Month: December 2005

Recipe for Old Bay Chicken and Noodles

Old Bay Chicken and Egg Noodles
Old Bay Chicken and Egg Noodles

Often times during the holiday season we have leftover roast chicken or turkey around and don’t know what to do with it. We’ve created an excellent recipe for using those leftovers, and flavored with Old Bay Seasoning. We’ve named it Old Bay Chicken and Noodles, and it’s scrumptious. The recipe is basically egg noodles, Old Bay Seasoning, chopped left over chicken or turkey, a white sauce and Gruyere cheese.

Old Bay White Sauce with Gruyere Cheese

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp white flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 cup Gruyere Cheese, shredded
  1. Melt the butter in a 2 quart non-stick sauce pan. Then add the flour, and cook over medium-low heat about 2 – 3 minutes stirring constantly.
  2. Add milk, and continue stirring until sauce begins to thicken.
  3. Add Old Bay Seasoning and stir well.
  4. Add Gruyere cheese, and stir until melted. Remove from heat.

Recipe for Old Bay Chicken and Noodles Old Bay

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups leftover cooked chicken or turkey, chopped into 3/4″ chunks.
  • 8 ounces dried egg noodles
  • Old Bay White Sauce with Gruyere cheese (above)
  1. Heat 2 quarts of water in a 3 quart pot
  2. Prepare the White Sauce with Old Bay and Gruyere cheese.
  3. While the white sauce is cooking, cook the egg noodles according to the directions on the package.
  4. Heat chicken in microwave, or add to white sauce and continue to heat until all is warmed.
  5. When egg noodles are done, drain into a collander.
  6. To serve, place some egg noodles in a bowl, add chunks of chicken, then top with the white sauce, and stir to distribute sauce well.

Delicious Old Bay Crab Soup Recipe

Here in our new blog, we’re focusing on cooking home cooked meals with herbs and spices, that are easy to make on a weeknight, are generally low in fat, use the seasonings we sell, and above all taste good. So, tonight we made a different dinner using leftover crabmeat, Old Bay Crab Soup. If we asked 5 of our friends to tell us how they eat blue crabs, we may not hear one that mentions crab soup. Most would likely mention steamed crabs, or crab cakes, but crab soup is a treat in itself and is worthy of honorable mention 2nd place when compared to the most common replies we’d expect. You might ask, better than crab cakes? To which we’d reply, “it depends”. Certainly in terms of having a healthy meal the crab soup wins hands down.

Now here in Maryland, Crab Soup is served at many a restaurant. Lot’s of times it’s served in crab houses as an appetizer and it’s so common that many a grocery store have it regularly in their soup pots at the salad bar. In the all-you-can-eat crab houses, it’s often used as a filler food to reduce the number of crabs you eat. But as far as filler foods go, this is one heck of a treat and it’s a quality meal unlike filler foods like hush puppies, french fries, and french breads.

When we make Old Bay Crab Soup it’s our main dish and not a filler food. Since it’s a great meal in itself and we serve the soup with buttered and toasted sourdough bread. The one special ingredient that we feel makes crab soup so special is the use of Old Bay Seasoning. The unique blend of spices in Old Bay, and its natural affinity with seafood make it the perfect seasoning for crab soup. On we have two different recipes for crab soup that use Old Bay, Maryland Crab Soup and Delmarva Crab Soup. Both of those recipes make one heck of a lot of soup and aren’t suited for weeknight dinner meals.

So being that it was weeknight and we didn’t have a crowd to serve, we choose not to use either of those recipes, and instead created our own. Here’s how we made our Old Bay Crab Soup:

Start by heating 2 cans of low sodium beef broth and 2 cups water in a 3 quart sauce pan . While the beef broth is heating, dice 1/2 of a medium sweet onion, and 2 stalks of celery. Place the onion and celery in a non-stick frying pan, and cook them over low heat about 5 minutes. Then add the onion & celery to the beef broth, along with 1 1/2 tbsp of Old Bay Seasoning. Once the broth comes to a boil, add 1 cup frozen shoepeg corn kernels, and 1 cup bay lima beans. Allow the corn and lima beans to cook for 5 minutes, then add 1/2 pound of crabmeat. The crab meat doesn’t have to be the premium lump crab meat, but it should be cook quality such as backfin (and not claw crabmeat). Cook for another 5 minutes and serve with toased sourdough bread.

