Curried Crab Cakes

Crab is a nutrient powerhouse, containing  loads of necessary vitamins and minerals that all contribute to good overall health.  It is an excellent source of selenium, which helps to keep the thyroid healthy.  There is 3x more selenium found in crab than there is in beef.  Aside from selenium, it is also a great source of B vitamins, protein and omega 3 fatty acids, all of which make for a healthy diet.  If possible, it is recommended to eat crab at least twice a week, although it can be pricey, and is often considered a luxury food, which might make it more difficult to eat that often.  I love crab, and can enjoy it any way it is cooked, but I admit that we don’t buy it that often because it is expensive.  But it sure is delicious, and I enjoy every bite of it when I do buy it.  One of my favorite ways of eating crab is to have it in crab cakes.  I also love curry.   So to combine these two great foods makes a wonderful taste sensation that will have you begging for more.  I made my crab cakes in the Maryland crab cake style, meaning more crab and less “cake”.  They are light, delicate crab cakes that are full of flavor.   I topped the crab cakes with some of my left over Hollandaise sauce Happy Birthdays and served them over wild rice with a spinach salad and a tomato vinaigrette on the side.  The meal was made complete with a glass or two of a cool, crisp viognier, by one of our local vintners, Turquoise Mesa Winery, which is only about five minutes from my house.  You can find Turquoise Mesa Winery at colorado.com/wine-wineries/turquoise-mesa-winery.  

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Curried Crab Cakes

1 lb lump crab meat

1 1/2-2 TBSP bread crumbs

2 tsp parsley, chopped fine

salt & pepper to taste

1 jalapeno, chopped fine

1 tsp Tobasco sauce

a dash of Hot sauce (I used some Caribbean hot sauce we bought from some of our travels)

1 1/2-2 tsp curry powder

1 1/2-2 TBSP mayonnaise

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1 egg

 

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Mix the crab, salt & pepper, jalapeno, bread crumbs and parsley together.  Mix the egg, mayonnaise, mustard, curry, and hot sauces together separately.   Once everything has been mixed together separately, combine the egg mixture with the crab mixture and toss everything together, combining well, making sure to coat all the crab mixture.

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Preheat the oven to 400* F

The mixture will be soft and flimsy, so spoon the mixture onto a greased baking sheet and form into a ball.  You can make the crab cakes any size you want depending on the size spoon you use.  I made my crab cakes about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.   Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the crab cakes are lightly golden.

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Once the crab cakes are cooked, you can eat them plain, or with a sauce or your choice.  They are best with a light sauce since the crab is light and delicate.  You do not want a strong, bold sauce because you will lose the light, delicate flavors of the crab.

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Decorating Cookies

Traditions are important to hold onto for many reasons.  They bring us together and they help us form everlasting bonds with others.  Some are cultural traditions and others are traditions within a family.  Either way, I think they are important to hold onto and to preserve and pass down through the ages.

Our friends Janet and Bob have had a family tradition for many, many years, of making and decorating cookies to give as Christmas gifts.  Their tradition continues and yesterday we were lucky enough to partake in the fun and colorful festivities as well.  Janet, her son and his family all baked tons and tons of cookies and boxed them all up as gifts to give to their friends.  After boxing up a heap of cookie boxes, it was time for a pizza break.  After the pizza, the decorations were brought out, and it was time to get to the fun, colorful business of decorating, where our imaginations were allowed to run wild.  There were no rules and no holds barred.  Let the decorations fall where they may.

 

Brian and Shelly boxing up the cookies.

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Three generations of family fun in the kitchen.  Janet, Brian and Emily all making the frosting for the cookies.

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Shelly and Emily getting ready to mix the colors into the frosting.

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Peter and Emily making colors.

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Janet in her pantry, proudly displaying all her cookie decorations and supplies.

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And the decorating begins.   All those gingerbread cookies on the cookie tray were in need of color and decorations.  We had our work cut out for us.  There was a wide array of various colors and decorations from which to choose.

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Shelly proudly displaying some of our finished masterpieces.

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All of us showing off our cookie masterpieces.  Believe it or not, we are all so into our work AND no one even tasted or did quality control checks throughout the whole decorating process.

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My Bronco mittens.

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What Christmas would be complete without ugly sweaters?  We had some pretty “ugly” sweaters too.

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Cleaning up after.  All these bins and boxes filling the counter tops are loaded with delicious Christmas cookies.

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We got to take home a box of cookies too.

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Enjoy the holidays and the holiday traditions with family and friends.  That’s what the holiday are for.  Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season, with a Happy, Healthy New Year.

Green Bean, Artichoke and Mushroom Casserole

We eat a wide variety of vegetables all the time.  There are very few vegetables we don’t eat.  In fact, off hand, I really can’t think of any.  Most often, we eat fresh vegetables too. They taste better and are much healthier as well.  This time we enjoyed a casserole made with green beans, artichoke hearts and mushrooms.  Aside from this being a very colorful and tasty dish to make, it was also a very health dish too.  Green beans, artichoke hearts and mushrooms all contain high amounts of proteins (high amounts as far as vegetables go) and fiber, as well as other necessary vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, selenium, Vitamin B and Vitamin D.  And because they are all high in fiber, they are all also very low in calories.

