Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Oyster Cracker Snack

We had a neighborhood crawl over the weekend and our house was one of the stops. I made my Pepperoni Rolls, mini crab cups, and these super easy, super tasty, super addictive oyster crackers.

Here's how you do it:

Whisk together in a large bowl,

  • 1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing powder mix
  • 1/2 tbsp dried dill
  • 1/4 tsp of lemon pepper seasoning
    • If you do not have lemon pepper seasoning - which I did not when I made this batch of crackers - you can use black pepper and some lemon juice (just a splash, not too much).
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Once the above is whisked together, add a 12-16 oz bag of oyster crackers. Mix gently, coating all of the crackers. Spread the crackers onto a cookie sheet in an even layer. 

Bake at 250 for about 20 minutes. Give the crackers a stir after 10  minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool. Then eat and try to stop yourself from eating the whole batch in one sitting!

Did I enjoy it?
I did so much! This a favorite snack of mine. You can eat them alone or add them to soup. Yum Yum Yum!

Would I recommend it? Absolutely. So easy and quick to make with delicious results!

Will I make it again?  I sure will!

If you make it, or if you have had it, let me know what you think!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mini Crab Cups

I made Mini Crab Cups for two events recently...my son's 1st birthday party and our neighborhood crawl. I found this recipe in my December 2010 edition of Cooking Light Magazine. 

They looked easy. What I liked about this recipe was that I could make the filling ahead of time...up to a day. That made party prep a lot easier. Also, I made the cups earlier in the day as well. Moments before the  birthday party, I filled the cups with the crab mixture and we were good to go. For the neighborhood crawl, we filled these cups about an hour before our guests were due to arrive as we were the second house on the crawl and the cups were still crispy when our guests left that evening a few hours later.

Here is a picture of how my Mini Crab Cups came out!

Did I enjoy it?
I really did enjoy these cups. They were very easy to make and so tasty. The cilantro and lime really made it refreshing. The jalapeno did not add a lot of heat.  

Would I recommend it? I would. I thought it was an ideal appetizer to make. 

Will I make it again?  I will. They were a great party appetizer.

If you make it, or if you have had it, let me know what you think!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies

Today, I made sugar cookies for my son's preschool class. They are having a Valentine's Day party tomorrow.

I used the same recipe I used at Christmas - Grandma's Sugar Cookies. But instead of using Christmas cookie cutters, I used a heart-shaped cutter. And here is how they turned out!

These were a lot of fun to make because my 3 1/2 year son and my mom helped out. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Valentine's Day Dinner for Two - Surf & Turf

For Valentine's Day, the husband and I decided to cook ourselves a romantic dinner. Our local grocery store was offering a surf & turf - two lobster tails and two New York Strip steak. YUM! (We had this last Valentine's Day and decided to do it again this year.)

For the steak, we prepared it our favorite way...nice and simple.  All I did was drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil on the steak. Then, I sprinkled it with a good amount of coarse sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Because we have about 3 inches of snow or more and it is in the low 20s outside, we grilled the steak on a grill pan on the stove. It turned out quite tasty!

For the lobster tails, we split them with scissors and gently pulled the meat from the shell. Leave the meat attached to the base (narrow end) of the tail. Baste the tails in the following: 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsps lemon juice, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsps salt. Wisk together and brush all sides of the tails. Broil the tails, meat side down for 4-5 minutes. Baste again and flip them over. Cook for another 4-5 minutes. Repeat until the tails are cooked. (The meat will be opaque and firm to the touch.)

We served this with a romaine salad topped with tomatoes, carrots, green olives, and green onions. I made a Parmesan vinaigrette. The recipe was from my Joy of Cooking book. Whisk together in a small bowl: 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 3 tbsps grated Parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns (lightly crushed - I used a mortar and pestle for the crushing), 1 garlic clove (minced), salt and pepper to taste. To this, stream in 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil while whisking. You can make the dressing in advance, just store it in the refrigerator. However, if you make the dressing ahead of time, be sure to whisk it prior to dressing the salad. It tends to separate as it sits. 

Did I enjoy it? Yes, we really did. This was a relatively light meal packed with flavor. The tails and steak were cooked perfectly and didn't need any additions. The tails didn't even need melted butter, that is how delicious and delicate they were. The salad was refreshing and the dressing was not heavy. However, I don't think I will use the whole peppercorns in the dressing next time. If you bit into one of them, it was a bit strong. I'm just going to use some cracked pepper (pepper mill) instead.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely! It was a romantic meal...the most romantic part was cooking it together. 

Will I make it again?  Yes, we will. Hopefully before next Valentine's Day.

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Beef Vegetable Soup

We are continuing with the soup dinners for awhile. Today, my Husband helped me make my beef vegetable soup recipe. This soup is so easy and, if you make enough, will last for a week in the fridge.

First, in a large stock pot, add a large bottle or can of tomato juice. Fill that bottle/can with water and add to the pot. Use at least one box of beef broth. Fill that box with water and add it to the pot. Depending on how large your stock pot is, you may want to add another box of broth or can of juice plus water. 

To the liquid, add an English cut shoulder roast. (These are good for soup. And pulled roast beef sandwiches, but that is a recipe for another day.) Trim the fat from the meat and cut into large chunks. Also add an onion or two, cut into quarters, and a few ribs of celery. Throw in some salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the meat is done. The meat should pull apart rather easily. 

When the meat is cooked, pull out the meat, onion, and celery. You may need to strain the broth. Discard the onion and celery. Taste the broth...it may or may not need more salt and pepper.

Shred the meat with a fork and add it back to the broth.  Add some chopped potatoes. Cook for about 15 minutes. Then, add a two pound package of frozen cut vegetables and a package of frozen soup vegetables. I also add extra corn, green beans, and carrots. (Canned or fresh or frozen...whatever you have on hand at the time.) Basically, add whatever vegetables you like in soup and however many as you want!

Cook until the potatoes are fork tender, and that vegetables are to your liking.

Serve with bread or some shaved Parmesan cheese or all by itself.

Did I enjoy it? I always enjoy this soup. It has a great flavor to it and, really, what is better than a steaming bowl of beef and veggies in a warm, tasty broth.

Would I recommend it? Yes, I would.

Will I make it again?  Yes. We've already made this soup one other time this year.

If you make it, let me know what you think! Or if you make a variation, let me know what you did! I'm always looking for ways to improve my recipes!