Hi Friends!

I figured I owed you a REALLY good recipe since I’ve been absent from Idiot’s Kitchen these past few months so get ready for a doozy!

The Best Baked Crab Cakes! And to make these even more remarkable, you can easily make them gluten free. Hooray!

These are based on a recipe from the Oceanaire Seafood Room, a restaurant that I loved to go to when I lived in Minneapolis. I’m 99% sure crab cakes were the only thing I ever ordered there. Every time I would go I would think about other dishes, or about just ordering one crab cake for an appetizer, but could not resist having a full order all to myself.

I’ve made other crab cakes but these always stuck in my mind so a few weeks ago I googled Oceanaire Crab Cake Recipe and VOILA! Through the magic of the google, we have the BEST crab cakes I’ve ever made.

As a bonus – like we even need a bonus since we have delicious crab cakes – these are baked rather than fried. That makes this recipe both healthier and easier.

Here’s what you need:

Crab Meat (Lump or Claw), Eggs, Mayonnaise, Celery, Onion, Fresh Tarragon, Bread (GF or White), Butter, Old Bay Seasoning, Dijon Mustard (not pictured), Salt & Pepper.

Click here for The Best Baked Crab Cakes Shopping List

I lucked out and my store had this crab claw meat on sale, buy one get one free. The original recipe calls for lump crab meat, but the only thing better than crab meat is FREE crab meat so claw it was. I’m sure the lump would be a more robust texture but these were pretty amazing with the claw meat.

If you can find these refrigerated containers of crab, they have a better taste and texture than the canned variety. Of course, if you are really serious about things, you could always boil some crabs and pick your own meat. Or if you have a good fish market, get your crab meat there, already picked for you. You’ll need 1 pound of crab meat.

Click HERE, there’s more!

Share Button

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner! 

Doesn’t that look good? My lovely sister sent me this photo today and now I’m so hungry for a good corned beef St. Patrick’s Day Dinner!

For me St. Patrick’s Day Dinner needs exactly what you see here, boiled cabbage, potatoes & carrots, and tender corned beef.

Good thing we’ve got you covered on these recipes.

Click HERE for the Best Baked Corned Beef – This takes you to the step by step recipe post.

And here’s the printable recipe:

The Best Baked Corned Beef and Shopping List

This baked corned beef (pictured above) is tender and full of flavor. The potatoes and carrots were roasted on a tray (toss with a little olive oil and salt & pepper…use parchment paper so they won’t stick) on the bottom rack of the oven for the last hour and 15 minutes that the corned beef cooked. The cabbage was quartered and nuked in the microwave for 5 minutes.

Easy and, important to my sister, no stinky house.

Because the other favorite family way of cooking St. Patrick’s Day Dinner is to create the big old pot of boiled dinner and veggies all together.

Click HERE for Boiled Corned Beef & Cabbage

Those two links should get you going in the right direction. Pick up some soda bread and Irish butter, maybe a Guinness or two (Irish Whiskey for me, please) and you’ve got a party!

On a side note, sorry I’ve been MIA here for the past month or so. Opera season is in full swing and every day I am driving and playing and driving and playing. I love it but it doesn’t leave time for much else in my life. I’ll be playing Puccini’s Madama Butterfly on St. Patrick’s Day so we will have our corned beef dinner on Sunday or Monday. Oh well, late corned beef is still way better than no corned beef! Hope to be back to more regular posting in April. 

Thanks to my sister Paula for the photo and reminder that I need to go buy a corned beef now before they run out! – C



Share Button

Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad – Hello, favorite new salad!

I love roasted vegetables and especially love roasted carrots. Roasting concentrates the flavor of vegetables and in carrots makes them even sweeter and more delicious.

I’ve made roasted carrots a zillion times but it never occurred to me to put them on a salad.

Fortunately it did occur to Ina Garten and she put this wonderful recipe in her new cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey.

I’ve made Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad a few times now and have made a few changes to the original recipe, some because of what I did or did not have on hand (maracona almonds) and some just to streamline the recipe a bit.

What you see here (plus Henry barely able to stay awake), is my go to method for this wonderful, flavorful salad.

Here’s what you need:

Carrots, Arugula, Garlic, Orange, Dried Cherries*, Walnuts*, Goat Cheese, Olive Oil, Sherry Vinegar, Maple Syrup, Salt & Pepper

Click here for a Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad Shopping List

*Feel free to swap out different nuts for the walnuts or omit them entirely if you are allergic. Also, dried cranberries are a good substitute for the cherries but I love the flavor of the cherries.

