Tag Archives: Butter

Decadent Mac & Cheese

14 Jun

Is there anything more decadent than a rich, creamy, cheesy plate of Macaroni and Cheese?  Nope.  It’s perfect for a backyard barbecue, and in the dead of winter by a raging fire.  Little and big kids alike agree it’s the perfect food. 

I grew up making my own from the box or heating up the creamy Stouffers’ version as a side.  When I left for college, I realized I was the boss in my kitchen and upgraded to entree portions.  Here’s my take on this classic dish.  Feel free to have it your way, creamy or baked!

Macaroni and Cheese

  • 2 cups X-tra Sharp New York Cheddar Cheese from Trader Joes (1/2 cup extra for baked version)
  • 1 cup Cheddar and Gruyère Melange Cheese from Trader Joes
  • 2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 6 tbs butter
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • sprinkle of cayenne
  • 4 cups dry macaroni
  • crumbled bacon (optional but strongly encouraged)

Put a large pot of salted water on over medium high heat, and add the macaroni when it comes to a boil.  Cook pasta for 3-4 minutes and drain. 

In a large pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and whisk until combined.  Continuously whisk the butter and flour mixture for about 5 mins, or until your rue becomes a pale brown and starts to bubble up. 

Turn heat to low and gradually whisk in the cream to your rue.  Once combined, turn up the heat to medium low, and whisk your mixture for about 5 more mins.  You should start to see the beginnings of a gorgeous, thick cream sauce.   Add in your ground mustard, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and a sprinkle of cayenne.  Once incorporated, turn up the heat to medium and whisk in a cup of your cheese.  After its combined, add in next cup of cheese.  Repeat with final cup of cheese.  Gradually whisking-in the cheese will give you a smoother sauce without the cheese clumps.

Isn’t that sauce gorgeous!  I love the pale orange color you get when mixing the two kinds of cheese.  This sauce is just dying to envelop those cute little macaroni noodles.  Stir your noodles into the gooey cheese sauce. 

You can choose to stop now if you are a creamy mac fan.  Or if you prefer the baked version, sprinkle a half cup more of the sharp cheddar on top and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 350 degree oven. 

I strongly recommend you make this now…and then top it with crumbled bacon!  For the bacon, cook 3-4 strips over medium high heat.  Then add to the top your macaroni and cheeseEnjoy, I know I did.

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Roasted Lemon Herb Chicken

9 Jun

I don’t think there’s anything better than the smell of roasting chicken, which is saying a lot since I’m generally a baked goods girl.  The only smell that can top it in my book is  Roasted Lemon and Herb Chicken

You already know I’m not a fan of leftovers, but I can snack on a rotisserie or roasted chicken for days.  Things were busy again at work this past week, so that was exactly what I had in mind.  Here’s my quick and easy recipe for roasted, mouth-watering chicken that will feed you for days.

Roasted Lemon Herb Chicken

  • 4 1/2 lb roasting chicken
  • 1 1/2 medium yellow onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 heads of garlic, cut in half
  • 2 lemons, cut into quarters
  • 1/2 lb carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tsp pepper, plus sprinkle
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, plus sprinkle
  • 2 tbs butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Peel and chop onion into small wedges.  I ended up having three sections for each half onion I chopped.  Next cut two unpeeled heads of garlic in half, the cut lemons into quarters.  Reserve two quarters of the lemon for inside the chicken.  Afterwards, peel and chop carrots into medium chunks, about 2 inches thick.  Transfer all of these ingredients into a roasting pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Remove all giblets from inside the chicken cavity.  Place your bird on top of the chopped ingredients.  Sprinkle the top of the bird and inside the cavity with 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper.  Stuff remaining two lemon quarters, rosemary, and thyme inside chicken cavity.  Melt 2 tbs of butter in the microwave and spread evenly all over the chicken, making sure to get the legs and wings.

Cook in the oven at 425 degrees for 55-60 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 165 behind the chicken leg.  The juices should also run clear from the holes.  Let your chicken rest for 20 minutes before serving with roasted onions (yum) and carrots.  Behold my gorgeous bird!

Oh and I bet mashed potatoes would be the perfect accompaniment.  Stay tuned for a perfect take two recipe with my leftovers!

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Onions

27 Nov

To follow-up on yesterday’s Thanksgiving Recap post, I wanted to share the three recipes I contributed to my family’s feast.  At my mother’s request, I brought my Eggplant Dip, my Chocolate PB Chip Cookies, and Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Onions

These sweet potatoes were creamy with a little tang from the goat cheese, and the caramelized onions were the perfect complement.  This dish was so simple, portable, and is sure to become a new holiday staple!

