Dianne’s Maryland Crab Soup

Maryland Crab Soup

I had intended to do a Halloween themed recipe for today, but it just didn’t come together. So you’ll have to settle for Maryland Crab Soup instead. Happy Halloween to all you out there that celebrate the spooky day and especially to my best friend Darlene, since it’s her favorite holiday!

Now let’s talk some soup!

I love crab. I’ll readily admit though when I think of eating crab I think of crab cakes or crab legs or a crab boil or even deviled crabs, well before I think of Maryland Crab Soup. In fact since I moved to Maryland in 1999 I’ve had Maryland Crab Soup exactly once at a restaurant out on Tilghman Island called Harrison’s Chesapeake House and I instantly fell in love. Despite that fact I still hadn’t had it since then, even though I’ve been back to the Chesapeake House itself several times since then. That however was about to change.

A while back I picked up some fresh Maryland crab meat and I knew I wanted to make some soup this go around and the result was fabulous! This soup is tomomatoey, spicy and oh so lovely! If you like Maryland Crab Soup, then give my version a try. I think you’ll be glad you did!

What You’ll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large potato, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons of Old Bay Seasoning (Note: More if you prefer spicy, less if you don’t.)
2 – 14.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes, drained
1- 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1/2 of a 16 ounce package of frozen peas (Note: Normally lima beans are used for MCS, but I didn’t have any on hand since Miss G tends to adore them and go through them quickly, so I went with peas instead.)
1/2 of a 16 ounce package of frozen corn kernels
2 cups of water
1 pound of crab meat, rinsed and picked over for shells (Note: No matter how well you do this, inevitably some shells might make it into the soup.)

In a large stock pot saute onions and potatoes with a little sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until onions are tender and both onions and potatoes are slightly browned.

Next add Old Bay Seasoning and stir to coat. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, frozen peas and frozen corn, along with water and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.

Once potatoes are tender add crab and cook for 5 minutes to heat through. Serve immediately.

Notes: This soup is extremely easy to make and has a bit of a wow factor to it too. It is also very healthy, so that is always an added plus. You could use lima beans in place of the peas as I mentioned above.

Simple Beef Stew

Beef Stew

When it comes to beef stew I’m very minimalistic…The simpler the better! You don’t need a whole lot of things going on to make a fabulous, delicious meal in one. This stew is comfort food at its finest, because sometimes something comforting is just what you need.

What You’ll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 pound of beef stew meat
Sea salt
Black pepper
1/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour (Note: If you wanted to make this gluten free you could use corn starch or tapioca flour.)
1-2 cups of frozen peas 3 large carrots, cut into roughly 1 inch chunks
1 large potato, cut into nice bite sized chunks
2-3 cups of small button or baby portabella mushrooms
4 cups of beef or mushroom broth

Preheat oven to 275 F.

In a large oven proof dutch oven sauté onion in some extra virgin olive oil until just soft. Add beef and sauté until browned. Add a generous pinch of sea salt, a good amount of freshly ground black pepper and stir to coat. Add vegetables and beef broth and stir to incorporate.

Place dutch oven covered into the oven for 3-4 hours, removing from time to time to stir, until veggies are tender and broth thickens. Serve immediately.

Beef Stew

Notes: Beef stew is fabulous served with a nice piece of crusty bread. It’s definitely a fabulously hearty meal all in one!

Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast Casserole

This is a holiday favorite in my family. Normally we would have it on special occasions including Christmas morning after opening gifts. When Jamison’s parents were visiting a few weeks ago I decided it would be the perfect time to whip one up. You can make it up the night before and then bake it the next morning, or you can bake it the day before and just reheat it right before serving. It’s simple, quick and delicious. What’s better than that?

What You’ll Need:
Bread (Note: I use whole wheat.)
1 pound of sausage, cooked and crumbled
2 cups of shredded cheese (Note: I used Colby Jack this go around, but Cheddar or Colby works fine too.)
10-12 eggs, beaten
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of milk (Note: Any dairy will work. I’ve used milk, half and half, heavy cream and even evaporated milk when it was all that is available in the past.)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch baking dish with non-stick spray and line with bread:

Breakfast Casserole: Bread

It’s ok if you have to tear the bread to get it to fit. I even like to plug some of the holes in between the slices of bread, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

Next spread out cooked sausage over the bread:

Breakfast Casserole: Sausage

Make sure it’s relatively even, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Sprinkle the top of the sausage with cheese:

Breakfast Casserole: Cheese

Sausage and cheese…Doesn’t that look fabulous already?

