My Family’s Cookbook: Crabmeat Meltaways

It’s Labor Day weekend! For a lot of people, this time signifies the end of summer. Sure, the season technically continues into September, but now’s the time when kids start going back to school and the weather starts getting a little cooler. Because of that, it’s understandable that people treat Labor Day weekend as a last hurrah of sorts, making sure to enjoy their favorite summer activities and treats.

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For my family, summertime is all about seafood. Lobster, mussels, clams (sometimes fried) and calamari (always fried!) – I really can’t get enough of it. Therefore, these Crabmeat Meltaways were the perfect addition to one of our casual, Labor Day weekend dinners. I actually hadn’t had them before, and at first, I was a tad skeptical. The process is super easy, but I wasn’t sure what to expect the final product to taste like. Spreadable cheese isn’t exactly a normal ingredient in my household, and the idea of freezing the muffins for 30 minutes followed by putting them under the broiler was a bit strange to me.

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But you know what? It totally works. Freezing the muffins (with the mixed ingredients already spread on) makes it easy to cut them into quarters without making a mess. And the spread is absolutely delicious. The butter seeps into the English muffins, making them nice and soft, and the topping reminded me a bit of mac and cheese, with the addition of crabmeat. To me, the result is the perfect comfort seafood treat, and since you cut each muffin into quarters, they’re great finger food too! So if you’re in need of a super casual, super easy and super delicious seafood appetizer, I definitely recommend giving this one a try. And if you don’t feel like making them all at once, you can always freeze the rest and just pop them under the broiler for a few minutes when you’re ready to serve them!

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Crabmeat Meltaways

Ingredients

  • 6 English muffins, split
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 (5 oz.) jar Kraft Old English sharp Cheddar cheese, or any spreadable Cheddar cheese product
  • 2 Tbs. mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 (6 oz.) can crab meat

Instructions

  • Mix ingredients together and spread on muffins.
  • Freeze for at least 30 minutes and up to 30 days.
  • To serve, remove from freezer, cut in quarters and broil until hot and bubbly.
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German Plum Cake

Lately, we’ve had lots of fruit at my house. This is great, since I adore fruit, but because I love fruit so much (and probably because college conditioned me to make the most of any.food.you.have), it’s extra painful to me when it seems like it’s about to go to waste. It happens to all of us though: For whatever reason, you have an excess of food, and before you can enjoy it all, it goes bad. This was the recent situation at my house with plums, and the end was near for them if we didn’t act fast. And what better way to use up spare fruit than by making a cake with it? 😉

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And that’s how we got to this: German Plum Cake. I hadn’t made a cake like this before (actually, most of my cake-making experiences are limited to Funfetti mixes during my teenage years), so I was a bit cautious as I went through the process. It actually turned out to be super easy though, and the results were pretty darn tasty!

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If you’ve been reading this here blog for a while now (or have checked out my About page), you’ll probably recall my mentioning that I spent a semester in Berlin. Now, I don’t claim to be a German baking expert, nor am I verifying the authenticity of this recipe, but I will say that this cake is quite reminiscent of the cakes my host mom used to make for me in Berlin. A lot of them were fruit-based, not very moist and a bit crumbly. They were very different in contrast to the cakes I was used to eating, with their rich frosting and moist batter, but I definitely grew to love them.

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Therefore, I was particularly pleased when this cake turned out so well. I highly recommend serving this with some homemade whipped cream – it really adds the perfect finishing touch. But be careful because if you’re like me, you’ll have to force yourself to stop eating the whipped cream out of the mixing bowl and get back to the cake! Now that I think about it though, I suppose worse things have happened. 😉

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German Plum Cake

Recipe from Food.com

Ingredients

  • 1/4 lb butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 pinch salt (only if you use unsalted butter)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon, rind of
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups plums, pitted and sliced into thin wedges

For the topping

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, cream the butter, add the sugar, vanilla, egg, lemon peel, sour cream and salt (if desired).
  • Mix the flour and baking powder and add that into the mixture.
  • Grease the base of a round baking pan and spread the dough over the pan.
  • Liberally spread plums over the dough.
  • To make the optional topping, cream the butter, add flour, sugar and cinnamon.
  • Sprinkle over the plums and bake for 30-45 minutes in the middle rack at 375 F.
  • Be careful not to let the bottom burn!
  • Serve with lots of freshly-made whipped cream.
  • If you like, you may also sprinkle rum or cinnamon over the fruit before baking.

S’more of the Week: Chocolate Graham Cracker Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

The time has come, my friends. This is going to be the last segment of S’more of the Week. Will it be the last s’more concoction I ever have? Surely not. But this segment has definitely served its purpose, and I think it’s time we put aside the s’mores for now and continue on to another segment…but first, of course, we have to check out these cupcakes!

