Tag Archives: side dish

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.


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!


Kwik Killer Kale

16 Jan

Killer Kale with bacon, garlic and onions

Today at the office, one of the doctors at the practice received a very large “Edible Arrangement” from one of her clients. This thing was humongous, and we all ate chocolate-covered strawberries, pineapple and melon until we were full. Even then, there was enough fruit left over for an army and nobody wanted it. You know what I did.

Okay, for those folk who really know me will acknowledge that I waste nothing. NOTHING.

I took that bad boy home, took it apart and was surprised (as I pulled off the nearly five pounds of fruit left on this thing) about 1 1/2 lbs of fresh kale used as a base for the fruit-tastic sculpture. So I cooked it for dinner, and here is the recipe. It took about 45 minutes from start to finish.

(For all you veg-heads out there, omit the meat and substitute fire-roasted peppers for a little smoky flavor.  Similarly; if you loves the meat add as much or as little as you care to)

Kwik Killer Kale

2 lbs.  fresh kale

2 tbl. olive oil

4 strips diced bacon ( optional)

1/2 cup diced roasted peppers (optional)

1/2  cup thinly sliced onion

4 cloves chopped garlic ( about 1/4 cup)

1/2 cup chopped jalapenos, poblano, or banana peppers

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 cup water or chicken stock

Salt and black pepper to taste

Kale comes washed and bagged in most upscale markets. If you get loose kale, pull off stems and discard. Float kale in a sink full of cold water for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally to remove all of the grit.

Heat up olive oil in a heavy-bottomed sauce pot. Add bacon and saute until crisp over medium heat. Remove  bacon from pan and set aside. Add onions, garlic and peppers and saute until soft. Add kale, vinegar and stock, and cover pan with a tight-fitting lid.

Cook for five minutes, then remove lid and stir kale.  Replace lid and continue to stir kale until losing its bright green color, and leaves are tender. Season with salt and pepper, then top with bacon. Serves around 2 to 4 people.

For the vegetarian/vegan crowd:  Add olive oil to pan. Over medium heat, saute hot peppers, garlic and onions until tender. Add  kale and roasted peppers to pan and toss with garlic mixture. Add water and cover pan with lid. Toss and cover until kale turns dark and leaves are tender. Season and serve.

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!

Have you ever tried Poutine?

18 May

A relative informed me of her intent to vacation in Montreal in July.  She asked me if I wanted her to bring me a souvenir and before I could answer, she told me she couldn’t bring me any poutine.

“What is that?” I asked her, She replied that poutine is a version of french fries and gravy. But way better. Way.

photo courtesy of exurbanpedestrian.wordpress.com

photo courtesy of exurbanpedestrian.wordpress.com

Poutine is a dish made with french fries. The french fries are fresh not frozen, and are topped with fresh cheese curds ( ya hear that, Wisconsin?) and topped with a rich brown sauce ( maybe a demi-glace?).   You have to be legally dead not to be intrigued by the prospect of trying this.

I’m not dead. I’m dying to try this out, but I am on a restricted diet so it is up to you guys to try to make this at home.


Normally I wouldn’t advocate using any substitutions in a recipe, but you may have to in this case. I haven’t the foggiest idea where you could buy cheese curds; I used to work a bit with fresh mozzarella curd in restaurants, and apparently it is a regional ingredient. I would generally say if you cannot find fresh cheese curds, use fresh mozzarella cheese.

**If you are a poutine-eater, don’t get mad at my suggestion, suggest a better alternative**

Cut and fry your own fries, and  make a brown gravy to top the dish. If you have a picture of your finished product, send it on in and tell me how it tasted!

Vegan Black Bean Soup

12 May

Vegan Black Bean Soup

Hey Kids!

Here is a great recipe for a Black Bean Soup. This is a soup for a rainy day or it  can be used in making nachos. Add some ground beef or chicken, and you  have a great black bean chili. Use what you want as a garnish. here, I’ve added diced red onion, tomatoes, hummus ( a great non-dairy alternative to sour cream), and fresh basil. You of course, can tart up your black bean soup anyway you choose ( cheese, sour cream, meat, and/ or  Doritos © ).

No animals were used in making this soup, but I did murder a mess of vegetables if that makes the meat lover in you  happy!


2 c. onions, diced

1 c. carrots, diced

1/2  c. celery, diced

1/2  c.  bell peppers, diced

2 T.  chopped fresh garlic ( Less or more if you like)

1/2  c. jalapeno peppers, diced (optional)

1/2  t.  coarse grind black pepper

1/4  c.  olive oil

1 lb. dried black beans*

1 ea. 14-15 oz. can  flavored diced tomatoes ( Rotel brand w/ chilies, or any kind flavored with basil and/or garlic

2 T. tomato paste

3/4  t.  chili powder

3/4  t.  ground cumin

1 t. dried basil

1/2   t.  dried oregano

1/2  t. smoked paprika

2 ea. bay leaves

10 c. vegetable broth

1 cup prepared salsa

salt to taste

Garnish of your choice

Prepare all vegetables,  measure out all spices and liquids; set aside. In a large pot ( 2  1/2 gallon capacity), heat up olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions, carrots, celery, peppers and garlic and saute until onions are clear and aromatic, about 6-10 minutes. Add black beans and stir for an additional 3-4 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, bay leaves and broth. Bring to a boil, then allow to simmer. Skim off any foam that accumulates on top with a slotted spoon. Cook beans on simmer, stirring ocasionally for 2-3 hours or until beans are very tender.

