Macaroni and Cheese

I have been making this recipe forever.    You can use any combo of cheese you like.  For years I only used Cheddar.  The issue with Cheddar is it can be greasy.  If you use Cheddar in combination with Gruyere or Gouda we have noticed the greasiness is not there.  There are plenty of times I only use Gruyere. That is our favorite cheese to use.  Eric and Kent enjoys the topping.  Me, not so much. Here is another simple and delicious meal.

Macaroni and Cheese

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Ingredients

1# elbow pasta (I use large elbow.  You can use whatever you want.)
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (taste it!)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 3/4 cup milk
2 cups Gruyere (or Gouda – NOT smoked) cheese, shredded
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Topping (Sometimes I do the topping but not always)

1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons butter

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2.  Make elbow pasta per directions on box
3.  While pasta is cooking, melt butter in 3-quart saucepan over low heat. Add diced onion and sauté until translucent. Stir in flour, salt and pepper.  Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted.  Once cheese is mixed through turn off heat.
4.  If you are going to do the topping – melt 2 Tablespoons butter in saute pan.  Add bread crumbs and stir until toasted
5.  Drain pasta. Gently stir pasta into cheese sauce. Pour into ungreased 2-quart casserole. Top with bread crumbs. Bake uncovered 30-40 minutes or until bubbly.

You will love it.  Very easy to make, even during the week.  Give it a try!!

Pasta Carbonara – Simple and Delicious

Rachel and I went to Chicago earlier this month.  We went to a few different restaurants but her favorites were Italian (mine too!!) One of her favorite meals was at Grand Lux Cafe  and it was Pasta Carbonara.  I made it for our Sunday dinner this week.  Both her and Eric really enjoyed it.  Rachel’s only comment was she wanted more cheese. I had plenty of that set aside for her to add to her plate! Here is a history to the origin of Pasta Carbonara. I thought it was interesting!

Pasta Carbonara
(Thank NY Times for this recipe!)

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Ingredients

2 large eggs and 2 large yolks, room temperature
1 ounce (about 1/3 packed cup) grated pecorino Romano, plus additional for serving (I used 1/2 cup and not enough for Rachel!!)IMG_1178
1 ounce (about 1/3 packed cup) grated Parmesan (again, I used 1/2 cup, not enough for Rachel)  -If you like cheese, add more!-
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (add the black pepper, that is an important ingredient to this recipe!)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
4 ounces bacon (or guanciale or pancetta – I used bacon) Slice pieces about 1/4/ inch thick by 1/3 inch square
1 cup pasta water (add that salt people!)
12 ounces Spaghetti (4 quarts water in spaghetti pot and 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt, a bit less if using table salt)

Instructions

  1.  Place 4 quarts water in pot for spaghetti with 1 Tablespoon kosher salt. Get that started.
  2. In mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, Pecorino  and Parmesan.  Season with a pinch of salt and the black pepper. (Room temperature is important for the eggs.)
  3. Get the spaghetti pot boiling if you have not done so by now.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the bacon, and saute until the fat just renders, on the edge crispness but not hard. Remove the bacon from the heat and set aside. (I placed the bacon in a paper towel lined bowl. Leave the frying pan with the fat on the stove.)
  4. Cook pasta al dente.  Just before pasta is ready, reheat bacon in skillet. After warming the bacon add 1 cup pasta water to the skillet. Stir for a minute or two. (Yes, add the pasta water that is what makes the sauce!)
  5. Add pasta to skillet.  Stir together.
  6. Add egg and cheese mix.  Stir together.
  7. Serve immediately.  Have cheese in bowl to add for those who want more cheese, like Rachel!! 😉

Buon Appetito!!  Ciao!!

 

Peas and Macaroni – Simple and Delicious

When I was younger every Friday my dad made dinner.  My favorite Friday dinner was when he made Peas and Macaroni.  I enjoyed watching him make it (he always seemed happy). I also enjoyed eating it, lots of it!!  I know this was a meal he had when he was growing up.  This is another “Depression” food but as far as I am concerned it is definitely not depressing!  One thing though, my mom always bought the LeSeur brand canned peas.  I also still buy the same peas.   Sometimes I will use frozen peas and a can of chicken broth.  It just doesn’t seem the same.  When I make this meal all I can  think of is my dad getting home from work on a Friday night, having a beer in the breezeway sitting on the steps, then coming in the kitchen and making the most delicious meal for all of us.  Don’t knock it until you have tried it!