Stir Fried Chicken and Vegetables

Picture of Tones Asian Grill & Stir Fry Seasoning
New at Spice Place is Tone’s Asian Grill & Stir Fry Seasoning. This spice blend is a complete Asian Szechwan seasoning with everything you need to make a great stirfry without having to chop garlic, ginger or peppers. It’s also has a very low amount of sodium, so if you’re careful with adding other ingredients this spice blend is well suited for making a low sodium meal. We were quite impressed with the taste of this spice blend from Tone’s and how quickly & easily we were able to create a real Asian meal at home using a frozen stir fry vegetable blend.

We have a recipe for Stir Fried Chicken and Vegetables on the product page. We sort of followed this recipe in making our meal, but as we usually do we change this and that to our tastes and what we have around. So we took a look in the refrigerator, and saw we had Shrimp left over from our Old Bay Steamed Shrimp so we adjusted the amount of chicken called for in the recipe to about 1/2 pound and added 1/2 pound of the leftover shrimp. We also do pay attention to how much salt we use, so we omitted the Tones Chicken Base and substituted a 14.25oz can of Health Valley No Salt Added Chicken Broth for the water called for in the recipe*. There’s no need to measure the chicken broth as the can holds just about 2 cups of broth. We’re also health conscience with our choice of oils to cook with and will either use Canola Oil, or Olive Oil, and only as much as needed to keep foods from sticking to the pan.

The first thing you need to do before starting the stir fry recipe is start cooking 1 cup of dry rice. We prefer Basmati rice to the Asian rices, and in our opinion Basmati rice goes equally well with this recipe. But cook whatever rice you prefer. Making rice is quite simple, just heat twice the amount of water as rice to a boil [2 cups water to 1 cup rice], then add the rice, cover tightly and simmer until the water is absorbed. Most rices take about 20 minutes to cook, execpt we find that Basmati rice cooks in about 10 minutes, maybe a little longer. We set our timer when cooking Basmati to 10 minutes, and watch it carefully after that. It’s also best to let rice sit for 5 minutes before serving. If you’re trying to get everything done at the same time, the total cook time for most rices is about 25 minutes [20 over heat, and 5 minutes resting], and Basmati rice takes about 15 minutes [10 minutes cooking and 5 resting]. The cooking time for the Asian StirFried Chicken and Vegetables is about 15 minutes.Picture of prepared Tones Asian Stir Fried Chicken and Vegetables

We found that we didn’t need to add all of the Asian Seasoning and Chicken Broth to the pan. So use care and add only enough so that you’ll season the meat, and have about 1/2 cup extra liquid in the pan to thicken into a sauce. If you end up with too much liquid in the pan, try to drain off some instead of trying to thicken the extra liquid as you may end up overcooking the vegetables. When the stir fry is done, move the stir fry to a large serving platter and serve with the cooked rice. The recipe makes 6 servings.

* If you make the recipe exactly as described, each serving will have about 540mg sodium.

Homemade Egg MacMuffins – Quick & Easy

Home Made Egg MacMuffins
Since it was Christmas Day today, and everyone wanted to open their gifts as soon as possible we thought a quick and easy breakfast was in order. So today’s breakfast fare was Home Made Egg Muffins and Old Bay Hash Brown Potatoes. Both of these recipes are quick and easy to make. Start the Old Bay Hash Browns first as they take a little longer to cook. If you don’t have Old Bay Seasoning on hand, you can substitute Lawry’s Seasoned Salt for the Old Bay and have just as interesting meal.

The real Egg McMuffins are made with English Muffins, Rounded Ham or Canadian Bacon, and Cheese. As is often the case with cooking meals at home, we didn’t have either the rounded ham or Canadian bacon on hand, so we had to improvise since it was Christmas Day and the stores were closed. We did have some wonderful sliced Black Forest ham available, so using an old donut cutter with the center removed, we cut the ham into round slices.
Making the round ham for the egg muffins

Once we made up enough slices of the round ham, we were in business to start making the muffins. The next order of business was to toast the muffins we needed. We had bought two different types of English muffins to suit the tastes of our guest so we toasted equal number of both the whole wheat and plain English muffins. Now, this isn’t a meal that’s easy to make as for everyone to sit down at the table and eat because you’d need a commercial griddle to be able to cook all of the eggs needed for the muffins. It’s more of a short order cook type breakfast, so once we had the Old Bay Hash Browns within a few minutes of being done it was time to take orders, and begin making the Egg Muffins.

