Baked Macaroni & Cheese

I loved Mac & Cheese since I was a kid. I can remember in my teens making the Kraft boxed and thinking I was a great chef mixing powered cheese(?) with the freshly boiled tiny little elbow macaroni’s and milk or water. I graduated to the deluxe version that had the cheese(?) as sauce in the can. I was in Mac & Cheese heaven watching Bruin’s hockey a devouring a whole box. It was not until I was transferred to Dallas with 20th Century Fox that I met Paul and Clair who introduced me to Mac & Cheese made from scratch and real chesses. I was sold.

This time I made it with white cheddar and America cheeses, but normally I like a sharp orange cedar cheese. You can use many kinds of cheeses which I have, so experiment. I have found at least to my liking that cheeses that get stringy when melted (i.e. mozzarella) do work but everyone has different taste and who am I to say…..

Mac & Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 pound penne, elbow or cavatappi (corkscrew) macaroni.
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour.
  • 4 cups milk, heated.
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded extra sharp Cheddar cheese.
  • 2 cups finely chopped American cheese.
    • Remember you can use more or all cheddar if you want.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Tabasco or hot pepper sauce.
  • ¼ freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

How

In a large pot bring lightly salted water to boil and cook macaroni and cook aldente. Drain well.

Preheat the oven to 350◦ with rack in center. Butter 13”x 9” baking dish, alternatively use a deep 4 quart casserole.

Melt the butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Slowly whisk in the milk. Bring to simmer, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup each of Cheddar and American cheese. Season with salt, pepper and tabasco sauce.

Combine the rest of the Cheddar and American cheese. Spread ½ of the macaroni on the bottom of baking dish. Sprinkle with slight more than half the combined cheeses and then ½ the sauce. Add the remaining of the macaroni top with the cheese and then sauce. Now sprinkle the graded parmesan cheese over the top. If using the 4 quart casserole 1/3 of macaroni, ½ of combined cheeses, 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat with another 1/3 of macaroni and remaining cheese and ½ the sauce.  Finish with the removing macaroni and sauce and then sprinkle the grated parmesan cheese. I prefer the baking dish it is easier to make single servings and you can freeze these for a quick, meal or side. (Add a little water when re-heating in microwave.

Bake until bubbly and golden brown around the edges. About 30 minutes.

 

Roasted Vegetables

I love veggies and roasting them is just another way to appreciate them. They make a great side dish and then for leftovers in a frittata or as a salad topper. I usually use spices that I am using in the main dish to bring the two together.

I can’t say what to sue there are so many and most will roast up nicely so experiment away. If you find something that just is great roasted let me know.

 

Roasted Vegetables

Love that carmalization!

Ingredients you’re eyeballing here and you will put more of what you like and according to how many people.

  • 1- Small to medium eggplant pealed on not cut into slightly large than bite size.
  • 3-6 – Green, red, yellow or orange bell pepper quartered or more depending on the size. Also seeded and white web removed.
  • 2-3 – Red or sweet onion quartered
  • ½ head of broccoli flowerets or 1 pound of asparagus cut up slightly larger than bite size pieces
  • 3-5 Carrots
  • 6-15 Whole mushrooms stems removed
  • 10-15 fingerlings potatoes or small red potatoes (If too large just cut in half.)
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp. each Dried oregano, basil and rosemary. (Remember use what you used in main meal to bring the flavor together).
  • 1 lemon (optional)

Again the choices are many it’s up to you.

How

Preheat oven to 350 to 400°

Place the vegetables in a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle on the herbs, mixed well making sure the herbs get distributed evenly. Now roast for 40-55 minutes. I know it is large span in cooking times but it all depends on what you’re roasting. For my wife the pepper head a few twist of the pepper mill before serving.

 

 

Grilled Salmon with Herb Crust

Grilled Salmon with Herb Crust

 

 Will insert picture next time I make it probably this weekend.