Peas and Macaroni

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Ingredients

1 pound pasta (I use large elbows, you can use whatever you like.  I find the smaller pastas go better with this dish.)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 large or 2 small green bell peppers
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 – 15 ounce cans of peas, not drained
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

1.  Cook pasta according to directions on box.
2. While pasta is cooking add 2 Tablespoons olive oil to fry pan over medium heat.  Add sliced onions and peppers.  Cook until onion opaque, about 8-10 minutes.
3.  Add garlic, oregano and basil. Stir together.
4.  Add 2 cans of peas. Cook over medium heat until warmed through, about 5 minutes.
5.  In the meantime drain pasta in colander, then put back in sauce pan.
6.  When peas are heated through add to the pasta.  Mix the pasta and peas together.

Enjoy!

Bacon and Egg Rice Stir Fry

I found this recipe a long time ago in Bon Appetit magazine.  I have been making it for about 10 years.  Everyone in our family loves this very simple stir fry.  I make it for breakfast once or twice a month.  We always enjoy this simple and delicious meal.

October 25 011

Bacon and Egg Rice Stir Fry

Ingredients

1 cup long grain white rice (I use jasmine, basmati, arborio or long grain white, depends on my mood)
2 cups water

8 bacon slices, cut into 1/2 inch strips
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I use peanut oil)
1/2 cup green onion
1 teaspoon sesame oil (I use 1 Tablespoon – no, it is not too much)

Directions

  1. Bring rice and water to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Set aside. (I make rice almost every Sunday.  That way when I make a rice dish during the week that part is done.)
  2. Cook bacon in a 12 inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until golden and crisp.  It takes about 5-10 minutes.  Pour into a sieve over a heatproof bowl and reserve bacon and fat separately.
  3. Whisk together eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.
  4.  Return 3 Tablespoons of bacon fat to skillet and sauté onion over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs and cook, stirring until eggs are just set, about 1 minute.  Make a well in center of egg mixture, then pour in peanut (or vegetable) oil and 2 Tablespoons reserved bacon fat.
  5. Add rice, remaining salt and pepper and cook stirring about 2 minutes.
  6. Add bacon, green onions, sesame oil and cook mixture,October 25 012stirring until mixed through.
  7. Serve starving family and/or friends!

Shepard’s Pie – Simple and Delicious

Shepard’s Pie is a great comfort food.  That is what this Sunday was all about.  I had a recipe I have used for years which called for a dry onion soup mix.  I wanted to try a recipe that did not have onion soup mix in it. I found this recipe on Food Network.  Gotta love Rachel Ray.  I changed the recipe up a bit but it worked for us!

Shepard’s Pie

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Ingredients

2 pounds potatoes, such as russet, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup cream
3 Tablespoons butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds ground beef
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme or 1 sprig fresh thyme
2  cups beef stock or broth
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon sweet paprika

Directions

1.  Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes and pour them into a bowl.
2.  Combine sour cream, egg yolk and cream. Add the butter and cream mixture into potatoes and mash until potatoes are almost smooth.
3.  Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil to hot pan with ground beef.
4.  Brown and crumble meat for 3 or 4 minutes.
5.  Drain the drippings from the pan.
6.  Add chopped carrot and onion to the meat. Cook veggies with meat 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Mix together.
7.  In a  small saucepan over medium heat cook butter and flour together 2 minutes. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups of broth and Worcestershire sauce. Thicken gravy 1 minute.
8.  Add gravy to meat along with 1/2 cup of broth & 1/2 teaspoon thyme to ground beef and vegetables. Stir in peas.
9.  Preheat broiler to high. I used the skillet as a vessel or you could fill a small rectangular casserole with the meat and vegetable mixture.
10.  Spoon potatoes over meat evenly. Top potatoes with paprika and broil 6 to 8 inches from the heat until potatoes are evenly browned. (If you don’t have paprika that is okay too!)

