How to Host a Last Minute Holiday Cocktail Party


By Martie Duncan/

You’ve got the house decorated, why not ask a few friends over for some holiday cheer? Here is a no-fail plan for a quick get-together-just in time for the most wonderful time of the year.
The food doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Serve a few make-ahead or store bought appetizers that guests can easily pick up and not have to wrestle with silverware. I’m a big fan of grazing-it enables easy mingling and conversation. A cheese board is very easy and always a favorite. Add one or two holiday treats, a dessert cocktail, homemade truffles, or even a simple assortment of nice chocolates arranged on a tray to complete the menu.
Mix a signature cocktail or chill a few bottles of something sparkling: Champagne if your budget allows and Prosecco if it doesn’t. Turn on some holiday tunes and you’re ready to celebrate.
One of my favorite make ahead recipes is my Pickled Citrus Shrimp. I made this recipe for my pilot for Food Network Star because it has always been one of my signature dishes. I discovered this recipe about 20 years ago and have reinvented it many times based on what I had in the house. Around the holidays I add orange slices, a few whole cloves, and a splash of orange liqueur to change it for the season.

Recipe courtesy
Skill level: Easy
Prep Time: 15 minutes if you buy peeled and deveined shrimp. If you buy shrimp you have to clean, add 20 minutes.
Cook Time: 6-8 minutes for the shrimp but the marinade takes 8-24 hours
Yield: Approximately 60 shrimp

For the shrimp:
2 Tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
3 pounds medium raw shrimp (16-20 count), peeled and deveined with the tails on
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For the marinade:
2 small Spanish onions, sliced paper thin
2 cloves garlic, sliced very thin
2 lemons, sliced very thin
1 orange, sliced very thin
14 small bay leaves or 7 large ones
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon whole cloves
Scant pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
Mix the Old Bay, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl. Place shrimp on a sheet tray, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle with the Old Bay mixture. Cook for 6 minutes or until shrimp just turn pink; flip and cook another 2 minutes.
Whisk all of the marinade ingredients together in a large glass or plastic bowl except the lemon and orange slices, and bay leaves.
When the shrimp come out of the oven, put them directly into the marinade, toss, add the lemon slices, orange slices, bay leaves, and let cool. Wrap the bowl tightly with 2 layers of plastic wrap. Put the bowl in the refrigerator and marinate, turning the shrimp in the bowl occasionally to mix well for at least 8 hours and for up to 24 hours before serving. Place a large glass bowl in the fridge to chill for serving the shrimp.
To serve: Remove the bay leaves. Strain and reserve the liquid from the shrimp using a medium sieve or strainer so the seeds and cloves can pass through but it is ok if some remain in the shrimp.
Put the shrimp in a chilled glass bowl. Add some of the marinade, (leave out the seeds) back to the shrimp and toss. The shrimp should not be swimming in the marinade liquid. The onion, lemon, orange, and seeds are all edible but are for garnish and not intended to be eaten so you can omit them from the serving dish if you prefer.
Serve in a large bowl with a slotted spoon.

Homemade truffles are so delicious and so creamy; they are so worth the effort. These make a nice gift for the holidays or the perfect addition to a dessert bar.

Recipe courtesy
Skill Level: Easy
Prep Time: 30 minutes

2 cups 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
1/3 cup Unsweetened Cocoa
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
¼ teaspoon orange zest with ½ teaspoon orange liqueur
¼ teaspoon strong coffee or espresso with ½ teaspoon coffee liqueur
In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Add the butter and stir until melted. Add the chocolate chips. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and pour into a shallow bowl or Pyrex baking dish.
Cool, cover, and refrigerate the mixture until firm, at least 2 hours.
Use a very small ice cream scoop, a melon baller, or very small spoon to roll the mixture into 1-inch balls. Keep your hands cool by washing them in cold water before you roll the truffles. Dust each ball with cocoa. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
You may also roll truffles in finely chopped toasted nuts, toasted and chopped coconut, or dust with Confectioner’s sugar.
Makes 24-30 depending on the size.