Take 4 cups of the bean soup and puree in a food processor or hand blender until smooth and stir back into the  soup. Add salsa to soup, and serve.

* It is not necessary to soak any beans before using them, but do it if it makes you feel better. Reduce the cooking time if you do so.

A note to carnivores- Start this recipe with your meat of choice. Brown meat in the olive oil, then remove from pot and drain off all but 1/4 cup of fat. Then proceed with the recipe.

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!

Win a $25 gift card from Shop-Rite

24 Apr

shopritelogo Culinary Chick and the kind folks from Shop-Rite grocery stores are giving away $25  Shop-Rite gift cards to two lucky readers of this blog. All you have to do is post an answer to this question:

In these lean times, how do you maintain a gourmet touch in the meals you prepare for yourself, or your family?

A gourmet touch could be anything from using a simple garnish like a parsley sprig,  to breaking out that extra virgin olive oil, to splurging on seafood or a special cut of meat. I will choose the  best five entries; and you, the readers will choose the best two.  The two winners will receive the $25 gift card, courtesy of Shop-Rite.

Contest entries must be in by midnight, May 10.  Voting will end on midnight, May 17. The winner will be announced on May 19, 2009.

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 10.  Voting will end on midnight, May 17. The winner will be announced on May 19, 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!

Adventures in Breadmaking 2: Success!!!

15 Mar
At last: Success!!!

At last: Success!!!

Oh. My. God!!!

It turned out sooo well this time!! I cut the recipe in half, used more yeast and added more liquid to make the dough softer. It is PERFECT for sandwiches this go around. I think I have a winner, folks. Also, I’ve managed to figure out how to use the camcorder I aquired last year to take these pictures. So without further delay, here is a photo of the Sous-Chef!

Sixty-five pounds of wiggling love!

Sixty-five pounds of wiggling love!

I am very lucky to have Lucky, the Sous-Chef! She didn’t have any bread with me, as I try to avoid giving her table scraps!

Have a good weekend!

March is National Sauce Month

3 Mar

No matter what it’s called; we like sauces here in the good ‘ol U.S. of A!

Gravies, salad dressings, chutneys or whatever you prefer; sauces are mainly used to enhance the flavor or texture of whatever its served with or on.  But, that wasn’t always the case with the old humble accoutrement.

Did you know that the reason why sauces were  originally used? Sauces were used to disguise the taste of either poorly preserved food and food about to go bad. I swear, this practice is still relevant in some places to mask badly prepared dishes.  We’ve all been there before.

Thanksgiving, where the dryness of the signature dish can’t even be saved by a generous helping of the gravy.  In fact, the gravy tends to migrate to other parts of the dinner. Nancy Giles said it best when she said ” Thanksgiving is the only day when the gravy gets a pass to touch the other food on the plate.”  Yes, we are thankful for it.

And, let us not forget that our Italian-American friends call tomato sauce “gravy.”

To me, sauces are the highlight of the dish being served. It is the medium for which all of our culinary memories are made of.  At 15, I found it absolutely incomprehensible that the combination of cream, black pepper, egg yolks and Parmesan cheese could make pasta taste so good.

The enigma called sauce is even in pop culture. Secret sauce, special sauce, shit-on-a-shingle and the ever present “pork chops and apple sauce,” have made it into our daily lexicon.  Hell, we can’t even consume a sandwich without using either mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup. Yes, they are considered condiments; but, they are sauces nevertheless.

So what is your favorite sauce? I like a red wine demi-glaze. You cannot go wrong with that. As a celebration of all things sauce, I will post several sauce recipes throughout March.

So this month, remember to get your RDA of sauce!

Yet Another Food Recall

23 Feb

U.S. News and World Report has announced another food recall. Some potato products called Simply Potatoes were pulled from Giant and Stop & Save supermarkets. Products puuled from the shelves were as follows:

20 oz. Simply Potatoes Shredded Hash Browns

20 oz. Simply Potatoes Potato Slices

20 oz. Simply Potatoes Red Potato Wedges

All have sell by dates of  March 29 to April 3, 2009. These products are said to be contaminated with Lysteria Monocytogenes, Listeria is found in soil or water and can contaminate foods that are grown using manue as a fertilizer, or a contaminated water source. Typical symptoms include fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarhea , confusion and other assorted symptoms.

More information on Lysteria can be found at the Centers for Disease Control website.

Check your paticular market if you should return this product for a refund, or how should they be disposed.