Tag Archives: pasta

Quick update and an easy recipe

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Update! My job interviews went well; that’s right interviews. I got a phone call that turned into a phone interview right after I got home from my first interviews. Fingers crossed that one of these turns into a full-time position for me!

In celebration of two successful interviews, The Boyfriend and I hit Home Depot again to pick up some curtain rods; tonight I will say good-bye to ugly bedroom blinds and a stupid closet door and hello to pretty bedroom curtains! Yay!

 Ugly blinds before

Pretty curtain after!

Space-wasting closet door before

Pretty new closet curtain after!

 Ok, quick recipe time! I bought some delicious blue cheese (mmm) at our local co-op and after nom-ing on a small snack of Miss Vickie’s jalapeno potato chips and blue cheese, I decided to make dinner. I had 2 goals for dinner tonight: I needed dinner to be easy and I also wanted to clean out the fridge of leftovers. Voila! Miracle chicken was born (I called it Miracle because it tasted too good to be so easy).

 Miracle Chicken  

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast, seasoned and cooked
  • 4 oz mushrooms
  • ½ white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 oz blue cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 Directions:

1) Chop up the garlic and onion; wash and dry mushrooms.

2) Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat; add garlic, onion, and mushrooms. Salt and pepper the mixture and sauté for 5-7 minutes.

3) Add balsamic vinegar to skillet and cook mushroom mixture for another minute or until brown and slightly crunchy; remove from skillet.

4) Butterfly cooked chicken breast; spoon mushroom mixture over the chicken breast. Top with blue cheese and breadcrumbs.

5) Broil chicken for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted and breadcrumbs are browned. Eat ½ of the portion and serve with a giant salad to assuage the guilt.

 No pictures, sorry; I ate it too fast! This was delicious. And decadent. And easy. And I didn’t feel that it was too bad for me since I only ate a small portion. If you’re nervous about blue cheese, I urge you to try it; yeah, it has a strong smell and is kind of gross if you think about the fact that it’s moldy but it’s also creamy and unctuous and it can really be the belle of the ball in a dish like this. I guess if you have a strong aversion to blue cheese, you could probably swap the blue for goat cheese, but I really recommend the blue.

‘K, that’s it for tonight. New tradition: Question of the Blog! Tonight’s question: what is your favorite cheese? I think I need to work on my question-asking skills…

Farmers’ Market

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Farmers’ Market

I meant to post this on Saturday but I got behind so happy belated blog! On Saturday The Boyfriend and I checked out the renowned Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market. Every Saturday, the farmers’ market takes over downtown Troy; Troy closes off a few streets and close to 80 local vendors set up shop for four hours. I was super excited to see (and shop!) locally: I have never had the opportunity to buy meat, dairy, and accoutrements from local farms. In south Florida, there was a gigantic flea market that I used to frequent to buy cheap produce and the best Mexican food around, so I was doubly excited to find a replacement for my previous favorite Saturday excursion.

The Boyfriend and I decided to try to get as much of our weekly shopping done at the market as possible so we withdrew $60 for shopping (leaving about $30 for things we could only get at the grocery store). We got some great stuff for $55 (we had $5 left over!); I listed it all out because you’ll be seeing it on recipes throughout the week:

-1 lb ground beef and 1.6 lb beef spare ribs (Bornt Family Farms)

-1.3 lb chicken wings (Homestead Farms; antibiotic and hormone free)

-1 (huge) bunch kale

-1 zucchini, 1 squash

-1 lb Yukon gold potatoes

-1 bunch garlic scape

-1 tub sundried tomato and chive schmear Argyle Cheese Farmer

-1 tub Gar-la-la (vegan, raw garlic spread) from Zorba’s Natural Food

-1 22oz Hefferveisen from Brown’s Brewing Company (local brewery)

-6 oz locally made pasta from Flour City Pasta (sweet potato shells, red pepper crested rigate, lime tubes, carrot thyme radiatori)

