Category Archives: OAMC

Baked Dungeness Crab Cakes

Newsflash: Figuring out how to mother two small children is kind of tough. Mostly in a good way. Mostly. I knew the leap from one to two would be big, but it has been far, far bigger than I anticipated. Evan is 10 months old now, and I’m finally coming up for air. It feels good to breathe again. How does everyone else make it look so easy?!

Anyway, it’s crabbing season around here (my favorite time of year), and we had a delicious dinner last night using our weekend bounty, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you.

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We love crab cakes, but I’m not a huge fan of my house smelling like fried seafood. I found several recipes for baked crab cakes and merged them together with my friend Katie’s amazingly delicious recipe and came up with the following. I like how you can cook a dozen of these at once, too, so in addition to saving calories from frying and avoiding a stinky house, you also get the benefit of a few extra minutes in your pocket. And hey, who can’t use a few extra minutes?! Win win.

I’m also going to make these for my OAMC freezer club. My plan is to put the uncooked crab cakes on a cookie sheet and freeze them individually, then pack them using our FoodSaver vacuum sealer. I think they will bake well from frozen with an extra two minutes or so on each side.

Baked Crab Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley or 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. Old Bay™ seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 lb. lump Dungeness crab meat, cooked
  • Fresh lemon wedges, for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a baking sheet or line with a silicone baking mat.
  2. Place butter in large microwaveable bowl and microwave on high for 20-30 seconds to melt.
  3. Remove bowl from microwave and add mayonnaise, Worcestershire, garlic, onions, parsley, mustard powder, pepper, seafood seasoning, baking powder, and beaten eggs (everything except the crab and bread crumbs) to melted butter. Stir well until all ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Fold in crab meat, then fold in panko until well blended.
  5. Shape mixture into 12 crab cakes, about 3/4 inch thick, and place onto prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, then turn the crab cakes over, flatten slightly with back of spatula, and bake an additional 10 minutes, until nicely browned.
  7. Remove from oven and let cakes rest/set for five minutes before serving.
  8. Serve with fresh lemon wedges.

OAMC: White Bean Chicken Chili

The rain has settled into the forecast here in Seattle for the next nine months, and there’s a definite crispness in the air. Although I [greatly] prefer fall’s sunny days to its wet and dark ones, I also am a huge fan of the season. You know, before the soggy misery has a chance to sink too deeply into my bones.

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Football and comfort food are two of the biggest reasons I love this time of year. So for this month’s OAMC freezer club, I decided to make chili. Because what says fall and football more than chili?! That, and my kid absolutely devours anything that looks like it may even remotely be made with beans. The boy loves his beans. Weird for a two year old, I know. I can throw a handful on his plate for a snack and he thinks I’m the best mom in the world. I just love that. Cheap, easy, and healthy.

I chose this recipe from Food Network because of the stellar reviews. I don’t know that I’d give it a five, but a definite four. It just needs a little something, but I’m not sure what. I’ll definitely make it again and tinker a little with the spices. I learned something while I was cooking, too. Apparently I need to wear a respirator when I chop, seed, and de-rib jalapenos. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I think some of the capsaicin from the peppers got airborne and I inhaled it. I could barely breathe and had to go outside to calm my insane coughing attack. (Don’t worry, club members, I didn’t cough on the chili.) Then my eyes started watering and my face started burning. After dipping my head in cold water, thoroughly rinsing my eyes, and breathing some fresh air for about 15 minutes, I finally made it back to the stove. It was one of the most intense and bizarre cooking incidents of my life … And to make it even more strange, the chili came out completely mild! I thought for sure it was going to blow our heads off with spiciness after all that drama. Anyway, I survived. And I don’t need to see another jalapeno again for awhile.

I also couldn’t find poblano peppers at the store. Several reviewers mentioned they substituted roasted green chilies, so I decided to go that route. The peppers probably make for a more interesting flavor profile, but it’s still yummy with the chilies. I also threw in a bag of white corn at the very end to thicken it up a bit and add some heartiness. This chili definitely tastes better on day two than on the day it’s made. So make it in advance if you can.

OAMC White-Bean Chicken Chili

Serves: 4 to 6

 Ingredients

  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans white beans (I used one can of cannellini beans and one can of navy beans.)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 8 oz. fire-roasted diced green chilies
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 limes, juiced, plus lime wedges, for serving
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat shredded
  • 1 lb. bag of frozen white corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • Sour cream, for topping
  • Tortilla chips, coarsely crushed, for topping

Directions

Drain and rinse the canned white beans. In a medium bowl, mash half of the beans with a potato masher until chunky. Reserve the beans until needed.

