So, for the past week or three I haven’t felt well. At all. So tonight, being Tuesday, is pasta night, and I just didn’t feel up to doing anything complicated, and I did want something comforting. So, homemade mac and cheese! Perfect.
The original recipe comes from Big Oven. I found it on Pinterest. I made a few small alterations. Here ya go. This makes 6-8 side servings, or 2-4 main dish servings.
Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese
- 2 cupsElbow macaroni; uncooked (I used bow tie pasta, as that is what I had on hand)
- 1/2 cupButter; (1-stick)
- 1/4 cupAll-purpose flour (I used freshly ground flour)
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Pepper
- 1/4 teaspoonDry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoonWorcestershire Sauce
- 2 cups milk (I used soy)
- 2 cupsSharp cheddar cheese; (8-oz), grated
- Bread crumbs. I used Italian, but use whatever you like/have on hand
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
- While macaroni is cooking, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour, salt, pepper, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Stir in cheese and cook, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted.
- Drain macaroni and gently stir into cheese sauce. Pour into ungreased 2-quart casserole. Top with bread crumbs. Bake uncovered until bubbly, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving
Serve it up with some salad, or as a side dish to your favourite meal. Nom nom!
Friday night is “whatever” night. It’s my one week night that I get to cook whatever I want! Weekends are also whatever nights, but often Stephan isn’t home so I eat raw kale, or just have a late lunch and skip dinner, and when he is home he sometimes likes to cook.
So, I love spinach and avocado dip (I don’t eat it often because it’s all cheesy and wonderful and fattening), and both Husband and I love grilled cheese. It’s our favourite comfort food. So I did another gourmet grilled cheese tonight, this time mixing the dip and the sandwich!
I found this on Pinterest, but the recipe is from a site called A Couple Cooks
Spinach and Artichoke Grilled Cheese
- Fresh spinach – enough for about 3 cups chopped
- Canned artichoke hearts – about 6 oz
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 cup shredded cheese (I used mozzarella)
- 4 pieces bread
- Kosher salt
- Butter or more olive oil
- Dice the 2 cloves garlic. Chop the artichokes. Wash and stem the spinach, then chop it coarsely.
- Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Then add the spinach and a pinch of kosher salt, and saute for a few minutes until just limp. Add the artichokes and saute for another minute or so, until heated through. Drain off any liquid from the pan. Stir in 2 tablespoons sour cream and another pinch of kosher salt.
- Spread butter (or olive oil) on one side of each of the 4 bread pieces. Heat a griddle pan to medium high heat. Place 2 pieces of bread on the griddle, buttered side down. On each piece, spread someshredded cheese, the spinach artichoke filling, some more cheese (1/2 cup cheese per sandwich), and the other piece of bread. When the bottom bread is browned, flip the sandwich and cook until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.
So, I have made a weekly dinner schedule. You know, to help me keep things a bit more organized, make grocery shopping easier, and because husband likes schedules. Nothing too strict, but a nice guideline. Thursday is rice night. Any meal involving rice as the main dish. So, to continue with my 5-days-a-week (or so) of kale kick, tonight we had Kale Fried rice. It was quite good. Husband loved it, I liked it. I will be making this again, but not every week. I got this from a site I discovered today called Erin’s Food Files.
Kale Fried Rice
1/2 lb kale, thick stems discarded
1-1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled & finely minced
3 scallions, trimmed, thinly sliced on diagonal (if you don’t have scallions, an onion will work)
2-1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 Tbsp soy sauce (So I have this great citrus soy sauce, which goes great with the kale, since kale just begs for citrus! If you are using regular soy sauce, add a generous spritz of lemon juice)
- Cut the kale leaves in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into very thin ribbons (chiffonade). Steam the kale for 7 minutes
- Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, being careful not to brown the garlic. Raise the heat to medium and add the steamed kale and scallions. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the rice and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring. Add the soy sauce and cook for 30 seconds more.
This is a recipe that, as far as I know, Husband just came up with one day by working off a basic coconut rice recipe. He’s one of those sickeningly awesome people who can smell something and just know what it goes with. So he took coconut rice and added mint and marjoram. It is so yummy!
Minty Coconut Rice
- jasmine rice
- 1 can coconut milk
- mint to taste
- marjoram to taste (1/4 – 1/2 as much as mint, usually)
- Pour the coconut milk into a pot. Add 1 cup of rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.
- Add mint and marjoram to taste. Butter, too, if you wish.
Ta da! Simple and very tasty. We get compliments every time we make this =]
There are a lot of wonderful ways to prepare kale. I usually saute it with onions and garlic, but tonight I thought I’d try something a little different. I like raw kale, so I found a recipe for a Lemon Parmesan kale salad. So, I tossed in some blackberries and tada! It was excellent.
Blackberry Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad
- 3 cups chopped fresh kale
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- pinch of salt and freshly-ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup freshly-grated Parmesan
- a handful of blackberries (as many as you’d like)
In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, salt and pepper. Add kale, blackberries and Parmesan, and toss until the kale is evenly coated. Serve immediately.
I wanted to make a healthy dinner, but also one that tastes good. I am good with salad or kale most evenings, but husband prefers a bit more… substance. So tonight we had a blackberry and kale salad, brown rice, and butter pecan sweet potatoes. Here’s the potato recipe! Easy, yummy, and healthy. What’s better than that?
