Lobster Mac & Cheese

LobsterMac&Cheese-3[ Click to embiggen picture of Lobster Mac & Cheese ]

We’re not the kind of people who love to go out to eat much anymore, nor are we the kind that dress up to go out for wine and fine food. Having said that, we are the kind of people who will watch tv shows like “You Gotta Eat Here!” and find new things to cook at home using ingredients neither of us have ever tasted or used, including some more pricey items like good cheeses or truffles. From time to time, mind you. We aren’t the Rockefellers. 🙂

I have been clearing out a backlog of food shows lately and came across one featuring lobster mac & cheese. My husband always stops wherever he is, whatever he’s doing, when his two favourite foods in the whole world are mentioned: lobster, and mac & cheese. So, of course I had to watch the “YGEH!” Déja-Bu segment over and over till I figured out how to make our own version at home, at our own stove, with the ingredients I know I could get my hands on easily. I even studied the recipe published on the tv show’s website.

I scaled down the increments from the originating recipe because I don’t like lobster (that was strictly for the husband), and it’s just the two of us feasting. Two bowls were more than enough for one night. I stored the rest of my Mornay sauce in the fridge to make another bigger batch of baked mac & cheese tomorrow or Monday night. Probably with some chicken and vegetables thrown into it for good measure instead of the lobster.

LobsterMac&Cheese-4

[ The basic Mac & Cheese using just the Mornay sauce, onions and cilantro. ]

Here’s what I came up with. Play along at home if you like this recipe.

Lobster Mac & Cheese:
(Béchamel + cheese = Mornay Sauce)
1/4 C white or cooking onions, diced
2 oz butter
4 TBSP flour
1 lemongrass stalk (or three lemon rind peels)

3 C whole milk
S & P
2 oz gruyere + 1/8 C parmesan cheeses

2 C cooked pasta
1 TBSP butter
2 oz lobster meat (I used lobster flavoured white/pollack meat)
Drizzles of truffle oil (completely optional if feel you want the full Monty)

1. Start the pasta water so it boils while working on the other ingredients. Whack the lemongrass stalk along the length with the back of a big knife (or, if using a lemon instead, peel three strips of rind off) and set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a stock or sauce pan that can hold up to 5 cups of liquid easily. While that’s melting, dice up the onions. When the butter is bubbling, add the onion dice to the pot and let it cook for 3 minutes before adding the flour. Stir the mixture till it balls up and leaves the side of the pot to form the roux. Pour in 1 cup of milk at a time, whisking the roux into the liquid. Let the milk and roux heat through and thicken up, stirring occasionally so the milk doesn’t scald and burn at the bottom of the pan.

3. Add the pasta to the heavily salted pot when the water hits the boiling stage. Give the noodles a quick stir so they don’t stick or clump to each other as they cook for 8 minutes.

4. When the milk mixture is thickened enough to coat a spoon or spatula, remove the pot from the heat and start to ladle it into another bowl or pot with a mesh strainer sitting over the opening to catch the lemongrass or peels and the onions. Place this strained Bechamel back onto the burner and add the cheeses to the pot. When the cheese is fully melted, a few scoops of this Mornay sauce can then be used in a small to medium sauce pan along with two scoops of cooked pasta. Toss to coat the pasta fully.

5. Let the pasta and sauce simmer on med-low heat while melting butter in another small sauce pan. Add the lobster meat when the butter if fully melted. Toss to coat all of the meat; let it heat through (about 3 minutes).

6. Plate the pasta and sauce, and place the lobster meat over top of it, arranging the meat chunks in a pleasing arrangement on top of the noodles. Pour the butter drippings from the pan over top of the lobster, and sprinkle some rough chopped fresh herbs over that and top it all with drizzles of the truffle oil if using. Serve immediately.

Weekend 5 – Oct 25/13

Apple Cinnamon Pancake Mix Gift in a Jar with recipe and free printable labels-0021. Apple Cinnamon Pancake Mix: I love jar gifts. And pancakes. This looks like a lovely addition to my collection.

 

 

 

pumpkincookies2. Pumpkin Cookies: These sophisticated beauties will be mine. All mine!! 😀

 

 

 

KrispieSMores3. Rice Krispy S’mores: A little something-something for the kid inside us all. I don’t normally like s’mores, but I have all of the ingredients in my panty, and I’d love to clear them out, so this batch will be for the in-laws.