-1 quart chocolate milk from Battenkill Valley Creamery

-1 bagel (Our Daily Bread)

-12 jumbo eggs (Cornell Farm)

On the wish list for next week is pesto from Buddha Pesto, pickles, sauerkraut, or kimchee from The Pickle Club, and some local wine! But for this week, The Boyfriend and I have planned out:

*Creamy Chicken Pasta and Raw Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

*Korean-Style Short Ribs with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and a salad

*Buffalo Wings with Cheese-Stuffed Zucchini/Squash and a salad

*Asian Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps with Sautéed Kale and salad

Now! The recipe. I had a cooked chicken breast left over from the week, as well as some mushrooms and orange pepper so I decided to combine leftovers with fresh goods to make an easy, healthy(ish), and fast dinner; for this recipe, I also used the schmear, garlic spread, and my local pasta.

Creamy Chicken Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz tri-color spiral pasta
  • 8 oz chicken breast; seasoned, cooked and chopped
  • 4 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
  • Half an orange pepper, diced
  • Half a white onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp schmear or cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: 2 tbsp Gar-la-la

Directions:

1) Put a pot of water on the stove to boil; add dash of olive oil and salt to water.

2) While waiting for your water to boil, heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, onion, and garlic to pan; cook 3-4 minutes.

Freakishly large garlic clove!

3) Add mushroom and red pepper to pan; cook another 3-4 minutes.

4) Turn heat down to medium; add schmear, milk, and Gar-la-la (if using). Stir until schmear melts and milk and schmear is incorporated.

5) Add chopped chicken, salt and pepper, and dill.

6) Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all ingredients are incorporated. Turn off the burner and take the skillet off the heat; add lemon juice just before serving.

If I wasn’t going for healthy, bacon would be a great addition to this recipe; spinach would also be a tasty compliment to the pasta. Or sundried tomatoes! Or rosemary instead of dill, mmm. Or… I should probably stop before I get carried away. The point is, this recipe is pretty versatile and you really can add or omit ingredients at your discretion. I can’t recommend the garlic spread enough though—shit is baller. Tastes great on everything—bread, crackers, chips, pasta; you get the idea.

For the side dish, I decided to serve some of the giant bunch of kale that I bought. I didn’t want to serve it the way I normally do (sautéed with garlic and olive oil) since the pasta was already garlicky. Instead I decided to go out on a limb and make a raw kale salad. Kale can be a bit bitter (and, as The Boyfriend says, tastes “too plant-y”) but I read a few online recipes that recommended removing all of the stem to tackle the bitterness problem; the recipes also recommended soaking the kale in salad dressing  to soften it up and give it some flavor.

Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • ¼ bunch kale
  • ¼ cup cup shredded carrots
  • 6 slices of cucumber, quartered
  • 1 roma tomato, chopped
  • ¼ cup roasted chickpeas
  • ½ cup salad dressing

Directions:

1) Wash kale; completely remove all stem pieces and chop kale into bite-sized pieces.

2) Add kale and salad dressing to Ziploc bag; squish bag to make sure kale is completely covered in dressing. Place kale bag in fridge and let chill for 15-20 minutes.

3) When kale is ready, put kale in bowl with other salad ingredients; toss.

Roasted Chickpeas  

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Seasoning of your choice (I used paprika, salt, pepper, red pepper, and garlic powder)

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400o; line a baking sheet with tinfoil.

2) Add chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, and seasonings to bowl. Mix well.

3) Spread chickpeas onto baking sheet and put baking sheet into oven; bake for 20-25 minutes stirring chickpeas occasionally.

Once roasted, the chickpeas can be eaten as a snack as well as a salad-topper; The Boyfriend really enjoyed them and compared their texture and taste to peanuts.

The salad was pretty good; The Boyfriend thought it was still too plant-y but I thought it tasted fine. I’m also a big fan of tomato, cucumber, and shredded carrots so it was an easy sell for me.