Next whip eggs together with salt, pepper and milk. When thoroughly mixed pour into the baking dish:

Breakfast Casserole: Ready to Bake

Again it doesn’t have to be perfect and every inch of bread doesn’t have to be soaked with egg. It all blends together as it cooks.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and egg is set. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: There are many variations of this casserole. You can use hashbrowns for the base instead of bread, you can use ham instead of sausage, etc. I prefer it with sausage and bread, but to each their own. If you do make it with the hashbrowns it is gluten free which is nice, but Jamison wouldn’t eat this to begin with so it wasn’t a concern. My mom’s original recipe also called for ground mustard and buttering the bread and then cutting it into cubes, but I didn’t find that the ground mustard added anything, and the buttering and cubing was just extra steps that weren’t needed. If you want once it’s assembled you can put it in the fridge covered overnight and bake the next morning. Or you can bake it the night before and then reheat it on 350 F for about 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Bread: A Slice

I love cinnamon. Seriously, there is just something about it that makes me happy. That’s weird, I suppose, but it’s a definite favorite none the less.

As a child I loved cinnamon toast, but my cinnamon toast had a twist…There was no sugar on it! My version was simply bread, margarine (that’s what my mom used when we were kids) and cinnamon. In fact I still eat it that way sometimes! Just thinking about it brings back all sorts of memories, but I won’t bore you with that right now.

Let’s get back to cinnamon shall we? Or more specifically cinnamon swirl bread!

For a while now I’ve want to try to make a cinnamon swirl bread. I knew the general concept was much like you roll cinnamon rolls, only you didn’t slice the loaf. I was very impressed with how it came out! It was cinnamony, sweet and just perfect for breakfast. I think it would have made some fabulous French toast, had it lasted that long of course!

I made two loaves and Lex and I kept one and we gave the other to our neighbor as a thank you for mowing our grass. If you’re a cinnamon lover then this is the bread for you!

What You’ll Need:
1 cup of warm milk (Note: I usually put it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and then stir. You don’t want it hot, just above lukewarm.)
4 teaspoons of yeast
2 cups of bread flour
1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
Melted butter

Mix warm milk and yeast in a glass measuring cup and set aside until foamy. (This usually takes 1-4 minutes in a warm kitchen.)

Cinnamon Swirl Bread: Dough Ready To Roll.

While yeast is proofing, in a large bowl mix together flour, sea salt and sugar until completely incorporated. Slowly add the milk until dough ball forms. You may need all of the milk or some of the milk, flour is funny like that. It all has to do with humidity in the air and such. Once dough is formed turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes or until elastic.

This will make one large loaf or two smaller loaves. If you choose to do two smaller loaves then cut the dough in half now.

Next shape the dough into a rough square and roll out until about 1/4 on an inch thick:

Cinnamon Swirl Bread: Dough Ready for Sugar and Cinnamon

Make sure that the width of your dough doesn’t get too much longer than the length of your bread pan.

Sprinkle the top of the dough generously with sugar and cinnamon:

Cinnamon Swirl Bread: Sugar and Cinnamon

And then roll the dough up into a roll and place into a bread pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray:

Cinnamon Swirl Bread: Ready to Rise

Next place the pan(s) in a warm place and let rise until doubled in size.

Once loaf(ves) are risen preheat oven to 350 F.

Gently brush each loaf with melted butter:

Cinnamon Swirl Bread: Risen and Buttered

Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove loaf gently from pan and let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread: Baked and Cut

Notes: If you make a single loaf it has more height and swirls, but two loaves turn out nicely too. You could also add raisins in before rolling the loaf if you wanted to make a Cinnamon Raisin bread.

Bear Bread

"Bear" Bread: Baked

If you’ve been a reader of Dianne’s Dishes for a while, you know I’m all about letting kids be involved in the kitchen. Alexis has been involved in one way or another in the kitchen since day one. (You can read more about that in my FAQ section.)

