Beer Steamed Crabs

I’ve been sitting on a faux boiled crab recipe that I got from my cousin Lisa for about a year now.  Why did I wait so long to make these??? By faux, I mean you don’t have to go outside and have a big traditional crab boil.  You can cook them inside, with minimal fuss and cleanup.  Another perk?  They are even BETTER than traditional boiled crabs.  This is because you take the shell off the crab before you cook them, allowing the crabmeat to soak up butter, garlic, and seasoning.  These crabs reminded me of delicious French mussels, but even better because of the blue crabs! 

I made the traditional South Louisiana dip that is always made for crab and crawfish boils.  Combo of ketchup, mayo, horseradish, lemon, hot sauce, worcestershire sauce, and maybe some other things I’m forgetting now.  Anyway, the crabs were so good that the dip was just a bad idea (except for potato dipping).  You don’t need, and shouldn’t add, anything to these delicious crabs.   

Has it been adequately conveyed to you that you HAVE to make these crabs??? 

You can make as few crabs as you want (I made only 6, which I most regretted) up to 2 dozen.  In making a smaller amount, I lessened all the ingredients except the beer. 

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Beer Steamed Crabs

  • 2 dozen live crabs 
  • 2-3 sticks of butter (you can use more or less depending on your preference)
  • 2 whole pods of garlic (you can use more or less depending on your preference), minced or sliced
  • Tony’s or other cajun seasoning 
  • 20 oz beer, whatever you have on hand (we used Yuengling, but ideally I would use Abita Amber) 

Chill crabs on ice so they do not pinch you while cleaning them. Take off top shell and take the lungs out and spray off all the guts out of the crabs.  I did not like the “killing” part of this recipe, so Geoff took over.

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You’re going to need a fairly big pot.  Make first layer of crabs around the bottom of the pot and sprinkle with Tony’s and slices of butter and garlic.  Make another layer of crabs on top of the first layer and again sprinkle with Tony’s and slices of butter and garlic. Continue making layers until all the crabs are in the pot.

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Take 20 oz of beer and pour it around the edge of the pot so the Tony’s seasoning doesn’t get poured off the crabs. You can sprinkle more seasoning after pouring the beer if you think some of it washed off.

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Cover the pot and cook on medium to high heat until you see steam coming from the pot. Once you see steam coming from the pot, set a timer for 5 minutes. Once the 5 minutes is up, they are done and ready to eat! 

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I served it with boiled potatoes (just quartered red potatoes boiled in crab boil and seasoning) and beer!  I actually made this for my birthday dinner and this meal was oh-so-worthy of the honor. 

 

 

Cauliflower “Cream” Sauce over Rice

You’ve probably already pinned this recipe – it is definitely going Pinterest-viral right now.  This recipe is Pinch of Yum’s Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Rice.  She also uses the same sauce to make other stuff, like Pasta Alfredo.

No, it is not a low-carb recipe for rice that is actually grated cauliflower.  It is actual brown rice with a faux cream sauce.  We’ve all been duped by low calorie cream sauces that just leave a literal bad taste in our mouths.  This one, though… this one is something special.  The sauce ingredients: cauliflower, vegetable broth, a little milk (which can be left out if you don’t want the dairy), and seasoning.

I kept test-tasting the sauce throughout the process of cooking and was thoroughly unconvinced this sauce was gonna successfully masquerade as anything other than cauliflower.  When I sat down to eat, I was surprised – it was quite good.  BUT, when I ate leftovers the next day andddd the day after that, I was in absolute health heaven.  As in, you have no idea that it’s healthy.

In addition to the sauce, you use whole grain rice, garlic, a little bit of butter, and part-skim mozzarella cheese (again, this would still be delicious if you made this dairy-free).   I only used 4 cloves of garlic, less than the original recipe called for, because some reviews said it was overly garlicky – this was a big mistake.  I will definitely use a full 8 cloves next time.  You can top this dish with some protein – I added sliced chicken breast.

I do recommend letting this recipe sit for hours before eating for the best taste.  As the cauliflower sauce sits with the rice, it tastes less and less like.. well, cauliflower.

Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Rice – from Pinch of Yum

  • 6-8 cups chopped cauliflower
  • 4 cups vegetable broth + 2 cups water
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1½ cups brown rice blend
  • Salt, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 6-8 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ cup part-skim Mozzarella cheese for topping
  • Protein for topping (I added sliced chicken breast)
  • Parsley for garnishment

Cook the rice according to package directions. Set aside.  Bring the vegetable broth and water to a boil in a large pot. Add the cauliflower and boil for about 10 minutes, until tender. Save the broth when straining.

Transfer cauliflower pieces to a blender or food processor.  Add milk and a couple of cups of the broth/water mixture you saved to the blender.  Puree the cauliflower, adding any additional vegetable broth required to get a smooth, creamy consistency.

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Season the sauce heavily – salt, pepper (I use black and red pepper).  Pour over the cooked rice and stir to combine.  Try to let this mixture sit for awhile, as it gets better the longer it melds.

In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter and add the garlic, sauteing over low heat until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the creamy rice mixture and stir until butter and garlic is incorporated. Stir cheese throughout the rice to get it melted.

Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.  Serve topped with sliced chicken breast and parsley (as well as any additional cheese you may want to sneak in).  Enjoy – and SAVE LEFTOVERS!

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Mom’s Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

I’m sure everyone thinks theyyy momma makes the best gumbo, but I assure you, my momma does.  This is my all-time, number one comfort dish.  When I’ve been away from home too long or if I’m feeling sickly, this is all I want to eat.  On my last trip home, I ate this three nights.

Gumbo should never be rushed.  It is something you should devote a whole day to (Sunday, IMO).  That is why this recipe makes so much gumbo – you don’t want to make this every time you want gumbo.  Gumbo freezes wonderfully.

I like to give myself two days to make gumbo b/c I don’t like to work at it all day!  On Day 1, I do all the chopping work and I cook my chicken and make my broth.  This also makes it easier to scrape the grease of your broth after refrigerating it overnight.  Then on Day 2, all you have to do is make a roux and let things simmer for a few hours!

This time making it, I served it at my Mardi Gras party.  As is custom, I served it with amazing potato salad (recipe to follow) – it is up to you whether you want to stir it in your gumbo like some Louisianians do or keep it on the side.  I compromise and eat it on the side, but lightly dip each spoonful in my gumbo.

Don’t judge the obvious fact that this sausage is NOT andouille – I’m in Charleston, people!!  I could have gone searching for some, but I was super rushed.  Also, I know these coo-yons wouldn’t know the difference. 🙂

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

  • 2 large chickens, each around 5.5 pounds, cleaned – I buy the already cut up ones
  • 1 pound of smoked sausage, sliced
  • 1 pound of andouille, sliced – if you don’t have this in your area, just double your smoked sausage
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped – and save the end part you normally throw out
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped – and save the end parts you normally throw out
  • 2 medium to large onions, chopped – and save the ends and skin parts you normally throw out
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped – and save the stem part you normally throw out
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • Lawry’s seasoned salt, cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of flour

Step 1: make your broth and cook your chicken

Wash all of the saved parts of the veggies (normally thrown away) until clean.  These veggies are gonna help make your stock more flavorful.  Put 2 quarts of water in a large (seriously, large) stockpot.  Add the garbage veggies (extras), 1 tbsp Lawry’s seasoned , 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, and chicken to the pot.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Then, lower your heat, but keep at a gentle boil, for about 1 hour until the chicken is cooked.

Remove the chicken and then strain your broth. (In other words, you are keeping the brothy part – a little over 2 quarts – and throwing away the garbage veggies.)  Put your broth in the refrigerator and refrigerate your broth overnight if you can.  If you can’t, skim the fat off the top of your broth as best you can.

Debone and chop up all your chicken.  Put in a gallon zipper and refrigerate.

Step 2:  Make that roux and let it get yummy

If you have refrigerated your broth overnight, the fat has congealed to the top – remove that fat.

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Using your LARGE pot, heat your oil over medium heat.  Add 2 cups of flour and whisk until a dark caramel.  Whisk constantly.  This is the making of your roux.  Don’t rush it.  Don’t burn it. Not stirring or whisking constantly will cause the flour to burn and your roux is ruined.  Here is the coloring you’ll see happen with your roux.

