MWM – Crab Casserole

In case I haven’t mentioned this before, my mother (aka The Queen) holds several extremely prestigious degrees: a medical degree, psychology degree, child behavior degree, and last, but not least, a master’s degree in organizing and throwing spectacular dinner parties.

Unfortunately, she doesn’t entertain much anymore – but this recipe – wow – it brings back so many memories….. it was one of those “fancy-pants” dishes that she would make whenever we had company over for dinner – you know, the “no-kids allowed” dinner parties.

The original recipe called for clams, but Sabrina and I love crab (and that’s crab with a “c”, not “k”), so I whipped this up the other night and it tastes exactly as I remembered …… similar to a crab cake but a lot less work….

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Extremely un-photogenic but exceptionally delicious…..

Mom’s Crab Appetizer (but made into a casserole)

  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup chopped red/yellow pepper (I used roasted peppers, that’s all I had)
  • 4 tbs. butter
  • 4 tbs. flour
  • 1 tbs. parmesan cheese (I left this out)
  • 1 tsp hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco or Tapatio)
  • 8 oz. lump crabmeat
  • ½ cup panko crumbs
  • 1 tbs. butter, melted

Cook onion, celery and peppers in butter until tender. Stir in flour, cheese (if using) and season with black pepper and hot sauce. Gently stir in crabmeat. Pour mixture into a greased gratin dish. Combine panko crumbs with butter and sprinkle mixture over crabmeat. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.

MWM – Dad’s Favorite Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Let the record indicate that I am glaringly aware of the fact that today is, according to my calendar at least, Tuesday.

Not Monday.

Tuesday.

So why am I posting Mondays With Mom on Tuesday?

Because yesterday went by in a blur and I realized my error this morning.

That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

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Dad’s Absolute Favorite Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – my mom’s recipe

½ cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup milk (or buttermilk)
1 ¾ cups oatmeal
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In a small measuring cup, mix together the milk and vanilla and set aside. In a separate bowl, stir together the oatmeal, flour, baking soda and cinnamon.

Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with the milk/ vanilla mixture in two additions, mixing just until combined. Stir in the raisins.

Drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets and bake for approximately 13-15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. The cookies should be a light golden brown and the centers should be just set.

Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

MWM – Chile Relleno Casserole

Disclaimer: this is not my mom’s actual recipe – but according to my razor-sharp memory, she used to make something very, very similar to it when I was younger.

** much younger **

Anyway, I absolutely adore chile rellenos, but the traditional method of stuffing and deep frying the chiles is waaaaaay too much work for me these days.

Of course, that theory doesn’t hold true for making fried chicken, but I digress….

Low and behold, thanks to the wonders of Pinterest, I found this recipe and have been waiting for the right time to make it. And as luck would have it, last Thursday night was the right time. We were having a celebratory dinner for Sabrina to commemorate her induction into the Art Honor Society at school – and she decided that a Mexican fiesta was the way to go.

Ole!

Being a bit pressed for time, which is the norm these days, I broke out three crockpots and prepared the lime/beer braised chicken in one, ground beef tacos in the other (which is a separate post, I’ll never make them any other way now!), and this casserole in the third.

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and another view:

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Simply delicious – and mom gave her stamp of approval by requesting that I make it again this week.

That’s when you know it’s good :)

Chile Rellenos Casserole – adapted from trickschef.net

2 (7 ounce) cans whole green chile peppers, drained
8 ounces shredded Mexican 3 cheese blend
8 ounces Jalapeno Jack cheese
2 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk

Salsa, sour cream, and green onions for serving

Spray the inside of a small crockpot with nonstick spray. Lay half of the chilies evenly in bottom. Sprinkle with half of the cheeses, cover with remaining chilies, then sprinkle the remaining cheeses on top. In a bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, and flour, and pour over the top of the chilies.

Cook on high for about two hours – and vent the lid during the last 20 minutes or so to allow the steam to escape. Serve with salsa, sour cream and green onions.