Click HERE, there’s more!

Share Button

I love a good roasted chicken.

Did you know that with all the fancy French recipes that she wrote and published, Julia Child thought that the true test of a cook was if they could make a good roasted chicken?

We’ve had several roasted chicken recipes here but I’m always on the lookout for something new to add to the chicken repertoire.

The chicken part of Roasted Chicken with Crispy Potatoes came from a recipe from Melissa Clark of the NY Times. Unfortunately for me, her original recipe, which I think you should also try, did not have crispy potatoes but had crispy bread croutons.

Sadly there can be no bread croutons for me because I have to be gluten free, but happily the potatoes I substituted got deliciously golden and crispy, enriched by the drippings from the chicken.

The other happy thing about this recipe is that it’s super simple to put together.

Here’s what you need:

Roasting Chicken (4-5 pounds), Small Red Skinned Potatoes, Head of Garlic, Lemon, Fresh Thyme, Bay Leaf, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper

Click here for a Roasted Chicken with Crispy Potatoes Shopping List

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Cut about 2½ – 3 pounds of small red skinned potatoes into halves, or quarters if they are larger, and place them in the bottom of a roasting pan.

Drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt & pepper, and toss to combine and coat.

We’re going to stuff the cavity of the chicken for extra flavor. This isn’t stuffing you would eat but rather herbs, garlic, and lemon to season the chicken from the inside out as it cooks.

Click HERE, there’s more!

Share Button

Easy & Juicy Pork Chops!

The key word here is JUICY!

We’ve all had them…the leathery, pan cooked or grilled chops. We start with such good intentions and then no matter what we do, how carefully we watch them, how quick we are with the meat thermometer…we get dried out, boring chops.

I love pork chops but I got so tired of trying to cook a decent, basic pork chop that I almost always braise my chops now either with tomatoes & sage (our first, and still probably my favorite recipe here) or porcini mushrooms.

But the other day I had beautiful bone in chops and no tomatoes and no porcini mushrooms and I definitely was NOT going out to the store again. So, google to the rescue!

I googled “juicy pork chops” and this awesome and EASY technique popped up.

There are 2 key steps to this process:  brining the pork and cooking in a pre-heated pan. Very important – more on both of these later.

And I’ll tell you right now that even though I almost skipped the brining step, I’m so glad I did it. These chops were the best, juiciest pan cooked chops we’ve ever had. 

Here’s what you need:

Bone-in Pork Chops, Salt (Sea Salt or Kosher Salt preferred), Whole Peppercorns, Bayleaf, Garlic (not pictured) Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper

Click here for an Easy & Juicy Pork Chops Shopping List

Essential to juicy chop success is an instant read meat thermometer. They’re available at the grocery store and pretty cheap. If you don’t have a thermometer, you really can’t know the internal temp of your meat so you might be doing everything right and still overcook your lovely pork chops.

Click HERE, there’s more!

Share Button

Happy New Year!

We’re back with what might seem like an odd combination – sausage & pumpkin, but one that has quickly become one of my favorite, easy pasta sauces:  Hearty Sausage & Pumpkin Pasta.

I got this recipe from the grocery store just before Thanksgiving, when I’m sure they were trying to move the cans of pumpkin out the door.

I’ve made it three times now and think I’m finally done fiddling around with the recipe. The good news is that I’ve made it even easier and tastier!

Here’s what you need:

Chicken Italian Sausage, Onion, Bell Pepper (red, yellow or orange), Pumpkin, Diced Tomatoes, Chicken Broth, Pasta (Penne 0r Rotini, GF or regular), Olive Oil, Red Pepper Flakes, Dried Oregano, Dried Basil, Bay Leaf, Cinnamon, Salt & Pepper.

Also highly recommended (but not shown) is parmesan, romano, or goat cheese for serving.

Click here for a Hearty Sausage & Pumpkin Pasta Shopping List

Let’s talk about that ingredient photo. It was taken prior to my tweaking and I now don’t use any of the spices on the right side of the photo except for the cinnamon. The recipe called for pumpkin pie spice which I do not own and never buy since I have all the other individual spices. After making it the first time, it’s such a small amount that I leave it out entirely and do not miss it one bit.

I also don’t own Italian seasoning blend so I use oregano, basil, and a bay leaf. If you have an Italian seasoning blend, go ahead and use it instead.

Also, yes, that’s half an onion wrapped up in aluminum foil. Geez. Sometimes I look back at these photos and just shake my head. At least I got a nice shot of Henry!

