Friday, October 24, 2008

the best mac and cheese...

this recipe came from a childhood favorite. it came from the mormon cooking book.
as always, i added my own twist too.

2 1/2 c. elbow macaroni (measure before you cook it)
4 TB flour
4 TB butter
2-3 TB chopped onion
1/2 t salt
dash of pepper
2 c cream (or milk, it called for milk but i had some cream ready to expire and i tell you, it was a beautiful thing...)
2 c cubed american ( i didn't want to resort to kraft singles so i found this in my deli and i used a half pound)

topping (my addition and oh so YUMMY)
1 c panko bread crumbs (you can also use regular, panko rock tho)
3 TB butter, melted.
1/2 t basil
1/2 t oregano
2 TB parmesan cheese

cook elbow macaroni according to directions.

in a saucepan melt butter. add onions and flour. stir together until it takes a paste shape. add cream slowly whisking. let flour and butter paste incorporate with cream and add cheese last.

whisk until all incorporated.

toss cheese sauce with cooked macaroni into a 9X13 dish. mix together topping ingredients and sprinkle over top of mac and cheese.

bake at 350 for 30 minutes uncovered.

{thanks for the pretty photo martha}


i've made a lot of mac and crack (as kristy calls it) and this is hands down the best, most simple recipe. we like to eat it with a piece of ham with applesauce adorning the ham. i also doubled this recipe and froze the rest so next week when i feel lazy my kids will think i'm cool.

other entertaining ideas:
did you see jordan's post on how she served her mac and cheese? i used it and scooped out 2 individual servings and put them in some cute ramekins. they were a perfect lunch for a mom and a sick baby. and i do think this is company worthy, just so you know. i have a christmas party brewing in my head with this lovely and a beautifully dressed ham.....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Little Owls

I bought this magazine last fall because I thought these cupcakes were adorable. There are lots of other fun and festive recipe ideas in the magazine, too. If you are interested, you can purchase it here. I made these cupcakes a couple weeks ago. The cupcakes themselves weren't great, but I do love these little owls. The cupcake recipe included for these was a white cake with shredded coconut (this says spring to me...not fall) and cream cheese frosting. When I make them again, I'll probably use a spice cake or carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Anyway, here's what you need for the decorations if you want to try them.

Eyes: place two butterscotch candies for the eyes. Dip chocolate chips in a little frosting and place in the center of the butterscotch candies.

Nose: whole cashew

Feathers: slivered almonds placed around the eyes.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vegetarian Lighter Lasagna

I have been inspired by my friend Jill to try cooking more vegetarian meals. For some reason cooking vegetarian is a little intimidating to me. I think it is because I don't have many vegetarian recipes, nor have I tried too many vegetarian main dishes. I typically think pasta and soup when I think about vegetarian main dishes...but I know there are many options out there and I'm on a quest to find some good recipes to incorporate into our weekly menus. To start off, I tried a lighter lasagna recipe that Jill posted on her blog. This lasagna is delicious and simple to make. I love lasagna where you don't have to precook the noodles! What's your favorite vegetarian dish and where do you get your best vegetarian recipes? Please share your favorites...and try this recipe- you'll like it.

Lighter Lasagna, from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites
This lasagna is so rich with vegetables, herbs, and wine that you'll never miss the extra cheese and fat that we're accustomed to finding in standard recipes. Serves 6-8, preparation time 40 minutes, baking time 60-70 minutes.

2 cups cubed zucchini
1 cup cubed bell peppers
1 cup chopped tomatoes
4 cups sliced mushrooms (about 12 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dry red wine (I used chicken stock)
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
10 ounces fresh spinach, rinsed
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
1 cup grated low-fat mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 recipe Tomato Wine sauce (page 350) or 3 1/2 cups prepared tomato sauce
1 pound uncooked lasagna noodles (uncooked)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, salt, and wine in a saucepan, bring to a boil, cover, and then simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes, until all of the vegetables are tender and juicy. Stir in the basil and set aside.

Cover and cook the spinach on high heat in just the water clinging to the leaves for 3 minutes, until wilted but still bright green. Drain and chop coarsely. Combine with the cottage cheese, mozzarella, and Parmesan and set aside.

Spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce evenly on the bottom of a 3-inch deep nonreactive 8 x 12-inch baking dish. Layer with 5 or 6 noodles, 1 generous cup of undrained veggies, and 1 cup of the spinach-cheese mixture. Cover with a second layer of noodles, 1 cup of sauce, 1 heaping cup of veggies, 1 cup of the spinach-cheese mixture, and a third layer of noodles. Finally, add the rest of the veggies, the remaining spinach-cheese mixture, a fourth layer of noodles, and the rest of the sauce. Cover tightly with foil and bake until the noodles are tender, about 60 minutes. Let sit at least 10 minutes before cutting.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Baked French Toast with Apples and Caramel Sauce

Last weekend I decided to make something special for Sunday morning breakfast. We had recently been to the apple orchard and so I wanted to use up some of the apples we had picked. We decided to try this baked french toast recipe that a friend gave me a while ago. It was delicious. Now, the ingredients in this make it seem a little more like a dessert than breakfast, but it's okay to indulge every now and then. This recipe is absolutely worth the indulgence. It is really good.
Baked French Toast with Apples and Caramel Sauce
A glass baking pan will help prevent the toast from sticking. This recipe must refrigerate overnight, so work that into your planning and prep time.


