Christmas Save

We have a wonderful Italian restaurant about a mile from our house (dangerous, I know); they make all of their pasta and sauces fresh. To save myself trouble, I typically order a lasagna for Christmas Day and pick it up on Christmas Eve.

This year I got distracted, while I was supposed to pick up the lasagna at 1 pm, I didn’t remember until 8 when they close. I called immediately, they would still have patrons inside. Sadly, when I called, I was informed that they had sold all orders that weren’t picked up.

As I sat stunned, (how could you sell my Christmas dinner?!?), I started to think about what I could do to make sure that I could still serve my guests. Thankfully just a small group, but still 9 people in total.

My youngest went to the basement freezer to see what I had, since I make it a point to freeze my extras. He found 2 quarts of pork mushroom ragu. Upstairs in our kitchen freezer, I found a quart of marinara (our Italian restaurant always sends sauce with their calzones). I also had two pounds of Italian pasta in the pantry and 4 cups of shredded mozzarella in the fridge. My MIL offered up 3 links of Italian sausage from her freezer, a package of fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and a pint of her Bolognese sauce.

Today I put it all together. I started by putting all of the sauces together in a pan to meld the flavors. I also cooked the pasta a couple minutes shy of al dente. The Italian sausage, I seared, then sliced it, and returned it to pan to brown it on the sides. Lastly, I diced the fresh mozzarella and sliced the fresh basil.

In a full tray I mixed everything together except the shredded mozzarella with some additional pasta water. I topped it with the shredded mozzarella and covered the tray. I baked it for 40 minutes at 350, then removed the cover and continued cooking for another 10 to brown the cheese on top.

With a Caesar salad from my MIL and take and bake bread, dinner was saved, based on the reactions everyone was very happy with the result.

Merry Christmas!

Advertisements

Pasta with Mushrooms and Prosciutto

With on already in college and the other headed there next fall, I find myself more frequently cooking for two. When we were just married, I didn’t have the skill set I do now, nor was I brave enough to attempt to use the ingredients I now love.

So this is new ground for me with my current repertoire. It’s also a mental challenge because I’ve been looking at recipes and determining if they are scalable, just in case we had extras stop by, trying to think about what I can reduce is different. I don’t frequently like to go out, but I find myself considering it.

In looking through my recipes today, I came across this gem. I have actually made it for about 12, it was a challenge, it came together very quickly for 2. I didn’t even go to the store until 5. I had to get the mushrooms and prosciutto along with a few things for dinner and dessert tomorrow.

When I went to select my mushrooms they had a great variety so I picked one I knew and one I hadn’t cooked with before, Shitake and Maitake. While the names are similar the appearance and taste are dramatically different. I removed the tough stems and did a few rough cuts with my knife and tore any large remaining pieces.

Don’t be tempted to increase the Proscuitto, the amount is perfect, it adds a richness to the dish, but you don’t want to overwhelm the mushrooms. Do make sure you use fresh thyme and definitely save some for the top. It was amazing.

Pasta with Mushrooms and Prosciutto

College Option, Entrées, Pastas, Pork, Quick Meals, Tested and Approved!

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto (about 6 slices)

1 pound mixed mushrooms (such as chanterelles, maitake, oyster, crimini, and/or shiitake), torn into bite-size pieces

2 medium shallots, finely chopped

1 teaspoon thyme leaves, plus more for serving

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth

12 ounces pappardelle or fettuccine

 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS

Heat ¼ cup oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. Arrange prosciutto in a single layer in pot and cook, turning once or twice, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in same pot over high. Cook mushrooms, tossing occasionally, until browned and tender, 5-8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add shallots and 1 tsp. thyme, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until shallots are translucent and softened, about 2 minutes. Add stock and reduce heat to low. Bring to a simmer and cook until only a thin layer of stock coats bottom of pot, 5−7 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 3 minutes less than package directions.

