Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Crab Meat Pasta-Shell Soup

Happy New Year!

Excerpt from Pork Chops & Applesauce:
A Collection of Recipes and Reflections

Crab meat is Costly, yet an Oh-So worth it Treat

“I’d never bought a live crab before.” Kathy told me. “The crabber instructed me on how to cook them and I felt especially adventurous that day. So, I bought 4 of the bug-eyed, pre-historic looking creatures at an unbelievable low price of $1 each. It sounded easy enough, just drop the crab into a pot of rapidly boiling water and simmer it until its shell turns red.”

“Have you ever had to chase a crab around your kitchen? Or worse yet, have you ever been chased around your own kitchen by a crab?” She asked. “Well, I discovered the hard way that a crab needs to be dropped into the boiling water on its back. When I dropped the first crab into the pot face down, it quickly climbed back up the side of the pot, landed on the floor and, clacking its pincers, chased me screaming across the kitchen to the safety of a nearby bedroom.” Kathy howled with laughter as she remembered the incident.

“When I finally got the nerve to leave the bedroom, I chased him around the kitchen, grabbed the partially scalded cantankerous crab and quickly dropped him into the pot…on his back. Victory was mine!” She gallantly announced. “Without doubt, it was well worth the skirmish to get fresh crab meat and at such a reasonable price,” she added. “However, I think that kind of market low price is gone forever!”

Inexpensive crab meat is a price of the past. No matter how you weigh the critter - crab is gonna cost you. But for crab meat lovers the following Crab Meat Pasta-Shell Soup is Oh-So worth it!

Crab Meat Pasta-Shell Soup
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup celery, diced
1-2 tablespoons margarine or butter
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup ripe tomato, peeled and crushed
1/4 cup tiny pasta shells
1 tablespoon parsley, snipped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6-8 ounces fresh crab meat or 2-6 ounce cans crab meat, drained
with cartilage and shells removed

In a large saucepan, saute onion, green bell pepper and celery in margarine until tender but not brown. Add broth, tomatoes, tiny pasta shells, parsley, salt and pepper; bring to boiling. Cover and reduce heat; simmer for 30 minutes. Add crab meat and simmer 5 minutes longer. Serve immediately. Yield: 6-8 servings

This recipe originates from the kitchen of Cheryl Burke, Kent, Washington. Cheryl shared this crab soup recipe with me many years ago when she and her husband, Dan, hosted their annual Kent Fire Fighters’ Christmas dinner. Since then I’ve been making it every holiday season for either Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve dinner. It makes a satisfying and delectable main dish when accompanied with a dinner salad, fresh sourdough bread and chilled white wine. Crab Meat Pasta-Shell Soup gets a double thumbs-up from me as it’s incredibly simple to prepare, yet it tastes gourmet!

More recipes and stories for warming up during chilly winter weather can be found in my book, Pork Chops & Applesauce; Pacific Beach Clam Chowder and
Southwest Meets Northwest White Chili along with their accompanying sure-cure stories for warming you from the inside out.


Smoked Salmon Chowder is a warming comfort food that is satisfying on chilly days, yet promises summer with sprigs of dill weed and parsley. Creamy sour cream thickens the broth and compliments the smoked fish, creating a lunch or dinner that’s sure to please all seafaring seafood enthusiasts.

Smoked Salmon Chowder
2 cups smoked salmon, cut into chunks, (alder smoked is my favorite)
OR 2 cups baked or canned salmon plus ⅛ – ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup onions, chopped
½ cup celery, sliced
1 cup green pepper, chopped (optional)
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
½ - ¾ cup sour cream or cream cheese
1 tablespoon fresh or dried dill weed
2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

Melt butter in medium saucepan; saute onion, celery, and green pepper. Stir in flour, slowly add broth and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until chowder reaches boiling point. Add sour cream, dill weed, black pepper and smoked salmon; heat 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly (do not boil). Garnish with parsley just before serving, season with salt at the table. Yield: 4-6 servings


Of all sound of all bells... most solemn and touching is the peal which rings out the Old Year. ~Charles Lamb

Happy New Year!
C. Briggs

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Sunday, December 13, 2009


Holiday Candy Sensations

Classic Rum Balls
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ cup dark or light rum
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 ½ cups very finely crushed vanilla wafers
1 cup finely chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans

In a large bowl, sift together 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder and allspice. Stir in rum and corn syrup. Stir in vanilla wafers and walnuts; mix well. Cover mixture and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until slightly firm. It’s OK if mixture appears crumbly and dry; do not add more liquid.

