July 28, 2014

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

The weekend before my husband’s birthday, we celebrated with dinner at Fork – pretentious, drawn out, but very good (we loved the black and white pici with seafood).  He happened to be home on his actual birthday (a rarity, when you’re in a long-distance marriage), so I offered to make him whatever he wanted for dinner.  His choice?  Grilled steak and potatoes.  While I was firing up the grill, I decided to also make some crab stuffed mushrooms.  Confession: I love imitation crab, and it’s what I happened to have in the refrigerator, so that’s what I used this time around.  I buy the three-packs of imitation crab at Costco and often eat a few pieces cold as a snack.  Go ahead, judge away.  I’ve always used fresh crab meat in the past, but I liked them just as much with the imitation crab, and it’s much more economical.  That said, I’d never serve imitation crab to guests, since I know not everyone feels the same way about it as I do… but personally, I liked these just as much with imitation cab.

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Ingredients:

  • 8 large white mushrooms, stemmed
  • 8 ounces crab meat
  • 5 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon fresh herbs of choice (I used oregano and sage from my garden)
  • pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F or grill to high heat.
  2. In a food processor, combine crab (fresh or imitation), green onions, herb, and pepper.  Process just until combined.  Add in mayonnaise and parmesan cheese and stir to mix.
  3. Wipe the mushrooms with a damp towel and remove stems.  (I like the flavor of mushroom gills, so I leave them in tact – if you’re not into the flavor, go ahead and remove them).  Fill the mushroom caps with rounded teaspoons of filling.
  4. If grilling, place the mushrooms on the grill over indirect heat for 10-15 minutes..  If baking, place mushrooms on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  Serve immediately.

July 24, 2014

Blueberry Muffins

Ah, blueberry season.  One of the best times of the year.   Having excess blueberries is never a problem for me, but perhaps if you find yourself with a few extra, you can make these blueberry muffins.  I’ve previously posted my personal favorite blueberry muffin recipe, which is more like a dense, not-so-sweet blueberry pound cake in the form of muffins.  These are more traditional – lighter, sweeter, and a crunchy, sugary topping.  I used frozen blueberries for these, and as the berries thawed while mixing, they turned the batter into such a lovely shade of purple!  You can absolutely make these using fresh blueberries as well… I just can’t keep fresh blueberries in the house long enough to think of using them for baking!

(In case you haven’t noticed, I have a bit of a blueberry problem.  I think I need to have a blueberry themed brunch, where I will serve blueberry blintzes, blueberry honey bread, either of the blueberry muffin recipes, and my absolutely favorite blueberry crumble pie – recipe forthcoming.  And of course, we’ll wash it all down with some blueberry basil bourbon lemonade.)

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Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar, plus more for topping
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.  Line 12 standard-size muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the vegetable oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract.  Whisk to combine.
  4. Add the liquid mixture to the flour, whisking until just combined.  The muffin batter should be thick, not thin and pourable.
  5. Gently fold the blueberries into the muffin batter.  {My muffins turned purple with the frozen berries, but if you’d like to replicate this with fresh, just squish the berries with the back of a spoon a few times before adding them to the batter.}
  6. Divide the batter amongst the 12 paper liners.  The batter should fill the liners very close to the top.  Sprinkle a little sugar on the top of each muffin.
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

July 18, 2014

Horseradish Dill Coleslaw

I love the idea of coleslaw, but rarely the execution of it.  In theory, coleslaw should be an amazing summer side dish – fresh vegetables, still crunchy, with some slight tang… perfect for those warm summer picnics.  Most of the time, however, I think it’s too sweet, too runny, and not crunchy enough.  A few years ago, I was at a restaurant serving coleslaw with both dill and horseradish.  I wasn’t interested in whatever the coleslaw accompanied, but the idea stuck in my head, and I went home to try my own version.  I’m always changing a few things based on what I have in my vegetable drawer, but no matter what I’ve added (zucchini? sure! beets? yes please!) it’s always delicious.  The horseradish is enough to add a welcome kick, but the yogurt and mayonnaise dull it down enough so even spice-averse individuals can enjoy this.  So delicious, even my dog can’t resist trying to sneak a lick… if only she was a little bit taller.

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Horseradish Dill Coleslaw

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 3 tablespoons pickle relish (or diced pickles)
  • 4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 large head cabbage, shredded
  • 3 large carrots, julienned
  • 1 bunch radishes, julienned

Directions:

  1. Mix together lemon zest and lemon juice, mayonnaise, yogurt, pickle relish, horseradish, and dill.  Stir in the green onions.
  2. Toss together the cabbage, carrots, and radishes with the dressing.  If the dressing is too dry, add another tablespoon of lemon juice.  If the cabbage was particularly large and the dressing doesn’t seem to cover everything, add in an additional 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt.

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July 4, 2014

Chocolate Covered Pretzels (Happy Independence Day!)