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Green Bean, Artichoke and Mushroom Casserole

IMG_45441 1/2 lbs fresh green beans

1 onion, chopped fine

1/3 cup olive oil

1 1/2 TBSP garlic

2 cans artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half

1 cup mushroom, sliced

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine

2 tsp fresh thyme

1 tsp cayenne pepper

salt & pepper to taste

1 cup bread crumbs

1 cup Parmigiano cheese, divided

 

Cook the green beans for about 5 minutes in boiling water.  Then drain and cut into pieces that are about 1 inch in size.  Saute the onions, garlic and mushrooms in olive oil until the onions are soft and translucent.  Toast the pine nuts until the are lightly golden.

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Preheat the oven to 350* F

Toss everything together along with the rest of the ingredients, using only half of the Parmigiano cheese.  Make sure to coat the vegetables well.    Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the vegetable mixture evenly out onto the pan.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly browned.  Add the remaining Parmigiano cheese to the top right before serving.  I served the green bean, artichoke, mushroom casserole along side pork chops that I marinated in a chili lime sauce and garlic mashed potatoes with a buttery chardonnay to round out the meal.

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Pollo y Camarones del Diablo

We love spicy food.  Most things we eat have a bit of a kick to them, some more than others, but most of our meals have at leave a little bit of heat to them.  We like that bit of fire and heat that makes our taste buds come to life.  We also love shrimp and chicken.  We eat a lot of both, cooked in many, many different ways.  This dish is a combination of all of the above.  I had to make a combination dish because I did not have enough shrimp that was unfrozen to make into a meal by itself.  Chicken and shrimp is always a good combination too.  They pair very nicely with each other.  Dinner was chicken and shrimp over pasta served with a spicy tomato sauce (chicken= pollo and shrimp = camarones), or pollo y camarones del Diablo, a crusty cheese bread and a bold red blend that made the meal complete.  The wine I served was from Bookcliff Vineyards, one of our local wineries in Boulder, Colorado.  You can find them at bookcliffvineyards.com.

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Pollo y Camarones del Diablo

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1-1 1/2 lbs chicken, cut into slices about 1×2″ in size

1 lb large shrimp or prawns, peeled and deveined

2 TBSP garlic

1 onion, sliced very thin

2 large jalapenos, or to taste, diced fine

1 TBSP red pepper flakes

1 jar marinara sauce

3 ripe tomatoes, medium dice

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 tsp each dried thyme and marjoram

1 TBSP each dried basil and oregano

olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

 

Saute the onions, garlic, jalapenos and mushrooms together in olive oil until the onions are translucent, for about 4-5 minutes.

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Add the shrimp and continue to cook until the shrimp are done, about another 4-5 minutes.

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Once the shrimp is completely cooked, removed the shrimp and vegetables from the skillet and set aside.  Cook the chicken, adding more olive oil as needed, until it is completely cooked.   Add the tomatoes and the shrimp and vegetable mixture and combine well.

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After everything is mixed together, add the marinara sauce and herbs, and blend well.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.  If you want the sauce a little thicker, continue to cook it a while longer.

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When the sauce is done, serve it over your favorite pasta, and enjoy.

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Tamales with A Creamy Adobo Sauce

Adobo.  What is it?  Is it a method of cooking?  Is it a seasoning?  Is it a sauce?  Is it a dish?  The simple answer is yes.  It is all of the above.   The word adobo is derived from the Spanish word adobar, which means to marinate.   Before the days of refrigeration, meats were marinated in vinegar, garlic, chilies and salts as a way of both flavoring the meats and also preserving them.   The style of adobo cooking is both Spanish and Filipino in origin.   When the Spanish colonists came to the Phillipine Islands, they discovered the native people marinated and cooked their meats in a similar way as was done back in Spain, and they called this style of cooking adobo.   The adobo way of cooking is to marinate meats in a flavorful sauce made from vinegars, garlic, chilies and salts, and various other ingredients overnight, then to cook the meat in the same sauce.  After the meat has cooked and simmered and is done, it is then browned in oil before serving.   In the Caribbean Islands, the word adobo has a completely different meaning.  To the Caribbeans, particularly those in the Domenican Republic and Puerto Rico, adobo is a type of dry rub made from various herbs, spices and seasonings that is rubbed onto meats before cooking them.  In Spanish and Mexican cooking, adobo is most commonly  referred to as a type of sauce that is used, usually made from chipotle chilies and other bold herbs, spices and vinegar.  Adobo is also a dish all unto itself, and is the unofficial national dish of the Phillipines.   Whether it is used as a spice or a seasoning, a cooking method, or as a sauce, some form of adobo is very popular all throughout the areas where the Spanish had their colonies and left their influences.  As with any dish that is very popular throughout the world, there are many different varieties and versions.  No one way is right and there are no wrong ways either.

