Monthly Archives: February 2013

Welcome to Spartan & Caito Foods

Dear Chief & Rays Shopper, I want you to know about a big change coming to Chief & Rays! We have signed on with two new suppliers. Spartan Stores based in Grand Rapids, Michigan is going to be our new grocery supplier. They have an awesome line of private brands (more on that soon). We also have a new produce supplier, Caito Foods from Indianapolis. Both companies are going to offer us amazing deals and opportunities that will delight you! I have so much more I will share about the benefits of changing suppliers - but for now I wanted to let you know it is happening. The changeover starts this week. You will see people in the aisles changing the shelf tags. I don’t anticipate any problems but just in case, I apologize up front if there are any “bumps” in service while we transition all of our computers to work with these new suppliers. Thanks for your patience! I promise it will be worth it. All the best, Stephanie Skylar, President

Mary’s Memo #2307

GRAPEFRUIT: ENEMY OF MANY MEDICATIONS



A whole grapefruit or a single small glass of grapefruit juice (less than 8-ounces) may be sufficient to cause an interaction. In one case, grapefruit marmalade was the trigger. The culprit in grapefruit is a chemical group called furanocoumarins. Seville oranges, limes and pomelos contain the same chemical. Although interactions between at-risk drugs and these less common fruits are not so widely reported, it might be wise to avoid them, also. When used with certain medications including statins (used for lowering cholesterol), grapefruit and grapefruit juice can affect the way these medications are metabolized in the body. In most cases, the result of this interaction is an increased drug level that may lead to a serious adverse affect. There is no safe margin for preventing a drug-grapefruit reaction. It is important for patients to tell their health care providers and pharmacists if they consume grapefruit products so medications can be screened to ensure that they don't interact.

SOURCE: Duke Medicine HealthNews, February 2013.

BE YOUR OWN VALENTINE WITH HEART HEALTHY
FOODS





February is Heart Month in the United States, which makes it an ideal time to brush up on foods that are best for your heart. Fortunately, there are many foods that can improve your heart health. Foods include salmon with omega- 3 fatty acids, a special type of healthy fat; oats with a soluble fiber called beta-glucan; nuts with fiber, vitamin E and magnesium; apples high in pectin, a soluble fiber that lowers cholesterol; flaxseed, a great source of plant omega-3s as well as fiber; brown rice, rich in fiber and B vitamins; and spinach, great source of folate, antioxidants, calcium, potassium and fiber. In addition to these foods, choose lean animal proteins such as seafood and skinless poultry. Limit your sugar intake and use unsaturated fat like olive and canola oils and spreads made from vegetable oils.

SOURCE: Weill Cornell Medical Collage Women's Nutrition

Connection, February 2013.

ARSENIC AND OLD RICE



We are exposed to trace amounts of arsenic all the time. Based on its findings, Consumer Reports recommends that adults should consume no more than 2 to 3 servings of rice products a week. Children, who are more vulnerable to arsenic's toxicity due to their smaller body size, should eat

only about 1 to 1-1/2 servings a week and should not drink rice milk as part of their daily diet. Look for rice grown in California and imported basmati and jasmine rice, which may have lower arsenic levels. Cook rice in a lot of water like you cook pasta (6 cups water of boiling water for 1 cup dry rice). When rice is done, drain of the remaining water. You may lose some of the nutrients in the water but you reduce arsenic by as much as 45 percent.

SOURCE: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, February 2013.

WHAT'S FOR DINNER?



Wintertime brings its share of days when leaving home isn't advisable. We learned during the blizzard of '78 that many people in northwest Ohio found themselves without necessary staples. Some of us had electricity but others didn't. My spouse was at the local radio station for 3 days but he never worried about our youngest son and me because he knew I kept a "full larder." I can still manage a meal or two when I can't get to the supermarket for one

reason or another. The internet is a source of recipes but it also helps the cook create an entree. For example, I had a 7-ounce can of tuna and thought tuna patties sounded good for a meatless meal. So I typed in tuna patties and a list of possibilities appeared on the screen. I chose one calling for a 6.5 to 7-ounce can tuna plus 1 egg, 1 tablespoon tuna liquid, 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard and 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs, all items I had. Using the cooks.com recipe as a guide, I came up with my version for a Lenten meal.

