Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Noodles and Company Mac n Cheese

There's something about Noodles and Company's mac n cheese. It's so simple, yet so tasty. My go to comfort food. I decided I had to try it at home, it is cheaper and I am on a budget! This is probably one of the easiest meals I have ever made..okay my husband has ever made, but still very easy! Boil the noodles, make the roux, add the cheese, then add to the noodles and you have dinner! I usually get parmesean crusted chicken and a roll with my dinner so next time I think I'll add on the chicken and make some naan. Mmm :)

Wisconsin Mac n Cheese
1/2 lb macaroni noodles
1/8c butter
1/8c flour
1 1/2c milk
salt to taste
1 1/2c shredded monterey jack or shredded cheddar (I used a combination of both)

Cook macaroni noodles and drain. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add flour and whisk to make a roux. Whisk in milk and let thicken slightly. Add salt to taste. Add cheese to milk mixture and stir until melted. Pour over noodles, and top with cheese and pepper.The sauce should not overwhelm the pasta so be careful not to add too much. Enjoy!

Linking to: Look what I made!- Creations by Kara

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner

The holidays are here! My husband and I always have a busy Thanksgiving. I'm dedicating this post to my Mother who made the best Thanksgiving dinner my husband and I have had. It was incredible!! I'll be thinking about it for weeks and craving it for weeks. I convinced my Mom last year to brine her turkey and it turned out amazing. This year she did the same but added a few more ingredients to the brine..oh how it helped! It was the most beautiful turkey I have ever seen! She also decided to make homemade green bean casserole this year from Annie's Eats. I must say I didn't think I was going to like it, but it was incredible! Mmm, mmm, mmm. We started the evening out with butternut squash and carrot soup. Also didn't think I would like this, but I did. It was sweet, with a hint of spice.  I also love my step dad's gravy, he makes it from the pan drippings which I think is the way to go! They left the skin on the mashed potatoes and they were the best potatoes and gravy :) I hope you're getting the point that everything was amazing. My mom also decided to make some sweet potato and marshmallow biscuits from smitten kitchen. They were good, but most of the marshmallows oozed out. She's going to attempt them a different way next time and I'm happy because I'd like to keep having them! The carrots were very delicious too, I just now realized I didn't bring any home in my leftovers container. Bummer! She braised the carrots and they were so good. I'll have to cook with her one year so I can one day make the same memories for my kids and family. She is becoming quite the chef! Love you Mom! You can visit my Mom's blog here
For dessert I made world peace cookies, they were a huge hit! Also made some pumpkin fudge brownies, very rich, but also tasty!

Jennifer's Butternut squash and Carrot soup
3 cups peeled, diced butternut squash (about 1 small squash)
2 cups thinly sliced carrot (4 medium)
3/4 cup thinly sliced leek or chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2 14-ounce cans reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup light cream


1. In a large covered saucepan cook squash, carrot, and leek in hot butter over medium heat about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 25 to 35 minutes or until vegetables are very tender. Cool slightly.
2. Place one-third of the squash mixture in a food processor or blender. Cover and process or blend until almost smooth. Repeat with remaining squash mixture. Return all of mixture to saucepan. Add white pepper and nutmeg; bring just to boiling. Add half-and-half; heat through. If desired, garnish each serving with croutons.
Makes 6 servings (6 cups)
Nutrition Facts
Calories 82, Protein(gm) 3, Carbohydrate(gm) 12, Fat total(gm) 3, Cholesterol(mg) 9, Saturated fat(gm) 2, Monosaturated fat(gm) 1, Dietary Fiber(gm) 2.

 Isn't it beautiful? And you can't forget the homemade croutons. I love the china too!

