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Recipes

Baked Brie With Jezebel Peaches, Coffee-Rubbed Skirt Steak, and Grilled Mexican Corn Salad

June 5, 2014

Because of my recent travels and adventures having friends in town (and my general laziness), I’ve been going out to eat a lot lately. Like, way more than I should. Although I love going out to eat (no doing dishes!), I was recently inspired to try some new recipes after perusing the June edition of Southern Living Magazine, which focused on southern food (you should really go pick it up and take a look), so I decided to make a night of it and spoil myself with a southern feast.

My goal is to make all of the recipes in this little book by the end of the summer.

My goal is to make all of the recipes in this summer cookbook by the end of August.

I had some brie that was given to me by the folks at Jarlsberg during the Food Film Festival last month, so I figured this would be a good opportunity to make use of it with the “Baked Brie With Jezebel Peaches.

I'm a fan of any kind of cheese, basically.

I’m a fan of any kind of cheese, basically.

The recipe called for a 13.2 oz round, and although mine was about half that size, I decided not to halve any of the other ingredients, and I thought it turned out great. I served it with Keeblers Assorted Toasteds crackers, and it was a big hit. I loved the combination of flavors. It was tangy and creamy and crunchy and fruity all at once. I’d definitely make this again; I imagine it would be a great hit at parties!

So melty.

So melty.


For the main course, I decided to go outside of my comfort zone and try the “Coffee-Rubbed Skirt Steak,” which looked delicious in the magazine. I’ve literally cooked steak one other time in my life, so I thought this would be a good learning experience. The first thing that I learned is that I have no idea how to buy steak at the grocery store (it took me 10 full minutes to realize that skirt steak and flank steak are interchangeable. I’m bad at reading directions). Once I’d gathered all of the ingredients, I trimmed some of the fat off the steak, made the rub and let it sit for the required time while I prepared the side dish.

Rubbin' meat like a pro.

Rubbin’ meat like a pro.

 

Since I don’t have a grill at my apartment, I decided I would cook the steaks in my cast iron skillet, like they’d done when I went to that cooking class at Southern Season. The problem is that the cuts of meat I’d chosen were too big to fit in the skillet together, and in retrospect I should’ve cooked them one piece at a time, but I’m stubborn and decided I would make it work cooking them both together.

So. Much. Meat.

So. Much. Meat.

I somehow managed to both burn and undercook the steaks (kind of impressive, actually), and ended up sticking the whole skillet in the oven to finish cooking them. They came out somewhere around medium-well in color, but well done in texture. When trying the steak, I thought it tasted really flavorful, but was a bit chewy. Lily loved it and ended up eating all of the leftovers, so I guess that’s a good sign! I’d definitely try this recipe again with a grill and someone who actually knew how to cook steak.

Did I cut it right? I don’t even think I know how to do that. Yikes. I’m doomed.

The biggest hit of the night, though, was the “Grilled Mexican Corn Salad.” When I was making the corn, I was a little weirded out about rubbing ears of corn with mayonnaise, but it actually turned out really deliciously. Again, since I didn’t have a grill, I put the corn in the oven at 450 and let them bake for about 13 minutes before I took them out to cut the kernels from the cob to make the salad.

Apparently my oven cooks by neon light.

Apparently my oven cooks by neon light.

The flavor of this dish was so unique, and I loved how light and refreshing it tasted with the fresh herbs, lime juice, and crispness of the corn straight off of the cob (rather than canned or frozen). Plus I’m a huge fan of any dish with feta cheese in it.

I love corn straight off the cob. It's just so much better.

I love corn straight off the cob. It’s just so much better.

The meal was delicious and as fun to eat as it was to make. With the exception of the snafu with the beef–which was really just my own personal shortcoming (what did I even learn in that semester of culinary school, anyway?!–the evening went off without a hitch, and we enjoyed our meal with a nice bottle of malbec out on my porch. Southern living really is the best kind of living.

The finished product. Not pictured: the half a bottle of wine I drank to destress from cooking that steak.

The finished product. Not pictured: the half a bottle of wine I drank to destress from cooking that steak.

Recipes

Pepper Jelly-Stuffed Pimento Cheese Cookies

January 17, 2014

This photos and baking finesse of this post come from my mother. The commentary is mine.