Thanksgiving on the Gulf

Thanksgiving on the Gulf

Between November and December, families will travel thousands of miles to share the holidays with loved ones. A great place to do that is at a destination spot, which will allow families to celebrate the holiday in neutral territory and remove the pressure of one family member hosting everything. Create fun, family memories by celebrating along the waterfront in Gulf Shores.

While you’re at it, why not leave the grocery shopping and cooking to the experts. The Beach Club on Fort Morgan Road offers a Thanksgiving special that includes accommodations and a gourmet Thanksgiving buffet prepared by Chef Brody Olive at the Coast restaurant.

The menu will include Thanksgiving staples such as turkey and green bean casserole. But steps it up a notch with additional offerings such as lobster bisque, herb-rubbed prime rib, blackened Mahi Mahi, lump crab and sweet pepper and Gulf seafood lasagna. Did I mention the cranberry apple bread pudding with caramel sauce? Be sure not to miss that. These are just a few of the savory highlights. Click here to see the full menu.

The buffet is $32.95 per person for adults, $10.95 for children ages 6-12 and FREE for children 5 and under.

Tempted yet? Book a rental at The Beach Club to stay Thanksgiving weekend (Wednesday, Nov. 26 – Sunday, Nov. 30) and you will receive dinner vouchers based on the size room you book. The property offers 1 to 5 bedroom condominiums and village cottages. Click here  for more details on the special.

After dinner, everyone can walk on the beach and coast around the property before retiring to the condo for family game time. But the fun doesn’t have to stop there. On Friday, enjoy a morning sunrise or sunset, take the little ones out for a poolside craft and games or enjoy an evening campfire and S’mores. On Saturday, catch super deals at the Tanger Outlets in Foley, Ala., enjoy more games on the property or watch the Iron Bowl. There’s even an 8 a.m. worship service. Sounds like a perfect Thanksgiving to me.

Guest Blog written by Cecilia Pearson

48 hours in Gulf Shores

What happens when you can’t sneak away for an entire week getaway but need at least 48 hours to recharge? Fill up the gas tank and plan a visit to Gulf Shores! Pack your bags and head out as soon as you can Friday evening and enjoy the next two days. Here’s how.

Friday Evening

The sun is starting to set as you pull in. Check in to your hotel or rental and head off to the Gulf State Park Fishing Pier, the second longest pier on the Gulf of Mexico to spot some marine life (including sharks!) and watch the sunset. The admission cost is $2 but you can use it until sunrise and the pier is open 24 hours a day. Grab an ice cream for your walk. If you’re feeling hungry afterwards try S&S Seafood Market for Gulf seafood at its best.


Wake up and take advantage of the day! Stop at a beachside café to have your morning meal while watching the waves roll in. That’s what you came for right? When your stomach is satisfied take a drive to Fort Morgan where a living history museum will take you back in time. There are more activities in the summer than winter months but no matter when you visit you should see this historical treasure. Eight miles across the bay on Dauphin Island is Fort Gaines. A ferry is available to take you between them.

Grab a bite to eat and then get ready to fill your afternoon. The National Museum of Naval Aviation and Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum both share important parts of the region’s history. Visit one or both to learn more about the local area and culture. In the late afternoon a dolphin cruise can take you out on the bay to see these beloved animals. No guarantees you’ll spot any but if you’re lucky you will!


After a long day exploring, sleep in a little and then enjoy brunch in one of Gulf Shores delicious restaurants. Visit Gulf State Park as you wrap up your stay. If you’re adventurous take one of the six zip line adventures, four of which go over Lake Shelby. If you’re more athletically inclined stand up paddle boards and kayaks are available to rent and take out on the lake.

