Recipe 71: Italian-Style Mac and Cheese with Chicken Sausage

I know the blog hasn’t been busy, but rest assured, I’ve been busy collecting recipes to try.  This one comes courtesy of an ad for Carnation Evaporated Milk.

 

Italian-Style Mac and Cheese with Chicken Sausage – from Nestle

Ingredients

2 cups (8oz) dry elbow macaroni

1 can evaporated milk

2 cups (8 oz package) shredded Italian-style or 4- or 5-cheese blend

2 links fully cooked Italian-seasoned chicken sausage cut into 1/4″ slices

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half

2 Tablespoons finely sliced fresh basil leaves

Directions

Prepare pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, combine evaporated milk, cheese, sausage, garlic powder, and black pepper in a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted.  Remove from heat.  Add drained pasta to cheese sauce; stir until combined.  Add tomatoes and basil; stir gently until mixed in.  Makes six servings, one cup each.

Verdict: 4/5 – Oh man.  Yum.  As you can see, I neglected to snap a picture of this one.  The real reason is I just forgot, but another believable reason would be that I glommed this down so quickly that I didn’t have time.  My one complaint is that the sauce was a little soupy, but the flavor was spot on.


Recipe 70: Bow ties with Sugar Snaps, Lemon, and Ricotta

I saw this recipe and thought it sounded like spring, so I had to try it.

Bowties with Sugar Snaps, Lemon, and Ricotta – from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

Salt for pasta water
1 pound sugar snaps
1 pound dried pasta bowties
1/2 cup (about 1 ounce) finely grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese (Loverman forgot this…)
Glug, then drizzle, of olive oil
Coarse or fine sea salt for sprinkling
Ground black pepper or red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lemon, plus more to taste
Few leaves of mint, slivered
1 cup ricotta; use fresh if you can find or have motivation to make it

Directions

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil. While waiting, string sugar snaps and cut into 1/2-inch segments. Cook bowties for two minutes less than the suggested cooking time on the package, then add sugar snaps to pasta. Cook for one minute more. Reserve one cup pasta cooking water, then drain sugar snaps and bowties. Add them back to the empty pot with 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, grated cheese, a glug of olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook on high for one minute, tossing constantly. Add a splash more cooking water if pasta looks too dry. Turn heat off, dollop ricotta all over in large spoonfuls and, without stirring, tip pasta mixture into a wide serving bowl. (I do this because I love the idea of finding slightly unmixed pockets of ricotta.) Drizzle pasta with a small amount of olive oil, then squeeze lemon juice over the whole dish, sprinkle with mint, and finish with an extra sprinkling of parmesan. Serve quickly; eat happily.

(Lemon juice, rather rudely, discolors green vegetables so be sure to add this only right before serving, and when it will be eaten before anyone will care.)

Verdict: 2.5/5 – Due for a do-over.  Like I said, Loverman forgot the pecorino.  Without it, it was somewhat bland.  Also Loverman didn’t cut up the sugar snaps, which made it awkward to eat.  He liked it with the mint and the pepper.

 

 

 


Recipe 69: Lemony Mac and Peas

I actually made his a few weeks ago, but I’m only getting around to posting it now.  Oops?

Lemony Mac and Peas (from Better Homes and Gardens, April 2016)

Ingredients

2 cups fresh peas

1 cup milk

3/4c ricotta

1/4c pesto

8oz dried rigatoni (I think Loverman used a full pound)

1 cup cubed ham

4oz shredded mozzarella

Lemon

Directions

Shell the peas.  In a medium saucepan, cook one cup of the peas six minutes in boiling salted water.  Drain under cold water.  Transfer to to a food processor.  Add milk, ricotta, pesto, and 2 tsp lemon zest.  Process until smooth.

Meanwhile cook rigatoni according to package directions, adding remaining cup of peas the last four minutes.  Drain, return to pot.  Stir in pea-ricotta mixture and cubed ham.

Transfer to a greased 2qt baking dish.  Top with mozzarella.  Bake at 425F for 20 minutes.  Makes four servings.

