Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Corn and Crab Chowder

When I made citrus crab last night, I thought about making this soup. I've never made it before, but had it several times. I looked up several recipes and decided to try it out.

I wanted to make a lighter dairy free soup, so I used potatoes ans mashed them in the pot with the corn to thicken it up. I'm not even sure it is technically considered a chowder, but it's fantastic. I know I may be a little bacon crazy these days, but I think bacon would make this one even more amazing.

White Corn and Crab Chowder

1/2 stick of butter, diced
1 Medium Yellow Onion
1 Large Red Bell Pepper, diced
2 cups diced Celery
2 tbsp minced Garlic
6-8 Small Red Potatoes, Diced
4-5 cups of water
1- 16 oz package of Frozen White Corn
1 cup or more of crab meat

Heat a deep pot over moderate heat. Add butter and garlic. As you chop your veggies, add them to the pot: potatoes, celery, onion, and red bell pepper. Season vegetables with salt and pepper, cayenne and Italian Seasonings. Saute veggies 5 minutes, then sprinkle in flour. Cook flour 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and combine. Add corn and let boil down, mash soup with a potato masher to thicken.

It's really tasty and non-creamy. it's hearty but still has that sweet corn flavor with bits of crab. It's one of my new favorite soups and I'm glad I made enough to go around.

Citrus Crab

I tend to mold my recipes after what I have in my fridge. This is how my Grandma taught me to cook and the basis for a lot of my ideas and experimentation with food. You make what you have and try not to waste your resources. I also get inspiration from fresh, local produce from farmers markets or backyards when available.

I came up with this crab dish last night. I purchased a live crab, which I had quartered and cleaned. I usually use white wine as a base, it helps cook the crab and gives it a great flavor. But I was out of wine, so I made Citrus Crab.

1 whole crab, quartered and cleaned
2 lemons - juiced and thrown in
2 oranges - juiced and thrown in
1/3 cup water
1 onion, diced
1/4 cup of butter, cut into small pieces
Lemon Pepper, Cayenne, Italian Seasons

Mix all ingredients and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, flipping once 3/4 of the way through. Dungeness Crabs turn from a dark blueish purple to a bright pink. The juices are usually boiling and once cooled, delicious for dipping the crab in.

Christmas Crab

Christmas Crab - Easy Garlic Lemon Butter Crab

For the Christmas Potluck, I stopped by my family's dinner before so I grabbed the following items and assembled them at the party. It was incredibly easy and really great.

- 2 Dungeness Crabs, purchased live but quartered and cleaned
- 1/2 a bottle of white wine
- 1 small sweet Onion, diced
- 1 small scallion, diced
- 2 tbsp garlic
- 1/4 cup of butter
- 2 lemons, juiced and placed in pan
- Lemon pepper, salt, cayenne, bay leaf, Italian blend of spices

Mix all ingredients in a medium roasting pan. Pop the whole thing in the oven, at about 350 for like 30 minutes or until done.

And there you go, easy.

Yellow Split Pea with Black Forest Bacon

One of my favorite soups has always been Split Pea. It's cold out, the holiday season and I've been home nursing a cough and making soups. I had some leftover Black Forest Bacon and decided to experiment with the traditional recipe for Split Pea.

Yellow Split Pea with Black Forest Bacon

2 pats of butter
3 slices of Black Forest Bacon, chopped into smaller pieces
1 Medium Onion, diced
2 tbsp. of chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups of diced carrots
2 cups of diced celery
1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
1 package of yellow split peas
4-5 cups of water
2 bay leaves
Italian Season, Salt Pepper, Cayenne to taste

Place bacon in a large pot, sautee with butter. Stir in onion, garlic, carrots, and celery; cook until the vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Pour in vegetable broth. Stir in split peas, bay leaves, water, cayenne and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover, and simmer until peas are cooked, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

It makes quite a lot of soup and is filling. Despite the bacon and butter, it's pretty low fat overall. I made a pot and had a few jars left over.



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bekah's Black Forest Bacon & Beef Vegetable Stew

Oh baby it’s cold outside. This past weekend, I didn’t want to leave my house and didn’t except for a few errands to run. I was talking about the soups I like to make and was reminded of a nice hot beef stew.

Shopping around Whole foods, I came up with a spin on a traditional beef stew recipe because they had this smokey black forest ham. It came out really good and somewhat healthy, so I thought I would share it.

