October 30, 2013

Scalloped Potatoes

I absolutely love cheese.  You can put in on nearly anything and I'm a happy camper.  And what could possible go better than cheese and potatoes?!  I mean whether their baked, mashed, or roasted it's basically the best thing ever.  So in my book, scalloped potatoes are definitely the bee's knees.  Creamy, and gooey, and crispy on top.

Now that is heaven on earth.

October 20, 2013

Karen's Crab Cakes

I seriously love crab.  And fortunately for me, my mom has spent her life on the east coast so she's an expert in seafood.  She grew up in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and spent a big chunk of her graduate school/ young adult years in Maryland so she's got all that knowledge and love.   Last time I was home she suggested crab cakes for dinner and I leaped at the opportunity to not just eat them but blog them so all of you lucky readers can make amazingly delicious crab cakes too.

These little babies are freaking amazing and you should definitely try them.

You'll Need:

1 lb crab meat
1 cup crushed Ritz crackers (about 1/2 a sleeve)
1 egg
2/3 cup mayo
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp Old Bay seafood seasoning
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
a dash of salt and pepper

optional: panko breadcrumbs

This scrumptious recipe uses canned lump crab meat.  Our family believes the lumpier the better when it comes to crab cakes, but to each his or her own.  You can always break it up a little more in your mixing process if you'd rather it have a more shredded-up feel.  

In a medium bowl, crush up your Ritz crackers.  Alternatively, you could use seasoned breadcrumbs.
Add your dry mustard, Old Bay, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.

Next mix in your egg and a scoop of mayo.  If you want to go healthier, you can use a little milk instead.  Then slowly and carefully mix in your crab lumps.

As I said earlier, we're in the lumpier-the-better camp.  If you are too, then you'll want to gently fold the crab in with a big spoon like my momma's doing in the picture below.  If you don't mind it being broken up, then you can just stir it in and not worry a bit.

Once you're mixed in, make them into palm-sized little cakes.

Once your cakes are made, you can press some panko bread crumbs into each side.  It makes it a little bit more crunchy, but they'll be delicious either way.

Now that you're ready to cook, you might as well open up your wine if you haven't already for Charm Hour.  Usually they say you should have white wine with seafood, but we had this super special white cabernet sauvignon that actually looks like a rosé.

 This wine is made with cabernet sauvignon grapes- which usually make a dark, dry red wine.  But with this wine they remove the skins early in the fermenting process, leaving the wine with a hint of pink color, but a lighter taste that you'd associate with a white wine.  It's absolutely delicious.  It comes from Silver Springs Winery on the east side of Seneca Lake in upstate New York.  If you're in the area you should stop through for a tasting, and if not you can always consider ordering some.

 Back to those crab cakes!  Let's get cooking.  Heat up some olive oil and butter in a pan.

You can tell it's hot enough when A.  the butter is melted and B. if you splash a drop of water on the pan it sizzles.  Carefully place your little cakes into your hot pan and let them sit.

When they start to brown, gently scoop and flip them over.  The crab is already cooked, so it's really just heating it enough to cook the egg in there and make the outside crispy so don't worry too much about how long on each side.  

To round out our meal we also cooked up some salt potatoes and threw together a salad.

And now for the final product:

And now, as Joe keeps saying next to me, "I'm hungry for crab cakes just looking at them".  I think I'll be making these again myself one day soon.

More than anything, I'm thankful that I was able to get home to see my family and spend some time together.  Here's to you Mom, for instilling in me a love for crab (and wine).  I love you!

p.s.  If you're looking to make crab legs rather than using just the meat, check out my snow crab dinner here.  

October 09, 2013

Karen's Striped Granny Blanket

One on the foundations of crochet is the granny square.  It's a motif made of clumps of double crochet that can be made into just about anything- the most simple being either a quilt of small squares or one gigantic square blanket.

granny square via Purl Bee

via EmpowerNetwork

Because of it's simplicity, it's also very versatile to being modified to make either elaborate squares, or as with this blanket, a more abstracted form.

I fell in love with the simplicity and sleekness of this blanket when I came across it on the Purl Bee.  Although I don't shy away from the cute or quirky, my mom has a much more classic sense of style.   She also likes things to match in a way I've never mastered.  We often joke that things have to be in "her colors"- dark brown, black, and gold usually.

Because of this blankets simplicity and sleekness, I thought it would be perfect.  Swap out that delicate alpaca yarn for a very sturdy yarn (Loops and Threads: Impeccable Solids), and you get something warm enough to survive my parents freezing air conditioning that also matches their decor.

p.s.  After all this talk about matching, let me just say that these pictures are taken on my couch, not my parents.  These couches have given up on matching and instead mean I can put basically anything in my living room and call it matching.

Ta-da!  Plus Oy very nicely modeled for me.

The basic premise is that the wider and taller granny stitch is interspersed with rows of single crochet in a contrast color.  I did my stripes at random intervals, but you could also make them evenly spaced, like in the original.