Welcome to Ginger & Java!

Please visit often to check out my cooking tips, tricks and delish creations from my kitchen. Check out my On the Road page to read about my dining experiences and share yours with me.

I’m a lifetime Weight Watcher’s© member, currently above goal, but hanging in there! I’ve included SmartPoints™ values for most  recipes. The SmartPoints ™ are indicated by SP. Occasionally, I’ll even throw in a dining review. Grab some java, or your fav beverage   and let’s explore.

Peace & Java

Gina

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Cream of Crab & Mushroom Soup 

Soup is indeed good food. It can be a light lunch or supper or a hearty dinner served with a green salad and crusty bread for mopping up the yummy creaminess. This soup is quick and easy. I like my soup a little chunky with pieces of mushrooms and crab. For this recipe, the mushrooms are the star, so save the jumbo lump crab for another day. Crab claws or lump crab works just fine for this recipe. I also like to mix my mushrooms. Try a mix of creamini, white and oyster mushrooms for a flavor treat.  If you prefer a completely smooth soup, purée the entire batch and push it thought a sieve. 

Peace & Java


Prep Time: 30 min            Cook Time: 30 min                  Total Time: 1 hour             Serving Size: 1 cup

Servings: 6                          Difficulty: Intermediate         Yield: about 6 cups            SP: 5


INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs fresh mixed mushrooms, sliced

2 medium leeks, white and light green parts washed thoughly and thinly sliced

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cups fat-free reduced sodium chicken broth

1 cup crab claws, picked over for shells

1 cup white wine

1 cup fat-free half & half

1/4 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

DIRECTIONS: 

1. In a large soup pot, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the leaks and cook until wilted and tender, about 5-6 minutes. 

2. Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan, cooking until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and they are lightly browned. Season the mushrooms with salt, pepper and the red pepper flakes.

3. Add the wine and cook until the mushrooms and leeks absorb the wine. 

4. Remove 1/2 of the cooked mushroom and leek mixture and reserve. 

5. Stir in the flour and cook 2-3 minutes with the remaining mushroom mixture. Add the chicken or vegetable broth, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

6. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup to desired consistency. Add the reserved mushrooms and crab to the soup pot and bring the soup to a simmer. Do not boil! Whisk in the half & half and Greek yogurt. Additional broth may be added to achieved desired consistency. Add the nutmeg and adjust seasonings as needed. 

NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS: To make this recipe vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

Sherry pairs well with mushrooms and can be used instead of white wine. 

Blend the soup in batches if you don’t have an immersion blender. 

Quick Peanut Butter Cookies

This peanut butter cooker adapted from an epi.com 3-ingredient recipe is perfect when you want a small batch of warm slightly crumbly cookies in a flash. The day I whipped up this batch it was cool and rainy and I wanted something sweet and warm. This cookie fit the bill. And, I wasn’t stuck with tons of tempting leftover cookies. The cookies store well for days and are even better the next day and the next day….of they last that long!

As you can see from my version, I added three optional ingredients. You don’t have to though. However the slightly salty smoked salt is incredible with the rich peanut butter. I used all natural peanut butter, however traditional pub works too. Next time around, I think I’ll try other nut butters like almond or cashew…could be tasty. When I try them, I’ll let you know. Get your bake on!

Peace & Java

INGREDIENTS:

1 egg

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract, optional

1/4 cup peanut butter chips, optional

smoked sea salt, optional

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat to 350° 

2. Beat egg with a whisk in a medium bowl. Add peanut butter and sugar, mixing until fully incorporated and smooth. Roll tablespoons  of dough into balls and place on baking sheets line with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  Space cookie balls about 2″ apart. 

3. Lightly press tops of cookies with tines of a fork, making a crosshatch pattern. Sprinkle with sea salt, if using. 

4. Bake cookies, rotating trays halfway through, until golden brown, 10–12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool slightly.


NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS:

Add 1/4-1/2 mix-ins to the batter like peanuts, chocolate chips or toffee brittle.