Yes, I know the title sounds strange, and you’re probably thinking “there’s no way those taste good,” but believe me, oh, ye of little faith, they’re actually pretty yummy. I adapted a Southern Living recipe to make these based on what I already had lying around the house. There’s only 5 ingredients (6 if you count the parchment paper), and they’re pretty easy to easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup refrigerated Palmetto cheese, original flavor (or your favorite pimento cheese)
  • 1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons One Screw Loose raspberry merlot cracked pepper jelly (or whatever your favorite it)

 Instructions

1. Gather all of your ingredients. I also grabbed a nice craft beer to drink while I was baking. This isn’t integral to the baking process, but it sure makes time go by faster.

Ok, so the beer isn't "technically" an ingredient.

Ok, so the beer isn’t “technically” an ingredient.

2. Beat together flour & pimiento cheese at medium speed for about 1 minute.

I use the food processor for pretty much everything.

I use the food processor for pretty much everything. But a mixer would work, too.


3. Use a food processor (or a knife if you don’t have one) to chop up your pecans super fine. If you like nuts in cookies, then you can probably leave them a little coarser, but I like it better like this.

I like that beer even better.

I like that beer even better.

4. Add pecans and butter to the flour & pimento cheese mixture and beat until blended.

This is pre-blend.

Is this blended enough? Idk. Drink!

5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours. If after 2 hours it still isn’t very doughy, you might want to add a little more flour or stick it in the freezer for a hot minute.

tick tock tick tock

tick tock tick tock

6. While the dough is chilling, this is a good time to do the dishes and finish your beer (and maybe pour yourself another while you wait)

The beer is the important part. I can't stress that enough.

The beer is the important part. I can’t stress that enough.

7. Preheat oven to 400°. Place dough on a well-floured surface, and roll to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut dough into equal-sized rounds with a 2-inch round cutter (or a wine glass if you don’t have one of those).

cutting the dough

Yes, that is 2 open cans of beer in the background. Don’t judge.

8. Arrange half of rounds 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

arranging the dough

Am I strategically placing the beers in every shot? Yes. Yes I am.

9. Spoon 1/2 tsp. of whatever jelly you’re using onto center of each round, and top with remaining rounds.

Pimento Cheese cookies

LIKE A LITTLE PIMENTO CHEESE JELLY SANDWICH, YOU GUYS.

10. Press the edges together to seal.

I used a fork. Cuz I'm cool (read: lazy) like that.

I used a fork. Cuz I’m cool (read: lazy) like that.

11. Bake at 400° for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes; transfer to wire racks, and cool completely (about 30 minutes).

They kind of look like those meat pies from Sweeney Todd...

They kind of look like those meat pies from Sweeney Todd…

My only complaint about these is that they end up tasting a lot like Cheese Straws, so they’re a little dry, even with the jelly-filled inside. Maybe I added too much flour? …I was drinking, so I don’t remember clearly. I’ll continue playing with it in the future. I might even try the jalapeno Palmetto cheese next time! 

The faucet was integral in my baking process, as it was way easier to wash my hands when I had dough all over them. If you haven’t entered to win a free Delta Touch2O Faucet yet, head on over the the giveaway page to get started. This thing is awesome! You have 2 more days left to enter, so go for it.

Recipes

Tina’s Leftover Skillet Bake

July 20, 2013

This recipe comes from my mom, the queen of making leftovers fun again. Enjoy this Greek-inspired chicken and potatoes recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup OLIVE OIL – for lightly frying
  • 2 GARLIC CLOVES – minced
  • 1 SWEET YELLOW ONION – chopped
  • 1 JALAPENO – seeded and chopped
  • 3 or 4 POTATOES – best with leftover baked potatoes, cooled
  • 1 or 2 cups CHICKEN – cooked and chopped
  • 1/2 cup FETA CHEESE – or as much as you like
  • 1/2 cup PARMESAN CHEESE – or more if you want

Instructions:

  1. Heat the OIL in a fry pan.  Add the GARLIC CLOVES, the ONION, and the JALAPENO.  Saute until they are soft and smell yummy.
  2. Add the POTATOES and CHICKEN.  Fry for 10-12 minutes until it all starts to brown a little.
  3. Remove from the heat.  Add the FETA CHEESE and the PARMESAN CHEESE.  Stir until well mixed and slightly melted.
  4. Get your FORK and dig into this pan of YUMMINESS !!
Tina is an amazing cook... not such a great photographer, though.