Cleansing

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Cleansing

It has been a while (too long!) since I have updated; it’s been a busy time. In the past 2 months, I finished writing my senior thesis, passed my baccalaureate exam, and graduated! I also packed up my whole life and for the next few weeks I’m in limbo in my hometown. Before I know it, I’ll be celebrating my birthday (22!) and then moving to upstate New York!

I did manage to sneak in a little bit of cooking during the last weeks of school and I thought I’d post a few of the recipes, to make up for not posting in a while.

The theme for today’s recipes is red! A marinara-based pasta dish and red velvet cupcakes, to be precise. Let’s start with supper: the night that I made this, I didn’t have a definite idea in my mind what I wanted to make. The Boyfriend and I recently started shopping at a more expensive grocery store with a better selection. To handle the price difference, we bought our produce at a local flea market and then bought whatever proteins looked great and were on sale. This meant that we’d often make recipes up on the fly with whatever we had in the fridge. One such night, I decided to use up the eggplant in the fridge and I made a dish that I dubbed Spicy Pig-plant Pasta (okay, the name could probably use some work).

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 jar pasta sauce (I used Barilla’s Sweet Pepper)
  • 1 lb spicy Italian ground pork*
  • 1 spring onion, chopped, white and green parts separated
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4-6 oz of mushrooms
  • olive oil
  • spices (dried oregano, thyme, garlic, red pepper etc)
  • 12 oz pasta, cooked

*Our pork was originally store-packaged as links but the meat counter guy took the casings off for us. You can get regular ground pork if the spicy Italian style is not available or if you’re not a fan of spicy food.

Directions

  1. Start by roasting your eggplant. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Slice the eggplant lengthwise. Cover a baking sheet with foil and drizzle it with some olive oil. Rub some seasonings (oregano, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper) on the cut side of the eggplant. Place cut-side down onto the oiled baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes or until eggplant skin is slightly browned and shriveled. Place eggplant halves cut-side down in a colander and let drain and cool, about 20 minutes.

2. Heat a little bit of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, the white part of the spring onion, the mushrooms and the garlic; cook about 5 minutes.
3. Add the ground pork to the skillet. Cook until pork is almost done, about 3-5 minutes.
4. Turn the heat down to medium and add the jar of sauce to the skillet. If you want to adjust the flavor of the sauce, add thyme, rosemary, oregano, or red pepper to taste.
5. Let sauce simmer about 5 minutes or until pork is cooked through and sauce is warm. Serve over noodles with parmesan cheese on top, if you wish.

Before this dish, my boyfriend swore to me that he’d never enjoy eggplant. He quite enjoyed this dish, but that may have more to do with the fact that he loves spaghetti and “didn’t even notice” the eggplant. Although I suppose it is still a good way to sneak in extra veggies!

And now for dessert. After our baccalaureate exams my friend KK and I decided that we needed to make authentic red velvet cupcakes. We’d both been craving them for weeks and with all of the extra time on our hands we had to make them! I got the recipe from a Yahoo article about the 8 essentials for an “authentic” red velvet cake. In case you’re curious, those essentials are:  the cake must have some cocoa, but not too much because it is not a chocolate cake;  the cake must have red food coloring; the cake must have cream cheese frosting; there should be pecans; you must use high-quality ingredients;  it must be made in small, easy-to handle, family-sized batches; you must use a hand-held electric mixer, not a stand mixer, so that you don’t over mix the batter; and red velvet cake batter needs vegetable oil, not butter or shortening to yield a moist cake. Well, we might have broken a rule or two (we didn’t use pecans and I bought the most cost-effective ingredients rather than the most expensive) but the cupcakes could not have been better!

Here is Paula Deen’s recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes:

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. 4. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer.

5. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

 

6. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

 

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth.
  2. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated.
  3. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Another integral part of our cupcake-making/de-stressing evening was playing with kitties! I have 2 adorable boy cats; while we waited for the cupcakes to bake, we got our quota of kitty cuddles! We played with them and petted them but as soon as the cupcakes were out of the oven, we only had eyes for them.

