Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms

I often associate stuffed mushrooms with summer. It may seem illogical but there’s something about the portability of this perfect party appetizer that reminds me of long summer days filled with picnics and barbeques. These mushrooms are baked in the oven but that shouldn’t stop you from trying them on the grill. Tender caps are the perfect vessel for the sweet lump crab mixture reminiscent of salt water bays and blue crab season. Summer will be here soon, I can feel it.

This recipe is from a cookbook titled “John Clancy’s Favorite Recipes.” I’ve mentioned John Clancy previously on this blog. He was a chef from my grandmother’s time that ran in the same circles as James Beard and Craig Claiborne. I’m not sure if he was more well-known for fish and seafood dishes or baking – I’ve heard both – but I enjoy his seafood recipes the most. Crabmeat and scallions play well together in this fun and easy stuffed mushroom recipe. The juices from the mushrooms meld together with the tender scallion scented crab while fresh bread crumbs turn golden and crunchy during the baking process. Top with parmesan and parsley and this classic bite size burst of flavor will make you ready to relax and enjoy the party.

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
12 oz fresh lump crabmeat
24- 2 inch mushroom caps
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions

Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the chopped scallions and sauté for about 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes more. Whisk in milk and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon. Season with the salt, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Flake the crabmeat into a medium-sized mixing bowl, removing any cartilage. Stir the sauce into crabmeat, mixing well.

Wipe the mushroom caps clean with damp paper towels. Place them in a small, shallow baking pan and sprinkle them lightly with salt and pepper. Fill each mushroom cap with crabmeat mixture and sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until you can pierce the caps easily with the point of a pairing knife. Sprinkle with the parmesan and chopped parsley and serve on a warm platter.

Serves 8

Adapted from "John Clancy's Favorite Recipes," by John Clancy.

Herbed Goat Cheese, Roasted Tomato, and Asparagus Quesadilla

Goat Cheese Roasted Tomato and Asparagus Quesadilla

Quesadillas have become somewhat of a Mexican American/Tex-Mex classic. The concept of a two tortillas sandwiched together with melted cheese couldn’t be simpler. Unfortunately, this common appetizer isn’t usually as healthy as it is simple. Arguably the most popular versions include a large amount of cheddar cheese, possibly some meat or chicken, and sides of both salsa and sour cream for dipping. Sure it’s delicious but why not take that same concept and make a healthier spring version? That was the idea behind this light and flavorful veggie-packed quesadilla.

Goat cheese is one of my favorite types of cheeses. I find its tangy and earthy notes irresistible in the spring and summer. And if there is such a thing as a healthy cheese, goat cheese would qualify. It usually contains almost half the fat of cows milk cheese as well as fewer calories per ounce. When combined with fresh herbs such as chives and parsley, it’s easy to believe your eating something both good for your taste buds as well as for your body (or at least not as bad). By adding a little cream or milk, this delicious herbed goat cheese becomes a spread that is base for the next burst of flavor: roasted veggies.

Vegetables are one of the best ways to build on the flavors in this quesadilla. Balsamic vinegar adds a sweetness to the acidic tomatoes while onion provides a caramelized crunch that perfectly pairs with the tender garlic scented asparagus. The veggies are then sandwiched between tortillas spread with the herbed goat cheese and heated until warm and golden. As the juices dribble down your chin from the first bite of this roasted tomato and asparagus quesadilla, you’ll forget that unhealthy classic cheddar version even exists.

Goat Cheese Roasted Tomato Quesadilla

Herbed Goat Cheese, Roasted Tomatoes, and Asparagus Quesadilla

Herbed Goat Cheese, Roasted Tomatoes, and Asparagus Quesadilla

Ingredients

olive oil
8 plum tomatoes, halved and seeded
salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 lb asparagus (1 medium bunch), cut in 1-inch pieces
2 medium onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
8 oz goat cheese
2 tablespoons cream or milk
2 tablespoons chopped chives
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
8 flour tortillas

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Grease two baking sheets with olive oil. Arrange tomato halves cut side up on one sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Arrange asparagus, onion, and garlic on the second baking sheet in one layer. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place both baking sheets in preheated oven and bake until asparagus and tomatoes are very tender, about 15-20 minutes.

While vegetables bake, combine the goat cheese with the cream or milk. Add chives and parsley.

To make the quesadilla, spread on herbed goat cheese evenly on one tortilla. Add a layer of roasted tomato halves, asparagus, and onion. Spread a little more goat cheese on another tortilla and place on top of tortilla with vegetables.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a little oil to grease the skillet. Carefully place quesadilla in the skillet. Cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes. Carefully flip quesadilla and cook until second side is golden brown. Repeat with remaining tortillas and fillings.