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with  Caramelized Onions

  • For the Mashed Sweet Potatoes
    • 4 large sweet potatoes, roasted
    • 6 oz of goat cheese
    • 3 tbs butter, melted
    • 1 tsp pepper and a sprinkle
    • 1/2 tsp salt and a sprinkle
    • 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • For the Caramelized Onions
    • 2 large onions, chopped
    • 1 tbs olive oil
    • 1 tsp granulated sugar
    • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
    • sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste

First roast your sweet potatoes on a baking sheet covered with foil in a 400 degree oven for an hour.  Make sure to poke several holes in each sweet potato with a fork to let the steam escape.  Your sweet potatoes will be finished when a fork can easily be inserted and the potatoes are tender.  I roasted these the night before to save a step on Thanksgiving.

Once the sweet potatoes cool, peel off the skin and transfer cooked potatoes to a large bowl.  Add the goat cheese and mash the two together.  Once combined, melt butter in the microwave for 40 seconds, and then pour over potatoes.  Add salt, pepper, and fresh nutmeg to bowl and stir.

After you finish with the potatoes, chop two large onions.  Transfer the onions into a pan over medium heat coated with 1 tbs of olive oil.  Stir the onions to coat and let them sit for 15 minutes or so, stirring periodically. They should look similar to the above picture.

After about 15 minutes, add 1 tsp of sugar to the pan and stir.  Cook for 15-20 more minutes stirring periodically to make sure the onions do not burn.  The goal  of caramelizing onions, is to release their natural sugars and soften them just shy of burning themStir the onions from time to time during the cooking process, but do NOT over stir.  This will prevent the onions from ever caramelizing.  TRUST, I think this is what took me so long to finish mine.

Top the mashed sweet potatoes with the caramelized onions, and serve warm.  My father is not a big onion fan, so I served them on the side for himHey, it’s the holiday season and I was in a giving mood!  These Mashed Sweet Potatoes stand on their own, but give them a try with the onions if you are not opposed to them.  I think they really give this side its pop. 

Apple Cake

12 Nov

This is one of my favorite cake recipes because it’s cinnamony enough for brunch and sweet enough for dessert.  I actually think my mom found it years ago in a Cooking Light magazine, and it has become a staple at my parents each Fall. 

Apple Cake

  •  1 cup milk
  • 1 tbs distilled white vinegar
  • 8 tbs unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups diced apples (about 3/4 inch dice)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

 Preheat over to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.  In a glass measuring cup, combine the milk and vinegar, stirring to blend.  Set aside, as it stands the milk will sour and thicken

In a large bowl, cream the butter and add the brown sugar and 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar and beat until smooth and light.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.  In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir well or whisk gently to blend. In several additions, alternately mix the dry ingredients and the sour milk into the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir until the batter is just mixed.

 

Spread about 2/3 of the batter into the greased baking pan.  Layer the diced apples over the batter and then cover with the rest of the batter.  Combine the remaining 3 tbs sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over the top.

 

Bake 40 – 45 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown on top and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.  A tooth pick inserted into the center should come out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan before cutting into squares to serve.

This cake is best served with good friends and a mimosa!  Brunch anyone? 🙂

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

9 Nov

I love Indian food.  Love it!  The combination of thick comforting stews and curries with rich flavors and a little heat.  Sign me up! 

I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs and had to try it out.  Let’s just say it was WAY more labor-intensive than most crock pot meals.  Let the record also show this was absolutely incredible, and had the depth of flavor you would expect from a fancy Indian restaurant.   Make this, now.

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala from Eatliverun.com

FOR THE CHICKEN:

  • 9 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 1 tbs Ground Coriander
  • 1 tbs Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup Yogurt
  • 4 tbs Butter
  • 1 whole Jalapeno Pepper, pierced a few times with a knife

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 4 tbs Butter
  • 1 whole large Onion, peeled and diced
  • 6 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tbs Kosher Salt
  • 3 tbs Garam Masala
  • 1 piece Fresh Ginger, about 2-3 inches, peeled and grated
  • 4 cups crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 tbs Sugar
  • 2 tsp Cornstarch
  • 1-½ cup Heavy Cream

Cut the boneless, skinless chicken thighsinto 1 and a half inch pieces. Sprinkle the coriander, cumin and salt over the chicken, then stir in the yogurt until all the pieces are evenly coated. Cover lightly and let sit for 10 mins before proceeding.

Melt 1 tbs of butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Raise the heat to medium high and quickly brown about 1/4 of the chicken. Transfer browned chicken to the crock pot as it is finished, using 1 tbs of butter per batch, and repeat until the chicken is all in the slow-cooker. Throw the pierced jalapeno in on top of the chicken.

Prepare the sauce. Return the pan to the heat and melt the butter over medium high heat.  Add the onions, garlic, and kosher salt, then stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to lightly brown around the edges.
 
Stir in the garam masala and ginger and cook until fragrant (about 1 min) before raising the heat to high and adding the crushed tomatoes and sugarStir well, scraping the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a boil.  Pour over the chicken in the crock pot.
 

Cover and cook on Low for 5 hrs, or until the chicken is very tender.

Use a fork or whisk to stir the cornstarch into the heavy cream until smooth. Pour into the crock pot and stir gently until the color is even. Replace the lid and let cook for 10 mins or until bubbly around the edges.