Using tongs, transfer pasta to pot with mushrooms and add 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Crumble half of prosciutto into pot. Increase heat to medium, bring to a simmer, and cook, tossing constantly, until pasta is al dente and liquid is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add cream, return to a simmer, and cook, tossing, until pasta is coated, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, add butter, and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt if needed.

Divide pasta among bowls. Top with more thyme and crumble remaining prosciutto over; season with pepper.

Cajun Shrimp Pasta

My husband has been posting more pictures of the meals I prepare that I do, this is an issue and I will try to focus on being more diligent with my writing.

I store in my recipe files a number of recipes for later, things that catch my eye that I want to eventually try. While doing my menu planning on Sunday I came across a recipe for Cajun Shrimp Pasta that I had saved; it was originally posted by another blogger, The Cozy Apron. I’ve tried a few of her recipes with good success. My only complaint on this one is that it’s a bit mild for my taste buds.

It came together very quickly, so definitely do your prep work first. Gather your ingredients:

I only had linguine, so I used it, but the fettuccine, a wider pasta, would have been nice. Bow tie pasta would have also been good.

Rather than a small onion, I had half of a red onion leftover from another recipe, I simply chopped them to a finer dice. I also only found diced fire-roasted tomatoes, a quick spin in the food processor converted them to “crushed”. Last but not least, I firmly believe that garlic cloves should all be large, the head I peeled open today was full of tiny cloves, so I used about 12 so that I had the right amount; they were wonderfully fragrant when I added them to the skillet, perfect.

Based on my earlier comment definitely use the cayenne pepper and the red pepper flakes.

After the prep the cooking is quick and dinner is served. I also made a quick garlic bread.

 
Cajun Shrimp Pasta

Entrées, Pastas, Shellfish, Tested and Approved!

INGREDIENTS

    10 ounces uncooked fettuccine
    1 pound medium peeled and deveined shrimp (16/20 count)
    Avocado oil
    1 1/2 teaspoons cajun creole seasoning
    1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
    Pinch cayenne pepper
    Salt
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    1 small onion, finely diced
    1/2 cup (about 4 ounces by weight) finely diced roasted red peppers from a jar
    6 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
    Pinch red pepper flakes
    1 tablespoon tomato paste
    14.5 ounce can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
    3/4 cup chicken broth
    3/4 cup heavy cream
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS

Cook the fettuccine about 1-2 minutes shy of al dente according to the package instructions, and keep warm.

Add the shrimp to a bowl, and drizzle in about 1 tablespoon of avocado oil, and sprinkle in the cajun creole seasoning, the granulated garlic, and a pinch or two of cayenne pepper, if using; toss to coat.

Place a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of the avocado oil; once hot, add the shrimp and sear it on the first side until golden-brown and crusty, about 2 minutes; flip and sear a minute or so more, until crusty on the other side; remove from the skillet and set aside.

To that same skillet add in the butter plus another small drizzle of the avocado oil if needed, and add in the diced onion along with the diced roasted red peppers, and stir; saute together for about 2-3 minutes, until softened and slightly golden.

Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes (if using), along with the tomato paste, and cook for about 30 seconds or just until aromatic. (I even like to sprinkle in an extra dash of the cajun creole seasoning that I used on the shrimp at this point as well.)

Add in the crushed tomatoes, the chicken broth and the heavy cream and stir to incorporate, and allow the sauce to gently simmer for about 2-3 minutes just to slightly thicken; then give it a little taste to see if any additional salt is needed.

Add the fettuccine into the sauce, along with about half of the shrimp plus about half of the chopped parsley, and gently toss to combine, cook for 1-2 minutes more, until the pasta is cooked.

If serving directly from the skillet, top with the rest of the shrimp and the parsley, and serve “family style”. Or, pour the pasta into a serving dish or platter, and then top with the rest of the shrimp and sprinkle over the rest of the chopped parsley.

Linguine with Clam Sauce

It’s summer and the eldest will be headed back to college soon, with a new challenge: apartment living. Both of these are pushing me towards a simple food portfolio. For a recent Sunday dinner I elected to make an antipasto salad and linguine with clam sauce.

