9.29.2013

Lobster & Veggie Mac & Cheese


It's fairly obvious I have a thing for Mac & Cheese.  Ever since I was a child & my mom would get out the blue box, it just made me happy. Confession... today the blue box still makes me happy. No judgment please.  I found this recipe on Pinterest (where else?) from The Comfort of Cooking.  The original recipe is for a Roasted Veggie Mac & Cheese. That in itself sounded good & I was intrigued about adding the veggies. But the more I thought about this recipe, I thought it needed one more thing.


I toyed with the idea of adding shrimp or chicken, but then it came to me: LOBSTER. Now, what do I know about cooking lobster? Absolutely nothing except that I refuse to bring a live lobster into my house for me to cook. Nope, no way, not going to happen.  After discussing this predicament with some coworkers, they told me Whole Foods will sell lobster out of the shell. Well, this solved my problem! Except I went to 3 Whole Foods & did NOT find any lobster out of its shell.  What I did find though were lobster tails that they were willing to crack for me. Perfect!  


Let me tell you, minus goofing on the cheese (more on that later) this recipe was AWESOME. Even without the lobster, this was a fantastic recipe.  Against my better judgment, I did use whole wheat pasta which I am usually opposed to (I like my carbs OK?) I really couldn't tell the difference.  I think it was meant to be a side dish & without the lobster, that would work quite well. It has a good kick to it, but if you wanted more heat, it would taste great with a bit of hot sauce.  I am definitely a fan of this recipe & can't wait to try more dishes from The County Cook!

Lobster & Veggie Mac & Cheese
Serves: 6
Cook Time Acc to Rachel: 1 hour
How difficult was this according to Rachel? It was a bit complicated, but worth the work!

Ingredients:                                                    
2 lobster tails

1/2 red pepper, diced
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped 
1 yellow squash, quartered and diced         
10 baby carrots, sliced thinly                                             2 cups whole wheat elbow pasta 
4 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups (8 oz.) Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp. panko breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan to taste

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

Line baking sheet with tinfoil & spray with cooking spray.  

Spread out pepper, carrots, squash & broccoli & bake for 17-20 mins. 

While veggies roast, bring large pot of water to boil & add pasta noodles. Cook acc to package. Drain & set aside.


While noodles & veggies do their thing, it's time to tackle the lobster. You'll notice I brought in reinforcements. My arms are really not that hairy.

Remove the lobster from the shell while keeping the piece body of meat in one piece.


We turned to wikiHow to learn how to properly cook a lobster tail. They have 5 different ways, I chose using a skillet.
Over medium heat using either a little oil or butter, place the lobster in the heated skillet.

Cook each side for about 3 mins until the meat is no longer translucent.


Once cooked, chop up into chunks & set aside.


At this point, your veggies should be close to done. Once the are softened, remove from baking sheet & set aside.

Turn up your oven to 500 degrees.


Now comes the fun part; the sauce.

In a large skillet, heat 3 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add garlic & heat for 30 seconds.

Whisk in flour & cook for 1 minute.


Slowly whisk in milk stirring constantly. Once mixture begins to thicken, remove from heat. 

It took mine a few minutes


Stir in cheddar cheese. 

I accidentally added 1/2 cup mozzarella. How does one accidentally add cheese that isn't part of the recipe? Well I was making another dish for breakfast that also required 2 cups of cheddar cheese & I knew ONE of the dishes required the moz. Guess what, it's NOT this dish.


Once cheese is completely melted, add in the cayenne & pepper flakes.


In the large pot that cooked your noodles, combine the veggies, cheese sauce & noodles. Mix well. 

Then stir in the lobster.


Place mix in a greased baking dish. 

Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs.


Place dish in the oven & broil for approx 5 mins until the top is golden brown.


Be careful serving! Major party foul J.


Big thanks to my awesome helpers.

9.25.2013

Slow Cooker Chicken & Tots


Holy crap it has been SO long since I've been blogged! KITK has been so neglected; my poor little blog! Since I posted last, J & I moved into our adorable townhouse, I went back to work, my mom came out for a visit, & we got a 2nd dog! Life has been pretty crazy but awesome.  For the first few weeks, J & I were living out of boxes & eating takeout every night. We were doing a bit of home reno (new floors, lighting, paint etc) that didn't make it the easiest conditions to cook in. Finally a few weeks ago I said enough is enough & I decided to make something in the crock pot. Well, first I had to find the crock pot. Once I found it, then I had to figure out what to make.  J & I had spent days & days emptying boxes & organizing...we deserved something comforting. 