Place the remaining ½ cup confectioners’ sugar in a shallow bowl.

Scoop out portions of the chocolate/rum mixture using a tablespoon; form into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in confectioners’ sugar, making sure to coat evenly.

Place on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day place each rum ball in ruffled candy papers; place a sheet of waxed paper between the layers to keep from sticking. Rum Balls will keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Yield: 5 ½ dozen

Simply Decadent Truffles
2 ½ packages or 20 squares, semi-sweet baking chocolate, divided
1-8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
Chopped nuts, optional
Chocolate Sprinkles, optional

Melt 8 of the chocolate squares as directed on package. Beat cream cheese in medium bowl with electric hand mixer until creamy. Add melted chocolate; mix well. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until firm.

Cover baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper. Shape chocolate mixture into 30-36 balls, using about 2 teaspoons chocolate/cream cheese mixture for each ball. Place in single layer on prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm.

Melt remaining chocolate squares as directed on package. Using a toothpick, dip truffles into melted chocolate one at a time; roll truffles in chopped nuts or chocolate sprinkles, if desired. Return to baking sheet. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm. Place each truffle in a ruffled candy paper; store covered in refrigerator. Yield: 3 dozen

Variations: Add 1-2 teaspoons peppermint, rum or almond extract; or ¼ cup orange or raspberry liqueur to the chocolate mixture before shaping into balls.

Chocolate Swirl Bark with Cherries & Pistachios
2 cups (1-12 ounce package) semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 ounces (3 squares) white candy coating
1 cup toasted pistachios or pecans, chopped and divided
1 cup dried cherries or cranberries

In a medium-size microwaveable bowl, melt chocolate chips; stir until smooth and set aside. In a separate microwaveable bowl, melt white candy coating; stir until smooth and set aside.

Mix 1/2 cup pistachios into semi-sweet chocolate; spread onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Mix cherries into white candy coating; pour over dark chocolate; run a knife through both layers of candy to swirl. Sprinkle remaining pistachios over bark. Chill in refrigerator until firm. Break into serving-size pieces. Store bark in air-tight container in refrigerator. Yield:
approximately 1 pound

Creamy French Fudge
1-14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1-12 ounce package milk chocolate chips
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

Combine sweetened condensed milk, milk chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips in a shallow 2-quart microwaveable baking dish. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring at 1 minute intervals.

When chips are melted, stir in vanilla and nuts. Pour fudge into a buttered 8” x 8” x 2” pan. Allow to set-up at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Cut into 1” squares. Store up to 10 days in air-tight container or wrap securely in plastic wrap. Yield: 64 pieces

Variation: Replace equal amounts of choclate chips with either white chocolate chips or almond bark. This is a very nice change from traditional chocolate.

Order Now! There's still time to order Pork Chops & Applesauce and Sweet Apple Temptations for holiday gift-giving. With the lagging economy many people are cooking at home more to save money. Pork Chops and Sweet Apple are ideal gifts offering sumptious comfort food recipes that'll be saving hard earned dollars until we can see this recession in our rearview mirror. Don't delay, click here to purchase: http://www.porkchopsandapplesauce.net/new/


Scheduled Arts & Crafts Shows
Book Signing Events
Hope to see you!

Highland High School, 4700 Coal Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM, 87108, Saturday, Dec. 19, 9 AM to 4 PM.
Velocity Christmas Craft Show, Calvary of Albuquerque, 4001 Osuna Road NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109, Fri. & Sat, Dec. 11 & 12.
Purse Party, 8001 Wyoming Blvd NE, Suite D4, Albuquerque, NM, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2 PM to 4 PM.
Liz & Gil Silva Home, 7709 Apache Ave NE, Albuquerque, NM, Fri. and Sat. Dec. 4 & 5, 9 AM to 6 PM.

Happy Holidays!
C. Briggs