Make peanut butter sandwich cookies, by spreading peanut butter on one cookie and topping it with another cookie. To make the sandiwich cookies, use cookies that are uniformly shaped. Or, try making pub ice-cream sandwich cookies using your favorite ice-cream. 

Can’t Miss Catfish 

I love fish and seafood. I adapted this recipes from Paula Dean’s Can’t Miss Red Snapper, because I prefer catfish to red snapper.  This simple and flavorful recipe is very forgiving. There’s not a lot of measuring required, just go with what feels right. Can’t miss catfish is awesome with couscous or quinoa to soak up the saucy roasted veggies. I’ve even made a fish sandwich with the leftovers. Any white freshly firm fish works with this dish. Use a variety of peppers for a colorful tasty dish that’s light but very satisfying. 

Peace & Java
Prep Time: 15 min            Cook Time: 15 min              Total Time: 30 min     
Serving Size: 1 4 ounce fillet with 1 cup veggies

Servings: 4                          Difficulty: Easy Peasy        Yield: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 (8 ounce) catfish fillets, about 1/2 inch thick

6-8 cloves garlic, minced

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 sweet onion, sliced

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon Worscestershire sauce

2-3 teaspoons Old Bay or Cajun seasoning

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


DIRECTIONS: 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Season the fish with old bay or Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper and Worcestershire.

3. Spread the onions and papers on a 13×9 baking sheet and place the fish fillets on top.

4. Bake for 10-12 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and baste with pan juices. Sprinkle the fish with Parmesan cheese and place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until the cheese browns.


NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS: 

Don’t like catfish? No problem, try tilapia, halibut, cod or red snapper.

 

Crab and Artichoke Stuffed Portobellos 

Let’s hear it for fungus! Mushrooms, that is. If you’re a pescatarian, or doing the Meatless Monday thing, this may be the meal for you. I know, I know, Meatless Monday for some includes fish & seafood, while others just count mammals. Whatever your take, if you like crab and shrooms, I think you’ll like this dish. The capers are pretty salty as is the Old Bay, so taste the mixture before adding more salt. 

To get this meal on the table quickly, prepare the crab & artichoke dip the day before. For this recipe, it’s fine to use canned crab claws or or pick your own from leftover crab legs. Save the pricier premium jumbo lump for special occasions. If you’re looking for an appetizer, this recipe can fill smaller mushroom caps and feed a crowd. The crab and artichoke mixture and be left cold and served on a bed lettuce or as a sandwich filling, just like chicken salad. Or, how about served as an open face sammy with a slice of cheese melted on top?!? Oh, Yeah!! This is one super versatile recipe. If you make the recipe, please share your favorite way to enjoy the dish with me. 

Peace & Java
Prep Time: 30 min            Cook Time: 15-20 min           Total Time: 45-50 min                
  Serving Size: 1 stuffed mushroom

Servings: 4                          Difficulty: Intermediate        Yield: 4 stuffed Portabellas         SP:


INGREDIENTS:

4 Portabella mushroom caps, cleaned and gills removed

1 pound crab claws, drained and picked over for shells

1/2 cup vegetable light cream cheese 

1/2 cup artichoke hearts in water, drained and roughly chopped

1/4 cup red onion, diced small

1/4 cup diced pimentos, drained – 2 oz.

1/4 cup green onions, white and green parts, diced small

1/4 cup parsley, stemmed and roughly chopped, optional

2 tablespoons fat free or reduced fat Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon spicy mustard

1 tablespoon reduced fat mayo

1 tablespoon capers, drained 

Juice of 1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1/4 cup whole wheat panko

Kosher salt, too taste

Pepper, freshly ground to taste


DIRECTIONS: 

1. Toss the crab with the juice of 1/2 lemon and 2 teaspoons of old Bay seasoning. Refrigerate until needed. 

2. Wash the mushroom caps and remove the dark gills from the inside of the cap. Set aside. 

3. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, mustard, mayo, Greek yogurt artichoke hearts, red onion, pimentos, green onions, capers, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. 

