Caribbean-Style Crab Cakes

Well, if you haven’t realized it already – tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! (And seriously, if you haven’t – it basically means you never leave your house, turn on your radio, tv or computer – so those of you who I am addressing aren’t even reading this)

Now, I have always enjoyed Valentine’s Day – yes, even when I was single. I loved getting together with my girlfriends and eating ice cream, drinking wine and hanging out. Yes, even when 3 of us went to dinner at a nice restaurant and the server kept asking us if anybody else was joining us…

Well, now that I’m a married woman – the day holds a little more significance. I know it’s a “Hallmark” holiday, but what’s wrong with a day dedicated to love?

I still don’t understand going to a favorite restaurant to be served from a limited menu at double the cost, but that could just be because I tend to be a homebody sometimes. As I’ve said before, nothing beats enjoying a nice fancy meal consumed in the comfort of clothing that involves an elastic waistband.

So if you’re thinking like me (terrifying, I know) and want a special meal in – look no further friends. I bring you a recipe for Caribbean-style crab cakes. You could half the recipe and pair a crab cake with a small steak, or just make the whole batch paired with some roasted parmesan asparagus.

I usually prepare this recipe as an appetizer that makes about 16 servings, but it is just as delicious made just for 2. Now a few of the variations here were to make this recipe Weight Watchers friendly – like Fiber One crumbs – so the mixture is a little more “wet” than most crab cakes.

Caribbean-Style Crab Cakes (Serves 2 for meal / 8 WW points per serving; Makes 16 mini cakes for appetizer / 1 WW point each)

Ingredients

8 oz. crab meat (I go for the “specialty” kind – smaller pieces make it easier)

1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup green onion, diced

1 Tbsp. Caribbean jerk seasoning

1 tsp. dried parsley

3/4 cup ground Fiber One bran cereal

1 Tbsp. honey

1/4 cup egg beaters

1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. margarine

Cayenne pepper for garnish

2 Tbsp. apricot jam

1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

Begin by chopping the bell pepper and onion. Add to bowl with crab meat, Caribbean seasoning, parsley and cereal crumbs.

Dry Ingredients

Then add in mayonnaise, honey and egg. Mix together until all ingredients are incorporated. Form into 4 large patties – I had some leftover to prevent the patties from being too massive. (You can also form into 16 small patties for appetizers – start with a scoop the size of a ping-pong ball and work it into a patty.) Refrigerate until ready to cook.

Wet ingredients

Heat 1 Tbsp. margarine over medium in a large skillet. When margarine is hot, add crab cakes. Cook 5-7 minutes on medium-low and then flip, cooking an additional 5-7 minutes.

CakesCooked

While cakes are cooking, whisk together apricot and lime.

Apricot Lime

Add crab cakes to plate and sprinkle with a small amount of cayenne pepper.

Plated

Then top with a dollop of apricot-lime sauce…

Cake with Sauce

and devour with a glass of crisp white wine.

Close Up

Have a happy Valentine’s Day everybody!

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Crispy Pork Chops with Caramelized Onion Gravy

I feel like 2013 has been one big party so far – especially coming on the tails of the holidays. We rang in the new year with a fun trip and awesome wedding, had a nice long weekend, I celebrated my birthday, and we just enjoyed a fun send-off weekend for the husband before he went back to studying.

So now it’s back to being low-key for a little, which I’m totally okay with. Gives me more time to spend conjuring up recipes – and of course, cooking them!

With Valentine’s Day coming up next week, I figured I’d share a super yummy, easy and healthy recipe that you can share with your special someone. Some people prefer going out to a big fancy romantic dinner for the occasion, but there is nothing better to me than enjoying a nice glass of wine with a delicious homemade dinner in the comfort of your pajamas. I know, I know – I’m such a catch.

This is a great recipe because it’s simple to throw together and pairs great with anything. I paired it with some roasted brussel sprouts and mashed potatoes.

Crispy Pork Chops with Caramelized Onion Gravy (serves 2 / 11 WW pts. per serving)

Ingredients

For the Pork Chops:

2 4-5 oz. lean, center-cut pork chops

2/3 cup whole wheat panko crumbs

1 Tbsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried rosemary

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

2 1/2 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour

1 egg white

1 Tbsp. canola oil

For Gravy:

2 1/2 Tbsp. chopped onion

1 tsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour

1/2 cup fat-free milk

1 Tbsp. chicken broth

1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. onion salt

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine bread crumbs, parsley, rosemary, salt and pepper in a shallow dish and mix to combine. In another dish, add flour and in another add your egg white.