Butter Pecan Sweet Potaotes
- 8 medium sweet potatoes (5 lbs.), or one per person
- Olive oil
- 2 tbs butter
- 2 tbs brown sugar
- 1/3 cup pecan pieces
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel potatoes and quarter lengthwise; slice crosswise 1/2 inch thick. On a baking sheet, toss potatoes with olive oil ); season with salt.
- Cook until potatoes are tender, tossing occasionally, 25-30 minutes.
- Sprinkle with butter, brown sugar, and pecan pieces, dividing evenly. Bake until sugar is carmelized and hard, about 10 minutes. Toss gently; serve immediately. Serves 8.
So Husband is really big into home brewing, which is awesome, but it also means we have a lot of beer sitting around. We drink it, give it away to friends/strangers, and still it piles up! So I have started cooking with it more often. I found this recipe while browsing Pinterest (to quote Husband “What DON’T you find while browsing Pinterest?!). It. Is. Amazing! I cannot stop eating this wonderful bread. And it wasn’t that hard. So delicious and rich and the flavours meld perfectly
This came from a site called The Smitten Kitchen. The recipe suggests using a bread maker, but since I do not have one, I did not use it. I will include both sets of directions. =]
Cheddar, Beer, and Mustard Pull-Apart Bread
For the bread:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup beer (I used Husbands Agave Wheat Beer. Light and just a bit sweet)
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1/3 cup rye flour (use additional a-p flour if you don’t have this) (I did not have any, so I used my fresh ground flour)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
For the filling:
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon Dijon or a mustard of your choice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Several grinds black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
To make the dough:
- In a small saucepan, heat the 4 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup of beer, just until the butter has melted. Remove from heat and add the remaining 1/3 cup beer. Set aside to cool down slightly. You want the mixture warm (110 to 116 degrees), but not steaming hot.
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast and table salt. With the mixer on low, pour in the butter-beer mixture, mixing only until the flour is moistened. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. The batter will look lumpy, but will become smooth in a moment. Add the remaining 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and all of the rye flour, mixing until just combined. Replace paddle with a dough hook and let the machine knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes on low. (Or, if you aren’t using a machine, knead with your hands for about 5 minutes. Heads up, I had to add about 3 cups of flour to my dough to keep it from sticking to my hands and the bowl and everything else!)
- Oil a medium/large bowl and transfer dough to it. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside for 50 to 60 minutes, until doubled. Meanwhile, prepare fillings.
To make the filling:
- Back in the same small saucepan you used for the butter and beer, melt the 3 tablespoons butter. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard and Worcestershire until smooth. Set aside.
- In the bottom of a medium bowl, stir together mustard powder, paprika, table salt and several grinds of black pepper. Add shredded cheddar and toss until grated strands are evenly coated with spices. I like to keep this in the fridge until needed so it doesn’t get soft and clumpy, making it harder to sprinkle over the dough in a bit.
To assemble the bread:
- Either coat a 9-by-5 loaf pan lightly with butter or a nonstick spray and set aside.
- Turn dough out onto a well-floured counter and roll the dough into a 20-by-12-inch rectangle, making sure it doesn’t stick to the counter by lifting sections and re-flouring the counter as needed. Brush the butter-mustard-Worcestershire mixture evenly over the whole surface, right up to the edges. Cut the dough crosswise into 5 strips; each should be 12-by-4 inches. Sprinkle the first one evenly with a heaping 1/4 cup of the grated cheese (which is now fine to leave out at room temperature). Gently place another strip on top of it, coat it with another heaping 1/4 cup of cheese, and repeat with remaining strips until they are stacked 5-high and all of the cheese is used.
- With your very sharpest serrated knife, gently — so gently! The lightest sawing motions the weight of the blade will allow! — cut your stack into 6 to 7 2-inch segments (each stacked segment should be 4-by-2 inches). I say 6 to 7 range because while your 12-inch length should clearly yield only 6 2-inch segments, I find that the soft dough stretches so much when you lift and stack it that I end up with 7. Either amount will fit; this is totally not something to fret over.
- Arrange stacks of dough down the length of your prepared loaf pan as if filling a card catalog drawer. I make this easier by standing my loaf pan up on its short end to make the next part easier. If, when you finish filing all of your dough stacks, you ended up with less than needed for the dough “cards” to reach the end of the pan, when you return the pan to rest flat on the counter again, just shimmy it a little so the dough centers. It will all even out in the final rise/oven. If you ended up with toomany dough cards, before you add the last stack, simply press gently on the dough already filed to make room for it.
- Loosely cover the pan with more plastic wrap and set it aside to rise again for 30 to 45 more minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake loaf for 25 to 35 minutes, until puffed and brown. Transfer it to a wire rack and let it cool for 5 minutes before flipping it out onto a serving plate/cutting board. Serve warm with cold beer.
- Loaf “pulls” apart the easiest when it is hot or warm. If it has cooled beyond the point that the layers wish to easily separate, simply serve it in thin slices. Wrap leftovers in plastic and keep at room temperature for a day. I bet the leftovers would be fantastic reheated with scrambled eggs.