An antipasto salad is really simple and incredibly delicious, it can be served as a salad course or on its own. I found this recipe and modified it just a touch to make it perfect, the original recipe was a bit onion and pepper heavy, this allows you to taste all of the independent flavors. The “lettuce” of the salad is the basil, so the trick is to be gentle with the leaves when washing them so as not to bruise them.

Antipasto Salad

Italian, Salads, Tested and Approved!

Servings: 4 servings Source: bonappetit.com

INGREDIENTS

1 garlic clove, minced

cup extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

½ tsp. crushed dried oregano

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

1-2 Cubanelle or Shepherd peppers, thinly sliced into rounds

½ small red onion, thinly sliced, rinsed

1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained, patted dry, halved

8 oz. ball fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces

¼-⅓ salami, preferably fennel, thinly sliced

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1 lemon

2 cups basil leaves

DIRECTIONS

Mix garlic, oil, vinegar, oregano, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Add sweet peppers, onion, artichokes, mozzarella, and salami and toss to coat; season with salt and black pepper. Let sit, tossing occasionally, at least 15 minutes.

Zest half of lemon over salad and add basil; toss to combine. Season with more salt and black pepper if needed.

Do Ahead: Salad (without lemon zest and basil) can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Linguine with Clam Sauce is a little more complicated, but there are some tricks to make it simpler. The biggest time saver is frozen clam meat: no scrubbing and they are typically precooked. With the eldest’s fish allergy, I skip the anchovies, but enjoy them if you can. With any pasta dish, the most important ingredient is the pasta, select a good pasta, Italian if available, and for a simple sauce like a clam, a rustic (rough) pasta that the sauce will stick to is best.

Linguine and Clams

Entrées, Italian, Pastas, Shellfish, Tested and Approved!

Servings: 4 servings Source: bonappetit.com

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more

10 cups water

12 garlic cloves, divided

4 ounces sourdough or country-style bread, crusts removed, cut into ½-inch pieces

2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for serving

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

2 oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional)

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for serving

cup dry white wine

2 pounds littleneck clams (about 24) or cockles (about 32), scrubbed*

12 ounces linguine or spaghetti

½ cup finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS

Bring salt and water to a boil in a large pot.

Meanwhile, pulse 3 garlic cloves in a food processor until chopped. Add bread and pulse several times until fine crumbs form.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add breadcrumb mixture and cook, stirring often, until crumbs are golden and crisp, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add lemon zest, season with salt, and toss to combine; set aside.

Wipe out Dutch oven. Using a mandoline if you have one (if not, use a really sharp knife), very thinly slice remaining 9 garlic cloves. Heat ¼ cup oil in Dutch oven over medium. Cook garlic, stirring often, until golden around the edges, about 3 minutes. Add anchovies, if using, and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden all over and anchovies are dissolved. Quickly stir in wine and simmer until only a couple of tablespoons of liquid are left in pot.

Add clams and toss to combine. (If using clam meat, add and proceed to next step.) Cover and cook until clams are open, 5-7 minutes (about 4 minutes for cockles). Uncover pot and transfer clams to a medium bowl, leaving liquid in pot. If any clams are still closed, cover pot again and cook a few minutes longer, then transfer to bowl with others (discard any that have not opened at this point). Tent clams with foil.

Cook pasta in boiling water 5 minutes. Using a ladle or heatproof measuring cup, scoop out about 2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Using tongs, transfer pasta to pot with clam liquid. Add 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Cook, tossing constantly and adding more pasta cooking liquid a splash at a time if needed, until pasta is al dente and sauce is glossy and thick enough to cling to noodles, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add parsley and butter and toss until butter is melted. Sprinkle about one-third of breadcrumbs over pasta and toss to combine (you can add more or less depending on how much liquid is in bottom of pot-you want them to absorb some of the sauce but not make it dry). Give pasta a taste; you probably won’t need additional salt, but you can add some if you’d like. Divide pasta among shallow bowls and top with reserved clams, more breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes, and a drizzle of oil.

