Crab Mac and Cheese

Patrick loves mac-n-cheese and he's pretty particular about it! The main thing he's concerned about is making sure the noodles aren't too mushy. One of my days off I was watching Food Network in the afternoon and Barefoot Contessa was on. Ina Garten made a lobster mac and cheese that looked divine! I decided to see if this would meet Patrick's mac-n-cheese approval. As I was pulling the recipe up online I found a healthier alternative from another blog. I followed that recipe and still made a few changes (such as the lobster!) and made an addition that I'll note below.

Lobster* Crab Mac & Cheese
serves 4

canola oil cooking spray
1/2 lb whole wheat penne
2 cups 1% low fat milk, I used skim
4 Tbsp salted butter, divided
1/4 cup flour
6 oz (about 2 cups) grated gruyere cheese
4 oz (about 1 1/4 cup) grated 50% reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 lb freshly cooked lobster meat, chopped into 1-inch pieces* I substituted artificial crabmeat
2 slices whole wheat sandwich bread, lightly toasted and pulsed in a food processor to form fine crumbs (3/4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs)
I added a drained can of combo petite peas, pearl onions, and sliced mushrooms.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat an 11 x 7 inch baking dish with canola oil cooking spray. (I used individual ramekins.)
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add in penne and cook until al dente (about 2-3 minutes less than amount of time recommended on the package). Drain.
Meanwhile, heat milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until hot but not boiling. Turn off heat.
Melt 3 Tbsp butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour for 1 minute.
While continuing to whisk, pour in the hot milk and whisk mixture until smooth and thick, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the grated cheeses, salt, and pepper.
Stir in the drained cooked penne and lobster meat (and can of peas) until fully combined. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Melt the remaining 1 Tbsp butter in the microwave and stir in the breadcrumbs until moistened. Evenly spread the buttered breadcrumbs over the penne, cheese, and lobster mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

I made these early in the afternoon and refrigerated until Patrick came home from work. We were able to have a nice walk and then come back to warm up the mac and cheese!

Crockpot Barbeque Chicken

At the end of August Patrick and I had some of our ol' pot luck friends over (hi Richard and Tim!). Since the summer weather was nearing the end I decided to serve one last summer hoo-rah meal with barbequed chicken sandwiches, slaw, and pineapple. 

And don't worry if these rations seems a little small, there was a decadent dessert to follow. Unfortunately we forgot to take a picture of the chocolate silk pie but I'll still post the recipe. It was amazing. I'll make it again soon so we can take pictures!

Crockpot Barbeque Chicken (adapted from here)
   from the stick a fork in it blog

4-6 pieces boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 bottle BBQ sauce (the blogger recommended Sweet Baby Ray's which I happened to have in the pantry so used that)
1/4 c vinegar
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp. garlic powder

Mix BBQ sauce with all ingredients listed under it. Place chicken in crockpot. Pour sauce over it and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours. 
I cooked the chicken breasts on low for 6-8 hours just because of work. Patrick leaves for work and gets home before me. So I prepare the crockpot and then he finishes the meal. For this particular dish I got everything ready and turned the crockpot on then when he got home he removed the chicken from the sauce, shredded it, and placed it back in the sauce.

We served the chicken with wheat hamburger buns, cole slaw, and freshly sliced pineapple. 
And for dessert? A delicious chocolate silk pie. Follow the link for the recipe or wait until we make it again and feature it on the blog!

Happy Monday! Blogging Return!


Look what it is today... a blog post! We apologize for the delay in postings. We have been busy but still cooking. This past month we have hosted mothers, taken engagement pictures, discovered a fun spice shop in Raleigh, and meal planned. My mom visited at the end of September; her visit coincided with her annual nursing conference. Our engagement pictures were planned the day before the conference started so she was able to "assist" Carol, our photographer from Conway Photo Shop. All the pictures turned out fabulous and we were so pleased with them! After she returned home she sent us both this email:
Hello.  Sure have missed the blog lately!  I know you have been very busy. Sure was good to be with you last week.  I love the pics.  Going to look at again today. Love you!!
Then Patrick's mom visited (twice, actually!) over Labor Day weekend and this past weekend. On her first trip down Patrick gave her a tour of all things "wedding" so that when she came this weekend we would have plenty of time for the State Fair! We picked her up from the airport and ventured into downtown Durham for brunch at Parker and Otis and browsing at Morgan Imports. Over brunch she expressed her blog concern as well.

So here we are... back to blogging! For our moms! And for you!

Be on the lookout for a feature about that fun spice shop in Raleigh and how meal planning is becoming easier. End of October and November posts will also feature crockpot recipes, baked things, and fall stuff!

Thanks for staying tuned.