Happy Independence Day, friends.  I think if I had to choose a favorite holiday, I’d go with the 4th of July.  It combines all sorts of things that I love: good food, parties with friends, alcoholic beverages, and fireworks.  Throw in some red, white, and blue accessories and good old Sousa march, and you really can’t go wrong.  Growing up, my parents always held a big 4th of July party, with hot dogs and hamburgers, and patriotic-themed desserts, INDY-pendency Day on AMC (Indiana Jones movie marathon, naturally), and croquet in the backyard (thanks for that one, England).  During my long tenure in DC, I spent many years celebrating with friends who lived in Capitol Hill, and strolling outside just in time to catch the fireworks, portable beverage and camera in hand.  Now that we’ve moved north, we’ve decided to continue the tradition, and throw a party of our own!  We even have friends from DC coming up to join us, so there’s even more reason to celebrate this year!
These chocolate covered pretzels were made many years ago (this year, I opted for a trifle and homemade ice cream sandwiches), but they’re simple enough that you can make them last minute if you’re looking for something to bring to a party tonight.  Everybody seems to love the combination of salty and sweet, and they’re perfectly portable to take with you on a picnic.  Happy 4th – may your grill be hot, beer be cold, and fireworks display be magnificent!
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Chocolate covered pretzels obviously don’t require a recipe, but there are a few tips and tricks that make the process run a little smoother.
  • You can use either a bag of chocolate chips or candy melts for your chocolate – the candy melts tend to be a little smoother, but chocolate chips are a little tastier.
  • When microwaving the chocolate, go for short intervals at a time – 20 seconds, stir, 20 more seconds, stir again.  Chocolate burns quickly, so keep a close eye on it.  If your chocolate is melted, but not extremely smooth, add in a teaspoon of vegetable oil or coconut oil and stir.
  • Instead of using a bowl to melt your chocolate, use a tall glass.  Instead of having to spoon the chocolate over the pretzel rod, you can just dip the rod right in – super easy!
  • If you’re going to decorate with sprinkles, shake off all the excess chocolate first.
  • If you’re going to decorate with either frosting or a different color candy melt, either squeeze the frosting into a ziploc bag, or melt the chocolate right in the bag.  Snip off the corner, and drizzle by zig-zagging back and forth over all the pretzel rods.
  • Allow the pretzel rods to chill until completely set in the refrigerator prior to packing.  You can do this at room temperature as well, but cooling the chocolate speeds up the process significantly.

July 2, 2014

June 2014 iPhonetography

It’s funny that despite how many events happened in June – my husband’s birthday, my birthday, my husband graduating from fellowship and moving back – I really only took pictures of my dog and foster kittens.  I guess there’s no denying it: I’m officially a crazy animal lady.  Although these photos don’t really show it, rest assured that we celebrated our many events: dinner at Fork for Scott’s birthday, a nice Father’s Day weekend with my parents including dinner at Zahav, a very nice graduation celebration to culminate the end of Scott’s fellowship year (after 4 years of medical school, 1 year of internship, 4 years of residency, and 1 year of fellowship, his medical training is finally complete!), etc.  And lots and lots of dog and kitten time, as the photos do reflect.

{Sidebar: my foster kittens should be available for adoption this month, so if you happen to know anyone in the Philadelphia area who might be interested in an adorable kitten or two, please send them my way!}

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1) Campus is so lovely once all the undergrads leave for summer.
2) Dreidel is not a fan of warm weather, so there are frequent rest breaks on our walks once it hits 90+ degrees outside.
3) Raise your paw if you want a belly rub! 
4) I had the interesting experience of serving on a criminal jury for 5 days in June.  It was an experience, all right.  I’m glad I went through the process and learned more about how our justice system works, but it was so incredibly draining and left me feeling very emotionally abused at the end.
5) MES has the most amazing whiskers.  And yes, I did name my kittens after buffers.
6) Walking to City Hall everyday during jury duty was a nice change of pace from my normal walk to work.
7) Kittens and yarn, so cliché and yet so cute.
8) It officially feels like summer, now that I’ve been to a baseball game.  Despite how awful the Phillies have been this season, we managed to see a win and watch Jimmy Rollins become the Phillies all-time hits leader, which was pretty special.
9) I received rhubarb in my CSA box, so I made rhubarb simple syrup which went into these Rhubarb Collins.  If you’re baking with your rhubarb, you’re doing it wrong. 
10) My best friend mailed me a box of salsa for my birthday.  The Safeway brand chipotle salsa is the best jarred salsa I’ve ever encountered, but I can no longer purchase it since I’ve moved out of the Safeway market.  I’ve worked my way through Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and the standard supermarket chains in the area, but nothing can compete.  This ranks pretty high up there as far as birthday presents go!
11) Haircut day!  And the next day was back to regularly scheduled humidity-induced crazy frizzy hair.
12) This picture right here is why I foster kittens.  MOPS has taken a huge liking to Dreidel, and I just happened to capture this sweet moment between them.  And then it was back to the normal tail-chasing and head-butting that typically happens between those two.
13) Some of my herbs are growing like crazy, so I decided to freeze them in olive oil.  Apparently we don’t own any normal ice cube trays, so I used my gin-and-titonic set.  I now have cliantro titanics and chive iceburgs waiting for future use!
14) I was flying solo on my birthday, so I made myself some mint chocolate chip ice cream.  My favorite!
15) Dinner with a view – Amada, in Atlantic City.
16) The annual summer Counting Crows concert.  Last year, we saw them perform the night before my husband moved away for his fellowship.  This year, we saw them the day after he moved back.

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