NOTES

*Fresh clams can be replaced with frozen meat: ¼ lb. frozen meat/ 1 lb. fresh clams

Simple Pasta

I have been focusing a lot lately on recipes I have found and fixing them to something I like. Today, however, I approached dinner with my husband out of town for the week after all of us were gone for the weekend. You may have guessed, I have not been grocery shopping so it was time to test my other skills.

My examination of the the possibilities yielded 3 Italian sausages, two partial packages of farfalle pasta, and two cups of cherry tomatoes. I always have herbs outside (until the hard frost), cream, butter, and garlic…my idea formed.


It came together quickly. I minced my garlic, chopped the herbs, cut the tomatoes, and sliced the sausage while the water came to a boil.

    

After adding the pasta to the pan and setting it to cook a couple minutes shy of al dente, I heated a touch of olive oil in my skillet and added the sausage over high heat. It was already cooked, so I simply wanted to heat it through and start browning the sides of the slices.


I added in the garlic with a quick stir and followed with the tomatoes and herbs.

  
It only took a few minutes for the tomatoes to start to soften, at that point I added the pasta and a cup of the pasta water to continue the cooking. While stirring I added about ½ cup more of the water and just a dash of pepper flakes.

  
When the pasta was done and the liquid mostly gone, I added just a bit of cream and stirred in some Parmesan.

  
A tablespoon of butter and some fresh basil brought it all together at the end with a slice of garlic bread.

  
A perfect meal.

Tortellini with Pesto

It’s the second to last dinner for my eldest before he heads off to college so I picked an old favorite from his childhood. It’s one that we all love and has carried through as the years go by, of course it’s hard to go wrong with homemade pesto. 

When we found out that he was allergic to nuts I went on a mission to find one that I liked that was nut-free. This one has stood the test of time. 

I started with my basil: a mix of Thai and regular basil (any basil works, I had extra since I’m using it in my dessert tomorrow too). Once it was cleaned I pulled off my leaves and separated it out into portions.


The portion for the pesto went into the food processor with a few cloves of garlic. 

      

Then I started the grill and the water. The Italian sausage took 10 minutes so I started those first, then came in and blanched the basil for tomorrow in my pasta water.

.              

Then I cooked the pasta in the basil water and turned the sausage.

  
I blended up the pesto in the food processor just before the pasta finished, adding salt, pepper, and olive oil after the basil was chopped and finishing with the Parmesan.  

         

While the pasta drained I pulled the sausage off the grill.

  

Then I came in and tossed the pasta – dinner is served and I have a happy boy. 

    

Tortellini with Pesto
Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!

Cook 10 minutes ∙ Makes 4 ∙ Difficulty Easy 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups basil leaves, fresh, packed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1½-2 pounds tortellini, cooked

DIRECTIONS

In a food processor, pulse the basil and garlic until roughly chopped. With the machine on, slowly pour in the oil until just blended. Stir in cheese, salt, and pepper and mix until just blended. 
Toss the pesto into cooked tortellini. 

This can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Corn Carbonara

Corn isn’t yet in season here in Michigan, but we are beginning to get in good corn from Florida. If you can get good corn this is an awesome spin on a traditional Italian dish that highlights the sweetness of fresh corn. 

Before I start on my activities, I wanted to share a few tips for ensuring that the corn you eat is the best possible. First and foremost, never peek or shuck the corn at your store or market, the minute you peel back the corn husk you will show your naïveté. It will start to get starchy and dry immediately, it is perfectly protected in it’s husk until just before you are ready to cook it. At farmer’s markets they watch for people who do this, and have to throw away those ruined ears. Instead, here are some tips to pick the best corn, without looking. And if you’re still worried, buy an extra ear, they aren’t that expensive. 

  1.  Look for tiny holes in the husk, especially brown and towards the top. Those are wormholes, and, naturally, worms are best avoided.
  2. Feel the kernels through the husk; they should be plump and plentiful. If you can feel gaps in the rows where kernels should be, then choose another.
  3. Look at the silk on the top of the ear, if it’s dry or black, then it’s an old ear of corn.
  4. Check out the color of the husk. If it’s a bright green and tightly wrapped against the cob, then the corn is fresh. (In some cases, it will even feel slightly damp. 