 

 

Onion-and-tomato-salsa-recipe4. Red Onion & Tomato Salsa: I’m always on the look out for new salsas to make at home. I’m never satisfied. I can’t get enough!

 

 

 

ChaiMix5. Chai Mix: In a jar? Can it be possible to scoop some of this out into a pan of hot water and milk and it tastes like authentic chai? Or will it be as tacky tasting as that tea bagged crap I bought a few weeks back that makes me gag? Hmm… I’ll find out soon enough.

 

 

What are all of you making this weekend? Let me know in the comments. Off to work now, so toodles!

Cabbage Meatball Stew

Presenting, my variation on the Foodland Ontario’s original cabbage meatball recipe that came out about four years or more ago. It was an instant hit with DH, who isn’t into soups or stews in the least. But, something about the ingredients I mixed together and my straining of the broth before serving intrigued him enough to at least try it. And once he did, he declared it “awesome!” (That’s high praise indeed from a man whose only rating of meals ranges from, “it’s ok,” to “it doesn’t suck.”) As you can tell, I have a harsh food critic at my table every night. Heh.

Ingredients:
3 C Broth (of your choice – I use chicken because I use turkey meatballs more often than not)
1 Bay leaf
2 C Onions, sliced
1 C Whole potatoes, undrained (I use a large can of diced tomatoes instead of potatoes – personal pref)
1 Tsp Dried thyme and dried oregano
1 Pinch Sugar
1 Pound meatball of your choosing, frozen or homemade (I have used frozen chicken, turkey and Angus beef)
1/2 C Dry pasta, uncooked (I tend to use penne, macaroni, bowtie, or any other small pasta I have on hand)
6 C Savoy or green cabbage, finey chopped [1 medium head] (I used half a bag of packaged coleslaw mix)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Boil enough water make your 3 C of broth in a large stock pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Toss in the bay leaf and onions and simmer in pot for five to ten minutes.
3. Add the whole can of diced tomatoes to the pot (liquid included), thyme, oregano, sugar and meatballs to the pot. Cook on medium heat for ten minutes, stirring occasionally, till everything starts to blend into each other.
4. Add the dry pasta and a few good handfuls of the packaged bag cabbage mixture to the pot, cover and lower heat to med-low to simmer for final 15 minutes.
5. Serve hot in bowls with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese over top if desired.

Fall Drinks – Chai

chai

{ Image courtesy of Google Images }

It’s getting chillier here these days. Especially after the sun drops. It’s still fine to walk around without a coat on for the most part, but some nights you just can’t tell and often I end up wishing I had brought my Spring jacket along just in case.

On those nights, I long for a lovely cup of hot chai, but I can’t seem to find a decent commercially packaged version, so I’ve taken to making my own when I’m at home. That doesn’t help me when I’m at work, but luckily I have discovered Tim Horton’s has a fantastic new Pumpkin Spice tea out as of the middle of September. If you can get your hands on it, it’s worth the $1.25 you’ll spend.

Back to my home chai making efforts. I’ve been playing around with the ingredients to find a balance between authentic taste and what I have onhand. I’m not about to buy a whole bunch of ingredients if I don’t have to just because I can’t find stuff I know I have in the pantry but got misplaced and I haven’t located it yet. Also, conventional stores really jack up the prices of Indian spices around this time of the year, so I looked around and discovered alternatives that I think work just as well based on what I found in my kitchen. 
{ahem}

Check out what I have come up with, and if you have the same ingredients at home, try it for yourself and let me know what you think (please and thank you).

Auntie Stacey’s Chai:
3-4 Earl Grey tea bags (strings and tags removed, of course)
2 1/2 C cold water
1/4 Tsp Star of Anise extract (less is more with this extract)
1/2 – 1 Tsp Cardamom spice (I get mine at the local Indian store; it’s the best price there)
1 Cinnamon stick (or 1/4 Tsp ground cinnamon powder, not cinnamon sugar)
2 C Milk
2 Tsp Powder Sugar (it dissolves faster and smoother than white sugar)

1. Heat up the cold water in a sauce pot while you assemble your spices.
2. Drop the tea bags and spices into the pot, and bring them to a boil. Let that roll for about 5 mins to ensure the tea steeps well. This is meant to be a black tea based drink after all.
3. Turn off the stove, and remove the cinnamon stick and tea bags. Drop the sugar and milk in and stir well till it all comes together. Let the chai rest for a few minutes off the burner. The chai will be very hot at this point, but if you like your tea steaming hot, there is no need to rest it. Ladle it into mugs and drink immediately.

