Sunday, September 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.

Wednesday, September 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!!