After lunch head back for a small nap or pack your bags for the beach. If the temperature is too cold for a swim, take a walk instead. The beaches are white sand and you can find seashells at the ready. With just a little more time left stop in to one of the art galleries or shops of Gulf Shores to pick up local specialties or a souvenir to remember your time on the beach. Locally made jewelry and pottery are favorites and if you have space for a big cooler, take home some fresh seafood!


5 Happy Hour Hot Spots along Alabama Beaches

With well known and sought after restaurants along the Alabama Gulf Coast, Spectrum Resorts is investigating what establishments have the best ‘Happy Hour’ in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Here 5 of the best Happy Hours on the Island.

Village Hideaway at The Beach Club has daily Happy Hour specials from 3 pm until 6 pm daily. Hideout at the Hideaway and enjoy a casual and entertaining dining experience in the areas favorite sports themed restaurant. Happy Hour includes drink specials on domestic and import beers. Food specials include $.05 wings, $4.95 BBQ pork tacos, $ 5.95 junior burger or BLT with fries and much more. Try your swing at the HD Golf Simulator or watch your favorite team while you are there.

Tacky Jack’s in Gulf Shores offers Happy Hour Monday thru Friday from 2 pm until 6 pm where you can find $5 select appetizers and $2 domestic long necks. If you are interested in weekend specials, they offer new specials for live football games. Enjoy beer specials on beer, bourbon, vodka and bushwhackers. Don’t miss out on Jacky Jack’s Karaoke Thursday nights from 5:30 pm until 9:30 pm.

Papa Rocco’s has been voted the People’s choice Award for Best Raw Oysters for eight years in a row. Their motto, “The home of warm beer and lousy pizza” is completely inaccurate but that is why it is so catchy and memorable. Happy hour is Monday thru Friday from 11 am until 7 pm. where you can find $2.50 drafts and $3 well drinks. Papa also offers daily menu specials until 2 pm for only $5.95 

Rafters Restaurant and Sports Bar is not only for avid fans but for anyone looking for good food, a great atmosphere and Happy Hour Monday thru Friday. Located at Pelican Place at Craft Farms, Rafters offers food and drink specials daily.

  • Monday – Domestic drafts are $1.50
  • Tuesday – Frickles and cheddar cheese taters are $3.99
  • Wednesday – $1 off specialty drinks
  • Thursday – All you can eat catfish is $10.99
  • Friday – $2 select wines

Cosmos restaurant and Bar is located in Orange Beach on Canal Road and offers a wide range of dining including hand-cut steaks, local seafood, pasta and sushi. Cosmo’s Happy Hour is daily from 3pm until 5:30 pm and includes house favorites like $5 Firecracker Shrimp and $5 Sweet Home Farms Cheese dip. They offer $3 wine, $3 Cosmopolitans, and $1 Miller High Life. Make sure you check out the chalkboard specials in the bar.

It’s 5 O’clock at LuLu’s Homeport Marina Restaurant in Gulf Shores

To wrap up our September blog series on Gulf Shores’ most popular restaurants and area attractions, the Spectrum Resorts team headed to Lucy Buffett’s popular LuLu’s at Homeport Marina. Just like The Hangout, LuLu’s offers more than delicious seafood and Southern favorites.  Lulu’s is more than just a place to go eat. It is an experience. From the time you arrive, it is like an oasis of all things paradise. The bright colors and the nicely manicured entrance make for a very welcoming restaurant.


Colby Turner, Revenue and Marketing Director

Just like The Hangout, LuLu’s offers more than delicious seafood and Southern favorites.  The atmosphere is as much of a draw as the food.  With live music daily, on-site boutiques and gift shops and the Mountain of Youth rope course, there is fun to be had at LuLu’s.


We started off with an order of fried crab claws for the table.  I’ve eaten fried crab claws from nearly every restaurant on the island, and these were by far the best I’ve had.  The claws were all large and meaty and fried to perfection.  If you like crab claws like I do, then I would definitely recommend these as an appetizer.  For my entrée, I had the blackened shrimp quesadilla.  Technically this is one of their appetizer items, but it was plenty of food to be considered a meal.  Again, this menu item was cooked perfectly.  The shrimp were seasoned just right, enough of a kick to spice up the flavor but not so much that it was over powering.