TUNA PATTIES



1 large egg

1 (6.5 to 7-ounce) can albacore tuna packed in water,

drained, reserving liquid

1 tablespoon tuna liquid

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup Italian dry bread crumbs

(panko crumbs would work, too)

1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter for frying

Combine egg, tuna, tuna liquid, mustard and half the bread crumbs. Mix well and shape into 4 patties. Pat surface on both sides with rest of crumbs. Heat olive oil and butter in 10-inch skillet. Cook patties over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown on one side. Turn gently and cook several minutes longer until browned on the other side. Be careful not to overcook. Recipe makes 2 servings. Cocktail or tartar sauce on the side would be flavorful additions.

SOURCE: Adapted from cooks.com recipe
Download PDF of Memo #2307

Buffalo Chicken French Breads

Some of my favorite foods to indulge in are buffalo chicken wings. Deep-fried, crispy, coated in buffalo sauce and dipped in copious amounts of ranch dressing. They are not the healthiest food in the world... so I try not to eat them too often. However, I love to create meals that still capture the 'buffalo wing' flavor without being so unhealthy. Case in point - Buffalo Chicken Tacos & Buffalo Chicken Bites. This week's recipe is a quick dinner that comes together in less than 30 minutes, start to finish. Buffalo Chicken French Breads - chicken breast pieces doused in buffalo wing sauce, all atop french bread, covered with two types of cheese, and toasted until bubbly perfection. Thinking about it, this really isn't that healthy either. [Carbs + cheese overload!] At least it's topped with some vegetables... green onions & cilantro count, right? ;)  

IMG_3139

  To get started, toast some fresh-cut french bread under the broiler for just a few minutes until golden brown. Make sure you watch it because it can go from golden to black in a matter of seconds. (I should have taken mine out about a minute earlier.)  

IMG_3132

  Next, make the chicken. Saute some chicken breast pieces in a little bit of olive oil until browned and cooked through. Then add some buffalo wing sauce and a pat of butter. Mmmmm, butter.  

IMG_3134

  Time for the assembly - spread a bit of ranch on each toasted bread piece, then top with a sprinkle of cheese. Then, the chicken with all the sauce, and more cheese. I used a combo of co-jack and feta cheese, but you could just use whatever you have on hand.  

IMG_3135

IMG_3136

IMG_3137

  Pop it back under the broiler for a few more minutes just until the cheese melts and the bread is toasty. Scatter some green onions and cilantro over the top, and dinner is done!  

IMG_3143

  There's just something about the combination of toasty bread with that buffalo chicken and cheese. Especially hearty and delicious for the wintertime! My husband and I have actually already made this a couple times; we enjoyed it that much. We did a barbecue chicken version which was equally tasty if you're not into the spicy stuff. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Buffalo Chicken French Breads

Servings/Yield: 4-6 servings
  • 1 loaf French bread
  • lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • cup buffalo wing sauce
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3-6 tablespoons ranch dressing
  • 8 ounces colby jack cheese, shredded
  • 6 ounces feta or blue cheese
  • 4-6 green onions, sliced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Method Preheat broiler. Slice french bread into individual portions, and then in half lengthwise. Place on baking sheet. Broil 1-3 minutes, just until toasted. (Watch it, because it'll burn quick!) Heat a large skillet to medium heat, and add olive oil. Add chicken to pan; season with salt & pepper. Cook about 5 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked through. Add garlic; cook about 30 seconds. Add buffalo wing sauce and butter; mix to coat evenly. Spread a bit of ranch dressing (as much as you like!) onto each piece of bread. Top with a sprinkle of colby jack cheese, and then evenly distribute the chicken and sauce among the bread pieces. Top with remaining colby jack and feta cheese. Return breads to oven; broil 3-6 minutes until cheese is browned & bubbly. Watch carefully, all broilers are different. Remove from oven, and top with green onions and cilantro. Source: adapted from How Sweet It Is

Mary’s Memo #2306

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF



Knowing many of you are Taste of Home subscribers, I rarely mention their cookbooks although I've bought a few that were available to me for $10.00. Taste of Home 2012 Quick Cooking Annual Recipes, however, cost $22.99 plus postage. Bryan shoppers tell me they prefer recipes that are easy to make and don't take a grocery bag full of ingredients to make so this should be a winner.