Tina is an amazing cook… not such a great photographer, though.

Recipes

Moroccan Chicken with Tomato Lentil Couscous

May 9, 2013

This is a guest recipe from my mom, since I’m going to be out of town for the next two weeks. Enjoy!

So I had a hankering for something Moroccan, because I’m obsessed with Moroccan food and found some ideas online.  Violá, Moroccan Chicken Tina’s Way.

Screenshot_2013-05-09-22-55-04-1 (1)

Ingredients

  • 1 Bag of Perdue Frozen CHICKEN TENDERLOINS (the raw ones)
  • 2 Envelopes from a box of SAZON GOYA SEASONINGS. This is found in the Hispanic section of any grocery store. Just use 2 envelopes from one box, not two boxes of the stuff for-crying-out-loud.
  • 1 Large ONION, diced
  • 4 Cloves of GARLIC, minced
  • 4 CARROTS, diced
  • 4 CELERY Stalks, diced
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Ground GINGER
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground PAPRIKA
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground CUMIN
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried OREGANO
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground CAYENE PEPPER
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground TURMERIC
  • OIL for sautéing. I use Canola. You use Olive.
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) Can Swanson’s CHICKEN BROTH- or use whatever broth
  • 2 Cans of GARBANZO BEANS
  • 1 (8 ounce) Can TOMATO SAUCE
  • 1 Box of Near East’s TOMATO LENTIL COUSCOUS

Instructions:


Slice open the top of the bag of CHICKEN and fill it with cool water. Let it sit for 10 minutes.

These flash frozen CHICKEN pieces do not need to be thawed to cook them but they need to be a little pliable to be able to chunk’em up without slicing off a finger.

After about 10 minutes, maybe 15. Chunk up those TENDERLOINS, and pop’em into a fry pan. Sprinkle on the SAZON GOYA SEASONING ENVELOPES and add enough OIL to sauté them for however long it takes til they’re done. Remove CHICKEN from the pan and set aside for a minute. We’ll get back to them.

To the frying pan add enough OIL to sauté the ONION, CELERY, CARROTS, & GARLIC til the CARROTS are tender ’cause they take the longest. Mix together the GINGER, PAPRIKA, CUMIN, OREGANO, CAYENE PEPPER, & TURMERIC. Sprinkle on these veggies. And sauté a minute longer.

Add the CHICKEN back into the frying pan. Mix everything up in there. Then add the CHICKEN BROTH, the GARBANZO BEANS and the TOMATO SAUCE. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Tomato-Lentil Couscous

Take a look at the Directions on the side of the box of Near East’s TOMATO-LENTIL COUSCOUS. (If this is more then you want to know then stop right here and make rice instead)

Ingredients (Sometimes it’s better not to know)

Couscous (Precooked Semolina), Precooked Lentils, Tomatoes (Dried), Salt, Autolyzed Yeast Extract (Dried), Molasses (Dried), Garlic (Dried), Onions(Dried), Paprika Spice Which Imparts Color, Natural Flavors, Honey (Dried), Celery (Dried), Spices, Calcium Chloride (Natural Source).

Directions (all of them)

Range Top:  (This is the route I took)

1. In medium saucepan, combine 1- 1/2 cups water, 2 tsp. olive oil or butter and contents of spice sack.

2. Bring to a boil; stir in couscous.

3 Cover; remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.

4. Fluff couscous lightly with fork before serving.

Makes 3 cups.

Microwave:  (This is not the route I took)

1. In round 2 quart microwaveable glass casserole, combine 1 – 1/2 cups water, 2 tsp olive oil or butter and contents of spice sack.

2. Cover; microwave at High 5 to 6 minutes or until boiling.

3. Stir in couscous; cover. Let stand 5 minutes.

4. Fluff couscous lightly with fork before serving.

 Low Fat:  (This is also not the route I took)

Follow package direction, except omit olive oil or butter.

High Altitude:  (Who are these people?)

Increase water to 1 – 2/3 cup and stand time to 7 minutes.

