Confession No. 74 — You want New Year’s resolutions? Fine. I’ll give you New Year’s resolutions!

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.

It’s not that I am without resolve. Or without hope for a better next year. I just see New Year’s resolutions as … trite.

But this time around, I’m taking a bite of hokey pie and laying it all out there.

On my health
A little more than a week ago, I had a hankering for chicken fried steak and all the trimmings, which included garlic toast and fried okra. Our home smelled like a diner for two days, yet I had no regrets. My to-make list for sometime during the next six months is already a cardiologist’s nightmare, with dishes like Nashville-style Hot Fried Chicken, puffed tacos — and nary a vegetable.

All of that in mind, I resolve in 2013 to keep my doctor appointments, take my meds and maintain my current weight, give or take 10 pounds.

Also, I resolve that I won’t get a flu shot — or complain about having the flu. There are already too many people out there who, every time they cough, (absurdly) claim to have the flu. Anyone who truly has the flu does not have the energy to tell everyone about it on Facebook. Just saying.

On my prosperity
Who doesn’t want to be prosperous? I’m pretty lucky as it is, but I’m tired of cheap beer anyway — so, what the hell?

No. I’m not taking a third job, since that could get in the way of my goals of a pantryful of spicy pickled sausages and a freezerful of bagel dogs. But I think I do owe it to myself to bling up my quaffing — even if that means canceling twirling lessons for my daughter and skipping a few payments on her braces.

That said, I resolve in 2013 to greatly reduce my consumption of 32-ounce canned beers in lieu of the 12-ounce bottled nectar that I fell in love with so many years ago. I’ll be spending $12 (on a credit card) instead of the normal $3 (from ashtray change). But, hey. That’s how prosperous people roll.

On being kinder, gentler
Being a nicer guy is easy for me … so long as I’m the target.

My bedroom is the only room in the house with a television that requires its own corner. My children, meanwhile, are watching Netflix in HD from the comfort of their (newer than mine) beds, while I’m in here staring at Eudora Welty-era wallpaper. (I am able to watch movies, so long as I have a Bic pen to help me un-jam the VHS tape.) Later, as my children are downloading videos to their phones, I’ll be trying to tune in a game on a clock radio with those little flip tiles.

So, yeah, I’m long overdue in being nicer to myself.

I resolve in 2013 to spend a lot more on me — and a lot less elsewhere. I think I’ll treat myself to something flat, wireless and expensive. Also, since so many people bitch about my choice in party music, I think I’ll bolster my collection of classic country, disco and classical music. Who wouldn’t want to nosh on appetizers and sip Manhattans while listening to a remastered version of Patsy Cline’s ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky?’

Oh, and while I’m at it, I’ll quit sharing my iTunes throughout the household. After all, I paid for them. I think there are a few folks around here who could benefit from buying their own iTunes — with money that they actually earned.

Yes. I’m thinking 2013 will be a good year. I wish I’d rediscovered this whole New Year’s resolution thing before now.

If you like what you read here, please tell 50 of your closest friends. I’d also love for you to join me on Facebook (click the ‘like’ button) and Pinterest.

Other than the immensely talented musical group, black eyed peas are not allowed in my home. No one has an allergy, or anything like that. I just think they have a flavor similar to AJAX (don’t ask). Cabbage and other greens are fine, but I’m turned off at the thought of watching college bowl games in a house that smells like an Eastern Bloc hostel. I like some of the Italian and Mexican pastry traditions, but nah. Instead, I think I’ll go against the grain.

Though Fra Diavolo was the nickname of legendary Italian revolutionary leader Michele Pezza, the Italian-style Fra Diavolo sauce is an American thing. Fra Diavolo translates from Italian to English as “brother devil,” and refers to the spiciness of the sauce. My wife introduced me to the lobster version of the dish during our first Christmas Eve together. It was something her mother prepared every December 24th. Fra Diavolo is so quick and easy, though, that it deserves a spot in the regular round-robin.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Shrimp Fra Diavolo, from the fridge to the table, takes about 30 minutes.

1 lb – Large (26-30 ct.) Shrimp, peeled & deveined
4 TB – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided

1 can (28 oz) – Crushed tomatoes
1 cup – White wine (preferably sweet, such as Pinot Grigio)
1 bottle (8 oz) – Clam juice
3 – Garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp – Ground Fennel seeds
1 TB – Dried Basil (or 3 TB fresh Basil, chopped roughly)
½ TB – Dried oregano (or 1½ TB fresh Oregano)
2 tsp – Dried red pepper flakes (or more, if you prefer a spicier dish)

Kosher salt & freshly ground Black Pepper

In a large saucepan, heat 2 TB of the olive oil to medium. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until aromatic — about 2 minutes.