The cookbook came on a cold winter day when I didn't plan

to leave the house. Fortunately, I happened to have the ingredients for Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce. When pork loin halves are on sale, meat department people cut a roast into 1-inch chops for me. That way I'm rarely without pork chops in the freezer. Although the original recipe said to cook pork chops to 160oF, I only cook them to 145oF. The National Pork Board follows the guidance of the U.S.D.A. which recommends cooking roasts, tenderloins and chops to an internal temperature of 145oF, followed by a 3 minute rest time. Ground pork, however, should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160oF.

PORK CHOPS WITH MUSTARD SAUCE



4 boneless pork loin chops (about 6 oz. each)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, brown chops in olive oil. Add wine and garlic, stirring to loosen brown bits from pan. Bring to a boil; cook for 2 minutes. Add broth; cover and cook for 8 minutes or until internal temperature is 145oF. Remove pork from skillet and cover with foil. On medium high heat bring pan juices to a boil; cook until juice is reduced to 1/3 cup. Stir in butter, lemon juice, mustard and Worcestershire sauce; heat through. Serve with pork. Yield: 4 servings.

SOURCE: Adapted from Taste of Home 2012 Quick Cooking Annual Recipes.

BRINING MEAT



My Mary Ann started brining pork and poultry way before I did but I'm here to say it does make meat juicier. The following proportions are enough for 4 pork chops or a chicken half:

1/4 cup kosher salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1 quart water

Whisk salt and sugar together in quart of water until both are dissolved. Add meat and brine in the refrigerator 1 hour per pound. Drain brine and proceed with grilling, broiling or roasting.

AVOIDING THE FLU



The flu season extends into March so we're hearing a lot about how to avoid it. I have a soap dispenser at the sink that I don't have to touch and I use it a lot. The hand towel in the kitchen as well as the bathroom is changed daily. Invest in Clorox wipes to sterilize surfaces. Daddy was way head of his time by cleaning counter tops, etc., before dishes are washed, not afterwards with dirty dishwater. In addition to cleaning vegetable brushes in the dishwasher, clean toothbrushes as well. Especially during flu season don't share the same toothpaste tube. With all the additional hand washing, do keep them lubricated with CeraVe moisturizing lotion, recommended by dermatologists. Regarding laundry, follow directions for washing delicate and colored clothes in your automatic washer but when it comes to bed linens, kitchen towels, wash cloths, also ones used in the bathroom, only hot water will kill bacteria. One other thing: Do avoid anti-bacterial soaps because you could build up immunity to bacteria that could later save your life. This is a well known fact and I can't understand why antibacterial soaps and detergents are still on the market!

CONVENIENCE FOODS NOT ALL BAD



My generation cooked more "from scratch" but I've added some of the produce department's pre-packaged mixed vegetables to my shopping list. Remember the recipe made with the zucchini stir-fry combo on the January 14 memo? This weekend I tried the broccoli stir-fry with La Choy's new Orange Ginger Marinade and Sauce. Since I like fresh mushrooms, I also added them to the mix.

ORANGE GINGER BROCCOLI STIR-FRY



8 oz. package button mushrooms, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 package broccoli stir-fry (mine weighed about 3/4 lbs.)

2/3 cup La Choy Orange Ginger Marinade and Sauce

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute mushrooms in olive oil and butter until nicely browned. Add broccoli stir-fry mixture and Orange Ginger Marinade and Sauce, stirring constantly until just crisp-cooked, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately. Recipe makes 4 portions. Note: To make this a quick main dish instead of a side, add 1 cup cut-up rotisserie chicken.


PS: Salt is mentioned twice in the list of ingredients in the Groundhog Soup recipe in the January 28 memo. The amount needed is 1/2 teaspoon (or to taste), not an additional 3/4 teaspoon!
Download PDF of Memo #2306

