Crab Cakes

Are you looking for a wonderful dinner recipe to make for your special someone this weekend? Even though our business is a bed and breakfast, we often host private parties and dinners—so I have a growing collection of dinner recipes too. It’s another opportunity for me to look for new recipes and experiment with different ways to wow my guests. I love watching cooking shows on TV for inspiration. I also use Google searches to find new recipes. Sometimes I mix two recipes together and make up my own version. Here’s one I really love.

Crab Cakes

1 pound crab meat (not imitation)
1 egg
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tblsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tblsp. Dijon mustard
1 tblsp. melted butter
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes or 1 tblsp. fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp. seafood seasoning
½ cup fresh bread crumbs

Mix together all the ingredients except the crab. Then gently fold in the crab meat. Shape into cakes and refrigerate for 30 min. Fry 12–15 min., until golden brown on each side.

Keep warm in a low oven. Serve with your favorite tartar sauce.

Tomorrow: Rack of Lamb!

Best Chocolate Recipes!

I like to include chocolate whenever possible in our breakfast menu. Today I thought I would give you two chocolate recipes that have been among my favorites for years. The first one is Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake. I cut the recipe out of the coupon section of the Sunday paper years ago. I had it in my recipe file for about five years before I finally got around to trying it. When I did, I was sorry I had wasted those five years! Not only is this cake moist and delicious, it will also keep for 2-3 days and it freezes well. A real winner.

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup sour cream
powdered sugar

Topping:
½ cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tblsp. cinnamon

Combine butter and sugar until barely mixed. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla, flour, and baking powder alternately with sour cream. Mix 2 minutes with an electric mixer on medium speed. In a separate bowl, combine the topping ingredients.

Grease a 9×13 pan and spoon in half of the batter. Sprinkle with half the topping. Top with the rest of the batter and the rest of the topping.

Bake at 325° for 45–55 min. Serve warm, sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Today’s second chocolate recipe came from a newspaper article about Mrs. Field’s cookies. This is a copy of her recipe for Deadly Chocolate Muffins. If you are craving something really chocolately, this recipe is for you!

Deadly Chocolate Muffins
Makes about 16 regular-size muffins

2 cups (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate
1 stick butter
½ cup sour cream
1 cup flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
4 large eggs
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup chopped nuts (optional)
¼ cup white chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350°. Line muffin cups with paper liners and spray the top of the pan with nonstick spray.
2. Melt the 2 cups of semisweet chocolate with the butter in the top of a double boiler, stirring until smooth. (Or heat in the microwave, in a microwave safe bowl, for 1 minute). Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream. Cool.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat eggs and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Add flour mixture and 1 cup of the semisweet chocolate chips.
4. Mix together the remaining ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and white chocolate chips.
4. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups until about ¾ full. Top evenly with the mixture of chocolate chips, ¼ cup nuts, ¼ cup white chocolate chips.

Bake 20–25 min., until centers are set.

I’ll be serving one or both of these treats for breakfast this weekend. There’s still time to make your reservations!  www.oliverinn.com

Candlelight Breakfast

From the time we first got married, Tom and I shared the dream of someday owning a bed and breakfast.  When circumstances gave us the chance to start a new career, we finally decided that we should quit talking about owning an Inn and buy one.

And we love owning and operating the Oliver Inn.

One of the reasons we chose the Oliver Inn is that it is both elegant and comfortable. We want our guests to experience relaxation from the moment they walk in the front door.  We usually have quiet music playing, and we bake fresh chocolate chip cookies every afternoon. In the morning, we serve a candlelight breakfast with background music from our grand piano. There are no clocks in our dining room, and our guests can relax and forget about the outside world for a short time.

Most of us lead very chaotic lives, running here and there for meetings and errands. It’s rare that we take the time to relax. Let me challenge you to take some time this week to turn off the blaring TV and turn on some quiet music. Light candles at breakfast. Sit and visit where there are no clocks and just be with your sweetheart—or enjoy a moment alone to rejuvenate.

If you would like to practice your relaxing skills we’d love to host you here at the Inn. Any time of the year is a good time to have a getaway from the world. www.oliverinn.com.

Places to Eat in Downtown South Bend

Okay, so Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and you’re thinking, “I have to plan something special to do…maybe go out to dinner.” Well, this year the 14th is on a Sunday, so that gives you several options—maybe you can make a special date for Friday or Saturday when places won’t be quite as crowded. Many restaurants are offering dinner specials for the whole weekend.

If you live in the South Bend area, go to the Downtown South Bend Web site and discover all the wonderful places just around the corner from us where you can have a romantic dinner. If you are going out to eat, why not make the evening even more special by spending the night here at the Inn? We only have a few rooms left for Valentine’s weekend; check our Web site for availability.

What are your favorite places to dine here in South Bend–or wherever you live? I’d love to hear from you.

Coming tomorrow: A fabulous Green Eggs and Ham Pizza recipe!

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake Muffins!

I love to cook. I am always reading recipes and looking for my next favorite. Most of the time for our candlelight breakfast here at the Inn, I like to make small portions of different breakfast treats. These Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake Muffins are an exception. You can make them as regular size muffins, but they are best when you make them jumbo size. Usually my guests say, “Oh, those are so big! I’m just going to eat half of one.” But by the time breakfast is over, all that remains are a few crumbs. (If you do have any leftovers, I suggest you microwave them for about 10 seconds to give them that just-baked warmth.)

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake Muffins

1½ cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¼ stick margarine
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
½ cup sugar
½ cup milk
1 egg

Topping:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup chocolate chips
2 tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

1. Spray 6 jumbo muffin cups (or 12 regular muffin cups) with nonstick vegetable oil spray.
2. In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the margarine until crumbly.
3. In another bowl, mix the sour cream (or yogurt), ½ cup sugar, milk, and egg. Add to the flour mixture and stir just until combined.
4. In another bowl, stir together the topping ingredients.
5. Spoon half the batter into the prepared muffin pans. Sprinkle with half the topping. Top with remaining batter and then remaining topping.

Bake at 350° for 25 min. or until a toothpick comes out clean. (If making 12 regular-size muffins, bake at 400° for 15–18 min.)

I hope you love these muffins as much as I do!

Happy Ground Hogs Day!

Phil

Ever see the movie Groundhog Day? A fun and thought-provoking date night movie. Bill Murray plays an arrogant and egotistical weatherman who is stuck living the same day over and over again. Once he realizes he can’t do anything about his predicament, he decides to make the most of it. He learns to play the piano. He gets to know each person in town. He even saves a homeless man’s life.

So where’s the romance, you ask? One of my favorite parts of the movie is the way this man watches the girl he loves and learns to know exactly what she looks like, enough to make a reproduction of her face. I wonder how often we are aware of what is going on around us in such detail.

Try spending today looking at the people around you with an eye toward details you may never have taken the time to notice before. What can you compliment someone on, or start a conversation about? Maybe buy your friend or loved one a small token that means something special–a bouquet of her favorite flowers, a book on a topic he’s expressed an interest in, or her favorite treat from the bakery. Love and friendship mean paying attention and taking the time to show someone you care.

Busy Weekend in South Bend

Looking for something to bounce away the winter blues?  Check out the Harlem Globetrotters on Friday January 22 at 7pm at the Joyce Center. For Tickets and information.

If  you need something to warm you up come and check out Menopause the Musical at the Morris Performing Arts Center for the next 3 nights!  It’s definitely not the “Silent Passage” any more!

Check out our last minute specials for this weekend!

Coming in February don’t miss our 28 days of Food and Love Blogs!