Tag Archives: cheese

One Pot Chicken and Spinach Pasta with Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce

One Pot Chicken and Spinach Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato SauceOne pot meals are a lifesaver.  Whether it is a special occasion or a busy weeknight, getting dinner on the table quickly, with a minimum of dirty dishes is always a win in my book.  This one pot chicken and spinach pasta with creamy sun-dried tomato sauce is a crowd pleaser every single time.  

I’m going to come right out and say it:  I’m not a big Valentine’s Day person.  There.  Judge me if you must.  I do however, enjoy making a nice meal for the one I love.  We always stay in for Valentine’s Day and I’ve done the big, fancy dinners that take hours to prepare and minutes to devour.  While that’s lovely and all,  I spend half the night in the kitchen.  This one pot meal is super delicious and did I mention… ONE PAN to wash?  Furthermore, I have better things to do on Valentine’s Day, like eat the entire box of candy.

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Langostino Mac & Cheese with Crispy Bacon and Chives #SundaySupper #JuneDairyMonth

Langostino Mac & Cheese

This post is sponsored by Florida Dairy Farmers in conjunction with a social media campaign through Sunday Supper LLC. All opinions are my own.

This week, I am partnering with Florida Milk to talk a bit about what they do as a part of my post.  I happen to be a fan of farmers.  I grew up surrounded by family farms, so I have an appreciation for them.  I am also acutely aware that without them, food would be scarce to say the least. 

When I moved to Florida a few years ago, I, like most people, really only thought of beaches or theme parks and not much else. But, did you know there are more than 130 dairy farms here and most of those farms are primarily owned and operated by second and third-generation farming families.  They are hardworking men and women who care for their cows and the land, and they are leaders in their communities. Meet some of Florida’s Dairy Farmers here!

A few fun facts about Florida Cows

The majority of the dairy cows living in Florida are Holsteins (the black & white cows) and most dairy herds range in size from 150 to 5,000 cows.  That’s about 123,000 dairy cows in Florida (with Lafayette and Okeechobee being the leading dairy counties) that collectively produce about 2.34 BILLION pounds of milk a year.  That equates to 277 million gallons of Florida-produced milk at the grocery store.

Cheesy Goodness

I’m celebrating “Dairy Month” with one of my all-time favorite foods: Macaroni and Cheese.  It has long been one of my comfort foods.  Mac & cheese has been around for hundreds of years, so I’m sure it has been a comfort food for many.  When I was a teenager, it was my favorite after school snack.  You know the one –  the box with the shockingly orange powdered cheese.  I hadn’t yet learned how to make mac & cheese from scratch, so to my untrained palate it was gastronomic bliss!  I have since learned the delights of real macaroni and cheese.  Thankyouverymuch. 

While I still enjoy plain macaroni and cheese (probably more than I should), I wanted to “fancy it up” a bit and add in sweet langostinos with a handful of crispy bacon.  (Langostinos look like tiny lobsters, but are actually more closely related to certain species of crab.)  Normally, I use extra-sharp cheddar in my mac & cheese because I like the pronounced cheesiness.  However, when paired with the delicate flavor of langostinos, the cheese should complement and not overpower them so I went with a mellow cheddar.   Feel free to add in other cheeses.  Play around with the recipe, swap out one for another, try different combinations… just make sure you keep the same quantity.  Cooking should be fun and creative, recipes like this are a perfect place to start experimenting.