Also, after you shuck it, if you do find a small soft spot, you can remove it with a sharp knife, you do not have to throw the whole ear away, as you can see with one of the ears I used.
     

It was rather warm when I made this, but not quite enough for the air conditioning to be on, so I decided to do all my prep first and then cook everything outside on the grill so as not to make the kitchen unbearable. 

The first task (after shucking the corn) was to cut it off the cobs and divide it into two equal portions, the half in the blender container will be used for the sauce. 

  

The next task is to use the back of your knife (carefully) to extract the corn milk for the sauce. After you cut the corn, there is still a part of each kernel stuck in the cob, that along with any liquid from those kernels is what you are scraping out. I took a picture of before and after side by side so that you can see the objective. This gets added to the kernels in the blender.

      

Then I chopped my bacon. I always am a bit heavy handed with the bacon, since my youngest assures me that everything is better with bacon. 

  

I also minced my garlic and finished adding the ingredients for the sauce and blended it up. N

    

While I took care of this, I had started my water inside (the side burner is strong enough to maintain, but not to bring the water to a boil) and preheated the grill with the cast iron pan. So, as soon as I was done with the prep I started the bacon and the pasta.

When the bacon was close to crispy, I also started some chicken apple sausages.

When I set aside the bacon, I added my garlic to the pan, soon followed by the kernels of corn and cayenne pepper.

    

At this point it all comes together rather quickly, drain the pasta and put it into a large bowl with ½ of your cooked kernels, ½ of the bacon, ½ of the basil, the Parmesan, and all of the sauce.

    

Once you thoroughly toss this together, the rest of the toppings go on the top and you serve with additional Parmesan. 

Simply awesome. Served with a simple Greek salad and fresh bread. 

  

Fresh Corn Carbonara

Makes 4 Servings ∙ Source Bon Appétit | August 2015
INGREDIENTS

  • 12 ounces spaghetti or linguine
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon (about 6 ounces), cut into 1/4″ strips
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 ears of corn, kernels cut off (about 3 cups), cobs reserved
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces), plus more to serve
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped, divided

DIRECTIONS

Fry bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Remove excess grease from skillet; keep 2-3 Tbsp. Add garlic to the skillet sauté briefly then add corn kernels and stir in cayenne, cook until some are blackened and all warmed through, ~5 minutes.

Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain.

While pasta is cooking, scrape excess corn milk from cobs into a blender or food processor by firmly running the back of a chef’s knife down the sides. Add cream, half of the corn kernels, ¼ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper. Purée until a smooth sauce forms.

Toss hot pasta with corn sauce, ½ cup Parmesan, and half each of the remaining corn kernels, bacon, and basil in a large bowl.

Divide pasta among bowls and top with remaining corn kernels, bacon, and basil. Season with pepper and top with Parmesan

Grad Party – Success

It took a lot of work and our parents were amazing, it was a lot of fun and a great success. Our graduate is incredibly appreciative of both the party and the generosity of our guests. 

The cooking went as expected without a hitch and I had plenty of food. I would probably make a recommendation for those considering ribs for a large party to think about the type of ribs they have when calculating how many to make. All of my reading lead me to account for 3 ribs per person when serving other proteins. A typical baby back rib weighs 1½-2½ lbs., the ones I had were 3½-4½ lbs, I would have come closer to what I needed if I had done my calculation with the thought of 2½ ribs per person. 

On the day of the party, I started by getting the ribs and mac and cheese out so that they could come to room temperature for more even cooking. Everyone in the house chipped in; this included both boys, my mom, and my in-laws. Once everything was set, excluding the food, I sent my team on missions, boys to get the fried chicken, moms to get the cake, and men to get the beer. 

    
I set about to cooking and put the mac and cheese in the oven and started on the ribs. 

