Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Classic Favorite: Mac N Cheese

Sometimes you just need a trip down memory lane with some classic comfort foods. I had a craving for Mac N Cheese but seeing how the days of "Macroni Express" are behind me, I thought I'd make my own.

What you need:
2 cups of macaroni elbows
2 cups of broccoli florets
1 cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded
Assorted other cheeses like asiago, parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
3 cups of milk (perferbbly 2% or whole)
pinch of cayenne
1 cup stock (chicken or vegetable, whatever you have on hand)

The "How to":
1. Boil a pot of water for the macaroni elbows, once it's at a boil, salt for seasoning (optional) and add in your pasta
2. After 10 minutes, add in your broccoli so it can cook as well
3. Heat a medium pan over medium heat on your stove top
4. Add in butter and once melted, add in flour and cayenne and whisk quickly to combine, this creates a roux (make sure you don't over cook because it'll leave the cheese tasting chalky later)
5. Add in milk and stock
6. Let sauce thicken (should take about 5 minutes)
7. Remove one cup of starchy pasta water and reserve for cheese sauce to come
8. Drain out pasta and broccoli and leave to the side for a moment
9. Add in your cheese and keep folding together until all is well blended
10. If the sauce is too thick and hard to mix, add a little bit of starchy water until it's at the consistency you want it
11. Add in your pasta and broccoli, combine well
12. Adjust seasoning as need

Voila! Mac and Cheese the grown up way :)

Taco Salad Madness

If you know me, you know I love my Tex-Mex. It would be the one cuisine I'd want to be stuck with eating if I absolutely had to.. one of those "if you were stuck on a deserted island" sort of things... Getting to the point.

I was clicking around and stumbled on a quick easy way to make taco salad shells. I thought what the heck! Let me try it...

What you need:

Cooking spray
4 Large flour tortillas (I bought mine and the trick doesn't work as well with wheat tortillas)
1 can of Black beans
2-3 tomatoes, diced
1 green bell peppers, diced
1/2 small white or red onion, diced
Taco seasoning
Spinach or lettuce, shredded
2 tbsp Lemon Juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 unripened mango, diced
The "How to":

Mango Pico de Gallo
1. Combine tomatoes, onions, green onions and mango in a small bowl
2. Add in lemon juice and swish around
3. Drain excess lemon juice
4. Add salt and pepper to taste
5. Refriderate until ready to eat

Taco Salad:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350
2. Create 2 4 in boil of foil OR cover a large container with 2 layer of foil (Essentially you will be laying the tortilla on top and the heat will cause it naturally frame this object)
3. Place the foil balls on the baking tray
4. Spray one side of the tortilla with cooking spray and lay the NON-spray side one the foil ball and repeat for the second one
5. Bake in oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the tortilla starts to golden
6. Repeat depending on how many shells you need

Black Beans:

1. open can of beans and mix a little salsa and taco seasoning in
2. eat beans in microwave

Now the fun part! The assembly of the Taco Salad

1. Take your shell and layer the bottom with spinach
2. Add beans, then your cheese, mango pico de gallo and all your other Mexican condiment staples (sour cream, guacamole, jalenpenos, etc)
3. Take a fork and have at it!
The tortilla shell is really light and flaky and the best part is that it doesn't have any added oil! Got great reviews from my two favorite taste testers too!


I heart cheesecake!

I love meeting new people... anyone that knows me can atest to that. When the husband came home and said "hey! we've been invited to my co-worker's house for dinner," I jumped at the opportunity to make dessert.

I wanted to make a cheesecake and yay! the couple loves cheesecake.. meant to be I tell you :)

Kraft makes cheesecake making super easy so I can't take full credit for this but I hope you enjoy!

