By Cheryle Finley
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Regardless of the weather Saturday, plungers will be freezin' for a reason at Shoal Creek in support of the Special Olympics Polar Plunge. Though I've never had the urge to take a dip along with them, I'm glad other brave souls are willing to. The event raises money for a good cause, and participants know that jumping into the creek in February is part of the deal.
Real polar bears get overheated when temperatures go over 50 degrees, but these plungers would be happy to see the mercury climbing to those heights.
On Tuesday, I visited with Carol Parker about this year's Polar Plunge, and we were joined by Shiver, the Polar Plunge mascot. I tried to come up with some dishes I thought might appeal to Shiver, so I chose salmon casserole, hot crab dip and a warm Mexican hot chocolate. Come to find out, none of these were his first choice, but I think the salmon would work in a pinch.
Salmon can be prepared by pan-frying, grilling, broiling or baking, but my favorite way to make it is turning canned salmon into patties or croquettes. I like to mix salmon with cracker crumb, egg, salt, pepper and onion powder, then fry it up so it's a little crispy. I serve it with macaroni and cheese for a fast dinner about once a month.
The canned version contains some harmless skin and a few calcium-laden bones, so give it a good draining and you're ready to go. Adding salmon to salads and dips are other uses for this versatile trout relative.
Wikipedia.com notes that the word "salmon" is derived from the Latin word "salmo," which may come from "salire," which means to leap. It makes sense when we see salmon jumping the rapids on their amazing migrating journey that sometimes takes them thousands of miles. This keystone species, which helps support wildlife, is classified as an oily fish that's high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.
Besides canned and steak options, salmon also comes as lox, which is salmon that has been cold-smoked or salt-cured. It's the perfect topping spread on a bagel. Salmon caviar might seem a little pricey at $80 for 7 ounces, but compared to 8 ounces of Russian Osetra caviar, which is available on gourmet.com for more than $900, it's a bargain. Salmon tastes good and it's good for you, so remember it and when you're doing your meal planning.
I'm embarrassed to say that I had my first visit to Moe's Southwest Grill, at 32nd and Main streets in Joplin, last week. Brian Ollenburger was headed there, and I tagged along. I enjoyed the best burrito ever, with fork-tender steak and other toppings I chose from the many choices. Moe's knows how to fix a burrito. Next time I visit I want to try something different, but I'm tempted to go with a known winner. Fast, friendly service and great food make Moe's a new destination on my lunch list.
Visit the Diamond Cafe and order the steak. The meat will be tender and flavorful, and it will be cooked just right, compliments of John. You will be tempted by the ham steak or pork chops, which are good choices, but go with the steak. You won't be sorry.
Looking for biscuits and gravy to get your morning started? Chick-fil-A and Braums offer two completely different versions that are so equally delicious, it's hard to choose a favorite. I'm still trying both each week, and after a couple of months it's still a toss-up.
Today's crab dip and salmon recipes are from the "Rival Crock Pot Cookbook." The dip is creamy goodness made for heaping on a pita chip, and the casserole is a good alternative to patties for canned salmon.
Mix up the hot chocolate for a relaxing evening treat or just as a nice warm-up. It really is best topped with whipped cream. This recipe is from the "Taste of Home Cooking School Cookbook."
Be sure to come see Shiver and all of us at the Polar Plunge on Saturday and happy eating!
Hot crab dip
12 ounces cream cheese, cubed
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup Parmesan cheese
2 (6.5-ounce) cans lump crabmeat
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt to taste
Fresh chives, minced
Combine cream cheese and whipping cream in a slow cooker. Cover and heat on high until the cheese melts, about 45 minutes. Add the Parmesan, crabmeat, soup mix, Worcestershire sauce and garlic; stir thoroughly. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes. Just before serving, add the lemon juice and mix well. Salt to taste. Sprinkle with chives for garnish.
Salmon and potato casserole
4 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper
1 (16-ounce) can salmon, drained and flaked
1 onion, chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup water
Place half the potatoes in greased slow cooker. Sprinkle with half the flour, salt and pepper. Cover with half the salmon, sprinkle with half the onion. Repeat layers. Combine soup and water. Pour over top and dust with nutmeg. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 10 hours. Yields 4 servings.
Mexican hot chocolate
1/4 cup baking cocoa
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup boiling water
Dash ground cloves or nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whole cinnamon sticks
Combine cocoa and sugar in small saucepan; stir in water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the cloves, cinnamon and milk. Simmer (do not boil) 5 minutes. Whisk in vanilla. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream. Use cinnamon sticks as stirrers. Yields 4 servings.
Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.