LuLu’s is a popular Gulf Shores restaurant year round, and especially in the summer.  If you’re on island time though, and don’t mind a bit of a wait, then this is another great spot to relax and enjoy time with friends and family in a restaurant with a lively atmosphere and great food.


Veronica Petkov, Public Relations 

It was years ago but Lulu’s started on Weeks Bay as small watering hole for locals and now it is a Gulf Coast favorite located on the coastal waterway. The food is great and the atmosphere is even better.

This week, we chose to go to Lulu’s on a Friday after work. Since Lulu’s is known for their amazing frozen drinks, it was a good decision to take the “5’oclock Somewhere” approach. We were seated immediately with a great view of the intercostals waterway and great shade. Since we all like crab, we started out with a pound of fried crab claws. The basket was filled high and cocktail sauce was already on the table. They had a perfect amount of batter and they were good in size. For my drink, I ordered an Island Mango Coloda with Margaretville Dark Rum, Mango and Pina Colada. It was refreshing a great way to start the weekend.


For my entrée, I ordered the Crazy Sista’s Crab Toast appetizer. It had sweet claw meat, cheese, green onions and mayonnaise on French bread perfectly toasted. This is a favorite of mine and a house favorite. Crab meat seemed to be a theme for me, but when you are on the Gulf Coast at a waterfront restaurant, I couldn’t help but indulge.

The food and the atmosphere at LuLu’s is definitely top notch. From the marketing team at Spectrum Resorts, we highly recommend adding Lulu’s to the list of must do’s.


Jamie Croft, Graphic Designer

LuLu’s restaurants is great place to go and hangout and enjoy a meal with friends and family. There are plenty of things to do besides eat at LuLu’s. There is a gift shop, ropes course and a variety of games and activities for the entire family.


Our group started with the fried crab claws and they were very tasty. I actually have not had many fried crab claws, but I really did enjoy these. The basket they came in was piled high and there was more than enough to go around.

For my entrée, I got the chicken finger basket. There were plenty of Fried Chicken Fingers and I really enjoyed the seasoning on the chicken. Also, with my dinner I had a bottled Yuengling Beer.

Thank you for taking the time to read our September Blog Series. It was a pleasure sharing our findings with you and we hope you continue to read our weekly blog about the Alabama Gulf Coast. Please leave us a comment and tell us about your favorite place to dine in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach. For information on local restaurants, click the link below.

The Hangout – Where 59 Ends and the Fun Begins

This month, The September Series Blog will feature Spectrum Resorts marketing team visiting four of the Alabama Gulf Coast’s top restaurants and attraction to give readers an inside look at area favorites. Read three first-hand descriptions about The Hangout, The Naval Aviation Museum, Sail Wild Heartsand LuLu’s. This week features The Hangout in Gulf Shores where “59 Ends and Fun Begins.”


Colby Turner, Revenue and Marketing Director
Entrée –Shaka-Shaka Shrimp Po Boy
The atmosphere at The Hangout was amazing.  Even on a weekday afternoon in the middle of August, The Hangout delivered fun entertainment

as well as great food.  As always, the staff was very friendly and quickly seated us at a table near the stage at the north end of the restaurant.  Wewere lucky enough to catch “JUMP, The Ultimate Dog Show” which featured several dogs performing agility and Frisbee catching tricks.

I went with the Shaka-Shaka shrimp po boy for my entrée.  This is easily my favorite po boy in the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach area.  I’ve had po boys at other restaurants that were way more bread than shrimp, but this is not the case at The Hangout.  The po boy arrived in a basket and was stuffed with fresh golden fried shrimp as well as lettuce and tomatoes.  A generous portion of shoe string fries was also included in the basket along with the Shaka-Shaka sauce on the side.  The sandwich would be good even without the Shaka-Shaka sauce, but this sweet and spicy sauce is what makes this my favorite dish at The Hangout.