 

Prep: 15 minutes

Grill: 8 minutes

 

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces fresh salmon fillets, about 3/4 inch thick
  • 1/3 cup each coarsely chopped fresh oregano and cilantro
  • 1/4 cup sliced scullions
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

How:

1. Rinse fish and pat very dry with paper towels. Cut fish into two pieces (about 6 ounces). Set aside.

2. In a food processor combine oregano, cilantro, green onions, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. Process until chopped. If I have company and we are talking I use a knife to finely chop the oregano, cilantro, green onions, and garlic. Transfer to a shallow bowl. Stir in lemon juice, olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. Generously coat both sides of the salmon with the herb mixture. Now some like the skin some don’t that is up to you.

3. For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium-high. Place salmon on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as for 6 to 8 minutes or just until the salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork.  Remember I grill all year even in the snow.

4. To serve, cut each salmon piece in half.

I like to take some cut up veggies and potatoes, whatever I have in the house, and place them in tin foil pouch with butter or oil, salt, pepper and maybe some oregano and cilantro to bring the flavor of each dish together when I start to preheat the grill. It is done about the same time as the fish will be.

Hint: If there is a thinner end to the fish you can fold under so that it is about the same thickness as the rest.

English: Fresh Cilantro (Coriander) Deutsch: V...

Fresh herbs always on our counter

 

Of course everyone has thier own idea of what a handful of or a pinch of is.

1/3 cup. How do I measure up to you?

Patti sent me a chain letter the other day, normally I would have just hit the delete button but it was from Patti so I looked. The jest was to send a recipe to the next person on the list and then remove that person and add yourself to the bottom (only 2 people to start with). After doing that you were to send the starter email out to 20 of your friends. I bought into it (sorry guys) and gladly sent out a recipe. Well this started a conversation going between my brother, sister and myself about measurements. “I can’t send a recipe because I don’t measure anything”. I will admit I understand where they were coming from although I start with a recipe on new things I quickly move away with a handful of this, a pinch of that and a half palm full of ….eyeballing I guess is the best way to describe. My first try I measure as the cook says, I figure I should at least taste what they created.  I like to talk about what I made last night at to anyone that will listen and sometimes they ask for the recipe. It was not long that before I knew that this much in the palm of my hand was about a teaspoon and a handful was close to a cup of chopped herbs and ½ if crumbs or similar. A small grab and twist of fresh cilantro was about 2 Tablespoon minced…. I think you get the idea. So whether you measure or not and you like to share recipes it does not take long to figure out how your handful measures up. This is not me throwing a guilt trip on them they just got me thinking.

Jelly Bean Chicken Wings aka Oven-roasted Spiced Chicken.

Jelly Bean Chicken Wings aka Oven-roasted Spiced Chicken.

Sometimes it was so hard to get your kid to eat something you would try anything, airplane, train in the station whatever well Lyn and I were into an Asian phase and mike was having no part of it. He was still into the stage that nothing could touch on the plate yet he would gobble down shepherd’s pie Anyway one of us told him it was chicken made with jelly beans and he bought it, notice how I protected whoever said this. It is funny because they are not sweet in any form whatsoever. These have been a hit whenever I have made them jellybean or not.This came from a book that I bought maybe 25-30+ years ago and stuck the recipe has change a little but not much. Try them I think you will like.

Jelly Bean Chicken Wings aka Oven-roasted Spiced Chicken.

You can use the whole wing – separating tip from drumette but we prefer just the drumettes, it is worth it to us to spend a little extra buy just the drumette.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. chicken pieces.  Note: If I am using less I still make the same amount of marinade.
  • 1/3 cup light soy sauce.
  • ¼ cup peanut oil.
  • 1 Tbsp. Chinese wine if you don’t have I have used dry sherry.
  • 1 clove garlic.
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt.
  • ½ tsp. finely grated fresh ginger I have used ¼ tsp. powered in a pinch but really prefer the fresh.
  • 2 tsp. five spice powder.

How

Wash the chicken and dry well with paper towels. In large shallow dish (something you can use to marinade in) mix soy sauce, oil and wine. Using a broad flat knife crush the garlic to a pulp with the salt and add to the soy mixture with the ginger and five spice. Mix well. Add the chicken and turn to coat all sides. Cover and marinade for at least an hour. Again as mentioned in other recipes, I like to marinade overnight or at least 6 hours fix in the Am ready for dinner.