1 (1 pound) loaf French bread sliced
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/3 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
4-6 apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbsp. white sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup margarine, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla


1) Cut bread into 1 1/2 inch thick slices and place in a lightly greased 9 X 13 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, beat eggs with 1 1/2 cup skim milk, 1/3 cup white sugar, and 1 Tbsp. vanilla. Pour egg mixture over bread slices. Make sure all the bread gets soaked so it doesn't leave any dry spots. The liquid left in the bottom will all be soaked up by morning.

2) Arrange apple slices on top of bread. Mix together cinnamon, nutmeg and 2 Tbsp. white sugar then sprinkle over the apples. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

3) After mixture has refrigerated overnight, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4) Bake toast in preheated oven until golden brown, about 1 hour.

5) While toast is baking, prepare caramel sauce by combining 1/2 cup white sugar, flour and melted margarine in a small sauce pan. Stir in brown sugar, 1/2 cup skim milk and 2 tsp. vanilla. Cook until thick, stirring often.

Serve French toast hot with warm caramel sauce.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Black Bean Soup with homemade breadsticks

Sorry for another soup recipe, but like Becca says, I embrace Fall too and all I want to eat during the cool, fall/winter months is yummy soup with some sort of bread! This one is one of my family favs. Not only is it good, but healthy.

Black Bean Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T. cumin
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 T. veggie oil
1 can chicken broth
3 cans black beans, undrained
1 medium jar of salsa (I used my homemade recipe because I am not a fan of store bought-recipe below)
3 T. lime juice

In a 4 qt. sauce pan, heat oil and put garlic, onion, cumin and red pepper flakes in. Then in a blender, blend 1 can black beans with 1/2 of the chicken broth and then add to the garlic and onion mix. Add the other 2 cans of black beans and broth to mix and then add salsa and lime juice.

Homemade Salsa (we all have our own salsa recipe, but I thought I would list my brother's rendition.)
This was the perfect way to use up the rest of my garden tomatoes!

5-6 tomatoes, chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2-4 jalapenos, remove seeds and finely chop
1/2 bunch cilantro
2 large limes juiced
1-2 T. olive oil
salt to taste
I am not a huge fan of chunky salsa, so what I do is chop my tomatoes and onion, then throw them in the blender to sort of puree them.

Thirty-Minute breadsticks (I know we all have our own breadstick recipe too, but I just thought I would add this one from my Pinch of Salt Lake cook book)
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 T. honey
1 1/2 C. warm water
1 tsp. salt
3-4 1/2 C. flour
1 egg, beaten

In a large mixing bowl soften yeast and honey in warm water. Add salt; blend. Add flour gradually, blending in until dough pulls away from sides of bowl and forms a ball. Divide dough into 24 pieces. Roll each piece between hands to make sticks about 10 inches long. Place crosswise on 2 large greased baking sheets. (dough can be divided into 12 pieces and placed on one pan to make thicker and softer sticks). Brush with beaten egg; sprinkle with desired seasonings (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, Parmesan cheese, salad supreme).
Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Butternut Squash Soup

Fall, I embrace you! While we don't have the summer days at the beach anymore, we now have pumpkin picking and brisk morning runs. There is something about fall breezes that makes me excited! We can't wait for school to start (even though it always starts in the hot humid August days...but, isn't it much more fun keep pretending that it starts in the fall?), we can't wait for the harvest time of apples, pears, peaches, squash and the smells of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg that accompany these foods and, admit it--we can't wait for Christmas. All the good times are ahead of us in the autumn season, and I'm totally not thinking about that January/February/March stretch. Just put that right out of my mind.

To get in the mood, I made some butternut squash soup. It was delicious--my husband said "this is perfect." um, wow, I felt like a rock star. I like this recipe, because I only needed to make one cut down the length of the squash prior to roasting. I like this because cutting up butternut squash, to me, is risky business, and I'd like to keep all of my fingers intact, thank you very much. There is quite a bit of handling in this recipe--roasting and stewing and blending. At one point, I was ladling boiling squashy liquid into my blender, half of it dripping all over everything, while Pete was pulling at my pants and yelling "MAMA! Mama, I need that" and everything was spilling all around and life seemed pretty nutso for about 15 minutes. One of these definitely would have come in handy. But, the beauty of this soup is it tastes even better a day or two later, so, today, when the boys were out playing, I sat down by myself to a beautiful bowl of homemade soup and read a magazine and felt really, really happy.

Here's the recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking:

Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large leeks, cleaned thoroughly and chopped
4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup whipping cream
chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place squash cut side down on oiled baking sheet. Bake until the squash can easily be pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. Let cool, then scoop the pulp from the squash skin and discard the skin.
  2. Melt butter in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add leeks and ginger and cook, stirring, until tender but not browned, 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in 4 cups of stock and the squash pulp. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring and breaking up the squash with a spoon, for 20 minutes. Puree until smooth. Return soup to the pot.
  4. Stir in cream, and thin with stock, a little at a time, until you reach the desired consistency of soup. Heat soup through and ladle into warmed bowls. Garnish with herbs and/or croutons.

Bagels and Schmears

I'm trying to make my breakfasts a bit more respectable. It has proven quite the challenge to break my college routine of cold cereal for days and months and years in a row. So, we're exploring many *quick* morning meals and this veggie spread just made our breakfast list!

From the November 2007 Everyday Food:

Creamy Vegetable Spread on Whole-Wheat Bagel
1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
1 medium carrot, grated or finely chopped
1 red bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), finely chopped
1 scallion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
coarse salt and pepper
small whole-wheat bagels, split and toasted for serving

In a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese, carrot, bell pepper, scallion, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Spread bagel halves with vegetable spread, and serve. (Store remaining spread in an airtight container, up to 5 days.)