May 26, 2008

Homemade Mac & Cheese

I had always eaten mac & cheese out of the box, so I was very interested while watching a Barefoot Contessa episode where she made it from scratch. Steve and our friend John were the guinea pigs for me this past weekend and gave it a thumbs up! I did halve the recipe and it worked out well! I also used equal parts of cheddar and Gruyere since Gruyere is so pricey! Next time, I may switch up the cheeses to get a different taste!

Vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi (which really made it a fun dish!)
1 quart of milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling, salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package (around 6-8 minutes), drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small sauce pan, but don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter into a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth.

Off the heat, add the Gruyere, cheddar and 1 tablespoon of salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the cooked pasta and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the 2 remaining tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs and sprinkle on top of the tomatoes.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on top.

Scallops Provencal

Just like the Herbed Basmati Rice, this was from the Barefoot Contessa and first tested by my friend Elizabeth. Given Amy's love for scallops, this recipe is a must in the recipe book!

1 pound fresh bay or sea scallops
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
All-purpose flour (for dredging)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup chopped shallots (appx. 2 large)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley leaves (Barefoot says they have more flavor than curved)
1/3 cup dry white table wine

If you are using bay scallops, keep them whole. If you are using sea scallops, cut each in half horizontally. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss with flour and shake off the excess.

In a very large saute pan, heat 2 tbsp. of butter over high heat until sizzling and add the scallops in 1 layer. Lower the heat to medium and allow the scallops to brown lightly on one side without moving them, then turn and allow the other side to brown. This should take about 3-4 minutes, total.

Melt the rest of the butter in the sauce pan with the scallops, then add the shallots, garlic and parsley. Saute for 2 minutes, tossing the seasonings with the scallops.

Add the wine, cook for 1 minute and taste with the seasoning. Serve hot. Goes well with the Herbed Basmati Rice.

Herbed Basmati Rice

I saw this recipe on my cooking hero's show, the Barefoot Contessa, and my friend Elizabeth had tried it and said it was AMAZING! The Horgan's-to-be concur and it a favorite of ours to make for "special" dinners! It also contains Amy's favorite herb...dill!

1 cup, uncooked white basmati rice (we use Texmati because the Barefoot said so, and we love it)
1 3/4 cups water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh curly parsley leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh green onions (both white and green parts)
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Combine the rice, 1 3/4 cups of water, the salt and the butter in a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, stir once and simmer, covered tightly, for 15 minutes. I sometimes pull the pot half off the heat to prevent it from boiling over.

Turn off the heat and allow the rice to sit covered for 5 minutes. Add the parsley, dill, green onions and pepper.

Fluff with fork and serve warm.

Chicken in a Pocket

Yet another recipe thanks to the Detroit Knotties! This is very yummy and surprisingly easy!

3/4 - 1 pound chicken tenderloins
1 package crescent rolls (we used reduced fat)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened (we used fat free)
1/4 cup diced onion
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

4 oz. sour cream (we used fat free)
1/2 cream of chicken soup (we used reduced fat)
2-3 splashes of milk
1 tablespoon dried parsley

  1. Preheat oven according to directions on the crescent roll package
  2. Heat a little olive oil over medium-high heat in a sauce pan. Add chicken, onions and salt and pepper (to taste) and saute until chicken is no longer pink.
  3. Remove chicken and onions from pan and onto a cutting board. Allow the chicken to cool slightly. Dice up chicken.
  4. In a bowl, mix together diced chicken and cream cheese
  5. Spread the crescent rolls out on a cookie sheet.
  6. Place about 1/8 of the chicken mixture into the center of a crescent dough triangle.
  7. Fold up the two short corners of the roll over the chicken, then take the long corner and fold it over the mixture. You should still be able to see some of the mixture.
  8. Bake the chicken bundles according to the directions on the crescent roll package.
  9. While the bundles are baking, combine the sour cream, soup, milk and parsley in a sauce pan. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  10. Put a few spoonfuls of sauce on a plate and place 2 chicken bundles on top. Enjoy!

Sweet and Salty Bars

I was given this recipe from some of my teammates on my co-ed softball team, Team Husky Pants. Steve absolutely loves these and were a hit at our annual Opening Day party this past March.

Bottom Layer
1 package yellow cake mix
1/3 cup margarine
1 egg

Combine the above ingredients until crumbly and press into a 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-18 minutes, or until golden brown.

Middle Layer
3 cups miniature marshmallows

After taking the bottom layer out of the oven, immediately pour the marshmallows on top. Bake for 1-2 minutes, or until fluffy. Take out and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Top Layer
While the marshmallows are baking and cooling...

In a sauce pan, heat:
2/3 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup margarine
2 teaspoons of vanilla
10 oz. package of peanut butter chips

Stir the above ingredients until melted. Remove from heat.

Stir in:
2 cups Rice Krispies
2 cups salted peanuts

Immediately spoon this mixture over the marshmallow layer...try to spread as best you can over the dish.

Chill to firm. For best results, allow to firm over night in the fridge. I recommend letting it sit out for a bit after taking it out of the fridge so it is easier to cut. Cutting it is the hardest part!

Taco Bake

This is another recipe posted to the Detroit Board on the Knot! It is very yummy and is a Detroit board favorite!

1 pound ground round (can also use ground turkey or chicken for a healthier option)
1 package taco seasoning
15 oz. can tomato sauce
8 ounces seashell pasta
8 oz. package cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup sour cream
8 oz. package shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown ground meat, drain. Add taco seasoning and tomato sauce. Bring meat, seasoning and tomato sauce to a boil, then let simmer for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, cook pasta according to directions on packaging then drain. Mix the softened cream cheese and sour cream in a separate bowl.

Spray the bottom of a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Place cooked pasta in the bottom of the pan. Drop dollops of the sour cream and cream cheese mixture about an inch apart and try to spread as best you can across the pasta. Spoon the ground meat mixture over this layer, then finally, sprinkle the shredded cheddar on top.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Allow to cool about 15-20 minutes before serving.

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

This recipe was posted to the Detroit Board of the Knot, and has become a fast favorite at our household. It inspired Steve to buy an entire cookbook of Crock Pot recipes!

This is very yummy and easy...just throw it all in the pot and let it do all the work! Plus, it is very easy to halve it to make it more portion friendly for two and it easy to make low fat with reduced sodium and low fat ingredients!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you can even use full frozen ones, trust me, they cook in more than enough time!)
1 cup salsa
1 package taco seasoning
1 can condensed cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup (I always use cream of mushroom)
1/2 cup sour cream

Mix together the soup and salsa. Place chicken in the Crock Pot. Sprinkle taco seasoning over the chicken. Then pour the soup and salsa mixture over the chicken.

Cook on "Low" for 6-8 hours, then shred the chicken with a fork (it is so easy to d0). Mix in the sour cream until it is thoroughly heated.

Serve with white rice, flour tortillas or even tortilla chips!

Here we go!

I am new to this world of blogging and cooking as well, so this should be a fun adventure for all! I hope people can share some of these recipes on here with friends and family and share the love we all have around eating yummy things!

Happy cooking!


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