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I thought for a while about what I wanted my last s’more post to be, and I knew I wanted it to be something special. I decided on these Chocolate Graham Cracker Cupcakes from Martha Stewart since they looked amazing, had excellent reviews and featured toasted marshmallow frosting. I was super excited to use a handy dandy torch in the kitchen until I made the cupcakes and realized something: I decided to use a different marshmallow frosting recipe, and the recipe I used was neither torch nor broiler friendly. I’ve never tried to toast anything I’ve made in the kitchen before (except for, of course…toast <- bad joke), so I didn’t realize that, oh wait a second, Martha Stewart probably picked this particular frosting recipe for a reason because, oh wait another second, she knows what she’s doing.

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Oh well – lesson learned! For anyone who is curious, I chose a different frosting recipe because I didn’t feel like dealing with placing a bowl “over a saucepan with simmering water.” Call me what you want (which in this case is probably lazy :P), but that’s why. But even though I couldn’t toast the frosting, I still don’t regret my choice! The frosting was super yummy, and the cupcakes were a total hit! I think they were definitely a good selection for my final S’more of the Week post. From top to bottom you have the marshmallow frosting, chocolate cupcake batter, chopped pieces of bittersweet chocolate and graham cracker crust. If that doesn’t scream “s’more,” I don’t know what does.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and looking at these s’more posts as much as I have enjoyed making (and eating!) each recipe. I am super excited though to introduce the new weekly segment, so check back next week to find out what it is! And let me know: what is your favorite s’more recipe?

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Chocolate Graham Cracker Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

I halved both the cupcake and the frosting recipes, since I didn’t feel like making 24 cupcakes. I’ve included the original recipes and amounts below. I made 12 regular sized cupcakes, although I probably had enough batter to make 6-8 more (I used the rest of the batter to make a little more than a dozen mini muffins), and I had more than enough frosting for the 12 cupcakes after halving that recipe as well.

Cupcake recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 20 squares)
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I just chopped up bittersweet chocolate chips)
  • Marshmallow Frosting (If you want to toast the frosting, I suggest using Martha Stewart’s recipe or finding another recipe that is kitchen torch/broiler friendly. If you aren’t interested in toasting the frosting, keep scrolling for the recipe I used!)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with cupcake liners; set aside.
  • Sift 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix ingredients together on low speed.
  • In a large bowl, mix together eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl and continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add boiling water and stir to combine; set cake batter aside.
  • Place graham cracker crumbs, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and melted butter in a large bowl; stir until well combined. (I accidentally used far less butter than I was supposed to, and the graham cracker crust came out fine, so if for any reason you feel like using less butter or you accidentally use less, no worries. It may not hold together quite as tightly, but everything will come out fine.)
  • Place 1 tablespoon graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each prepared muffin cup. Use the bottom of a small glass to pack crumbs into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Reserve remaining graham cracker mixture for topping.
  • Place 2 teaspoons chocolate in each muffin cup. Transfer muffin tins to oven and bake until the edges of the graham cracker mixture is golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and fill each muffin cup three-quarters full with cake batter. Sprinkle each with remaining chocolate and graham cracker mixture. (I would be careful not to put *too* much graham cracker mixture on top. In reviews that I read, some people said adding too much made the cupcakes sink as they baked in the oven.). Return to oven and bake, rotating pans halfway through baking, until tops are firm and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer muffin tins to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely.
  • Transfer frosting to a large pastry bag fitted with a large plain round or French Tip (such as Ateco #867 or Ateco #809). Pipe frosting in a spiral motion on each cupcake. Transfer cupcakes to a baking sheet. Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the frosting, taking care not to burn the cupcake liners. (I ignored those directions since I used a different frosting recipe, but I wanted to include them for anybody interested in using the Martha Stewart frosting recipe.) Serve immediately or store in an airtight container, up to 2 days.

Frosting recipe from Food.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups margarine, softened
  • 2 cups marshmallow cream (7 oz tub)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoon milk
  • 2 2/3 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Blend margarine and marshmallow creme together till smooth.
  • Add liquids and mix well.
  • Blend in powdered sugar and beat till smooth and creamy.
  • If thinner frosting is desired, simply add more milk.