One of my fondest childhood memories was baking “bear” bread. I think we baked it once or twice, but it was so much fun. I knew that when I had a child of my own I’d want to bake “bear” bread with them. I have my mom looking for the picture of the bear loaves now. If she finds it I’ll have her scan it in so I can share it with you! But that’s neither here nor there…

A while back when we were studying B in Miss G’s lessons we baked bear bread. Get it? B…Bake…Bear…Bread…Oh never mind! ;oP Alexis had a blast! She’s been wanting to do it again so I think we may make a pumpkin shaped loaf soon, or maybe we’ll do a cat or a moon? Who knows? The point is, this is a very easy recipe to follow and kids really love the process!

There really isn’t anything that is special about this bread, in fact you could make it with any bead dough that was shapeable. (You could really make any shape you wanted…I even made Santa bread one time!) The one I use though is really fabulous and has such a light airy texture. It’s just perfect! Not only is the bear adorable, but it tastes good too! What’s not to like about that?

What You’ll Need:
1 cup of sour cream
1 cup of water
4 – 4 1/2 cups of all purpose or bread flour, divided (Note: You can use white whole wheat flour instead if you prefer.)
4 teaspoons of yeast
1/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 eggs, beaten for the egg wash
Raisins for decoration

In a large bowl mix 2 cups of flour, salt, sugar and yeast until well incorporated. Set aside.

"Bear" Bread: Dough

Mix sour cream and water and heat to 110 F over low heat and check the temperature using a thermometer. Pour into bowl with flour mixture. Continue to add flour until dough forms. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 1 to 2 minutes until dough is elastic.

Cut dough in half and then cut each half into separate pieces: 1 large piece for the body, 1 smaller piece for the head, 2 small circles for the arms, 2 small circles for the legs and finally 2 smaller pieces for the ears:

"Bear" Bread: Body Parts

Next assemble bear on a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper:

"Bear" Bread: Arms and Legs

Shape the body first, then shape the head and lay it above the body. (Note: As long as the pieces are touching firmly they’ll bake together. No need to man handle the dough or anything.) Then add the arms, legs and ears.

Once the bears body is assembled add raisins for eyes, ears, mouth and belly button:

"Bear" Bread: Ready to Rise

Mash the raisins slightly into

The Ultimate White Bread

Ultimate White Bread

The majority of bread that I eat is whole grain, but once in a while, it’s just nice to have a big slice of good old white bread! This white bread is the ultimate loaf of bread. If you’re looking for white bread perfection, then look no further…You’ve found it!

What You’ll Need:
2 cups of warm water (Note: I just use warm tap water. You want it warm to the touch, but not hot.)
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar (Note: Next time I make this I’m going to use honey to see how it turns out.)
2 tablespoons of yeast
2 teaspoons of sea salt
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
4-5 cups of unbleached bread flour

Ultimate White Bread: Proofed Yeast

In a large glass bowl mix together water, sugar and yeast. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until mixture is foamy.

Ultimate White Bread: Dough

Add sea salt and olive oil into the proofed sugar/water/yeast mixture and stir to mix. Next slowly add flour until dough ball forms. (Note: As with any bread you might need only some of the flour, all of it or more. When dough forms stop adding flour.)

Ultimate White Bread: A la Alexis: Kneading

Turn dough ball out onto a floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes. (Note: Just until the dough is elastic. You don’t have to knead it for a long time.) Cut dough in two and place each half into a bread pan that has been brushed with olive oil thoroughly to prevent sticking. (Note: I made one large loaf and let Alexis play with a smaller portion of the dough and make her own little round loaf. You could also make two regular sized loaves with this mix.)

Ultimate White Bread: Ready to Rise

Shape the loaves and place them into the oiled pans. Let rise in a warm place 20-30 minutes or until doubled in sized. (Note: As always I just place the dough in the oven with the light on. The light gives off just enough heat to make a nice, warm rising environment. Once dough is risen remove from the oven before preheating it.)

Ultimate White Bread: Risen

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place risen dough into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. (Note: Alexis’ smaller loaf only took 20 minutes.) Remove pans from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on a wire baking rack.

Ultimate White Bread

Turn loaves out and let cool, covered with a towel for at least 20-30 minutes before cutting.

Ultimate White Bread: A la Alexis

Notes: All purpose flour would most likely work for this bread as well.

