I love tea. Warm temperatures call for pitchers of iced tea or sun tea sitting on the porch letting Mother Nature do the work for you. Cooler weather brings spicy teas infused with cinnamon and cardamom or my favorite English Breakfast. Recently, I wrote a post for a new grocery store in town and I discovered they have a bulk tea section. I zeroed in on this particular tea, full of dried citrus and hibiscus. I brought it home and opened the bag. The smell of that tea was absolutely intoxicating. I knew it would be lovely as is, but that’s not really my style. So I started poking around in the fridge and freezer to see what I had stashed away.
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.
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.
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…
- 1 lb elbow macaroni, cooked according to package instructions
- 5 TB. unsalted butter
- 4 TB. AP flour
- 2 C. whole milk
- 1 C. Half & Half
- 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
- 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- 2 C. shredded Cheddar cheese + 1/2 cup for sprinkling on top
- 1 1/2 C. langostinos, cooked
- 1 C. cooked bacon, chopped
- 2 TB. chives, chopped
- 1/4 C. seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1 TB butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 375
- In a small pot, combine milk and half & half. Heat until warm, cover and set aside.
- 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.
- Continue whisking frequently until sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Add dry mustard, salt, pepper and 2 cups cheddar. Stir continuously until smooth and uniform.
- Spray or butter 9x13 baking dish, set aside. In a large bowl, combine: cooked macaroni, cheese sauce, bacon, langostinos and chives. Stir to combine.
- 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.
- Langostinos are most often sold frozen, already cooked.
Pin it to your Pasta board!
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.
Here are more recipes from the folks at Sunday Supper featuring Florida milk:
Milk in the Morning:
- Blueberry Coconut Muffins by Take a Bite Out of Boca
- Lighter Breakfast Quiche by The Healthy Fit Foodie
- Spinach Artichoke Strata by Helpful Homemade
- Strawberry and Cream Breakfast Smoothie Bowls by Family Foodie
- Strawberry Orange Banana Sunrise Crepes by The Gold Lining Girl
Milk during the Day:
- Fettuccine Alfredo by Recipes Food and Cooking
- Hamburger Gravy by My World Simplified
- Homemade Mozzarella by An Appealing Plan
- Langostino Mac and Cheese with Crispy Bacon and Chives by Pook’s Pantry
- Margherita Penne Pasta by Life Tastes Good
- Simple Polenta Recipe by Healing Tomato
- Summer Corn Soup by Casa de Crews
- Sweet Onion Tart by Flour On My Face
Milk in Desserts:
- Boozy Hazelnut Frozen Hot Chocolate by GO Epicurista
- Cannoli Cupcakes with Chocolate Pistachio Crunch by The Crumby Cupcake
- Chocolate Eclairs by Love and Confections
- Hot Milk Sponge Cake with Blueberries by The Hungry Goddess
- Mini Bread Puddings with Whiskey Caramel Sauce by Dessert Geek
- Nutty Cookies & Cream Ice Cream by Family Around The Table
- Strawberry Milkshake by Desserts Required
- Southern Buttermilk Pie by Sunday Supper Movement
Join 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
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 –
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
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…
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!
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
In a few short weeks, I will head to Orlando once again to attend the Food Wine Conference. This is one of my favorite blogging conferences for many reasons. I get to see my friends, have lots of laughs (which is always needed) and I have the opportunity to learn so many things.
I cook for a living. Six days a week, I’m in front of a stove and this is a nice change of pace to be able to put my “blogger hat” on for a few days and learn about blog-related things. This conference isn’t just for bloggers or Chefs, it’s for anyone who really has a passion for food and likes eating, drinking wine, hanging out with super fun people and learning along the way. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?
Speaking of learning… I am MOST excited about 3 of the speakers this year: Lenny & Denise of Chez Us, Denise Vivaldo, Food Stylist Extraordinaire and Kita Roberts of Girl Carnivore. I will be the nerdiest nerd with my notebook in hand, ready to soak up every tidbit of knowledge they are droppin’.
Another bonus for me this year is getting to meet some of the #SundaySupper people in person. Isabel started The Sunday Supper Movement about 6 years ago and it has grown exponentially since it’s launch. So much so, that this conference is a direct result of it. As a blogger, the world in which we exist is inside our computers or phones. We don’t have offices to go to every morning or company lunches where we all hang out. We have the internet. It can be a little isolating at times, but the beauty of these groups that we belong to is the camaraderie that comes with it. Thanks to the social media sharing, it’s not all that odd to see people taking photos of food anymore, but we don’t just snap a pic and move on. We have to check the lighting, adjust a single piece of lettuce, wipe a smudge on a plate, etc. This isn’t weird to ANYONE else in the blogging world, that’s just a normal day. It’s nice to be around people who “get me” and don’t look at me sideways for taking 73 photos of the same thing before I’ll eat it.
As if that’s not enough, I was chosen as a Brand Ambassador this year. I’m beyond excited and I can’t wait to find out who my brand partner is and start working with them! There are so many great sponsors this year from Florida Strawberries to Cabot Cheese, you know there will be lots of good things to eat! And, as a brand ambassador, I get to pass a little savings along to you! How great is that?!
Oh yeah, and did I mention where we stay?! I have to tell you, Rosen Shingle Creek Resort is stunning. I mean it, it is absolutely beautiful. Don’t believe me? Here’s some hard evidence:
We get to stay here!!!! There are pools, bars, restaurants, huge meeting rooms, etc. and the best thing of all?! A culinary school On. The. Property! I nearly lost my mind when I found that out on my first visit.
As you can tell, I’m a little excited about this conference. You can head over to the website now to REGISTER and use my special code: PooksPantry to save $50.
Hope to see you there!
As a brand ambassador, I receive a credit when my code is used.