That’s it.  Simple and Delicious.  No leftovers for this one.  Enjoy!!

Caramelized Sweet Potatoes

Rachel and I went to A’bravo Bistro and Wine Bar for lunch a couple of weeks ago.  This happens to be one of my favorite restaurants in Green Bay.  When we were there I had the Caramelized Sweet Potato Salad.  If you want to recreate this salad the ingredients were: Caramelized sweet potatoes, spring greens, red onion, fresh mozzarella, kalamata olives, almonds, pecans, pepita seeds & parmesan. Served with honey balsamic vinaigrette.  It was AWESOME.  I had to try to figure out how to make those caramelized sweet potatoes. I think I was pretty close.  Here goes;

Caramelized Sweet Potatoes

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Ingredients

1 Sweet Potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (Rachel thought it was too spicy.  I did not.  You can omit it you do not like a kick of heat.)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place 1/2 inch cubed, sweet potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and stir to coat sweet potatoes evenly.
  4. Spread sweet potatoes out on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (you may need 2 baking sheets.  If the sweet potatoes are too close together they will not caramelize and bake evenly. I used 2 baking sheets.)
  5. Bake 15 minutes.  Flip over and bake another 15 to 20 minutes.

That’s it.  Simple and Delicious.  You can use as a side dish or add to your salad throughout the week.  I love putting on my green salads!

Enjoy!!

 

 

Chicken Noodle Casserole

Always trying to find a way to make weeknight meals simple and delicious.  If you stop by your local grocery store or Costco (that’s my stop) you can grab a roasted chicken.  Use a portion for this recipe and the rest for sandwiches, chicken salad or chicken tacos (just a few suggestions).  Also, always a little for our pup, Rooney.  IMG_E8590

This recipe is a quick weeknight meal.  Here goes:

Chicken Noodle Casserole

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12 ounce uncooked wide egg noodles
1/4 cup butter
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped carrots
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme (don’t ignore this step.  If you don’t have dried thyme – go buy some. It adds a nice flavor to many recipes.  Just saying’)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (I used milk.  That’s all I had.  If you don’t have, you could skip this step.)
3 cups shredded chicken (this is where the stop at Costco comes in handy.  Always $4.99 for a delicious roasted chicken.)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Directions

  1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray bottom and sides of 13×9 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Cook and drain egg noodles as directed on package.
  2. In 12 inch nonstick skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium high heat.  Cook celery, onions, carrots and garlic in butter until vegetables are tender.  5-8 minutes.
  3. Add 2/12 cups of the chicken broth, thyme, salt and pepper to skillet; heat to boiling.  In small measuring cup, beat remaining 1/2 cup broth and the flour with whisk. Stir into hot chicken broth mixture in skillet.  Simmer and stir 1-2 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly.  Remove from heat; stir in shredded chicken and cream.
  4. Add cooked noodles to baking dish; stir in chicken mixture until mixed well.  Cover, bake 30 minutes or until casserole heated through.
  5. Meanwhile, in 8 inch nonstick skillet, melt remaining 2 Tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Cook bread crumbs in butter 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden brown. (do not walk away, stir entire time.  It does not take long. The minute you walk away the bread crumbs will burn up.  I know this to be true!!)
  6.  Remove from heat, stir in parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle over baked casserole.

Enjoy!!

 

 

 

Sloppy Joes – Simple and Delicious

I keep forgetting to post this quick weekday recipe.  Under an hour and you will have a delicious Sloppy Joe Sandwich.  One thing I do during the week is chop my veggies and set out my ingredients in the morning before I leave for work.  No prep work when I walk in the door from my 8 hour day.  Everything is out and ready to go. All I have to do is prepare the meal. Simple and Delicious!!

