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Archive for December, 2008

 

(adapted from Cooking Light)

i know. everyone claims that they have the recipe for the best mac and cheese ever. and here i am claiming just the same. but believe me, this is goooood. if not for his loving and caring wife, my husband would eat stouffers mac and cheese every day for every meal: believe me, he is pretty high maintenance when it comes to mac and cheese. after experimenting a few different times, he finally gave me permission to call it quits at this recipe.  i have made these for potlucks and have always received rave reviews. (hopefully they weren’t just being nice!) but my husband has an amazingly great palette, so if he likes it, i figure it must be good.

also, don’t shy away from the mac because it’s a kid food. this is america, after all. just embrace the mac.

 

ingredients:

2 c. uncooked elbow noodles (actually, I prefer to use medium shells or rotini for the extra crevices that trap the cheese sauce. i also use whole wheat pasta, just to make myself feel better about consuming all that cheese.)

4 T. flour

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

2 c. milk (i’ve made these using 1% and using non-fat, and they both turned out the same)

1/4 c. cream cheese or neufchatel, softened

2 tsp. dijon mustard

2 tsp. worcestershire sauce

1 1/4 c. shredded cheese (i use a mixture of somewhere around 1 c. extra sharp cheddar and 1/4 c. parmesan.)

 

instructions:

1)  cook pasta according to directions on box. (continue with following directions while past is cooking.) drain and return to pot.

2) while pasta cooks:  place flour, salt, and pepper in a large sauce pan over medium heat. add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk until well blended.

3)  drop cream cheese by teaspoonfuls into milk mixture; bring to boil over medium-high heat while continuing to stir constantly with whisk. once starts to boil, immediately reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, or until thick and cream cheese is melted.

4)  stir in mustard and worcestershire sauce; simmer for 1 minutes or so. remove from heat.

5) add cheeses, stirring until melted. if it’s too thick, add more milk to thin down, but only a few splashes at a time to avoid putting too much in. as it cools, though, it will thicken up a bit.

5) add to cooked noodles in pot. stir well to combine.

 

this yields a really creamy pasta, so if you don’t like more sauce than pasta, feel free to add another cup of noodles.

variations:

*try experimenting with adding different kinds of cheeses in, like brie or pepperjack. you could probably even substitute gorgonzola and other white cheeses for the cheddar for a completely different dish!

*for another completely different dish, use cubed potatoes instead of noodles!

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i LOVE the slow cooker. i have to admit that it is one of the wedding presents i am most grateful for registering for — and receiving. how miraculous it is on those days (or weeks, even) i feel burnt out from work and life, and would rather sit on the couch and zone out while watching tv than cook. enter: the slow cooker. it is truly a sanity saver.

 

ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped rather thickly

RUB:

1 T. brown sugar

1 T. paprika

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

 
1 2-4 lb. boneless pork butt or shoulder

SAUCE:

½ c. cider vinegar

2 tsp. worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. brown sugar (or sustitute with honey, molasses, or agave nectar)

½ tsp. dry mustard

1 garlic cloved, minced or pressed

¼ tsp. cayenne powder

1 tsp. chili powder

 

instructions:

1)  place onion in slow cooker. combine rub ingredients in a small bowl and rub into the pork. place in slow cooker.

2)  in a medium bowl combine sauce ingredients. whisk together. pour over pork and cover with lid.

3)  cook on low for 10 hours or high for 5-6 hours.

4)  when finished, shred –pull– meat. (it should shred easily.)  serve like a sandwich (normal or open-faced) on buns or rolls, over cornbread, on rice, or over mashed potatoes.

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ryan started the fire

“Everyone. OK, I have an announcement. Apparently in business school they don’t teach you how to operate a toaster oven. Because some smart, sexy temp left his cheese pita on “oven” instead of timing it for the toaster thing. Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television, North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe, Ryan started the fire!”  ~Dwight K. Schrute

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honey cheddar biscuits

 

i like this recipe because it’s really flexible as far as extras you can throw in there, something i have been experimenting with lately. i’ll go into more detail of variations at the end of the recipe.

ingredients:

1 c. AP flour (or ½c. white, ½c. wheat) + extra

3 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. cream of tartar (i get nervous about wheat flour making the dough flat, so i use a rounded tsp of tartar)

¼ tsp. salt

¼ c. cold butter, cubed into small pieces (earth balance works too, i was pleased to discover recently!)

½ c. shredded cheddar

1/3 c. milk

1 T. honey (or agave nectar)

instructions:

preheat oven to 425°F.

1)  mix 1 c. flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt in medium bowl.

2)  using a pastry blender or two knives in a criss-cross motion, cut in butter until mixtures resembles pea-sized crumbs. with a wooden spoon, stir in cheese. add milk & honey; stir until mixture forms a soft ball.

3)  normally, now would come the part for kneading the dough. but i’m pretty lazy when it comes to kneading dough so i cheat a bit. (but if you are a better person than i, than go ahead and turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead with your hands abut 8 times.) for the lazy way:  using the back of the wooden spoon, squish the dough against the side of the bowl until you feel like you’ve “kneaded” all the dough, about 8 times. add a couple extra tablespoons of flour into the bowl during the process. by the end, you should be able to tough the dough without it sticking to your hands, but it also should be moist still. (i apologize for my choice of words, for those of you who do not like the word “moist.”)

