Macaroni and Cheese

23 04 2009

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FINALLY!  A homemade macaroni and cheese that I actually like!  And I like it a lot.  It will definitely be my go-to mac & cheese (m&c) now.  I love m&c to be thick and creamy and rich.  This recipe delivers.

It also gave the me the opportunity to really learn how to make a roux.  My previous experiences have been Rachel Ray versions.  And of course everything is done super fast in her recipes so I have always rushed the roux.  Patience totally paid off and the roux came out fabulously.  I was so excited!

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I’ve never baked m&c before either and of course that helped make this dish totally delicious.

Thank you Just the Two of Us.

Macaroni & Cheese

Serves 2!

Ingredients

  • 1 c. uncooked elbow macaroni (I used corkscrews)
  • 1 Tbsp. butter (I ended up using a little over a Tbsp to help the roux along)
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. ground mustard (I used Dijon since I had it on hand)
  • 1/8 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (W sauce)
  • 1 c. skim milk
  • 3/4 c. shredded cheddar (I used more like 1 cup.  I love cheese)

Cook

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cook and drain pasta as directed.
  3. In saucepan, melt butter over low heat.
  4. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, mustard, and W sauce.
  5. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly.
  6. Remove from heat.
  7. Stir in milk.
  8. Heat to boiling over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
  9. Boil and stir 1 minute and remove from heat.
  10. Stir in cheese until melted.
  11. Gently stir macaroni into cheese sauce.
  12. Pour into ungreased baking dish.
  13. Bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Source [19]

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Chicken and Pasta Primavera

22 04 2009

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I would pay for this dish in a restaurant.  It was sooooo delicious.  It is light and flavorful and easy.  And the portions turned out perfect — no leftovers!

I want to make this every night.  Seriously.  It’s that good.  Just make it and eat it and enjoy it.

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Chicken and [Penne] Pasta Primavera

Serves 2!

Ingredients

  • 1 c. uncooked [penne] pasta (I used corkscrews)
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used 1 large breast)
  • 1/2 c. sliced zucchini
  • 1/2 c. sliced yellow squash
  • 1/2 c. 2-inch pieces asparagus
  • 1/4 c. Italian dressing
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves (I used a basil “paste” from the store — worked fine)
  • 3 Tbsp. shredded parm
  • pepper

Cook

  1. Cook and drain pasta as directed, without salt.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Cook chicken in oil about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in zucchini, squash, and asparagus.
  5. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables are crisp tender.
  6. Stir pasta into chicken mixture.
  7. Stir in dressing and basil.
  8. Heat through.
  9. Sprinkle with cheese and pepper.

Source [19]





Caesar Chicken with Orzo

21 04 2009

Sorry I have been a little MIA lately — this house business took up a lot of my time and energy last week.  I’ve started making more repeat dinners and even doing things like hot dogs and mac and cheese from a box.  As much as I love cooking and making fresh dishes, it is nice to have a break every now and again.  Plus some of that stuff (herb&butter rice, baked beans from a can, frozen tater tots — yum!) really pulls at my heart and reminds me of some of the stuff I ate as a child.

cookin da orzo

cookin da orzo

I got back into my groove a bit though, when I bought those new cookbooks.  Here’s another recipe from Just the 2 of Us.  I liked this dish — it was quick and easy.  I’m not sure we really got the taste of Caesar dressing , but it was still tasty.  We chunked the chicken instead of keeping it whole because that’s how we roll.

My only issue is that a few of the directions were a little unclear.  The dish still came out fine, but I wasn’t sure what had been messed up.  Basically, after cooking the chicken and removing from the pan (steps 2 & 3), you add water and broth to cook the orzo (steps 4 – 7).  By the time 8 minutes had passed, most of the liquid was absorbed by the pasta.  So when I got to steps 10 & 11, there wasn’t any liquid to bring to a boil/simmer.  I added a couple more splashes of chicken broth, but it didn’t last very long.  Maybe my heat was too high or I shouldn’t have cooked the orzo so long.  Who knows.  At least it was still good.

yummy

yummy

Hope you enjoy!

Caesar Chicken with Orzo

Serves 2!