MWM – Baked Fusilli with Asparagus, Peas and Lemon

So………….there I was………minding my own business……when the call came:

Mom: “Good morning! I found an amazing pasta recipe in this mornings’ Wall Street Journal that I want to make and I know you’ll love because it is loaded with cheese and I’m going to prepare it for dinner tonight so gather the children and be at the house at 6.”

Me: ….pause…..”Did you take a breath during that sentence?”

Mom: …….giving me the side eye over the phone …… “I am not amused and I will see you at 6.”

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Baked Fusilli with Asparagus, Peas and Lemon – adapted from the wsj

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. While the water is heating, combine 2 ½ cups heavy cream, 2 tsp grated lemon zest, ½ cup grated fontina cheese, ½ cup grated pecorino romano cheese, ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, 2 tbs. ricotta cheese, ¼ cup finely chopped onion, 1 ½ cups frozen peas (thawed), a dash of Tabasco, and 1 tsp black pepper. In a another bowl, combine 14 oz. asparagus, trimmed and cut on a diagonal, 1 medium red onion, sliced into paper thin rings, and 2 tbs. melted butter.

Parboil 1 pound of fusilli pasta for 4 minutes. Drain and add to cream mixture. Transfer to a large greased gratin dish. Sprinkle the asparagus/onion mixture and additional parmesan cheese on top. Bake until bubbly and beginning to brown – about 12-15 minutes. Let rest a few minutes before serving.

MWM – Pasta with Baked Cherry Tomatoes

For this weeks’ MWM, I have quite the story for you. So grab a drink (hot or cold, your choice), a light snack, and read on…..

This wasn’t just dinner, it was more like an adventure… and will forever be known as “the night Mom was supposed to make dinner, but decided a trip to the emergency room would be far more exciting and a perfect way to shake up a routine day.”

Here’s how it all started:

There I was…sitting in the nail salon….casually deciding which color to have my nails done ….when my dad called.

I don’t know about you, but whenever my dad calls, no matter WHAT I’m doing, I answer. He doesn’t call for idle chitchat, so whatever he’s calling about is usually of paramount importance.

And this was no exception.

Me: “Hello Daddy-O, what’s up?”

Daddy-O: “The paramedics are here, they’re taking your mother to the emergency room, she has a nosebleed that won’t stop.”

Well……..alrighty then. Next stop…..Summerlin Hospital. Stat.

But………my fingertips were wrapped in tin foil (to get the gel polish off), and literally, I was stuck. I could see that I had two choices: Do I run out of the salon looking like Edward Scissorhands? Or pull the foil off and have my hands look like I ran into a buzz saw?

Decisions, decisions……. I told my girl to work as fast as she could, because I figured (correctly, by the way) that by the time I got to the hospital, my mother would be situated, checked in and everything would be under control.

35 minutes later, I ran into the ER – only to stop dead in my tracks. Not only was everything under control, my mother was IN control.  I could hear her, behind a curtain, giving one of the assistants quite a earful. He was asking her basic information (height, weight, age) and boy oh boy she had an answer for everything.

Or should I say, no answers were given, because she told him, in exceptionally clear, precise English, that the information he was requesting was none of his business. She gave him the look, crossed her arms over her chest, and that was that.

I stifled a giggle and told my Dad, “Clearly, Mom is going to be just fine.” He laughed and said, “You know your mother”….

After about 10 minutes, I left the hospital and headed to their house to clean up the mess from the nosebleed (which wasn’t nearly as bad as Dad thought it was). Once that was handled, I poured myself a glass of wine, looked around the kitchen, and said, “Well, this dinner isn’t going to cook itself”. So in true Type A fashion, I prepped everything, had another glass of wine, and waited for word that they were coming home.

Oh, but here’s the best part….Mom was quite upset that her favorite lounging robe was covered with blood…and therefore ruined. I told her I would wash it right away at her house so the stains wouldn’t set. No problem, right?