Recipes

Omelet “Muffins”

February 15, 2013

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this before on this blog, but I am not a morning person. When I’m going to bed at night, I always have these grand plans for my morning “I’m going to get up at 6 and jog! Then I’m going to make a healthy breakfast, and shower and take some time to do my hair and makeup and I’m going to look like a movie star!” Then my alarm goes off and I think “screw that, I’m going to sleep for another hour.” Then an hour and a half later, when I actually drag myself out of bed, I barely have time to throw my hair in a bun after I shower and grab a yogurt as I’m running out the door.

Basically the only time I do any running is when I'm running late.

Basically the only time I do any running is when I’m running late.

I’ve heard lots of people say that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” so I’ve really been putting in an effort to make a good breakfast recently. Scrambled eggs, turkey bacon or sausage, some kind of veggie or bean. Problem is, it usually takes me 30 – 45 minutes to cook and consume this healthy breakfast. So I’ve been trying to find ways to still have a good breakfast in the morning while keeping my cook/prep/eating time to about 5 minutes.  When I found this recipe, I was super pumped because not only does it take about 1 minute to prepare in the morning, it’s portable, so I can still eat it as I’m running out the door. It’s the best of both worlds! I usually make these on Sunday night and then I have enough to last throughout the week.

Ingredients:

  • 8 eggs
  • ½ cup cooked meat, cut or crumbled into small pieces (I used turkey sausage)
  • ½ cup red & yellow peppers (or veggies of your choice)
  • ½ cup diced onions
  • 1 15oz can black beans, drained (or beans of your choice)
  • 2 TBSP light ranch dressing (or mayo if you prefer)
  • Salt & pepper (about 1/8 tsp each)
  • Optional: ¼ cup shredded cheese, lightly drained salsa, garlic, etc
  • Tin Foil cupcake cups (optional, but this makes things easier)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease muffin tins (or foil cups) with butter, pam, or coconut oil.
  2. In a skillet, add sausage (or whatever meat you choose to use), onions, beans, and peppers and  saute until soft. Let cool.

    Although, you could totally eat this all on its own. Yummm

    Although, you could totally eat this all on its own. Yummm

  3. In a bowl, beat the eggs and ranch dressing until thoroughly mixed. Spoon the meat/veggies mixture into the eggs and stir gently to incorporate.

    Eggs just freak me out.

    Eggs just freak me out.

  4. Spoon or scoop the egg/meat mixture into the muffin cups. Make sure you have a good ratio of eggs to meat.
  5. Bake for 18–20 minutes until a knife inserted into the center of an muffin/ omelet comes out almost clean (they’ll continue to cook for a minute or two after removed from the oven).
  6. Remove the omelets from the muffin cups and serve, or cool completely and store for another day.
These are really yummy

These are really yummy

I think next time the only things I would do differently would be getting the tin foil cupcake cups, or just greasing the cupcake pan and making them without the wrapper at all. The eggs stick to the paper a little too much with the paper cups and you end up losing like half of your omelet muffin. I’d also spoon the meat mixture in first and then top it off with the eggs to make sure I got a good ratio with each muffin. Taste-wise though, I’d say they were perfect.

Recipes

Tina Chili

February 8, 2013

My mom makes the best chili. Well, she makes the best pretty much any food you can name, but her chili is especially good. I know lots of people love really spicy chili, but I’m not a person who believes that chili making should actually be a process of developing new and interesting ways to set people’s mouths on fire and ensure they don’t taste things right for at least a week. I like a little bit of kick, but let’s keep it to a reasonable level people. If I have to sign a waiver before I eat your food, IT’S TOO SPICY.

Turning into a fire breathing dragon is not my idea of fun.

Turning into a fire breathing dragon is not my idea of fun.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons Garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
  • Dash Cayenne Pepper
  • 2-3 Pounds Ground Beef
  • 2 Tablespoons Oil
  • 4 (16 ounce) Cans Black Beans
  • 2 (16 ounce) Cans Mexican-Style Stewed Tomatoes
  • 1 (8 ounce) Can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 (6 ounce) Can Tomato Paste
  • 1 Cup Water

There are two ways of making this chili. The first is the classic Tina method, which takes a lot more work, but is totally worth it. The second is the lazy Sydney method, which involves a crock pot and very little work on your part, but takes a lot more time (since it’s in the slow cooker).

