Oyster shucking at home and chargrilled oyster recipe

Oysters are amazingly delicious, but not easy to get in to. It can be intimidating to open an oyster, particularly after seeing the professionals use special chain-mail oyster-shucking glove and knife. After our jaunt to New Orleans in March, we decided not to be intimidated by oyster opening anymore. Plus, we really wanted to recreate the chargrilled oyster recipe from Acme Oyster house.

What you’ll need: An oven mitt, a flat-head screwdriver and a pairing knife serve as a low-cost alternative to the traditional tools.

First set the Oyster  flat side up.  Second, near the hinge, insert the flathead screwdriver between the shells. Then twist to pop the oyster open.IMG_0360

It might take a few tries. IMG_0359

Use the screwdriver to twist and pry the oyster all the way around if it doesn’t just pop open. IMG_0358 IMG_0361 IMG_0362

Eventually, you’ll see the oyster flesh. IMG_0363

Scrape the oyster from the top shell. Then lift the top completely off. Take the pairing knife and release the oyster from the bottom shell. Now, you’re ready to move on to the recipe.

For the Chargrilled oysters we adapted this recipe from Food.com to mimic the dish we had at Acme Oyster house.

Ingredients:
12 fresh shucked oysters, on the half shell (we found these whole at Lucky’s in our town)
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
10 garlic cloves, pureed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
1 ounce white wine
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese

Directions:
Place in a baking dish (we used a pie pan) filled with ice cream salt (to keep the oysters steady) with the meat up. Melt half the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add your lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, green onions and all herbs and seasonings. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, and then stir in the wine. Keep stirring and remove from heat as soon as the green onions wilt. Let cool for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the rest of the butter and stir until completely incorporated.  Heat grill to 350 degrees and place oysters without the sauce on grill.
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When the oyster liquor starts to bubble, spoon 1 tablespoon of sauce on top of each, then top with 1 tablespoon of Romano cheese. Let the cheese melt. When oysters begin to slightly brown at the edges, remove from grill and place on a heat proof plate or tray.  Top each oyster with an additional tablespoon of the butter sauce and serve immediately with slices of French bread for dipping. Garnish with minced Parsley. Serve while still sizzling with Lemon wedges and fresh bread.

Note: It stormed the day we made this and there was no way we were going to grill, so we just made use of the broiler on high in our oven. It worked perfectly. Just make sure to keep an eye on the dish while it is under the broiler, you can go from perfect to burnt pretty quickly.

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My opinion:
The only thing missing was the family-style tables and neon signs.

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Oyster shucking at home and chargrilled oyster recipe
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Updated: Best Macaroni and Cheese Ever

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I know I said this was the best macaroni and cheese recipe, ever, but I was wrong. This one is. I promise. It’s delicious no matter the season and equally good in the dead winter as it is on a hot summer day.

Ingredients:
1 box Elbow macaroni uncooked
1/2 cup Butter (1-stick)
1/4 cup All-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper (if you’re feeling adventurous, use white pepper)
1/4 teaspoon Dry mustard (we occasionally add a bit more up to a 1/2 teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne pepper (we occasionally add a bit more up to a 1/2 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups Milk (we use skim)
2 cups Sharp cheddar cheese (8-oz), grated (you can use more, we occasionally use up to 10 ounces, it just becomes cheesier and more delicious)
About 1 cup panko crumbs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large pot of boiling water cook the pasta to al dente. While macaroni is cooking, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour, salt, pepper, mustard, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly (this is important or it bubbles over). Boil for about one minute, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Stir in cheese and cook, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted. Drain macaroni and gently stir into cheese sauce. (Or pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni (whichever pot is bigger). Just make sure to mix it all together. Pour the entire mixture into ungreased 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle panko on top. Bake uncovered until bubbly, about 25 to 30 minutes. Set broiler to low (or high if you’re adventurous!) and broil until the top is a nice golden brown. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

My opinion:
While this looks complicated, it really isn’t and is easy to make for a weeknight meal. We make the whole batch at once and then usually freeze half. It is deceptively filling. If eating for a hot summer (or later summer dinner) let it come to at least room temperature before eating. Winter, eat it hot. Enjoy!

