Sunday, January 5, 2014

Pretty Packaged Treats

There's something about pretty packaging or gift wrapping that makes me so happy. It can be so easy to add a simple extra touch that really makes a difference (to me, anyways!).

My colleagues set up a treat exchange for the holidays and I thought individually packaging my treats would be an easy way to pass them out. 

I printed out a laurel wreath design with the name of my treat on it. I created it using Picmonkey, see the tutorial in this post.  After I printed them and cut out the hexagon shape, I used a hole punch so I could tie some gold ribbon around the bag with the tag. They are not cut perfectly but I'm pretty sure no one noticed :-)

All piled up in a bakers box, transporting and displaying made easy!

I picked up the celophane bags from Walmart, they actually have a lot of different packaging in the cake decorating section (near the craft supplies.) I love keeping these on hand and have found many ways to package items (tied at the top, folded over with a sticker, folded and tied like a present).

I made Walnut Chocolate Oatmeal bars using a recipe from  I have had this recipe for a few years, pre-Pinterest, so it was saved to PDF. I couldn't find the link today but here is a snapshot of it.

So easy and delicious, they keep well packaged this way and are wonderful with some coffee for an afternoon snack.


Easy Crab Cake Appetizer

If given the choice, I would always pick to eat a spread of different appetizers instead of one main dish. I had some friends over the other evening and we suggested everyone bring a dish to pass for dinner before heading out. This was just after Christmas and my Grandmother had made the most amazing crab cakes & sauce. She gave me the recipe but I just didn't have the time to create them from scratch. I've had the pre-made crab cakes from Trader Joe's before and they are delish so I figured I could just take the larger cakes and break them apart into smaller portions - more appropriately sized as appetizers. 

Once thawed, these became pretty mushy and hard to shape into smaller sizes so next time I will just thaw half way before reshaping. I tossed them in some flour to help keep it together. One package made about 5 smaller size cakes.

I fried them in sunflower oil on medium-high heat until crispy on both sides. After letting them drain on papertowel, I placed them on a bed of greens and served with two aioli sauces. 

They turned out pretty good and are perfect for a quick meal or an appetizer for guests - so easy!

I am however keeping the following recipe on file for when I have more time to make these crab cakes from scratch. This is the recipe my Grandmother followed, both the cakes and the sauce, and I can vouch that they were fantastic. It is from Scoma's Restraurant in San Francisco's famous Fisherman's Wharf and featured in the Detroit Free Press here.

Scoma's Crab Cakes

Makes: 20 / Preparation time: 15 minutes / Total time: 35 minutes
These can be made several hours in advance and reheated.
¾ pound lump crab meat
2 tablespoons minced white onion
1 tablespoon diced celery
2 tablespoons diced pimentos
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
½ teaspoon lemon juice
2 eggs
¼ cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning or to taste
1½ cups panko bread crumbs
1-2 tablespoons canola oil
Crab Cake Sauce (recipe below)
Pat the crab meat dry and set it aside.
In large mixing bowl, mix together the onion, celery, pimentos and parsley.
In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, eggs, mayonnaise and Old Bay Seasoning until thoroughly incorporated. Add to the vegetable mixture and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
Add panko crumbs. The mixture should be sticky but not too moist. Add additional panko crumbs as needed.
Fold in the crab meat, trying not to break up any of the chunks. Shape the mixture into small patties about 1½ inches in diameter.
In a large nonstick pan, heat the canola oil. Working in batches, cook the crab cakes on each side until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining crab cakes.
Adapted from

Crab Cakes Sauce

Makes: 1¼ cups / Preparation time: 10 minutes / Total time: 10 minutes
1 tablespoon chopped celery
1 tablespoon chopped white onion
1 tablespoon chopped pimientos
1 small potato, peeled and steamed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 pinch paprika
½-1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
In a blender, place all the ingredients. Pulse until blended. The sauce should be emulsified as a dressing. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
Adapted from