Category Archives: Recipes

Beer and Crab … Need I Say More?

Beer Batter Crab Fritters
Beer Batter Crab Fritters

Somehow, I managed to hold on to a half pound of crab meat without eating it immediately! For those who know me, this is quite a feat. I can barely wait for a crab to cool before I start ripping the thing open, let alone let shelled meat wait to become part of a cooked dish.

But I’d decided on making crab cakes.

My past attempts have been OK, variations on some flour, egg, maybe a few herbs and, of course, crab. The best I’d previously done was one that included very few of the former and a whole lot of the latter. It was basically crab meat loosely held together by some stuff you couldn’t taste at all over the crab.

But I wanted to do it up right and fancy. Plus I’d recently thumbed through Seattle culinary icon Tom Douglas’ “I Love Crab Cakes!”, 50 recipes that examine different cake styles, different crabs and recipes from all over.

And then I happened upon a recipe that included another one of my favorite food-like substances: beer.

So it ended up being not exactly a crab cake, it’s technically a deep-fried fritter.

It turned out well, though I could have used a little more crab for my personal tastes. I used a pilsner so as not to overpower the flavor, which also ends up being a great leftover to pair with the fritters afterward. I lack a hot oil thermometer, so I probably had it a little too hot, not cooking the inside quickly enough before getting a deep browned outside and allowing the whole thing to crisp. I paired it with a garlic-y remoulade dip, that was OK, but not spectacular so I’m not adding the recipe here. The book has one that I’ve yet to try. I also served a side salad and a corn cornbread.

And without further adieu, here’s the recipe: Continue reading

Quick Fix: Shrimp, Orzo and Green Beans

Tomatoes (I also used yellow), garlic and parsley
Tomatoes (I also used yellow), garlic and parsley

I’ve been taking to heart some meal-planning and time-saver suggestions given by readers. There were some great tips, some of which I’ll elaborate on in the future.

One of the things that helps when faced with a late night and the need for a quick meal is having a well-stocked kitchen. I read through simple food guru Mark Bittman’s suggestions for core supplies.

Fresh out of the oven
Fresh out of the oven

Among the suggestions (and one I was a fan of anyways) is a bag of frozen shrimp. It’s really a versatile little critter than can be cooked quickly in a million different ways.

In the past couple years, I’ve seen several variations of recipes including shrimp and my favorite tiny pasta, orzo. A couple weeks ago, I threw together my variation based on what I had in the house. I made double what I noted below because if you really want to save time, you eat leftovers. Let me know if you try this out and if you make or should make any variations: Continue reading

Triple Berry Cobbler That Tastes Good and Is Actually Good for You, Too

Three-berry cobbler
Three-berry cobbler

So in all that talk of high fiber foods, I tried to go beyond the beans and looked for something tasty and dessert-like. I found a recipe in one of my gifted cookbooks, “Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Healthful Cooking.” The book had a whole section of foods based on properties like high in fiber or lowfat, etc. and a table of recipes and stats. I keyed in on the dessert that said 7 grams of fiber per serving.

I initially bought all the ingredients for a dinner with friends, but when I started making it, I realized that the clock I’d been timing my day by had not yet been reset for the season. So, rather than be 45 minutes late, I cooked it later. Then we ate it for dessert, and breakfast, and snacks for the next few days.

Even after all that, I still liked it. That’s gotta say something, right?

My few complaints were these: As I started cutting up the berries and placing them in the bowl, they was way more than the suggested 8X8 pan would hold and not nearly enough crust. Also, there is no way I found that you can smooth out the crust over the berries. I tried oiling a clean spoon and being very careful until I lost my patience. My solution the second time around was to drop smaller half-spoonfulls all over. The crust gets mushy pretty fast. I prefer something a little crispier on my cobbler, but managed to get a little of that back by popping servings back in the oven under the broiler.

Peach-ified cobbler
Peach-ified cobbler

This weekend I made it again for a family dinner. I abandoned most of the high-fiber, healthy part of it because I really needed to eat something new. For the filling, I replaced the berries in the recipe with a couple cups of frozen marionberries and most of a bag of frozen peaches. Instead of raspberry jam, I used apricot preserves left in my refrigerator from another recipe, a touch of honey and I was out of instant tapioca so used about 1 1/2 tablespoons of corn starch. I also used regular buttermilk.

I liked the berry version better, but then again, I’m a pretty big fan of berries.

Triple Berry Cobbler

(from “Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Healthful Cooking”)

7 grams of fiber, 4 grams protein, 61 carbs, 7 grams fat

2 cups blueberries
4 cups raspberries
4 cups strawberries, stemmed and sliced in half
1/4 cup raspberry jam
1 Tbs instant tapioca

1 cup unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
kosher salt
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together berries and carefully fold in jam and tapioca. (I heated up the jam a bit to make it runny and mixed the tapioca in before pouring it over the berries.)

Mix flour, baking soda and baking powder together. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy and pale. Add half the buttermilk and half the dry ingredients and combine until getting sticky. Add remaining buttermilk and dry ingredients and mix just until it’s a sticky mass. Don’t overmix.

