Tag Archives: milk

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/
 

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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:

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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

Blushing Valentine

I know it may seem a bit early to start thinking of Valentine’s Day, but it’s only a few short weeks away.   If you like to make a special treat on Valentine’s Day, this is the cake.  
It is a towering 4 layers high and lovingly encased in the most delicate rose-scented buttercream.  It is outrageously good and worth every. single. calorie.  

This is also the type of cake that could easily become adorned with say a few candles for a little celebratory birthday party?   The colors could be swapped out for any, the flavor of the buttercream could be adapted to whatever you’d like it to be.  Using a vanilla base for both cake and buttercream allows you the flexibility to change colors and flavors to suit the occasion or intended recipient. Continue reading

Banana Pancakes

This is the story of two sad bananas.  They were gorgeous when I brought them home.  Then they sat there as they watched the other bananas in their bunch get picked, only to be left behind.  Their skin went from bright, sunny yellow to brown and spotty.

Once bananas pass a certain stage in their ripeness, I won’t eat them.  It’s a texture thing, I don’t like mushy food and these were about as “mushad” as one could possibly get. 

Normally I would freeze them for smoothies or wait until I had one or two more for banana bread.
But,  I felt the need to rescue them and do something with them other than relegating them to the dark, frozen tundra that is my freezer.

Pancakes are not usually what I crave for breakfast.  Generally I find them to be too filling, but these are not.  After eating more than my fair share I am happy to report that I did not have that “blegh” feeling after eating.  You know that feeling…  Rewind back to Thanksgiving.  Yeah, that one. Continue reading

Tom & Jerry

It has come to my attention recently that some of you only know this pair of names as a cartoon duo.

As soon as there is a chill in the air, I start craving this drink.  Think of it as a warm, boozy milkshake. Doesn’t that sound amazing?! It’s even better than you think…

I won’t lie, it isn’t one of those “Oh, I’ll just pull a bottle down and shake” kind of drinks.  It takes a little planning and effort, but the end result is worth the 10 minutes of energy it requires.

This drink has such a loyal fan base that there are special “Tom & Jerry” punchbowl sets with matching mugs.  I kid you not…  Here’s a pic to prove it:

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Hello Cupcake…

For weeks I’ve been craving cake… so, enough talk and a little more action.   I decided that since I had been to the farmer’s market and had eaten a relatively healthy lunch that cupcakes were definitely in order.

If I’m going to make cupcakes, more often than not I would go all in.  Chocolate.  The darker & richer the better…  however since it is spring and this weekend marks the “un-official” start to summer I wanted to lighten it up a bit and do something a little different.

If you are anything like me, sometimes you forget all the little treasures you have stashed in your kitchen.  I buy things that interest me and then put them away for when the mood strikes, but the unfortunate truth is that occasionally they are forgotten until I stumble upon them (usually when I’m looking for something else).

Well, the latest treasure to be unearthed was candied ginger.  I thought it might make an interesting garnish for the cupcake and that was basically my jumping off point.
(well, that and my persistent sweet tooth…)

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My first love…

Mom & Me in NL

 

Look at that gorgeous kid…  and the baby isn’t bad either!

 

The first love of my life: my Mom.  As little girls, we often play “house” and pretend to be Mommies to our baby dolls and try to emulate our own mothers.  As teenagers, we are less inclined to compare ourselves to our Moms. As adults we come full circle, realizing that “Mom” is a person just like we are who had worries and struggles, peacefulness and triumphs .  Mine, like most, had to balance job and kids, errands, our activities, laundry, blah, blah, blah… and yet still found time to take us to movies or little excursions.   We didn’t have much, but we didn’t know it.  She made the most of what we did have and rarely did we feel like we had “gone without”.

One of my all-time favorite memories, which my Mom & I still giggle about to this day…  Ok, this is going to date me a little, but you regular readers already know I turned 40 recently,  so here we go:

Do you remember that show from the ’80’s, “V”?!   It was about alien-lizards disguised as humans living on Earth.  We LOVED this show.   It sounds ridiculous, but it was the early ’80’s… 
Well,  one night we were in our Chevrolet Chevette hatchback (yes, a Chevette hatchback…  named “Skeeter”, btw) and there were radio and television towers with flashing red lights on the road.  They looked like they were so high up in the sky to me as a little kid…  like they could have been lights on an alien spacecraft!  

All of a sudden, my Mom hunches down over the steering wheel and starts saying “Oh no, they’re gonna get us!”  Well, you can imagine our reaction!  My brother & I started screeching & laughing like crazy and she just kept egging us on… 

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Cheaper than Therapy…

Songwriters often say that they do their best work when they are going through something difficult in their lives.  They channel those feelings and pour them into lyrics that move us to our very core.
I don’t write music…  I sequester myself to the confines of my kitchen.

Being in the kitchen is cathartic for me, it always has been.  Looking back, I’ve realized that it is one of the reasons I love baking. 

It brings me comfort in times of sadness, calms me when I’m stressed or anxious, reassures me when I’ve had a particularly rough day. 

Baking is my therapy and let’s face it…  it’s cheaper than $150 dollars an hour and much tastier.

I find solace in the kitchen, the familiar smells and sounds, the warmth of the oven…  being able to “shut off” my brain and do things on autopilot also brings a certain sense of comfort.

Once again, I find myself puttering about in the kitchen late at night when the rest of world is fast asleep.  

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And the award goes to…

Picture it…  Ohio, early 1980’s.  A girl and her Momma, glued to the television watching movie stars walk the red carpet.  We used to watch the Oscars as if it were a runway show during fashion week.  I feigned interest in the actual awards part of the show, but to be perfectly honest I didn’t really care who won “Best Picture”.  My Mom was letting me stay up past my bedtime and that was award enough for me.

I have friends who host elaborate Oscar parties and I must admit the thought of it has crossed my mind on more than a few occasions, but considering the size of my shoebox apartment it doesn’t seem to be an option this year.

However, just because I won’t be hosting a gathering doesn’t mean I can’t make some good party food…

I tried to keep it fairly simple, with options that could be served warm or at room temperature.  These can also be transported fairly easily if you are a guest bringing a little something to the festivities.

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