Preheat the oven to 350°

Remove chicken from marinade put in single layer in roasting pan that has tin foil covering bottom and sides( help with clean up). I find that laying tip to bottom tip to bottom allows you to fit more in a pan, they nestle together. Spoon about 2 Tbsp. of the marinade over the chicken. Roast about 45-50 minutes turning once half way until the chicken is brown and crisp. Basting every 20 minutes or so with the marinade.  Finish off quickly under the broiler to get that extra crispy finish but watch them so they do not burn.

Variation use whole drumsticks need a little longer to cook 50-55 or even thighs take about an hour. I tried but did not like it as much using a whole chicken rub the marinade over the chicken spoons some inside the cavity. Wrapped in plastic wrap for about 1-2 hours then roasted as above on a rack. The flavor did not carry as well as the wings so wings it was.

Had to have some for the game, just a taste!

  Had to have some for the game, just a taste!

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Oh don’t tell Mike about this!

Interesting fact crushing the garlic to a pulp in the salt mellows the intensity of the flavor or at least I read that the other day. Does one believe everything one reads?

Big Fat Cod potato pancakes

I don’t eat a lot of potatoes these days but every once in a while they hit the spot. Funny we could go weeks without having them and then it seems every night for a week nothing but potatoes with or in the meal. Could there be some sort of vitamin deficiency that causes these potato cravings. I firmly believe that the body will make you crave what it needs to fix an issue.  Yes the rest of the family thinks I’m a little off too.

 

Big Fat Cod Potato Pancakes

Prep 10-15 minutes

Cook 30-35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 lbs cod fillets, cubed
  • 1 Tbps.butter
  • 1 Tbpsgrated onion
  • 1 Tbps chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 Tbps oil for frying (canola, corn, safflower, sunflower, vegetable- all have high smoke point and are good for pan frying)

How

Boil the potatoes in a large pot, remember to start with cold or room temperature water and add potatoes then bring to boil then the outside will not cook faster than the inside. Cook until they are almost tender.

Add the fish to the pot and let the fish and potatoes cook until they are both soft. Drain and transfer into to a large mixing bowl. Add butter, onion, parsley, and egg to the bowl; mash the mixture together. Have some kid fun and mold the patties.

Heat oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat, fry the patties on both sides until golden brown. Drain on paper towels before serving.

All you need now is a vegetable broccoli sound good doesn’t it? A quick homemade tartar sauce mix mayo, and relish together maybe a few red pepper flakes cause I like the heat.

I think next time we will try with sweet potatoes.

CRUNCHY OVEN-FRIED FISH

We used to pan fry our fish all the time placing an halved onion in the oil to absorb what we were told would be the fish odors. Then we slowly got healthier and were delighted when surfing the channels came upon Americas Test Kitchen and they were making this tried it and now it is a staple. We had baked fish before but it never really came out crispy or stuck to the fish. Who would have thought a skinny nerdy looking guy, Chris Kimball, would become one of my heroes although he does not seem to cook much, so I guess my real heroes are Julia, Bridget, Rebecca and the rest of the crew. He does pull it all together and I am sure he is a fine cook and not how he depicts himself on the show. Please keep inspiring and educating me.

CRUNCHY OVEN-FRIED FISH

Published September 1, 2008. From Cook’s Illustrated

With my minor tweaks and cheats

This is very similar to how I do my chicken cutlets either pan-fried or baked minus a few ingredients.

Serves 4

To prevent overcooking, buy fish fillets at least 1 inch thick. The bread crumbs can be made up to 3 days in advance, cooled, and stored at room temperature in an airtight container. Serve with Sweet and Tangy Tartar Sauce (see related recipe) or lemon wedges. Steve tweak: If you have a skinny end of the fish you can always fold under to make it about the same thickness as the other so it cooks evenly.