Whole Wheat Bread

Whole Wheat Sunflower Seed Bread

Making bread has a bit of a mystique to it, but it really shouldn’t. It’s one of those things that some people are terrified of, that they simply shouldn’t be. Homemade is surprisingly easy and you just can’t beat the flavor! You also can’t beat the price…It’s much cheaper to make your own! Plus you can control what goes into each loaf. Want a delicious whole grain bread? Then you can have it! Who says whole grain bread has to taste bland? Trust me…This one is fabulous!

What You’ll Need:
1 1/2 cups of warm water
2 teaspoons of yeast
2 cups of white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons of sea salt
2 tablespoons of powdered milk
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds, finely chopped
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons of honey

Dissolve yeast in water and let sit for bout 5 minutes or until foamy.

In a large bowl stir together white whole wheat flour, whole wheat flour, sea salt, powdered milk and sunflower seeds until completely incorporated. Add olive oil, honey and yeast water until dough forms. (Note: Whole grain flours, just like more refined flours, react differently depending on humidity. You might need all of the water, or just some of it, or you might even need a bit more. Your dough should be firm, yet elastic. Don’t worry if you add too much water…Just add flour a tablespoon at a time until the dough is good. If you get too much flour, then add water a tablespoon at a time in the same manner.)

Whole Wheat Sunflower Seed Bread: Dough

Turn dough out onto a floured surface (Note: Use either whole wheat or white whole wheat flour) and knead for 2-3 minutes until dough springs back when touched. Shape dough into a loaf and place into a bread pan that has been brushed with olive oil or sprayed with non-stick spray:

Whole Wheat Sunflower Seed Bread: Ready to Rise

Let bread rise for an hour or so in a warm place until doubled in size:

Whole Wheat Sunflower Seed Bread: Risen

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour until bread sounds hollow when tapped and is golden brown:

Whole Wheat Sunflower Seed Bread: Baked

Let rest in pan for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a cotton towel to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Whole Wheat Sunflower Seed Bread: Ready to Slice

Notes: If you don’t like sunflower seeds you can chop up some oats instead or even nuts.

Pea Salad

Monica and I became internet friends a little over four years ago (oh my has it been that long!) when she visited another blog I had and basically jumped in to defend me against some Internet trolls. We have kept up with each other ever since. I have no doubt that if we met in person we could sit down, have a cup of tea and spend hours talking! She is definitely a kindred spirit and I’m very thankful that we have become friends as unconventional as our friendship may be! For now though sit back and get ready to be wowed by Monica’s grandmother’s simple, yet scrumptious looking pea salad!

Monica blogs about politics, life, knitting, photography, quilting and a little bit of everything in between over at Blatherskite.

Pea Salad

Every year when my family gets together for Thanksgiving we pay homage to our late grandmothers by making a dish that was ever present at their holiday tables. My Granny Mary’s dish is Tomato Aspic (not exactly my favorite thing to eat in the world. It can be described as tomato jello). My Grandma Edith’s dish is Pea Salad.

Pea Salad may sound like it is not very appetizing on the surface. However, it is very delicious! It is a very quick and easy recipe and is great for potlucks because, since it is a salad, it is served cold. It is also one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day.

So, without further adieu, I present Grandma Edith’s Pea Salad.

2 cans of peas, drained
1 cup of shredded cheese
1 cup of shredded carrots
1/4th cup of chopped onion
1/2 cup miracle whip
1/2 cup of mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients together in a big bowl. Eat and enjoy.

Easy peasy, right? I’m all about fast and easy. As for the Miracle Whip, I am not a fan of it. I hate the taste of it on sandwiches. However, I have never tried this salad without it. I suppose if you wanted to you could go with a cup of mayo instead. Unlike Dianne, I am not one to veer too far from the recipe. I’m just not very confident in my cooking skillz. (Dianne Note: I do tend to veer a lot don’t I??!? ;oP)

Hope you enjoy it! It certainly is a big hit in my family.

Leann’s Chili

Leann is a dear friend that I met through my sister. They go to church together and she has sort of become our sister in spirit! Both my sister’s children and Alexis call Leann “Aunt Leann” and in fact someone once told me when they saw a picture of us together at Katherine’s baby shower for Nelson that she and I looked so much alike they thought we really were sisters! I took that as the utmost compliment! So sit back, relax and let’s enjoy some chili Leann style!

Leann blogs over at My Mind’s Eye about everything from her nephew Lincoln, to sports, to life in general.