It was another great lunch at one of the top restaurants in the area.  The great food and fun atmosphere make The Hangout a must visit restaurant for anyone visiting the Alabama Gulf Coast.


Veronica Petkov, Public Relations
Entrée – Blackened Mahi Tacos
The Hangout’s slogan is so very true. “Where 59 ends and the fun begin,” explains it all. The prime location and the panoramic views of the sugar-white beach create a sense of relaxation and peacefulness as soon as we arrived.  The fresh salt air and beautiful day got this lunch off to a great start.

There is never a dull moment at The Hangout because their social calendar is full of special events and live entertainment throughout the year.  If I would have been at The Hangout on a personal visit, I most likely would have started with the cucumber Bloody Mary with Smirnoff citrus, Zing Zang mix garnished with traditional vegetables and cucumbers. Instead I had a diet coke.

The team members at The Hangout are always so helpful and friendly. Our server made lunch very enjoyable with his professional manner and helpful personality. He was kind enough to let us take a few pictures and he even recommended a few popular entrees.

I was torn between the fish tacos or the Shaka-Shaka shrimp. So as a group, we decided on the Shake shrimp as an appetizer so I went with the Blackened Maui Tacos with cheese, black beans, cilantro, roasted red pepper sauce with tortilla chips and tomato salsa for my entrée.

It was nice to see the Shake shrimp were not popcorn shrimp. They were just the right size and the sweet and spicy Shaka sauce came on the side. We knew why the Shaka shrimp was a favorite when we tasted right amount of sweet heat on the sauce and the savory shrimp.

When the tacos arrived, I knew I made the right choice even before taking a bite. It looked absolutely delicious and tasted even better. The added black beans and roasted peppers went very well together and the colorful chips and the melted cheese made this dish one of my area favorites.


Jamie Croft, Graphic Designer
Entrée – Hang 10 Cheese Burger 


The Hangout is one of my favorite places to eat here on the Gulf Coast. There is always some sort of entertainment and the relaxed beach-front atmosphere is hard to beat. The open-air restaurant is something to experience, especially having a great view of the beach and Gulf.

The unique décor is eye-catching and everyone seemed to be checking out the large displayed collection of old tin lunchboxes, the never-ending display of Pez dispensers and the fun, colorful sand bucket collection. Our group started out with Shaka Shaka Shrimp. As an appetizer, these were really high-quality shrimp and a large portion. The Shaka -Shaka sauce had a nice spice that blended well with the shrimp.

For my entrée, I chose the Hang 10 Cheese Burger which came with shoe string fries. My Cheeseburger arrived in a basket packed with crispy fries. The fries were tasty and fresh with the perfect amount of salt. I almost ate all of my fries before I took the first bite of my cheeseburger.  The cheeseburger was a cooked to perfection and it was a nice size burger. It was full of flavor and had plenty of American & Swiss cheese.

For a complete menu list, visit The Hangout website. Please leave a comment about your favorite menu item and come back next week and read the reviews about the Naval Aviation Musuem in Pensacola, FL.


Football on the Beach: The 5 Best Places to Watch Your Favorite Team

Now that summer has come and gone, fall is upon us. That can only mean one thing down on the Alabama Gulf Coast, football season. There is nothing better than watching your favorite team with a group of friends in a great atmosphere while enjoying great food. If you find yourself visiting Gulf Shores or Orange Beach during football season, we have a few suggestions on great spots to catch the game.

Rafters Restaurant & Bar

Rafters Restaurant & Bar is located in the Pelican Place Shopping Center in Gulf Shores next to the Cobb 14 movie theater. They have three 12-foot screen TVs as well as a dozen other high definition flat screens. Any seat in the house will be a great seat with this many TVs. Rafters offers drink and food specials during game day. The menu includes everything from salads, seafood, steaks, barbeque, wings, burgers and more.

