Category Archives: Cooking Can Be Fun!

Chilly Chili Crab Cakes with Horseradish Sauce

Having a high tea to break up the winter blahs has been a long-standing tradition for our birthday club, so we’re always looking for new recipes to share.On our last cruise, my favorite appetizer was their Salmon Tartare, but when I discovered that “tartare” refers to raw meat, I decided to use cooked crab meat instead and make up my own recipe, inspired by the ingredients from the menu. Some years we go in for lots of complicated dishes, but Cindi and Rex had just returned (at midnight) the night before from a mission trip, where Rex was doing anesthesiology at a hospital in Honduras and Cindi was helping at the school, so we tried to make things super simple this time.The party still managed to be a great hit (as always), and my new crab creation turned out to have excellent flavor (even if the dull green color disappointed me). (…On the bright side, it might be fun for St. Patrick’s Day!)  🙂   Also, you could fry the cakes in butter for a more traditional crab-cake, golden-brown look,  but if you’d like a chilled dish for a summery occasion, try this:

Chilly Chili Crab Cakes
(makes 12 servings)

Mash one avocado in a bowl. Add:
The juice from one fresh-squeezed lemon (helps preserve the color of the avocado as well as making everything taste better)
1 small can (4 oz) of mild green chiles 1 pound crab meat
2 tablespoons capers (could be left out if you don’t like capers)2 tablespoons pesto (could be replaced with sour cream, but I love pesto, and I was trying to make it dairy free)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Lawry seasoning salt (or  your favorite)
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix everything thoroughly. You could serve the salad on lettuce leaves (like the turkey wraps above), although this particular time I served them on little beds of shredded red cabbage. Scoop the crab mixture into balls with an ice cream scope, and top them with a tablespoon (each) of horseradish sauce made from equal parts of horse radish and mayonnaiseWe had such a wonderful evening, but I think even if we’d just gotten together with bread and tea, it wouldn’t have made much difference! “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9).(Rex is sharing highlights of their trip with Alan and Steve. Working in a remote hospital overseas, as you can imagine, had a lot of frustrating challenges and tense moments, but they also saved some lives!)

Homemade Granola: Healthy, Wholesome, and Really Yummy

I discovered granola one summer when I was working in Edinburgh, Scotland. Actually, it was “Alpen,” a type of granola called “Muesli,” which we didn’t have yet in America, and it was more wonderful than any dry cereal I’d ever tasted!  It was especially amazing because I always ate it drowned in fresh milk, and I mean really fresh! Back in 1971,  the milkman stopped by every morning and would sell me unhomogenized whole milk for two shillings a pint…the neck of the little bottle filled with cream! Sigh! Those were the days! I was working so hard back then that weight didn’t seem to be an issue, but…no more! Still, I’ve always loved granola. Do you? Over the years I’ve developed my own version, mostly to save money, but also for flavor. My kids—and now my grand kids—love it, so maybe it’s time to share the recipe with you!

Healthy Homemade Granola
(Makes about one gallon)

20 oz old-fashioned rolled oats
10 oz. All-bran cereal
8 oz. toasted wheat germ
8 oz. sliced almonds
4 oz. crushed pecans
1/2 cup canola oil (or your favorite liquid oil, although probably not one with strong flavor)
1 cup honey1/2 cup dried, chopped dates
1 cup raisins (if you’re rich, you could substitute dried cherries or cranberries)  Mix together in a really big metal (ovenproof) bowl, stirring until everything is well mixed. Place uncovered in the oven on a middle rack and bake for an hour at 325°F, stirring it up well about every 10 minutes so that it toasts evenly without burning. Leave it all night in the oven to continue drying.  In the morning, it can be ladled into a gallon jar or stored in freezer bags. It will stay fresh for weeks and will freeze just fine for several months, although mine never lasts that long. You can substitute or add any types of dried fruits or nuts according to your preference, or leave them out altogether. Experiment until you find your personal favorite formula. I used to add some brown sugar, but I think it tastes just fine without. Some people even use less honey or skip the oil. The toasted wheat germ adds a nutty flavor, protein and other nutrients, but it’s pricey and not essential. If you like granola but haven’t tried making your own, I hope you have fun developing your own unique “special recipe!”  Of course, if you have any fresh fruit to add when you serve it, like blueberries, strawberries or bananas, so much the better! (Also, I prefer milk, but some of my kids add yogurt instead. Either way tastes great!)  My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste” (Proverbs 24:13).

