Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Birthday Dinner Crab Claw Soup

Katherine and I had a joint celebration for our 15th and 29th birthdays (respectively) on her birthday, April 21, since mine was a week prior and Easter was the week before that… that would have been a busy 3 weekends of driving to my parents’ house.

Typically we have a pasta dish with alfredo sauce, scallops, and shrimp as our family’s “traditional” birthday dinner, but I had gotten it into my head that I wanted to make a variation on Maryland crab soup and thought this would be a great time to try it out.

“SOUP?!,” Katherine responded when she heard about my plans.  “Soup is just a bunch of stuff mixed in water.”  So my mom also made crab cakes, a salad, and cornbread.  The entire dinner was delicious, but, along with everyone else, both Katherine and my brother who refuses to eat any vegetables ever loved my soup.  They didn’t even pick through it.  Since that is in and of itself a pretty incredible accomplishment, I decided I should share the recipe in case anyone else was interested… and mostly, so I remember it for next time.

Rachel’s Crab Claw Soup

  • 8 c water
  • 1 bunch celery, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 – 3 large russet potatoes, cubed
  • 7 carrots, chopped
  • 1 smallish bag frozen corn
  • 1 smallish bag frozen green beans
  • 1/8 c – 1/4 c J.O. Crab (or Shrimp) Spice… NOT Old Bay
  • 2 cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1 lb crab meat (I used claw meat, since it’s the most inexpensive, has the least shell in it for the money, and is really flavorful)

Combine water and all fresh and frozen vegetables in a large pot on medium-high heat.  Add J.O. Spice, stir, and replace the lid.  When all vegetables are cooked through, stir in stewed tomatoes and crab meat.  Serve and enjoy.

*You could make an even easier variation on this soup by using a big bag of mixed vegetables, plus the potatoes, celery, and onion, but my husband is highly allergic to peas.  Also, I may add some cabbage to this recipe when I make it next.  My mom also thought she saw some okra in it at first glance, which is something else that would be delicious.

Chocolate Quint Cake

 

Last night I made a birthday cake for a friend from work.  I didn’t want to go to the grocery store for only one or two items, so I searched Google for a recipe using the ingredients I had on hand- namely a Betty Crocker dark chocolate cake mix and Jello chocolate instant pudding.  I settled for a recipe that looked good but I lacked several of the ingredients that the recipe required and otherwise wanted to make it a bit less calorie-heavy; what I came up with turned out *really* well.  It has chocolate x 5, if you include the 3 kinds of chips, the cake mix, and the pudding, hence the name.  Since I got some requests for the recipe I used that doesn’t really exist, here’s what I did:

  • 1 box cake mix
  • 1 box instant pudding
  • 1/2 c applesauce
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1 c low fat vanilla yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 c warm water
  • 1-2 c chocolate chips (I used milk, dark, and semisweet)

———-

  • caramel ice cream topping
  • powdered sugar
  • sea salt
Preheat oven to 350° F.  Generously spray a bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Mix all ingredients (except chocolate chips) until smooth.  Add chips, stir until evenly distributed.  Pour batter into prepared pan, bake for 50-55 minutes or until the cake tests done with a toothpick.  Allow to cool at least 1 hour in the pan.  Turn out onto cake plate, dust with powdered sugar, drizzle with caramel, and sprinkle a little sea salt on top.

It’s been how long?!

To tell you the truth, I have no idea how long it’s been since my last post.  I don’t even have a clue what it was about.  The format for creating a new post on WordPress has completely changed since I was last here. But I’m back, and have a new favorite recipe to share. A big reason I’ve been gone from the WordPress world for so long is because I’m pregnant (expecting a boy, due July 29) and haven’t been able to stay up much past 8 most days for quite a long while.  This has severely cut into my cherished knitting time, and most of the free time I have after work has been spent coming up with something appetizing to have for dinner, actually making dinner, then trying to stay awake long enough to watch some TV show and knitting while lying on the couch (and failing.)  It’s starting to get better, and with this being Presidents’ Weekend, I’ve had some time to catch up on getting some things done that had needed doing for a while.  I’ve become pretty active on Pinterest, which has really helped with my dinner dilemmas among other things.  I got most of my handmade fine silver jewelry listed on Etsy before my Ravelry ads go live on March 1.  I got my pre-plantable vegetable seeds started for eventual transplanting into the raised bed.  I did a lot of entertaining, and even got some knitting in.  Now it’s time for blogging.

Lately I’ve been craving Pho, the Vietnamese rice noodle soup made with beef broth (or, in the case of Pho Ga, chicken broth) and topped with various meats, mung bean sprouts, and basil that is known for being tedious to make yourself.  I went out to get some for the first time in about a year with my husband, and loved it.  (I did have to stick to Pho Ga though, as all the other soups on the menu had an asterisk indicating that the meats might be undercooked.)  I wanted more within a week, but he said that for him, Pho was something he only needed to eat once in a long while.  So I went out with another pregnant friend the next week, and a different friend the following week.  After that, a colleague posted on Facebook that she had made her own Pho and it was delicious.  After inquiring, I found out that Pho bouillon cubes could be purchased from Asian supermarkets to emulate the taste without all the work.  I went to my local Great Wall Supermarket, but they had no such cubes.  They did have a product packaged in a container that looked similar to  ones I had purchased containing chicken and beef stock paste / concentrate that was labeled as Beef Pho and Chicken Pho, respectively.  I bought both, and it turns out they’re more of a cake of dried ingredients than a paste.  The Beef Pho comes with filter bags full of the necessary spices, and are meant to be thrown into a pot with the whole Pho cake and 2 gallons of water.  Since I only make a couple of bowls at a time, I just scoop out what I think I’ll need and adjust it to taste.  Below is my “recipe.”