Drop spoonfuls of crust over the berries. Smooth it out a little (if you can), but don’t worry about gaps.

Bake 40 minutes or until top is golden and filling bubbles up on the sides and through the gaps.

Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Edamame, Haricot Vert and Orange Salad

With all the fresh veggies about to come out in the farmers markets, salads are going to be making more appearances with dinner (and lunch).

I couldn’t quite wait, though, and utilized some frozen veggies to dress up a salad this weekend.

I ate this before I managed to take a photo, but with the green and orange and touches of red from the onion and the lettuce, it was pretty. Well, since you can’t see it, it was downright gorgeous, I mean you’ve never SEEN a prettier salad. Really. I swear.

The recipe below reflects how I  served it up. The next day I ate the leftovers for lunch, and it was even better after the bean mix had marinated for a night and I added some chopped avocado.

Edamame, Haricot Vert and Orange Salad

Serves 6

3 Tbs rice vinegar
2 Tbs walnut oil (or olive oil)
1-2 Tbs sake
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp grated orange zest
1/4 tsp pepper

The salad
1 1/2 cups shelled edamame*
2 cups haricots verts (small green beans)
1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
1-2 oranges, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Mixed salad greens

*If you’re using frozen edamame and/or green beans, make sure not to fully cook them (only leave them in the boiling water a few minutes) and rinse them with cold water so they stay cool and crunchy for the salad.

Toss together beans, onion and orange. Leave out the greens until you’re ready to serve.

Whisk together all dressing ingredients. Pour half over bean mix and marinate for an hour or overnight. Before serving, toss remaining dressing with greens and beans mix.

Quick Fix: Grilled or Broiled Salmon with Rosemary, Lemon and Onions

Prepping the salmon
Prepping the salmon

I have a little pile of handwritten or memorized recipes in my daily dinner arsenal that I call my “go-to” meals. They’re things I can make that don’t take a huge amount of preparation, but that I wouldn’t be ashamed to serve to guests.

The list grows as I learn to cook better and find new recipes.

With the sun shining today, I’ll likely go to one of my favorites that works well for either a grill or a broiler: salmon.

This is really no recipe at all, just a throw-together kind of thing. I make use of the now gigantic rosemary bushes in my backyard and a pretty forgiving fish. Plus it’s a really easy after-work kind of way to break out the grill.

The prep takes about all of 10 minutes. Here’s what you need (base the amount of everything else on the size of your salmon fillet):

salmon fillet
sweet onion (like Walla Walla or similar variety)
lemon, thin sliced
fresh rosemary sprigs
salt & pepper

Rub salt and pepper on the salmon, layer lemon, onion and rosemary sprigs on the fillet and close over with foil. Broil or grill until firm in the center and fish flakes (about 10-15 min. under the broiler, depending on the thickness of your fillet).

I play around with it, and have added garlic salt and a touch of cayenne to the rub. The foil helps seal in the moisture, and I don’t always layer the ingredients in the same order. I think having the onions closer to the fish gives them a better flavor.

Dessert for Breakfast

My oatmeal breakfast this morning
My oatmeal breakfast this morning

I’m a late convert to oatmeal. Chalk it up to my aging, no wait, maturing, taste buds.

When I was a kid, I couldn’t stand the stuff. My mom tried to compromise, still trying to get me to eat a hot breakfast, by buying chocolate-flavored Malt-O-Meal. After a bit of begging and complaining that that stuff didn’t taste very good either, she’d allow me to put in 1 Hershey Kiss. I always sneaked two or three and sunk them into the bottom. It was far more like dessert that way.

In some ways, that’s still how I eat my hot cereal —  as a dessert — though a little less heavy on the sugary goodness.

In the past couple years, I’ve been playing around with how I eat it, only occasionally plain. A couple times, I’ve tried overnight versions in the crockpot, like one from Alton Brown with figs, cranberries and steel cut oats (steel cut has more fiber, just had to throw that in there), but haven’t had a lot of success. It comes out kind of gloppy and/or burned on the bottom. I think the problem primarly is with my crockpot, less with the recipes I’m trying.

I generally cook it with half water/half milk. I’m also a fan of cooking it with water and adding a tablespoon of cream.

I also have a few go-to variations for dressing it up (both are for two servings):

Continue reading

Another High-Fiber Recipe: Three-Bean Chili

This recipe uses red, white and black beans
This recipe uses red, white and black beans

Here’s another high-fiber recipe that was pretty simple to make. I made it while my cassoulet was baking this weekend and froze some for giving away and for later in the week.

I’ve copied their recipe below, but I made my own additions while it cooked because the original recipe seemed a little tart and lacked some depth. I added about two tablespoons of brown sugar and a heaping tablespoon of cocoa to the mix. I also simmered it about 10 minutes longer than recipe called for.

Serving size is about two cups, and each serving has about 16 grams of fiber. It’s only supposed to have 294 calories (and it’s pretty filling for having that much), but if you add the sugar like I did, that’ll obviously add up.