This post is cleansing for a few reasons. First because it is the first post I have written as a college graduate! Finally all of the stress of school and thesis and statistics is off my back and I can focus on the immediate future. Speaking of, this will probably be the last post I write until I move to NY; once I get settled, I hope to update the blog several times a week rather than once a month.

This post is also cleansing because I am cleaning myself up and trying to lose a little weight, get a little healthier, before I move. So for the past 2 days I have been on a juice cleanse and tomorrow I start The Master Cleanse. The Master Cleanse is a detoxifying cleanse has you drinking 6-12 glasses of “spicy lemonade” a day. The “lemonade” is 10 ounces of water + 2 tbsp lemon juice + 2 tbsp real maple syrup + cayenne pepper (although it sounds gross, I have heard that it’s pretty good; I’ll know for sure tomorrow!). I’ll be drinking the “lemonade” and working out and hopefully I can detox my body of all of the stress and nastiness of thesis year–no more daily Taco Bell runs! With the cleanse and then moving out of state I feel like I really am starting a new life–wish me luck! And good luck to you in all of your endeavors.

Polenta “lasagna” and spending time in the kitchen with family

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Polenta “lasagna” and spending time in the kitchen with family

This past week, I was fortunate to have my family in town. My mom drove down because her cousin was going to be this area, so The Boyfriend and I put up my mom’s cousin, her husband, their daughter, and their daughter’s daughter (3 generations!). We live in a 2-bedroom house so this week was a bit hectic, but definitely fun!

The first night that the family arrived, I wanted to make a recipe that I had been meaning to make all week. I took my time and it wound up taking a few hours to make it all, but that was just as well because no one was super hungry when they got in. Anyway, the recipes came out well and it was a nice, light meal to cap off the evening.

Polenta “lasagna”

Adapted from the recipe at Vegetarian Times

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-size onion, chopped
  • 6 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. low-fat milk
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 17-oz. tubes polenta, sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook onion in large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat 3 minutes, stirring often. Add all mushrooms and garlic; cook, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes, or until onion is tender. Add 3/4 cup milk, and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

2. Mix cornstarch with remaining 2 Tbs. milk, and stir into mushroom mixture. Add cream cheese and broth (or wine), and cook, stirring often, 1 to 2 minutes, or until smooth and blended. Remove from heat. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.

3. Coat 8×8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 3 Tbs. mushroom sauce in bottom of dish. Layer 1/3 of polenta slices over sauce. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese over polenta. Top with half of remaining mushroom sauce. Layer with 1/3 of polenta slices and remaining sauce, and top with remaining polenta.

4. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake, uncovered, 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly.

Beets are one of the super-veggies: they are low in calories and fat, but very high in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Beets contain a significant amount of vitamin C and folates, and are a great source of Niacin (vitamin B-3), Pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), Pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and carotenoids, and minerals such as iron, manganese and magnesium. Unfortunately, beets have always been one of those foods that I dislike. However, in the spirit of Adventurous Appetite, I am trying to fall in love with all of those foods that I disliked as a child. I now love brussel sprouts, why not beets?

One of the problems most people (including The Boyfriend) have with beets is that they taste like dirt. I wanted to know if that dirt taste could be harnessed and made into a lighter, more earthy taste.

I found this recipe for a great salad using beets as the main veg (I also figured that if The Boyfriend still hated the beets, he could at least eat the other veggies in the salad). This salad uses roasted beets. The salad and the dressings were tasty enough (though, be warned: the habanero sauce is HOT!) but frankly, I think next time I will just eat the roasted beets. They had a great texture (firm but almost velvety soft) and were light, sweet, and earthy (but not “dirty”!). So I recommend this salad if you too are afraid of beets or even if you love them but want to try them in a new way.