 


Then I stumbled upon THIS recipe at The Country Cook for Cheesy Tator Tot Chicken Casserole. Uhhhh HELLO dinner!  There was literally no debate on whether to try this dish or not. It was SO easy & SO tasty! I mean, the base is chicken, so that makes it healthy, right? :)  OK, maybe not the healthiest meal, BUT I did make some healthier substitutions so I didn't feel totally guilty about it. I will definitely be making this again.

Slow Cooker Chicken & Tots
Serves: 4-5
Cook time according to The Country Cook: 4-6 hours
Cook time according to Rachel: 4.5-5 was plenty!
How difficult was this for Rachel? SO easy!

Ingredients
1 (32oz) bag frozen tots
4-6 boneless chicken breasts (I could only fit 5)                     
1 (3oz) bag bacon bits (I used turkey bacon)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
 (I used Colby & Monterey Jack)
3/4 cup milk (I used skim)
salt & pepper to taste

Directions
Spray slow cooker with nonstick spray really well

 
Spread half the bag of tots on the bottom of the slow cooker

 
Sprinkle 1/2 bacon bits & 1/2 the cheese over the tots

 
Place chicken breasts on top, but make sure not to place chicken on top of chicken


Add rest of bacon, then tots, then cheese

Cook on low for 4.5 hours
 
Serve!

 
Also, I'd like to formally introduce the newest member of our family, Fig!
 He is approx. 3 yrs. old & a complete bundle of love!!
 

7.24.2013

A Northern Michigan Escape

Ahh, pure Michigan.
Well it's no surprise that I went silent again last week. (And before I go further, it will be happening again shortly) Last week J & I escaped to Northern MI for a family (2 families actually) filled week.  J's mom rented a beach house to celebrate her 60th bday. 17 of J's family members made it from all over to celebrate. One house, 13 adults, 4 children, 6 dogs & 3 bathrooms. It was quite the week!

View of town from my parents condo.
 But, before J & I got to that crazy madness, we spent a few days with my family who were vacationing only 2 hours away.  My family has been going up to Charlevoix since I was a kid, but unfortunately, when you move across the country, it's not easy to get up north. 

Murdicks is THE BEST hands down. 
You can't go "up north" without stuffing your face with fudge. J & I ended up buying 6 slices to take for his family, but I am pretty sure I ate at least half of it. 


It was awesome showing J around Charlevoix since it has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and it really is a special place.


After a few days with my family, it was time to join in the birthday madness. Duke was able to tag along which was awesome. Life at the beach without a leash suites him well. 


You can always count on J's family to keep the drinks coming. Sitting outside, watching the sunset over the water & drinking wine. What more could a person want?


There was also a bonfire on the windiest night of the trip. It's a miracle the fire stayed contained!


On the last full day, the "in-laws" (well, 2 in-laws, one cousin & one future in-law) went off to explore some wineries that were nearby.  One of our stops was all sparkling wine! Absolutely delicious.

We affectionally named ourselves the runaways.
This picture just about sums up the trip.  What an awesome family-filled memorable week!  



7.21.2013

Chilled Taco Dip


I don't know about you, but I ALWAYS love a good dip.  My pant size says it's possible that I love dips a bit too much.  I've made a few Mexican inspired dips, but all of them have been served hot.  It was nice to change it up & make a cold dip...especially knowing my fiends and I would be chowing on this next to the pool on a hot summer day.  The original recipe was found at a little north of crazy.  I modified her "Gone in a Blink Nacho Dip" by adding seasoned ground turkey.  To me, it became more of a "taco" dip than nacho...but does the name really matter when you taste AWESOME? No, it does not.  It was super easy to make & my friends gobbled it up QUICKLY.  I considered adding a few veggies to the dip, but then felt it was better to keep it simple. This will definitely be made again!