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Place pork chops between wax paper (we were out – pardon the foil) and using a meat mallet, pound to about 1/8 inch thickness. Season chops with salt and pepper on both sides and dredge in flour, coating lightly. Then dip chops in egg white, shaking off any excess. Then press chops into bread crumb mixture, ensuring a good coating.

20130121_190308[1]Coating

Heat 1 Tbsp. canola oil in a skillet on medium-low. Add chops and cook 5-7 minutes before flipping and cooking another 5-7 minutes. Once breading is lightly browned, place chops on a lightly greased baking pan and place in the oven for 10 minutes.

SkilletCooked Chops

While the chops are in the oven, it’s time to start your gravy. Begin by sautéing the chopped onion in the olive oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. While the onions are cooking, whisk together flour and milk in a small bowl. Reduce heat on onions to medium-low. Then, add milk mixture to the onions and whisk to combine. This should thicken up pretty quickly. When it does, whisk in chicken broth, pepper and onion salt. 

OnionsPepperGravy

Distribute gravy between two places and top with your pork chop – and voila, a fancy, delicious meal that will please guys and gals alike for a celebratory occasion!
Plated

And who doesn’t like a good reason to celebrate?

Close up

Have a great weekend y’all!

Mustard Glazed Rack of Lamb

In case you haven’t quite figured it out, tomorrow is Thanksgiving! A time to hang out with family, stuff your face with turkey, stuffing, dressing, potatoes, casseroles, cranberry sauce and olives.

Oh, and I’m sure there will be pie. Just to make sure any extra room in your belly doesn’t have a prayer of staying that way!

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving – but as I’ve gotten older wiser, I’ve realized that there’s so much more to this time of year than food, food, time off work and leftover food. It’s about sitting back and taking it all in and realizing how good we have it. I am so fortunate and blessed and for some reason, I constantly find myself taking it all for granted. So as I curl up with one of my parents dogs on the couch tomorrow, eyelids fighting to see that beautiful RG3 touchdown to secure a win over the Cowboys, I will rest with a thankful and full heart, knowing that God has truly blessed me and my family.

Now, switching gears a little (but still counting my blessings!) today is a special day because 4 years ago on this very day – I went on my very last first date!

How crazy that walking into that restaurant, a bundle of nerves in a red peacoat, that I was meeting my future husband. We didn’t even eat dinner because we were both so nervous!

I am amazed each day at how perfect he is for me and I am so blessed to have found my better half, to have had a beautiful wedding surrounded by the love of our friends and family, and to know that whatever the future holds, we’re in it together.

You may recall that we recently celebrated our one-year anniversary and that I was preparing a special meal. Well, today, since we’re counting our blessings (and clearly NOT our calories this weekend) – I figured I’d share our celebratory dinner with you!

So now you can be thankful that I’m shutting up and moving on to the good stuff…

Mustard Glazed Rack of Lamb (Serves 2-3)

1 1/2 pound lamb rack, trimmed (your butcher will trim if it’s not already done!)

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. dried rosemary

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. black pepper

In a small bowl, add your mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, rosemary, garlic and black pepper. Whisk until blended.

   

                                    

Now, using a silicon brush, spread the sauce over your lamb. Preheat oven to 400.

Allow lamb to marinate 30 minutes. Remove 10-15 minutes prior to cooking to bring to room temperature.

Place lamb, rib side down, in a roasting pan (might want some non-stick spray or some excess sauce will bake on!) and cook 30-40 minutes or until thermometer registers 130-140 (this is medium rare – medium is 140-150). Remove and cover with foil. Lamb will continue cooking, so anticipate temperature to go up another 5 degrees while resting.

If your glaze starts to brown like mine did, cover the pan with foil. I was a little distracted setting the table for our first fancy meal with all of our fine china and crystal – yay!

To cut the lamb, make sure you have a sharp serrated knife. Hold the rack by the bone and cut down into the meat. You’ll often have to crack the bone – so you might need to saw a little until it gives,

Slices into chops and plate. I find lamb to have such a rich flavor that usually 3 chops is plenty – especially when paired with a little brown butter risotto and roasted brussel sprouts!

So if you’re looking for a meal for a special occasion, I definitely recommend lamb! I was terrified the first time I made it, but it is seriously easy and allows you time to work on the side dishes while it’s marinating and cooking!

We were also fortunate enough to have some delicious butter pecan wedding cake for dessert – it was surprisingly good for having lived in a cardboard box and foil in the depths of our freezer for a year.

I hope you all have a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving, whether you’re staying in a house full of people and devouring a 20 pound turkey or ordering pizza and watching the Friends marathon on TBS (in which case I might be a little jealous), remember to take a little time to reflect on all of the blessings in your life!