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In addition to her monthly Practical Pantry article, Debra Caffrey is the Editor of the Education and Infant E-newsletters for FredParent. She is the proud mom of a middle schooler. Debra is passionate about cooking, meal planning, and smart grocery shopping, and is excited to share her ‘Practical Pantry’ with you.

 

Practical Pantry

It was 2007—the last of our “pre-child” and parenting years. The end of that season of life when you could leave everything behind, travel whenever you wanted to and savor every last moment of the experience, whether it was sleeping in late in your kid-free hotel room or relishing the invigorating feeling of getting a little lost while sightseeing. Don’t get me wrong, vacations as a family have been some of the most cherished moments of my life as a mother. But there is something so sacred about traveling together just as a couple, or even alone. I’ve been grateful to do both in my life before parenthood many times, and for me, part of what makes this kind of voyage so memorable is the great food. It’s always about the food, isn’t it?

It was during one of these last little trips as a couple that I had one of the best meals of my life. My husband and I took a little weekend getaway to Mystic, Connecticut. We toured the aquarium and the beautiful seaport, loving the historic and nautical ambience of the town. On our last night there, we decided on a beautiful oyster house restaurant directly on the water. Back in those pre-parenthood days, the wait time to get a table didn’t matter, and I recall that we waited for about two hours—definitely a sign of a popular restaurant! Even though we were starving at that point, the wait was worth every minute because we scored the perfect patio table outside on the water. And the timing was perfect, too. The sun was melting gorgeously into the water, providing a blissful sunset as the backdrop to our dinner.

I ordered these creamy, cheesy, luscious “seafood skins,” a riff on a potato skin with loads of fresh crabmeat and shrimp, all held together with some kind of secret sauce that’s been haunting me all these years. It was simply one of the best meals I’ve ever had, not only because the dish was unforgettably delicious and because the scenery was stunning, but because that night lives on in my memory as a symbol of our couplehood and how sacred and perhaps indulgent those long, kid-free dinners out can be. For me, food is often the link between experience and memory, and whenever I make these crab-stuffed twice-baked potatoes, it brings back cherished memories of that night. They may not be the real thing, but they certainly are still super yummy and representative of that special time in our marriage. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Cheesy Crab-Stuffed Potatoes


● 6 baking potatoes
● 4 tablespoons butter, divided
● 1 medium shallot, diced finely
● 3 cloves garlic, minced
● 2 cups cooked crabmeat
● 1½ cups grated cheese (cheddar, provolone, or Muenster)
● ½ cup sour cream
● 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
● Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Prick potatoes with a fork. Roast in oven until cooked through, about 45 minutes to an hour.

While potatoes are cooking, melt two tablespoons of butter in pan. Add the shallots and sauté for a few minutes. Add minced garlic and sauté a few more minutes. Add the crab and cook until heated through. Set aside.

Allow potatoes to cool. When cool enough to handle, slice potatoes in half, then use a spoon to scoop out the interior, placing it in a bowl. Add the shallot and crab mixture, remaining butter, cheese and sour cream. Mix until well blended. Add parsley, and season generously with salt and pepper.

Fill potato shells with the crab filling. Top with extra parsley if desired. Bake until cheese has melted, around 35 to 45 minutes.

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Cooking Autism, Inc. is driven to help children with neurological disorders (including autism) learn how to cook. Participants are encouraged to pick up critical communication skills, learn how to work as a team and be more independent. They can build skills in math, reading, and science, and learn about cooking-related topics such as health and nutrition. 

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