4)  divide dough into 8 balls. place on a baking sheet. bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.

variations:

1)  throw some shredded parmesan in with the cheddar

2)  substitute the cheddar for other kinds of cheeses: just recently i used garlic herbed goat cheese. pepper jack could also add a fun kick

3) use sugar instead of honey, if you don’t have honey

4)  throw in some chives or finely diced green onions

5)  to spice it up a bit, throw in a diced jalepeno or serrano pepper

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butch cassidy

“I have been Michael’s number two guy for about 5 years. And we make a great team. We’re like one of those classic famous teams. He’s like Mozart and I’m like…Mozart’s friend. No. I’m like Butch Cassidy and Michael is like…Mozart. You try and hurt Mozart? You’re gonna get a bullet in your head courtesy of Butch Cassidy. ”  ~Dwight K. Schrute

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turkey is not usually one of my favorite foods (as i like to say, i don’t eat turkey at thanksgiving meals because i want to save my stomach space for the good stuff), but i love having left-over turkey to cook with after thanksgiving. how’s that for a conundrum? there’s not a ton of varietal things I do with turkey other than casseroles and soups — and mind you, i do LOVE soups — but within those two categories, especially soups, i love experimenting. this recipe is no exception. it’s chili-esque because of the legumes, but it’s soupier than i prefer my chili to be, so that’s why i call it a chili soup.

(adapted from Cooking Light)

ingredients:

olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1-2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

3 cups beans (legumes), like white, black, kidney, etc (i use white and black)

½ c. chopped fresh tomatoes

1 ½ T. chili powder

2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. cayenne (if cayenne is too spicy for you, substitute with paprika)

4 c. chicken broth (i used homemade turkey broth, complements of thanksgiving)

½ c. red wine

1-2 c. fresh spinach leaves, chopped (i used swiss chard, as that is what i had on hand)

salt & pepper

3 c. chopped or shredded cooked turkey

¼ c. chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

sour cream, as garnish

 

instructions:

1)  heat olive oil in a large dutch oven pot over medium-high heat. add onions; saute until golden brown. add garlic; saute another minute or two.

2)  add beans, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. stir to combine.

3)  add broth, red wine, spinach leaves, salt, and pepper. bring to a boil; reduce heat. simmer for at least 20-30 minutes.

4)  add turkey. cook for another 5-10 minutes. remove from heat. stir in cilantro, if you are using it.

5)  serve in bowls with a dallop or two of sour cream on top.

 

variations:

because soups are usually quite flexible, experiment with other veggies you have on hand. (although, i personally wouldn’t try potatoes because i feel like that would conflict with the starchiness of the beans.) i had radishes from my csa box that i can’t seem to go through quickly enough, so i chopped up a few of those and threw them in there. corn would be good, and maybe even carrots or bell peppers. i could have gone for it being a bit spicier, so a jalepeno or serrano pepper or could have be added. If adding carrots or peppers, saute with the onions. if adding radishes or corn, add with the tomatoes.

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now, don’t let the title scare you away. i’d thought about naming it “w/ mystery pink sauce” but i figured that would harken back to grammer school days of eating mystery meat from the cafeteria, which isn’t necessary any better than beets. so i just decided to keep it real.

i got this recipe idea from my sister-in-law (who has the same name as me) and her husband. since the four of us share a csa box, they, like us, had beets stored up that they didn’t quite know what to do with. last sunday when we met them at the farmers market to split up the box, there were even more beets that came in it. “have you used your beets yet?” she asked. definitely no. “you should make this yummy pasta we made the other night!”

when i got home, i couldn’t remember how she had said they made it, except that they put sausage in it. so i attempted to make my own. and it was DELISH! i couldn’t taste the beets in even the slightest bit (and neither could hubby, whew!) – -thanks to the spiciness. who would have thought — pasta, beef, and beets???? weird! the best part about this:  i used only 1 pot to make it all. i love when that happens! (so does hubby, since he’s the official dish washer.)

i didn’t have sausage, so i spiced up some ground beef with ingredients i thought would be sausage-esque. and, like my other recipes, i threw in random veggies from my csa box that i needed to get rid of in a sneaky way. feel free to omit those if you don’t have them on hand, or to substitute them with other veggies to your liking.

 

ingredients:

whole wheat spaghetti noodles (i believe i used ¼ – 1/3 box)

approx. 1/3 lb. ground beef **

1 medium onion, chopped

1 jalepeno, diced** (with or without the seeds, your choice — remember, the seeds make it hotter!)

chili powder**

cayenne powder**

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

3 small radishes, scrubbed clean and shredded

3 small fresh beets, peeled and shredded

a few leaves of swiss chard, chopped (my sister-in-law used the green tops from the beets)

shredded parmesan, for topping

 

**substitute these ingredients for sausage

 

instructions:

1)  cook spaghetti according to directions on package. drain, reserving about 1 cup pasta water; set aside both water and pasta.

2)  in the same pot you used to cook the pasta in, set to med-high heat, add ground beef and onions. cook until beef is browned. add next 7 ingredients (jalepeno through chard) and reserved pasta water. cook about 10 minutes.

3)  return spaghetti to pot. stir to combine.

4)  serve garnished with shredded parmesan on top.

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