4. Fold the crab seasoned with lemon juice and Old Bay into the artichoke mixture. Taste again and just seasoning if needed. Refrigerate until needed. Stir in the parlsley if using, just before baking. 

5. Preheat overn to 350 degrees. 

6. Divide the crab and artichoke mixture evenly among the Portobello caps and stuff. 

7. Top each of the stuffed mushrooms evenly with the panko. Spritz the mushrooms with olive oil or nonstick olive oil cooking spray.  Bake 25-30 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned. 

8. Let the stuffed mushrooms stand about 5 minutes before devouring with a fork and a  crisp green salad! 


NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS: 

Try using your favorite flavored cream cheese. Sometimes, I use garlic and herb or cream cheese depending on my mood. 

I use a grapefruit spoon to remove the mushrooms gills, but a small  baby spoon or teaspoon works too!

If you like it spicy, chop up a few pickled jalapeño slices to add to the crab and artichoke mixture. 

If you don’t like mushrooms, put the stuffing mixture into a dish and bake it to eat with crackers or as a side dish. 


Stir-Fried Garlicky Bok Choy

I’m a sucker for a sale, especially when it’s in season. Recently, I discovered a local Asian market. I love walking the aisle checking out new veggies, sauces and seasonings, oh my! The veggies at the market, are typically pretty cheap, which inspires me to try new foods and recipes. It’s fun to experiement! As with most of my veggie recipes, this recipe is works well for most veggies or stir-frys. The coconut oil and the sesame, really give the flavorless bok choy some sass. I use this story-fry method for cabbage and asparagus and mixed story-fry veggies. Sometimes, I finish the dish with thinly sliced green onions or sesame seeds.  But, I NEVER leave out the garlic. I think, mo’ garlic, mo’ better! Now get in the kitchen and stir-fry some healthy and yummy veggies.

Peace & Java

Prep Time:  15 min          Cook Time: 10 min               Total Time: 25 min          
Serving Size: 1 cup 

Servings: 4                         Difficulty: easy peasy          Yield: about 4 cups         SP: 2 SP



INGREDIENTS:

1 pound baby bok choy, washed, top leaves trimmed and halved

4-6 cloves garlic, minced 

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tsp sesame oil 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper
DIRECTIONS: 

1. Heat a wok or large skillet or medium high heat. Add the baby bok choy in batches, cut side down. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes until crisp tender with a little browning. The bok choy tops should be bright green. Season each batch as it cooks, then place on a plate to cook next batch. 

2. Once the last batch is cooked, return all of the bok choy to the wok. Add the garlic and combine. Taste for seasoning, adjusting as needed. Drizzle with the sesame oil and serve. 


NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS: 

If you can’t find baby bok choy, regular bok choy roughly chopped works just as well. 

Sesame Garlic-Ginger Cabbage

I like most veggies. Add some sesame, garlic and ginger and I’m in love. This cabbage sauté is quick and yummy and works great with any variety of cabbage. It’s even good with other greens, like spinach, kale or chard. It’s equally tasty with book chop and mushrooms. Ya know, this sauce is probably even good on a shoe! If you’re trying to keep things healthy, you can substitute this cabbage for rice in other stir-frys….or not, your choice. As always, feel free to adjust the spice level to make this side dish your own. This cabbage reminds me of kimchi, a mild to spicy Korean fermented slaw made with cabbage.

In case, I’ve neglected to mention it before, I always use low-sodium soy sauce  and fat-free, low sodium broths for cooking. 


