Tag Archives: pasta

Mmmm! My famous Macaroni and Cheese!

23 Nov

Hello All!

Well, after months of my 32-year-old oven being offline for four months, I finally got it fixed! The problem was an ignition that gave out.  My Tappan 1979 36″ gas range is back online, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything* on this planet. Unless of course someone ( Wolf, Viking or Garland) would like to sponsor this blog and send me a new oven!

*You all know I had to try;  Tappan, you can send me another oven as well!

Now that I’m back in business, this is just in time for my famous Baked Macaroni and Cheese recipe. I won an ad-hoc contest between my old boss and I at one of the Super Bowl parties we used to host, and my family loves it. It is a variation of my beloved mother’s recipe  that she made for years and is decadent and rich.The technique is simple but exacting; you must follow to the letter the directions to this recipe. Once you master the technique, play around with it to see the endless possibilities with adding vegetables and meats.

Enjoy!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

1 Lb box elbow macaroni
3 cups milk ( use at least 2% milk)
3 Tbl. butter
3 Tbl. flour
1/2 cup grated parmesan ( not fresh grated; San Georgio or Kraft)
16 oz. shredded mild cheddar cheese
8 oz. monterey jack block cheese block, cubed
8 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese block, cubed
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
dash of cayenne (optional)
8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar (optional)

Cook macaroni in boiling water for 6 minutes, then drain and run cold water over macaroni to stop cooking. Set aside.

Heat milk in a saucepot until warm. Do not scorch. In a heavy bottomed pot ( 4 qt.) melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and mix with wire whisk until all lumps of flour are gone, about 3 or 4 minutes.

**do not allow butter/flour mixture to brown. You will have to start over if it does** If mixture gets too hot, lower heat.

Add milk all at once to roux and stir until well blended. Continue to stir until edges of milk start to bubble. Lower heat to lowest setting.

**The next steps are important. If this sauce burns or breaks (separates), you will have to start over. Follow to the letter.

Add one handful of shredded mild cheddar cheese to milk mixture. Whisk in with wire whisk until completely melted. Add another handful of cheese and repeat. Do this until all of the mild cheese is in the sauce. Repeat with the Parmesan cheese. Add white pepper, cayenne pepper and taste. Add a little salt if needed, but no more than 1/2 teaspoon.

Put cooked macaroni and cubed cheese in a large bowl. Toss with cheese sauce until all pasta is coated. Butter a 10 x 12 dish and add macaroni mixture. Top with shredded sharp cheese, cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven until bubbly ( about 45 minutes). Uncover and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes or until brown.

Let rest for at least 20 minutes, then serve.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Rigatoni with Chard, Tomatoes and Garlic

22 Feb

Last week, I ventured out and went to the store for the first time in weeks and bought some chard with the intention of posting it for the blog. Then this great lady beat me to the punch.  If you haven’t stopped by the blog Dianne’s Dishes, you should.  She puts up recipes for everything from soup to nuts five days a week, and does a great job of doing so.  I ribbed her about it, then I tried her recipe with one half of the chard ( which was quite dee-lish), and sat on the other half and pondered what I would do with the other half. This is what I came up with.

For those who aren’t familiar with chard, it is a leafy vegetable that comes in several varieties. When eaten young, ti can be used raw in salads.  Mature chard can be sauteed, roasted or used in sauces or soups. When cooked, its texture is a bit heartier than spinach, and is slightly more assertive in flavor.

Rigatoni with Swiss Chard, Tomatoes and Garlic (serves two to four)

1 bunch of fresh chard ( 1 to  1½ lbs)

2 tbl. olive oil

½ c. chopped onions

1 tbl. chopped garlic

1 ½ c. chopped tomatoes

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

8 oz. dried rigatoni or other similar pasta

2 tbl. Parmesan cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste

red pepper flakes (optional)

Prepare chard by cutting off the last inch or inch and a half off the ends of the stems.

Chop chard into bite-sized pieces and float in a tub of water to wash off any sand and grit.

Drain chard in colander until ready to saute.

Cook rigatoni in boiling salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes, drain and set aside. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until tender and fragrant, being careful not to brown. Add tomatoes and saute for three minutes, then add chard to pan. Toss chard with the tomato mixture and add stock.

Cook chard until wilted and leaves are tender, about seven or eight minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Toss rigatoni into chard mixture and serve immediately with Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.

Thia makes a  quick and elegant light supper, and healthy to boot!

What’s for dinner?

5 Jan

I’m hungry.

Have you ever had a fridge full of food and utter that statement? I usually get this way only when it is cold. Currently here in Charm City, the temperature is a balmy 31 degrees ( I know; some of you in the Midwest would DIE for 31 degrees, You guys are catching hell out there).

It is at these times I want something warm, cheesy and gooey. Enter the Mac and Cheese, that would cut it. Nope, that would take too much time to make. Maybe something spicy like chili, or comforting as beef stew.  Shepard’s pie or lasagne? Maybe later when I have more time.

Meh. Not in the mood.  What are you in the mood for? What quenches your food cravings? Let us know.

I finally figured out what I’m craving. I’ll post the recipe manana!

Hey, $25 gift card contest extended!!!!

6 May
Hey, win a gift card!

Hey, win a gift card!

Due to the ABSOLUTELY OVERWHELMING RESPONSE ( zero), I’m extending the contest dates to Midnight, May 24th. You have until then to tell me how you make your meals a gourmet experience in thee hard economic times. There will be two winners, each receiving a $25 Shop-Rite gift card.

Contest Rules:

1) No substitutions will be given in lieu of gift cards.

2) Shop-Rite gift cards can only be used at Shop-Rite stores.

3) Contest entries must be in by midnight, May 24.   The winners  will be announced on May 27, 2009.

4) All posts must be limited to 50 words or less.

