Crab Mac ‘N Cheese

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Wow!

I cannot believe it.  This is my 500th Post on this Blog and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate with my favorite comfort food.

I absolutely love Macaroni and Cheese and this is a very special dish meant for any occasion. The homemade bechamel sauce compliments the sweet jumbo lump crab meat perfectly. Serve it as a side dish or as an entree it’s a fantastic and budget friendly way to serve crab meat to a crowd with style.

Serves 6

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds conchigliette pasta*
1/4 cup butter
1 shallot, finely diced
3 cloves garlic,finely minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded white Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over
Chopped fresh parsley or crushed dried parsley, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add shallot and garlic and cook until fragrant and softened,for 3 minutes. Add flour and whisk until combined and golden, for about 1 minute. Add milk and season with salt and pepper. Simmer 2 minutes, until sauce is thickened and smooth.

Stir in 1/2 white cheddar, the mozzarella and Asiago until slightly melted, then remove from heat.

Add the bechamel sauce and crab meat to pot with cooked pasta and gently stir with a wooden spoon until completely combined.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheddar and 1/4 cup Parmesan and bake until bubbly, for 20 minutes.

Garnish the dish with parsley and serve immediately.

*Cooks Notes:
Conchiglie [koŋˈkiʎʎe], is a type of pasta in which the name is derived from the Italian word “conchiglia” .Commonly known as “shells” or “seashells” , this pasta is usually sold in the plain durum wheat variety, and also in colored varieties which use natural pigments, such as tomato extract, squid ink or spinach extract. The shell shape of the pasta allows the sauce to adhere to it. A miniature variety called conchigliette is also available.

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Cheesy Cauliflower Dippers

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Photo Credit: Super Health Kids, 2014.

Cauliflower is kind of a rockstar when it comes to eating well. Not only is it a delicious side veggie to include with dinners or a great veggie to serve raw on a veggie platter; it can also turn many of your favorite guilty pleasure foods into healthier, but still tasty, options. This idea from Super Healthy Kids is another great way for cauliflower to shine as a snack or meal. Check it out.

Ingredients:

1 medium head cauliflower
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided in half
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 ° F.

Rinse a head of cauliflower thoroughly. Then, roughly chop. Put chopped cauliflower into the food processor until it has broken down into very fine bits.

Heat an inch of water in a pot until it boils. Put the cauliflower mixture into the water and steam for 4-5 minutes. Cover with a lid while it cooks, but be sure to keep an eye on it so the water doesn’t boil over.

Once steamed, put cauliflower through a fine mesh strainer to drain the water. Use a spoon to squeeze as much water out as you can. Then, use a clean dry towel to squeeze out the rest of the extra water. Be careful though – water will be hot!

Combine cauliflower with the rest of your ingredients (using half the mozzarella and none of the Parmesan). Mix until well combined.

Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

Spoon cauliflower mixture onto parchment paper and form a kind of “loaf” with your hands – recipe should form a rectangle that’s about 8 1/2″ x 11″.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and set. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Bake for another 10 or so minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

Remove from oven, slice and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

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Mushroom and Fontina Stuffed Roasted Potatoes

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Are you bored with you ordinary loaded baked potatoes. Why not dress them up with an elegant topping of  buttery mushrooms and a wonderful ooey gooey melted cheese? The perfect comfort food for a Meatless Monday!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
4  russet baking potatoes
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 pounds mixed mushrooms (i.e. maitake, oyster and enoki), cut into small pieces
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup Italian Fontina cheese, shredded
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Wash or potatoes  thoroughly with a stiff brush and cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels.

Using a fork, pierce the potatoes several times all over. This will allow the moisture to escape during cooking.

Place  the potatoes in a large  bowl and coat lightly with oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Place the potatoes on a baking sheet, and bake the potatoes for about 1 hour, until tender or until  the skin feels crisp but flesh beneath feels soft.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the olive oil. Cook the mushrooms over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Slice halfway down the length of each potato, then crack  each of the spuds open by squeezing the ends towards one another. It will pop right open. Be very careful; there will be some steam released. Spoon 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of cheese into each one. Season with salt. Top with the mushrooms and the remaining cheese. Bake for 3 minutes, until the cheese melts. Garnish with parsley and serve hot.

All photographs and content are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

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