Brie Toasts with Bacon Plum Jam

Photo of Brie Toasts with Bacon Plum Jam on a white platter

The Evolution of the Crawdad Lunch
In our family, we have a phenomenon known as the Crawdad Lunch. Crawdad Lunch does not, in fact, include any crawfish. Crawdad Lunch was born on the shores of Lake Tahoe when my nephews and my kids refused to come back to the beach to eat a sandwich because they couldn’t tear themselves away from fishing for crawdads off the pier.

An authentic Crawdad Lunch consists of salami, crackers (usually Ritz or Wheat Thins), and some sort of sliced cheese. On a good day, some fruit would have also been consumed. But, you know how that goes.

The Crawdad Lunch has evolved over the years. But, each and every kid still eats it to this day—parents too. The Ritz crackers will make the occasional appearance. But, lately, all the components have become more sophisticated. Though let’s be real, a lot of what goes into making the perfect crawdad lunch depends on what you have on hand.

Salami is still a staple. But, prosciutto, Coppa, or even a lovely little country pate will work. The sliced cheese has graduated from your basic Colby Jack to some tangy Irish Dubliner, a nutty Toma, or a creamy Brie. Bonus points if you get the snack-sized Brie. Fresh mozzarella is also a great choice. Fruit or veggies are no longer optional. I like the crunch of grapes or apples, but cold cucumber slices or carrots can bring the same satisfaction.

Lately, I have been adding some spreads to my crawdad lunch. Sometimes a little fig jam and other times a little pepper relish, or, my favorite, some pimiento cheese. Essentially, Crawdad Lunch is your own personal charcuterie board. And, I love me a good charcuterie board. Crawdad Lunch is just how I justify not sharing….

This recipe for Brie Toasts with Bacon Plum Jam is easily adapted for a Crawdad Lunch. You can slice some brie and put it on a slice of toasted baguette or a cracker. Or, for the truly unapologetic cheese lover, just dollop a little bit of the jam on the brie bites and shove it all in your mouth…heaven!

Brie Toasts with Bacon Plum Jam Recipe
Adapted from Taste of Home
Yields about 30 toasts Read more…

Pretzel & Guinness Cookie Bars

Photo of Pretzel & Guinness Cookie Bars

Fall Kickoff
We took Dude #1 back to school this past weekend. And, we moved him into a new apartment that is a major upgrade from his dorm. He is extremely excited—most likely because this will be the first time that he has had a room to himself. Ever. Such is the fate of a twin.

It’s always fun to be on campus when school starts because the energy is off the charts. They may not be excited about that four-hour chem lab, but everyone seems happy to be back together and, of course, the beginning of the school year means school sports which, in the fall, means football.

The college football season kicks off (see what I did there?) this weekend with a handful of games which for those of you, like my boys who have been anxiously awaiting the start of college football, should be most welcome despite the matchups not being that great. Next weekend will be way more entertaining…

I recommend making a batch of these Pretzel & Guinness Cookie Bars if you are so inclined. Everything about them screams football tailgate. Beer? Check. Pretzels? Check. Convenient and portable bar form? Also, check. Plus, they are pretty yummy!

Pretzel & Guinness Cookie Bars
Adapted from Cookies: The New Classics by Jesse Szewczyk
Yields about 24 bars Read more…

Peach Crumble Bars

Just Peachy
I have a problem. A peachy problem—my peach cup runneth over. And, now I have to figure out ways to use or preserve the peaches, so they don’t go to waste.

The obvious solutions of eating them as a snack, slicing them up for the freezer, as well as handing them out to friends have already happened. I have made a cobbler or three. And, this weekend I will be canning some of the peaches in light syrup. I might also be making ice cream. But there are still some left…and more on the tree.

What to do with the leftovers? Sure, I could make a pie. But, the thought kind of makes me tired. I’m thinking this situation screams for a bar cookie—Peach Crumble Bars. I figure if it can be done with apple pie and pecan pie, why not peaches?

Peach Crumble Bars Recipe
Adapted from Pastry & Beyond
Yields 16 bars Read more…

Tandoori Prawns

Tandoori Prawns with lime and cilantro on skewersTandoor Oven Dreaming
Long ago, on a continent far, far away, I ate a meal that I can still taste twenty-three years later. I have talked about the trip I took to India a few times through the years, but I don’t think I have specifically talked about the night we went to Trishna in Mumbai. (If I am wrong, I apologize. I ask that you indulge me and let me reminisce…)

I can’t remember what I was expecting food-wise when we decided to go to India. Did I expect some really good curry? Yes. Did I expect to eat it for breakfast? That would be a no. Did I expect the most amazing and uber-authentic hot Chai every morning despite the oppressive heat outside? No. Was it the greatest way to wake up ever? Absolutely one hundred percent, yes.

The fact is there is no way to visit India without tasting some of the best things you will ever taste. I mean Indian spices have been revered for centuries for a reason, right? I was surprised to find that not everything I ate was screaming hot. I mean, sure, there were plenty of chilis involved no matter what we ate.

But, the best thing I ate was super simple—the tandoori crab from Trishna. Known for its amazing seafood, Trishna’s menu is immense, but the crab is the one item on the menu that you just can’t miss. It was essentially an entire crab drowning in butter, some chilis, and an insane amount of garlic. The crab was either cooked in a tandoor oven or in a wok. (I am not completely sure which.) I am certain there was more to it than that because I have tried to recreate the dish but can’t no matter how hard I try. (Guess we just have to go back. Oh darn…)

And despite how fondly we both look back on that dinner, my husband draws the line at installing a tandoor oven in the backyard. He’s no fun…

The one dish I have been able to recreate from that night is the Tandoori Prawns. So much flavor!! Full disclosure, the prawns we ate were giant Indian Ocean tiger prawns. You would be hard-pressed to find some here but definitely opt for a larger prawn to make these, though medium prawns will work too, especially for a crowd.

Tandoori Prawns Recipe
Yields 4 servings

These Tandoori Prawns are fairly quick and easy to throw together and make a nice change of pace for a mid-week dinner when the temperatures go up. Read more…