  

I took each pan of ribs out to my grill, and brushed one side with my glaze, and once they were on the grill I glazed the other side. 

  
I moved them through from one side of the grill to the other and ultimately transferred them to a cutting rack for my dad to cut them into single and double ribs and put them in the trays covered with foil to stay warm. 


Just before the party we set everything out and started the slide show. 


The recipes are as follows and can obviously be scaled as needed. I hope that you enjoy! Please ask questions if you have any regarding the recipes.

Thank you to everyone who helped!

Cole Slaw

Salads, Summer, Tested and Approved!

Makes Serves 10-12 ∙ Difficulty Easy

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 head cabbage
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp canola oil
  • salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS
Shred cabbage. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over cabbage. Salt and pepper.

NOTES
Add red cabbage and carrots, or use other vinegars for altering flavors and adding color.
Sticky Balsamic Ribs

Entrées, Grilling, Pork

Makes Makes 8 Servings ∙ Difficulty Medium ∙ Source Gourmet | July 2009

INGREDIENTS
For ribs:

  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 8-12 pounds baby back pork ribs, (8 racks; see cooks’ note below)
  • 1 cup water

For glaze:

  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed

DIRECTIONS
Marinate and roast ribs:

Mince and mash garlic to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt. Stir together with rosemary, brown sugar, vinegar, cayenne, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Rub evenly all over ribs and transfer to roasting pans. Marinate, chilled, 8 to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 425°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.

Pour 1/2 cup water into each roasting pan and tightly cover pans with foil. Roast ribs, switching position of pans halfway through, until meat is very tender, about 1 3/4 hours. Remove pans from oven and transfer ribs to a platter.

Make glaze and grill ribs:

Add 1 cup hot water to each roasting pan and scrape up brown bits. Skim off and discard fat, then transfer liquid to a 10-inch skillet. Add vinegar and brown sugar and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil until reduced to about 1 cup, about 15 minutes.

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas).

Brush some of glaze onto both sides of racks of ribs. Grill, turning occasionally, until ribs are hot and grill marks appear, about 6 minutes.

NOTES
If you can only get larger ribs (4 racks), you will need more glaze; use 12 large garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary, 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar, 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper.

Ribs can be roasted and glaze can be made ahead and chilled separately (covered once cool). Bring to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before glazing and grilling. 
Sally’s Mac & Cheese

Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!

Cook 30-40 minutes ∙ Makes 8-10 servings ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Aunt Sally

INGREDIENTS

  • 2-3 eggs beaten, large
  • 24 ounces cottage cheese
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • 4 cups cheddar, shredded
  • 4 cups macaroni, cook as directed in salted water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Mix the ingredients in order and salt and pepper to taste. Optionally, top with panko or crushed saltines.

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

NOTES

Can be mixed in an oven proof bowl and baked directly or for more crispness on the top, bake in a 9 x 13 pan. Also scales well for large groups.

I have played with this recipe successfully including substituting Picolini for the elbows, dropping the cottage cheese down to 16 oz. and replacing with feta, and replacing half the cheddar with other cheeses such as smoked Gouda.

To make this as Bacon Mac & Cheese, use 3 eggs, and reduce cheddar to ~1 cup, and add 1 block of shredded sharp white cheddar, 1 block of shredded Boar’s Head 3-pepper co-jack, and ~1 pound chopped cooked bacon.
Sweet Rolls

Breads, Tested and Approved!

Difficulty Hard ∙ Source Grandma

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups milk, lukewarm (less amount of water used to dissolve yeast)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 envelopes yeast
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, soft
  • 7 – 7 1/2 cups flour

Icing

  • butter, soft
  • powdered sugar
  • vanilla
  • cream or half and half

DIRECTIONS

Dissolve yeast in a small amount of warm water. Mix milk, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and heat to ~105℉. When the milk is warm pour into a large bowl and mix in the yeast. Stir in the eggs and butter. 

Start mixing in the flour, stirring until thick and then kneading until soft and elastic. 

