Faux Crab Casserole

 “Sea” the Possibilities in Your Garden!

Next time you’re making classic yellow squash casserole, and you’re craving a little variety, or a taste of the ocean…try this. Although it sounds bizarre,  squash, when cooked properly,  can masquerade as a seafood dish…an old Southern secret!

First prepare squash for baking (this is a standard recipe):
Approx. 7 or 8 small yellow squash (Crookneck), thinly sliced
1 finely diced onion
1 stalk finely diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced large green pepper
1/2 cup finely diced large red pepper
1/2 beaten egg
1/2 cup Half & Half or evaporated milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour (or more to thicken)
Seasoned breadcrumbs for topping (Panko preferred)

To these ingredients add the following for that “crabby” taste:
1/4 cup best quality mayonnaise
1+ heaping teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or Kosher salt)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
Paprika as desired
Cayenne to taste (Very important!)
Generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Step 1: Melt 1+  tablespoons butter in non-stick frying pan. (Large)

Step 2: When butter starts to sizzle add vegetables, cover, lower heat,  and let cook.  Vegetables will produce a lot of liquid. Allow liquid to “cook off”, and saute until translucent.

Step 3: Add remaining butter to veggies, then slowly stir in flour allowing to lightly brown to eliminate “floury” taste. Add Half & Half or evaporated milk  slowly to browned flour to make roux. Whisking constantly.

Once roux achieves a caramel-like consistency, lower heat and very slowly add mayonnaise, and beaten egg  –  stir until thick and smooth. Add salt, pepper and spices liberally – to your taste – not forgetting lemon.

Pour mixture into buttered baking dish, top with breadcrumbs, Paprika and dot with butter. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees until browned and bubbly. (Approx 45 minutes). Remove and place on cooling rack.

Serve warm (not hot) with extra mayo and Worcestershire. A Caesar side salad with tomato, crunchy roll, and glass of Chardonnay is a great accompaniment.  You might not even notice that the crabmeat is missing! (Yes, you will.)

Don’t sweat the small stuff, anyway you look at it, this recipe rocks. xoxo’s!


Salsa?…no, Sofrito!

Often on Food TV and PBS, recipes have been calling for sofrito. But just what is sofrito, and how does it differ from  salsa?
From my research, the two are very similar, with sofrito being a bit  milder, with a larger proportion of sweet peppers to tomatoes. Very popular in Latin Caribbean dishes, where the main course carries the bulk of the spiciness.

Salsa, sofrito – whatever – both are delicious. Great flavor, great for you! 


  • 2 medium green peppers, seeds removed
  • 1 large red pepper, seeds removed
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes
  • 2 medium sweet onions
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • salt, pepper, lemon juice to taste

Dice peppers, tomatoes and onions in mixing bowl. Finely chop parsley and cilantro and add along with crushed garlic. Spice as you like! Delicious!

The Best of the Block

Fluff… a visiting neighbor and friend from many years ago. A dear soul greatly missed.


Fluff, Royal Avenue’s Favorite

Virginia Peanut Soup

This soup is a Virginia classic. Sounds a little strange at first…but could not be more delicious. Especially on a cold-weather day (or night). Pure peanut decadence!


3 1/2 Cups Chicken Stock or two 14 1/2 ounce cans Chicken Broth
2 Stalks finely diced Celery
1 Medium Carrot
1 Onion, finely chopped
1/4 Cup crushed peanuts, lightly toasted
1 Cup creamy Peanut Butter (natural, high quality)
13 ounces light cream, or 8 0z. whole milk, + 5 oz. Half & Half
2 teas. corn starch (to thicken)
Salt, pepper, sugar – dash of each, or to taste
Scallions, finely chopped (optional)

In large sauce pan saute celery, carrot and onion in approx. 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter until super tender. Add stock to pan, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or more. Very gradually, whisk in softened peanut butter, stirring constantly until smooth. Add milk and spices. Heat without boiling then strain. Discard softened vegetables. Dissolve corn starch in cool water until it forms a slurry. Slowly dribble into strained soup, wisking constantly over low heat until coming to a slight boil and showing a thickness. Simmer 2 more minutes. Pour into warm bowls and top with a dollop of creme fraiche and ground peanuts.  A few finely diced scallions only add to the deliciousness!

While this dish is super-rich, and I promote healthy eating, remember, a little of this goes a long way. Enjoy in moderation!

Wine, Candy…Flowers – Yes!

While chocolates and wine are always acceptable gifts to give your host when attending a party or stopping by for a visit, a bouquet of flowers has always been my favorite – both to give and to receive.

Thanks, Dave and Kathy

These beautiful roses are an example.

Going Nike

For 27 years I’ve “planned” on taking golf lessons, and have spent the last 35 talking about buying a piano.

I mention these things to my mom who has been trying to schedule her trip to Italy since the late 1950’s…

Nikes - Shoes I haven't earned the right to wear

We are not Nike people. We NEVER do it.

“Dumpster Diving” Pays

One man's trash...

While taking my recycling to the local garbage site, my eye was caught by a shiny, metallic wall sconce sticking up from the center of one of the dumpsters. It was a big , tall dumpster –  about eight feet high.  But there were vents on the side which made for great steps.

Up I go. Stretching and straining, trying to grab my treasure, but it was out of reach – and then it happened. I toppled in. True dumpster diving! Fun.

When the vintage lighting fixture was fished out,  much to my surprise, it worked beautifully and came equipped with period orange-red lightbulbs that lit up brightly.

This item sold at the flea market last Sunday for $5.00 to an antique dealer. Wouldn’t you jump in a dumpster for five dollars? If no one’s looking?

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