Prep Time: 10 min           Cook Time: 5 min               Total Time: 15 min.        Serving Size: 1 cup

Servings: 6                          Difficulty: easy peasy        Yield: about 6 cups         SP: 1 SP


INGREDIENTS:

1 large Nappa cabbage, any variety, cut into ribbons

2 teaspoons toasted black sesame seeds

Sauce

4 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 tablespoons, sriracha or chili garlic sauce

1 tablespoon freshly  grated ginger

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce, Tamari (gluten-free)

2 teaspoons toasted dark sesame oil

Kosher salt, pinch (optional)


DIRECTIONS: 

1.  Whisk garlic, sriracha, ginger, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil in a small. Set aside.

2. Spray a  wok or large skillet with nonstick cooking spray and place over medium high heat. I like to add the tougher core pieces of cabbage first and let them cook before adding the softer leaves. Stir-fry the cabbage core pieces, about 2 minutes. It’s great to get a lil color on them. Add the cabbage leaves  to wok and stir-fry 1-2 minutes until wilted but still crisp with a little bit of color. 

3. Add the sauce to the pan and stir-fry, combining the sauce with the cabbage until the sauce is slightly thickened  1-2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. 

4. Remove the cabbage from the eat, garnish with sesame seeds and enjoy as a side dish or with my Kung Pao Shrimp.  

NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS: 

Don’t worry about peeling the ginger. I keep a piece in the freezer at all times and just grate it straight into recipes with a micro place as needed. Plus, it’s extra fiber! To get this dish on the table even faster, prep the cabbage and make the sauce the day before. 

Sometimes, I like to add thinly sliced onions to the cabbage stir-fry for a little sweetness. Add the onions with the cabbage core pieces in Step 2. They’re sooooo good when they car Alexis a bit. 

If you can’t find black sesame seeds, the regular ones are just fine! I just like the contrast of the black seeds with the cabbage. 

If you’re allergic to soy, try liquid amigos as a soy alternative, to achieve that salty, umami flavor. 


Simple Sautéed Mushrooms

As you know, I do love my veggies. The other day, I scored a great sale on shrooms. So, what’s a girl to do, but head home and sauté up a big ol’ batch. These simple mushrooms are great as a side dish or added to other dishes throughout the week. I like shrooms and scrambled eggs or shrooms on toast with a lil light garlic and herb cream cheese. Toss the mushrooms in a soup or salad. Make a frittata or an omelette or serve them with buttered noodles. This versatile veggie sauté is quick and easy. The method works with almost any veg. Learn the method and sauté your fav veggies in a flash to eat now or to use with dishes later. 

Peace & Java


Prep Time: 10 min            Cook Time: 10 min             Total Time: 10 min         
Serving Size: 1/2 cup

Servings: 4-6                     Difficulty: easy peasy         Yield: about 3 cups          SP:


INGREDIENTS:

1 pound mushrooms, any variety, cleaned, sliced or quartered 

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided 

Non stick coopking spray, optional 

1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

1. In a large skillet heat about 1 tsp of the olive oil over medium high heat. Cook the mushrooms in batches using oil or non-stick cooking spray for each batch. Don’t crowd the mushrooms, so they will brown. Place each cooked batch on a plate. 

2. Once the last batch is done, add the mushrooms on the plate back to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add theWorcestershire sauce to the pan, combing with the mushrooms. Turn the heat to high, so the Worcestershire sauce bubbles and reduces. Let cook 1-2 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve. Remember,  leftovers are great to use in other dishes. 


NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS: 

Slice or quarter the mushrooms, depending on how you plan to use them. Use all one type of mushroom or mix the varieties, your choice! 

If you’re feeling a lil decadent, add a tablespoon of butter after the mushrooms are done. The mushrooms heat will melt the butter, making a yummy sauciness with the Worcestershire. 

Kung Pao Shrimp

I know you know I love love love seafood. I also like my food with a lil kick. While Kung Pao Chicken is good, Kung Pao Shrimp is even better. I prefer cashews to peanuts. To cut the carbs, sometimes, I serve the Kung Pao over my Sesame Garlic-Ginger Cabbage. With or without rice, this recipe is a spicy flavorful keeper. Adjust the level of spice for your tastebuds. And, of course feel free to use chicken or even pork. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m thinking, how about Kung Pao Salmon? That’s definitely on my recipe creation list now!. 