 

Weekend 5 – October 4/13

BakedAlaska1. Baked Alaska: This is a cute little dessert from Martha Stewart Living. I love Baked Alaska, but I’m not sure if my husband has ever had it. That seems weird to me, considering he loves ice cream and his mother used to make all kinds of cakes when he was growing up. I may have to make this for his upcoming birthday.

 

chicken-stock2: Homemade 5-Minute Chicken Stock: Chicken stock in 5 minutes? I’m so there! 🙂 I’m really curious and excited by this whole concept. Can it really be done in five minutes?! How? Who? Why? Wow… Where have I been hiding that I’ve never heard of this? If this works, I’m not only going to be over the moon happy, but it’s going to simplify a great deal of my life and get me away from packaged chicken stock mix which has sulphites in it. Woot!

Crullers3. French Cruller Doughnuts: Or as we call them in this house, tractor wheel doughnuts. 🙂 The husband loves tractor wheel doughnuts. It’s his all-time favourite. I like them, too, but I’m not big on doughnuts across the board. But, that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to making them for the husband’s birthday. Oh, no. These babies are definitely being made!

 

PepperDressing4. Cracked Pepper Salad Dressing: I need more salad dressing options. I need to expand my somewhat limited repertoire. That’s part of being an adult, right? (How would I know? I’m totally guessing here. ;-)) This seems like it should be quite tasty, too. We tend to eat salad all year in our home, so this will be quite lovely to have in rotation. Can’t wait.



PotatoWaffles5. Mashed Potato Waffles: Oh, Joy The Baker has done it again. She really gets our need for comfort food done up non-traditionally. She really does. I love that girl. And not just because she has curly bangs like me!

 

 

 

Weekend 5 – Sept 20/13

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Tomato-Herb-Bread-10-495x4941. Fresh Tomato & Herb Bread: I’m thinking this will make a lovely companion to any soup or stew as the cold weather cranks up in the next few months. I’m putting it on today’s list in September because I want time to test this recipe and make a few batches to bake up and freeze so I don’t have to worry about wanting a few slices with dinner randomly at a moment’s notice. My mouth is watering just thinking about how it’s going to taste.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Roll-Ups 0432. Cinnamon Cream Cheese Roll-ups: Now this is solely for the husband. Everything about it has his name written all over it. From the bread (check), to the cinnamon (check and check) to the filling (swoon), he will be pleased. Definitely!

 

 

ChanaMasala3. Chickpea Curry (Chana Masala): Kevin, from Closet Cooking, has this tasty and comfort looking spicy chickpea stew I really want to make and eat this very instant. Love this kind of stew over rice! This plays nicely into my chickpea addiction, so… Yeah, you just know I’m going to make a whole vat of this stuff to hoover back.

 

Goldfish-Crackers4. Homemade Goldfish Crackers: This is a no-brainer, right? Some days I come home from work in this zombie vegetable state, and the cooking just does not get done. Dinner? Eat air. Thirsty? Lick your lips. It’s brutal some nights around here. If it weren’t for snack foods like these crackers, my husband might waste away. 😉 (Ok, not really, but he would eat these every night for dinner if they were kicking around.)

sushiballs5. Chicken Teriyaki Sushi Balls: I have some ground pork left over from this week, so I may use them in these sushi balls. I may not, but I may. We’ll see if I’ve found another use for the pork by then or not. I have everything to make these right now but some defrosted chicken. These look like they’d be a great brunch item. I’d need a great dip for them, though. That shouldn’t be too hard to whip up.

(stroking chin) Hmm…

 

 

 

Weekend 5 – Sept 13/13

MichaelOoooh, it’s Friday the 13th. Are you superstitious? I’m not, but I always support those who are, because I want to feel a part of something. I have a sad little life like that. 😉

So, work is work. We’re gelling together as a team nicely after four weeks, which is good because the large crowds haven’t died down. At all. It’s kinda scary when you look up.

burnWhat’s new, you ask? Well, I managed to burn my hand at work while on a break yesterday. I was trying to pour hot water from the dispenser into my tea cup when I misjudged where the invisible internal spout was on this newer dispenser machine (on older models, the spout hangs down so it’s visible and you don’t have to guess) and the scalding water dropped down on my hand instead of down into my waiting cup that was positioned about two inches away. Oops. Imagine my surprise. It doesn’t look so bad now, and it only hurts in the small area that got hit the longest which is where I have a bit of bruising and swelling.