My Family’s Cookbook: Monkey Bread

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’re able to have breakfast that tastes like dessert. In the case of something like my favorite Grilled Peaches with Cinnamon and Brie (I will stop talking about them eventually. I promise.), it’s because of the natural, healthy sweetness of fruit. But in the case of this week’s recipe, it’s because of good ol’ fashioned sugar, butter and all that other stuff that I’m not sure would be considered part of a balanced breakfast. 😉

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But that’s okay. A little indulging here and there isn’t so bad, and if you’re going to have an indulging breakfast, this Monkey Bread may be just the thing you need. I first had Monkey Bread a few years ago, and I thought that I was the last one to find out about it. Recently, however, I’ve come across some people who hadn’t heard of it, so if there are any other Monkey Bread novices out there, I’ll give you some background info on this delicious treat.

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It was explained to me that Monkey Bread got its name because of the way you eat it. Bits of biscuits are cooked together to create the entire bread, which makes it easy for breakfast go-ers to pull apart or pick off pieces to eat, similar to the way monkeys pick things. I know – kind of gross. But I swear you’ll forget about that after trying this for yourself. The pieces are so soft and sweet, and when you get it fresh out of the oven – mm! It’s the best.

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{Don’t mind the bits of yellow. I may have eaten eggs right before taking this picture.}

This can get a bit messy, so for all those who would like to avoid that, I have a tip that my family just discovered: tongs! Instead of picking the Monkey Bread apart with your hands (the most fun way) or attempting to cut a piece with a knife (perhaps the least successful way), use tongs to serve yourself. It’s easy to get a good-sized portion at once, and it doesn’t leave a mess! Tell me: do you have any sneaky food tricks?

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Monkey Bread

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 cans Pillsbury Grands Homestyle Refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
  • 1/2 Cup chopped walnuts, if desired
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 Cup butter, melted

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 350° F.
  • Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tub pan.
  • In large plastic food-storage bag, mix sugar and cinnamon.
  • Separate dough into 16 biscuits (there are 8 in each can); cut each into quarters.
  • Shake biscuits in bag to coat.
  • Arrange biscuits in pan, adding walnuts among the biscuit pieces.
  • Mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces.
  • Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center.
  • Cool in pan 10 minutes.
  • Turn upside down onto serving plate; pull apart to eat. Serve warm and enjoy!

Mini Eggplant Pizzas

So lately, I’ve been actively trying to add more vegetables to my diet. I love veggies, and I’ve always eaten them on a regular basis, but I’ve really wanted to be sure recently that I’m eating enough of them. And while I do have a fondness for vegetables, sometimes I find it difficult to create interesting meals out of them. I can only eat so many salads before I start to get bored. I started looking around the Internet, and eventually I came across the idea for Mini Eggplant Pizzas – perfect! Eggplant is hearty enough on its own that it can serve as the main focus of a meal, and you can top it with whatever you want! And let’s face it: anything sounds more interesting when the word “pizza” is involved.

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And I now think I’ve found my new favorite lunch. My original plan was to make an entirely veggie pizza, but after realizing I had a good deal of leftovers from our pasta dinner the night before, I decided to switch up my plan a bit. After baking my eggplant pieces for 15 minutes, I removed them from the oven and topped them with some tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese and crumbled up meatball. I love how it looks and tastes like you’re using so much to make these mini pizzas, but in reality, I used less than half an eggplant, a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce, a bit of Parmesan cheese and only half a meatball! And that made these three glorious mini pizzas (I must note though that one of them was a super baby pizza, since it was the chopped end of the eggplant.).

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I put everything back in the oven for 5 more minutes to allow the cheese to get nice and melt-y and for the other toppings to get warm, and then I had my finished product. I added a bit of salad on the side, and my veggie-centered meal was complete! The eggplant works great as the crust substitute, and I was especially pleased with how filling the pizzas were. I was so happy, in fact, that I made them for lunch *again* the next day! When I tell you I have a new favorite meal, I’m serious about it. I recently said that Grilled Peaches with Cinnamon and Brie was my new favorite breakfast, so for the past few days, I’ve eaten almost the same exact things: peaches for breakfast, eggplant pizzas for lunch and something different for dinner. When the meals are easy, tasty and filling, why bother making anything else? 😉

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Mini Eggplant Pizzas

Recipe adapted from Detoxinista

Ingredients

  • 1/2-inch thick eggplant pieces
  • Whatever toppings you please (I used tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese and crumbled meatball).

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Cut an eggplant into 1/2-inch thick pieces.
  • Place the eggplant on a prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake eggplant for 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove eggplant from oven and add toppings.
  • Bake eggplant for another 5 minutes or until toppings are cooked/warmed.

