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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.