Monday, October 22, 2012

Pinterest Macaroni & Cheese

Prep Time: Medium
Source: Pinterest (with adaptations)

You know the mac'n'cheese recipe that's been floating around Pinterest for ages—the unique characteristic being that the noodles are cooked in milk? Well, we fell in love with it last year and now make it regularly. Here's my take on it!

3 cups pasta
1 cup water
1 cup whole milk
(Or else use 2 cups 2% or skim milk)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground mustard
A shake of pepper
3/4 cups sharp(ish) cheddar cheese
1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese

In medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except cheese and stir to combine. Place saucepan over medium heat until milk just barely begins to boil, stirring frequently; once milk is showing signs of boiling, turn it down to low. Allow pasta to cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. When the milk is mostly absorbed and about the consistency of a cream sauce, test a noodle for doneness. If the noodles need more cooking time, add a little water (about 1/4 cup at a time) and allow to keep cooking until desired tenderness is reached. Stir in grated cheese, remove from heat, and cover for about 5 minutes to allow cheese time to melt. Serve immediately.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cindy's Favorite Pizza Sauce

I would have a picture of this... 
But I'm pregnant, so I just ate it all.

Prep Time: Very easy
Source: I had a few different inspirations for this sauce, but a lot of the basis came from Peter Reinhart's Crushed Tomato Pizza Sauce

If you know me at all, you probably know that I have always hated tomatoes and anything containing tomatoes—from ketchup on down. For most of my life, pizza sauce has been no exception, and I'm still not overly fond of most pizza sauces. Around high school, however, I started noticing that I actually enjoyed some kinds of pizza sauce, but not others. Over the last few years, every time I've had pizza I've tried to identify what elements about it I did or didn't like. Eventually, I had a pretty detailed list of things that I did or didn't like in a pizza sauce. (In case you wondered, it was: Savory, not sweet; fresh crushed tomatoes, not simmered-for-hours tomato sauce; simple and Neopolitan-style; and nothing that got its start in a jar of tomato sauce—turns out there's something in those basic tomato sauce cans I hate!) This summer, with fresh tomatoes from my garden, I decided to take what I learned and apply it to my own sauce recipe. This very simple sauce has since become our go-to recipe. Mahon and I can't get enough of it! It's also very easy to customize to your own taste preferences by adding sugar and other spices. We personally love the fresh-tomato taste, but if you prefer a stewed tomato sauce, feel free to simmer the sauce on low heat for an hour or two before using.

This recipe makes enough for a large pizza or two medium pizzas (unless you are like my husband and would like 1" of sauce on your pizza!), but it can easily be doubled as many times as you need. It can also be frozen and used later.

3 medium tomatoes*
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinaigrette
1 t salt
1/2 t oregano
1/8 t garlic powder
1/8 t black pepper
Parmesan or romano cheese, grated (optional)

If you'd like to remove the tomato skins—gently score a cross into the bottom of each tomato and blanch for about 60 seconds in boiling water. Skin and cut off the tomato tops. Toss in blender along with all other ingredients except cheese. Pulse on the lowest setting until tomatoes are crushed but not puréed. Pour sauce into a bowl. If desired, stir in about 1/8-1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan or romano cheese. (I'd never heard of cheese in pizza sauce before, but it turns out it's pretty common and really delicious!) Technically, you're supposed to allow the sauce to marinade for about an hour before using, but we've done it both ways without a hugely noticeable taste difference—the flavors steep together pretty well when cooking.

Although I initially tried this sauce recipe with a fancy, double-raised, all-afternoon pizza crust recipe, since then I've ended up going back to our tried-and-true favorite pizza crust recipe every time, made with 100% whole wheat flour. I always cook the pizzas for 12 minutes. This crust recipe pairs wonderfully with this sauce! (As evidenced by the fact that I just ate. My. Whole. Pizza. Granted, it was small!)

*Thus far, I've only used fresh garden tomatoes for this sauce. Once I run out, however, I plan to do some experimenting with canned tomatoes, which I'm sure will work just fine too.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Prep Time: Medium (typical for a soup)

I was shocked when I went to find my recipe on this blog earlier tonight and realized I'd never posted it! This is one of my favorite soups. I like to make it on a day when I've just made chicken stock and have a lot of hot stock ready to use! I definitely recommend springing for the "real" chicken broth for this recipe, or making your own. It's really just not the same with buillon cubes!

1/2 cup butter
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
About 1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional—we're both mushroom haters, so we leave these out)
1/2 cup flour
6 cups chicken broth
 2 cups cooked wild rice (1 cup uncooked=2 cups cooked)
1 t salt
1 t yellow curry powder
1 t ground mustard
1 t dried parsley
1/4-1/2 t black pepper
 1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
(You can also use 2 cups half-and-half, but I never have that and always have cream.)

In a large pot on medium heat, melt butter and sautee chicken and veggies for about 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add flour and stir until bubbly; add chicken broth and all spices. Allow to heat through for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it has thickened somewhat. Pour in milk and cream, cover, turn heat to medium-low and allow to very gently simmer for 30-60 minutes. The original recipe says at least 1 hour, but I'm never that patient and it always turns out fine! You don't want the soup to boil, but if it does, just give it a good stir and turn down the heat some. Mine has boiled several times and always been delicious anyway!

Freezer instructions: Add all ingredients except cream/milk/half-and-half; add those when cooking after freezing.