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After your roux turns a dark caramel, add your chopped onions.  This will caramelize and release sugars and darken your roux.  After 5-10 minutes, add bell pepper, celery, and garlic.  Saute 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly.

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Add reserved broth, 1 Tbsp salt, 1/2 tsp cayenne.  Keep at a low boil and keep covered.  Stir often.  After 45 mins to 1 hour, add sliced sausage and andouille and 4 cups of water.  Cook another hour.  Skim fat off the top layer.

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Add chopped green onion and parsley, chopped chicken, and 2 cups water. Cook another 1/2 hour.  Add additional water according to desired consistency (usually around 1 cup).

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Serve it over fluffy white rice!!!

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(Yes, this is a pic from home with real andouille.)

Salsa Verde Burgers

My goal when cooking low-fat foods is that no one knows it is low-fat.  I simply do not come from a family where we enjoy munching on broccoli or kale.  Just make me think the food is bad for me, please!  Perfect example – these burgers I made this week from Skinny Taste – in my opinion, the best site for healthy recipes on the whole of the internet.

These are so easy to make – especially since I use jarred salsa (Mom, don’t shake your head at me).  You add no binding or sauce to your ground beef.  Just mold your patties, slightly season, and grill it up.  The addition of melty cheese, avocado, and salsa ensure that your low fat ground beef does not come off as dry.   I haven’t been able to get these burgers off my mind!

Salsa Verde Burgers – makes 4 burger, head on over to Skinny Taste for nutritional information

  • cooking spray
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 (93% lean) beef patties, 4.75 oz each
  • 1/2 cup salsa verde, homemade or store bought (I used Herdez brand, leftover from some enchiladas I previously made).  If you do use store-bought, add some fresh cilantro or chopped onion or jalapeño – something to make it taste less “out of a bottle.”
  • 4 slices Sargento reduced fat pepper jack cheese
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • cilantro, optional
  • sliced avocado (from 1 medium haas)

Form your patties and salt and pepper your beef.  Heat a skillet or grill over high heat. When hot, spray with oil and add the patties. Season with salt and pepper and cook a few minutes on each side, to your desired liking. I made fat and tall burgers since my buns were small, so they took a while to cook.  Add the cheese and cover. Cook to melt, about 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, toast your buns in a hot oven if you’re smart.  After, assemble your burgers by topping the beef and cheese with around 2 tablespoons of salsa verde, a sprinkle of fresh cilantro, and avocado slices.  We also generously added a Mexican hot sauce.  Enjoy!!! And if it’s two of you, anxiously await leftovers.

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Here’s a side view to really appreciate the melted curtain of cheese.

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Smothered Pork Roast

When pork butt went on sale at our grocery, I immediately knew what I would make – this Donald Link roast recipe from his cookbook Real Cajun that I have been eyeing for over a year now.  If any of you want a good cajun cookbook, I definitely recommend this one.  The spicy crawfish fettucine is particularly scrumptious (and fattening).

This pork roast lived up to my expectations.  And I am really more of a beef roast person than pork. The gravy in this roast was the best gravy I’ve ever made – why have I never thought to make a roux for roast gravy?? Duhh.  I was also surprised at how non-cajuny this tasted.  With all the onion, butter, and thyme, it really tasted more like a French dish.  No complaints there.

We ate this over rice and then for leftovers on a toasted baguette with melted swiss cheese and ground mustard, mayo, and hot sauce.  Why do sammiches always get second billing as leftovers?  It’s always my fave.

This roast makes a TON.  I have two containers full in the freezer right now.  So if this snow/sleet/cold storm is as wicked as people are supposing (seriously, Charleston peeps are freaking out and giving me hurricane flashbacks), you know what I will be eating for the next few days.

Smothered Pork Roast – from Donald Link’s Real Cajun

Ingredients:

  • 6-7 lb boneless pork roast (shoulder or butt)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 T. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 8 T. (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)

Trim fat off pork roast.  Season the pork very generously with salt and pepper, rubbing seasoning in.  Set roast aside for 30 mins – 1 hour at room temp.

Combine onions, garlic, thyme, and rosemary in medium mixing bowl and toss to combine.

