Tag Archives: Cheese

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.

Take Two: Roasted Chicken Enchiladas

11 Jun

This is one of my new favorite take two recipes!  These recipes use my leftovers (yuck) and turn them into something new.  Earlier this week I feasted on delicious Roasted Lemon Herb Chicken.  In fact, I snacked on it for two and a half days!  I just couldn’t bring myself to eat any more of my beloved chicken by the third evening, so had to change things up. 

These Roasted Chicken Enchiladas are so quick.  You already did the hard part by cooking the chicken, now all you have to do is chop and assemble the ingredients.  You can put an exciting dinner on the table in only 20 minutes.

Roasted Chicken Enchiladas (serves 4)

  • 2 16 oz jars of Old El Paso Thick and Chunky Salsa (medium heat)
  • 1 1/2 cups Roasted Chicken
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded Mexican Blend Cheese
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt, plus sprinkle
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper, plus sprinkle
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 5-6 flour tortillas

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl pour 3/4 of first salsa jar.  Add onion, jalapeno, 1 tbs of chopped cilantro, pepper, salt and red pepper flakes.  Stir and add in leftover shredded Roasted Chicken.  Set aside.

Pour remaining 1/4 of first jar of salsa into a glass 9×13 baking dish.  This will keep the enchiladas from sticking to the bottom of  your dish.  Feel free to add a bit more from the second jar if need be. 

Take a tortilla and fill it with a palm-sized amount of your chicken filling.  Sprinkle a little shredded cheese (you will use a 1/2 cup inside your tortillas), and roll up tortilla.  Put your rolled up tortilla with the flap side down in the baking dish.  Repeat until you have used up all of your filling, approximately 5-6 tortillas.  If you have any leftover filling pour over the top of your enchiladas, and then pour the rest of the second jar of salsa on top of your enchiladas.  Spread around so all of the rolled tortillas are covered, this will ensure they do not get dry.  Transfer dish to the oven and cook uncovered for 10 mins.  I know this doesn’t seem like much time, but remember we are using previously cooked chicken!  This is mainly to combine the flavors and warm up the dish. 

Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese over top of the enchiladas and bake for 5 more mins.  Remove from oven and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro to finish. 

Now all I need is a nice chilled margarita!  Who’s buying?

Moving Out Bacon Mac & Cheese

6 Feb

Today starts the first day of my moving out meals!  I’m moving apartments this Saturday, and will be writing recipes that help me use up the food in my kitchen (read allow me to procrastinate instead of pack).  

My first recipe of the week also happens to be my favorite meal.  Tonight I made a creamy Mac & Cheese, and topped it with crunchy and salty bacon.  I just ate a plate of it, and already my mouth is watering at the thought of leftovers. 

Moving Out Bacon Mac & Cheese (serves 3-4)

  • 6 tbs butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 tbs flour
  • 1 1/3 cup Mexican blend of cheeses (includes cheddar, Monterrey jack and Colby cheese)
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 1 tbs black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs ground mustard
  • sprinkle of nutmeg
  • 4 cups dry pasta like gemelli or penne
  • 4 strips of bacon

In a large saucepan melt butter over medium low heat.  Add onions and saute for 3 mins.  Whisk in flour and let cook over medium low heat for 2 minutes.  Add a sprinkle of pepper.  Your quick rue should look like the picture below.

Put a pot of water on to boil. 

While the water is coming up to temperature, gradually whisk in the Mexican blend of cheeses to your onion and butter mixture until smooth.  Reduce the heat on your cheese mixture and slowly whisk in a cup of the milk to the mixture.  Add the salt, ground mustard, and the remaining pepper to the cheese mixture and stir.  Now gradually whisk in the mozzarella cheese and remaining milk.  The cheese mixture be will thick and pale in color.  Add a dash of nutmeg to your sauce and turn down the heat to low.  Stir sauce periodically as you prepare the rest of the meal.  

Add pasta to your boiling water and cook for about 6-8 minutes.  While the pasta is cooking, spray some non-stick spray on a pan and throw on your bacon over medium high heat.  The bacon should take about 4-5 minutes to crisp up.  Transfer bacon to a paper towel-covered plate.

Drain the cooked pasta and add it directly into the cheese sauce.  Stir until combined, then crumble crisp bacon over top.

This was the ideal dinner.  The onions and nutmeg gave the mac & cheese a hint of sweetness, the cheese and ground mustard added a nice tang, the pepper gave it a hint of heat, and the bacon some salty crunch.  Tonight my procrastination was rewarded.  Remind me of that tomorrow, when I’m buried in boxes!

Crock Pot White Chili

27 Oct

I’ve been traveling a lot, working a lot, and frankly, playing a lot.  Which means I have not had a lot of time to cook dinner.  I need something that can do the cooking for me when I’m running around. And friends, that is the exact beauty of the crock pot.  Most are fairly cheap at about $30, and they will let you multi-task with ease.

One of my favorite crock pot recipes is for White ChiliIt’s easy, it feeds an army, and is perfect for football on Sundays.  

Best-Ever White Chili (adapted from 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes)

  •  2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey or ground chicken
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs cumin
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, minced
  • 1 tbs both salt and black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 can of Cannellini Beans (19 oz)
  • 1 can of diced or crushed tomatoes (28 oz including juice)
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded monterey jack or sharp cheddar cheese

In a skillet, heat 1 tbs veg oil over medium-high heat.  Add ground turkey and cook breaking up the meat until it is no longer pink. Drain the meat and transfer it to the crock pot.  Reduce the oven heat to medium and add the remaining oil to the pan.  Add chopped onions and cook until softened.  Then add garlic, cumin, jalapeno, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and cook stirring for about a minute.  Add the tomatoes and broth, and bring to a boil.  Cook until the liquid is reduced by one-third (approximately 5 mins).  Add the beans to the stoneware and pour the tomato mixture over them.

Stir the ingredients in the crock pot and put on the cover.  Cook on low setting from 6-8 hours, or high setting for 3-4 hours.  Afterwards, stir in cheese and cover and cook for 20 more mins. 

For those of you with unpredictable hours (ahem), don’t forget that you can let the crock pot work while you sleep!  Talk about multi-tasking.  I often cook while I sleep and then just put the porcelain dish in the fridge.  Dinner is served!

 

Excerpted from The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes, Second Edition by Judith Finlayson © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.