The Tartar Sauce Caper

If you love fish as much as I do, you’ve probably figured out whether or not you love tartar sauce too.  Alan can take it or leave it, but there are very few fish dishes out there that I don’t think could be improved by a little (or a lot) of tartar sauce.  On our recent cruise on the Norwegian Star (and we all know Norwegians love their fish), we enjoyed many different types of fish…and I was always hoping for excellent tartar sauce on the side, although it didn’t happen very often. So, maybe not every culture likes tartar sauce, but if you do, I hope you aren’t buying commercial tartar sauce, because you can make your own at home in about a minute just be stirring together equal parts of mayonnaise (or any similar salad dressing) and pickle relish (sweet or dill, depending on your preference). To me, it tastes better, and it definitely costs less. Of course, there are all sorts of recipes out there to make your homemade tartar sauce even better, but last spring in Hawaii Alan and I both fell in love with tartar sauce laced with capers, and then last summer we were served such a delectable concoction again at a restaurant here on the shores of Lake Michigan, so I decided it was time to figure out my all-time favorite blend. Here’s what I came up with for myself, but I’ve also listed a few ideas that are good and add slightly different taste points just in case you haven’t already set your heart on any particular recipe. (If you have, please share it!)

Tartar Sauce á la Capers
(serves 2-4 people, depending on how much they love tartar sauce!)

Mix together:
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons dill relish (Alan prefers sweet)
1 teaspoons capers

That’s all there is to it, although you might want to experiment with adding any or all of the following just to change things up sometimes:
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped cucumber
* 2 teaspoons finely chopped onion
* 1 teaspoon chopped jalapeno pepper
* 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
*1 teaspoon of your favorite mustard
* 1 teaspoon fresh parsley
* 1-2 dashes of your favorite hot sauce
* 1/4 teaspoon crushed garlic clove
*1/8 teaspoon dill seed or crushed dill leaves (also called “dill weed”)
*Salt and pepper to taste (I don’t personally add either)

Have fun experimenting, and I hope you love your personal house blend! Please let me know if you find other additives that really make your tartar sauce sparkle!

For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth” (Psalm 33:4-6, emphasis mine).

Laura’s Authentic Moroccan Chicken Tangine (Tanjine; )طجين

I love meeting new people and trying new foods, so I was especially delighted last Wednesday our kids (Dan and Brianna) invited us over to meet Kirsten and Stevie, a newly married couple at their church. They grew up in North Africa and were bringing over something I’d never heard of: Moroccan Chicken Tangine.  Actually, I’d never even heard the term “tangine” before, but I’ve learned via Wikipedia that it’s a round, clay pot with a conical lid designed to return all the condensation back into whatever delectable dish is being slow-cooked inside.  Now, you don’t really need to own a tanjine to make delicious stews. Any large skillet or pot with a lid, a crock pot, or an instant pot will work!  Kirsten’s meal was so savory that I asked for the recipe, which she told me her mother had learned many years ago from a Moroccan neighbor (whose name we don’t know, so I’m naming it for Kirsten’s mom). Here it is, and thanks, Kirsten and Laura!

Laura’s Savory Moroccan Chicken Tangine
(Serves 6-8)

First: Sauté 8 large pieces of chicken (breast and/or thigh quarters) in 1/3 cup olive oil with 4 large, chopped onions. Cook until the onions have caramelized and the chicken is starting to brown. Cover the chicken with water until it’s completely covered and even a little more. Then add:
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste (or 1/2 chopped tomato)
1 teaspoon tumeric (to make it yellow; Kirsten didn’t use any because she didn’t have any; she says it doesn’t effect the taste but gives it a brighter color)   Simmer for two hours, covered, on low heat, checking/stirring just often enough to make sure nothing sticks on the bottom. Serve piping hot in bowls and use pita bread (or any good home made, flat bread…Kirsten made hers from a Betty Crocker recipe) to soak up the broth. Kirsten said that when she was growing up in Morocco, people ate it without utensils, even using bread to pull the chicken off the bones. I guess if you’re good at it, you don’t even get your fingers dirty, although I used a spoon and fork. 🙂

Stevie is still in school, so they’re not rolling in dough (rich) at this point, but Kirsten said there are many variations. Some of the common options include:

*Several large carrots cut into two-inch lengths and quartered
*1/2 cup of sliced green olives
* minced clove of garlic

For a sweet version:
Place in a separate pot:
1/2 cup of broth
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
package of dried apricots   Simmer all these ingredients until the apricots are tender, and then add this mix back into the tangine with the meat and onions and continue cooking (to complete the two hours). Another popular variation is using lamb with dried prunes.   After studying this morning, I discovered that American recipes often call for boneless and/or skinless chicken, but that’s not authentic! Also, I saw photos of tangine prepared with broccoli and served with toasted almonds and cilantro, which looked attractive, although I don’t know if that’s authentic either! Apparently it is common (and authentic) to serve it with couscous in some countries. At any rate, Kirsten’s was memorable and delicious…and even little Samuel loved it (after he tried it; he wasn’t too sure at first)! If you try it, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

“Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures, hear below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen.”
(A common Christian blessing and doxology, written by Thomas Ken, 1674)

 

 

London Broil: Fit for a Feast

On our honeymoon, I tasted “London Broil” for the first time, and it’s been a favorite ever since! Although it sounds British, it’s really a North American dish made from marinaded flank steak that’s been broiled (or grilled) and cut across the grain into thin strips. If you like beef, you’ll probably love London Broil!