Baked

Mac & Cheese is perfection.  Pasta mixed with a creamy cheese sauce, topped with a layer of (even more) cheese & breadcrumbs and baked.  It’s so simple and satisfying.  
Enough talk, let’s get cooking…

Langostino Mac & Cheese with Crispy Bacon and Chives
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb elbow macaroni, cooked according to package instructions
  2. 5 TB. unsalted butter
  3. 4 TB. AP flour
  4. 2 C. whole milk
  5. 1 C. Half & Half
  6. 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  7. 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  8. 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  9. 2 C. shredded Cheddar cheese + 1/2 cup for sprinkling on top
  10. 1 1/2 C. langostinos, cooked
  11. 1 C. cooked bacon, chopped
  12. 2 TB. chives, chopped
  13. 1/4 C. seasoned breadcrumbs
  14. 1 TB butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. In a small pot, combine milk and half & half. Heat until warm, cover and set aside.
  3. In a medium pot, melt butter over low heat. Add flour and whisk to combine. Turn heat up to medium and whisk roux for 2 -3 minutes. Add milk mixture and whisk to combine. Using a rubber spatula, go around the edges of your pan to make sure all of the flour gets incorporated.
  4. Continue whisking frequently until sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add dry mustard, salt, pepper and 2 cups cheddar. Stir continuously until smooth and uniform.
  6. Spray or butter 9x13 baking dish, set aside. In a large bowl, combine: cooked macaroni, cheese sauce, bacon, langostinos and chives. Stir to combine.
  7. Pour into glass baking dish. Stir together 1 TB melted butter, breadcumbs and remaining cheddar. Sprinkle over macaroni and bake for approximately 20 minutes, until bubbly and browned on top. Remove from oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Notes
  1. Langostinos are most often sold frozen, already cooked.
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/
 

Pin it to your Pasta board!

Mac & Cheese Pin

Want to meet the cows, get recipes from the Florida Milk Kitchen (including a lavender milk bath!) and see what’s new on the farms?  Check out Florida Dairy Farmers and keep up with Florida milk in the news and in the schools.

You can also keep up with Florida Dairy Farmers on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.

Here are more recipes from the folks at Sunday Supper featuring Florida milk:

Milk in the Morning:

Milk during the Day:

Milk in Desserts:

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement

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Food Wine Conference 2016 Recap #FWCon

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Where do I even begin? This past weekend was a whirlwind.

I arrived in Orlando on Thursday afternoon so I could spend some much needed time with old friends before the conference went into full-swing.   There were so many hugs and smiles followed by raucous laughter, eating and drinking.   Some of my friends I actually know in real life and some of them I met IRL for the first time last week.   We “talk” to each other every week online, in groups on facebook, through emails, etc. But we are spread out across the globe, so we rarely have the opportunity to see each others faces and just hang out and talk like friends do.  That was the absolute highlight of my weekend.  “Meeting” people I have adored for years and finally getting to wrap my arms around them.

Work Hard, Play Hard

This year, I was a brand ambassador for Idaho Potato and I have to tell you,  it was a match made in (potato) heaven.  I spent the majority of my weekend with the folks from Idaho Potato and I had a blast with them.   They were some of the most wonderful people I have ever met in my life.   Here’s evidence of how much fun we had – Idaho Collage
See those awesome potato gloves in the top right? Part of my swag bag from them…  I love them!  And Don & Linda!!!   The people from Famous Idaho Potatoes know how to have a good time!  

Thank A Farmer

One of the sessions I enjoyed most was our sponsors speaking about farming.  As you know, I grew up in a rural community and I was fortunate enough to be aware of  the source of my food.  I was surrounded by local farms and many of my classmates were farm kids,  so the sight of dirt-caked boots is not unfamiliar.   One common theme from each of the sponsors: Idaho Potato,  Certified Angus Beef, Cabot, CK Mondavi and Florida Strawberry Growers Association  was their passion and commitment.   Dan from Idaho Potato said something that really rang true :  “You have to love what you do to be a farmer”.  There is so much care and love that goes into what they do everyday and the amount of work that it entails to produce what they raise/grow on their farms is staggering.

Friendships, New & Old, are Good for the Soul

FWCon Friends Collage
So Much Fun with these Gals!  Copious amounts of food (and drinks!)  were consumed this past weekend, all with these beauties by my side.  This really is the BEST part of the conference for me.   It’s not all play…  we’re WORKING!   It might look like we are just hanging out and having fun all the time  (and we kinda are), but we are also talking shop most of the time.  How to grow our blogs, what photo editing program works best for us, what we learned in the session we just attended, etc.  Oh, and pass the margaritas, please…  

Oui, Chef!

