Baked Lobster Mac and Cheese

Baked Lobster Mac and CheeseOscar The Grouch
The 92nd Academy Awards are this Sunday…and I am not sure if I am excited about it or not. My plan to see all of the nominated movies fizzled. I’ve only seen one, though I might try to sneak one or two more in during the next couple of days. We’ll see how that goes!

I just have this overall feeling of indifference. Maybe it’s political fatigue. Maybe it’s the hangover from the Super Bowl loss. Or maybe I just need my blanket and a nap.

In my opinion there just doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of hype for the Oscars this year. So, it’s possible I’m not the only one feeling this way. It might be that our attention is elsewhere (considering everything that’s been going on here and abroad). It makes a night of big dresses, big diamonds, and big winners seem somewhat trivial even if, for some, it’s the biggest night of their careers. Or perhaps a night of silliness, heavy satin, and escape is just what the doctor ordered.

So what does one eat for a night of escapism? Good question. You could follow the lead of the Hollywood Foreign press as well as the Academy and go all plant-based. Or you could take one for the team of attendees who didn’t eat anything so they could fit in their dress and go the cheeseburger route. It’s always one of my favorite plays.

After last weekend, I’m burned out on finger foods. I’m thinking the best thing to do is combine everything I am feeling into one satisfying dish. So here goes…

Lobster Mac and Cheese is the perfect solution! It has the glamour of the lobster, heartiness for the hungry, and the comfort food factor to help those of us who are wondering what the world is coming to. Plus it goes well with some lovely champagne and bubbles will always lift your spirits…

Baked Lobster Mac and Cheese
Adapted from Ina Garten and the Food Network
Yields 6 to 8 servings Read more…

Pressure Cooker Garlicky Cuban Pork

Pressure Cooker Garlicky Cuban PorkAre You Ready For Some Football?
I am a football fan. I just love the game. I am generally more interested in college football than the Pros—mainly because the underdog has more of a chance in college football. I tell you this only as a warning that I will be sitting on my sofa on Sunday watching the 49ers in the Super Bowl and nobody better disturb me.

I am one of those people who wants to watch the game and doesn’t want to chit chat. I actually like the game more than the commercials or the halftime show. I will admit that the past few Super Bowl games have not held my interest, mainly because of who was playing in them. This year is, as they say, a whole new ball game. This year I have a vested interest in the outcome because the team I grew up watching in the 80s is back and it feels great, baby!

I am still working on what I am going to feed the fans that will be joining me, silently, on said couch. I do like to go with a theme. And, since the game is in Miami, I will most likely be making some nosh with a Cuban flavor as a nod to the host city. I might go for a tasty platter of Cuban sandwiches but the recipe below could work just as well. And, it’s easy to pull together because you use the InstantPot…which leaves you more time to scream at the refs about that holding call.

Pressure Cooker Garlicky Cuban Pork
Adapted from NY Times Cooking
Serves 8 to 10 Read more…

News From the Fancy Food Show & Tahini Noodles Recipe

Tahini Noodles with Green Beans and CarrotsPlant Food
In what has become an annual tradition, I spent my Martin Luther King holiday walking the aisles at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco looking for and tasting the latest and greatest that the culinary world has to offer. As per usual there was plenty of gorgeous chocolate and cheese from around the world—including a guacamole cheese that was divine despite being a dark green not usually associated with cheese in a positive way.

There were teas, there were coffees and there was an extraordinary number of waffles, both of the regular and of the Stroop variety. I like waffles as much as the next gal. But, do we really need that many? And there was bottled pickle juice…because, of course, there would be bottled pickle juice. (I brought one home for my kids to try. My pickle loving son tried it and said it was too intense yet he keeps going back for another sip. Kind of like a bad accident. You can’t help but look.)

There was no missing the one big take away from this show: The future of food is plant-based.

From beverages to snacks, to frozen foods, each and every grocery category had multiple vendors showing their plant-based products. There were plant-based frozen desserts being offered down every aisle either by the pint or as bars. Plant-based meat alternatives have grown way beyond the Impossible Burger. The snack category was huge including puffs made out of avocado that were a big hit at my home, as were the butternut squash pretzels. While I expected to see more plant-based noodles than I did, they were still well represented as were the Asian cuisines they support.

Staunch carnivores should not fret too much, though, as there were still plenty of offerings for them. Duck Sausage anyone? Small family-owned ranches held their own amongst the plant-based surge by offering natural, humanely-raised alternatives to beef like venison, bison, elk, and even wild boar. And while the jerky revolution has died down some, there were still plenty of meat and salami sticks to be sampled.

While plant-based foods comprised a large percentage of the products being shown this year, it was very obvious that we’re just scratching the surface when it comes to plant-based innovation. This is not a food trend that will just fizzle out. The possibilities are endless and the masterminds are just getting started…

Tahini Noodles with Green Beans and Carrots 
Adapted from Food 52
Yields 4 to 6 servings Read more…

Amy’s Hearty Bean Soup

Amy’s Hearty Bean SoupSo, How’ve You Bean?
I have had an Instant pot for a little over a year now. And, while I love it, I really hadn’t been using it more than one or two times a month. (I have friends who say they use theirs constantly. But, I always wondered what they were making because I always seemed to be making the same recipes over and over, mainly pulled pork or some sort of stew.) During the summer months, I didn’t use it at all figuring it was just as fast to grill and the whole point of the Instant Pot is to make stuff faster.

Lately, I have been leaving my Instant Pot out on my counter because I feel like I am using it every other night. Probably because I AM using it every other night…

My daughter gave me a couple of Instant Pot cookbooks for Christmas and I have been having a great time going through them and making all of the recipes that appeal to me. It is a testament to the power of a good cookbook because I have a number of Instant Pot cookbooks and none of them have lit a fire under me like these two. They have even inspired me to do my own experimenting. You can find them here is you are interested:

Most of my experiments have involved dried beans. I love cooking with dried beans but I really haven’t done much in the past because the old fashioned way is kind of a pain. First, you have to soak ‘em overnight then you have to cook them for long periods of time. That’s time I don’t always have and can be a roadblock when you’re craving a good bean soup for dinner. But, by playing around with new recipes, I have figured out how to make my own bean-filled creations happen in the span of an hour. Until recently, I was a bit intimidated by cooking beans in a pot because I didn’t have a recipe with beans intriguing enough to try it. I found one for a barley side dish with mushrooms that was great and that was all it took to get me going crazy with beans.

For example, I had a bag of the Zürsun Paris Bistro Beans that we sell here in the store in my pantry and I had been wanting to use them for a while. So, I got a ham shank from our Meat Department and threw it in the Instant pot with the dried beans, some sautéed onions, diced carrots, and fresh thyme along with a few cups of chicken stock. After about 30 minutes of cooking using the Multigrain setting, I had a very hearty hot bean soup that was fantastic. The meat on the shank fell off the bone and added some protein to the mix as well as great flavor. Served with some crusty French bread, it was exactly what I wanted for dinner on a chilly night.

I didn’t really follow a recipe but if you are interested in trying it out here’s the rough idea of what I did…

Amy’s Hearty Bean Soup
Yields 6 Servings Read more…