The Best Green Bean Casserole (from scratch)
Yield: 6-8 servings
For the casserole:
1¼ lbs. green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
10 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp. minced shallots
3 tbsp. flour
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup chicken broth
2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the topping:
Canola oil, for frying
2-3 shallots, sliced thinly
Flour, for dredging
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Lightly grease a 2-quart casserole dish.  Add the green beans to a large sauté pan and cover with a few inches of water.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and let cook until fork tender, about 4-6 minutes.  Transfer to a colander and rinse with cold water.  Return the pan to the heat and melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms to the pan and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release most of their liquid, about 5 minutes.  Add the shallots to the pan and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more.  Stir in the flour and cook briefly, about 1 minute.  Stir in the half-and-half, broth, and soy sauce.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes more.  Stir in the drained green beans, season with salt and pepper to taste, and transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish.  (At this point, the casserole can be covered and refrigerated.)  Bake for 20 minutes, until browned and bubbling (30 minutes if it has been refrigerated).
To make the topping, add some canola oil to a small saucepan to about 1-2 inches deep.  Heat the oil to 350˚ F.  While the oil is heating, dredge the sliced shallots in the flour, shaking off the excess.  Add to the pan with the hot oil and fry until the shallots are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.
Sprinkle the fried shallots over the warm casserole.  Serve immediately.
Source: barely adapted from Williams Sonoma

 Just look at how amazing this looks. I wish I had a plate of it right now!

My Mom even made the table pretty, as she always does. The plates have to match, the silverware, the glasses. Everything needs to match. Some people think it's crazy, I know I used to, but now I get it. :)

 Love the burlap, which she reused from my wedding. I love the pumpkins and candles too!
And how can you not love the cute burlap chalkboards? Which are also reused from my wedding. :)

Mom cooing in the kitchen! Braised carrots are in the works and she's frying up some shallots for the green bean casserole!

Zoe (my adorable niece!) enjoying some butternut soup, she loved it!

 Mmm, world peace cookies! Hands down the best cookies you'll ever get your hands on. Sweet and salty. Everyone loves them. Except for my husband of course, who doesn't like salty/sweet very much. Oh, well more for me!!

 Okay, so I know these don't look very pretty but they're pretty amazing! :)
 The best pumpkin pie, and it's not from a can!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Italian sausage with peppers and tomatoes

My husband and I were having a hard time deciding on what to make for dinner this week. We went through our recipe box and pulled out the recipe his cousin Carol gave to us on the day of my bridal shower. We decided to give it a go. I bought some turkey sausage for myself, because I'm not a huge fan of Italian sausage, while my husband is so he bought Italian. Needless to say my sausage was super tasty! I'm sure many of you have had this meal before, it's so simple, yet very tasty! Thanks Carol! We only made minor changes to this dish.  This dish is also so versatile, you can do anything with it. I should also probably start giving my husband more credit, seeing as he's been doing a lot of the cooking lately. Thanks babe!

Italian sausage and peppers
1 tbsp olive oil
4 sweet Italian sausage links sliced
14oz can diced tomatoes or fresh
salt and pepper to taste
10oz frozen spinach (thawed, squeezed dry) I would just use fresh! Nothing beats fresh
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
Angel hair pasta or rice
Fingerling or baby red potatoes, diced
Parmesean cheese

I think next time we make this we will add the rice and a little bit of chicken stock! In a large saucepan heat 1 tbsp of olive oil. Slice 4 sweet Italian sausages and add to skillet. Brown them and drain. Add one 14oz can diced tomatoes (or fresh) with their juice. Add salt, pepper and a pinch of sage. Cook about 10 minutes. Stir in a 10oz package of frozen chopped spinach. We omitted this part, I'm not a huge fan of frozen spinach, you may also use fresh, but my husband doesn't like it at all. Maybe one day I can convince him to love it...probably not! Stir in sliced bell peppers and potatoes. Cook about 5 minutes. Serve over rice or pasta and sprinkle with Parmesean cheese. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Spicy Peanut Noodles with Veggies and Chicken

I had to blog about this right away that's how good it was. I stumbled upon this recipe the other day and it sounded delish, and the photos looked bright and fresh. I had to convince my husband that we should have it as one of our meals for the week. Normally he's not into things with peanut butter in them. Somehow he was up for it and I'm glad because we both loved it. Pretty rare in our household. It's either he loves it, and I'm not so fond or vice versa. I said, "See! It's not so bad." We both agreed that the the vegetables gave it a nice crunch. This dish is so versatile. It can be served cold or warm, you can add or remove different vegetables, you could even take the chicken out and have it as a vegetarian dish. I hope everyone enjoys this just as much as we did. Once all the prep work is done it's a pretty simple dish to make!

