28 January, 2014  |   7 Comments

Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

We also call this Mama's Mac and Cheese

I first made this macaroni and cheese recipe from the Gourmet magazine cookbook for bocce.

It was eaten in minutes.

Emboldened by its success, I made it for the first winery job potluck.

I’d put myself under some stress for that potluck. I mean, they have a work chef! I wanted to avoid embarrassing myself in front of all the culinary experts.

My nerves had been for naught. I had no idea the speed at which this cheesy, noodley casserole would be consumed. Coworkers congratulated me for the whole rest of the week, cheering my brilliant addition to the potluck table.

And now you can p0wn your next potluck table too.

Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

16 ounces pasta shells (I like shells, some like the elbows)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
4 cups shredded cheese (I like sharp cheddar mixed with medium cheddar)
3/4 cup cream
1 cup reserved pasta water

2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup shredded cheese

Boil water for the pasta.
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Shred the 5 cups of cheese,  set one cup of shredded cheese aside. Make bread crumbs.

In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour. Stir with a whisk. It will make a strange lumpy wad of a thing. This is the base for the roux. Keep stirring for 3 minutes.

In a thin stream, add the whole milk and the red pepper flakes, whisking all the while until the mix makes a thinnish sauce. Stir in the mustard, cheese and cream. Turn off the heat.

If the water’s boiling, cook the pasta. Save 1 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta.

Add the pasta to the cheese sauce — stir through. Add 1/4 cup of pasta water and stir through — the whole thing should be a little loose. Add more water if the mixture seems too firm.

In a small bowl, put bread crumbs, melted butter, and stir through final cup of cheese.

Add the cheesy pasta to the baking dish. Sprinkle the buttery, cheesy breadcrumbs atop the macaroni and cheese.

Throw the whole dish into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, turning the dish once to ensure even baking.

This macaroni and cheese is the first thing to go at potlucks.

I like to make double and freeze it for James to toss in the oven when I’m working late in the oven. The kids go nuts for it and he gets super-supper bragging rights.

Now go grab YOUR super supper bragging rights!


23 January, 2014  |   5 Comments

Frodo Risotto Recipe for a Hobbit Dinner

We love Frodo Baggins.We made a hobbit dinner the other night.
James and I love Frodo. Bilbo too. We are Hobbits at heart.

Secure in our snuggly Shire home, we welcome any old man with fireworks to entertain the children.
The barefoot, mildly wild children.

And they all eat Frodo Risotto.

This is Frodo Risotto. It's a baked risotto.

We served Frodo Risotto with local Shire greens.
And some roast game (chicken).

Adapted from a Donna Hay recipe, this risotto bakes in the oven while you catch up with cousin Frieda Baggins about what’s causing the rabbit shortage.

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and diced about 1/2″ (Probably about 2 cups diced squash)
3 cups arborio rice
7 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup white wine (For cooking, I like Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter, chopped
1 small onion, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup Parmesan cheese
Additional Salt and Pepper to taste

Oil for frying the sage
10 sage leaves

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cate Blanchette, Lady Galadriel of Lothlorien, will try to scarysexy you into giving her your ring but don’t you let her.

Elvin Butternut Squash.

To avoid all risk, you probably should skin her and chop half of her into tiny bits.

Peeled Elvin (Elvish?) Butternut Squash.

You can mince Samwise Gamgee into tiny bits while you’re at it too.

Nooooooo Frodoooooo

Mix the first seven ingredients in a 9″ x 12″ baking dish.
Combine, being careful not to slosh.

Something lives beneath the surface of that salty lake.\

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and put in oven for 1 hour.

30 minutes into the baking time, take off the foil and stir it. You will be disappointed by the lack of progress. But hold tight, little hobbit, your dinner is right on plan.

This is when I would fry up the sage.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, frizzle the sage in there until crispy, only a minute or two. Remove and drain on paper towels

After an hour, remove the baking dish from the oven.
Stir through the two tablespoons of butter and Parmesan cheese.
Stir through 7 leaves worth of crumbled fried sage.

Garnish with the remaining 3 leaves.

And watch out for fireworks.

Welcome all old men carrying fireworks

7 November, 2013  |   3 Comments

Crocked Shrimp Dip

This recipe, from Ann Hodgeman’s Beat That cookbook, wins raves and recipe requests from all over the land.

The cucumber slices and water crackers didn’t make anyone’s fingers greasy, and the shrimp dip topping was light, whippy and exactly the most non-offensivest of fishy that you want in a dip. We make this dip in two parts, The first, the shrimping. The second, the blending and the third, the melding. The melding is my favorite part, because I have to do nothing.

