Sunday, August 23, 2009

Crab Mac & Cheese

So there is a bar around the corner called Crazy Lil's. And they make crab macaroni and cheese. So I decided to try it. Considering how expensive a jar of crab is, it was actually more expensive than getting it at the bar (although it did serve four of us instead of just me). I made it for a post-tubing meal for my hockey teammates and myself today.
I did it in the slow cooker as my friend does not yet have a stove (but she has a gorgeous kitchen.) The recipe isn't perfect yet, but it was delicious and Mr. Barefoot has spent the evening eating the leftovers I brought home and there are none left.
  • 3 boxes cream cheese (you can use 1/3 less fat kind)
  • 1 box pasta (I used elbow macaroni, but I think next time I'll use penne)
  • cheese (I used 2 cups of yellow cheddar, but it actually wasn't that cheesy, so I would add some white cheddar as well)
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half (try it with milk and let me know how that goes)
  • 1 lb crab meat (buy it at Costco - the Phillips lump crab meat)
  • old bay
  1. Pour pasta into slowcooker (uncooked).
  2. Add half and half or other dairy liquid. Add old bay.
  3. Add cheese. And more old bay.
  4. Add crab meat. And some more old bay.
  5. Cook on high for 4 hours (our slow-cooker cooks so fast I actually cooked it on high for an hour and then I switched it to low for 3 while we went tubing.)
This was delicious. I was really surprised that the pasta cooked in the half and half and the moisture from the cheese/crab meat. But it did. I stirred about an hour into it, combining all the cheese and the crab meat (and added more Old Bay). It came out sticky and creamy and a delicious combo of crabmeat and cheese and pasta.
Try it. Play with the recipe. Get back to me on how you made it and whether that worked for you.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Barbecue Mac and Cheese

I cannot believe there is no recipe out there for this. A few weeks ago, I first started adding barbecue sauce to mac and cheese. Now, I'm not sure I can live without it. So I thought, "why don't they just cook the barbecue sauce into the mac and cheese?" I don't know. So here, my friends, is the best vegetarian dish for a barbecue you've seen yet. I made it in the slow cooker, but I may do a baked version soon.
  • 1 lb macaroni
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 12oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cups 1% milk (can probably use skim as well)
  • 1 egg
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 bottle barbecue sauce (I used whatever Mark bought me, use whatever type suits your fancy - I'm not sure how vinegar based sauce will come out though)
  • salt and pepper
  • breadcrumbs
  • 6 qt slow cooker (for smaller, halve or quarter recipe)
  • small bowl
  • pot, colander, slotted spoon
  • not-slotted spoon
  • 2 dishtowels (clean!)
  1. Cook macaroni until al dente. Drain. Grease slow cooker. Pour macaroni into slow cooker.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix evaporated milk, milk, and egg.
  3. Pour milk mixture over macaroni, stir to distribute evenly. Add red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Add one cup of cheese.
  4. Place 2 dishtowels over slow cooker, then put on lid (this absorbs condensation so the macaroni does not get all soggy.)
  5. Allow to cook for 30-40 minutes, until most of the liquid has boiled off. Add another cup of cheese and half a bottle of barbecue sauce. Stir to combine.
  6. Allow to cook for another 30-40 minutes. It should start looking pretty mac and cheesy at this point. Add the rest of the cheese, more barbecue sauce, and taste test. Do not stand over the crockpot eating out of it because its just too delicious.
  7. Once the sauce is a flavor and consistency of your liking, add breadcrumbs to the top and spray with vegetable oil or dot with butter if you want them to really brown.
  8. You now have two options - allow the slow cooker to cook for another hour to crisp up the breadcrumbs, or throw the whole thing under the broiler. I picked option 2 because people were here and dinner needed to be on the table. It's done when the breadcrumbs are brown.
I'll be working on a stovetop version soon, but I think the crockpot is best for slowly adding more barbecue sauce and I wanted to test this recipe out.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Crockpot Caramelized Onion Crostini