Chilled Taco Dip
Serves: 8-10
Cook time according to a little north of crazy? 40 mins
Cook time according to Rachel?  40 mins
How difficult was this for Rachel? Easy!

Ingredients:

1 pkg light cream cheese
1 cup light sour cream
1/2 pkg taco seasoning
1 jar salsa
1/5 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar & mozzarella)
1 pkg ground turkey (I used pre-seasoned, if you use unseasoned, you will need 1.5 pkgs taco seasoning)


Directions:

In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey then drain.

 If your meat is unseasoned, once turkey is browned, drain & mix 1 package of seasoning.

Once meat is cooked & seasoned, place evenly in the bottom of a baking dish.  

Place meat in the fridge for 20 mins to cool.

Please ignore this horrible pic
While meat is cooling, in a medium sized mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream until completely mixed through.  

Add in 1/2 pkg taco seasoning & mix well.


Once the meat is completely cooled, spread the cream cheese sour cream mixture evenly over the meat.


Pour entire jar of salsa on top

Then add on the cheese.

THAT'S IT!

7.12.2013

Hash Brown Hash



Yesterday I introduced one of my new favorite skinny recipes, Skinny Potato Bake.  After eating potatoes for 2 days, J & I still had half the dish leftover.  Feeling lazy & wanting breakfast for dinner, I decided to get a little creative with the potatoes. Enter turkey sausage crumbles & eggs.  I always love a good egg based dish because it fills me up without feeling stuffed.  What's so great about this dish is how easy, delicious & satisfying it really is.  It took all of 10 minutes to make & was pretty cheap!  We already had eggs on hand, all I needed to get was the meat.  I had grand visions of adding in peppers & onions...but that idea got lost somewhere between my couch, the grocery store & my laziness. Guess I have an excuse to make this again!

Hash Brown Hash
Serves: 2 (large portions...hey it was dinner!)
Cook time: 10 minutes (+ 1 hour if making potato bake from scratch)
How difficult was this for Rachel? Couldn't have been easier!

Ingredients
1/3-1/2 Skinny Potato Bake (Just depends on how much potato you like, I used about 1/3) If you haven't made the Skinny Potato Bake yet, get the recipe here.
4 eggs (I used egg beaters)
1 cup pre-cooked turkey sausage crumbles

THAT IS IT!  


In a large skillet over medium heat, cook your eggs.  

I added the sausage in a bit pre-maturely.  I would wait until the eggs are almost fully cooked then add in sausage.

Let sausage cook with the eggs for a few minutes.


Add in potatoes. Cook an additional few minutes until everything seems cooked through.

THAT IS IT!


7.11.2013

Skinny Potato Bake


I warn you all now, brace yourself for some major gushing. I am IN LOVE with this recipe!  Not only was it SUPER easy to make...it was absolutely delicious.  You would NEVER KNOW this was a "skinny" recipe.  There was SO much flavor...I'm craving some now! I had to control J & I from  polishing off the entire pan.  I made the recipe as a side dish for dinner...and then I proceeded to eat it for breakfast the next morning. I love a dish that can be served any time of the day!


The original recipe came from The Spotted Lamb (she's a GENIUS) and at first, after reading the reviews, I was nervous to make this dish.  Some people had no problem, others had issues with their dish being too watery.  I modified the amounts of liquid just a tad, and mine was PERFECT.  Follow my tips & you should have no problems at ALL.  The only thing I might have done differently was cut the recipe in half since it was a bit much for just J & I.   Check back tomorrow to see what I did with the leftovers!...well what was leftover after eating this for 2 days & 4 meals!

Skinny Potato Bake
Serves: 8-10
Cook time according to Rachel: 1 hour
How difficult was this for Rachel? Easy!

Ingredients:   (No photo...Blogger hates me sometimes)                                    
1 (32oz) bag frozen shredded hash browns, THAWED
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fat free chicken broth
1/4 cup skim milk
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup shredded cheese (I used 4 State Cheddar)

Note: It is important not to use fat free everything because then your dish will be too watery.  The fat helps blend everything together. 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees


In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients. Mix well.


In a 9x13 greased baking dish, spread potato mix evenly.


Bake uncovered for 55 mins. Let sit for 5 minutes & serve!

That's it!