I figure the burn will all be healed by Sunday or Monday – just in time to do it all over again? 😉 The good news is this will NOT affect my Weekend 5 list. Woot. So, here we go:

SesameChickKebabs1. Sesame Chicken Kebabs: These will be done on Sunday since I have not one lick of chicken in the house right now. We’re planning a Costco run on Sunday AM to grab more. I really like the idea of ground chicken on sticks rolled in sesame seeds for some strange reason. I’m weird like that. Bonus: I’m thrilled to find another food blogger with the Brachydactyly Type D (cosmetic) gene mutation in his or her thumb(s) like I have. I wonder if this person is a member of the Facebook group? Or, perhaps s/he isn’t even aware his or her thumbs are different from others and is somewhat loved and is considered special by the others in our small circle??

alfredo-12. Healthy Fettucine Alfredo: I don’t use Alfredo sauce much because I usually don’t like the taste of commercial white sauces. They’re… caulky. Also, I don’t think they’re as heart smart or calorie friendly as basic tomato sauce. And truth be told, I much prefer a lovely basil pesto, but the husband won’t have anything to do with pesto. He’s anti-pesto. Have you ever heard of anything so silly? Anyway, the use of a vegetable to make this sauce has me intrigued enough to try it. I wonder if the husband will suspect?

caramel peanut butter filled brown butter oatmeal cookies3. Caramel & Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies: For brevity, I condensed the name of this blogger’s cookie. I don’t have all day for a name that long, y’know? 😉 (That sounds mean, doesn’t it?) These look great. Again, this will be for the inlaws more than for us. The husband isn’t big on caramel anything, but he might try one or two if he’s curious enough because he does adore his peanut butter so. And I really adore Fall themed oatmeal cookies. Win-win.

Tomato-Herb-Bread-10-495x4944. Fresh Tomato & Herb Bread: I’m thinking this will make a lovely companion to any soup or stew as the cold weather cranks up in the next few months. I’m putting it on today’s list in September because I want time to test this recipe and make a few batches to bake up and freeze so I don’t have to worry about wanting a few slices with dinner randomly at a moment’s notice. My mouth is watering just thinking about how it’s going to taste.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Roll-Ups 0435. Cinnamon Cream Cheese Roll-ups: Now this is solely for the husband. Everything about it has his name written all over it. From the bread (check), to the cinnamon (check and check) to the filling (swoon), he will be pleased. Definitely!

Weekend 5 Recap

Frittata&GrBeanFries I decided to make the green beans for dinner on Friday night since I had the day off and lots of time to work on them, but as a side to the frittata. The frittata was the main attraction. I loved it. So tasty. I recommend this recipe.

The beans, however, were… ok. I liked the taste of them enough, but my gripe is with the amount of work that goes into deep frying them. I’m not a fan of deep frying at home. I really have to be into the food going into the hot oil to set this up and babysit it at the stove top. Perhaps it’s something you’re into, but not me. And the batter fought with me, so it was frustrating. I’ll give this one a pass, but if you’re interested and don’t mind the labour intensive work, go for it.

SpagBunsTonight for dinner, I decided to try my hand at making the noodle burger ‘buns’. It was really easy to make and fry up, but I made them too big and that lead to sloppy buns, lots of extra food and a plate of bits and bobs on the plate as I wiped my hands off over and over. The issue with making the spaghetti buns instead of the ramen noodles is that’s all we tasted – despite using jalapeno-lime aoili sauce, turkey burgers and lots of roasted peppers.

Spagbun-8SpagBun-7

BakedApples-3My SIL’s birthday is on Tuesday, so I baked up the apples I bought the other day. I left the skins off because she doesn’t like them, and I left out the pecans because she’s allergic to nuts, but other than that, it’s the same dish. The recipe was quite straightforward and easy to throw together quickly and to dress up any way you like once it comes out of the oven.

 

BakedApples-2I topped ours with fresh whipped cream and drizzles of homemade caramel sauce. Everyone liked the taste and textures, but the apples themselves were slippery and hard to cut with a spoon alone, so serve this dessert with a fork and knife. I’m recommending this as a lovely, simple apple dessert, perfect for the fall and last minute bakes.