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. canola oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast (I used 1 large breast)
  • 1 c. reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. uncooked orzo
  • 1/2 bag (1 lb. size) frozen broccoli florets (I used half a lb. of fresh florets and it worked fine)
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 tsp. Caesar dressing
  • pepper

Cook

  1. In skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Cook chicken in oil until brown on both sides.
  3. Remove from skillet and keep warm.
  4. Add broth and water to hot skillet.
  5. Heat to boiling.
  6. Stir in pasta and heat to boiling.
  7. Cook uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Stir in broccoli, bell pepper and dressing.
  9. Add chicken to pasta mixture and sprinkle with pepper.
  10. Heat to boiling then reduce heat.
  11. Simmer uncovered about 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and chicken is cooked through.

Source [19]





Chicken Mozzarella

8 04 2009

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This is just something I tried from a cookbook the other night.  Very simple to make and doesn’t take long at all.  I had to cook mine longer than the recipe instructs because my chicken pieces were thicker.  This made the sauce fall apart a little bit but it was still very tasty.  This comes from a cookbook that uses about 5 or 6 ingredients or less in each recipe.  Fabulously easy.

Chicken Mozzarella

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breast halves
  • 1 can Campbell’s Tomato Soup
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning OR dried oregano leaves, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 & 1/2 c. cooked pasta with salt (about 1 & 1/2 c. uncooked)

Cook:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Place chicken in shallow baking dish.
  3. Mix soup, Italian seasoning and garlic powder.
  4. Spoon over chicken and bake for 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
  5. Sprinkle cheese over chicken.
  6. Remove chicken, stir sauce, and serve over pasta.

Source [7]





March Tour – Recipe #2

31 03 2009

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Now this dish I did not ruin!  It turned out really tasty.  Here’s what Niki has to say about Orzo & Sausage Stuffed Peppers:  “This dish is one my husband requests again and again. It is by far one of our favorite week night meals.  I love all the flavor and fresh veggies it has to offer.”

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I’ve never had orzo and I don’t usually cook stuffed peppers this way so it was a step out of my comfort zone, but a good one.  The veggies really made this dish light and flavorful.

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I am not a huge fan of sausage so I omitted it, but check out Niki’s original recipe here.

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Tour Recipe #1 – Stuffed Shells

25 03 2009

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Warning: I did not do this recipe justice.  At all.  Be sure to check out Niki’s original post here.

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Stuffed shells are new for me and as such, I failed.  This was definitely an execution problem solely on my part.  It has huge potential, as long as you don’t screw it up.  My main problem was that the type of cheese I used did not melt like it was supposed to for a cheesy sauce. I also cooked the pancetta too long 😦  WH didn’t think these were too bad, but I was just so disappointed by how badly I had messed this up.

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Please visit Niki’s blog and see a successful posting of this dish!  Here’s why she picked it as one of her favorites:  “Now these are anything but healthy (well there is a ton of spinach) but the creamy sauce and salty pancetta really makes these shine.”

WH helps to stuff the shells

WH helps to stuff the shells





Deconstructed Lasagna

11 03 2009

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Brace yourselves: it’s another Rachel Ray recipe.  But don’t freak out.  This one actually was fairly simple and I’m pretty sure I made it in 30 minutes!  This is a really good pasta dish and an easy way to include some extra veggies (there are carrots in the meat sauce).

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I was a little skeptical about the ricotta mixture since it’s cold, but the heat from the pasta and meat sauce warm it up right away.  It mixes in really well and the flavor is so close to actual lasagna. Next time I would use less parsley in the ricotta mixture and I would grate/shred the carrots instead of “finely chop” them.  I’d also use more basil in the sauce.

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Definitely a quick and simple recipe!

Deconstructed Lasagna

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. cavatappi pasta
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 small carrot, grated or finely chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1/2 c. beef broth
  • 14 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • A few basil leaves, torn
  • 1/2 c. ricotta cheese
  • 1/6 c. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 c. grated parmesan

Cook

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.
  2. While the pasta cooks, heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the beef, crumbling into bits, and cook until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Add carrot, onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook until vegetables are softened, 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in the beef broth then the tomatoes and basil; simmer.
  7. In a small bowl, stir together the ricotta and parsley.
  8. Toss the pasta with the butter, then stir in the parmesan cheese and meat sauce.
  9. Scoop the ricotta mixture into each of 2 shallow bowls, then top with the meaty pasta.
  10. Sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese.

Source: [11 – Feb. 2009]