The Tina Method:

Prep:

  1. Chop Peppers & Onions and mince Garlic (set aside)
  2. Open both cans of Mexican-Style Stewed Tomatoes. Put into Food Processor and Puree. (set aside)
  3. Open Can of Tomato Paste. Put into Food Processor. Add with one cup of water and Puree. (set aside)
  4. Brown Ground Beef in 2 Tablespoons Oil. Partially Drain. I add a little of the oil from the browned ground beef to my chili for flavor. (set aside)

Instructions:

  1. Melt 4 Tablespoons Butter in a large dutch oven (Pot).
  2. Add chopped Bell Peppers and Onions and sauté until tender – about 10 minutes.
  3. Add minced Garlic, Salt, Oregano, Chili Powder, Cumin, Crushed Red Pepper, and a Dash of Cayenne Pepper. Stir all together.
  4. Stir in Ground Beef.
  5. Add Black Beans, Stewed Tomatoes, Tomato Sauce and Tomato Paste.
  6. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 30-45 minutes. Stirring Occasionally.
  7. Serve with a good crusty bread ( like a bread bowl if you can find one), some cheddar cheese, or spaghetti noodles.

Notes from Tina:

  • The first time you make it, don’t substitute any thing. You can substitute and adjust the recipe after you’ve tried it this way at least once. Like substituting Cooked, Cubed Chicken for the Ground Beef or Salsa instead of the Stewed Tomatoes. You may even want to cut back on the Crushed Red Pepper or Cayenne
  • You may find that when it’s about done you may need to adjust your seasonings as per your taste like add more cumin and chili powder. You’ll have to play with it til you get it the way that suits you. Sometimes it’s just perfectly fine. Figure out what works for you.
  • If it isn’t thick enough for you mix a little water with flour and pour into the chili, stirring constantly til thick. (Rule: Never pour flour into a hot liquid as it will clump instead of mixing) FYI: Mesa Flour is generally used to thicken chili but white all purpose flour is fine also. And again, you may not need to thicken it. Depends on personal taste.
Bread, chili, cheese... what more could you possibly ask for??

Bread, chili, cheese… what more could you possibly ask for??

The Sydney Method:

Prep:

  1. Chop Peppers & Onions and mince Garlic (or buy the stuff that’s already done for you)
  2. Brown ground beef and partially drain.
  3. Open Can of Tomato Paste. Put into Food Processor. Add with one cup of water and puree

Instructions:

 

  1. Put all ingredients in crockpot. Stir together.
  2. Put crockpot on low and cook for ~8 hours.
  3. Enjoy with sour cream, good crusty bread, and/or shredded cheddar cheese (or on its own if you’re looking for a low carb dinner option)

Notes:

  • I usually do 2 cans of black beans and 2 cans of either kidney or pinto beans for a little variety. 
  • Once, I didn’t have tomato paste and used a can of refried beans instead. It worked great.
  • That same time, I also didn’t have a plain can of tomato sauce, so I used marinara sauce instead, and it was fine.
Basically I'm obsessed with chili.

Basically I’m obsessed with chili.

Recipes

Slow Cooker Southwestern Chicken Chili

January 11, 2013

Now that I’m working full time, the time that I have to spend cooking has diminished. I feel like I’m only home for ten minutes before it’s time for bed. Luckily for me, I got a Crockpot for Christmas, which is kind of like having a mini chef to do all of my cooking for me. Plus I have meals for multiple days at a time, which is awesome for my laziness.

Well? Do you?

Well? Do you?

Going along with my New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve been trying to cook healthier things for myself that are still delicious. I have a bunch of recipes saved that I’m excited to try, so look forward to those! My first one is a Southwestern 2 Bean Chicken dish that I adapted from a picture I found on Pinterest. I have a smaller crockpot and was trying to avoid corn, so I changed up the recipe a bit.