Blackberry Swirl Cheesecake

What you need:
1 8x11 cooking pan
Hand mixer

1 cup of graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp of sugar
3 tbsp of butter, melted

40 oz of cream cheese (I used 5 - 8 oz packages of fat-free Philadelphia cream cheese)
1 cup of sugar
3 tbsp of flour
1 tbsp of vanilla
1 cup of sour cream
4 eggs

1 cup of seedless jam, softened

The "How to" from Kraft Kitchens:

Making the crust:
1. Heat oven to 325°F.
2. Line 13x9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides
3. Mix cracker crumbs, 3 Tbsp. sugar and butter
4. Press onto bottom of pan. Bake 10 min and leave oven on for the next step

Making the filling:
1. Make sure your cream cheese is room temperature or heat it in the microwave for about 20 seconds.
2. Beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, flour and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until well blended.
3. Add sour cream; mix well.
4. Next, we're going to add the eggs but make sure you do this 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended.
5. Pour over crust and spread evenly
6. Melt your jam into a liquid and gently drop globs of jam over batter
7. Swirl with knife for a fun marbling effect
8. Place a smaller baking pan fill 1/2 way with water on the bottom rack. This will help the cake from cracking
9. Bake for 40 min. or until center is almost set. When you take the cake out, the frame should be firm and the center should be jiggly
10. Cool completely and then place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
11. Lift cheesecake from pan with foil handles before cutting to serve.

Fun "Meat"ball Subs!

After a very long hiatus, I'm back! Did you miss me? :)
So in our latest "let's be healthy" kick, my hubby ventured out to Newflower Market and found Gimme Lean Meatless Sausage.

Now, I'm not usually a fan of fake meat but, what the heck... maybe we can make something yummy :)

A quick search on allrecipes.com and recipezaar.com and I came up with this:

Sweet Tomato "Meat"ball Subs:

What you need for the meatballs:

3 tbsp water
3 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
14 oz. Gimme Lean Beef Substitute (you can use ground beef or chicken as well)
1/4 onion, finely chopped onions
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup 2% milk or whole milk
1/2 tbsp garlic paste (just chop garlic and smush it with salt)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp of rosemary
1 tsp of chili powder
1 pound ground beef
pinch of cumin powder
1 egg white (optional)

Sub rolls and provolone cheese to come later

The "to do":

1. Preheat your oven to 325

2. Chop the sun-dried tomatoes and combine them with 3 tbsp of water. Cook until all the water has evaporated

3. Combine the onions, "beef", milk, tomatoes, garlic, spices, bread crumbs and egg white in a bowl. Make sure it mixed together very well.

4. Form the mixture into golf-size balls and place on a non-stick baking tray. When done, pop them into the oven until they are a nice golden color. Should take about 25 minutes

Tip: If you are still getting used to the taste of fake meat or like your meatballs to be a bit more moist, add a couple of tbsps of ricotta cheese.

Next the Sauce.

What you need:

(This is really a hodge podge of veggies so pick and add as you like!)

2-3 tbsp of olive oil

1 16 oz can of tomato sauce

8 oz of diced tomatoes

1/4 white onion (if large), 1/2 if it's a medium to small onion, chopped

1 stem of green onion, chopped

1 small green bell pepper, chopped

4 oz of mushrooms, chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

red crushed peppers, salt, pepper to taste

1 pinch of rosemary

3-4 leaves of basil, torn into small pieces

The "to do":

1. Heat oil in a sauce pan and saute onions, garlic first and let them get a bit soft first

2. Add in mushrooms and bell peppers and whatever else you want (zucchini, squash, etc)

3. add in your spices and let this cook for a bit till all the veggies r soft

I like my sauce to be smooth over chunky so if you like it chunky, just add in your tomato sauce and diced tomatoes at this point and let it come to a boil

If you like it smooth like me, keep going...

4. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, sauteed veggies to a blender and pulse chop to get it all mixed up before you hit blend

5. Pour sauce back into the sauce pot and let it come to a boil. Make sure you taste it to see if the spices are to your taste!

Last but not least, the coming together of the incredible sub!

1. Slice your roll in half and remove some of the excess bread from the middle of one of the sides, essentially creating a "boat" in the middle of the bread

2. Assemble a slice of cheese (I used provolone and mozzarella) on one side of each of your your sub roll and place into the oven (make sure your meatballs are out!)

3. After about 5-7 minutes, the cheese should be melted and the bread nice and toasty

4. take 2-3 meatballs and drop them into your sauce and scoop them into the pocket you created on one side of your sub

That's it!! So yummy! Enjoy!