crab legs snowCooked Snow Crab legsKENTUCKY (3/22/14) – This week Maureen dishes steamed crab legs and office snacks.

Dear Maureen,

I'd like to buy those frozen crabs I see in the freezer section at the grocery, but I don't know how to cook them. Help!

Craving Crabs in Christian County

Dear Craving,

You're talking about snow crab and king crab in this part of the country.

The difference between the two is size, price and flavor.

Snow crabs are generally smaller clusters, with three or four legs and a claw. The price is always less than king crab and generally more affordable.  The white meat is sweet and delicate.

King crab legs are larger, individual legs and are sold in packages of two, three, four or more. The meat is mild and sweet.

All the frozen crab at the market is precooked, making this an ideal dinner choice for a busy weeknight meal, or a casual weekend dinner.

You can grill, bake, broil, microwave, sauté, or stir-fry crab legs, but the easiest way to cook crab legs is to steam them.

To steam snow crab: In a large stock pan, fill water to about an inch or less. Add a bay leaf, several whole peppercorns, a dash of garlic powder (optional) and some lemon zest. Place a perforated steaming basket in the pan. Bring the water to a boil and place the frozen  snow crab clusters on the steaming basket. Cover with a fitted lid and steam six to seven minutes. Work in batches, replacing the water level and temperature for each batch.

To steam king crab: Use the same method as for snow crab, but thaw king crab legs in the refrigerator for eight hours (or overnight for super large legs) before steaming.

Use kitchen shears or specially made crab and lobster scissors to cut open the shells.

Cover your table with newspaper, arrange discard bowls around the table, and serve with drawn butter. Have plenty of paper towels on hand, too.

When shopping for crab legs, look for labels marked "sourced in the USA, or sourced in US waters." Crab legs from other areas, like China and Russia, may have a briny flavor profile from a being soaked in a salt solution. If you buy crab from these regions, rinse before cooking.

Maureen

Dear Maureen,

My office has a bring-a-snack-to-work day. We get lots of chips, crackers and muffins. What can I bring to work that everyone will like, is low in fat and calories and won't break the bank?

Healthy Snacks in Hopkins County


Dear Healthy,

Before I get into specific types of snacks, I'd like to offer two words of advice: portion control.

Now that I got that off my chest, we can talk snacks.

Fresh fruit in season is always a smart choice. In winter, cut citrus in wedges (think grapefruit, cara cara oranges, tangerines and blood oranges). Citrus, high in Vitamin C, is a natural remedy for stress, too. Now that Spring is officially here, look for apricots, kiwis, cherries and strawberries.

Combine fresh fruit with yogurt. Either buy single serve yogurt cups (look for 10 for $10 at the grocery) or buy a few large tubs and sprinkle fresh fruit on top or serve on the side.

Nuts are another popular snack at the office. A handful of walnuts (full of antioxidants), almonds (super stress-buster), or pistachios (a top-ten super food) will give you a boost of energy (nuts are chock full of protein) when you most need it. (Think about your 3 p.m. break.)

Other snack options are granola fruit bars (read the label first though, some are dangerously high in calories and carbs), or fresh guacamole and salsa with baked tortilla chips (or vegetables if you think your co-workers will eat them).

Microwave popcorn is another inexpensive snack option.  And don't discount dark chocolate (another stress reliever, rich in antioxidants) for a quick pick-me-up snack.

When someone brings in cream cheese, strawberry pastry-bites, or a platter of chocolate chip cookies, (you know they will) remember my two favorite words: portion control.

Keep in mind, it's not always what you eat, but how much you eat, that makes the difference.

Lastly, websites, like Graze.com are popping up to offer portion control snacks delivered to your doorstep.

What's your favorite go-to office snack? Let me know in the comments below.

Maureen

Maureen C. Berry is the copyeditor and food writer at SurfKY.com. When she’s not writing or cooking, she’s photographing wildlife in her backyard. Maureen founded Center Street Writers' Guild in conjunction with Hopkins County Public Library. CSWG offers free writing/critique workshops. She lives in Western Kentucky with her husband and wire fox terrier, Reagan. Follow her on Twitter @seafoodladyorl.

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