The traditional way to serve this would be over rice and with some naan.  I laugh in the face of tradition and served it of a curried carrot fettuccine I got recently from Pasta Valente.  Either way, I promise this dish will not disappoint!

My 10 Essential Ingredients

30 Oct

Whether you are an accomplished chef or a novice cook, everyone has a list of their must-have staples for the kitchen.   These are my 10 essential items that I cannot live without in my kitchen.

1. Fresh HerbsThese can add woodsy flavors in the background, or serve as a light, bright touch on the top of a dish.  I use a lot of rosemary, sage and thyme in the kitchen, so I generally purchase the poultry blend as it’s a cost-effective way to get all three.

2.  OnionsI love them sautéed in pasta sauce, caramelized on a pizza (or on anything), and fried on top of burgers.  I buy a these in bulk and store then in a dark, dry place.  Make sure you wash them carefully as they grow in the ground!

3.  Chicken, Veg or Beef StockThese stocks provide a depth of background flavor to any dish and all you need is a few cups.  Making your own stock is a long process, why not take a short cut?

4.  Red or White WineWine is perfect for de-glazing pans aka getting the browned yummy bits off the bottom of the pan.  It’s essential in risottos and excellent in sauces.  Plus a bonus sip or glass for the chef!

5.  ButterPaula Dean is no fool, and there’s a reason why she’s the butter queen.  Butter is an essential fat and I need it for both my savory and sweet creations.

6.  Garlic. Garlic is used in almost all cuisines from Italian to French and even Asian meals.  Plus who can resist that smell?  It brings everyone into the kitchen.

7.  Soy Sauce.  Soy sauce is great for marinades, stir fry, and I even use it in my satay sauce.

8.  Olive Oil.  Most if not all of my recipes start with a base of butter or olive oil.  It’s relatively healthy and can be used to cook meats, to finish salads, or in salad dressings.

9.  Lemons.  Again, I use these in a variety of savory and sweet dishes.  I love the citrus flavor with fish or chicken, and I frequently use the zest in my baked goods.

10.  Balsamic Vinegar or Balsamic Salad DressingPerfect with my favorite tomato and burrata salad or drizzled over roasted veggies.

What are your essential ingredients?

Millionaires Shortbread

28 Aug

What a crazy month!  I spent most of the time packing, working, and at delicious goodbye events for my roommate.  Hi R!  Last Saturday I moved into my new one bedroom apartment, and a few short days later Mother Nature sent the DC Area an earthquake and then a hurricane.  Hopefully my move and the two natural disasters are unrelated…

The good news is that I’m back in my kitchen (phew), and I’ve got the perfect recipe for you to make while trapped inside on a rainy day.  In fact, I’d even make this on a sunny day.  It’s that good!  In true Imperfectly Delicious fashion, there were a few missteps in the kitchen but the result was still wonderful!

Millionaires Shortbread (adapted from a Claire Robinson recipe)

Shortbread Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Caramel Ingredients:

  • 2 14 oz cans of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter

Chocolate Topping Ingredients:

  • 12 oz (3 bars) of Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate, Maya Gold with spice and orange accents
  • Sprinkle of flaky sea salt

First preheat your oven to 350 degrees on the bake setting.  I tend to be slow in the kitchen, so usually preheat after the receipt is underway, but most of you will want to do this step now.  Then start on the shortbread layer by buttering your choice of either two 8 inch nonstick pans OR one 9 x 13 baking dish.  I used my 9 x 13 dish because it was clean and easy to find in my new kitchen.  Next combine your flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse once to get them combined. 
This was when my first error occurred.  As you can see I have a small food processor (4 cups size) and ended up having to make the shortbread in two batches because my food processor runneth over.    
Next add the butter (or half of the butter to half of the mixture if you are like me) and pulse until the ingredients resemble little pea-like balls.  Transfer the “peas” from the food processor and press down into the previously buttered baking dish.  Bake until the edges of the shortbread turn a light golden brown, approximately 20 mins.  The rest of the shortbread will still be pale in color.  Cool for 15 mins and start on the caramel layer.
Now melt 2 tbs of butter over medium low heat and add the 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk.  Slowly bring these ingredients to a low boil while stirring the mixture.  Stir continuously for about 20 mins or until the color turns a shade of pale caramel.  I know it’s a long time to stir, but how often do you get to bake AND workout at the same time?  Now that’s my kind of exercise!  Pour caramel sauce over the shortbread and let cool to room temperature.

Now we move onto the chocolate layer.  The original recipe calls for good quality milk chocolate.  I’m not a big fan, so opted for dark chocolate.  Or should I say I accidentally opted for dark chocolate with hints of spice and orange while in the pre-hurricane Whole Foods mayhem.  Chop up the chocolate into small chunks and transfer into a glass bowl.  Melt chocolate in the bowl over a pot of boiling water.  Pour over your caramel layer and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.  Let cool for 10 mins before transferring to the fridge.


The end result is decadent and buttery goodness.  Perfect served right from the fridge with a cold glass of milk, and during your movie or tv marathon of choice!