S’more of the Week: S’mores Fudge

After making so many s’more recipes, sometimes it’s hard to believe that people have thought of even more ways to make graham cracker, marshmallow and chocolate into a delicious concoction. Thankfully though, they have, and some brilliant person thought to combine the flavors into decadent fudge. I’ve been a fan of fudge for quite some time, but it usually only makes an appearance around the holidays. My aunt makes it every year, so I’ve never needed to make it myself. I decided though that it was time for me to give it a go, and I couldn’t believe that making fudge could be so easy!

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I know there are more complicated ways to make fudge using candy thermometers and whatnot, but that’s just too much for me. This recipe, on the other hand, couldn’t be any easier. All you need are the below four ingredients (graham crackers, chocolate chips, condensed milk and mini marshmallows), and after melting the chocolate chips and condensed milk together, you just combine the rest of the ingredients, pour them in a pan and refrigerate. Simple, right? I was surprised when I tasted the fudge that it could be so easy to make something so creamy and rich tasting. I think my aunt might have a run for her money with this stuff. 😉

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And now folks, it’s time for another announcement. After making different s’more creations for about 2 months, I’ve decided that it’s almost time for “S’more of the Week” to reach its conclusion. I know that summer continues into September, but as August comes to an end, I feel like it’s a good time to put the summer s’mores to rest. I’ll post one final s’more recipe next week, and then we’ll move on to the new segment! I already know what it’s going to be, but I’m going to keep it a secret until the big reveal in a few weeks! I think it’ll be a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy it. But for now, let’s bring out attention back to this S’mores Fudge. Check out the recipe below, and I hope you give it a whirl!

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S’mores Fudge

Recipe adapted from Mandy’s Recipe Box

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. bag of milk chocolate chips
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (mine was 14 oz.)
  • 3 graham crackers
  • 1 Cup mini marshmallows

Instructions

  • Melt chocolate and milk together over medium low heat or in a microwavable bowl in the microwave. (I placed a bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, stirred everything, and heated it again for another 30 seconds, and then it was done.)
  • Break crackers into small pieces and stir into chocolate.
  • Add marshmallows and stir together.
  • Spoon into a greased or buttered dish. Either a 9×9 or 8×8-inch dish works well. (I used an 8×8).
  • Refrigerate fudge for 1 hour or until solid.
  • Cut into squares and enjoy! Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Grilled Peaches with Cinnamon and Brie

To me, peaches are one of those fruits that screams “summertime.” I’ve always enjoyed a good, juicy peach, since you don’t have to prepare it in any particular way for it to be tasty. The entire summer though, I’ve seen all sorts of things talking about different types of fruit to grill, and peaches have been mentioned numerous times. Therefore, I decided to put my grilling skills to the test, and I now have a new favorite breakfast: grilled peaches with cinnamon and Brie.

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It’s such a simple meal, yet it tastes like a decadent treat. I think it could definitely work as a dessert, but I love it for breakfast. Before I do anything with the peach, I take my piece of Brie out of the refrigerator, since Brie is best served at room temperature. By the time I finish preparing my peach, the cheese is ready to go. Then I cut my peach however I please. I’m sure there’s a “proper” way to slice a peach, but I really don’t care about that. I just like to have lots of smaller pieces to work with. One important thing to note when picking out a peach to grill: you want to avoid soft peaches and pick one that is pretty hard. There should just barely be any resistance when you squeeze it, but don’t worry – the peach will soften after it’s been grilled. After I cut my peach, I make sure to coat the pieces in oil, and I throw them on the grill! I’ve been using my friend’s handy dandy George Foreman grill, which works great. I may get one for myself when I move back to Massachusetts just so I can continue to easily prepare my grilled peach breakfast!

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My favorite part (besides the taste, of course) is seeing those beautiful grill marks on the peach slices. The peach will cook even if you don’t see grill marks, but I like them, so I cook each piece until I see the marks on one side, and then I flip them over and cook them until they appear on the other side. I then remove them from the grill, sprinkle some cinnamon on top and voilà! You’ve got yourself a gourmet breakfast for one. If you’re not the biggest cinnamon fan, feel free to leave it out. I forgot to add the cinnamon once, and it was still a delicious meal. Grilling the peach really brings out its sweetness, and the Brie complements it quite nicely. I hope you all give this one a try and let me know: do you have any favorite grilled fruit recipes?

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Grilled Peaches with Cinnamon and Brie

Ingredients

  • 1 hard peach
  • oil
  • cinnamon
  • Brie

Instructions

  • Place the Brie on a plate so that it will be room temperature by the time you’re ready to eat your peach.
  • Cut your peach however you’d like, and coat the pieces in oil.
  • Place the peach pieces on the grill and cook until you can see grill marks. Flip the pieces over and cook for just as long.
  • Removes the peach pieces from the grill, sprinkle some cinnamon on top and enjoy!