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Verdict: 2/5

The best either of us could say about this was “meh, it’s OK.”  It wasn’t bad or anything, but it wasn’t particularly exciting either.  Now keep in mind, when he made this, Loverman used twice as much pasta as he should have, so everything probably got diluted.  Neither of us was intrigued enough that we’d want to try it again.


Recipe 68: Crab Mac and Cheese with Sundried Tomatoes

There are a few recipes that I say are “due for a do-over,” which usually means I’m pretty sure I did something wrong to make the dish less than perfect. However there was one mac I made that inspired an entirely new one. I wish I could take credit for it, but it was Loverman who came up with it. When I made the lobster mac and cheese, he came up with several changes to the recipe that he thought would make it even better. I’m finally getting around to trying those changes. So here we are, another Weekly Mac original!

Crab Mac and Cheese with Sundried Tomatoes
Ingredients
8 oz. cheddar(I used sharp yellow)
8 oz gruyere
2 1/2 cups milk (I used skim)
1/4 onion, diced
3 tablespoons flour (or gluten free substitute)
3 tablespoons truffle oil
1 lb pasta (I used corn elbows)
8oz lump crab meat (my container said it was best for crab cakes)
1/4 cup chopped tarragon
1/4 cup chopped basil
about 6oz chopped sundried tomatoes (mine came with “Italian basil seasoning” already on them)
1/4 c breadcrumbs
Blue cheese to taste

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Cook pasta according to package directions while you make the sauce.

Take about a tablespoon of butter and saute the onions in it. Add 2 more tablespoons of butter and as it is melting, add the flour. Whisk it in and keep it moving, scraping the bottom. Get out all the lumps so it is a smooth mixture. Cook constantly stirring for 2 minutes. Add the milk. when the milk is almost boiling, slowly add the cheese in handfuls and make sure it is fully incorporated before adding the next. When all the cheese is in, add the truffle oil, herbs, and sundried tomatoes. Mix the pasta with the sauce and crab. Throw mixture into a 9″x13″ dish. Top with breadcrumbs and as many crumbles of blue cheese as you see fit (I used the better part of a 4oz container).

Put dish in oven and cook for 20 minutes. I didn’t want to do too much longer because I didn’t want to overcook the crab. Wait about 5 – 10 minutes for it to cool before serving.

Verdict: 2/5 – I gotta tell you, this was a real let down for both of us. The crab was too fishy. The sundried tomatoes, pre seasoned, were too loud, drowning out all flavors but the fishy crab. The best part was the blue cheese, and that was just the topping.

Do you have any recipes you think I should try? Let me know!


Recipe 67: Creamy Lemon Mac Primavera

I recently made dinner for my dad, but don’t worry!  Mom hasn’t been left out!  Today is her birthday (happy birthday, Mom!), so a few days ago I had her over and made her lunch.

Creamy Lemon Mac Primavera (from All Things Mac and Cheese)

Ingredients

8 ounces penne pasta (I used corn and rice elbows)
1 tablespoon butter
1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
1 small zucchini, cut into matchsticks (Loverman got a summer squash, so I used that instead)
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/3 cup Wisconsin ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon heavy cream (I used half and half)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) Wisconsin parmesan cheese, grated
1 lemon, zest and juice

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.
Meanwhile, melt butter in small skillet; add carrot, bell pepper, zucchini, salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat until vegetables soften but retain their bright color, about 5 minutes.
In small bowl, combine ricotta, cream and parmesan cheese; mix until smooth. Stir in lemon zest and juice.
Drain pasta and immediately toss with cheese mixture; stir in vegetables. Serve with additional parmesan cheese for topping.

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Verdict: 3/5 – This claimed to only serve two, but both of us had seconds and there was still some leftover.  The different vegetables added lots of texture elements, but the flavor was a little meh.  The lemon was bright, a nice burst of citrus in this cold winter, but you definitely needed that extra Parmesan to punch things up.


