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Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Best Cream of Crab Soup

I have been wanting to make cream of crab soup for a couple years now, and I finally did it on Saturday. It was possibly the best cream of crab soup I have ever had, and I have had a lot of cream of crab soup in my day, because I live in Maryland! I found the recipe in a cookbook called "The Chesapeake Bay Crabbiest Cookbook," and it was one of 22 crab soup recipes. I thought the cookbook was the right place to look for my cream of crab soup recipe, especially since I loved the crab cake recipe I used from the book. The soup was easy to make and it tasted amazing. Greg exclaimed how much he liked it, and then after eating it for awhile, he turns to me and says "um, so how unhealthy is this soup, because it seems really rich." And I was like, "um, well it is CREAM of crab soup, and why do you have to take the fun out of everything?" I then explained to him that although it did have heavy cream, that is was thickened because a flour roux was added to the soup. It is the roux that makes this soup so nice and thick (but of course it's the cream that makes it so deliciously, um, creamy).  I ended up using crab claw meat for the soup and it worked out well. You can choose to add the sherry, but I don't think it is necessary. I do recommend sprinkling it with some extra black pepper and Old Bay Seasoning before serving. Oh, and make sure you have some toasty bread or crackers for dipping. Enjoy.

Recipe for The Best Cream of Crab Soup 
INGREDIENTS:
4 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
1 small to medium yellow onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
3 Tbsp. of all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. of Old Bay Seasoning
1 1/4 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. of ground yellow mustard
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. of salt
16 ounces of heavy cream
16 ounces of half and half
1 pound of crabmeat (I used crab claw meat)
3 Tbsp. of sherry, optional
Parsley leaves for garnish, optional

DIRECTIONS:
Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large stockpot. Add in the diced onions and pressed garlic and stir. Stir frequently and cook until the onions come to a light golden color.
While the onions are cooking, put the flour, Old Bay Seasoning, black pepper, yellow mustard, cayenne pepper and salt into a smallish bowl and mix.
Once onions are light golden in color, adjust the heat to medium and then make a roux. Add the flour mixture in, and stir continuously to make a blond roux (until the mixture is light golden in color), about 3 - 4 minutes.  After the roux is made, pour in the cream and half and half. Bring it to a boil, and then stir in the crabmeat. Bring the soup back to a boil, and then immediately stir in the sherry, if using.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle each with some extra black pepper and Old Bay Seasoning, and garnish with some parsley leaves, if desired.

Recipe makes approximately 6 servings. 

Recipe Adapted from: The Chesapeake Bay Crabbiest Cookbook, by Whitey Schmidt 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Not So Sloppy" Turkey Sloppy Joes

There were only a few meals that I did not like to eat when I was a kid. I was never fond of meatloaf or Sloppy Joes. Luckily, both these meals weren't something that were served frequently in my parent's home. I didn't mind singing about Sloppy Joes after Adam Sandler sang his Lunch Lady song on Saturday Night Live, but I still wasn't interested in eating them. It had been at least 25 years since I thought about eating a Sloppy Joe sandwich until I saw this Sloppy Joe recipe a couple months ago on a blog that I like. I read the author's writeup and apparently she wasn't crazy about the idea of  Sloppy Joes EITHER until trying them again with this recipe. So I thought I'd give it a try and  I'm glad I did. I don't like to cook with meat much, but this meal was so easy to make and helped me to overcome some of my meat preparation fears.

Greg is also not a Sloppy Joe person and he was really happy with these not so sloppy Sloppy Joes!
I call them "not so sloppy" because they aren't too saucy and the sandwich pretty much stays in tact. I omitted the tomato sauce from the recipe and used ketchup instead. This recipe uses ground turkey and the sauce combines things like root beer and apple cider vinegar. I will definitely be making this recipe again. Enjoy!

Recipe for "Not So Sloppy" Sloppy Joes

INGREDIENTS:
1 Tbsp. of olive oil
2 Tbsp. of dried onion flakes
1 pound of ground turkey meat
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp. dried mustard powder
1/4 tsp. cumin powder
2 Tbsp. of ketchup
1 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. of Tabasco sauce
3 ounces of root beer
3/4 Tbsp. of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 hamburger buns, lightly toasted
Ketchup or other sauce, for serving

DIRECTIONS:
Put the olive oil in a large (nonstick) skillet over medium heat. Add in the dried onion flakes, stir, and cook for about 45 seconds. Add in the ground turkey and break the meat up as it cooks. Cook for about 4 - 5 minutes, or until it starts to brown. Stir in the pressed garlic, mustard powder, cumin, ketchup, and salt. Cook and stir until the mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute. Then stir in the apple cider vinegar, Tabasco sauce, root beer, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for about 7 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with some ground pepper.

Divide the meat amongst the 4 buns and serve. Serve with extra ketchup or other sauce (I used extra Tabasco on mine), if desired. Serve with your favorite sides. We had some tasty barbecue potato chips and a spinach salad!

Recipe Adapted from: Pink Parsley, originally from Cooking Light, September 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Nutella Cupcakes with Creamy Nutella Frosting & Nutella Ganache

Remember how just the other day I said I really wasn't craving things like cake these days, and that I was totally cool with healthy sweet fixes? Well, it's still true, but I certainly enjoyed these cupcakes after making them on Saturday. Our neighborhood had a crab feast/cookout and everyone in the neighborhood got to sign up to bring a dish. I chose a dessert because I figured if I had a hard time getting out the door that it wouldn't matter if I was a little late, and because I think baking is way more fun then preparing a potato salad. I was having a hard time deciding what to make and when I finally decided on cupcakes, I knew they had to be these Nutella ones. I put Nutella in the cupcake itself, in the frosting, AND in the ganache topping. If you're a Nutella fan, this cupcake is definitely for you! I didnt' get a chance to take a picture before the cookout so I was secretly hoping there wouldn't be any left so I had an excuse to make them again, but Greg came back with two of them in hand. They were a hit in my house and a hit with the neighbors, and I definitely might have to make them again very soon! Enjoy.