Allow to rise for 2 hours (until doubled) then punch down. Butter pans (allowing dough to rest) then make the rolls. Allow to rise until light. 

Bake at 400℉ for 15 minutes.

NOTES

Use light colored metal pans to bake the rolls, dark and glass pans can tend to over bake the bottom.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Breads, Tested and Approved!

Prep 2-2½ hours ∙ Cook 30 minutes ∙ Makes 3 loaves ∙ Difficulty Medium ∙ Source Mom

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 envelopes yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 5 – 5 1/2 cups flour

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, salt, and yeast. 

In a pan, heat water, milk, honey, and oil until warm. Pour liquid over flour mixture and mix for two minutes with a mixer. 

Add white flour until smooth and elastic; knead for 5 minutes. Raise for 60-90 minutes (until doubled). Punch down and shape into loaves. 

Let raise for 45-60 minutes. Bake 30 minutes at 400℉.

Grad Party – Part 2

Between yesterday and today I have finished up the ribs. After each batch has cooked, I have collected the drippings in my stock pot. Tomorrow I’ll be making the glaze with it, but in the meantime I’ve been reducing it so that it all fits in the stock pot. I’ve also been skimming off the fat from the top, which is easiest to do after it’s been chilling in the fridge. This image is just after my final addition.  


With that done, I’m onto the mac and cheese. I’m made this before with the mention that it scales well. I’ll be making four triple batches for this party and it’s quite the pile of ingredients (just ignore the beer). 

My first task was to spray my pans; a loss of mac and cheese to the side of a pans is tragic! After that on to mixing the eggs, cheeses, and sour cream with a healthy dose of salt and pepper. I used my scale to weigh the pasta and cheddar that I purchased in bulk (with the tare set at 1 lb.). 

           
I rinsed the pasta with cold water before stirring it in, since these are going in the fridge rather than the oven. 

  

And then I topped each pan with panko and covered them so that they would be all set. 

I had a little bit left, so it looks like I’ll have 13 ½-trays at the end. 


Only 3 batches more to go and more to come tomorrow. 

Updated Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken

My motivation for dinners come from several places, tonight it was from a Facebook post my husband shared with me earlier in the week. It was almost correct and I immediately replied to the post with a few suggestions including the omission of garlic powder in favor of garlic cloves. When I went to cook it today, I realized that the recipe didn’t match the video and ultimately I made a few other changes. The recipe below includes all of the edits. 

I began with prep work, ending with the chicken. 

  

  

  

  

The cooking is very simple, starting with the garlic and shallots. 

  

   

Followed by the chicken after setting aside the shallots. 

  

I had also started the water for the pasta. 

When I set aside the chicken, I started the pasta and the cream sauce. 

  

    

  

  

It all came together beautifully at the end. 

  

  

Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken

Paprika Recipe File

Entrées, Pastas, Poultry, Tested and Approved!

Makes 4 ∙ Source: Inspired by Getinmybelly.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 jar (~7 oz.) sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced, optional
  • 1½-2 lbs chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut into strips (~1″ thick)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 4 cups baby spinach (not packed), washed
  • 1½ cups parmesan cheese, plus additional for topping
  • ½-1 lb. farfalle (bowtie) pasta

DIRECTIONS

Drain the sun dried tomatoes and reserve the oil. Slice the tomatoes into thin strips and set aside.

Season the chicken well with the salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.

In a large skillet heat the reserved olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the smashed garlic and sliced shallot (if using) and cook until the garlic is fragrant or the shallots are crispy, remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon. Discard the garlic.

Cook the chicken in the oil on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes, until browned and cooked until no longer pink in center. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil, and cook pasta as directed.

Remove chicken and set aside on a plate.

Add the heavy cream, chicken broth, and minced garlic. Whisk over medium high heat until it starts to thicken, then add parmesan and continue to stir.

Add the shallots, sundried tomatoes, and spinach and let it simmer until the spinach starts to wilt.

Add the chicken back to the pan and then the pasta stirring to combine.

Serve with additional parmesan.