Recipe 66: Sausage and Apricot Baked Brie Mac and Cheese

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been out of work for a while due to my health.  This makes money tight, but we manage.  Sadly it does put a damper on such things as V-Day, when you’re supposed to shower your loved one with gifts and candy and all sorts of unnecessary things.  But we always have money for food, including some occasional treats.  Now, I might not have the money these days to make a lobster mac and cheese, but a little indulgence here and there won’t kill us.

Sausage and Apricot Baked Brie Mac and Cheese (from All Things Mac and Cheese)

Ingredients
9 tablespoons butter, divided
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 pound breakfast sausage (mine was pork)
1 pound bow tie pasta (I used small corn shells)
6 tablespoons flour (I used Pamela’s)
2 cups milk (mine was skim)
2 cloves garlic, minced
black pepper to taste
12 ounces Wisconsin brie cheese, rind removed and cubed (mine was not Wisconsin, but use whatever Brie you can, I say)
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (I used regular GF breadcrumbs)
Directions
Heat oven to 350°F.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in sauté pan. Add onion and cook over low until soft and caramelized. Set aside.
Cook sausage in skillet, breaking it apart with spoon into crumbles. Remove from heat and drain. Cook pasta according to package directions, heavily salting the water. Drain and rinse briefly with cool water. Set aside.
Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle in flour, whisking to form soft roux. Cook until golden brown and bubbly, stirring; slowly pour in milk. Bring almost to boiling point, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Add garlic, pepper and brie, mixing until smooth. Fold in prepared pasta, sausage, caramelized onion and dried apricots.
Pour mac and cheese mixture into 9×13-inch casserole dish; top with breadcrumbs. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

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Verdict: 4/5 – The main reason this doesn’t score higher is because it is kind of a complicated recipe.  None of the steps are individually complicated, but I had all four burners on the stove going, so that doesn’t exactly count as being easy to make.  But in terms of flavor?  Worth it – perfect for breakfast, which is how I served it.  I was worried either the sausage or the apricots would overwhelm the dish, but everything really married together quite well, all adding different textures.  Loverman said he would just have me crumble the sausage more finely and cut the apricots more finely, so it really is just something that needed some minor finessing for all that.  Try this out as s breakfast casserole and you’re sure to be a hit!

 

 

 


Recipe 65: Mac and Blue

I love my dad.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a daddy’s girl, but my dad just gets me – or at least, when he doesn’t, he admits he doesn’t.  We’re both nerds for history, and we love a lot of the same foods.  Most of those are foods that are bad for you, or “death on a stick,” as he calls it.

One of those foods is blue cheese.  Dad puts it on everything, either the cheese itself or the dressing.  While I don’t carry my love of the blue stuff that far, I do love a chance to highlight it whenever I can.  So when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to serve it to my dad when he came to visit.

Mac and Blue (from the Rachael Ray Show)

Ingredients

1 pound cavatappi or other short cut of spiral or hollow pasta (I used corn elbows)
3 tablespoons butter
1 large clove garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk (I used skim)
1 cup whipping cream  (I used Half and Half)
White pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon ground mustard
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
2 cups grated white cheddar cheese or Gruyère cheese (I used white cheddar)
1 1/2 cups crumbled blue cheese, such as Maytag Blue or Stilton
3 to 4 tablespoons minced chives (optional)

Directions

Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it liberally. Undercook pasta by 2 minutes, drain and reserve. Melt butter with garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Swirl garlic a minute or so to infuse the butter then discard. Sprinkle flour over the garlic butter then whisk in milk and cream. Let thicken then season sauce with salt, white pepper, mustard and nutmeg. Stir in 2/3 of the cheese to combine, reserving some of both for topping the mac. Toss in reserved pasta and chives, transfer to baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake until brown and bubbly, 30 minutes.

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Verdict: 4/5

This recipe was made for me, my dad, and my husband.  All three of us had seconds.  The only downside is that it didnt reheat terribly well, whigh might be because of the gluten-free pasta.  But this is definitely a mac I would make again.