Roasted beet salad

Adapted from the recipe at Melomeals

Ingredients

  • 2 c roasted beets, cooled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 c shredded carrots
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 t minced fresh ginger
  • 1 t lemon pepper
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 T white vinegar
  • 1/2 c cilantro, chopped

Directions

1. Start by roasting the beets: preheat the oven at 400 F.
2. Clean the beets and trim the greens to about 1/2 inch from the top of the beet.
3. Put the beets on a roasting pan. Coat the beets with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4.  Cover with tinfoil and bake for 45+ minutes or until the beets are fork tender.

5. When beets have cooled, remove the skins and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

6. Add cubed beets, shredded carrots, green onions, cilantro, and red pepper to bowl.

7. Mix OJ, ginger, lemon pepper, sugar, and vinegar together. Add to salad right before serving.

If I make this again, I think I will have just eat the salad like that, but I this time went ahead and made both of the dressings.

The habanero sauce is not really a dressing. It was tasty but quite spicy! I think it would almost taste better diluted and used as a marinade.

Ingredients

Adapted from the recipe at Melomeals

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/4 habanero
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 carrots
  • 8 large garlic cloves
  • about 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ t sugar
  • 3/4 cups red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

1. Sauté peppers, onions, carrots, garlic and salt for 15 minutes in a non stick skillet

2. Add sugar, vinegar and water

3. Bring to a strong simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes

4. Let cool and blend

The sesame dressing was interesting. I think I liked it’s flavor more than that of the habanero sauce. It was a little thin (probably because I didn’t have the flax seed that it called for) but it was tangy and unique. And if you make too much of it, it would also be a tasty marinade.

Sesame dressing

Adapted from the recipe at Melomeals

Ingredients

  • 3 T toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 c vegetable broth
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 T chopped ginger
  • pinch sugar
  • 1/4 t lemon peppper
  • 1/8 t cumin
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar

Blend everything for a minute or two in a blender.

    The finished dinner:

It was perhaps not my favorite meal ever but it was healthy and definitely edible and my family seemed to enjoy it. And really, what more can you ask for?

To my Mom, Sandy, Paul, Jen, and baby Gabby: I am so happy you were all here! I hope we can get together again soon ❤

Lobster Mac and Comfort Cooking

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Lobster Mac and Comfort Cooking

So in the last post, I talked a bit about comfort food and why Korean food is comforting for me. Today is different; today I got comfort not from the food (although it was delicious!) but from the act of cooking it (and I even remembered to take pictures this time!).

Today I finally got to try two recipes that I have been begging The Boyfriend to let me do. The first was beets. The boyfriend has a high aversion to these maroon-ie root veggies. “You know what my mom says about beets?” he says whenever I bring up the possibility of making beets. “What?” I say, even though I know what’s coming next. “She says that she eats them whenever she is craving something that tastes like dirt.” Sigh. Some people (like The Boyfriend) think that tasting like dirt is the same as tasting earthy. I tried to explain that while beets are earthy, they don’t have to taste dirty, but until this week, he wasn’t having it. This week I put my foot down and said that I wanted to try making beets. I was able to placate him by pairing the beets with another recipe I have wanted to do: lobster mac-n-cheese. To quote the blogger that I borrowed the recipe from, “We are not talking about the abomination of folding lobster meat into mac and cheese here. We’re talking about using every part of the lobster to layer and accentuate its flavor in a spectacular lobster and macaroni gratin.” and s/he wasn’t kidding! It was definitely an effort (not a quick or easy meal) but it was a labor of love and it was just what I needed to boost myself up today.

The last few weeks, I have had so much work to do that it feels more like I am looking down the barrel of a gun that looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. And unfortunately, the workload is only increasing. So today when I got out of class feeling dejected and staring at the mountain of work piled in front of me, I did whatever any mature, responsible adult would do: I took a nap. Ok, so it wasn’t the most mature or the smartest decision to make, but I was feeling so low that I just couldn’t face it. When I woke up form my nap, I just wanted to do something that I could feel good about and would also give me that feeling of accomplishment. So I decided to tackle my most challenging recipe of the week. It took about 3 hours from start to finish (prep to doing the dinner dishes) but it was way worth it. Not only was it delicious but now I also feel better about the work in front of me; because really, if I can make lobster mac, I can handle 5 chapters of statistics homework, right? Right?

