Crab Gravy Pizza

May 29, 2015 Entrees, Menu No Comments

Summer is finally knocking on our door…which means it’s time for me to fire up the barbecue grill, dust off the yard games and stock up on some tasty summer brews. One of my all-time favorite summer meals that I enjoy making for our family is crabs and macaroni (you can find my recipe for crab gravy by clicking here). Last year, as we were sitting around the table, sipping the last of our beer and staring at the pile of empty crab shells, my brother-in-law Shane suggested one of the most brilliant, yet simple dinner ideas. “Why don’t you make a crab gravy pizza?” Genius at it’s best! One of the glories of this fabulous dinner is dunking bread into the gravy, so spreading the gravy onto a pizza shell would make total sense. Since crab gravy is a bit of a seasonal treat, and because we had our meal late in the season last year, we both agreed to keep that idea on the back-burner until this coming summer. It was a long wait, and we discussed the idea many a times…but the time has finally come to put this brilliant recipe to the test.

Instead of making a big pot of slow-simmering crab gravy, I decided to put together a quicker, simple version of the sauce, using a 1 lb can of pure claw crab meat (the claw meat is cheaper than the lump, and works perfectly with this recipe). My goal was to make the gravy thick and meaty, so that you would get a generous taste of the crab meat with every bite. I also decided to use pre-made traditional style pizza shells (not the thin crust), so that they can hold the gravy without breaking apart. For the cheese topping, I decided to go with fresh shaved parmesan cheese. We top our pasta with parmesan cheese, so this was the obvious choice. To avoid having the cheese melt into the gravy, I added it to the pie towards the end of baking, layering it loosely.

While I don’t normally brag about the dishes that I share with you, I do have to say that this pizza was A-MAZING! The rich taste of the gravy combined with the fresh shaved cheese on top of the toasted crust worked exactly how I wanted it to. It was well worth the wait to put it together. And I have to give Shane full props for the inspiration on this one.

If you are a fan of crab gravy and if you like messing around with new pizza ideas….give this one a try. It’s the perfect summer party food!

Crab Gravy Pizza

1 lb can pure claw crab meat
1 small can (12-14 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 small can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1/2 tspn Italian seasoning
1/4 tspn Old Bay seasoning
1/4-1/2 tspn sugar (your preference to taste)
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 pre-made pizza shells (not thin crust)
1 small block parmesan cheese (shaved down using a vegetable peeler, to about 25-30 slices)

Pour crushed tomatoes, sauce and crab meat into a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add seasonings and sugar, stir well. Add salt and pepper, stir well. Cover with lid to simmer, stirring occasionally and adjusting seasoning to taste. Remove from heat after about 35-40 minutes, when gravy is flavored to your liking. Set aside to cool – you don’t want to add hot sauce directly to the pizza shells. You can prepare the sauce and refrigerate up to 1 day ahead of time.

Preheat oven to 425˚. Spread a generous and even amount of sauce onto each shell. Place in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove pizzas from oven and top with fresh shaved parmesan cheese. You can layer it loosely or lattice-style. Place back into the oven, bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove from oven. Slice, serve and enjoy!

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Carrot Cake Dip

May 13, 2015 Dessert, Menu No Comments

One of the things that I really enjoy about writing a food blog is sharing my ideas that are thought of ‘outside of the box.’ Especially when it comes to a more traditional type of dish. If you’re in search for a traditional recipe, chances are that someone in your family has a recipe for it. And if they don’t, there are most likely countless versions that exist online. This is also the time when I like to put my creative side to good use. Instead of trying to change or modify a perfectly established and well-balanced dish, I prefer having fun with it…reinventing it, if you will.

Recently I had a craving for carrot cake. Although I’ve never made a carrot cake from scratch, I know that there is a decent amount of work involved. I also know that there are more than enough perfected recipes floating around online that probably would not benefit much from my improvising. Being that party dips are always a fun approach (and are pretty popular at my family parties), I decided to give a carrot cake dip a try. Since cream cheese and spices are key carrot cake ingredients, this was actually an easy recipe to put together. I added the basic spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and brown sugar), along with chopped walnuts, toasted coconut and, of course, shredded carrots, and folded them into the cream cheese (you can also add raisins if you prefer). Using ginger snaps to scoop up the dip, the flavor was spot on…and much easier to make than an actual cake!

So if you’re a fan of carrot cake and fun party dips, give this recipe a try. I promise you it’ll be a big hit!

Carrot Cake Dip

12 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 tspn cinnamon
1/4 tspn nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
1/2 cup finely shredded carrots
1/4 cup toasted coconut*
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raisins (optional)

Combine all ingredients, except for carrots, coconut, walnuts and raisins, mix on medium high speed for 1-2 minutes. Fold in remaining ingredients. Serve with ginger snaps.

* For tips on toasting coconut, click here.

 

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My kitchen assistant, helping me mix the ingredients.

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Avocado Egg Rolls

May 4, 2015 Appetizer No Comments

My wife had recently gone out to lunch with friends, and they had gotten an order of the restaurant’s famous avocado egg rolls. A taste of my wife’s leftovers was just enough inspiration for me to attempt my own version of the crispy appetizer. Instead of following the restaurant’s recipe – which I found pretty easily online – I decided to put my own version together, using an avocado and tomato salad as the filling. I also baked the egg rolls instead of the traditional frying method. The egg rolls turned out to be a big hit…and a perfect dish to offer up for Cinco de Mayo! Although they would serve up well on their own, we used a bottled lime vinaigrette dressing as a dip. There are a number of dressings and dips that would work well with this dish, but I highly suggest you try them on their own first. There is plenty of flavor already happening in these crispy roll ups!

 

 

Avocado Egg Rolls
Makes 6 servings

1 tspn  olive oil
juice of 1 lime
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of salt
1 firm, ripe avocado, halved and pitted
1 small red bell pepper, diced
6 cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 tbspn cilantro, finely chopped
6 egg roll wrappers

Preheat oven to 425˚. In a small bowl, mix together olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cayenne pepper and salt. Set aside.

Scoop out flesh of avocado, rough chop into pieces. Add pepper, tomatoes and cilantro, mix well. Add liquid mixture, mix well.

Lay one egg roll wrapper on a flat surface, in a diamond shape, with the bottom point facing you. Place 1 tbspn of the avocado salad into the middle of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper from the bottom, half way up to cover the salad. Fold both sides in, then slowly and tightly roll up the wrapper. Before you roll it completely, moisten the top corner lightly with a bit of water, then finish rolling and making sure that the moistened edge seals the wrapper tight.

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Place the rolled wrappers onto a baking sheet that is either covered with parchment paper, or lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Lightly spray the egg rolls. Place the tray in the oven, bake for 10-15 minutes, until the wrappers start to brown and crisp.

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Remove from oven, let cool slightly. Serve and enjoy!

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