The Crock Pot is my new favorite kitchen tool

The Crock Pot is my new favorite kitchen tool

Ingredients:

1 pkg chicken breast tenderloins from Costco (or 2 chicken breasts)
1 chicken-flavored bouillon cube (I use Knorr)
1 (15 ounce) can low-sodium kidney beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can low-sodium black beans, drained
2 (15 ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes in juice (I use low sodium)
1 (12 ounce) jar of your favorite salsa (I used Newman’s Own Medium)
1/2 avocado, sliced

Instructions:


Line the chicken breasts on the bottom of your crock pot. Pour the beans, tomatoes, and salsa over the chicken and stir to mix. Cook on low for ~7 hours (mine cooked for about 8.5 hours and was perfect), or until the chicken easily shreds when you stir the pot. Serve and top with avocado or your other favorite toppings, like cheese or sour cream.

It kind of looks like a flower. A beautiful, beany, avocado-y flower.

It kind of looks like a flower. A beautiful, beany, avocado-y flower.

The consistency kind of came out at a cross between a soup and chili. It reminds me a lot of the Chicken Chili from Five Loaves Cafe which is one of my favorite soups. Best of all, this recipe took me approximately 2 minutes to prepare, and most of that was opening cans. It cooked while I was at work, and when I got home, my apartment smelled AMAZING.

Recipes

Italian-Style Turkey Meatballs

August 22, 2012

So, I recently started dieting, kind of, and was trying to find some ways to use ground turkey in place of ground beef to save some calories and fat. I Frankensteined some recipes that I found off of the internet together to come up with this Turkey Meatball recipe that I think is pretty delicious…but then, I think everything I cook is delicious, so…

…ok, well MOST everything I cook.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Ground Turkey 93/7
  • 1/2 C Red Onion
  • 1/4 C Chopped Red Bell Pepper
  • 2 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 C Ricotta Cheese, part skim milk
  • 1/2 C Italian-style Breadcrumbs (I used Progresso)
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Parsley
  • 3 Tsp Italian Spices Mix
  • 2 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 Tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions:

1. In a bowl, mix together everything but the olive oil.

Oh, boy, doesn't that look appetizing!

Oh, boy, doesn’t that look appetizing!

2. Add the olive oil to a frying pan set on medium-high heat and start rolling out your meatballs. I got about 16 balls out of the whole thing, but depending on how big you’re making them, you might get more or less.

They're getting there!

They’re getting there!


3. Cook them until they register 165 degree internal temperature. I like to have a little crisp on the side, so I turned the heat up a bit at the end, but it’s totally up to you.

That's not burned, it's "crisp!"

That’s not burned, it’s “crisp!”

4. Serve the yummy meatballs with some pasta or just with some marinara sauce for a meal. Only 300 calories per serving (serves 5 people, or one person over 5 meals, which is what I ended up doing). I also sprinkled it with some fresh basil and parmesan cheese. Yummm!

See, now it looks really yummy. OH YE OF LITTLE FAITH

See, now it looks really yummy. OH YE OF LITTLE FAITH

Recipes

Italian Macaroni and Cheese

February 21, 2012

So, if you read my blog or know anything about me, you know that I have a weakness for macaroni and cheese. Macaroni and Cheese is my kryptonite… no matter how well I’m doing on a diet, I can’t ever seem to resist some cheesy mac. I guess if I’m being honest, I love anything with copious amounts of melted cheese on it–grilled cheese, fettucini alfredo, lasagna, queso dip, etc. I read somewhere once in a marketing textbook (or maybe I dreamed it…it’s really hard to say), that people are 70% more likely to buy something if it’s illustrated with a picture of melted cheese (I know I’m guilty of this, so we’ll call it science).

WHY WAS THIS NOT A MAJOR OFFERED BY THE COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON??

Recently my mom posted a video on my wall of some italian guy named Fabio making italian macaroni and cheese, and even though I’d decided that morning I was going to start dieting, I knew that if I didn’t make that recipe soon, I’d be dreaming about Mac n Cheese for the next few weeks. So, of course, I went out that afternoon and bought all of the ingredients I needed for my cheese extravaganza.

Oddly enough, this did not make the list.