Continue reading

Saucy Lettuce Wraps with Chicken

Lettuce in my kitchen
Lettuce in my kitchen

The idea of something wrapped in lettuce does not on the face of it always sound like a main meal to me. But lately, I’ve been craving a concoction I first had at PF Chang’s, and made some this weekend.

My husband was pretty dubious about a food wrapped in lettuce. He didn’t say it, but I”m sure he thought: “Isn’t that salad?” But I think I made a convert this weekend.

If you’ve never had one, they’re pretty simple things. Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves are filled with marinated meats, veggies, crunchy things and topped with a savory sauce. You can be pretty flexible about what you put inside. The key is to making a sauce that has a lot of flavor that you like.

Places like PF Chang’s, The Cheesecake Factory and others serve these as appetizers, but I thought they worked well as part of a multi-plate meal (I also served up some stir-fry bok choy and a plate of my grandma’s-style fried rice), and would probably be fine eating just these for dinner. Actually, if I was more carefully watching what I ate, I would just have the wraps as meals. They’re relatively filling, and depending on what you put in them, they can be relatively fat-free.

For my lettuce wraps, I included marinated and stir-fried chicken slices, some thin-sliced, marinated shitake, bean sprouts, julienned carrots that I briefly stir-fried, and deep-fried maifun sticks.

So, like I said, the key is in sauce, something blending salty-sweet-savory-spicy. I’ve seen variations on Thai style chili and lime, various soy-based sauces and more. You just have to find what you like. I happen to love big ginger taste and Hoisin sauce, so below I’m offering up one to my tastes. I’m also including the marinade I used for the chicken. Continue reading

St. Patrick’s Day Dishes

As I’ve matured (but not that much), so have my St. Patrick’s day traditions. I’ve moved on from Guinness and Irish Car Bombs (yes politically incorrect, but oh-so tasty, unless you’re under 21, in which case they taste like crap) to Irish stews and Shepherd’s pies.

If you want to make your own corned beef, you should have started a week ago, according to a Bon Apetit recipe.

But there’s still time to whip something up for tomorrow. Local food writer Ann vogel offers up a recipe for Irish Soda Bread, which would be good either with a stew or just maybe a few slabs of Irish cheese (I’m partial to the Dubliner myself because it taste’s pretty good and I can find it at my local grocer).

I haven’t found an Irish stew recipe to stick with yet, but The Seattle Times had a promising lamb stew recipe on Saturday. I’m looking for something with a lot of thick, flavorful soup, preferably including stout. I want something I can eat it atop my other favorite Irish dish: Colcannon.

Colcannon is a mix of mashed potatoes, greens and other goodies. It’s apparently a dish made for Halloween, but I’m going to ignore that. here’s the recipe I’ve used a few times. I can’t remember where I originally got it, so apologies to the author.


1 pound cabbage, cored and sliced
1 pound potatoes, chopped, skin-on
1 leeks, sliced thin
1 cup whole milk
salt and pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup butter

Boil potatoes until tender. Drain and keep warm.

Combine milk, half the butter, salt and pepper in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Add cabbage and leeks, cover and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Add potatoes to mix and mash. Add remaining butter, nutmeg and season to taste. Serve.

I’ve tried this with chives instead of leeks, which came out pretty good. I’ve also seen recipes where cooked bacon was chopped up and added to make it more of a main dish.

Whatever you’re making, hope it turns out well, and I’d love to hear about it. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Chicken and Fennel in Sherry Cream Sauce

The alternate title for this blog entry was: What I made from all the stuff I had to use up in my ‘fridge. Thursday night, before a five-day vacation (I’ll be back next Wednesday)  I found myself faced with some stray veggies and meat in the refrigerator and found myself faced again with the stray food still sitting on my shelves, a testament to poor pre-vacation planning.

This happens more than I should admit, but there was good news in this one. It seems like all those recipes and food blogs I’ve been reading are starting to pay off. I managed to open the fridge, pull out a few of the things in there and make a meal, no recipes, and for the first time, didn’t end up with something I’d rather  toss out or feed to the dog (note: I don’t actually feed people food to my dog).

It was even something that I think was shareable, though it probably needs a little work (crowdsource recipe-making anyone?). Not all the proportions aren’t precise, because I’m not so good at pre-planning the packing part either. If any of you try it, let me know how it came out for you and what changes you make.

Chicken and Fennel in Sherry Cream Sauce

1.5-2 ilb chicken thighs (skinned and trimmed)
2 Tbs olive oil
1 fennel bulb, halved and sliced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
About 1 Tbs dried thyme
2-second pour (1/2 to 3/4 cup) of dry sherry
About 1 cup vegetable stock
About 1/2 cup cream
1 tsp truffle cream

Heat olive oil in a medium-sized skillet. Brown chicken over medium-high, remove from skillet and set aside. Saute fennel, onion and garlic until onion begins to wilt. Add thyme, sherry and vegetable stock to skillet, stir. Add carrots and lay chicken on top. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Add cream and truffle cream. Stir and simmer about 1 minute more. Serve over rice.