The Village Hideaway at The Beach Club

If you are staying on Fort Morgan Road then The Village Hideaway is the perfect place to cheer on
your favorite team. The team décor and the variety of food and beverage choices make the Hideaway a great place to kick back and score big with fresh seafood options, homemade pizzas, burgers, wings and much more. Happy hour is every day from 3pm-6pm. Make sure you take advantage of the HD golf simulator where you can play famous courses from around the country.

Baumhower’s at The Wharf

Baumhower’s is located at The Wharf in Orange Beach and is a great sports bar to catch your favorite team in action. Baumhower’s has over 70 TVs including five 70” flat screens.  They have every game playing every weekend so this is a great place to go if you’re team’s game is only available on pay per view.  Baumhower’s is famous for their wings and sports, but offer other great food including, burgers, steaks, chicken, fish, and salads.

The Flora-Bama Yacht Club

Flora-Bama Yacht Club is located across the street from the famous Flora-Bama Lounge on Perdido Beach Blvd. What could be better than digging your toes in the sand and watching your favorite football team? This famous bar and grill offers several TVs to catch the game while enjoying one of Flora-Bama’s famous Bushwhackers. This bar and grill is kid friendly and offers everything from seafood, chicken, burgers, sandwiches and more.

The Gulf Bowl

Gulf Bowl is located on Juniper Street in Foley, just behind Lamberts Café. The bowling alley is a great place to take the family to watch the game. There are several TVs and plenty of activities for the entire family. There are 24 bowling lanes as well as a arcade and laser tag. Visit the Captains Choice for great food and drinks. They serve everything from seafood as well as southern favorites like fried pickles and corn fritters.

If you’re looking for a great fall vacation that includes tailgating and family friendly activities, then be sure to check out our Tailgate Getaway special for a fun filled vacation at a great rate.


Simple Seafood: Chef Brody’s Shrimp Linguine

Shrimp happens all over the Alabama Gulf Coast. In last week’s blog, we described an award-winning shrimp dish prepared by Spectrum Resorts’ very own Executive Chef, Brody Olive. Now, we are in the kitchen with Chef Olive and he is teaching us the Brody way to create succulent Shrimp Linguine.

“Seafood is my bag. I love it,” says Chef Olive who is a professionally trained Chef that loves to cook and create dishes that spotlight fresh coastal seafood and farm-to-table vegetables and fruit. Living on the Alabama Gulf Coast allows him the opportunity to experiment and experience the best of both worlds.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, and raised just south of Atlanta, Georgia, Chef Olive attended Johnson and Wales University, where he learned the culinary fundamentals. He began his career at Ocean Restaurant in Birmingham as the Sous Chef, learning under the owner and well known Chef George Reis.

Ocean achieved many honors during Brody’s tenure including the AAA Four Diamond Award, Five Stars by Birmingham News to name a few. He won the Southern Breeze Gulf Coast Cook Off in 2008 and Zatarain’s Annual National Shrimp Festival Restaurant Challenge in 2009 and 2013. Brody also won the Wine Spectator Award in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Chef Olive’s focus has always been on seafood. It’s not every day you dine out and experience such a succulent entrée like Shrimp Linguine. But now, you can have the help from Chef Olive with step-by-step instructions on how to make it the Brody way at home or on vacation!

Follow the link below to watch Chef Olive creating his famous Shrimp Linguine or follow the recipe below to create this dish in your own kitchen. Please comment and let us know a recipe you would like Chef Olive to feature from the Coast Restaurant  menu.

What you’ll need:

Basil Pesto (See Instructions Below)

1 lb.  Linguine

1 lb  Jumbo Shrimp

1/8 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

2 Tbs.  Olive Oil

1 Pint. Grape Tomatoes (Roasted) or Roasted Red Bell Pepper

1 Tbs. Minced Garlic

1/8 Cup Heavy Cream

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 Tbs. White Wine

Fine Diced Green Bell Pepper to Garnish


Peel and devein shrimp.  Season with salt and pepper.