Ingredients

  • 4 large slices white sandwich bread , torn into 1-inch pieces Steve tweak: Whole wheat bread
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 small shallot , minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup plus 5 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour Steve tweak: Whole wheat bread
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish (optional) Steve tweak: optional? Not in my opinion
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 1/4 pounds skinless cod fillet , or haddock fillet, or other thick white fish fillet (1 to 1 1/2 inches thick), cut into 4 pieces (see note)
  • Lemon wedges

Instructions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse bread, melted butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in food processor until bread is coarsely ground, eight 1-second pulses (you should have about 3 1/2 cups crumbs). Steve tweak: Use already prepared whole wheat or panko bread crumbs added salt and pepper and then melted butter. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet and bake until deep golden brown and dry, about 15 minutes, stirring twice during baking time (0-8 minutes using bread crumbs). Cool crumbs to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Transfer crumbs to pie plate; toss with parsley and shallot. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.
  2. Place 1/4 cup flour in second pie plate. In third pie plate, whisk eggs, horseradish (if using), mayonnaise, paprika, cayenne pepper (if using), and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper until combined; whisk in remaining 5 tablespoons flour until smooth.
  3. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking spray and place in rimmed baking sheet. Dry fish thoroughly with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Dredge 1 fillet in flour; shake off excess. Using hands, coat with egg mixture. Coat all sides of fillet with bread crumb mixture, pressing gently so that thick layer of crumbs adheres to fish. Transfer breaded fish to wire rack. Repeat with remaining 3 fillets.
  4. 4. Bake fish until instant-read thermometer inserted into centers of fillets registers 140 degrees, 18 to 25 minutes. Using thin spatula, transfer fillets to individual plates and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Step-by-Step

Keys to a Crisp Crust I love that they review

Soft, moist fish needs an extra-thick coating of bread crumbs to add flavor and crunch. Here’s how we lay it on thick:

Picture from America Test Kitchen

1. Pulse: Processing fresh crumbs very coarsely maximizes crunch.

Steve tweak: Use already prepared whole wheat or panko bread crumbs added salt and pepper and then melted butter.

Picture from America Test Kitchen

2. Toast: Prebaking buttered crumbs ensures that they are brown and crisp when fish is done. 0-8 minutes using bread crumbs

Picture from America Test Kitchen

3. Dip: Thickening batter with flour and mayonnaise prevents toasted crumbs from turning soggy and glues them firmly to fish.

Picture from America Test Kitchen

4. Coat: Pressing down gently on crumbs helps to pack thick layer on fish.

Picture from America Test Kitchen

5. Elevate: Baking fish on a wire rack set inside baking sheet allows air to circulate underneath.

Leftover Night Frittata

Frittata 1

kind of like an egg pizzza

Omelets and frittatas are eaten not only for breakfast, but also as a main dish.  Breakfast for dinner is common at our house at least a few times each month. This is a tough one to write down it has a lot to do with what I have on hand or the craving I am having. I have often wondered what the difference between an omelets and frittatas is, I saw nothing beside a fold and that most of my frittatas end up with a crisp golden brown potato bottom crust.

Thanks to a quick Google search my thinking has been validated.

Google: What is the difference between omelets and frittatas?

Answer: In the strictest sense, the difference boils down to a matter of folding in a filling rather than mixing it in. Omelets traditionally have the egg mixture cooked and folded around a filling, while a frittata just mixes it all up, cooked in a mishmash combination all at once. Frittatas are often served at room temperature, making them perfect for brunches or larger groups.

Omelets or frittata hmmmmmm…

I will start with the basic frittata that I usually make – my wife calls it an omelet.

Leftover Night Frittata

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes maybe slightly more if you par cook the potatoes

Cook Time: 30-40 minutes

 Ingredients:

  • 3-4 potatoes julienned or chop finely – you can blanch the julienned or par boiled the chopped if you want.
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 small red, green, yellow pepper or a mix of what you have on hand.
  • 3-7 raw mushroom minced or chopped roughly (How many depends on size)
  • 1-3 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley leaves or cilantro (save some for garnish)
  • Cheese – you have to eyeball, you will want enough to sprinkle over the omelet but not too heavy.  Usually around ½ cup or so grated.
  • Whatever left over main course you might have meat, fish etc. (optional)
  • 4 Tablespoons butter or olive oil  divide in two
  • 5 or 6 eggs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

How:

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Chop or mince the onions, peppers, mushroom and parsley. Julienned or chop finely the potatoes.