Suuuuuuuure…. what I didn’t realize was that I needed a master’s degree in electronics to figure out how to work the dang machine. I spent 20 minutes (20 MINUTES!!) staring at the controls. The good news? I was able to get it working and the stains came out.

The bad news? The washer may never be the same.

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Pasta with Baked Cherry Tomatoes – adapted from Lidia Bastianich

3 pts. cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup plus 1 tbs. olive oil
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb. spaghetti
10 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tbs. chopped fresh basil
2 tbs. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup fresh grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the tomatoes with 3 tbs. of olive oil, and spread on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle over the tomatoes the bread crumbs, red pepper flakes, and toss to coat evenly. Bake until the tomatoes are shriveled and lightly caramelized, about 20-25 minutes.

When the tomatoes are just about done, start cooking the pasta. Then pour the remaining olive oil into a large skillet, set it over medium high heat, and add the garlic. Cook until the garlic starts to sizzle and is lightly colored. Add 2 cups of the pasta cooking water and bring to a boil. Let half the water evaporate, lower the heat, stir in the parsley and basil, and keep the sauce at a very low simmer. As soon as the pasta is done, drain it, then add it to the skillet. Toss it all together, then add the tomatoes on top and toss again. Sprinkle on the grated cheese, and serve.

MWM – Fresh Vegetable Dip

Before we even get started, let me give you a heads-up on the glaringly obvious fact that it is not Monday, I am well aware that I’m a day behind (and more than a few dollars short, because Sabrina took all my cash), and I have to admit that I’ve become addicted to something other than Pinterest.

Ruzzle.

Never heard of it? Well, that’s probably a good thing, because since Sabrina introduced me to the game last week, I have been playing it every free moment I have. And let’s face a simple fact here – free moments aren’t something I have too many of. But I was bound and determined to beat Sabrina in the game at least once (because she’s a killer!) so I had to practice my word skills and step up my game.

It’s been a blast :)

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Fresh Vegetable Dip – by Mom

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 8oz can water chestnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs. soy sauce

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Chill overnight, covered, and stir before serving.

MWM – Mexican Wedding Cookies

I think, in all seriousness, that these were my favorite cookies when I was a child.

I know what you’re about to say…….”Megan, there isn’t any chocolate in those, how can they possibly be your favorite?”

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Well…….that’s a good question. And the short answer is, my mother never actually baked anything with chocolate during the holidays, or any other time during the year for that matter. The reason behind the preceding statement is …… wait for it , wait for it…..

There was always a box of See’s Candy hidden somewhere in the house.

And you weren’t allowed to touch it.

Ever.

Mexican Wedding Cookies – from Mom

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup pecans, toasted, finely chopped

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until well blended. Beat in flour, then pecans. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and arrange on the baking sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Chill for an hour before baking.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Put remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar in a bowl and set aside. Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 18 minutes. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet. Gently toss warm cookies in powdered sugar to coat. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool completely, then roll into powdered sugar again to coat.

MWM – Scotch Eggs

Welcome to the heart stopping, artery clogging, cholesterol raising, (and) super-special edition of Mondays with Mom.

Behold:

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These, my dear, are Scotch Eggs. Hard boiled eggs, encased in pork sausage, rolled in bread crumbs, and deep fried to a golden brown. They are crunchy bites of deliciousness, and should be experienced at least once in a lifetime.

If, however, you’ve never had one, you might very well have extended your life span by about 10 years.

The rest of us…….not so much.