Serves 4

Cinnamon Spiced Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cinnamon Cookies

Homemade chocolate chip cookies are one of the easiest yet tastiest sweets to make. They satisfy almost any chocolate cookie craving. I’m always looking for ways to put a twist on classic treats or maybe just an excuse to make them more often. Oatmeal is one of my favorite variations of this popular go-to cookie. It adds an interesting chewy texture and makes it easier to pretend that chocolate chip cookies are good for you. Raisins and cinnamon are common and natural pairings with oatmeal, especially for a cookie. However, I find it hard to pass on chocolate in a chewy cookie. Also, raisins seem too healthy for a dessert that still contains butter and sugar. The chocolate with the chewy oatmeal and the zip from the cinnamon are worth cheating on that spring beach body diet.

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Eggs Jalisco

Eggs Jalisco Style

If there’s one type of cuisine my grandmother knew well, it’s Mexican. She and my grandfather took frequent trips to Mexico. While my father and uncle were off misbehaving, my grandmother explored the vibrant crafts and flavorful foods. She learned how to cook both traditional and untraditional dishes, adding her own twist when they returned to New York. Eggs Jalisco is an example of just that: traditional Mexican flavors with a twist …two twists actually because I couldn’t help but add fresh avocado and tomato as well.

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Greek Kale Salad

Greek Kale Salad

Have you met my trendy friend Kale yet? This popular leafy vegetable continues to be a health craze. I am admittedly late to the party: this was my first kale salad (gasp). I’ve always been apprehensive about using this high fiber vegetable, rich in vitamins and minerals. Its rough texture seems almost too healthy to hold it’s own as the main leafy part of a salad. Lets face it – no one wants to feel like they’re eating cardboard, right? But the idea of a Greek kale salad seemed much more enticing. I love Greek salad and it just so happened that a friend of mine was serving what she referred to as Greek kale salad at get together. It was brilliant. Classic chunky Greek salad vegetables and feta combined with leafy kale and a lemony vinaigrette. It was the perfect kale salad for those of us that are scared of kale salads.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Shortbread Bars

Chocolate Peanut Butter Shortbread Bars

Chocolate and peanut butter is a recent classic American dessert combination. By recent, I mean it seems to have surged in popularity in the last 10-15 years or so even though the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup was first introduced back in 1928 (per Wikipedia). We just can’t seem to get enough of this perfect pair. Although it existed when the likes of my grandmother, James Beard, Julia Child, and other great American foodies were making their mark, there seem to be few recipes that utilize this mix of sweet chocolate and nutty creamy peanut butter from that time. Perhaps this was due to the emphasis on sophisticated French desserts and the reputation of chocolate and peanut butter as a simple candy combination with little depth or complexity in flavor. Whatever the reason, that lack of old fashioned recipes has delayed my use of this amazing match on this site and I’m happy to finally introduce it in this simple indulgent bar that still includes a blast from the past.

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Middle Eastern Vegetable Bake

Middle Eastern Vegetable BakeIt can be difficult to eat healthy this time of year. Especially here in the Northeast where we just made it through one of the coldest February’s on record. Heavier fatty foods like mac and cheese or meatloaf and mashed potatoes are often enticing while really fresh produce is harder and harder to find. We have to remind ourselves to “eat your vegetables” like our mothers always said, because the idea of a salad for lunch when it’s 5 degrees outside, just doesn’t cut it. Enter the Middle Eastern Vegetable Bake. This vegetable mélange is the solution to healthy eating and cold weather cravings – with a touch of warmth.

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Baked Sriracha BBQ Chicken

Sriracha BBQ Chicken

Have you heard of a little hot sauce called Sriracha? This Asian inspired chili sauce phenomenon continues dominate condiment sales across the US and seems to be a never ending trend. I’m a big fan so it was only a matter of time before this tasty spicy sauce made into one of my recipe posts. Combining an old fashioned classic BBQ sauce with hot sriracha seemed like a natural step. The sweet and spicy flavors of this sauce and tender pieces of chicken are like long lost friends. This pairing was meant to be.

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Marbled Almond Cake with Espresso Glaze

Marbled Almond Cake with Espresso Glaze

Chocolate. Almond. Espresso. It’s hard to go wrong with this indulgent trio. Perfect with coffee or tea, this lovely bundt cake is my grandmother’s marbled almond cake recipe from “The Art of Fine Baking,” topped with a simple espresso glaze. I like to think of it as a Sunday morning cake. The espresso in the glaze can count towards your morning coffee (I’ll take any excuse to eat cake for breakfast).

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Turkey Chili with All The Fixins

Turkey Chili

Warming one pot meals are a welcome site this time of year. After shoveling multiple inches of snow in the bone-chilling cold, coming home to a hot steaming bowl of chili could not be more comforting. Plus this chili is healthy (bonus!). I used turkey instead of beef for this lowfat version but the spices and an uncommon special ingredient round out the flavors of this dish to make it just as tasty as the beef version. The special ingredient is chocolate. Yes, chocolate. Not the sweet kind but unsweetened and no, you won’t taste it. It simply adds a deep rich flavor to the chili.

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