I can't believe I've never posted this recipe! It's one of my favorite appetizers. It comes from 125 best vegetarian slow cooker recipes. I make smaller portions usually.
  • 3 lbs onions
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 16 crostini
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese
  1. Slice onions really thin.
  2. Cook onions and melted butter in crockpot for 30-60 minutes until onions are softened.
  3. Add sugar, salt, and peppercorns. Put a towel or two under the crockpot lid to absorb moisture.
  4. Cook on high for 4 hours, stirring a few times.
  5. Stir in thyme and balsamic vinegar.
  6. Preheat broiler.
  7. Spread onions evenly over crostini and sprinkle cheese on top. Place on baking sheet and broil until cheese is melty - about 3 minutes. 5 results in charcoal.
I like to use more crostini and less onions on each one, and use a full loaf of french bread. I've also used this to stuff tomatoes (it wasn't very good) or to make a caramelized onion filling for sandwiches, or just to have caramelized onions at dinner. I love that I don't really have to babysit the crockpot, although I do feel I can't leave the house for a super-long period of time.


So I'm home. The apartment is a disaster, I'm somehow already behind on schoolwork, and I feel overwhelmed.
I came home to an apartment missing all signs of Ms. Barefoot. With an emptied freezer, evidence of what life without a Costco membership could be; very little produce in the fridge; and a dishwasher filled with every single one of our bowls and three plates. The oven had some kind of spill on the bottom which may very well have been there since May which made it smoke when I tried to use it.
Nonetheless, I've been cooking. Today I broke out the big crockpot and the mandoline slicer. I'm also making bread because I have the counter space to really knead.
I've been shopping. I went to costco and stocked up on everything missing from the pantry. We still don't have enough vegetables in the house, but on Sunday we'll sit down and menu plan.
For now, I am home. Expect some more recipes coming soon. Sorry for the dearth lately.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

In which our intrepid hero attempts to eat her entire kitchen in three days....

Anyone who has ever moved more than 2 hours away knows the three Ps of eating down your kitchen before you move:
1) Prioritize
2) Perishables
3) Portability

1) Prioritize - the things that you cannot take with you or donate to a food pantry are the most important to eat. This is anything frozen and anything opened. This is why for the next three days, I will be eating a lot of salmon and also a weird pasta salad I made by mixing two boxes of pasta.
2) Perishables - perishables obviously must be consumed before the trip, but see rule 1. Potatoes should be less of a priority to eat than any kind of berries or grapes or other things that require refridgeration. Things like apples and any other eat-on-the-run snack makes a great road trip food, so take those with you and eat those berries.
3) Portability - this has been our biggest problem, not just on long distance moves but on short, half hour moves. Some foods are hard to travel with. Eat all canned beans. They are seriously heavy and tough to transport. Boxed foods can be very bulky and take up a lot of space. Baking supplies are usually fine to transport, and it makes no sense to throw away or donate a half-used can of baking powder.

My menu for the next few days? I dunno. But I'm apparently having salmon for every meal, because the frozen salmon I bought 10 weeks ago was a pack of 10 and not a pack of 4 as I had thought. It's going to be in the nineties, so I'm not sure how to cook it, except that cold salmon with a balsamic reduction is pretty good....also with brie, which I have. I was going to live off the cans of beans in the pantry, but I'm prioritizing the salmon and either taking the beans home or dropping them at a local shelter, space pending.
I have some fruit that I'll be eating down, and I'll be seeing what I can do with the rest of my foodstuffs to make road trip snacks for me and my mom (my mom is flying out to Cleveland and driving home with me). I have a bag of salad that I think I will eat in some kind of salmon with salad and balsamic vinegar.

Truthfully, I don't really want to eat any of these foods. When it is this hot out, all I can actually imagine eating is watermelon and grapes. But my shoulder has been hurting, so I think the increased fish intake will help with muscle repair, and who knows, maybe I can cook the salmon in the crockpot over night and chill it in the fridge during the day to have a nice cool salmon salad....

Saturday, August 8, 2009

It's not even 11am

And already I've made these and these. For the pretzels, I tried substituting beer for water, because I was wondering how it would taste.
Tasted a little too yeasty/beer-tastic. My roommate liked them, I didn't really care for them. Worth the experiment, and is helping lighten my load to go home.