination of traditional ingredients (celery, mayo, onion… the usual suspects) and something different. Like in this salad, which has spicy hot chipotle salsa in it. Yep, salsa. Now, it’s not crazy hot at all, just a little kick which makes it something different and fantastic.

Mac and Jack SaladThis salad has a great crunch with lots of fresh veggies, and creamy cheese chunks. It might just be the perfect pasta salad.

Mac and Jack Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound dried macaroni pasta
  • Salt
  • 1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 4 ribs celery, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces Monterrey pepper jack cheese, diced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chipotle salsa (I used Frontera Chipotle. It's hot by itself, but perfect in this salad)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta in boiling salted water.
  2. Rinse with cold water and drain well.
  3. Combine corn, bell pepper, onion and celery in a large bowl.
  4. Stir in the cheese.
  5. Add the pasta and stir.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Place red wine vinegar in a small bowl.
  8. Whisk in the oil.
  9. Whisk in the salsa.
  10. Stir into the pasta mix.
  11. Stir in the fresh cilantro or parsley.
  12. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

 

Buffalo Wild Wings Honey BBQ Wings

I usually cook up chicken wings on my Char-Broil Big Easy (using the Wingin’ator 3000), or I deep-fry them. This time I decided to smoke my wings first, then deep fry them just long enough to get a nice crisp on the skin. Then I sauced them up with one of my favorites, Buffalo Wild Wing’s Honey BBQ sauce. For dunkin’, I made a big batch of my favorite ranch wing dipping sauce.

The Honey BBQ sauce has just a little kick to it. A nice kick. And a little sweetness. The smokey wings really worked well with the sauce. Almost like grilled BBQ chicken, but in a convenient hand-held size with an awesome dipping sauce.

Buffalo Wild Wings Honey BBQI stopped by our local Buffalo Wild Wings and picked up a few sauces so I’d always have my favorites on hand. They’re not only great on wings, but chicken nuggets. Yep, just heat them little chicken bites up and toss them with your favorite sauce and life is good. Real good.
Buffalo Wild Wings Sauces 2Anita wasn’t a big fan of how the smoked wings looked. Pink meat scares some folk (and her), but that pink isn’t from being undercooked. Nope, that’s just the nature smoke color. That’s why so many BBQ joints have a sign in them telling people to not freak out about pink meat.

The chicken was lightly smokey and really very tender and tasty. Most people expect ‘normal’ flavored wing meat. Try smoking your wings next time and check out the pleasant looks of surprise when your guests bite into them.
Smoked Chicken Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings Honey BBQ Wings
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-8
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cook wings. See our How To Cook Wings section on using your smoker for details.
  2. Toss wings in sauce and serve with plenty of ranch dipping sauce.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

This is my go-to simple sweet and sour sauce. Perfect on appetizer meatballs, or with chicken over rice. Or with shrimp over rice. Well, anything you need sweet and sour sauce for, of course!

Sweet and Sour Meatball Sliders

Sweet and Sour Sauce
Author: 
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 8 ounces water, divided
  • 6 ounces pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon low salt soy sauce
  • Dried red pepper flake, to taste (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place corn starch and 2 ounces of water into a small bowl and whisk until combined completely.
  2. Place remaining ingredients (don't forget to add the remaining 6 ounces of water) into a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk to combine.
  3. Bring sauce to a slow boil and let boil for 1 minute.
  4. Reduce heat to a simmer and slowly whisk in the corn starch mixture. Be careful because the mixture will tend to rise (and almost double in volume), so don't add the corn starch too quickly.
  5. Continue whisking, cooking 5 minutes, until thickened.

 

Slow Cooker Balsamic Pork Sliders

Pulled pork is a popular dish around our house. Normally I make it on the smoker, low and slow. It may take most of the day (or night) but it is well worth the time.

Now, I don’t believe in a grilling or smoking ‘season’, but the other day it was flat out cold and windy here and there was no way I was going to babysit the smoker. Call me wimpy. So, it was time for Plan B. And Plan B was good. Very good.

This slow cooked tender balsamic pork has tremendous flavor. It’s sweet. It’s savory. The sauce is so delicious. And the Asian slaw? Fantastic. I was scared (really) of using fish sauce. I mean that stuff has an ‘aroma’. But it was great. I’m not afraid of it at all any more.