One of our favorite additions to scrambled eggs is a little bit of Tabasco Sauce. But, that’s a taste that not everyone enjoys. Since we we’re cooking short order today, we were able to offer the extra treat of Tabasco to the eggs for those that enjoyed interesting changes to their meals.

To assemble the Egg Muffins, we first scrambled an egg in a small bowl, adding Tabasco for those that wanted it, and mixing well. We then cooked the eggs over low-medium heat, turned and cooked until done. Then we placed the cooked egg on the toasted English muffin, folding the egg as needed to fit the muffin. We topped the egg with some shredded Cheddar cheese, quickly heated the ham slices in the pan. Since the ham is already cooked we only need to heat it until it’s warm to taste, then place the slice on the muffin and serve with the Old Bay Hash Browns.

Blueberry Pancakes – Yum!

Picture of Blueberry Pancakes

Today for breakfast we made blueberry pancakes using Stoneridge Orchards Dried Blueberries and Bisquick. We didn’t need to use Bisquick, as King Arthur flour, baking soda, and baking powder work equally well for making pancakes and are essentially the same as Bisquick.

Picture of Dried Blueberries
The beauty of using the Stoneridge Orchards Dried Blueberries is that they keep fresh so long and are available year round. Fresh blueberries are only available in season, and are packed in sizes that in general are too large to just make pancakes with. You need a plan when you buy them because they are expensive, and will only keep so long. Dried blueberries on the other hand have a shelf life of several months which give you an opportunity to use them in any variety of ways.

We followed the directions on the Bisquick package for mixing the pancakes and added about 1/2 a cup of dried blueberries to the mixed batter. We then let the batter sit for a minute while we heated our old cast iron griddle and coated it with a fresh coat of canola oil. We test the see if the griddle is warm enough, and we dropped water on the griddle to make sure it dances across the surface. If the water doesn’t dance, the griddle needs more heat. If the water simply boils away the griddle is too hot. Once we get the temperature correct, we lower the heat a bit, keep an eye on how the pancakes are cooking and adjust the heat accordingly.

Picture of Blueberry Pancake showing right amount of bubbles before turningThere is no magic to cooking great pancakes. Simply dip a ladle into the batter, and pour onto the griddle. Pour the batter on the griddle slowly, as it takes a little time for the batter to spread and if too much is poured on the pancakes will spread too wide. We like our pancakes to be about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. Once the batter is on the griddle, cook the pancakes until the top is bubbly all over; then turn them over and cook another minute or two until the bottom is brown. If the color of the pancakes isn’t dark enough for your taste when the pancakes are turned over, cook them a little longer and wait for larger bubbles to form before turning the next pancake. On the other hand, if the bottom of the pancake is cooked too much, don’t wait so long to turn the next pancake. It doesn’t take long to get into the swing of things when it comes to cooking pancakes. The picture to the right shows the pancake at the top of this article right before we turned it over. Because it can take a few minutes to cook a pile of pancakes 2 at a time, we place our cooked pancakes on a warmed plate, and set in a warm oven [about 100° F] until we have enough pancakes made to serve.

One of our favorite ways to eat pancakes is to cook an egg over-easy so that the white is cooked but the yolk isn’t quite set. We then place the over-easy egg in between the pancakes. We top the pancake with a dap of whipped butter, and pour warmed pure Maple Syrup over the top. As we eat the pancakes, we’ll break the yolk, and use the pancakes to sop it up. The taste of the egg, pancake, syrup and butter combined is delightful.

Crabs, and Crab Cakes in the Mid-Atlantic

Tags: , ,

Crab Cake made with Old Bay Crab Cake Classic
Every region of the country or world for that matter, has it’s foods and tastes that are unique to the area. New Orleans is known for Cajun foods, Philadelphia for pretzels and cheesesteak sandwiches. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, one of the regional specialties are Cheasapeake Bay blue crabs. The Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia region is dotted with crab houses. These are restaurants that serve a variety of local seafoods, but specialize on steamed blue crabs.

The blue crabs are steamed and seasoned with Old Bay Seasoning and salt sprinkled over the crabs. Lots and lots of Old Bay is used. Then they are served piping hot with corn on the cob, french fries or hush puppies. Some folks like to have a dish of melted butter, mayonnaise, or vinegar on hand to dip the crab meat in before eating. Eating crabs in shell is a messy, hours long event, usually served with ice cold draft beer. There’s usually lots of newspaper on the table to soak up the juices, and even more paper towels around to wipe ones hands.