In sauté pan over medium heat, add shrimp, garlic, Roasted Tomatoes or Peppers (Your Preference) and sautee for 2 mins. Remove pan from the heat add white wine, heavy cream, 2 Tablespoons of basil pesto return to heat and reduce by half. Stir in 1/2 the Parmesan and serve over linguine garnish with finely diced bell peppers and remaining parmesan.

Basil Pesto:

2 Cups Packed Fresh Basil

2 Cloves Garlic

1/4 Cup Pine nuts

Salt and Pepper to Taste

2/3 Cup Olive Oil

1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese

Combine basil, garlic pine nuts in food processor.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.

Add 1/2 cup olive oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth.

Season with salt and pepper.  Add remaining olive oil.  Blend until smooth.  Stir in Cheese.


Experience Chef Brody’s Award Winning Seafood Dish in Your Own Kitchen

Coastal cuisine is a much sought after delicacy on the Gulf Coast. There is nothing like fresh eating fresh Gulf seafood with friends and family. With all of the well known restaurants and eatery’s specializing in seafood, no one should ever go hungry. You can find fresh shrimp, crab and fish at many of the areas established restaurants.

What if you have a condo or house full and you know the long summer wait time’s at the most popular restaurants are going to keep you waiting for hours? Kids are sunburned, men are hungry and the women are thirsty. No one is happy after a long day on the beach or boat and it is already passed dinner time. What should you do?

With the help of Coast Restaurant’s Executive Chef, Brody Olive, we are going to recommend a delicious
entree you can prepare right in your kitchen.  Whether you are in a rental condo, house or your home, you can cook up an award winning dinner for your guest.

Chef Olive won the 2013 Restaurant Challenge at the Annual National Shrimp Festival by preparing Pan Seared Alabama Gulf Shrimp, Zatarain’s Jambalaya Arancini, Broccolini and Tasso Creole Corn Cream. When preparing this recipe, the most important ingredient is the fresh Alabama Gulf shrimp.

There are several places to purchase fresh seafood in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Blalock Seafood and Specialty Market and is a favorite for fresh seafood, fine wines and gourmet additions including pastas, seasoning and sauces.  The main ingredient you need is one pound of 21-25 peeled and deveined shrimp with the heads on.  Now that you have the shrimp, here is Chef Olive’s recipe for a serving of four.

Pan Seared Alabama Gulf Shrimp

1 pound of 21-25 Alabama Gulf shrimp

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 each lemon quartered

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 Oz. white wine

Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil, season shrimp with salt and pepper. Add shrimp to sauté pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from heat source and add white wine. Steam shrimp for 3 minutes in wine stir and in juice of lemon and butter.

Jambayla Arancini

1 24 oz bag of Zatarain’s Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya, Frozen Meal

3 large eggs (whipped)

4 oz smoked Gouda, grate half and small dice other half

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Vegetable oil for frying

Follow direction on Jambalaya box. Once cooked place on sheet tray and allow to cool thoroughly.

While rice mixture is cooling set a breading station of All-purpose flour, whipped eggs, and panko bread crumbs. Once rice is cool, mix in grated smoked Gouda, shape into ping pong sized ball and stuff remaining small diced Gouda into center of the ball. Follow standard breading procedure flour, egg, panko. Place on to small baking sheet. Heat oil to 350 degrees and fry until golden brown. 


1 pound Broccolini

1 teaspoon Shallot

1 teaspoon Garlic

.5 oz white wine

Salt and Pepper to taste

.5 oz unsalted butter

1 oz olive oil

In double boiler steam broccolini for 4 minutes, drain excess moisture. Add to sauté pan of olive oil, shallots and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes and add white wine and butter.