Bekah's Black Forest Bacon & Beef Vegetable Stew

Here’s my recipe:

3 slices of Black Forest Bacon

1/4 cup of butter (4-6 pats, ½ a stick)

1 small yellow onion

1 ½ Tablespoon chopped garlic

3 shallot cloves

4 stalks of celery

1 ½ cups of chopped carrots

6 red potatoes sliced into small cubes

2 cups of broth (I used vegetable broth, but you can use beef)

2 Bay leaves

1 tablespoon of Italian Spices

5 cups of water (adjust as needed)

1 small can of tomato sauce

2 small tomatoes, diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups chopped white mushrooms

1 ½ pounds of good quality beef stew meat, cut in chunks.

2-3 tablespoons of flour to thicken it up (adjust as needed)

Salt, Pepper, Cayenne, Lemon Pepper to taste.

I purchased a few slices of Black Forest Bacon from the butcher, cut them in small pieces and sauteed them in the butter. This adds in a smokey flavor while the fats cook the veggies. Add onion, garlic, shallots, celery, potatoes and carrots. Let the veggies cook up and then add the broth to mix, add bay leaves and Italian spices. Once that has mixed together well, I add in water to allow everything to cook through, add less water for a thicker stew. Add in the can of tomato sauce and fresh tomatoes.

Meanwhile on the next burner, I am sauteing chopped mushrooms in a little olive oil and Italian spices. Once those are nice and browned, I add them to the pot and throw the steak stew meat onto the same pot. I brown the meat on the outside, but keep the temperature low since it will be added to the hot pot of stew already cooking.

You want to make sure the vegetables are cooking well, once they are getting soft, reduce the heat overall and add in the stew meat. Timing is everything, if the heat is too high – you can overcook your meat which will get tough. Slow cook the stew the rest of the time.

Add in the flour to thicken it up, stir thoroughly and cool some for tasting. This is where I add in the Salt, Pepper, Cayenne, Lemon Pepper to taste. All can be added or none at all, depends on your preference.

Overall took me less than an hour to make this stew. It tastes best when removed from heat and cooled a bit. The flavors settle and give it a savory smokey flavor. Perfect for the Holidays.

I ended up with a whole pot, which filled 5 Mason jars, my tummy and another container. I’m going to freeze a couple, share with family and have soup to keep me warm through the cold winter holiday.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf

A few weeks ago, I wanted to make a dish that would be one of my "Best". I asked several people what I should make and in the end, the Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf was a favorite.

Over the years my meatloaf recipe has evolved to include different herbs and ingredients. I'm not even sure how the typical recipe goes, but here goes. This is what I've used in this bacon wrapped meatloaf:

-1 1/2 pounds Niman ranch ground beef
- Chopped and diced onions, garlic, shallots, Parsley
- 1 beaten egg
- 2 tablespoons of pureed tomato or pasta sauce
- Italian herbs, chopped fresh if possible
- 1 tablespoon mustard
-Toasted Ciabatta bread croutons, tossed with olive oil and Italian herbs for additional flavor. You can do this on the stove top or on a cookie sheet in the oven.

Combine everything, you have to knead it all together with your hands. Forming a meatloaf that fits the way you want to cook it. Thicker meatloaf's will be juicer and thinner longer meatloaf's will cook faster.

Cover in bacon. I like to tuck it in around the edges, wrapping one later over the entire meatloaf. Anything more than that will leave the bacon undercooked or cooked but not crispy.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size of your meatloaf. I usually can tell that it's done when the bacon is completely crispy.

The whole thing is pretty oily in the pan, but you can transfer the meatloaf to a plate.

I served the meatloaf with my mashed potatoes. I love creamy mashed potatoes. I try to use more milk and make them light, fluffy. These were a little heavier, but still very good.

I made these garlic whipped potatoes with goat cheese. The chevre cheese gives it a unique flavor and tastes really good with the meatloaf. I added sauteed diced sweet onions for additional texture and flavor.

:) bek

Crazy about Crab

This is a great time of year to be a crab lover. Dungeness Crab season is here and fresh local crab is everywhere. My friend Rosy was craving crab, so we went over to the fish market where we usually purchase our crab. It was on sale, $2.99 a pound. We purchased two big crabs.

I like to have the butcher chop the crab up for me. I'm watching as the crab legs are still moving although the crab has been quartered. They rinse and bag the crabs.

Is it sick that I like to watch them while they do this? I think only when I make that evil laugh while doing it. Muah-hahahaha... crab!

Before I start my garlic lemon crab, I have to roast the garlic. I cut the heads off of 3-4 garlic and drizzle them with olive oil. I wrap them in foil leaving air to release, in the shape of a volcano. Bake at 350, preheats the oven while roasting garlic for the crab and dips later.

