Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Monday, January 23, 2012

hyannis port crab cakes

another wonderful cookbook in my collection happens to be "in the Kennedy kitchen" by Neil Connolly.  this cookbook has many delicious recipes that i have sampled over the years, which have both a terrific taste and lovely presentation.

the hyannis port crab cakes can be made with shrimp, lobster or crab.  so, if you don't care for one of these, try the recipe with another fish selection.  the recipe is perfect and will make a perfect fish cake every time.

start with 12 ounces of jumbo lump meat, chopped into nice sized pieces.  in a bowl, mix 2 eggs, with 2 tablespoons minced shallots, 2 tablespoons minced chives, 2 tablespoons low fat mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.

add 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs.  stir to blend very well.  fold in fish lumps very gently. divide into 8 balls, rolling to form even portions. a small amount of flour may be needed to roll the balls to prevent sticking.  in an electric skillet, over medium heat, place a small amount of canola oil to warm. add cakes and press down to flatten with a spatula.  heat about 4 minutes per side to brown.  serve hot. 

these are a terrific luncheon or dinner entree or can be made into smaller cakes for appetizers.  serve with sliced lemons, on a bed of shredded romaine, and with chopped green onion, chives or parsley.

creamy spinach and artichoke spread

over the years, i have sampled a variety of recipes for spinach dips and spreads.  today, i am sharing my favorite spread which is both creamy and delicious.  this recipe comes from the deen brother's cookbook and happens to be quite tasty.

preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  prepare a ceramic baking dish with spray canola oil.  in a medium bowl, place 1 package of frozen chopped spinach, which as been thawed and thoroughly drained of all excess water.  next, add 1 can of artichoke hearts, which have been thoroughly drained and chopped into small segments.
then, add 6 ounces of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup low fat mayonnaise, 1/2 cup sour cream (or adjust these to taste) and one to two teaspoons of Tabasco jalapeno sauce.  if preferred, use a hot pepper sauce to taste.

we prefer a milder taste and use the green bottle of Tabasco sauce.  add chopped garlic as desired, salt and freshly ground pepper.  mix the ingredients well and place into the ceramic baking dish.  bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the edges of the spread are lightly browned as shown above.

serve with flat bread, an assortment of crackers, pita crisps, or celery sticks. the cookbook uses a larger quantity of spinach and artichokes, so the recipe can be made larger for game day crowds.  this recipe works, so don't be afraid to adjust to make into a larger casserole presentation.

bacon wrapped water chestnuts

another great game day appetizer has to be the all time favorite baked water chestnut.  there are many recipes for this great snack, but i found one that seems to work nicely for me every time.  it comes from the kappa alumnae association from grosse pointe michigan.  this recipe takes about 2 hours total in preparation and baking time, so it is not a quick appetizer. however; it is worth the wait.

using one package of high quality bacon, cut the strips into thirds.  wrap two cans of drained whole water chestnuts and secure each with a toothpick.  place on a foil lined baking sheet in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour, based on your oven temperature. the foil is key, as it contributes to a very easy clean up after the game is over.

next, mix 1/3 cup ketchup with 1/2 cup brown sugar.  remove the appetizer from the oven, dip in the sauce mixture, and return to the oven to complete the baking process.  DECREASE the oven temperature to 300 degrees and continue to bake for 40 minutes or until the appetizer looks browned.

serve on a bed of romaine lettuce and watch these tasty treats disappear.  this is a hot appetizer served straight from the oven, so it cannot be made in advance.  these are always a favorite for game day.

feta with herbs and crisps

super bowl is two weeks away, and the need to have a variety of appetizers ready for guests is upon us.  earlier in the blog history, i posted about this feta appetizer under herbal feta appetizer.

however, this offering can be made in a variety of ways to change up the taste sensation.  in the herbal feta appetizer post, i used a whole cube of feta, and sliced the feta into smaller cubes, seasoned the feta, and served.

for this appetizer, i used crumbed feta with a different selection of herbs to taste.  a very small amount of olive oil or grapeseed oil is needed to mix with the feta for the presentation.  herbs to consider for the feta appetizer include:  basil, parsley, dill, chervil, chives, tarragon, minced green and red pepper, salt and pepper blends. i use dried herbs for this recipe.

don't be afraid to experiment.  this is an easy recipe that really can't go wrong.  match your taste of favorite herbs to the recipe and enjoy with pita crisps or tortilla crisps as shown in this photo. 

to make the tortilla crisps, simply wedge slice tortilla shells (i use low fat tortillas), and place on a sheet pan with spray olive oil to lightly cover.  season with garlic and herb seasoning, or your favorite spices.  perhaps, parsley flakes only for the first attempt.  next, bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, checking during the baking time for browning.

these tortilla crisps are much less fat and calories, since they don't have any salt and are not fried.  they are crispy even with just a light spray of olive oil.

sesame asparagus

since asparagus happens to be one of my very favorite vegetables, i try to serve this side dish in a variety of ways.

this recipe comes from martha's everyday food magazine from a number of years ago, but happens to be one of the best ways to present asparagus to family and friends.

preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  trim asparagus ends, and cut asparagus into 2 inch lengths.  place asparagus into a ceramic baking dish as shown, and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.  season with coarse salt.

roast the asparagus about 10 minutes, turning the tips halfway through the baking time.  add sesame seeds and continue to roast until the asparagus looks lightly browned in spots and tender for eating.  this cooking time may be 5 minutes more.

sesame asparagus is delicious and can be served with any entree, including pasta dishes.  a beautiful presentation for your guests, since knives will not be needed with these bite-sized portions.