Ready for Mardi Gras – Cajun Crab Dip & Muffuletta Paninis

Sometimes the winter can seem to drag on forever... week after week of cold weather, snowstorms, and not a whole lot of excitement going on. My solution to getting through the winter doldrums? Celebrate each and every little holiday out there! Make a big deal for Groundhog's Day on February 2. Go all out for Valentine's Day on February 14. Celebrate National Banana Bread Day on February 23. (Just kidding on that last one. Maybe...) One of the bigger celebrations throughout the month of February is definitely Mardi Gras. While I've never been down to New Orleans, I do enjoy the typical Mardi Gras cuisine. Gumbo, jambalaya, catfish, bananas foster, and you can't forget the beignets!   IMG_3053   Today I've got two Mardi Gras recipes that would be perfect for a little party or get-together. First up, Cajun Crab Dip. Creole spices play up the traditional warm crab dip. Add in some pickled okra and bell peppers, and you've got a delicious snack, perfect for scooping up with toasted baguette slices. Next, Muffuletta Paninis. Layers of salami, ham, provolone, mozzarella mixed with tangy olives salad make this sandwich hard to beat. All pressed between two crusty slices of ciabatta bread, it's a fun twist on the classic muffuletta sandwich.   IMG_3075   To get the dip started, saute celery and bell peppers in some butter until tender.  

IMG_3046

  Add in the Creole seasoning and garlic, followed by the crab, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, and the secret ingredient - pickled okra!   [caption id="attachment_1314" align="aligncenter" width="288"]IMG_3047 I'm not gonna lie... I was skeptical about these at first. But if you like pickles, you'll love them![/caption]

IMG_3050

  Transfer to a baking dish and bake until hot & bubbly.  

IMG_3051

  Serve it up with some toasted baguette slices, and you've got an appetizer that meets all the basic appetizer requirements - cheese, carbs, and more cheese. (Oh, and some veggies, too. That means it's gotta be healthy.)   IMG_3055   Now for the panini, start by preparing the olive salad - green olives, black olives, vinegar, olive oil, & seasonings. It adds a great tang to the sandwiches.  

IMG_3071

  To assemble the paninis, layer up the meats and cheeses on some sliced artisan bread. I picked up a fresh loaf of sesame semolina from the bakery, soft with a nice crust. Sandwich the olive salad between the bread, and cook on a panini press or griddle until golden brown.   IMG_3072  

IMG_3073

  Mmmm, nothing like a toasty sandwich in the winter time to warm you right up!   IMG_3075 ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Cajun Crab Dip

Servings/Yield: 10-12 servings
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 6 green onions, sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 cup chopped red & green bell peppers
  • 16-oz imitation crab meat, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • teaspoons Creole seasoning
  • 8-oz package cream cheese
  • ¾ cup sliced pickled okra
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • toasted French baguette slices
  Method Preheat oven to 400*F. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; add green onions, celery, and bell peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes until peppers are tender. Add chopped crab, garlic, and Creole seasoning; cook about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add cream cheese, stirring until melted & smooth. Remove pan from heat and stir in okra and Parmesan cheese. Spoon mixture into a baking dish, and bake at 400*F for 25 to 30 minutes until hot & bubbly. Serve with toasted baguette slices. Source: Adapted from Southern Living ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Muffuletta Paninis

Servings/Yield: 4-6 sandwiches
  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced
  • ½ lb. hard salami
  • ½ lb. ham
  • ¼ lb. sliced provolone
  • ¼ lb. sliced mozzarella,
  • Olive Salad
    • 10-oz jar pimento-stuffed green olives, drained & chopped
    • 8-oz jar black olives, drained & chopped
    • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • teaspoons minced garlic
    • 1 teaspoon dried basil
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  Method To prepare olive salad, combine all ingredients in a large bowl; set aside. For each panini, lay out two slices of ciabatta bread. Layer mozzarella and ham on one slice, and provolone and salami on the other slice. Top one slice with a few spoonfuls of olive salad; sandwich together. Press panini in a panini griddle on high, until cheese is melted and sandwich is golden brown and toasted. For appetizer portions, cut into small squares. Source: Adapted from Taste of Home

8-Can Taco Soup

This is another super simple recipe that makes for a satisfying meal. 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained 15 oz. can sweet corn, drained 12.5 oz. can white chicken breast, drained 10 oz. can green enchilada sauce 14 oz. can chicken broth 1 taco seasoning packet Mix all ingredients together in a large stock pot or crockpot. Heat through until warm, stirring occasionally. Serve with tortilla chips and sour cream.

