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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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!

My Family’s Cookbook: Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

This one’s for all the chocolate lovers out there (which, for the record, I hope is all of you. If you’re not a chocolate lover, I guess I’ll get over it). I’m sharing a cookie with you today that is everything a chocolate cookie is supposed to be: soft, gooey and filled with more chocolate. You see, these cookies don’t just have chocolate chips in them; they’re also made with chocolate pudding mix, meaning that when you bite into a cookie, this magic happens:

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If you’re not as chocolate obsessed as I am though, no worries. You can also make these with vanilla pudding, which is actually the way my mom prefers to eat them. The most important thing about these cookies is that whether you choose to make them with vanilla or chocolate pudding, you do not overcook them. You want to bake them until they look cooked on the outside, but they shouldn’t be crispy. If they’re in the oven for too long, you’ll miss out on the wonderful gooey, pudding-y inside, and that would just be a shame.

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And don’t worry if when you remove the cookies from the oven, they seem a little delicate. When I first tried to take a cookie off the baking sheet, it started to fall apart. That just means we’ve achieved our goal of a pudding-y inside. All you have to do is let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the sheet, and they’ll harden enough so that you can then remove them to a cooling rack without them falling apart.

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And the results are truly wonderful. I think everyone agrees that a cookie fresh from the oven is the best way to eat a cookie, but seriously: try one of these while they’re still warm. You will be overcome with happiness and so proud of your craftsmanship. Isn’t this one of the most beautiful sights you’ve ever beheld?

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Okay, maybe I’m getting a little dramatic. I don’t care though because these cookies are just that good.

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Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 1/3 Cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 Cups brown sugar
  • 1/3 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1 package (6 serving size) Jello pudding instant chocolate or vanilla mix
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 Cups chocolate chips

Instructions

  • In a bowl, mix flour with baking soda.
  • In a separate large bowl, combine butter, the sugars, pudding mix and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy.
  • Beat in eggs.
  • Gradually add flour mixture.
  • Stir in chips.
  • Grease cookie sheets and roll cookie dough into balls.
  • Bake at 375 °F for 8-10 minutes or until cookies are cooked, but not crispy. (Note: My oven usually takes a little longer than recipes say, so I had to bake my cookies for about 13 minutes.)
  • Let the cookies cool on the tray for a few minutes, and then place them on a cooling rack once you can pick up the cookies without them falling apart. Then eat and enjoy!

I linked this recipe to Sweet & Savoury Sunday.

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.

My Family’s Cookbook: Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I’ve been making a lot of cookies lately, which normally doesn’t happen. I mean, I love cookies, but I like trying out different types of foods and desserts, so I normally don’t make the same type of thing multiple times in a row (except s’mores for the time being, but come on, if anything deserves to be the exception to the rule, it’s s’mores). But last week, I made my great-grandmother’s lemon sugar cookie crisps, a few days later I was overcome with a powerful urge to make molasses cookies again, and this week I’m here with spiced oatmeal raisin cookies.

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One reason I decided to make these was that I actually already had almost every single ingredient I needed to make them. Given the apartment-lifestyle I currently lead (AKA cooking and buying food just for myself), this usually isn’t the case, so I typically have to go out and buy pretty much everything I need to make something. Obviously, I took this possession of ingredients as a sign that these cookies were meant to be made ASAP. Another reason I felt it was time to try these cookies is that, as you may recall me saying last week, I’ve been a pretty big fan of each of the recipes I’ve tried from the family cookbook that have been from my great-grandmother, and this is another one of hers. I’ll have to double-check, but I believe this may mark the end of the great-grandmother recipes in the cookbook. It’s a bit of a bummer since I have thoroughly enjoyed making and eating all of them so far, but at least now I have multiple cookie recipes that I know I can always count on when I need them!

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The funny thing about oatmeal raisin cookies is that they are the only way I will voluntarily consume raisins and like them. I’m not sure what it is; I suppose if you throw anything into a cookie, I’ll eat it (potential idea for parents trying to get their kids to eat veggies? :P). I’m the type of person though who, upon being given a bag of trail mix, will first eat all of the M&Ms followed by the pretzels and nuts, only to leave an entire bag of raisins leftover. I even tried a raisin by itself while waiting for the cookies to bake to see if anything had changed. I made sure that my mind was a judgement-free zone before eating it, but I still wasn’t a fan. Oh well. As long as I still like them in cookies, that’s fine with me.

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I’m actually bringing these to a graduation party for my dear roommate today, so I’m hoping they go over well! They’re nice and soft and taste just as an oatmeal raisin cookie should, so I think they’ll pull through for me. And if they don’t, that just means more for me! 😉

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Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2/3 cup milk – Feel free to use dairy or non-dairy milk. I used almond milk for mine!
  • 1 1/2 cups oatmeal
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup raisins

Instructions:

  • Cream the margarine, shortening, sugar and eggs.
  • Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and baking powder. Mix well.
  • Add milk and oatmeal. Mix well.
  • Stir in flour and add raisins.
  • Drop on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 375°F for 8-10 minutes. Enjoy!

My Family’s Cookbook: Lemon Sugar Cookie Crisps

A few months ago, I took a trip back home to Massachusetts and made these molasses cookies with my mom. I hadn’t made the recipe before, which comes from my great-grandmother, but they instantly became one of my favorite cookies after I inhaled half of them tried a few. They’re simple to make, yet they look so pretty and taste so good.

This weekend I’m back home again, and before leaving DC, I decided to make another of my great-grandmother’s cookies. After making these lemon sugar cookie crisps, I’m convinced that (great) grandmothers have the best dessert recipes. There’s nothing complicated about these cookies, yet there is so much to enjoy. Lemon, sugar and your choice of topping (I chose chocolate chips!) come together to form a tasty treat that makes you want to curl up on the couch and eat the whole batch.

I also enjoy these cookies because I think they’re fun to make. In order to sugar the tops of the cookies, you take a glass with a rounded bottom, dip it in oil and then sugar, and press it against the top of a spoonful of batter until the cookie has flattened into a circle. Even though I had to do this over 20 times, I liked seeing essentially the “before” and “after” shots. One thing to note: it’s not necessary to dip the glass in oil each time you sugar a cookie. As long as the bottom of the glass can still pick up sugar, you’re in the clear. Once it becomes difficult to do so, then you can dip the glass in oil again.

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So in the great-grandmother cookie recipes department, we’re 2 for 2! I’ll have to take a look and see if there’s anything else from her in the family cookbook that I can make. Do you have any favorite recipes from your grandparents or great-grandparents? Let me know in the comments below!

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Lemon Sugar Cookie Crisps

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil or canola oil, plus extra to sugar the cookies
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon rind
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar, plus extra to sugar the cookies
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder

Instructions:

  • Beat the eggs.
  • Add oil, lemon rind, vanilla and sugar and beat well.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to egg mixture and beat.
  • Line or grease a cookie sheet and drop rounded spoonfuls of the batter onto the sheet.
  • Using a flat-bottomed round glass, put oil on the bottom, dip in sugar and press down on each cookie.
  • Repeat for each cookie, making them flat, round and sugared.
  • Put a chocolate chip, butterscotch chip, M&M or walnut on top of each cookie.
  • Bake at 400°F for 8-10 minutes (or a little lower temperature if they get too brown) and enjoy!