Add crushed tomatoes, white wine, clam juice and next four ingredients. Raise heat and bring sauce to a light boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 20-25 minutes.

As sauce is cooking, sprinkle shrimp with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Bring a skillet to medium-high heat and add remaining 2 TB of olive oil. Add shrimp and cook until just pink — about 2 minutes — stirring regularly.

Add shrimp to sauce during last 5 minutes, or so, of cooking.

Serve over your choice of pasta (we prefer angel hair) and garnish with chopped fresh basil or flat leaf parsley, if desired.

Serves 4-5.


  1. looks Delicious! I would pair this with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

  2. mmmmmm fried okra…..sometime when I think about it, I’ll put on my page alternatives to fried. fried okra makes me think of summer and going out and cutting those perfect pods from the plant and frying up a batch for breakfast, paired of course with a bright cuppa Columbian coffee with a splash of cream. and then finished off with the rest of the okra and a cold co-cola. but I digress, this recipe looks worthy of making a resolution for!

  3. juanitascocina says:

    This is one of my favorite meals. Love it!

    I don’t do resolutions. Then I can’t let myself down. It’s all about me, really.

  4. Go on be kinder to yourself, throw that tele OUT of your bedroom! Don’t clock anyone with it though, those old TV’s are heavy. My confession is that i have never eaten okra, fried of otherwise.. is there an otherwise?.. but because i am from NZ I love fried food, so i am going to grow some okra this summer and see if i like it.. but how did we get onto okra anyway when your dish is shrimps, tasty looking fellows too! Have a wonderful New Years Adam, celi

    • Happy 2013, Celi! The okra came up because I fried some just more than a week ago (even though I’m not supposed to be eating stuff like that). And you’re right about the old TVs weighing a ton. Thank goodness I own a couple of furniture dollies.

  5. Life’s short…eat fried food, drink expensive beer, and get yourself a new flatscreen, DVR, DVD, DDDDDDwhatever! As for me, I’m riding all the crap and stuff in the house that I’ve saved for my offspring who actually could give a %*#$(&#W%…took a while to figure it out, but heads up, big boy, keep your resolutions! Always love my wild and crazy Adam!

    • As the recipient of one several years ago, I’m with you on the whole ‘legacy box’ thing, Ally. You know where mine sits right now? Well, let me tell you that I’m not sure. So, when you said “offspring who actually could give a %*#$(&#W%,” you were spot on. That said, I might sell my kids’ stuff on eBay and use the proceeds on a new Kitchen Aid stand mixer and some surround sound for the red room. ;-)

  6. Adam, I enjoy your writing style even more than your mouthwatering recipes. I think I will adapt this one for one person serving and share on my blog if that is okay by you. By the way, I believe I will follow in your footsteps with resolutions this year. I normally don’t bother as I never keep them anyway but maybe this year……

  7. Sigh, I’m the only one in my house that likes shrimp. This looks really good.

  8. Yeah, new year’s resolutions are rarely kept. (i.e. gyms are empty again three weeks into January). Good luck with your’s and provide updates!

  9. These are all resolutions I can get behind! I might just steal your list and add a few more self-indulgent to-dos. I definitely need to make this pasta. I want to face-plant into that bowl of yours and scarf it down myself (that’s a one person sized portion, right?). Happy New Year to you and your family!

  10. Go for it Adam! Go for the “good” beer (or wine) I always say (and do). But no hoppin’ john on New Year’s Day? Please disregard my upcoming blog post then…Keep up the great writing and happy new year!

    • Though I can appreciate the beauty and tradition of Hoppin’ John, I’m an outcast when it comes to eating it. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but my MaMaw (may she rest in peace) once told me “I don’t think you’re a Holland,” because I wouldn’t eat tomatoes off the vine. Happy 2013!

      • Touché. My oldest sister will not eat grits and we ride her about it all the time. At this point I think even a million dollar offer would not get her to gave in to just 1 spoonful. She may not have the “grits gene” but did get a double dose of the “stubborn southerner gene” instead. Ha-ha.

  11. We don’t do resolutions here, either. We just think they’re stupid. If there’s something you need to change, then you need to change it when the deficit is evident, not on Jan 1.

    I can make you a believer in black eyed peas, though. My recipe for Jeff Beans is loved by even staunch BEP haters….they have all sorts of bacon, garlic, peppers, and pork and beans. That with the Tony Chacheres makes them tangy, spicy, and tasting nothing like BEPs.

  12. Looks ‘buono’. Happy New Year

  13. Taking On Magazines says:

    Ground fennel….you had me right there. I can’t stand licorice, but I do love me some fennel, in all forms. Your dish looks delicious. I’ve never had black-eyed peas and was considering making them tomorrow. Now you have me worried. But I’ll probably try it anyhow…gotta give stuff a go at least once.

