Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mac N' Cheese Done Right

This is the recipe I made over the summer at Mom's house.  Amy asked for it a while ago, and I have no good excuse as to why it's taken me this long.

But, make it and eat it and you'll be so happy, you'll find it in your hearts to forgive me.

I've had to increase amounts over the years, so it feeds my growing family with enough for leftovers the next day.  So, this is the original recipe 4x'ed.  It makes a lot, but they eat a lot.  It's their favorite meal.

7-8 C. uncooked pasta (depending on how creamy you like your mac)
4 T. butter
4 T. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 scant tsp. pepper
1 heaping tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (DON'T leave this out.  It is a subtle flavor, but really sets this recipe apart from other mac n' cheese wannabes)
4 C. half and half (you can use milk, but it's just that much amazing-er with the half and half)
5-6 C. cheese, cubed or shredded (again, the amount can vary depending on how saucy you want it.  And feel free to mix it up with the cheeses--sharp cheddar, Swiss or Gruyere, Monterrey jack, Parmesan, I think I even threw in some Gouda once--it is all delicious)
6 T. some sort of topping--bread crumbs, crushed Ritz crackers, crushed corn flakes tossed with butter, or (my personal favorite) Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.  My family likes them on the well-done side for this dish.

While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large sauce pan, or enameled Dutch oven over medium heat.  Whisk in flour, salt, pepper, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.  Reduce heat to low.

Add the milk gradually, stirring as you go so you don't get any lumps.  Add the cheese.  Continue stirring until the cheese melts and the sauce is creamy and smooth and delicious.

Stir the noodles into the cheese sauce.

If you want, you can eat it right now.  Usually, I can't resist a few bites at this stage.  But, if you want the flavors to combine even more, you can bake it.

Pour the mixture into a 9x13, or other large glass pan.  Unless you used the Dutch oven, then just leave it.  Top with your topping of choice.  Cover (if using aluminum foil, I recommend lightly spritzing with oil or cooking spray to prevent sticking.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until it's bubbly and beautiful.  Uncover and switch it to broil for the last 5, for a fabulous golden top.

Ideally, let it sit for 5-10 minutes so it can cool a bit and the sauce has a chance to thicken a little.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Delicious Popcorn

Peanut Butter Cup Popcorn

8 C. popped popcorn (1/3 C. unpopped), tossed w/2 T. butter and some salt
1/2 C. honey
1/2 C. sugar
3/4 C. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
3 squares chocolate almond bark (6 oz.)
1 C. Reece's peanut butter cups minis

Put popcorn in a large bowl.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan, combine honey and sugar.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and add peanut butter and vanilla.  Stir until combined.  Pour peanut butter mixture over popcorn.  Gently toss with a wooden spoon until popcorn is coated.  Spread on prepared baking sheet.  Drizzle popcorn with melted almond bark.  Cool completely and stir in mini peanut butter cups.

Caramel Cinnamon Roll Popcorn

12 C. popped popcorn (about 1/2 C. unpopped), tossed w/3 T. butter and some salt
1 C. pecan pieces
1 C. brown sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 C. butter, cubed
1/4 C. light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
2 squares vanilla almond bark (4 oz.)
3/4 C. caramel pieces (I cut normal caramels into fourths and this seemed to be the perfect size)

Preheat oven to 275.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Place popped popcorn and pecans in a large bowl.

In a large bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.  Add cubed butter and corn syrup.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds and stir.  Microwave for 4 more minutes, stirring halfway through.  Stir in vanilla.  Pour mixture over popcorn and toss gently with a wooden spoon until popcorn is coated.  Spread popcorn mixture onto prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.  Melt almond bark; drizzle over popcorn and let cool completely.  Break popcorn into pieces and stir in caramel pieces.

*I made both of these.  I thought they were both delicious, but the cinnamon roll one is sort of divine.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Summer Tomato Tart

I figured I'd better share this before summer is over.  I made this a few weeks ago, but forgot to take a photo until this was all that was left:

Not the best photo.  But, it was seriously so yummy!

10 (18x14-inch) sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1/3 C. butter, melted
1/2 C. grated Pecorino Romano (I used Parmesan)

8 oz. small fresh mozzarella balls, halved (these are sometimes hard to find here, so I just took a brick of regular mozzarella and cut it into cubes.
5 plum tomatoes, sliced (just used tomatoes from my garden)
1/3 C. thinly sliced fresh basil, divided (pretty sure I used way more than 1/3 C, but I'm sort of obsessed with the tomato/basil combination)
2 T. grated Pecorino Romano cheese (Parmesan)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Unfold phyllo dough; cover with clean kitchen towel (to prevent drying out).  Lightly brush 17x11-inch baking sheet with some of the butter.  Place 1 sheet phyllo on baking sheet.  Brush with butter; sprinkle with some of the Romano cheese.  Repeat layers until all phyllo is used, brushing each with butter and sprinkling with cheese.