Peace & Java
Prep Time: 20 min            Cook Time: 20 min               Total Time: 40 min    
      Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups

Servings: 4                          Difficulty: Intermediate      Yield: about 6 cups           SP: 4

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound medium shrimp (41-50), peeled and deveined

1 large green bell pepper, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 large red bell pepper, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 large onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup cashews

8-10 dried red chilies

2 green onions, white and green, thinly sliced

1 tablespoons canola or peanut oil

Marinade

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon Mirin

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Kung Pao Sauce

1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar  

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon chili garlic paste, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or to taste

4 cloves garlic, minced

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the soy sauce, Mirin and cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add the shrimp, and toss to coat. Set aside and prepare the rest of the veggies and sauce.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the black vinegar, ginger, soy sauce, hoisin, sesame oil, sugar, cornstarch, chili garlic sauce, cayenne and garlic. Whisk until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved and set aside. 

3. Chilis are potent and can really smoke up the kitchen. Turn on the exhaust fan if needed. Add the canola oil to a large work or skillet on medium high heat. Add the chilies and stir-fry about 30 seconds or until the chilies have begun to blacken. 

4. Add the bell peppers and onion. Stir-fry until a lil browned, but still crisp-tender, about 4-5 minutes. 

5. Stir the marinating shrimp, making sure they are coated. Add the shrimp to the pan and stir-fry until just pink. Add the Kung Pao sauce and and coat the shrimp and veggies. Add the cashews and cook 1-2 minutes until the sauce is thickened. 

6. Remove from the heat. Garnish the Kung Pao with the green onions and serve over Sesame Garlic & Ginger Cabbage or brown rice.  

1 cup of Sesame Garlic & Ginger Cabbage is 1 SP and 1/2 cup brown rice is 4 SP.

NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS: 

Mirin is a rice wine. It can be found in most grocery stores or at an Asian market. 

If you can’t find Chinese black vinegar, my fav is Gold Plum Chinkiang, use a good-quality balsamic vinegar. Amazon carries Gold Plum if you can’t find it locally. 

Hoisin is a Chinese barbecue sauce. You can find it at most grocery stores. 

If you can find ground Sichuan pepper, use it in place of the cayenne. 

Sautéed Kale and Radicchio with shrooms

Do you ever find yourself with a bit of this and a bit of that left in your fridge? I do, and when I do, I like to figure out out to make a little bit of nothing into something tasty. This week, I had some leftover kale and radicchio in my fridge. I thought about making a salad, but since it’s still pretty chilly out, I wanted something a little heartier. So, why not sauté the greens with some mushrooms I got on sale this week. Of course sautéed greens need garlic and onions. And, because radicchio is bitter, how about tossing in some craisins and a lil honey for balance. Yes, I know I used butter. But hey, isn’t all about moderation? Sometimes, I just want butter! Besides, this recipe feeds six. YOLO! This side dish is awesome with Salmon, cod or poultry. It cooks up quick and is a pretty healthy way to eat your greens. 
Prep Time: 20 min            Cook Time: 10 min            Total Time: 30 min           
Serving Size: 1 cup         Servings: 6                Difficulty: easy peasy       Yield: about 6 cups            SP: 3  


INGREDIENTS:

1 bunch kale or chard (any variety), cleaned and roughly chopped stems and leaves

1 small head radicchio, cleaned, cored and roughly chopped

8 oz mushrooms – white or baby bellas – quartered 

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

1/4 cup craisins or golden raisins 

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS: 

1. Remove stems from kale and chop into 1-inch pieces.

2. Melt the butter with olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the kale ribs, cover and cook until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add the mushrooms and onions, cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in garlic. 

3. In batches, add the chopped kale and radicchio, sauté until wilted. 

4. Add red wine vinegar, honey and craisins. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. 



NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS: To lighten this recipe a bit more, use light butter and 2 tablespoons of craisins for a 2 SP side dish.