Deliciously Baked Mac & Cheese

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There are times when nothing sounds better than indulging in good old fashioned comfort food; something warm & gooey (odds are fattening and therefor delicious).  Since we closed out the month of January with super foods, healthy choices and awareness of smarter eating options, we thought we deserved one day of decadence. We bring you a way to pat yourself on the back – delightfully rich macaroni and cheese.  Warm up the stove, throw some good cheese together with soft elbow pasta and thank us later for the inspiration. And feel free to invite us over for the leftovers!

This is such a comforting meal and a real crowd pleaser! You can never go wrong with this dish. You can make this and keep for several days in the fridge, which is nice when you start craving it days later!  Also the possibilities are endless when it comes to experimenting with various cheeses to use. I love to try new ones that can add a different dimension to the flavor! – Amy

A look into the process… 

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Here is the recipe… 

INGREDIENTS

2 quarts water

2 tsp salt (for water)

2 cups elbow macaroni

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 tsp pepper

1/4 cup butter

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp salt

2 cups milk

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

2 cups grated gruyere cheese

1/4 cup chopped sweet pepper (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put water in a large sauce pot, add salt and bring to boil. Add macaronis all at once and stir. Return water to a boil and then simmer until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain.

In a separate saucepan, melt butter and then remove from heat. Stir in flour, salt, pepper and dry mustard. When mixture is smooth, gradually add milk, stirring until there are no lumps of flour remaining. Return saucepan to heat and cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to boil and thickens slightly. Add green pepper, if desired, and simmer for a minute longer.

Stir 1 1/2 cups of grated cheddar cheese with the drained macaroni and milk & flour mixture and place in baking dish.  Pour extra shredded cheese on top.

Place dish in oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Remove from oven and serve. Enjoy!

 

VARIATIONS

Use shells instead of elbow pasta.

Add breadcrumbs with rosemary to the top for extra texture.

Quinoa Crusted Herb Chicken

IMG_7149_2We all know anything breaded can be detrimental to our waistline if consumed on a regular basis. Yet just because we know it is bad for us doesn’t lessen the craving.  So on our quest to find a healthy alternative, we created this little gem of an idea: quinoa crusted chicken.  Not only do you get the nutrients of our most prized superfood, but you get a crunchy exterior that also pleasantly keeps your chicken moist.  Hooray!  Guilt-free and satisfying.  Now that is something we like!

Here is a look into the process…

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This is our recipe… 

INGREDIENTS

1 cup quinoa

3-4 chicken breasts

1/4 cup flour

1 egg

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

Salt

Pepper

DIRECTIONS

Place quinoa into pot of water (roughly 3 cups) and  let boil down until all water is evaporated and quinoa fluffs up, about 15 minutes. Chop parsley and combine with 1 cup flour. In separate bowl, beat one egg and set aside.

Once quinoa is cooked, about 15 minutes, mix together parsley-flour combination with cooled quinoa. In a glass baking dish, arrange the chicken breasts after they have been coated in the egg (dip front and back). Add dash of salt to chicken, if desired.   Sprinkle quinoa herb mixture over chicken breasts making sure to cover both top and bottom. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until chicken breasts are cooked through and quinoa is crispy.

Serve. Enjoy!

Cornish Hens Two Ways

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Nothing says it’s the winter season better than cornish hens. Just think of this meal as a warm up to the enormous turkeys and hams that will be gracing dining rooms everywhere. Not only are they easy and quick to cook, they are so beautiful to present when garnished with sage and look resplendent with colorful root vegetables lingering at their side. And did we mention delicious? Oh, that too. Tender, juicy, and as easy as 1,2,3, here is our solution for the tired minds of those stuck in the kitchen this holiday. 

Oh, these little cuties. I discovered them when I accidentally mistook them for roast chickens, but happy that I did! They are the perfect size to enjoy on your own if really in the throngs of hunger, or shared with a dining counterpart if not starved. Somehow they are always perfectly juicy and great to bronze up in a pan before you roast (they fit happily between a pair of tongs).  It gives them the best, crispy exterior. Have I mentioned that I love them? – Jenet

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YEILDS

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

2 Cornish Hens

4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened the

3 tsp crumbled sage

6 twigs of sage

2 tsp thyme

Paprika

Salt

Pepper

Assorted vegetables (squash, brussell sprouts, carrots)

DIRECTIONS

In a small bowl blend together well 2 tablespoons of the butter with the sage and the salt. Loosen skin covering the breast meat on each hen by slipping your fingers between the skin and the meat. Place the butter mixture under skin and  smooth the rest by rubbing the outside on outer skin. For the other hen, place 1 Tbs butter underneath skin and sprinkle paprika over top of bird. Season both the hens with salt and pepper.

In a large heavy skillet or small flameproof roasting pan heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter over moderately high heat until the foam subsides, in it sauté the hens, breast sides up, for 2-4 minutes, or until the underside is golden brown.  Take them from pan and place them breast side up in large roasting pan. In the same skillet, use the last 1 Tbs butter with long sage leaves and cook until crisp, about 4 minutes. Drizzle butter and sage mixture over hens in roasting pan.

Take whole, cleaned vegetables and place in roasting pan. Salt and pepper to liking.

Roast in the middle of a preheated 450°F. oven, basting them with the pan juices every 10 minutes, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the fleshy part of the thigh registers 180°F. Serve and enjoy!