5 tblsp soy sauce
2 tblsp water
2 tblsp natural or organic peanut butter
2 tblsp sesame oil
1 tblsp rice wine vinegar
1 tblsp fresh minced ginger
1/2 tblsp honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp sugar
1 serrano chile, seeds and ribs removed
1/3 cup peanuts

1 cup julienne red and yellow bell pepper
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shredded zucchini, squeezed in a paper towel to remove moisture
1/2 cup finely chopped broccoli
1 cup shredded chicken
8oz cooked soba noodles
3 tblsp minced fresh basil
3 tblsp minced fresh cilantro
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Source: Slightly adapted from  Pink Parsley: Spicy Peanut Noodles

For the dressing, combine all the ingredients, except peanuts in a food processor and process until smooth.  Add the peanuts, and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped.  Season with salt or crushed red pepper flakes to taste. In large bowl, combine all ingredients for salad. Pour dressing over top and toss to combine. You can either eat this room temp or cold, I had it for dinner so I heated it up with some peanut oil and sauteed for a few minutes. Top with cilantro and basil and enjoy!

Linking to: Show and share 16

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

I haven't had chicken pot pie in quite some time. I was really craving something comforting and warm, and decided to try a chicken pot pie recipe. This recipe was a little time consuming but it's well worth it. One of the best pot pies I've had. We used our new corningware from Aunt Pat to make this. How delightful!

Chicken Pot Pie

3 cups all purpose flour plus more for dusting and rolling
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter cut into pieces
1/4 cup vegetable shortening

2 cups peeled, coarsely chopped carrots
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 leek, coarsely chopped
1 3lb whole chicken
4 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
6 sprigs thyme
1 cup dry white wine
1 tblsp kosher salt
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tblsp tomato paste

2 tblsp dried chanterelle or shiitake mushrooms
1 cup 1/2" slices peeled carrots
1 cup fresh or frozen thawed peas
1 cup purple pearl onions
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup all purpose flour
6 fresh sage leaves
4 thyme sprigs
2 sprigs rosemary
1 cup button mushrooms
1 cup 1/4" round fingerling potatoes
1 egg, beaten to blend

For crust
Mix flour, salt and baking powder in a food processor. Add chilled, cubed butter and shortening and process until mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea size lumps. With the machine running add 1/2 cup ice water and process, adding more water if dough seems dry, until dough forms. Form dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

My new food processor! I love it :)
Line a baking sheet with parchment, place chilled dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll dough out to a 12x9" rectangle, about 1/4" thick. Place on the prepared sheet and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Chill. This can be made 6 hours ahead. Keep chilled.

For Chicken
Preheat oven to 400. Place carrots, leek, and onion on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a large pot or dutch oven fitted with a lid. Add chicken, breast side down, celery, thyme sprigs, wine, salt, and peppercorns to the pot. Add 8 cups of water or more to cover chicken and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat, cover and poach chicken until cooked through, about 35 minutes.

Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool. Reserve broth. Shred meat and discard the skin and bones. Set a large strainer over another pot. Strain broth into the clean pot. Stir in tomato paste. Return to medium heat and simmer, uncovered, until reduced to 5 cups, about 40 minutes. Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill uncovered until cool. Cover broth and chicken separately, keep chilled, rewarm before continuing.

For filling
Place dried chanterelles in a small bowl and cover with 1 cup of hot water. Let steep for 10 minutes and set aside. Reserve soaking liquid. Cook carrots in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer carrots to a medium bowl. Add peas to saucepan, cook for 1 minute, transfer to bowl with carrots. Add onions to saucepan and saute, transfer to bowl with carrots.

In a large heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Whisk in herbs and warm chicken broth. Using slotted spoon, transfer chanterelle mushrooms, and potatoes. Bring to a simmer. Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill uncovered until cool. Cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before continuing.

Preheat oven to 400. Spoon filling into desired container. This recipe feeds 6 people so I used smaller dishes and reserved the rest for next time! Top dish with pastry, pinching edges to seal. If not using a pie bird cut a small x into the top of pastry for steam to vent. Brush pastry with beaten egg, and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper if desired. Place pot pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Enjoy!

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