On Sunday,  there was a cooking competition.  We had a handful of mystery ingredients and had about 10 minutes to figure out what to do with them.  There was Certified Angus ground beef,  Fingerling Idaho Potatoes, Blueberries from Wish Farms, wine from CK Mondavi and cheese from Cabot, a tomato based vinaigrette dressing and a sweet and spicy sauce… Everything had to used and the focus of our dish had to be blueberries.   We put our heads together and came up with a menu, I was nominated to cook (I had 15 minutes!) and then make 3 identical plates.  It was a little crazy, but we pulled together and made it happen with time to spare!hashed collage

 

Here are a few more shots from this amazing weekend!FWCON collage - misc
From making facial masks with Greek yogurt to dressing up for our Denim and Diamonds bash, a great time was most certainly had by all!

A huge thank you to Idaho Potatoes for making my first experience as a Brand Ambassador so fantastic!  They provided an AMAZING lunch for us and were gracious enough to give me links to the recipes so I could share them with all of you!!!

Thai Curry Idaho Potato Soup   https://idahopotato.com/recipes/thai-curry-idaho-potato-soup

Carnitas & Potato Hash:  https://idahopotato.com/recipes/dos-caminos-carnitas-and-idaho-potato-hash-1

Penne with Arugula Pesto, Idaho Red Potatoes and Spring Vegetables: https://idahopotato.com/recipes/penne-with-arugula-pesto-idaho-red-potatoes-and-spring-vegetables

Potato Cakes with Mint Chutney:  https://idahopotato.com/recipes/potato-cakes-with-mint-chutney

Salmon Calcutta with Idaho Fingerling Potatoes: https://idahopotato.com/recipes/salmon-calcutta-with-idaho-fingerling-potatoes

Chocolate Potato Donuts with Creme Anglaise:  https://idahopotato.com/recipes/chocolate-potato-donuts-with-creme-anglaise

Idaho Potato Pound Cake: https://idahopotato.com/recipes/idaho-potato-pound-cake-gluten-free

FWCON---hi-res

Italian Sausage and Peppers Burger #BurgerMonth

Sausage & Peppers Burger

When I realized that after 5 years of doing this blog, I didn’t have a single burger recipe on here, well… you can imagine my dismay.  I have failed.  In an attempt to make it up to you,  I made a burger with the flavors of Italian sausage and peppers.  
My most awesome carnivorous friend, Kita of Girl Carnivore put this epic #BurgerMonth event together and this is my contribution. 

It’s the quintessential Brooklyn street fair food.  There are food trucks at every single fair or festival selling that spicy sweet mix of sausage, peppers and onions.  The scent of it wafting through the air brings back memories of walking through booths of games, cotton candy vendors and frozen lemonade stands.   

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Mushroom, Kalamata Olive and Feta Stuffed Phyllo with Whipped Feta Dip

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I don’t know about you guys, but I could eat Greek food almost every day and not get tired of it. The flavors are right up my alley:  lemon, garlic, oregano, etc.   I think I was about 13 years old the first time I ever had a gyro and discovered what would be a life long love affair with Greek food.

Growing up in a small town, we didn’t really have many places to “hang out” and the mall was the spot where we gathered.  Specifically, The Food Court.  It had the obligatory salad place, pizza chain, Chinese take-out, etc… But one day, a Greek restaurant went in.  
Color Me Intrigued.  I wanted to try it, but I was skeptical because he never had any customers.
I figured it had to be questionable if there wasn’t a line around the corner.  Still, I would give it the once over pretty much everyday.   I would smile and nod politely as I made my way to the predictable pizza place.  Even as a kid, I was fairly open to new things and I remember walking past it repeatedly, as if I was casing the joint, trying to decide if I wanted to give it a go.