Add the canola oil to a large Dutch oven and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the peppers, onions, and garlic and saute until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt, and pepper, to taste. Add the cumin, coriander, and chili powder and continue to saute for 1 more minute to toast the spices. Stir in the chicken stock, and lime juice and bring to a simmer. Add the beans and continue to simmer for 20 more minutes.

After 20 minutes of simmering, taste for seasoning, and adjust if necessary. Stir in the shredded rotisserie chicken, frozen corn, and cilantro, and simmer until heated through, about 10 more minutes. Serve the chili in individual bowls topped with a dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt, shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips (only Juanita’s brand will do), and lime wedges.

**For OAMC, cool dutch oven overnight in refrigerator. Once completely chilled, gently stir chili to mix, then scoop into desired serving sizes in gallon-size zippered bags, removing as much air as possible. Freeze for up to three months. To serve, thaw completely in refrigerator, 24-48 hours. Warm through over medium heat.

OAMC Hashbrown Casserole With Chicken Sausage

After a weekend get together with a large group of friends last month, my refrigerator was overflowing with several pounds of chicken sausage and 36 (!) eggs. We’ll work on the grocery-shopping coordination a little more before our next go-round. Anyway, when it was time to come up with my freezer club meal, I went the fairly obvious route and made a breakfast casserole to use what I already had available.

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Breakfast for dinner is one of our favorite things, and I love how easily this came together. I found a few OAMC breakfast casserole recipes, but I largely followed this one from We Gotta Eat. The original recipe called for a quarter cup of butter to be mixed in with the potatoes, but it was too greasy for us, so I cut that in half here. You probably could even omit it completely.

I also added some dried onions. I’ve found that the dried onions available in the spice aisle of the grocery store work much, much better in freezer meals than fresh, since they don’t add any extra water to the dish. Their flavor isn’t perfect, but decent. And let’s be honest, we’re eating from the freezer here and no ingredient will be quite as tasty as a fresh counterpart.

There’s nothing terribly exciting about this casserole (and I will admit it’s not the healthiest), but it is satisfying, filling, and hits the spot if you’re looking for a savory meal. What else do you need?

Hashbrown Casserole with Chicken Sausage

Ingredients

1 pound diced chicken sausage (We like Aidells Chicken & Apple)
3 eggs, cracked and beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. freeze-dried/dehydrated chopped onions
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 cup shredded cheese (I either use medium cheddar or pepper jack)
2 1/2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
2 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces

Assembly Instructions

  1. In a gallon-size freezer bag, combine the sausage, eggs, milk, onions, worcestershire sauce, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and cheese. Seal bag securely. Knead gently to mix and set aside.
  2. In a second gallon-size freezer bag, combine the shredded hash brown potatoes and butter. Seal bag securely. Set aside.
  3. Insert all bags into a gallon-size Ziploc freezer bag, seal, and label with cooking instructions.
  4. Place in freezer.

 Cooking Instructions

  1. Thaw completely in refrigerator.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Spray bottom of 8×8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Knead bag to mix potatoes and butter. Spread potatoes evenly in bottom of the dish.
  5. Knead bag to mix sausage and egg mixture well. Pour over top of potatoes.
  6. Cover and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until cooked through and top is brown and bubbly.

OAMC Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Shells

Do you subscribe to EatingWell magazine? If not, you should. Especially if you’re trying to serve healthy food in your home and are a fan of publications like the more well-known Cooking Light. I particularly like EatingWell because their recipes focus on real, whole ingredients and seasonal eating.

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I make something from EatingWell once or twice a week and very rarely have any of their recipes failed me. (I am sorry to say that Hamburger Buddy was a horrible crash and burn, but we actually got a good laugh out of how bad it was and still chuckle about it years later. So if you come across that one, take a pass.) Aside from the [usually] great recipes, their photography is stunning and I always find their feature stories on nutrition and health interesting and informative.

I recently made the EatingWell spinach and cheese stuffed shells for my OAMC freezer club (a recipe I’ve made many times as a regular dinner around here). My favorite type of OAMC meals are of the one-pan variety that can be pulled straight from the freezer, shoved into the oven, and make the whole family happy. I mean, the whole point is to save time, right? This one definitely fits the bill.