The interesting thing about the the seasoned crabs is that seasoning doesn’t make it through the shell of the crab. Instead, the seasoning transfers to your hands while you are opening the crabs, and transfers to the meat as you pick the meat from the shell. You have to be careful as you open the crabs not to get cut on the shells, otherwise the seasoning will get into the cut and hurt like the dickens. Usually, one does get a few scrapes, and all in all it’s just part of the crab eating experience.

Maryland Crab Cakes
Some folks are more squeamish, or don’t like the messiness of eating steamed crabs in shell. For these folks, they like it when someone else has done all of the work for them and picked the meat. We’re not meaning here that a friend will pick the meat for you. Instead we’re talking about professional crab meat pickers that will pick the cooked crabs, which are then generally sold in 1 pount plastic tubs at different prices depending on where in the crab the meat came from. Lump back fin crab meat usually has the highest cost is the most prized meat. Claw meat usually has the lowest prices, with machine picked claw meat being the lowest quality and having the lowest prices.

So for those that like the social scene of the crab feast, like the taste of crabs, but don’t want to break the crabs apart and pick out the meat there is nothing like a well made Maryland Crab Cake. These are cakes of crab meat about 3 – 3 1/2 inches in diameter that are either broiled or fried in canola oil. Since blue crabs already have some fat in them, we recommend broiling them to reduce the fat in your diet. However the fried crab cakes are delicious and have a different texture.

The easiest, and guaranteed way to great crab cakes is to use Old Bay Crab Cake Classic mix. You simply measure the Crab Cake Classic seasoning mix, blend with real* mayonnaise, mix well, form into crab cakes, and cook. There many other ways to make crab cakes, including a few others that are listed on the Crab Cake Classic information page. The essential ingredients for a good Delmarva Crab Cake are:

  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Egg
  • Bread crumbs
  • Milk and/or real mayonnaise
  • Worchestershire Sauce
  • and, of course, crab meat

The Old Bay Seasoning adds the essential Delmarva crab cake taste, while the other ingredients will be the binder that will hold the cakes together after cooking. You don’t want crab cakes with too much bread or bread crumbs. That is, you want a crab cake with just enough bread to bind the meat together and not a cake filled with bread — you want a crab cake. While you might be able to find some quality crab cakes in the frozen food section of your grocery store, the only real way to get a quality Maryland Crab Cake is to make it yourself.

We have a bunch of links to other Crab Cake Recipes.

*You have to use real mayonnaise with eggs in order for the crab cakes made with Old Bay Crab Cake Classic to bind together. The crab cakes will fall apart if you use eggless mayonnaise.

Classic Old Bay Steamed Shrimp

We’re going to switch tracks here from our different foods we cook with Old Bay Seasoning to the more usual. Last night we made the classic meal Old Bay Steamed Shrimp.

Picture of Old Bay Steamed Shrimp

This Old Bay Steamed Shrimp Recipe is a classic and always tastes great. The vinegar taste combines well with the shrimp and Old Bay to tease the palette. It makes a great weeknight meal since it’s so easy to make. We serve these with hush puppies, corn on the cob and cocktail sauce.

Recipe for Old Bay Steamed Shrimp

  • 1 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 lb shrimp
  1. Combine the Old Bay Seasoning, Salt, Water, and White Vinegar in a large saucepan
  2. Place pan over medium heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Add shrimp, mix well, cover, and simmer until tender.

Serve with corn on the cob, and hush puppies

Another Different Breakfast Meal

Today we continue our theme of different foods we cook with Old Bay Seasoning. This time it’s a favorite of ours that we call Railroad Rice. We have no idea why we call it Railroad Rice, or who came up with the name but it’s stuck. This breakfast dish is a meal in itself, and is one of a few recipes we make for breakfast that has a substantial amount of green vegetables in it. Railroad Rice can also served as a luncheon dish.

Railroad Rice

We make Railroad Rice with authentic Basmati Rice from the Himalayas. While there are good quality American grown basmati rices, we feel that there is something to the real thing so we stick to original Basmati rice from India. If you’ve never had Basmati rice, then you’re really missing out on a delightfully light and flavorful rice. At Spice Place we sell Basmati in 15 pound bags, so you might want to try out Basmati in a 8oz store package first before investing in our large value package.