Heat vegetable oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.   When oil is very hot, sear the meat on all sides until deeply browned and crusty.  Transfer meat to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium and stir butter into dutch oven.  When butter has melted, stir in the flour to make a roux.  Continue cooking, stirring (pretty much constantly) until the roux turns a dark peanut butter color.

Add the onion mixture and cook for a couple of minutes until the mixture is thick.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer.

Add the pork into the dutch oven and spoon some of the onion mixture on top of the meat.  Cover and roast for around 3 hours, turning and basting the pork every 30 minutes.  You know it is done when the meat breaks apart easily when pressed with a fork. Skim fat off the top.  I went ahead and shredded the pork with a fork entirely in the gravy, rather than taking it out and slicing it up.

Serve the meat over rice or on a toasted baguette.

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Tomato and Sausage Risotto

I am an Italian foodie at heart.  In that spirit, I should make a Sunday sauce – a delicious red gravy that simmers on the stove all day.  But Sundays are lazy days for me.   So, instead, I whipped up this delish risotto, an almost one-pot dish, that gave me my Italian fix without the early prep work.  In other words, no work (or getting out of bed) til 5 p.m.  Netflix marathon, per favore.

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Another thing I loved about this dish is you don’t need any sides.  You put a lot of spinach in it, so you get your veggies that way, and it contains your carbs, protein, etc…

As I said, this dish is ALMOST a one-pot dish. The other small pot just heats up your tomato juices so you aren’t adding cold liquid to your risotto to cook.

The original recipe, a Martha Stewart one, called for white wine.  I just didn’t feel like including this in my grocery budget, so I left it out.  I also added garlic and garnished heavily with more parmesan and a bit of red pepper flakes.

Tomato and Sausage Risotto

  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 – 1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf spinach (10 to 14 ounces), washed well, tough stems removed, chopped (about 7 cups)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter

In a small saucepan, combine tomatoes (with their juice) and 3 cups water. Bring just to a simmer; keep warm over low heat.

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add sausage, onion, and garlic.  Cook, breaking up sausage with a spoon, until sausage is opaque and onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

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Add rice; cook, stirring until well coated, 1 to 2 minutes.

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Add about 2 cups hot tomato mixture to rice. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue adding tomato mixture, 1 cup at a time, waiting for one cup to be absorbed before adding the next, stirring often, until rice is creamy and just tender, about 25 minutes total (you may not have to use all the liquid).

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Remove pan from heat. Stir in spinach, Parmesan, and butter. Season with salt and pepper.

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Serve immediately, sprinkling with additional parmesan and some red chili pepper flakes, if desired.

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Sweet and Spicy Wings

My husband’s favorite food (and possibly mine) is HOT WINGS!  We love to order the spiciest wings a restaurant will make.  Thus far, Charleston’s hottest is the Braveheart wing at Wild Wing Cafe.  Makes you cry, but with happiness.

I made these wings for the big National Championship game.  College football season is officially over – so sad.  These wings are not very hot, but very flavorful – perfect for those of you who don’t like to be in pain.  I based the recipe off of the “Spicy Honey Drumettes” from John Folse’s cookbook, but I altered it.  The original recipe called for a whole cup of honey and just a little red pepper flakes.  I decreased the honey and subbed red chili paste with garlic (my fave Asian condiment – like a concentrated Sriracha with red pepper flakes in it).

Even though these weren’t our traditional super spicy buffalo wings, they were delicious!  Also, they are stupid easy.  And I’ll pretend like they are healthy because they weren’t deep fried like most wings.  Yeah, I’ll go with that.

**Next time, I would definitely get the wings crispier by cooking them longer at a high temperature before adding the sauce on them.  I just like my wings crispy.

Serve with french fries to sop up your extra wing sauce.  Serve with ranch, if desired.

Sweet and Spicy Wings

  • 24 wings (I used drummettes)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcesterchire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons red chili paste with garlic (Sambal Oelek) – or more if you want it spicier

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse wings and pat with paper towels to dry thoroughly.  Bake on baking sheet for 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.  Add half of the honey sauce to your wings and bake for another 10 minutes.  Turn wings over with a tong.  Add remaining sauce and cook for additional 10 minutes.

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Also, wings should always be served with beer.  It’s totally American.