Tried & True: Crab Mac & Cheese

Some people cook on a whim, using the tools their parents taught them or what they’ve managed to come up with for themselves. I, for one, like to follow recipes. It’s what I find comfort in as a baker, so as a novice chef I stick to what I know.

A friend and I recently decided to put our skills to the test (his by far already better than mine considering I didn’t even know how to cut an onion properly) after binge watching some Netflix cooking shows. After some searches, we settled on attempting to make crab mac and cheese. We have Rachael Ray to thanks for our endeavors, as her video and recipe had our jaws dropping at just the site of her finished dish. Let’s just say the results were worth sharing, so here are my thoughts!

What’s Good about this recipe:

  • The veggies: Catch me using this recipe in 10 years to sneak veggies to my kids because the celery and onions in here are just the perfect addition to make me feel a little less guilty for my third bowl.
  • The Panko/Parsley/Hot Sauce combo on top: I grew up hating crumb toppings on mac and cheese, but now I can’t imagine mac without it. I snuck in a bit more hot sauce than called for (I used my trusty Chulula), and it was definitely the right move.
  • How much it makes: In just the first night we scarfed down about 6 helpings worth, and there was easily another 10 to devour. Although the ingredients added up price wise (even with a few things already on hand, it cost us $55 for the rest), we got out money worth.

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What To Change:

  • More Cheese! We just about doubled all of the recommended cheese amount and for the better.
  • More milk! Use a bit more milk than called for, and whole milk at that, for the creaminess everyone dreams of.
  • The crab! Either be very thorough with how you stir it, or add less. I had a few bowls that were just way too crab heavy. You could even do without the grab all together if it isn’t your thing.
  • Although the veggies made me feel healthy, I am curious how this would turn out with healthy alternatives—meaning skim milk and whole wheat pasta. This mac is meant to pig out on, but it’s always a good thing to consider.

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Overall Verdict: It’s a keeper

According to my instagram followers, this mac looked professional when all was said and done. The many ingredients were worth the price because it was just about as intricate in flavor as mac can get. I was proud of myself for kicking butt in the kitchen —even if I had help. Here’s hoping I get to cooking more because I really missed creating (edible) things that I’m proud of!

But really who knows when I’ll post again,

Casey

 

 

 

 

Tried & True?: Skinny Vanilla Bean Donuts

On what i am now calling #FoodieFriday, I’m talking about another Pinterest recipe!

I have been obsessing over donuts and just breakfast in general lately. I can basically eat sugary sweets as soon as I wake up and it’s not completely frowned upon until about my fourth donut. Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 12.13.18 PM
It is all actually kind of a problem.

Trying to make my guilty pleasure a little less guilty, I decided to try a recipe from The Skinny Fork. Their pictures looked amazing and the heart shapes of the donuts were just adorable. My amazing mom searched high and low for the vanilla bean paste that the recipe called for just so I could make these treats. It was a perfect excuse to use my (unfortunately non-heart-shaped) donut pans one last time before I leave for school.

I followed the recipe exactly, until I got to the milk. I used 2% instead of fat free, solely because I did not want the extra milk afterwards to go to waste. I am not sure if it was this, but when I combined the wet and dry ingredients, the dough/batter was stiff. Not exactly as dry-as-a-desert stiff, but not the consistency I expected. I added an extra splash of milk that kind of helped.
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I would second the suggested idea to use a piping bag to get the dough into the donut pan. It made the job easier, although it piped out a little weird due to, again, the consistency. The batter made six donuts, instead of the eight it said it would. Anyway, I popped them into the oven as called for, but about halfway through the cooking time I decided to flip the donuts. I thought it would help with the shape of them like it had it the past so that both sides could form to the smooth pan. They were already hard enough where it did not do much.

I finally took them out a bit later, having just finished making the super-easy glaze, which I also substituted whole milk in for the fat free. I only let them cool for a few minutes until I dipped them into the glaze.

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It was finally time for my favorite part: the taste test. I was not feeling too good about these donuts so far, but I am usually pretty hard on myself no matter how good it looks. There is also the matter of my milk switches.
The donuts were good. They had the subtle vanilla bean flavor that I was looking for. I expected them to be drier than they were, so that was a nice surprise. The actual baked donuts were not sweet but the glaze was extremely sweet. This did kind of even things out in the overall sweetness department. I will say my parents loved them.

IMG_6807This was a nice healthier alternative to other recipes I both have tried and will try. I can only really seeing myself returning to this recipe when I want a sugar break or a healthier option.

I still encourage you to give it a try!

Casey