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So my question is what is the easiest way to go about scraping a Stack Exchange forum "recent questions" and display them in the side bar of a wordpress site?

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Use an RSS feed widget and grab the RSS feed of the SE site. In the case of this site: http://wordpress.stackexchange.com/feeds/

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Use the stack exchange API http://api.stackexchange.com/docs along with WordPress' HTTP related functions:

... and finally cached for good measure.

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