Dinner was tamales, which are Mexican/Spanish, so I made my adobo as a sauce for the tamales.  I also made mine as a creamy sauce, rather than just the traditional vingary type sauce.  By adding cream and butter, the acidity of the sauce was reduced and it was just perfect for the tamales.  And since adobo is more Spanish in nature than Mexican, I chose a smooth, velvety red wine rather than a margarita to accompany the meal.  I did not make my tamales this time, but I do quite often.  As much as I love to make them, they are very time consuming, and if I am running short on time, why make them when there are so many wonderful tamales that are already made all around.

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Creamy Adobo Sauce

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2 TBSP canned chipotle chilies with their sauce, minced

1 TBSP olive oil

1/4 onion, chopped fine

1 TBSP garlic

1 tsp dried cloves

1 TBSP cinnamon

1-2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp cumin

1 1/2 cups water

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 stick of butter (optional)

 

In a hot skillet, saute the onions, garlic, spices and chipotle chiles until the onions are soft and translucent, for about 8 minutes.

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Once the onions are softened, add the vinegar and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.  I used red wine vinegar, but you can use whatever type of vinegar you like.  Each type of vinegar will change the flavor of the sauce.  Have some fun with it and mix it up.  Use differnet kinds of vingegar every time you make adobo.

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After the vinegar has evaporated, add the water, and again cook down until most of the liquid has evaporated and has cooked off.

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Cream and butter are optional.  I love a rich creamy sauce, so I added both.  After the liquid has been cooked off from the sauce, add the cream and mix well.

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Adding butter is just adding the finishing touch.  Add it right at the end, when the sauce is done and incorporate well into the sauce.  Now it is ready to serve over your meats, or like I did, tamales.

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I was using up leftovers as our side dishes.  I had a bean salad, some beets and sauteed Brussels sprouts with onions.  They all complimented the tamales and adobo sauce very well and made for a very colorful plate.  !Desfruitas!

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Let’s Talk Cooking

With the holidays and all the fun and festivities going on, I actually have not been in the kitchen as much these days as I normally am.  It is a busy, busy time of year for everyone, with all the frivolities of the season, the decorating, the shopping and wrapping, etc, so we are eating out more than we normally do, and we also have a lot of leftovers we need to get through, which also means I am not cooking as much at the moment as I normally do.  So once again, I will let the wisdom and voices of others do the talking for me.  Here is what they are saying now.

 

“Cooking should be a carefully balanced reflection of all the good things of the earth”.

~ Jean and Pierre Troisgros, from “The Nouvelle Cuisine of Jean & Pierre Troisgros~

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Those who are one in food are one in life.

~Malagasi saying~

A Malagasi Meal from Madagascar

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~Socrates~

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” A smiling face is half the meal”.

~Latvian Proverb~

“The same food may be consumed in a happy or an unhappy atmosphere, but only in the first will it be a feast”

~Margaret Willes, from Soop Meagre and Syllabub~

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Enjoy the season and make the most of the holidays. Spend time with your family and friends and those you hold dear.  Until the next time ….

Happy Birthdays

My husband, aka “the Daddy Dog”, and Lucie both had a birthday yesterday.  It was a pretty low key celebration, but both got presents and treats and both had a happy birthday.  I won’t reveal Larry’s age now, but Lucie just turned 7, which for a giant breed dog, is getting up there.  Both Lucie and the Daddy Dog still think they are young, and are still definitely young at heart, but if they do too much, their bodies start to tell them otherwise.  One of Larry’s favorite dinners for special occasions is steak Oscar, and that is what he requested for his birthday dinner.  Ask, and you shall receive, especially on your birthday.  I make it quite often.  It is filet mignon, cooked to your liking, topped with asparagus, Hollandaise sauce and crab, served over mashed potatoes. Steak Oscar.

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Hollandaise Sauce

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3 egg yolks

1-1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 dash of Tobasco sauce

1 stick of melted butter

a pinch of nutmeg

a splash of water

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Whisk everything together except the melted butter.   Either over an open flame (if you are fast enough) or over a bain marie (a water bath or a bowl placed over a sauce pan with boiling water), whisk the egg mixture constantly, so the eggs do not scramble and slowly add the melted butter in a slow steady stream.

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Keep whisking until all the butter is incorporated into the egg mixture.  Serve immediately.  (I only removed it from the heat because I could not pour the melted butter and take a picture at the same time).  As long as the eggs are over the heat, you need to be stirring them constantly, or they will scramble.  You do not want scrambled eggs for a Hollandiase sauce.

 

The steak Oscar was Daddy’s dinner choice.  Lucie did not have her choice of dinner, or she would have gladly eaten the steak Oscar as well, but she did get birthday treats and prezzies.  She knows these are all for her and she really wants them NOW.  She is trying hard to get a hold of that big birthday bone cookie.

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Brother Vinnie has now discovered there are new treats and toys, and he wants them too.

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The birthday kids.  Lucie is one happy girl.  She finally got her cookie.  She wasn’t too happy that she had to share it with her brother though.

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Daddy with his girls, Nicodemus and Lucie.  Happy Birthday Daddy Dog and Lucie.  Love you lots.

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