  • Water
  • Pho Flavoring (see picture above, or do some searching at your local Asian supermarket)
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Bok Choy
  • Beech Mushrooms
  • Basil
  • Sriracha
  • Meat of choice (or not)
  • Fresh Rice Noodles (in the refrigerated section near the tofu)

Add water for desired amount of soup, Pho seasoning to taste (and a sprinkle of included spices, if applicable) veggies, and Sriracha to pot.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until Bok Choy is softened and soup is heated to your liking.  Add meat, if using, and rice noodles (cut them up first to prevent messes while eating) and cook an additional 5 minutes or until noodles are desired softness.  Serve in big bowls with those Asian ladle-type spoons and chop sticks.

Note- I added all of my veggies at the beginning because I’m pregnant and not really supposed to eat sprouts.  If you would rather your sprouts stay crunchy, add them and basil just before serving.

September in Pictures

I haven’t post on here in over a month, so I thought I’d do a quick update of some of the things that took place during September that I remembered to photograph:

 

 

There’s more from the last week or so, but my camera is dead at the moment.

Recent Cooking Experiments

I’ve been having a bit of fun in the kitchen lately, and thought I’d share a couple of the resulting meals. Inspiration came from friends Jess and Joanna, respectively.  Please check out their blogs for other fun miscellany!

On Thursday evening I decided I needed to use some tomatoes from my mom’s garden immediately, as they were perfectly ripe.  I remembered Jess’ Doublemint Dinners post on tomatoes and replicated the dish from memory.  Here’s the gist:

 

 

Turn tomato upside down and make slices most of the way through.  Insert thin slices of cucumber into every other cut in the tomato.  Sprinkle salt and pepper on top, and put in the oven at 350°F for about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven, put slices of Havarti cheese in remaining cuts in the tomato, and put back in the oven just until melted.

 

 

Serve with grilled steaks, goat cheese-stuffed squash blossoms (dipped in backyard fresh eggs and rolled in Panko), and a margarita on the rocks with salt.  (Next time, I’ll also try the recipe Jess posted for what looks to be an incredible margarita!)

 

 

My other noteworthy culinary experiment from the past week utilized my new musubi press.  Joanna made some surprisingly delicious Spam musubi while we were at her family’s beach house at the beginning of the summer, so I had to try out the process myself.  I got a press that was twice as long and half the width / height as Joanna’s (whose was designed to perfectly accommodate a slice of Spam) and I am glad I got this smaller, longer model: the resulting “sushi” is more bite-sized.

I made not only the traditional Spam musubi, but also “sushi” with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and avocado, as well as some made with smoked oysters and cucumber.  By the end of the night, I ended up making a batch of delicious musubi with all the leftovers from the evening.  All varieties had a generous sprinkle of furikake on top, and were enjoyed with soy sauce.  (I have already picked up wasabi powder, pickled ginger slices, and rice wine to up the ante for future sushi dinners!)  The musubi press is a super-simple method for creating sushi, and I got mine from Amazon.

Mostly Meatless Minestrone

This was an impromptu dinner creation that turned out awesome!

 

Mostly Meatless Minestrone

2 c broth (I used chicken… use vegetable and it will be meatless!)

3 c water

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 small head of green cabbage, coarsely chopped

2 carrots, coarsely chopped

1/2 celery heart, coarsely chopped

1 T no-salt seasoning

1/4 t pepper

1 can tomato sauce

1 c pasta of choice (I used Tinkyada spirals)

 

Add all ingredients except tomato sauce and pasta to a medium pot.  Once the vegetables are tender, add sauce and pasta.  Simmer on medium low until pasta is ready.  Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top.

Meyer Lemon Squares

I love a good lemon square, and have spent quite a bit of time perfecting various recipes to create the perfect rendition.  I’ve come close in the past, but today I tried a brand-new recipe I found with a different “base” for the filling than in previous attempts.  I also used my Meyer lemon from my little lemon tree, which was ripe enough to harvest in the last week.  I had been on a search for a good recipe to use my single, special lemon, and this one fit the bill perfectly.  All that was wasted was the pith!  And of course I made these gluten-free.

Meyer Lemon Squares

Shortbread Crust:
1 c Pamela’s Gluten-Free Flour Mix
1/2 c powdered sugar
1/8 t salt
1/2 c cold butter, cut into pieces

Meyer Lemon Filling:
2 eggs
1 c sugar
2 T Pamela’s GF Flour
1/8 t salt
2 t lemon zest
1/4 c lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line an 8″ square pan with parchment paper.

Add all crust ingredients to food processor.  Pulse until mixture is evenly integrated, and pieces are rice-sized.  Bake about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

While crust is baking, whisk together all filling ingredients until combined. Pour onto crust. Bake 15 minutes or until filling is just set.  Allow to cool completely, then sprinkle powdered sugar over top if desired.

The original recipe was obtained from AlpineBerry’s blog, which I found linked on another site, which I found on a Google search.  As an aside, my Meyer lemon produced 1/3 c juice and plenty of zest for this recipe, though I didn’t actually measure it.

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