Click HERE, there’s more!

Share Button

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

If you’re like me, and addicted to watching Bing Crosby movies every year at Christmas, you just read Happy Holidaaaaays in the song version from the movie Holiday Inn.

We’ve been on a little unplanned hiatus here at Idiot’s Kitchen. Life got busy and stressful and although I didn’t intend to take a break, it looks like that’s what happened.

But Christmas and Hanukkah are here (on the same weekend, which I think is really cool), my family has been here to visit, the tree is up, the house is decorated, and the cats are feeling festive so it’s all good.

I’ll be back after the holidays with new recipes. I also have the idea to do a fun cookbook sampling/review project starting in January as a way to deal with the ever growing collection/addiction.

Oh…and my crazy husband made us this jib jab video…I love the roles the cats play.

Here’s the link.

Many thanks to those of you who have continued to come here over the years. I value your friendship and send warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday season and happy new year.  xo – Claudia

Share Button

I’m getting in right under the Thanksgiving wire with a suggestion for those of you who don’t have the full meal already all planned out or need just one more item for your feast. 

Apple Cranberry Crisp!

Actually, even if you have the meal planned, I think you should add this because it’s quick, easy, and ridiculously good.

Plus, as a bonus, this can easily be converted to be gluten free. Hooray for good GF desserts!

Here’s what you need:

Apples, Cranberries, Flour (GF optional), Maple Syrup, Oats (GF optional), Brown Sugar, Butter, Cinnamon, and Allspice

Also, you might want vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Not pictured, but recommended for serving.

Click here for an Apple Cranberry Crisp Shopping List

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Butter the inside of a 9×13 inch baking pan. You can also use cooking spray but butter is better.

Choose 6-7  nice firm apples like Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Fuji, Jonathans, etc. Any good baking apples that you have will do the trick.

Peel and thinly slice the apples and place them in the buttered dish with ½-¾ cups of whole fresh cranberries.

I LOVE cranberries so I used ¾ cup.

Click HERE, there’s more!

Share Button

Just in time for Thanksgiving, I have a gadget that you need to know about…

How to Use a Potato Ricer!

I am something of a kitchen gadget queen, although with my limited storage, (no basement, very few upper cabinets) I’ve been trying to wean myself off of gadgets that have only one purpose.

I happily BREAK that rule for the trusty Potato Ricer. It is the ultimate tool for smooth, creamy, lump free mashed potatoes. 

In the past I’ve been a hand masher or stand mixer whipper of potatoes but NO MORE! The potato ricer is inexpensive, quick and easy to use, and the texture of the potatoes can’t be beat.

The potato ricer looks like a giant garlic press. Mine is an OXO Good Grips and you can find them at amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond,  kitchen stores, or even some well stocked grocery stores.

Click HERE, there’s more!

Share Button

Honey Roasted Acorn Squash!

We have less than two weeks until Thanksgiving and something happened overnight with our weather and it’s finally fall in Florida. It always feels pretty weird to heat up the oven and cook fall foods when it’s still 85° out so I’ll take any cooler weather I can get.

Fall brings us one of my favorite foods – hard squash like acorn, sweet dumpling, and delicata – any of which will work for this simple recipe.

I’ll admit, the most difficult part is often cutting the squash but I have some tips for that. Once the cutting is out of the way, the squash gets a quick sweet and smoky glaze and then into the oven.

Perfect for any fall meal – I served mine with pork chops, Honey Roasted Acorn Squash might also get a turn at the table this Thanksgiving.

Here’s what you need:

Squash, Honey, Olive Oil, Smoked Paprika, Salt & Pepper

Click here for a Honey Roasted Acorn Squash Shopping List

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you’re cooking something else at the same time, this can cook at any temp from 350-400°.

I have a sweet dumpling squash but also have made this with acorn or delicata squash. As I mentioned cutting the squash is often the most difficult and frustrating part. These smaller squash aren’t nearly the chore that a big old butternut squash is but there are a few things that make it a little easier…

First, if your squash has a stem, use the handle of your knife or even a pair of pliers from the tool box to knock it off. Then turn your squash over and cut off the tiny little nub end at the very bottom. That way you’re not trying to cut through something super woody and tough.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Then using the ridges of the squash as a guide, cut the squash into segments. This is easiest to do if you turn the squash cut side down on the board and just follow the ridges with your knife.

Note that this method works best for acorn type squash. If you have a delicata squash, the best way to cut them is into rings.

Click HERE, there’s more!

Share Button

Older Posts »