Pulled Beef Tacos

Here's an easy weekday meal solution that can easily be sized down or sized up, depending on how many you plan to feed. 2 cans Chief canned beef2 1/2 cups salsa 2 1/2 TB. chili powder2 1/2 TB. oregano 2 1/2 TB. cocoa powder 1 tsp. salt Drain beef and break apart in a crockpot with a fork. Stir in salsa and remaining ingredients. Cook on high in crockpot, stirring often until hot. Serve in taco shells or over tortilla chips, like nachos. Feel free to add toppings such as tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, olives, peppers, avocados, sour cream, refried beans, black beans. The possibilities are endless!  

Hearty Hamburger Soup

Hearty Hamburger Soup is a recipe I turn to when I need a quick, satisfying meal. It's appealing to nearly everyone and it's flexible enough that you can add in other veggies or leave them out, depending on your own preferences. HeartyHamburgerSoup SERVES 8 • PREP: 10 MIN. • COOK: 30 MIN. 1 lb. ground beef 4 cups water 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained 3 medium carrots, sliced 2 medium potatoes, peeled & cubed 1 medium onion, chopped 1/2 cup chopped celery 4 tsp. beef bouillon granules 1 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp pepper 1/4 tsp dried oregano 1 cup cut fresh or frozen green beans In a large saucepan, brown beef; drain. Add the next 10 ingredients; bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender. Add beans. Cover and simmer 15 minutes longer or until the beans are tender.

Mary’s Memo #2305

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF



I made a point of watching the ABC program, The Chew, before writing a review of the New York Times best selling cookbook, The Chew (Hyperion Books 2012; $19.00/softback), a Christmas present from godchild, Gina Decker. What I really like best about the program and the cookbook is the camaraderie between the featured chefs. Their tips are interesting as is over 100 seasonal recipes. Each one includes skill level and price range. From entertaining to family dinners to holiday planning, The Chew TV show and the cookbook make life a little bit easier and a lot more fun! Since we're in the middle of winter I settled on a recipe from that section. Although I made my version of Eggs in Hell for the West Unity Egg-N-fest years ago (mine wasn't as spicy as Iron Chef Mario Batali's), my fondness for grits drew me to Top Chef Carla Hall's Eggs in Heaven. Hall says the secret to having creamy grits is to use half water and half whole milk.

EGGS IN HEAVEN



1-1/2 cups water

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup stone-ground hominy grits or quick grits

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup parsley

Vegetable oil spray

6 eggs

Black pepper to taste

1 ham steak, grilled

Preheat oven to 305oF. In a 3-quart heavy bottomed pot, bring water, milk and salt to a boil. Gradually stir in the grits and reduce heat. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until thick. Whisk often to prevent lumps. Stir in butter and cheese. Pour grits into an 11-by-7-inch glass baking dish. Make 6 depressions in the grits mixture about 2-inches apart with the back of a spoon sprayed with oil spray. Carefully break one egg into each depression. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Bake uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, or until eggs are at the desired doneness. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve hot with a grilled ham steak. Recipe makes 6 servings.

SOURCE: Recipe used with permission of Hyperion Books, a division of HarperCollins.

FOCUS ON CALCIUM



Don't worry that the calcium you consume from food or supplements will build up in coronary arteries and cause atherosclerosis. Such coronary calcification is a marker for increased coronary risk, and some researchers have claimed that calcium intake, especially supplements, contribute to it. But new research from the long-running Framingham Offspring Study has concluded that people who consume the most calcium from food and/or supplements, as much as 3,000 milligrams a day, do not have more coronary calcium.

SOURCE: University of California, Berkeley, Wellness Letter, February 2013.

BEANS, BEANS, BEANS .... THEY'RE GOOD FOR
YOUR HEART!





Aside from having lots of fiber and other nutrients, legumes like lentils, chickpeas and beans appeared to help control blood sugar and reduce heart-disease risk to a small number of patients with type 2 diabetes. (It was funded by the bean growers.) And the bean eating group had no worse gas than a control group that ate high fiber food.

SOURCE: Consumer Reports on Health, February, 2013.

POTATO-FENNEL-LEEK SOUP WITH SMOKY CHEESE



Ash Wednesday is February 13 and although this soup calls for chicken broth, it can also be made with vegetable broth, an excellent Lenten choice! I used smoked sharp Cheddar from the deli cheese display at Chief and Rays.

