Sunday, January 19, 2020

Celebratory Crab Treats Recipe

I've talked to a few people about the cookbook my sister and I are working on together. We decided to do this not only to share some of our favorite recipes, but also because of the role food has played in our lives and healing. After losing our mom, our mutual love of baking helped bring us together and turn us from sisters into friends. 

This recipe is one we both instantly knew we had to include- the appearance of Crab Triangles at any event growing up signaled celebration! Despite living in Maryland and having crab readily available, it was expensive and, frankly, our family was e a bit on the broke side often. So every party got sausage bread (and you may just have to wait for the book for that recipe), but New Years, milestone birthdays, graduations, etc. called for something extra special. 

Crab was on sale at the grocery store this morning, so it seemed a perfect time to make a batch so I could snap some photos. Little did I know that this was going to remind me of exactly why we're writing this book- food can connect you to the past. One taste of these made me feel like a kid again. I remembered waiting so anxiously for the cheese to get bubbly, and slowly savoring each bite (because each kid was only permitted 1-2 triangles). I ate (at least) 6 this morning, and was almost expecting Mom to pop up and yell at me for it. 

If you know me, you know I cannot abide processed cheese items when real cheese is so good and so, well, real, so I've swapped out jarred cheese for cheddar. I also added some seasoning and significantly backed off the mayo and butter amounts so they would be less greasy. 

I hope they make you feel like celebrating. 


8 ounces of lump blue crab
1/2 stick butter, softened 
1/4 cup mayonnaise
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar
1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning 
6 English muffins, halved

1.        Set your oven to broil- this comes together really quickly!
2.       Mix crab, butter, mayo and cheddar together.
3.        Spread the crab mix generously on each of the English muffins.
4.        Broil for 3-4 minutes until the mixture bubbles and starts to brown.
5.       Cut each half muffin into 4 equal triangles and serve.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Hey Joe, the Bucket's Here

My sister and I are working on a fun project together- collecting some family recipes and lore. I thought it might be fun to share some of these as we go. This one in particular is legend. 

As a child, I was extremely curious. In fact, I still am, but a desirable trait in an adult can certainly be a drawback in a child. I am relatively sure my curiosity made parenting me much more difficult.
To further complicate my parents’ lives, I was also a total night owl (and that is a trait I definitely have not carried into my 30’s).

Shortly before my fifth birthday, I was playing a game on the living room floor late at night. Mom was asleep on the couch behind me. The game I picked involved using tweezers to remove various objects from a make-believe patient. If you did not do this with precision, the patient’s nose would light up. However, being not-quite five, I misinterpreted the objective and assumed the nose-lighting was the goal.

Since the game with my modified rules was far too easy and I was unsupervised, I devised a way to up the ante. Why make this pretend man’s nose light up when it would obviously be more fun to make my nose light up. My plan to accomplish this was to remove the only piece I actually could get out, which was the bucket, and insert it into my nose.

Much like the rest of the game, I found getting the bucket into my nose did not prevent much of a challenge. Unfortunately, getting it out did.

It was nearly ten at night when I woke my sleeping mother with the announcement that I stuck a bucket up my nose and couldn’t get it out. She, understandably, told me I was dreaming and attempted to send me back to bed.

In response, I stretched out my nostril and made her look.

Mom was suddenly very, very awake. She attempted to remove the bucket with her fingers, the tweezers, and a few other household items before admitting defeat and calling the doctor.

Did you know that you could die from bucket inhalation? It’s apparently, according to my pediatrician, a thing that could happen if a bucket inserted up one’s nose were to be inhaled into one’s lungs. The doctor ordered us to the emergency room and promised to call ahead so they were ready for us.

As soon as we arrived, my mother approached the counter and shared my name. The triage nurse immediately leaned back and yelled “hey Joe, the buckets here!” to her colleague, and the giggled throughout our entire intake.

In retrospect, I am now convinced that the ER doc that examined me was very new, and had never met a child before. 

He pulled out a long pair of plyers with a serrated blade. “These are my alligators,” he said. “I am going to put these up your notes and pull the bucket out.”

Adult me would said “the hell you are.” Child me simply pinched my nose shut and refused to cooperate.

It took hours and the bribe of a new toy that Mom had put away for Christmas to get me to unclamp my nose and allow the procedure. I will always remember the feeling of cotton swabs (damp with numbing solution) rolling around in my nose and then how quickly and easily the bucket came out.