Sloppy Joes
(compliments Allrecipes)

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped bite size pieces
2 cups water
3/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard (I have used yellow and brown mustard too)
1 teaspoon salt (or to your taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

  1.  Place ground beef and onion in a large skillet. Turn heat to medium and cook and stir the mixture constantly until the feef is browned and forms small crumbles, about 10 minutes,
  2. Stir in garlic and green bell pepper; cook until softened, 2-3 minutes.  Add 1 cup water and stir, scraping the pan to dissolve any brown flavor bits from the bottom of the skillet.
  3. Mix in ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, mustard, salt and pepper.  Add 1/2 to 1 cup water and return mixture to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick, about 40 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.  If you want a bite add cayenne to taste.

That’s it. Serve on a roll.  For myself, I serve over rice.  Kent has as a sandwich.  Salad is our side.  ENJOY!

 

 

Chicken Posole

I found this on WeightWatchers and made it my own.  The recipe on their site is a bit different than mine.  You could also throw in a crockpot.   That’s not my thing though. Simple and Delicious!

Chicken Posole
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Ingredients

1 pound, chicken thighs
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 celery, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
4 ounces pickled jalapeno peppers, mild variety, diced, drained
14 1/2 ounce canned Hominy
14 1/2 ounce canned diced tomatoes
1 cup water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2  teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder

Directions

1.  Place 1 Tablespoon oil in dutch oven or soup pot.  Lightly salt and pepper one side of chicken thighs.  Brown both sides.  Remove from pot and cut into bite size pieces.  Set aside.
2.  Add celery, onions and green pepper to pot.  Saute until veggies are soft, 5-8 minutes.
3.  Add garlic and mix in with veggies until fragrant.  30 seconds.
4. Add rest of ingredients; pickled jalapeno peppers, diced tomatoes, chicken, water, seasonings.
5.  Cook at medium high until simmering. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15-20 minutes.

That’s it.  How easy is that.  Enjoy!!

 

 

 

Stuffed Peppers

I have been craving stuffed peppers.  My mom used to make these and I hated them.  I didn’t mind what was inside but did not like those peppers.  I guess my taste buds have changed – died due to the aging process 🙂 but I love peppers now.  I used green bell peppers today but I think next time I will use red, orange and yellow.  I also would like to try some other peppers besides the bell variety.  This recipe takes about 30 minutes to prepare and another 30 minutes to bake.   I found this recipe at  America’s Test Kitchen.  It reminds me of my mom’s recipe.  Here goes;

Classic Stuffed Peppers
(just like mom’s)

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4 green, red, yellow, orange bell peppers, 1/2 inch trimmed off tops, cores and seeds discarded (I used 6 green, they were small to medium size and on sale this week!)
1/2 cup long grain rice
1 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1# ground beef (or any ground meat.  If you don’t want meat add more veggies and/or rice)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14 1/2 ounce) diced tomatoes, drained – 1/4 cup juice set aside for later use
5 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 1/4 cup)
2 Tablespoons parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 cup ketchup
Salt and pepper

Directions

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1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Adjust oven rack to middle position.

2.  Bring 4 quarts water and 1 Tablespoon of salt to boil in large stockpot over high heat.  When water boils,  add your peppers.  02062014 006Cook until peppers begin to soften, 3-5 minutes and remove with slotted spoon.
3.  Set the peppers upside down on paper towels to drain water, then flip over as soon as drained.
4.  Return water to a boil, add 1/2 cup of rice and boil until tender or 12 minutes.  Drain rice into colander and transfer to a large bowl; set aside.
5.  While the rice is cooking heat a 12 inch heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat until hot, add oil and swirl to coat.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and brown, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef and cook, breaking into small pieces, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
6.  Transfer mixture to the bowl with rice, stir in tomatoes, 1 cup cheese, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
7.  In a small bowl stir together the ketchup and remaining tomato juice.
8.  Place peppers cut side up in 9 inch square baking dish. 02062014 009 Fill each pepper with meat/rice mixture.  Spoon 2 Tablespoons of ketchup mixture over tope of each filled pepper, sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake until cheese is browned and filling is heated through, about 30 minutes.  Serve immediately.02062014 013

Don’t limit yourself to the classic stuffing.  You could use any kind of ground meat, different cheeses, grains, veggies.  The list is endless.  Hope you enjoy this simple and delicious comfort food meal!!