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

1 cup sliced leeks

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

3 cups Swanson brand vegetable broth

1 cup shredded smoked Cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, heat butter or olive oil (or an equal mixture of the two) over medium-high heat. Saute the leeks and fennel until softened, about 6 minutes. Add minced garlic and saute 1 minute. Add potatoes and broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Puree in the pan with an immersion blender (To use a food processor or stand blender, strain soup, reserving both liquid and solids. Puree the solids, using a little of the liquid; then recombine the puree with the remaining liquid, return the soup to the saucepan and reheat over low heat if necessary.) Off heat, add the cheese and stir to melt. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Recipe makes 4 servings.

SOURCE: I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook by Cherie Mercer Twohy. Cookbook should be available at Amazon.com.
Download PDF of Memo #2305

Lobster Mac & Cheese

With Valentine's Day coming up this week, you might be wanting to cook your sweetie a special meal. Sometimes going out to eat on Valentine's can be a bit overrated - long waits and high prices make the experience not so enjoyable. Plus, a romantic meal at home can be just as fun! One of my favorite things to do is to surprise my husband with one of his favorite comfort foods. (The man could eat meatloaf and mashed potatoes every day for the rest of his life and not complain a bit.) He also really loves macaroni & cheese. I decided to kick it up a notch by adding lobster, to make it a little more fancy for Valentine's Day.   IMG_3117 Served in individual gratin dishes, this was the perfect special occasion meal! Rich & creamy, with two types of cheese, this meal did not disappoint. Definitely worth the splurge! First, the lobster. If you can find already prepared lobster, you can use that, but I decided to be adventurous and cook lobster tails for the first time. It was actually pretty easy! Just cut a slit up the center of the shell, and very carefully pull the shell apart.  

IMG_3062

  Gently separate the lobster meat from the shell, and lift it out of the shell so it is sitting on top. Brush it with a bit of melted butter and broil for 6-9 minutes, until the meat is opaque and cooked through. Let cool, and dice into chunks.  

IMG_3064

Now, for the mac & cheese. Start by preparing half a pound of your favorite pasta according to the directions on the package, but shorten the cooking time by 2-3 minutes. (It will finish cooking in the oven... we don't want mushy pasta!) While the pasta is cooking, shred the cheese. We've got a combination of baby Swiss and white cheddar. Make sure you shred the cheese yourself! Pre-shredded cheese comes coated in various things that keep it from melting smoothly. (And when you shred it yourself, you get to sneak a few bites.)  

IMG_3079

  Once the pasta is done, drain it in the sink, and return the pan over medium heat to melt some butter. Once the butter is melted, stir in your flour, whisking constantly to combine. This is called a roux; it's what will thicken our cheese sauce in a bit.  

IMG_3081

IMG_3083

  Gradually whisk in your milk, along with some salt & pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick & bubbly. Now for that glorious cheese! Just stir in the cheese until it melts; then stir in your cooked pasta and lobster meat.  

IMG_3086

IMG_3089

  Transfer pasta to a greased baking dish (or individual dishes). To make the crispy topping, just melt a tiny bit of butter and mix with some panko crumbs. Spread it over the top, and bake at 400*F for about 20-25 minutes.  

IMG_3093

  Restaurant-worthy mac & cheese, right in your own kitchen!  

IMG_3115

  ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Lobster Mac & Cheese

Servings/Yield: 4-6 servings
  • 8-oz. rigatoni
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 6-oz. baby swiss cheese, shredded
  • 4-oz. white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced chives
  • 12-oz. cooked lobster or crab meat,, cut into chunks
  • ½ cup panko crumbs
Method Bring a pot of water to boil; add pasta and cook until 2-3 minutes shy of al dente. Place in a colander to drain. In same pot, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook, stirring constantly, until light golden brown and no lumps of flour remain. Gradually whisk in the milk along with salt, pepper, and chives. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce bubbles and thickens. Whisk in cheese, stirring constantly, until cheese melts. Remove pan from the heat; fold in pasta and lobster meat until well-combined. To bake, preheat oven to 400*F. Lightly spray a 2-quart pan or individual ramekins. Transfer mac & cheese to prepared baking dish. For topping, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter and combine with panko crumbs. Sprinkle over mac & cheese. Bake at 400*F for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and top is golden brown. Source: Adapted from Annie's Eats