Recipe for Railroad Rice

  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup cooked Basmati rice
  • 2 to 3 slices chopped ‘turkey bacon’ or sliced ham
  • 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 – 3 eggs
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese
  1. Prepare the chopped vegetables. The pieces should be at most about 1/2 inch wide.
  2. Add the canola oil to a large skillet. Heat over medium heat, and add the chopped vegetables. Cook the vegetables over medium heat, turning often, until they are just beginning to soften.
  3. Add the turkey bacon or ham to pan.
  4. Add the cooked Basmati rice*, and stir. Cook the Basmati rice – vegetable mixture for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often, until heated thorough.
  5. Sprinkle Old Bay Seasoning over the rice mix, then add the eggs to the pan, and stir in well. Continue to cook, turning often until eggs are cooked.
  6. Remove from heat, and place on serving dishes. Top with the shredded Cheddar cheese immediately, and serve.

*This recipe is better if you use day old Basmati rice that’s been refrigerated at least overnight.

Old Bay Hash Browns

We mentioned Old Bay Hash Browns in our last entry. It’s an easy to make breakfast side dish and is flavored by our favorite spice blend, Old Bay Seasoning. Old Bay is a staple at our dinner table and we use it on lots of foods which we will continue to discuss here. While Old Bay is more usually associated with lunch and dinner dishes, it’s well suited for breakfast too. Our Old Bay Hash Brown Potatoes recipe will add something new to your breakfast fare.

Picture of Old Bay Hash Browns
Recipe for Old Bay Hash Brown Potatoes

  • 2 – 3 medium potatoes
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • 3 tbsp chopped onion
  1. Wash and peel the potatoes
  2. Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise, then place the flat side down on the cutting board. Slice each half lengthwise about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide. Cut again crosswise, 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide. If you can’t cook the potatoes immediately, place the diced potatoes in a pan and cover with water to prevent them from turning brown.
  3. Lightly oil a 9 or 12 inch skillet with the canola oil. Place over medium – low heat and then add the potatoes. Cover the pan, and reduce heat to low.
  4. Allow the potatoes to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then turn, and replace cover. Turn every 2 – 3 minutes until just starting to brown. It’s important to cook the potatoes in a covered pan so that they cook through.
  5. Add the chopped onion to the potatoes, stir and turn. Cook uncovered turning frequently until the onions are translucent. Make sure the pan isn’t covered or the moisture from the onions will soften the potatoes.
  6. Sprinkle with Old Bay Seasoning to taste.

Cooking With Old Bay Seasoning

We’re always trying to find interesting and tasty ways to make a meal using herbs and spices. One of our favorite spice blends is Old Bay Seasoning from McCormick Spices. Old Bay Seasoning was created in 1939 in Baltimore, Maryland by Gustav Brunn, a German Immigrant to the United States [you can read the whole story @ McCormick]. It’s great with seafood, and here in Maryland is a natural part of eating steamed blue crabs. But Old Bay is great with many other foods so we’ll share a few of our ideas.

We use Old Bay Seasoning in a variety of interesting ways, including Old Bay Hash Brown Potatoes, however one of the most different ways that we’ve used Old Bay is with a recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage. If you’re familiar with Old Bay, you’ll agree that using it for Corned Beef and Cabbage sounds a little different. Well, it is and is quite delicious too. Besides that, the recipe is simple and easy to make. So here we go:

What you’ll need to make Old Bay Corned Beef and Cabbage:
Old Bay Corned Beef and Cabbage

  • 1 lean corned beef
  • 1 large head of cabbage
  • 1 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • Rinse a lean corned beef under running water.
  • Place the corned beef in a suitably sized dutch oven [or 12 quart pot]
  • Chop cabbage into large chunks and place in pot on top of corned beef Picture of Old Bay Corned Beef with Cabbage before adding seasoning
  • Blend 3 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning with 2 cups of water until dissolved. For additional flavor, put the spices that came with the corned beef in a tea ball, and add to pot.
  • Pour the Old Bay Seasoned water over the cabbage and corned beef. For more flavor, put the spices that came with the corned beef in a tea ball, and add to pot.
    Picture of Old Bay Corned Beef with Cabbage after adding seasoning
  • Add more water to pan so that the beef and cabbage are covered
  • Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 3 hours. Taste, and add more Old Bay [to taste] about 1/2 way through cooking.