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

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On dreary weather days there is nothing better to warm the spirit than with a hot cup of soup. Chicken noodle may sound trite to suggest, so we bring you  this spectacularly delicious, uniquely different, and hands down the most-flavor-you-can-pack-into-a-bowl recipe you have tasted. Ever.  Simply made, it is the perfect addition to your table this holiday.

Here is the process…

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INGREDIENTS

4 Tablespoons sweet butter
2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
4 teaspoons curry powder
3 pounds butternut squash
2 green apples peeled, cored, and chopped
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup apple juice
Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Sautee onions in a large pot with butter and curry powder. Cook covered over low heat until onions are tender. About 20 minutes.

When the onions are tender, pour in the stock, add squash and apples, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer , partially covered, until squash and apples are very tender. About 20 minutes.

Puree the squash and apples until smooth. You can use an immersion blender in the cooking pot or put the solid pieces into a food processor to puree.

Once the soup is pureed, add the apple juice.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Note: You can garnish with an apple peel or sour cream. To make the soup richer, you can add 1/2-1 cup of heavy cream.

Madeleine’s Magnificent White Pizza

With the holidays continuing on their trajectory towards the New Year, the festivities abound at an endless pace until we grace into 2013.  And if you are one of the lucky ones hosting a lavish fete, you may need a signature bite to keep your guest’s appetites abated.  Look no further!  This may be one of the simplest and most decadent snacks your friends and family will be grateful to indulge in! 

My Mother-in-Law used to visit a place in the suburbs of New York, where the family had previously lived, that made a delicious white pizza. After moving back into Manhattan, it didn’t take long before everyone started craving it.  To settle the hysterics, Madeleine created this version of her own decadent pie. It is single-handedly one of the best things I have eaten in my life.  You can never just have one slice… and I have been known to eat up to 5.  And I am not a person that gives into gluttonous wants, but this I will give up two meals for.  I also love that it really doesn’t have measurements, so you can add more cheese, less cheese, less anchovies or more.  Everything is really to taste.  –  Jenet

This recipe was never given with actual amounts. Everything is done by approximation and still manages to impress every time, even with slight variations.

INGREDIENTS

Rosemary sprigs

one white onion

one head of garlic

Anchovies or anchovy paste

Pizza Dough (enough for two thin layers)

Pepper

Fresh Mozzarella

Parmesan

Olive Oil

RECIPE

Set oven to 400.

Place the pizza dough over the open side of a rectangular cooking dish and pull the dough over the sides until you can almost see through it.  Cut off excess dough along sides of pan.  Set thin dough on a flat surface and cover in olive oil, then spread anchovy paste (or smashed anchovies) combined with minced garlic all around.  Add parmesan and mozzarella.   Using the same pan you used to create the first thin layer of dough, repeat the process again with a second piece of dough.  Place the second paper thin dough on top of the first.  Add a little olive oil and cover the top with more mozzarella and parmesan. Shred onion thinly and sprinkle both onion & rosemary on top of cheese.  Add pepper. Place in oven and bake for 45 – 60 minutes or until crispy.

Enjoy.

Meal in a Mason Jar: Chili with Cornbread

Who doesn’t love fall weather? The leaves change, the air goes cool, and most importantly, it is the time of year that signals a plethora of reasons for family to get together.  Thus the need for even more inventive recipes to entertain and nourish your burgeoning broad! Take a cue from us, this warm, rich and tantalizing meal is easy to make, fabulous on your taste buds and even served spritely in a jar; neatly compact for a dynamic take on a family favorite. Leftovers welcome.

My sister passed this down to me one Christmas holiday. She is an amazing cook and always likes trying new things. This is the first time I had seen anything like this. My friends ask me to make it all the time now.  Luckily enough, it is super simple to prepare, and once done, they think I have spent hours grueling in the kitchen! – Amy

A look into the process… 

Leftovers? Another idea to snack on… 

Ready to make it yourself? Here’s how…

YIELD

Serves 8

 

INGREDIENTS

Ground Turkey or Beef

1 Green Pepper

1 Red Pepper

1 Yellow Pepper

½ Sweet Onion

One can Black Beans

One can Kidney Beans

One can White Beans

One can Corn

One can Diced Tomatoes

1 Tbs Olive Oil

 

CHILI MIX

1 Tbs Chili Powder (add more for extra spice)

2 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Garlic Powder

1 tsp Onion

1 tsp Paprika

1 tsp Salt

Pepper to taste

 

TOPPINGS

Sour Cream

Bacon pieces

Chives or green onion

Tabasco

 

CORNBREAD

Use from any box of cornmeal

 

CHILI RECIPE

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or large deep sauce pan. Brown meat with 1/2 an onion diced. When the meat starts to brown, add peppers. Cook for about 5 min until the onions and peppers are soft.

Add Chili mix, one can diced tomatoes, and some water (fill the empty can a quarter of the way full with water). Bring to a boil.

Lower the heat and add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 10-15 min.

 

FILLING THE JARS

Place jars in a Pyrex dish filled half way with water.

Fill the jars half way with chilli and 1/3 cup cornbread.

Bake at 350 until cornbread is golden brown and cooked through.

Add toppings such as chives, sour cream, bacon or any other fabulous topping that you prefer.

Mason Jars, available at Amazon.com