5) All entries must have a valid e-mail address

6) Only one entry per valid e-mail address

7) Please refrain from using racist, sexist or pornographic comments. Entries which contain theses elements will be disqualified.

Have Fun!

Minestrone for whatever ails you

20 Feb

Well, what do you do when you want a vegetable soup, but not just any vegetable soup? You make minestrone, the king of vegetable soups. The good thing about this recipe is that with the omission of the meat,  this becomes vegetarian; and with the omission of the cheese, it becomes vegan.

Ingredients

3 Tbl. olive oil

1/2 cup chopped bacon, ham or smoked turkey meat ( omit for meat free option)

1 cup onion, peeled and diced

1/2 cup  chopped celery, diced

1/2 cup green or red bell peppers, diced

3/4 cup chopped carrots, peeled and diced

1 cup zucchini, diced

2 tbl. chopped garlic (  add more if you like)

15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained

8 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 bay leaf

2 cups packed chopped fresh escarole or chopped raw spinach

1 5 oz. can  drained and rinsed cannellini beans, or 1 cup cooked pasta ( bowtie, elbows, penne)

2 tbl.  chopped fresh parsley

Parmesan cheese for garnishing

Directions

Prepare all vegetables and meats, and measure out all liquids and seasonings before preparing soup. In a 3 gallon heavy bottomed stock pot, heat up the olive oil over medium heat.  ( If going meatless, skip the following step, and go to the next step) Saute bacon until crispy, or ham until browned slightly; being careful not to allow to burn, about 10 minutes. At this time, a brown substance may form on the bottom of the pot. This is called fond, and is valuable for flavoring soup. Do not allow fond to burn.

Add carrots, onions, celery, peppers, garlic and zucchini to the pot. Add I cup of the broth, and cook vegetables until wilted, about five minutes.  Add the rest of the broth, seasonings, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and turn heat down to simmer. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and skimming off any accumulated fat off of the surface  with a spoon.

Add the spinach or escarole, and the beans or pasta and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes or until greens are tender. Serve in bowls with generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese on top.

Enjoy!

Turkey Minestrone

27 Nov

My, My, My!

What to do with all of that turkey after Thanksgiving? Well, I’ll tell you. Make some of this delicious soup. I can cure what ails you. If your not into the meat aspect of this soup, then leave it out, and substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

Ingredients:

1/2 c. chopped bacon ( opt.)

1/4 c. olive oil

1 1/2 c. diced celery

1 c.  diced carrots

2 c. diced onions

8 c. turkey stock

1 c. green beans ( fresh, frozen or canned ok)

1/2 c. diced roasted peppers

15 0z. can diced tomatoes in juice

15 oz. can cannellini, kidney or chick peas; rinsed and drained

1 c. dried bowtie pasta, penne, or macaroni

1 T. Italian seasoning

1 bay leaf

1/2 t. cracked black pepper

2 T. chopped garlic

5 c. diced turkey ( can be all white meat, all dark or mixture of both

1/2 c. frozen chopped spinach

1/2 c. parmesan cheese ( powdered kind, not the gourmet kind)

In a heavy-bottomed stockpot, heat up the olive oil until hot, then add bacon and saute carefully over meduim heat until crisp . Remove bacon frompan and set aside. Add carrots, onions, garlic and celery to pan and saute until tender, about six to eight minutes. Add stock, vegetables, bay leaf and seasonings to pan. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes over low heat.  Add beans and pasta and cook for another 15 minutes. Add frozen spinach and diced turkey and cook another five minutes. Stir in parmesan cheese until dissolved and serve with warm crusty bread and a drizzle of olive oil on top, cooked bacon and extra parmesan cheese.

Chicken and Brown rice meatballs

9 Oct

I made these a couple of days ago when my new roommate moved in ( that’s where I’ve been!). I wanted to make a meatball that was light ( wait a minute; it has brown rice in it. How can it be light?), and can hold up in a sauce. Well, I made these and they turned out great! These meatballs have a surprisingly light texture, and great flavor.

Serve these as you would regular meatballs; with tomato or marinara sauce over pasta, or in brown sauce with sour cream over noodles ( Swedish meatballs). This also makes a great meatloaf* as well.

Makes 14 to 18 meatballs

You will need:

food processor

knife

cutting board

mixing bowls

measuring cups

measuring spoons

gloves for handling ground beef

*meat thermometer

sheet pan

spray oil

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground chicken ( do not use breast meat for this recipe)

4 ea. baby bella ( cremini, or button) mushrooms

1 ea. small onion

2T. chopped garlic

2 T. olive oil

2/3 cup cooked brown rice

1 egg ( or 1/4 cup egg substitute)

1 T. dried parsley

1/2 t. pepper

2 slices stale bread

1 1/2 t. sea salt

2 T. milk

1/4 c. grated parmesan

Slice and chop the mushrooms and onions in the food processor until finely chopped.  In a saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil to pan. Saute the onions, mushrooms, garlic and seasonings ( salt, pepper, parsley and italian seasonings)  together until all liquid is absorbed and onion mixture is done. Take onion mixture and cool completely.  Crumble stale bread and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, mix together ground chicken, brown rice, egg, crumbled bread, Parmesan, milk and onion mixture. Mix well. Set aside and chill in refrigerator for 1/2 hour. Wash hands thoroughly.

After chilling; either use gloves, or spray cooking spray onto hands lightly. Spray sheet pan with cooking spray. Shape meatballs into small balls and place 1/4 inch apart onto sheet pan. Place meatballs in oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until bottoms of meatballs are brown.

Make sure all surfaces that came into contact with ground meat are washed thoroughly with soapy hot water ( including your hands).

* For meatloaf: shape into rounded loaf, and cook in oven until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees ( or about one hour)