The offending bucket made its way into my baby book and the game to which it belonged was outlawed in our home until all children reached the age of 18.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Chocolate, Raspberry, and Almond Cake Recipe

We simply call this “Shauna’s cake” around my house, because it includes so many of my favorite combinations: chocolate and raspberry, chocolate and almond, almond liquor and my mouth…

I spent a long time thinking I didn’t like chocolate cake, but as it turned out, I am just very, very particular about it. I don’t like overly sweet chocolate cake, and it has to be rich and light at the same time. This one is perfect for me. Some may need to up the sugar, depending on your preference. And yes, there are a lot of steps… but the end result is worth it.



1 cup butter (2 sticks)
½ cup coffee or hot water
¾ cup dark  or semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups cake flour
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup cocoa powder
2 tbsp black cocoa powder (optional)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
¾ cup full fat buttermilk 

½ cup almond liquor
6 ounces mascarpone, room temperature
2 cups heavy whipping cream
½ cup cocoa powder
1 ½  cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
¼ cup water
3 tbsp granulated sugar

9 ounces raspberries
2 tbsp almond liquor
½ tsp almond extract
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water


Cake and Soak
1.        Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 3 8” cake pans with parchment paper (or butter and flour the pans).
2.       Add ½ cup almond liquor to a small saucepan and bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes until it starts to reduce and darken in color. Remove and cool.
3.        Add butter, coffee, and chocolate chips to a microwave safe bowl. Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until the butter and chocolate are melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
4.       In a mixing bowl or bowl of your stand mixer, add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder(s). Whisk together.
5.       Add in eggs, vanilla, cooled chocolate mixture, and buttermilk. Beat on low speed for 1-2 minutes, until all ingredients are just incorporated. Overmixing will result in a chewier cake.
6.       Divide equally among three pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
7.        Cool the cakes completely.
8.       Add 1 tbsp of reduced almond liquor to ¼ cup of hot water. Stir in 3 tbsp granulated sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool slightly.
9.       Trim the tops of the cake and brush liberally with the water mixture.

Raspberry Filling
1.        Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and place over medium heat.
2.       Bring to a slow simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until most of the water has evaporated and the mixture resembles a thick sauce.
3.        Optional: push sauce through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds.
4.       Cool mixture completely.

1.        In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the mascarpone and beat on low speed until smooth. Add the heavy whipping cream.
2.       Every 1-2 minutes, increase the speed slightly. This will help create a more stable whipped cream.
3.        Once the mixture starts to thicken, add the rest of the reduced almond liquor, sugar, vanilla, and cocoa powder.
4.       Continue to slowly increased the speed, periodically scarping the sides of the bowl, until the mixture becomes a very thick whipped cream.

1.        Place 1 trimmed and soaked cake on your plate or pedestal. Spread with a very thin layer of frosting. With a piping bag, pipe a thin “wall” of frosting around the outer edge of the cake. Fill the inside of the cake with half the raspberry sauce.
2.       Repeat with layer two.
3.        Top with the final layer of cake, and spread a thick layer of frosting to cover.
4.       Optionally, top with fresh raspberries. Serve slightly chilled.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Make-ahead apple sausage monkey bread

I love monkey bread. I’d say “as much as the next guy” but it’s probably more. I mean, biscuits coated in sugar and drowned in butter- what is not to love?

 That said, breakfast needs more than white flour and sugar to me. In years past, I’d made a traditional version of this and then be scouring the house for some nuts or bacon or something. This usually ended up in me eating leftover peanut butter cups from Christmas, you know, because I needed more sugar at 9 am.

 I have been working on this recipe that adds a little protein and fiber into monkey bread. Healthy? No. Delicious? Absolutely.

This is also a great make-ahead meal that we usually have on holiday mornings. Since you can prep a day or two before, it is an ideal New Year’s Day breakfast since you can just pop it in the oven while you nurse your champagne head ache.


1 lb breakfast sausage
2 cans refrigerated biscuit dough
2 medium green apples, peeled and sliced into ½ inch squares
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup maple sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp clove
1 stick butter
¼ cup bourbon
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup brown sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 (unless making head).
  2. In a skillet, brown sausage on medium heat. About halfway through cooking, add the apples. Cook until sausage is no longer pink (do not overcook!) and drain.
  3. In a large bowl, combine granulated sugar, maple sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.
  4. Cut the refrigerated biscuits into 4 pieces each and toss with the sugar and spice mixture.
  5. Spray a Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange a layer of biscuit pieces on the top. Add a layer of half the apple and sausage mixture, followed by more biscuits, the other half of the apples and sausage, and finished with biscuits.
  6. Melt the butter and mix in the bourbon, maple syrup, and brown sugar. Pour over the prepared pan.
  7. If you’re making ahead, cover the pan and refrigerate.
  8. Once ready to cook, bake for 50-60 minutes, or until biscuits are cooked through.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool for approximately 10 minutes. Invert onto a plate and enjoy!