Scotch Eggs – as made by Mom

6 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
7 ounces (3/4 cup) English Banger sausage, casings removed
Vegetable oil (for frying)
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
English Salad Cream
  • Place 4 eggs in a small saucepan; add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil; remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 3 minutes. Carefully drain, then fill pan with ice water to cool eggs. Gently crack shells and carefully peel under cold running water. Place eggs in a bowl of cold water; cover and chill until cold.
  • Place flour in a wide shallow bowl and bread crumbs  in another wide shallow bowl. Divide sausage into 4 equal portions. Pat 1 portion of sausage into a thin patty over the length of your palm. Lay 1 soft-boiled egg on top of sausage and wrap sausage around egg, sealing to completely enclose. Repeat with remaining sausage and eggs.
  • Whisk remaining 2 eggs in a medium bowl to blend. Working gently with 1 sausage-wrapped egg at a time, dip eggs into flour, shaking off excess, then coat in egg wash. Roll in bread crumbs to coat.
  • Attach a deep-fry thermometer to side of a large heavy pot. Pour in oil to a depth of 2” and heat over medium heat to 375°. Fry eggs, turning occasionally and maintaining oil temperature of 350°, until sausage is cooked through and breading is golden brown and crisp, 5–6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer eggs to paper towels to drain. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Serve warm with English Salad Cream.

MWM – Grilled Eggplant

She’s on fire!

Not literally, of course (thank goodness!) …. but Mom is absolutely kickin’ it in the kitchen these days.

Check out her latest creation:

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Doesn’t that look amazing? The only thing it’s missing (in my opinion, of course) is a thick blanket of mozzarella or provolone cheese. But that’s just me. Because in my world, everything is better with cheese. :)

I am simply jubilant (and between me and you,  a bit astounded) at how inspired and motivated she’s been – and as a bonus, she’s become quite the food photographer as well. With all that being said, I can only hope to score an invitation to attend one of these dinners sometime in the near future.

Note to Mom: I’ll even bribe you with offer to bring your favorite chocolate cake….

Grilled Eggplant – adapted from Tastes of Italia

1 medium eggplant
salt
olive oil for brushing
fresh ground black pepper

Topping:
4 tbs. olive oil
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt

Trim the top and bottom off the eggplant and peel. Cut into ½ inch slices and place in a colander. Sprinkle with salt, and allow to drain for about 30 minutes. Rinse and pat slices dry.

Preheat broiler. Brush each eggplant slice with olive oil and place on foil lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with black pepper, and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown. Flip slices over, brush with additional olive oil and sprinkle with more pepper. Cook for another 4 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the topping ingredients. Once the eggplant is cooked, arrange it on a serving platter and spoon the topping mixture onto it.

Yield: 4 servings

MWM – Shells with Cherry Tomatoes

Good Monday morning and boy oh boy do I have big news to tell! So grab your coffee (or tea, or egg nog .. mmmmm, egg nog..), sit down, and listen to this….

Starting today, I am adding a new feature to Megan’s Sweet Life. I’ve decided to call it “Mondays with Mom”, (Mom being my mother) and I will be featuring her recipes that not only has she prepared, but that she has graciously allowed me to post.

Now, this might not sound like a big deal to you….. however, if you knew my mother, you would understand how epic and exciting this is. It has taken a very long time for her to reach this point, but she has finally gotten her groove back and is ready for some serious kitchen action.

And, since an object in motion stays in motion – who knows what other kinds of action-packed activities she may decide to take up? I mean, really, the sky’s the limit here -  Nascar racing, Tai Kwan Do, skydiving? Think big!

Anyway, what this means to my dad and I is that we’d get better get serious and kick up our biking level to compensate for all the amazing and scrumptious meals that will be coming out of her kitchen. Oh, and make no mistake Dad, it is HER kitchen – she simply allows you to go in there every now and then …..and make a mess.

Uhhhh – did I say that out loud? Oooooops……

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Shells with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil – adapted from Tastes of Italia

1 lb. pasta shells
2 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 pound cherry tomatoes
1 cup Kalamata olives, halved
1 pinch red chile flakes

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 handful fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a large skillet, combine olive oil, garlic and tomatoes and cook on medium-low for 3 to 4 minutes. Add olives, chile flakes, salt and pepper, stirring to mix well. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes.

Drain pasta and add to skillet, tossing to mix well. Stir in basil and serve with grated cheese and an extra drizzle of olive oil. Makes 4 servings.