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Poutine Napoleons for #SundaySupper #FWCon

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Once again this year, I will be attending the Food Wine Conference  (#FWCon) in Orlando where I get to see many of my blogger friends and attend workshops and learn about everything from improving photography to being a better writer.  We gather from May 13th – 15th at the beautiful Rosen Shingle Creek for a weekend packed with fun, learning and of course lots of good food.

There are several contests associated with #SundaySupper and the Food & Wine Conference, this one being for poutine using Idaho Potatoes.  The requirements were fairly straight-forward:  create a unique dish using Idaho potatoes.  That’s fairly easy, right?  The contest didn’t BAN French fries, but putting a different spin on a traditional poutine was the basis of the contest.    I have had a long-standing love of the dish and if you have never heard of the gastronomic bliss that is poutine,  THIS will help.

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The 4 Food Groups…

Bacon, Eggs, Cheese, Pasta.   
It seems every time I make pasta, I always have leftovers.  Every. Single. Time.    I used to hear the phrase “your eyes are bigger than your stomach” on an almost daily basis and I think it may still be true.

So, seeing that sad bit of pasta hanging out in the fridge I felt the need to rescue it.  I’m not a fan of throwing food in the garbage (unless of course it has started to look like a science experiment gone horribly wrong).   With that sense of resolve,  I scanned the kitchen to see how this bit of leftover pasta could transcend its current state into something seriously good.

Staring into the refrigerator, I felt a bit like the woman from “Romper Room”…  you remember her right?   She would look through her looking glass and say the names of the kids she saw.  Every week I waited and waited to hear my name.  Never happened.  

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On the Lanai…

I have this nonsensical love of the Golden Girls, to the extent that I kind of want to be them when I grow up.  Not any one of them in particular (although Blanche certainly had lots of fun), but more of an amalgamation of them.  

Dorothy’s intelligence and dry wit, Rose’s willingness to always see the good in people, Sophia’s crass humor and we’ve already covered Blanche’s obvious contribution to the mix.

I can fully appreciate sitting around the kitchen table with an entire (yes, an ENTIRE) cheesecake to work out life’s woes with your best pals, but my fascination is the lanai…  Just the word makes you relax a bit , doesn’t it?  (go ahead, say it aloud…  I’ll wait)

I remember hearing that word as a fourteen year old kid watching this show and not even knowing what it was, but liking sound of it. 
Eventually, when I pieced together what a “lanai” actually was, I thought to myself  “oh yeah, that’s for me”…

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Can’t Stand the Heat…

 

 

fig & nectarine salad final.jpgSummer time is when I really enjoy salads.  The anemic tomatoes of winter are happily forgotten and replaced with gleaming, juicy, bright red beauties.  The delicious, but boring cucumbers can go on hiatus along with their carrot friends. 

The same ol’ stuff that routinely finds its way into your salad can go by the wayside to make room for things like stone fruit! 

Sometimes we are on auto-pilot and occasionally get stuck in a bit of a rut. Considering all of the amazing things available to us in the summer, this is the time to branch out and mix it up.

Making a salad for dinner is a great option. The clean up is pretty minimal and the ingredients are merely a suggestion.  Use it as a jumping off point for an idea;  if you don’t like an ingredient, swap it out for something you do like…

Perhaps the most important reason to go with a meal that takes about 10 minutes from start to finish:

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On the Go…

It’s finally summer and you know what that means…  picnics, barbecues and long days at the beach.
This pasta salad is perfect for taking on the go.  It is light, yet substantial and dressed in a light vinaigrette, so no worries over gloppy mayo sitting out in the sun.

I love this particular pasta salad because of all the veggies in it and you can even add more…  broccoli, julienned zucchini, summer squash, cauliflower, red bell pepper, summer beans, etc. would all be great in this salad.  The beauty of summer is that so much fresh, gorgeous produce is available! 

One of my goals in summer is to avoid turning on the stove most days…  The black tar roof of the building I live in is my ceiling, need I explain further how I have come to understand what a roast chicken must feel like in the oven?!

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