I ordered a package of these foil pans with oven safe lids for the club, and they are perfect for meals like this one — each pan holds three-to-four servings of an average adult-sized entree. I fit 12 shells into each pan. At about $0.60 each, they are so worth buying if you’re going to start your own freezer club (or if you already belong to one). They’re especially nice because the lids are sturdy to protect the food, and you can stack meals in the freezer without them tipping over and making a mess or taking up excess space.

As for the stuffed shells, the only variations I’ve made to this recipe are the additions of garlic and mozzarella cheese. I know the mozzarella isn’t really in the spirit of EatingWell, but it’s not that much cheese, and it really does take this recipe from four stars to five. Enjoy!

OAMC Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Shells

Slightly adapted from EatingWell magazine.

Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 24 jumbo pasta shells, (8 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds fresh spinach, trimmed and washed, or two 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (Hillary’s note: Getting the spinach as dry as possible is very important. I once left too much moisture in the spinach and the shells were watery and yucky. Don’t make the same mistake! Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze that spinach!!)
  • 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups prepared marinara sauce, preferably low-sodium

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook shells in a large pot of boiling water, stirring often, until just tender, about 15 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. If using fresh spinach, add it in batches and toss with tongs until wilted. Drain in a colander, pressing out excess moisture with the back of a spoon. Let cool. If using thawed frozen, add it to the onions and toss to mix well. Set aside.
  3. Combine ricotta, breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan and nutmeg in a bowl; mix well. Add the reserved spinach and season with salt and pepper. Stir in egg white.
  4. Stuff each of the reserved shells with a generous 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture. (Note: This recipe is for one large pan of shells. Before moving to step five, if you use the type of pans mentioned above for freezing, divide the recipe in half and split between two foil pans.)
  5. Spread 1 cup marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange the stuffed shells in a single layer. Top with the remaining 2 cups of the sauce and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake until the top is golden and the shells are heated through, about 30 minutes. (If the top browns too quickly, tent loosely with foil.) Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
  6. If baking from frozen, place foil pan on cookie sheet and bake covered at 375°F for approximately one hour. Remove lid and continue baking until the top is golden and the shells are heated through, about 20 to 30 additional minutes.

Chicken Enchiladas (and Freezer Club!)

A few weeks ago, I mentioned my super-awesome, life-saving, couldn’t-live-without-it freezer club. If you are a time-crunched parent who all too often finds yourself scrounging around for dinner at the last minute, I highly recommend you start a freezer club.

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There are four of us in my club, including me. We each pick one freezable recipe every month and make four family-sized meals (about three to four adult-sized portions each). We keep one for ourselves, and give one to each of the other members. This works out to one freezer meal per week, and everything is so much better than any pre-packaged, frozen food from the grocery store. Thankfully all of my friends in the club are excellent cooks, so it’s fun to try what everyone comes up with. And none of us are picky eaters or have particularly finicky children or spouses, so it’s always open season for ingredients. We also have an “honesty policy” and let each other know if a meal wasn’t particularly delicious to prevent it from showing up again. Everyone’s cool with this, so no hurt feelings.

I’ll be sharing these recipes under the OAMC (once-a-month cooking) category and I hope you find them useful. Everything in this category should keep well in the freezer for three to four months. They’re great recipes to make for people with new babies, or to stock up in your own freezer before a new little one arrives.

First up is one of my family’s favorite meals — freezer club or otherwise. A couple years ago, I randomly tried the enchilada sauce recipe in my Vitamix cookbook and was hooked. We haven’t had canned sauce since then. I’ve made a few small changes to suit our tastes (the additions of cayenne, cinnamon, and onion). It’s definitely worth the time to make your own! Of course, if you’re in a time crunch, you always can use your favorite canned variety, too. I won’t judge. Happy freezing!

Freezer Chicken Enchiladas

(A combination of several recipes; mainly from Cook’s Illustrated and Vitamix)
Serves 12-16

Some tips before you get started (courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated):

  • Freeze the rolled enchiladas and sauce separately; otherwise they will turn into a mushy mess.
  • Spray the tortillas with vegetable oil cooking spray and briefly heat them in the oven to make them pliant enough to roll easily.
  • Bake the enchiladas while still frozen. Defrosting them leads to a dried-out texture once baked.
  • Partially bake the enchiladas “naked,” or without sauce. A light coat of vegetable oil spray will keep the tortillas from drying out too much.
  • For a simple fix, use leftover cooked chicken or a store-bought rotisserie chicken in this recipe. Serve with avocado, pickled jalapeños, shredded lettuce, and/or sour cream.