Avocado Deviled eggs


Recently, I was lucky enough to be the recipient of a House Party Avocados from Mexico party. Instead of going the traditional route, we opted to use the party for one of Mizzou’s away games. One of the most popular recipes of the day came from a dear friend, S, Avocado Deviled eggs. She got the original recipe from, All Recipes.

Ingredients:
6 eggs
1 ripe avocado
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh, dill
salt to taste
ground white pepper to taste (this really made a difference!)

Directions:
Place the eggs into a saucepan in a single layer and fill with water to cover the eggs by 1 inch. Cover the saucepan and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and let the eggs stand in the hot water for 15 minutes. Drain. Cool the eggs under cold running water. (Or feel free to use your favorite hard boiled egg technique!) Peel once cold. Halve the eggs lengthwise and scoop the yolks into a bowl.Add the avocado and sour cream to the egg yolks and mash into a smooth, creamy mixture. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, dill, salt, and white pepper until the mixture is very well blended; spoon into the egg white halves (This is easier using a icing pipping bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off!) and garnish with chopped green onion (if you’d like).

My Opinion:
While S left off the green onions, we could have easily added them, but they were delicious without. These are really good and hard to eat just one. Perfect for something a little different than the traditional deviled eggs.

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya


In college, J and I practically lived on jambalaya and coffee. Of course, it was the boxed version and after eating it for two years, we got pretty burned out. Which was sad because jambalaya is so tasty and easy and perfect for a chilly evening. Luckily, J found this jambalaya recipe and with a few tweaks cured the burnout.

Ingredients:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 (14 ounce) package andouille sausage, sliced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 large celery ribs, chopped (we left them in half moons)
3 tbs garlic, minced (we eyeballed this as we like garlic)
1 bunch scallion, chopped
1 (32 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices
about 15 ounces chicken stock
1 1/4 cups long grain rice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon Tony Chacere’s creole seasoning (as the original recipe states, there is absolutely no substitute for Tony’s)
cracked black pepper (to taste)

Directions:
Cook sliced sausage over medium high heat in a 6 quart stock pot until slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper, onion, celery, garlic and scallions and cook until softened but not translucent, about 4 minutes. Add cubed chicken breast and Worcestershire sauce and cook just until you can no longer see pink. Add the bay leaves, basil, oregano, sage, paprika, Tony Chacere’s, salt, black pepper, tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add rice, bring back up to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer for 30 minutes. The jambalaya should still be wet, but not soupy. Remove the bay leaves. Enjoy!

My opinion:
We’ll be adding this back to our regular dinner rotation. It was super easy to make and make more than enough to freeze half for a later meal.

Beef Stew

For the first time since getting our crockpot several years ago, we decided to make a stew. Unfortunately, our two-person crockpot was too small even for a halved version of this recipe! We got the recipe from Schnucks. I was skeptical, but am so glad we were willing to try it. Wonderful!

Note: this recipe serves at least 6 people.
Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. butter
1 lb. chuck or bottom round, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 c. vegetable juice cocktail
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can beef broth
2 medium (1 c.) carrots, peeled, sliced 1-inch
2 medium (1 c.) potatoes, peeled, cubed
1 medium (1/2 c.) onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. water
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour (TIP: Add more flour if a thicker stew is desired)
2 Tbsp. red wine or beef broth

Directions:
Melt butter in 10-inch skillet until sizzling; add meat. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned (5 to 7 min.). Place meat in slow cooker. Stir in all remaining ingredients except peas, water, flour and wine. Cover; cook on Low heat setting for 8 to 9 hrs., or High heat setting for 5 to 6 hrs. or until beef is tender. Uncover; remove bay leaf. Stir in peas. Stir together water, flour and wine in small bowl until smooth. Slowly stir flour mixture into beef mixture, stirring constantly. Cook on High heat setting, stirring occasionally, until thickened (8 to 10 min.).

My opinion:
We didn’t have enough room for the peas or the full amount of beef broth. I also think I might have added a bit too much wine, but overall it was delicious. The next time in order to get it all into the crock pot, I will have to third the recipe in order to get it to fit.