Tuesday, April 5, 2011

These Cheese Straws Are Really Pink

Things are about to get big and cheesy on My Eats and Beats. I'm talking about big burritos and cheesy snacks.

Big Eat
Tuesday night my sister and I went to the grand opening of Memphis' first Chiptole Mexican Grill. Not since my days as an undergraduate on the campus of Loyola University Chicago have I lived within 50 miles of a Chipotle. And now memories of my glory days and the feeling of being uncomfortably full after eating a chicken burrito were within my grasp once again. I have been counting down to the grand opening for 3 weeks - since they announced the date. I was ready. I was set. And apparently every Rhodes and University of Memphis student was also going to Chipotle the same night as me.

Here is the line when we arrived. I waited 40 minutes outside and 20 minutes inside before placing my order at the counter. There were people who grew weary and stepped out of line, deciding to try another day. The older couple in front of me had not been to a Chipotle. Fantastic folks; welcome! And while you take ten minutes to decipher the right way to order from the menu, do you mind if I step in front of you? The best part was the woman's snort everytime she laughed. Hilarious! The Hispanic gentleman behind me kept laughing to himself and making comments to his wife such as "It's just Chipotle!" Well guess what, sir? While I'm sure you could whip up an even more authentic burrito, you're still in line with us!

Finally, my moment of Mexican grill greatness was upon me. The burrito was stuffed to perfection with chicken, cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole and black beans. YUM! After I devoured my meal, I felt what you can only feel after eating a Chipotle burrito  - absolute discomfort and a full belly. So worth it.

Cheesy Eat
Now let's get cheesy. Could you devour an entire bag of Cheetos or a box of Cheez-Its in one sitting? Is there anything better than licking your fingers clean of cheddar? If you answered yes to at least one of these two questions, you're going to love this recipe for cheese straws.

These orange stick snacks are perfect to have on hand for your guests. Fill a clear glass with parchment paper and stack the cheese straws inside for presentation points. This snack is such a simple and fun way to entertain from scratch, and it is sure to please everyone's tastebuds. I'd pair these cheese straws with boiled peanuts and ice cold brews.

This snack is rockin’ and packs a punch of heat at the end, just like Pink. So come on and “Raise Your Glass”. And don’t forget to fill it plenty of cheese straws. I'd recommend doubling the recipe; you'll be glad you did when you see how quickly these disappear!

Lee Brothers' Cheese Straws:
1 1/2 Cups (about 4 ounces) grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
4 tbsp (1/2) stick of butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
3/4 Cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp half-and-half

1 - Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2 - In a food processor, combine the cheese, butter, flour, salt and red pepper and process in five 5-second pulses until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the half-and-half and process until the dough forms a ball, about 10 seconds.
3 - On a slightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8x10 inch rectangle that is about 1/8 inch thick. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into long, thin strips. Dip the knife into flour after every few inches to ensure a clean cut. Gently transfer the strips to an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving atleast 1/4 inch between them. The dough will sag and may break occasionally in the transfer, but don't be concerned. The straws can be any length from 2 to 10 inches.
4 - Bake the straws on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the ends are barely browned. Remove from the oven and set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool.
5 - Serve at room temperature. Cheese straws will keep in the refrigerator, in a sealed container, for 2 days.

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