Enchilada Ingredients

  • 8 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 8 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lb. frozen corn kernels (one bag)
  • 20 (6-inch) flour tortillas
  • Cooking spray

Sauce Ingredients (makes about six cups)

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. To make the sauce: Place all sauce ingredients into large blender or food processor in order listed and secure lid. Turn machine on high and blend thoroughly. Pour into saucepan and bring to boil on the stove over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, continuing to stir frequently. Transfer to heat-safe bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour.
  2. To begin making the enchiladas, toss the shredded chicken with two cups sauce, four cups cheese, beans, and corn.
  3. Place five tortillas on baking sheet and lightly coat both sides with cooking spray. Bake tortillas until just pliable, about 2 minutes. Working quickly, transfer one tortilla at a time to work surface, fill with 1/3 cup chicken mixture, and roll tightly. Transfer, seam side down, to large plate or cookie sheet. Repeat warming and rolling process with remaining tortillas. Place plate in freezer until enchiladas are frozen, at least one hour.
  4. Divide remaining sauce and cheese into four portions each and package separately in quart-size Ziploc bags (eight bags total — about one cup of cheese and one cup of sauce per bag). Tightly wrap enchiladas in bundles of five, first in plastic and then in foil. Place one portion each of five enchiladas, one bag of cheese, and one bag of sauce into a gallon-size Ziploc. You will have four meals total. Freeze for up to three months.
  5. When ready to serve: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. To remove sauce from bag, run warm over the bag for about a minute, then break up sauce and place into a saucepan. Warm on stove over medium, stirring frequently.
  6. Coat 13 by 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange frozen enchiladas in single layer in baking dish and coat tops with cooking spray. Bake until tops of tortillas are just beginning to flake, about 20 minutes. Remove dish from oven, top enchiladas with sauce, and bake 10 minutes longer. Sprinkle enchiladas with remaining cheese and bake until cheese melts and center of casserole is hot and bubbling, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Grilled Ginger-Soy-Lime Albacore Tuna Medallions

Holy cow. I’m hot. Are you hot? This weather is crazy. And the last thing I want to do is cook in a hot kitchen — literally or figuratively.

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Most of us in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) don’t have air conditioning, so we do everything possible to keep our houses “cool” when the heat strikes. (I’ve got a balmy 84 going on upstairs today. Yuck.) This means very little activity in the kitchen and as much outdoor cooking as possible. I’m all about throwing a nice, simply marinated piece of protein on the grill and getting, i.e., running, away from the stove. Pair it with some quinoa or rice and a green salad, and you’ve got a quick, healthy meal that doesn’t raise the temperature in your house or use up your summer evening. I will admit that I did use my rice cooker for this meal, but I plugged it in by an open window near a fan, so it didn’t do too much heat damage.

This particular recipe is for tuna because I have a ton of it available, but any firm, white fish or shrimp works marvelously with the marinade and on the grill. Morgan went on a tuna-fishing charter with some buddies and caught so. much. fish. They canned a lot of it in a pressure cooker and vacuum packed some beautiful medallions for the freezer. The medallions are great for grilling and searing because they hold together so well. I have to watch my intake because I’m preggo (and the same rules apply for our two-year-old whose brain still is developing), so we only eat it about twice a month. Thankfully our supply contains a lower amount of mercury than commercially caught tuna because the fish were line caught in relatively shallow water (younger, smaller fish = lower mercury levels).

If you buy tuna steaks at your local market for this recipe, the fishmonger or butcher should be able to slice the fish into medallions for you. I love the petite, compact size. They’re just a little more elegant on the plate.

The marinade is slightly adapted from Bobby Flay’s Ginger-Soy-Lime Marinated Shrimp recipe. For shrimp, follow the same directions for marinating, then throw the shrimp on a skewer and grill for the same amount of time as the tuna over high heat. You can double the marinade and freeze half in a Ziploc for use on another day. I have several bags in my freezer right now and also have used this recipe for my once-a-month-cooking (OAMC) freezer club — the best club ever. I’ll tell you more about that next week. Until then, enjoy your Fourth of July and get grilling!

Grilled Ginger-Soy-Lime Albacore Tuna

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

½ large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic
¾ cup soy sauce
Freshly squeezed juice of four medium limes
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup canola oil
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds Albacore tuna medallions or tuna steaks

Directions

Place all ingredients except tuna in a blender and blend until smooth. Place tuna in a large bowl, pour the marinade over, and let marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes. Preheat grill to high. Remove tuna from the marinade and grill for 1 1/2 minutes per side. Be careful not to overcook!