Slow Cooker Balsamic Pork SlidersThis will definitely become a go-to winter-time recipe for us.

Slow Cooker Balsamic Pork Sliders
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12 servings
 
Ingredients
For the Balsamic pork
  • 3 pound boneless pork shoulder, excess fat trimmed
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup seedless blackberry jam
  • 1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 Asian Slaw, see below
  • 12 slider-sized buns or rolls
For the Asian slaw
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • One (1/2-pound) wedge purple cabbage, cored, shredded
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
Instructions
For the Balsamic pork
  1. Put the pork into a slow cooker set on low.
  2. Whisk together the honey, vinegar, jam, Hoisin, broth, garlic. Stir in the onion, Pour sauce over pork and cook 8-9 hours until fall-apart tender.
  3. Remove pork to a bowl to cool slightly then shred.
  4. Pour sauce from slow cooker into a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  5. Whisk cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of cold water. Slowly pour into sauce while whisking.
  6. Bring sauce to a boil and continue stirring until thickened, 3-5 minutes.
  7. Pour sauce back into the slow cooker and add the shredded meat. Stir.
  8. Serve meat over rolls topped with Asian slaw.
For the Asian slaw
  1. Whisk together all but the cabbage and green onions in a medium bowl.
  2. Add in the cabbage and green onions and toss to coat.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use.

 

Wild Rice and Pineapple Salad

One of our favorite slaws is a Hawaiian version that is loaded up with pineapple. Turns out my folks love it too. They make it often.

Wild Rice and Pineapple SaladThis rice salad is an interesting take on the concept. Wonderful rice with crunchy red onion, and a little vinegar to offset the sweetness of pineapple.

This salad holds up for days, unlike slaw, which can get a little watery after a few days. So don’t be afraid of the fact that this recipe makes a pretty good-sized batch of salad.

Wild Rice and Pineapple Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
 
Ingredients
For the dressing
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro (plus more for garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
For the salad
  • 3 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 1 cup white rice, rinsed
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and diced medium (I used a 20 ounce can of pineapple slices, drained, and diced)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
For the dressing
  1. Whisk together the vinegar, brown sugar, cilantro, and parsley.
  2. While still whisking, slowly add the oil.
  3. Set aside while making the salad.
For the salad
  1. Add water to a large pot with a lid. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add the wild rice, stir, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the rinsed white rice, cover, and simmer another 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Fluff rice and let cool completely.
  6. Gently combine the onion and pineapple in a large bowl.
  7. Add the rice and dressing and stir.
  8. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and serve garnished with more chopped cilantro.

Copycat Bang Bang Shrimp

These little yummy bites are a copycat version of the Bang Bang Shrimp appetizer available at the Bonefish Grill. These shrimp have a fantastic crunch to them. The batter is not too thick or overpowering – you can still taste the shrimp. A little kicked-up dipping sauce and you have a great dish.
Copycat Bang Bang ShrimpI used 18-22 count US wild-caught shrimp, which were the perfect size for an appetizer. For me, at least. I love shrimp. No reason to use the dinky sized ones in something as good as this.

Copycat Bang Bang Shrimp
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4
 
Ingredients
For the dipping sauce
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
For the shrimp breading
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
For the shrimp
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 16 to 18 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 1 green onion, green part only, chopped
Instructions
For the dipping sauce
  1. Whisk together all ingredients.
For breading
  1. In a shallow bowl, place 1/2 cup of flour.
  2. In another shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.
  3. In another shallow bowl, stir together the remaining 3/4 cup flour, panko, salt, pepper, sage, onion and garlic powders, and basil.
For the shrimp
  1. Working in batches, roll shrimp in the flour.
  2. Next, place shrimp in the egg and milk mixture and roll to coat. Shake off any excess.
  3. Finally, coat shrimp in the breading.
  4. Transfer to a large plate and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  5. Heat 2" of oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 350.
  6. Working in batches, fry shrimp 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  7. Serve shrimp garnished with green onion, with dipping sauce on the side. Note: The Bonefish grill lightly coats the shrimp in the dipping sauce. I found it easier (and less messy) to serve the shrimp with the sauce on the side.