Leann's 5 Bean Slow-Cooker Chili

What you’ll need:
2 lbs ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 package chili seasoning mix (regular)
1 package chili seasoning mix (hot)
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can each (rinsed and drained) black beans, pinto beans, Great Northern Beans, Cannellini beans
1 can chili beans, undrained
2 cans (or one large can) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
Shredded Cheese
Sour Cream

Leann's 5 Bean Slow-Cooker Chili

Brown ground beef with onion. Drain off fat. Stir in chili seasoning packets. In the bowl of your slow cooker, combine ground beef and onion mixture with beans, corn, and tomatoes. Stir in 1-2 cups of water just to keep the mixture from drying out. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Serve with cheese and sour cream on top and corn bread.

Leann's 5 Bean Slow-Cooker Chili

Overnight instructions: You can also prepare this the night before and have it cook all day while you’re at work or out running errands or what have you. Prepare as above, but omit the 1-2 cups of water until the next morning when you are ready to turn on the slow-cooker.

Leann's 5 Bean Slow-Cooker Chili

Leftover Suggestion: Refrigerate any leftovers and you can use the chili as burrito filling for another, different meal. Just fill a flour tortilla with a small heated up portion of the chili. Add sour cream and cheese and fold the burrito as usual.

Gone With the Wind Pie

You Want Pies With That?: Gone With the Wind Pie: White Chocolate and Spearmint with a Chocolate Crust

The theme for the first “You Want Pies With That?” Challenge was “I Love That Movie!” and I immediately thought of Gone With the Wind! Thinking of Gone With the Wind brought to mind mint juleps and mint juleps for some reason made me think of white chocolate. Then my brain decided that white chocolate and mint would be perfect paired with a chocolate crust and wham….Gone With the Wind Pie was born!

I grew up in Tennessee and for years I’ve heard of mint juleps. In all honesty I’ve never had one, but they are just such a quintessential Southern tradition they immediately bring to mind Scarlet sunning herself at the barbeque surrounded by a bunch of smitten beaus! So I knew I wanted to do something along these lines. I wouldn’t say Gone With The Wind was my all time favorite movie (I would go more with The Quiet Man or Roman Holiday…Yes I have a thing for old movies!) but I did appreciate it…There is just something about Scarlet’s indomitable spirit and how nothing keeps her down that sort of draws you in, but I guess that’s neither here nor there.

This pie is rich, creamy and oh so good! Paired with some freshly made whipped cream and it was just the perfect combo. If you like mint and white chocolate, with a little chocolate chocolate thrown in for good measure, then this is the pie for you!

Be sure and stop over at the You Want Pies With That blog and see what everyone else cooked up!

What You’ll Need for the Crust:
1 sleeve of chocolate graham crackers
1/3 cup of sugar
6 tablespoons of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 F.

You Want Pies With That?: Gone With the Wind Pie: Chocolate Graham Cracker Crumbs

Crush graham crackers until mostly crushed. A few chunks here and there are fine. Stir in sugar and melted butter until mixed. Press mixture into a pie plate or tart pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

What You’ll Need for the White Chocolate Spearmint Filling:
2 cups of heavy cream
1 – 3/4 ounce package of fresh spearmint (Note: If you can’t find spearmint any type of mint will do.)
2 – 3.5 ounce Green and Black’s White Chocolate Bars (Note: These are actually candy bars, but baking chocolate would work ok too.)
2 tablespoon of butter
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of corn starch

You Want Pies With That?: Gone With the Wind Pie: Spearmint and Heavy Cream

In a medium sized pot over low heat place heavy cream and spearmint and cook 10-15 minutes until mint is wilted. Once mint is wilted strain heavy cream and place it back in the pot.

While mint is steeping in the cream melt white chocolate with butter until smooth. (Note: I do this in the microwave. Keep an eye on it though and do it in intervals so as not to burn.)

Whisk melted chocolate mixture into mint cream until smooth. Add sugar and stir to incorporate. Cook for 1-2 minutes to melt sugar. Add corn starch and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes stirring constantly. Pour mixture into baked pie shell.

Chill pie for at least 4 hours and then serve with freshly made whipped cream. You can garnish with extra mint if you like.

You Want Pies With That?: Gone With the Wind Pie: Half Way In

Notes: This is really minty. If you’re not a fan of mint then you’ll definitely want to pass on this.


So there you have it…Gone With the Wind Pie! That was fun!