I made the salt, but I have yet to use it, so I’ll let you know how that turns out another time.

 

 

Weekend 5 – Sept 6/13

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Wow, it’s been so long. I’m sorry. I have two jobs now, and this week marked the end of training on the second one, and my schedule during the week finally stabilized, so I am back! Let’s do this, kids.

I have a few things that caught my eye that I’ve been waiting all week to make. Hopefully that husband, and all of you, will enjoy my picks and decide to give them a whirl in your own kitchens this weekend

Beans1. Copy Cat TGIF’s Green Bean Fries: I have some beans I want to use up before they go bad, and before the recycle guys pick up our green bin contents (the ends of the beans) in the morning, so I’m going to make a batch of these to go with tonight’s dinner efforts. (See #2.)

 

 

 

Frittata2. Zucchini-Tomato Frittata: I have very limited energy after a long week at work. Coincidentally, I also have eggs and tomatoes in my fridge that are set to expire very soon, so this easy dinner idea is a great use of materials and the meager cooking effort I’m willing to put forth tonight. Ugh.
pastaburger

 

 

3. Spaghetti Bun Burger: Ever since Jay from @TheAimlessCook vlogged his version of the ramen noodle burger ‘bun’, I have been trying to decide if I want to give this a go. I’m not a big fan of ramen noodles but I bought some packets nonetheless the other day, so this weekend seems like a great time to try out his method. And in the future, I can alway sub out the ramen for homemade spaghetti noodles if I end up liking the texture. I may not. We’ll see.

 

seasoned-salt4. Seasoned Salt: Ever since I started using liquid smoke, I have been thinking about smoked salt. I have imagined all the various uses to justify baking salt with liquid smoke. It’s going to happen. This weekend. Perfectly timed for Fall cooking, of course. 🙂

 

BakedApples
5. Baked Apples: Bought some love apples today because they were pretty, and on sale. I have been going back and forth for a few hours, pouring over my Pinterest board, before finally setting on baked apples. It seemed like the right dessert to ease us into that kind of baking. And I know my husband loves this dish, so there’s that…

 

The Relationship Saver Chicken Burger

Dinged up your car today and are afraid to tell your spouse? Having marital discourse because you perhaps spent a wee too much money at the mall recently? Are you having a hard time getting your significant other to agree to visit your family more often? Struggling to convincing your loved one to clean up after his- or herself without resorting to nagging?

I’ve got just the thing to for you! Some might call this a Chick-Fil-A knock off, but really it’s more of a strife neutralizer if you think about it. You’ll understand after you’ve tried one.

Do it! You owe it to yourself, your stomach, and your relationship.

Auntie Stacey’s Relationship Saver Chicken Burger:
2 Skinless, boneless Chicken Breasts (sliced in half lengthwise to make 4 fillets)
1 – 1.5 C reserved Pickle Juice brine (straight from the jar)
6-8 large White Mushrooms (washed and sliced up)
2 whole slices of Red Onion (about 1/4″ thick, cut to half moons)
4 slices of Bacon (cut in half to make 8 pieces)
Jalapeno Lime Aioli
4 soft, crusty baker’s Buns
1/2 C shredded cheese (Monterey Jack is a great choice for this burger)

While bringing your meat up to room temperature, let is soak in a bowl filled with enough pickle juice to barely cover it. Let that stand on the counter for up to 30 minutes before you grill it.

In the meantime, heat a pan on the stove while you wash and slice up the mushrooms, and cut the onion slices. When the pan is hot enough, add about 1 teaspoon of oil and let that heat up before you fry your bacon slices. When they’re done, transfer them to a plate with paper towel to drain off the fat. Clean your pan and then toss in your mushrooms and onions together to saute and get a lovely brown colour to them.

Heat up your grilling pan or contact grill appliance. When it’s hot enough, add your chicken to cook for about five minutes. The meat should be thin enough after slicing in half that it won’t take much longer to cook it through. While waiting, remove the mushrooms and onion from the heat; set aside. Cut up the buns and shred your cheese.

After the chicken is done cooking, assemble your burgers and prepare to feast as you pound your hand on the table in ecstasy!

My husband likes to look around the table, toward the kitchen, toward me, and then pick up his plate to look under it, pick up the condiments to look under those, etc., and then look at me with puppy dog eyes as he asks where his second burger is the very second the last bite of his first chicken burger hits his stomach.

Yup… They’re that good.

You’re welcome. 🙂