Roasted Garlic Lemon Butter Crab. For this particular crab I used the following:

- 1/2 a bottle of white wine
- 1/2 a large Sweet Onion, diced
- 2 small scallions
- 1 bulb of Roasted Garlic, mashed and mixed with
- 1/4 cup of butter
- 4-5 lemons and/or limes
- Paprika, lemon pepper, salt
- Oregano or Italian blend of spices

I like to let it "chill out" in the marinade for a bit. Meanwhile, I'm sampling the rest of that white wine bottle.

Pop the whole thing in the oven, at about 350 for like 30 minutes or until done. I never time anything, so I am just giving an approximate.

This is my finished crab, soaking in the juices. The flavor of that crab marinade is really good. You are going to want to use that for the crab and to dip bread.

It's really easy and really good.

xoxo bekah

The Skateboard Superhero Cake

Anybody can buy a cake, but making a cake for someone is special.

I really enjoy baking and the creativity of making something like this peaked my interest. Last year I made a monster truck cake, simply a two layer cake with butter cream frosting, crumbled cookie roads and mini monster trucks.

This year, I asked my 4 year old nephew what he wanted for his birthday cake. It had to be:
  • A Skateboard Ramp Cake with Superheros on Skateboards
  • Butter and Chocolate Cakes with Chocolate Fudge Pudding, Bananas and Cream
  • Green and White Frosting
His Birthday was on Thanksgiving, his party was the next day. Between both events, I spent over 15 hours in the kitchen. I decided to save time and used Duncan Hines Butter Cake boxes. I prefer the Butter receipe over the Oil.

I started baking 3 cakes, two butter and one chocolate. All in long sheet cake tins. Added a layer of chocolate fudge pudding, layer of bananas.

I made each cake in a longer metal reusable aluminum pan, so each layer was around 1 inch or so. Stacked them up, refrigerated them and went home for the night.

For my Marshmallow Vanilla Butter cream Frosting, I used:

- 6 cups of Powdered Sugar (+/-)*
- 1 1/2 cups of Butter
- 1 tablespoon of Vanilla
- 1/2 a stick of Cream cheese

Melted Marshmallows
- 2 pats of Butter
-1/2 a bag of little Marshmallows

Mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes. Add vanilla, cream cheese and marshmallow and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

*With this frosting, you may need to add more powdered sugar to reach the consistency you like.

Rice Krispy Treat Skateboard Ramp

To make the ramp, I made a simple Rice Krispy recipe and formed the ramp within a deep plastic Gladware storage container. I used wax paper to push the cereal into the shape I needed and popped it in the freezer to form.

Added cookies around the base of cake, using those Oreo Cookie Straws.

I wanted to add the toys to see how it would look. I removed them before transporting.

With the leftover rice krispy treats, I filled out a pan and added chocolate chip cookies dipped in the leftover frosting.

I love this picture. It shows how much he really loved the cake, as expressed by a 4 year old boy.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bacon Steaks

Hmmn, can one item actually push you to write a blog? This bacon sure as hell helped.

This weekend I bought some thick cut smokey bacon from Whole Foods, it was so thick it reminded me of thinly sliced steaks - of BACON. After taking the pictures of the bacon cooking, I decided I would have to now share this with anyone who is listening.

The bacon was mostly meaty and would be incredible on a BLAT (Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado and Tomato) Sandwich. Thick cut bacon is always great for salads, I was using this bacon for my Roasted Garlic Potato Salad with Bacon and Carmalized Onions. I'll update this with the Potato Salad recipe later.

Crispy Bacon, so thick - like little bacon steaks. Hmmn, don't get me started.

Adding bacon to my favorite Potato Salad.

The reviews I write

When I first found Yelp, I used it to research good restaurants, then I found a love for writing reviews. After awhile, I was making friends and attending events. Now, it's become a part of me and I'm having a great time doing it.

I love taking pictures of my food and sharing my experiences. I know it can seem odd when I pull out my iPhone and snap pictures of our meals at dinner, but I really do think that some people will choose a restaurant over another if there is a tempting picture showing you exactly what you are going to get.

I seek out new restaurants and new food experiences, trying things I would have never tried before, getting new ideas and bringing all that back to my own kitchen.

Check out my reviews here: http://sfbey.yelp.com

Yay! This is my new blog.

So after months of talking about writing a blog, I finally decided to do it. I have to say the hardest part was picking the name, my first choice already taken ~ so it's "This girl really cooks", I hope that doesn't sound too egocentric. Oh well, here we go :)

I'd like to share with you my reviews, recipes, photos and stories. I love to share things with my friends and hope that this can become a place for sharing those ideas and learning new ones. I have so many ideas of what I'd like this to be, so bear with me as I collect my thoughts - I will start posting soon.