Tasso Creole Corn Cream

4 oz Tasso Ham (diced)

1 ear sliver king corn (shucked and washed)

1 each tomato

1 each green bell pepper

1 each yellow bell pepper

1 bunch green onions

1/8 cup chopped parsley

1 Tablespoon garlic

1 Tablespoon shallot

1 Tablespoon Zatarain’s Creole Mustard

.5 oz. white wine

2 Tablespoon olive oil

6 oz. heavy cream

Shave corn off the cob; dice Tasso ham, julienne tomatoes, bell peppers, finely chop green onions, shallots, garlic, and parsley. Heat sauce pan over medium high heat and add olive oil. Place all ingredients into sauce pan. Stir frequently; cook for 5 minutes add white wine, cream and Creole mustard reduce to simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Check back next week for another great recipe from Chef Olive that you can prepare in your own kitchen, and be sure to read our other posts on Gulf Coast dining.


Alabama Gulf Coast’s Best Restaurants: Eat Like A Local

Most visitors come to the beach with a hankering for seafood. Fortunately, Coastal Alabama is known for locally caught seafood delivered fresh to area restaurants.

On your next Gulf coast vacation, avoid the “tourist traps” and eat like the locals. So, if you want to know where the locals are dining, here’s a list of restaurants that keep area residents coming back time and time again.

Fried Seafood

Doc’s Seafood Shack has been a local standby for fried seafood since they opened in 1984. The sign says it all, “Laid Back Local Stuff.” You don’t go to Doc’s for the atmosphere. It’s a no frills, T-shirt and flip-flops kind of place. You go for the fresh seafood at a reasonable price. Doc’s has items on the menu such as grilled seafood and chicken, but it is best known for fried shrimp and oysters. Open for lunch and dinner, Doc’s has two locations in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, AL.

Fish River Grill 2 located on Highway 59 in Foley may not look like much from the outside, but don’t let appearances fool you. Inside you’ll find a menu full of seafood platters that come fried, grilled or Cajun seasoned. A personal favorite is the OMG Shrimp Feast Po’boy, and this is one item that lives up to its name. A foot-long po’boy filled to the brink with fried shrimp and covered in their crawfish pistol sauce, you’ll need a fork and a large appetite to eat it! Open six days a week, closed on Sundays, with live music nightly, this is a great relaxed atmosphere to enjoy some Southern style seafood and entertainment.

Indoor/Outdoor SeatingCosmos_Exterior2

Cosmos Restaurant and Bar on Canal Road in Orange Beach is a fun restaurant and bar scene offering specialty cocktails, and fresh and eclectic food. Favorites such as chicken roulade wrapped in bacon, sesame seared tuna salad and firecracker shrimp keep regulars coming back. Also, the Banana Leaf Wrapped Fish was also named one of “the top 100 dishes to eat before you die” by Alabama Food. Great patio seating and an indoor/outdoor bar make Cosmos’ bar equally as popular as its restaurant.

Pizza and Oysters

Papa Rocco’s built its reputation around the rather odd combination of pizza and oysters. And, yes, they excel at both even though their tongue-in-cheek motto is “Warm Beer and Lousy Pizza.” In fact, Papa Rocco’s has won the “People’s Choice Award” for Best Raw Oysters eight years in a row. Located on I-59 just a quarter-mile from the beach, Papa Rocco’s offers full menu service until midnight and live music nightly.

Casual, Fine Dining

Worth the drive is Tin Top Restaurant and Oyster Bar in Bon Secour. Located four and a half miles off I-59, Tin Top was designed to be “off the beaten path.” Nonetheless, you will find it packed most weekends as locals go to enjoy food with a New Orleans/Southern casual flare. The best way to describe Tin Top’s food may be “casual, fine dining.” The atmosphere is casual. In fact, the restaurant has the vibe of an old country store. But the fresh, locally caught seafood, fresh vegetables and Certified Angus Beef entrees compare favorably with dishes served in higher-priced fine-dining restaurants.

The Orange Beach and Gulf Shores restaurant scene is exploding. More than 25 new restaurants opened in 2013. We’d like to hear if you’ve found any new favorites or have an old stand-by you frequent when you come to the beach.