    I like your list. I will admit that even though we’ve had to tighten our belts in many areas, two that never got the axe were good beer and coffee. I’d rather not drink anything than drink a cheap version of both. Happy New Year Adam (and family).

    • No worries about black eyed peas, Christiane. I happen to be the only person in my family who doesn’t care for them — and one of only 3-4 people in the entire southern U.S. Happy 2013 to you and yours!

  14. Haha! My mom is “THE flu” persona you so accurately describe. Loving your blog!

    • Thank you, Teresa. The influenza virus will knock you the %#$@ out! It reared its ugly head with me on Christmas day 2000. Everything was fine, I was sipping that year’s version of Anchor Steam Holiday Ale and preparing to serve an aged beef. I grabbed some pot-holders, opened the oven to pull out the roasting pan and — wham! My elbows suddenly ached fiercely. Then my knees. Then my collarbone. I had to skip dinner, else I wasn’t sure I’d make it upstairs to the bedroom to lay down. Within an hour, I had a 103F temp. Fortunately, my godmother is a doctor and she made a house call. I couldn’t get out of bed for at least a couple of weeks.

  15. If confession is good for the soul, your soul should be sittin’ pretty! Thanks for the most enjoyable read. Dude, we’ve still got one of those monster size TVs, too. Ours is upstairs in our guest room. Perhaps I should be kinder to my guests???? Awesome shrimp dish.

  16. This looks really good. Always have shrimp on hand and normally some kind of peas. Southern to the bone. Happy New Year and resolve to give up flying rocket ships. You will never fail with that one.

    • Thank you, Ma’am. My wife (who has never inhaled a thing in her life) has resolved to quit smoking. We thought, as a family, we’d try to keep the house as cluttered as possible during 2013.

      • Because I smoked, I got a lung disease. BUT, I was lucky enough to get a double lung transplant almost two years ago. So if she is lucky in 13 she will manage to stop. You are right, keep her busy. fingers crossed for her.

  17. The shrimp dish looks fabulous! I’m funny about TVs and such. All ours are still those huge ones because I’m not going to get rid of a perfectly good TV in order to purchase a nice less-room-taking flat version – Our kids (who all have them in their homes) laugh at us but know that one day, the hubs won’t be able to lift those TVs and we’ll give in to go buy new ones – all at once. We don’t have black eyed peas either. I make Posole which is a New Mexican tradition – yum!

  18. May you reach your goals in 2013! Life is too short to drink cheap beer for cheap beer’s sake. Just drink the good stuff (you have some good ones in TX). The shrimp dish looks delish, but we will have our Ajax beans and greens on New Year’s. Once you cross the Red, it’s gotta be Hoppin’ John.

  19. Great looking shrimp – I’ll resolve to make that in 2013 for sure. I always wonder if anyone makes it past week 2 of any NY resolution. Every year I watch the new get in shapers in their Christmas gift spandex running(?) the back roads here. By mid January I’m back to seeing the same old faces who do it year round.

  20. I don’t do resolutions…My follow-through is abysmal at best (one of those things I really should work on of these days!). My German family usually does some version of pork & sauerkraut for the new year, and my dad gives me crap all the time about what a bad German I am since I loathe sauerkraut. Oh well! :) Happy 2013 Adam!

  21. Hi there, wanted to let you know I nominated you for the Sunshine award. If you are interested click here for details.

  22. I have featured this recipe on my blog for my weekly seafood round-up and have linked this recipe to your original post so that my readers will be forwarded to your site. Thank you for allowing me to share! Here is the link:

  23. The shrimp looks delicious. Unfortunately my husband can’t handle the texture of shrimp or shellfish, grrr. Any ideas how to cultivate shrimp love?

    • That’s the $64,000 question. On one hand, my wife always despised scallops because, she said, they are ‘chewy and rubbery.’ It was then that I realized she’d never had properly cooked scallops. On the other hand I will not eat raw onions or fresh tomatoes because of the consistency. Then again, if you caramelize an onion or sun dry a tomato, I’m all over it. — Is there any possibility that he’s never had properly cooked shellfish?

      • He’s had shellfish in Asian, English and French food, but it’s possible a terrible childhood experience has instilled fear of the badly cooked shrimp. Maybe I should start giving him shrimp ‘hidden’ in other ingredients – like giving veges to a vege-hating child – and gradually build up to whole, unpeeled and simply barbecued beauties? After all, I have managed to convince him tofu is *not* the food of the anti-pope..


  1. […] and Raisin Salsa Smoked n’ Grilled Smoked Tropical Salmon Bites Unorthodox Epicure Shrimp Fra Diavolo Frugal Feeding Smoked Mackerel Pate Laurie Bakke’s Kitchen Stone Crab Claws with Mustard […]

Speak Your Mind