Bake at 375 for 12-14 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and crispy.  Cool completely.  If making ahead of time, wrap tightly until ready to use.

Just before serving--arrange mozzarella cheese evenly over crust; top with tomatoes.  Sprinkle with half of the basil, 2 T. Romano cheese, salt and pepper.

Bake 5-7 minutes, or until cheese is slightly melted and tomatoes are warm.  Cool slightly; sprinkle with remaining basil.

This was a little extra work, but I thought the phyllo dough was kind of fun to work with.  And did I mention how delicious this was?!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Baja Black Beans Corn and Rice

This is easy and delicious and you will love it!  (Original recipe here.)

Makes 6 servings

6 cups cooked brown rice
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained
4 fresh tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 dashes hot sauce

Cook brown rice.
In a medium bowl, combine black beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, oil, salt, pepper and hot sauce.
To serve, Place a scoop of hot rice in a bowl or on a plate, top with a generous scoop of the black bean mixture.
Stir together before eating.

Don't you just love step #4? :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Good Morning, Muffins!

I've share this on my other blog, but a friend recently requested the recipe, so I thought I'd post it here.  Enjoy!

1/2 C. ground flaxseeds (if you don't grind them, your body can't digest them and you lose all of their amazing nutritional power)
1/2 C. whole-wheat flour (I actually do 1 C. of this)
1 C. all-purpose flour (and 1/2 C. of this)
1/2 C. oat bran (in a pinch, I just put 1/2 oats into my food processor.  Not the same, but it still tastes good and is good for you)
1/2 T. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
pinch salt
pinch pepper (say what?! It's okay, you won't notice it's there.)
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. sun-dried cranberries or raisins
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 C. buttermilk or plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 C. canola oil
1 ripe banana, peeled and mashed
1 carrot, grated

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine the flaxseeds, flours, oat bran, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt, pepper, brown sugar, and cranberries or raisins in a large mixing bowl.

In another bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Fold the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a spatula or spoon, just until combined. Spray 12 standard muffin cups or line with paper cups. Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin cups and bake in the center of the oven 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Best Lasagna I've Ever Made

Check it out:

The only thing I did different was to add a package of frozen chopped spinach (thawed and with all the moisture squeezed out... we don't like soggy noodles, do we?) to the ricotta mixture... oh and I used cottage cheese instead of ricotta.

Let me know what you think if you make it!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Banana Pancakes

This is the first banana pancake recipe that I've tried that the pancakes don't stick to the pan.  And they're DELICIOUS!

               1 Cup Flour
               2 tsp Baking Powder
               1/4 tsp Salt
               1 Egg
               2 TBS melted butter
               3/4 Cup Milk
               2 TBS Honey
               1 ½ Bananas

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
Put eggs, milk, butter, 1 TBS honey, vanilla, and 1½ banana (use other half for garnish) in a blender and blend.
Add DRY to WET and blend well.
Pour about 1/4 cup of batter on to heated pan and cook for about 1-2 minutes each side.
(I used my Blentec and put all ingredients in at the same time to blend.)

               8 Strawberries or Blueberries
               1 TBS Honey

Blend till smooth.
Pour fresh strawberry syrup on pancakes, slice remaining 1/2 of banana on top and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Cornbread


1 cup wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
¼ cup sugar or 3 Tb honey
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 ½ cup peeled and grated sweet potato (raw)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter with two forks, a pastry cutter or your fingers until mixture is crumbly.
In a medium mixing bowl beat egg until frothy. Stir in buttermilk and sweet potatoes. Pour mixture into flour mixture stirring just until blended. Pour batter into greased 9x9x2 inch baking dish.
Bake 20 minutes or until center springs back when pressed. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares and serve.
Notes from the Paula Deen Test Kitchen: A moist cornbread with a lovely flavor. Great to serve as a side to your slow cooker recipes. Flavor profiles worked best with pork and beef dishes.
I made this and Dad a few nights ago and I loved it!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Thai Coconut Soup

Wes and I have been on a Thai food kick lately. This recipe is DELISH... I'm not sure how healthy it is, but you'll love it! :)