Lobster Mac adapted from the recipe at Zen Can Cook

serves 3-4

For the lobster:

3 lobster tails, cooked in a court-bouillon*

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 carrot, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

1/2 large white onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup bourbon**

1/4 cup white wine

1 tablespoon tomato paste***

4 ounces whole peeled tomatoes

1/2 bouquet garni (fresh parsley, thyme, and tarragon, tied together or loose)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

salt and pepper, to taste

For the gratin:

approx. 6 ounces elbow macaroni

lobster meat from 3 lobster tails (above), roughly chopped

Gruyere cheese, grated

*For my court-bouillon, I used water, lemon juice, salt, parsley, bay leaf, tarragon, and thyme, but feel free to adjust the seasonings to your taste.

**The original recipe called for Cognac but I didn’t have any so I used Maker’s Mark. Use whichever one is most convenient for you!

***It is super annoying to buy a whole can of something only to use 1 tbsp of it, so I froze the rest of the tomato paste in 1 tbsp increments in an ice cube tray. In the future if I need just 1 tbsp, I can pop an ice cube out and throw it in the pan.

Directions:

For the lobster broth and meat:

Make sure you have everything prepped, so chopped all of your veggies and boil your lobster tails.

After your lobster tails have been boiled in the court bouillon for approximately 5 minutes, remove from water and cool. Once cooled, separate meat from tail.

In a deep enough stockpot, heat the olive oil over high heat and add the lobster tails. Brown for a few minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the chopped carrots, celery, onion and garlic and keep cooking until translucent, about 5 minutes.Remove from pot and set aside.

Deglaze with the bourbon or Cognac and carefully set aflame with a match. When the flames die down, add the white wine and reduce. Add the tomato paste and the crushed whole peeled tomatoes and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the bouquet garni and the heavy cream. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes at a very gentle simmer. Turn off the heat and let it cool for 15 minutes.

At this point, if you have a hand held blender you can remove and discard the tough lobster part and blend the mixture until roughly blended before straining it through a chinois or strainer. If you don’t have a hand held blender, strain the mixture making sure to push hard on the solids to extract all the juices. You should obtain a lobster ‘cream’ more or less the same consistency as a cheese sauce. Reduce if too thin to concentrate the flavors. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the gratin:

Cook the macaroni ‘al dente’ and add it to the lobster ‘cream’. Adjust seasoning and toss the chopped lobster meat with the macaroni and lobster ‘cream’.

Scoop the mixture into buttered ramekins or a casserole dish. Sprinkle the shredded Gruyere over the top in an even layer.

When ready to serve, broil for a few minutes until a nice crust has formed and bubbly on top.

Ok, so the beets aren’t as exciting but they are a nice complement to the mac-n-cheese because it is tart and sharp and crunchy where the mac is soft and gooey and rich. And beets are really good for you, where the mac is only good for the spirit.

10-minute Beets, adapted from the recipe at A Doctor’s Kitchen

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 beets, without greens, scrubbed and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive, plus more for drizzling, if desired
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar, or to taste
  1. Shred the beets in a food processor fitted with a disc for medium shredding or fine julienne.*
  2. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the shallots and garlic; cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add the beets and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper. Cook, stirring and tossing, 3 to 5 minutes, until the beets have given up their water and are crisp-tender, or longer to desired doneness. Take pan off of heat and stir in 2 teaspoons of the vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.  Serve immediately.

*I don’t have a food processor that can shred beet so I just chopped them with my Pampered Chef Chopper and that worked out fine

So here is my first official post with pictures of the food that I actually made! And about those pictures… I’m sorry if the color/angle/clarity is not always good. I’m not terrific with a camera and I have a basic shoot and point. But hopefully it gets the idea across.

Until next time!