I edited the recipe a bit from Fabio’s recommendations, partly because I couldn’t find fontina cheese, and partly because it is impossible for me to exactly follow directions of any kind. So below is my edited recipe from Fabio’s Italian Macaroni and Cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. dry elbow macaroni
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounces shredded smoked gouda cheese ( just got a round from Bi-Lo and shredded the entire thing)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese (or gorgonzola)
  • 1.5 cups heavy cream
  • 12 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Put the heavy cream and all the cheeses into a metal mixing bowl.
  2. Add cracked pepper and pinch of salt to cream and cheese.
  3. Put the bowl on top of a pot of boiling water on medium high and stir until the cheese is melted, set it aside.
  4. Cook pasta in the pot of boiling water until al dente.
  5. Drain the pasta and set aside.
  6. Saute the minced garlic in olive oil over medium heat until soft.
  7. Remove garlic and mix with pasta.
  8. Mix in the cheese sauce, and put in the pot and heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. At this point, if you didn’t want to bake the macaroni, you could eat it right now. It tasted great and would’ve made a great creamy macaroni and cheese. I kind of wish I’d set some aside to compare the difference in taste.
  9. While the sauce is heating, put the breadcrumbs, parsley and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until well combined.
  10. Place Mac and cheese in an oven safe container and top with bread crumb mixture and bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. I made the mistake of leaving the macaroni in too long. The original recipe said 15-20 minutes, and I left it in for 17, and my finished result was not as creamy as I’d wanted it to be. I think it would have been much better had I not left it in as long.
  11. Also, I topped it with some more cheese, which I would advise against doing, since the cheese will burn before everything else is finished cooking. If you do want to top it with some cheese, do it like 2 minutes before you plan to take it out, that will it will be melty and delicious, and not burnt.
aaaand there goes my diet again.

aaaand there goes my diet again.


Recipes

Spaghetti Squash Primavera

December 25, 2011

So because I’ve convinced myself that I’m going to lose weight over the holiday season, rather than gain any (don’t you roll your eyes at me), I’ve been trying to find some healthy-ish versions of side dishes to serve at the Christmas dinner table so that I don’t gorge myself on stuffing and mashed potatoes. One that I found, that’s a bit more Mediterranean than what is typically found at American Christmas dinners, is spaghetti squash primavera. Typically “primavera” is italian, but add some feta cheese and ipso facto, it’s now Mediterranean.

It’s all Greek to me!

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 tablespoon minced garlic.
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet or line the bottom of a baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil (I prefer the latter method).
  2. On one half of the baking sheet, place 1 tablespoon of garlic, 1 tablespoon of Italian seasonings, and 1 bay leaf. Repeat on the other half of the baking sheet.

    Kind of like you’re the street performer with the ball and the cups.

  3. Place one half of the spaghetti squash with the hollow side over one of the garlic mixtures, and repeat with the other half.
  4. Add an even amount of water to the baking sheet, just enough to come up to the sides of the squash. The amount of water differs, depending on the size of your baking sheet. I used about 2 cups.
  5. Bake 35 minutes in the preheated oven. It’s very important that you don’t overcook the squash. You can test if it’s done by flipping it over and scraping the flesh with a fork. It should naturally separate into spaghetti-like strands. Taste it to make sure that it is the same consistency as al dente spaghetti. It might need 5-10 more minutes in the oven if it is still too tough.

    If you think squash is “mushy,” you’re doing it wrong.

  6. Once it is finished cooking, remove from heat and allow it to cool.
  7. While the squash is cooling, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion and red pepper in oil until tender. Add garlic, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, and cook until tomatoes are warm.
  8. Use a large spoon or fork to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash, and add it to the sauté pan with the vegetables. Toss with the sauteed vegetables, feta cheese, and salt and pepper. Serve warm.

    You know you want some.

Optionally: I added ¼ cup Parmesan cheese in addition to the feta, as well as 2 teaspoons of Italian seasonings right before I served it. I really like Parmesan cheese, this is a personal preference. You could also use a can of stewed tomatoes instead of fresh chopped tomatoes to make it more like spaghetti instead of like a primavera.

If I hadn’t already told you this was squash, you’d never have known the difference.

Basically, I think you can take spaghetti squash and add anything you normally would to spaghetti noodles. I think it tastes pretty much the same, only it’s healthier for you since you’re using all vegetables instead of pasta. My next venture will be to try and make a reduced calorie alfredo sauce or cheese sauce to make a “healthified” macaroni and cheese/spaghetti alfredo dish. Stay tuned!

GET IN MY MOUTH.

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