I think it makes a great holiday feast,
and here’s my personal favorite way of preparing it:Succulent London Broil
(serves 6-9)

1 thick flank steak (2-3 pounds).  You can ask the butcher for a “London Broil” cut, or sometimes they’re sold by that name at supermarkets; Meijer here in GR sells them so named. One pound serves about 3 people.

Sprinkle one side of the flank steak with a heavy coating of meat tenderizer and then use a meat tenderizer to puncture many holes into the steak. Rub in 1 tablespoon of Italian dressing. Turn the steak over and repeat the process on the back side of the steak.

Next, rub onto each side of the steak:
1 tablespoon of fresh-squeezed garlic
2/3 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Place the steak in a covered dish on the counter for an hour or in the refrigerator for several hours. (This part can even be done the night before.)

Grill (or broil) on high heat, searing the meat on each side for about two minutes. Then, reduce the heat and continue to grill the meat for 2-3 minutes per side. Don’t overcook it, or it will be tough! For medium rare (considered the best flavor), you probably won’t want to grill it more than about 8-10 minutes total, but you can test it and see if it’s done enough for you.

Once it’s done, set the meat on the cutting board, and let it “rest” for five minutes, then slice it with an electric (or other very sharp) knife into thin slices. If you can’t serve it immediately, put it in a covered dish in the oven to keep warm (about 200°F.), but do serve it as promptly as possible after it’s cut.

We served it over Christmas with baked potatoes, but it goes very well with rice too. Other sides might be vegetable salad, fresh bread, fruit salad, and Brussel’s sprouts or some other hot vegetable. As we had 24 members of our family for the holidays, and a big group that night, I got so busy serving that I forgot to take photos of the completed meal, but it’s one of those memorable dinners that everybody loves!

Happy New Year to you!!

Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
(1 Corinthians 5:8)

Hot Mulled Cider to Make Your Holidays Merry and Brighter

Do you go Christmas caroling?  When I was little, our family sang carols around the piano, but as an adult, I’ve also gone out caroling almost every year and have many special memories…a friend trying to play his coronet in the freezing cold…babies bundled with rosy cheeks, starlit nights, snowball fights, heavy snowfalls (which can be romantic too!), rolling to make angels in the snow, and best of all—seeing elderly people light up at the sight of the younger generations coming to their doorstep to serenade them with joyful songs heralding the birth of Christ!  Whether you sing at home or around your neighborhood, it’s always important to warm up afterward with a good, hot cup of cocoa or cider. Here’s a simple but pretty sensational recipe for hot, mulled cider that’s guaranteed to warm you inside and out this Christmas!

Merry and Bright Hot Mulled Cider
(8 Servings)

Pour into a large saucepan:
1/2 gallon apple cider 2 sticks cinnamon (Just as a tip: we’ve found that sometimes Asian markets sell cinnamon sticks for much less than regular grocery stores; check around!)
1/2  teaspoon allspice
1/2  teaspoon ginger1 orange, cut in half. Squeeze the orange hard to get all the juice into the pan, and then pierce the rinds with 18 whole cloves. Add to the brew and simmer for 15 minutes, then let it stand (covered) until 5 minutes before you’re ready to serve it. Just before you serve it, heat it to a simmer again, so it’s piping hot when you pour it out. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart” (Psalm 32:11).  “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Festive Lamb Stew

Do you like roasted lamb? I don’t serve it nearly as often as roasted beef, because it’s more expensive, but a good lamb roast (and lamb stew made from the leftovers) can be a very festive addition to holiday menus.First: roasted lamb: Choose a size that is about twice what you’d normally serve for your dinner, sprinkle heavily with your favorite seasonings (mine are minced garlic, onion powder, Montreal steak seasoning, salt and pepper) and fill up the pan with potatoes, carrots, onions, and 2 cups water. Cover and roast in the oven at 350°F. for 2.5 hours or until very tender.

Festive Lamb Stew
(Serves 6-8…or about as many as you served for your original lamb dinner)

Chop up the remaining lamb, potatoes, onions, and carrots into bite-sized chunks. Pour all the broth from the bottom of the roasting pan plus 1 cup of water into the cooking pot. Add:
1 cup cooked or frozen corn
1 cup cooker or frozen peas
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (I like Lawry’s, but whatever you like is best)
1/2 teaspoon crushed basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed oregano
1/2 teaspoon red curry powder
Salt and pepper
to tasteCook it over medium heat until everything starts to simmer. Reduce the temperature to low and continue simmering for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. Add 1/3 cup flour and stir until you have a light, smooth gravy for the stew. Taste test it again and adjust the seasonings if needed (salt and pepper).     Serve it up as a meal in itself, or possibly with a side salad and garlic bread.

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:3).