Recipe for Nutella Cupcakes with Creamy Nutella Frosting & Nutella Ganache

INGREDIENTS:
For the cupcake
2 cups of water
2 cups of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 2/3 cups of flour
4 tsp. of baking powder
1/2 tsp. of salt
2 sticks unsalted butter (16 Tbsp.), softened at room temperature
2 cups of granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup of Nutella
4 eggs

For the frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter (16 Tbsp.), softened at room temperature
1 cup Nutella
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. of heavy whipping cream

For the ganache topping
7 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (or 5 ounces chocolate chips - I used Ghiradelli)
2 Tbsp. Nutella
1/2 tsp. of coconut oil


DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners. Bring the water to a boil and then add in the cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat, let rest for a minute, then put in fridge to cool.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, use an electric hand mixer to beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the Nutella and vanilla and mix until well incorporated. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Slowly add in the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Remove cocoa mixture from fridge and with the mixer running, add it in a steady stream and beat on low. Scoop batter into cupcake liners (I filled them almost to the top of the liner, but you can fill just 3/4 full if you want). Put in oven and bake for about 16 - 19 minutes (I baked mine for 17:30). Remove from oven and then transfer cupcakes to wire rack to cool.

Once cooled, make the frosting. Use an electric hand mixer to beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Then add in the Nutella and mix until well incorporated. Add in 1 cup of the powdered sugar and mix and then add in the other cup and beat until smooth. Pour in the 3 tablespoons of cream and beat until well incorporated. Frost the cupcakes.

Once cupcakes are frosted, make the ganache topping. Put the chocolate or chocolate chips into a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. While the cream is heating, put the Nutella and coconut oil in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Then stir, and microwave for another 30 seconds. Continue as needed until the mixture is thin and pourable. Once the cream comes to a very slight boil and is hot to the touch, pour it over the chocolate or chocolate chips. Stir until smooth and creamy and then add in the Nutella mixture and stir. Use a spoon or fork to put over the frosting in a fun design or just globs, it still will taste the same! Put cupcakes in fridge so the ganache topping can harden before serving.

Store cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge. They taste amazing the first day they are made and pretty amazing the second day too. Store in fridge for up to 5 days.

Recipe makes approximately 22 cupcakes. You should have enough frosting for all the cupcakes - unless you like TONS of frosting - then you might want to double the frosting recipe!

Recipe Adapted from: Sally's Baking Addiction 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Healthy Peach Cobbler Bites (made with cashews)!

Hi there! Time really flies. I can't believe I have not posted an entry on here in four weeks. I am really slacking these days. I was all set to post a new zucchini brownie recipe (see the old recipe here) a few weeks ago, but then I never got around to downloading the pictures...and now zucchini isn't really in season. I had made another awesome recipe with zucchini (zucchini, corn, and ricotta fritters) over the summer that I wanted to post, but I never got around to doing that either. But next summer I will post them! The thing is, you just don't really have much time when you have a baby in the house. It's the truth. Wendy is super active and loves to play, and she really doesn't want to nap during the day. She fights it hard. But she has a bit of a cold right now and she is actually napping (very sad for her, but I do enjoy the extra time while she is resting), so I am posting! Another thing besides having no time that changes after having a baby is food preferences. I had heard it before but didn't really believe it but it is definitely true for me. This might shock you, as it even shocks me, but I do not crave sugar much at all these days. I definitely still love dark chocolate, but I can totally pass up cookies, cakes, and other baked goods that used to endlessly taunt me. When I am craving sweet, I turn to things like granola or banana cookies. A new sweet and healthy treat recipe I tried last night are these  peach cobbler bites, that are made with cashews, coconut, dates, and peaches! They seriously taste like little pieces of peach cobbler and I love them. Greg is a huge fan too. I got the idea when I came across this recipe on Pinterest (follow me if you'd like at beffy78). At first I wasn't sure because cashews are super pricey, but they have them on sale at The Fresh Market in Annapolis on Saturdays so I bought a bunch. Then I looked for freeze dried strawberries but couldn't find them, and the alternative of using dried strawberries is ridiculously expensive (16.99 for 6 ounces - I don't think so)! So I tried them with dried peaches, and they are amazing. I think you will enjoy them too. They are great for a quick snack on the run. You can also choose not to roll them into balls and use the mixture to sprinkle onto yogurt or add to smoothies. Yum!

Oh, by the way, these are vegan, no-bake AND gluten-free. Score!

Recipe for Healthy Peach Cobbler Bites
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup of raw cashews
1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
8 - 10 (or about 6 ounces when weighed with pit) Medjool dates, pitted and cut in half
1/2 tsp. of coconut oil
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
A pinch of coarse sea salt
A couple pinches of ground cinnamon (optional)
7 ounces of dried peach rings

DIRECTIONS:
Put the cashews and coconut into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse several times until finely chopped (about 10 - 12 seconds). Add in the dates and pulse until the mixture becomes a bit sticky (about 8 seconds). Add the coconut oil, vanilla extract, salt, and cinnamon. Pulse briefly (1 - 2 seconds). Add in the dried peaches and run the food processor for about 10 seconds or until the peaches are well incorporated. Put the mixture into a bowl, put on an airtight lid, and put into the fridge for a couple hours. Then use a cookie dough scoop to scoop and use your hands to shape into desired sized balls. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Recipe makes approximately 30 bites

Recipe Adapted from: Better with Cake