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.

Mango Goat Cheese Steak Bites

A few years ago, my parents began purchasing “Happy Cow” from a local farmer. I’m not entirely sure why this started, but ever since, my family has received an annual order of various cuts of meat from half a cow, which typically lasts my family for about a year. The Happy Cow is great because it’s ethically raised and grass-fed, so it is high-quality meat that, in our opinion, tastes better than commercial beef. Of course it’s also great to support local farmers, and even though half a cow may seem like a lot, in the end it saves my family money since we’re buying in bulk. (If you’d like to read a little more about the health and cost benefits of Happy Cow, feel free to check out this piece I wrote about it last summer.)

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Since my parents had some extra Happy Cow (and I’m always on the lookout for free food ;)), they were ever so kind to bring me some when they came for my graduation in May. Of course, the hamburger was used immediately since summertime is prime grilling season. However, it has taken me a little longer to go through the rest, but not because I don’t like it. I’m just not used to eating steak, a food typically not allowed for in a recent college grad’s budget. I wanted to put it to good use though and began wondering what I could make that didn’t involve me just eating an entire cooked steak by myself.

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And then I came across this recipe for Chevre and Mango Steak Bites. I knew I was going to tweak it a bit, using a different cut of meat and swapping mint leaves for basil leaves, but I was excited. I liked the idea of making a steak appetizer, plus I love mango, and the steak bites are kind of adorable, aren’t they? The process does take a little while, but that’s because the steak chills in various ways for about an hour and 15 minutes. Beside that, it’s pretty easy! Slice the steak, spread it with some goat cheese, place a basil leaf and dried mango piece at the end and roll it up. Mine stayed together fine, but you could always use a tooth pick to secure them if necessary. I really enjoyed these, and I’m happy I have found a new way to eat steak and share it with others!

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Mango Goat Cheese Steak Bites

Recipe adapted from Sunset.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 rump steak
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • About 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup (4 to 5 oz.) packed fresh goat cheese
  • 1 basil leaf per bite (You will probably need between 20 and 30, or less if you split the leaves so that they’re smaller)
  • 1 dried mango piece per bite, cut into 1/4- by 1-inch sliver.

Instructions:

  • Marinate the steak for at least a few hours or even overnight. Combine steak, olive oil, red wine and as much salt and pepper as you like in a bag.
  • Remove steak and trim excess fat. Sprinkle with more salt and/or pepper.
  • Cook steak until it’s firm to the touch but still quite pink inside.
  • Transfer steak to a plate and allow it to cool for at least 30 minutes.
  • About 45 minutes before slicing the steak, put it in the freezer. This will make it easier to slice thinly.
  • Cut steak across the grain as thinly and evenly as possible. For the entire steak, you will probably end up with between 20 and 30 slices.
  • Measure accumulated meat juice and add enough milk to make 2 Tablespoons and pour into a bowl. Add goat cheese and mix with a fork until it becomes a smooth paste.
  • Lay out one strip of steak. Spread enough goat cheese across so that the steak is completely covered but not so much that you will not be able to roll everything together.
  • Lay 1 basil leaf (you can rip the basil leaf to make smaller, if desired) and 1 mango piece at end of strip and roll to enclose.
  • Repeat for the rest of the steak strips. Allow steak bites to stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before serving and enjoy!

I linked this post to What’s Cookin’ Wednesday, Thriving on Thursday and Sweet & Savoury Sundays.

My Family’s Cookbook: Jamaican Rice

Lately I’d been feeling as if I was only making and posting dessert recipes. And then I took a look through the blog and realized that the reason I felt that way is because I was only making and posting dessert recipes. Now don’t get me wrong, I love desserts, but I didn’t want you all to start thinking that I just consume desserts 24/7 (although wouldn’t that be a magical life?). In all seriousness though, I like to have some variety, and it has been a few weeks since I published a non-dessert food. So I took a look through the family cookbook and decided it was time to make some Jamaican Rice.

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This recipe is super simple. You basically add the ingredients to a pot and wait until the rice absorbs all the liquid, and you’re done. Although the recipe calls for white rice, I used brown rice since that’s what I had on hand (and it’s better for you anyway!), so feel free to use whatever kind your heart desires.

I really enjoyed how fragrant this recipe was throughout the entire process. The coconut milk, the lime, the scallions – everything came together to form a delightful scent. And of course the better something smells, the more excited I am to eat it!

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{Next time I’ll use a larger pot. Everything just barely fit!}

And boy, was I pleased when I finally got a taste. After the rice absorbs the water and coconut milk, it has a wonderfully creamy texture. You can customize the taste a bit by adding as much salt and pepper as you want, but I took a piece of the lime I had zested and squeezed some juice on top of my rice. Oh.My.Goodness. So good. I ate this by itself for dinner, but there are plenty of ways you could serve it. In my family cookbook, the last step is actually “Serve with Chipotle Lime Chicken Thighs,” so I’ll have to make those sometime to share with you! Other ideas I had were to add some some pineapple for an extra pop of flavor (and color!) or even to wrap some in a tortilla with your favorite toppings for a simple burrito. There are tons of possibilities for this, and if you have some other ideas, I’d love to hear them!

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Jamaican Rice

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups brown or white rice
  • 1 (14 oz.) can coconut milk
  • 2 3/4 cups water
  • 1 (15 oz.) can red beans, drained
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lime zest
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

  • In a medium sauce pan, combine coconut milk and water and bring to a boil.
  • Add rice, beans, thyme and lime zest and simmer, covered 20 minutes or until rice is cooked and liquid absorbed.
  • Fold in scallions and season to taste with salt and pepper.

I linked this recipe to Sweet & Savoury Sundays.