Place 2 Tbsp. butter of oil in a medium-to-large ovenproof skillet, preferably non-stick, and turn the heat to medium.

Add the onions, peppers sauté about 3-5 minutes add the mushroom for another 2-3 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Reheat the pan adding 2 Tbsp. of butter or oil (I like a mix it browns the potatoes better.) Add the potatoes in a single layer loosely covering the bottom of the pan and cook until they are browning on bottom  this is not covering the bottom like a pie crust  but is giving a good base.

While it’s heating, beat together the eggs, salt, pepper and parsley/cilantro and then mix in the onions, peppers, mushroom.

Gently pour the eggs into the skillet and turn the heat to medium-low. Top with the cheese of choice.  Shake the pan gently over the burner for a minute or to. Cook, undisturbed, for about 8-10 minutes, or until the bottom of the frittata is firm.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake, checking every 5 minutes or so, until the top of the frittata is no longer runny, 10 to 20 minutes more.

Garnish and serve hot or at room temperature.

Options

Try without the potatoes cooking the same way, try with different type of potatoes, chopped up meat, bacon pretty much anything you like it is all good.  See great for leftover night.

Healthy Breakfast Scones

My wife is a scone head and when Laurel made these for her she begged for the recipe.

This recipe is from What’s Cooking? Healthy Cooking Blog by Lola Dee-Lite is highly recomended.

Healthy Breakfast Scones

Makes 12 small scones

Ingredients

  • 2 TB softened butter
  • 1/2 cup flax meal
  • 1 cup, plus 2 TB whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup whole oats (not instant)
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 TB organic brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit of your choice-raisins, cherries, cranberries, blueberries, etc
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp. good vanilla

Heat oven to 375. Combine butter, flax meal, and 1 cup flour in a bowl with a fork or pastry blender tool, working in the butter, until completely blended into a course meal.

Add in oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and baking powder, combining thoroughly. Mix in fruit and nuts. Next, add in vanilla and applesauce, gently stirring until moistened and combined. If too moist add in additional 2 Tb flour. Using a bit of flour on hands as needed, form scones into 12 golf ball sized portions, flattening them a bit so they are not too thick. Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or nonstick spray for about 20 minutes, or until baked through and slightly brown on bottom. These scones are best served warm, and can be reheated in the microwave. Store cooled scones in airtight container at room temperature. They will last a few days, or freeze them for longer term storage. Serve warm just as they are, or spread with butter, cream cheese or jam.

Julienned Vegetable Pasta

Carrots

I brought out my new toy around thanksgiving and showed it to my son’s girlfriend and she let out a gleeful ohhhhhh. This woman likes kitchen toys as much as we do, she’s a keeper. I had found this recipe for julienned veggie on this blog I frequent the main blog is www.Gojee.com  great site recipe after recipe with links to the writers’ blogs. Anyway sorry I don’t remember whose blog it was but it had peanut sauce and we tried it, liked it but not writing about that here just the veggies cause there are unlimited things you can season, flavor or combine with. Thank you whomever you are you opened my eyes to new adventures.

Julienned Vegetable Pasta

Ingredients

  • 2-3 zucchini
  • 2-3 yellow summer squash
  • 2-3 fat carrots

Comment: You can actually use any vegetables you want.

How

Julianne the, zucchini, yellow squash, and carrots – keeping the carrots separate.

Bring water to a boil

Poach the carrots for 1 minute then add the zucchini and yellow squash for another 2 minutes.

Drain and rinse in cold water to stop cooking or not. Mix them up and plate the colors look good together.

Suggestions

Now you can just flavor how you want, Thai peanut sauce, oil and balsamic vinegar, garlic and oil, even plain, tomato based sauce I think you get the idea.

You can heat the sauces if you want.

Quickly sauté with oil and vinegar.

Server them hot or cold.

Serve with any meat or fish plated on top and flavor to complement the dish.

Use in salads before or after poaching.

Make coleslaw.

See unlimited options, quick and easy.