Dottie's going in for the crocked shrimp dip.

This recipe only serves to reinforce my belief that a food processor makes nearly any food better. I think it has something to do with hoisting it out of its storage space and back and forth again.

First Day Ingredients
2 cups water
1 cup dry white wine (I use Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc)
2 lemons, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 1/2 poun raw medium shrimp, unpeeled

Second Day Ingredients
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 small scallions, minced (including a good 3 inches of green)
Salt and ground pepper to taste

Water crackers and cucumber slices for serving

First Day Directions
Mix the water, wine, lemon slices, chopped garlic cloves, peppercorns and mustard seeds (basically, everything except the shrimp) in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring the mix to a boil and let it boil for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low — and add the shrimp (still in their shells). Simmer for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the shrimp cool in the liquid for about 20 minutes. Put the whole mixture in the fridge overnight.

Second Day Directions
Drain and peel the shrimp. Take out that food processor, and add the cream cheese, anchovies, butter, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Process the mix utnil smooth. Drop in the peeled shrimp and pulse to chop it finely, you want some shrimpy texture in that dip.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, stir in the scallions and season with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill it overnight.

Third Day Directions
Let the shrimp sit for an hour at room temperature before serving it with water crackers and those thinly sliced cucumbers.

5 November, 2013  |   Comment

Peanut Butter Cookie Day!

Peanut Butter Cookie Closeup

One of the reasons I’ve been writing on the internet all this time is that I like having a recipe repository of all the stuff we eat for my kids. When they’re all grown, they’ll be able to have the exact recipe I used for their favorites. (And know what to avoid.)

Please give this child a cookie.

I shared my Brokey Peanut Butter Cookie recipe a few years ago. The recipe (and relative brokeyness) still stands.

It is exciting, to think that my kids can access that culinary history. My mom could sometimes make the same thing twice. But outside of the comforting sameness of lasagna-flavored Hamburger Helper, the flavors of my childhood reside only in my brain.

Sometimes I have deep thoughts, and sometimes I make peanut butter cookies.
It’s peanut butter cookie time.

We eat these a log.

Helen Jane’s Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe 

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter (that’s one stick), soft
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cookie sheet

Mix peanut butter and butter in large mixing bowl until smooth.
Then add all the other ingredients. Blend until smooth.
Put the cookie dough bowl into the refrigerator for 15 – 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°.

When properly chilled, spoon batter onto cookie sheet with a Silpat or a piece of parchment paper on it.

Flatten cookies with the criss cross fork print which we all take to mean “peanut butter cookie.”
Bake for 10 minutes.

And don’t tell Dottie you’re going to take her peanut butter cookie away.

29 August, 2013  |   1 Comment

Mama’s Favorite Cookies – Dark Chocolate, Dried Cherry and Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

Cherry, chocolate chip, oatmeal cookies

These are my favorite cookies.
Right now.
They’re good for lunch-packing, snack-time and Helen’s Zass.

Cherry, chocolate chip, oatmeal cookies

Okay, maybe they’re not so good for Helen’s Zass.
But they are delicious.

Anyway, dark chocolate, dried cherries and oatmeal all in a cookie made of my favorites. The kids love them, I love them and I hope you love them too.

2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup dried cherries
2 cups dark chocolate chunks and/or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cherry, chocolate chip, oatmeal cookies

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Using beaters or a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until it’s light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and keep blending until it’s one harmonious mass. Turn off the beaters.

In a big bowl, put the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and oatmeal. Stir until blended through.

Turn the beaters/mixer to low and add the flour/oatmeal mixture slowly to the batter until barely blended. Or use a big wooden spoon, your choice.

Remove the bowl from the mixer, and stir through the chocolate chunks and dried cherries until mixed all the way through.

Put a spoonful or a scoopful of cookies on a baking sheet in the manner that one does. Wet your fingers and flatten the scoop a little bit. Leave enough space between them to flatten out a little, but I end up putting 12 cookies at a time on each baking sheet.

I like to use this scoop — it’s something I used a gift certificate for — and initially thought would be a silly purchase. Since we use it for a small ice cream scoop AND a cookie scoop AND a muffin scoop, I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth out of it. You might too.

In my oven, I needed to bake each sheet for 12 minutes, turning the pans from front to back 6 minutes in. Your oven may vary.

Cherry, chocolate chip, oatmeal cookies

I hope these cookies make you as happy as they make me.
(And the rest of our silly, silly family.)

After School

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