Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pioneer Woman's Mac and Cheese

Have you ever heard of "Pioneer Woman?" Not only do I subscribe to her blog, but she is much the buzz in the other blogs to which I subscribe. Everyone raves about Pioneer Woman. Check out her blog here.

I have been on a quest for delicious homemade macaroni and cheese, a mac and cheese like none other, one that would satisfy BAJ. This, sadly, was not it. He said that it was "not bad," to which I added, "But still mac and cheese," and he agreed.


From the peanut gallery, however, this was DELICIOUS. Perhaps the best I've made. I can't tell you that this was easy, because it involved a LOT of whisking, but it was well worth it because it was outstanding.


The rest of the peanut gallery agreed... I served it up for The Boy, who had already started feeding himself before I turned my back.

That's right. Not only did he eat it, but he also fed it to himself.

That's SOME Pig.

Anyway, here's the recipe. I went ahead and baked it, fearing the partially done pasta would not be a success. (I was unsure how long to cook this "not done" pasta, so went for half the cooking time on the box). I used rotini pasta, and added a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. I halved everything except did use a whole egg. I used Cheddar cheese as well.

Pioneer Woman’s Mac & Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

4 cups dried macaroni
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 4 tablespoons) butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 heaping teaspoons dry mustard (more if desired)
1 egg, beaten
1 pound cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt (more to taste)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
*Optional spices: cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme

Cook macaroni until very firm. Macaroni should be too firm to eat right out of the pot. Drain.
In a small bowl, beat egg.
In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly. Don’t let it burn.
Pour in milk, add mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until very thick. Reduce heat to low.
Take 1/4 cup of the sauce and slowly pour it into beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking eggs. Whisk together till smooth.
Pour egg mixture into sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth.
Add in cheese and stir to melt.
Add salts and pepper. Taste sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed! DO NOT UNDERSALT.
Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine.

Serve immediately (very creamy) or pour into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi with Green Beans

When I am meal planning, I always ask my husband if he has any requests. Typically, his response will be "I want some kind of shrimp." Some of those real home chefs might think this empty palette a wonderful thing. I am not a real home chef. I'm just someone trying to cook some "slop," as my mom always used to say. He's a "finicky," shall we say, kind of guy, so I get frustrated sometimes.

This meal was a success.

I found it in my Google Reader, and was pleased to see I had everything necessary to make... all the shrimp recipes in my magazines called for fish sauce or clam broth... what's up with that? I found it on the Sweet Savory Southern blog, which has all kinds of tasty treats. You can find the recipe

I did things a little differently... Obviously, I used spaghetti (whole grain!) instead of orzo. But, I also used olive oil instead of all that butter. I heated the oil and added the garlic (way more than a teaspoonful). I got it fragrant, and then added the shrimp, which I had seasoned with both salt and pepper. I cooked it all the way, then added the lemon juice and some more pepper. This seemed to cut down on steps, which made sense to me.

I also served what has quickly become my signature side dish. It's my take on ATK braised green beans. I heated some olive oil, and added some diced onion. I added some chicken stock and green beans, and simmered until the beans were soft (I think I did 10 minutes?), and added some Craisins into the mix about halfway (I usually add them at the beginning, but forgot)... stirred a few times while simmering.

We both enjoyed the meal as a whole, and even got The Boy to eat some pasta and some beans.

Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi
  • 1  cup  uncooked orzo (obviously I subbed spaghetti)
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 7  teaspoons  unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 1/2  pounds  peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp
  • 2  teaspoons  bottled minced garlic (I used fresh)
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
1. Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Place orzo in a medium bowl. Stir in parsley and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cover and keep warm.
2. While orzo cooks, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle shrimp with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add half of shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer shrimp to a plate. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in pan. Add remaining shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer to plate.
3. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in pan. Add garlic to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in shrimp, juice, and pepper; cook 1 minute or until shrimp are done.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I found this recipe on a website about saving some loot around the home. It came at a perfect time, since the last few times I've made pizza dough in my bread machine, it's come out funky for some reason. I can't figure out if there's something wrong with the bread machine, so a fast recipe without a bread machine is great. This is that recipe. It's pretty basic, and very fast to make.

I made a few modifications, but nothing major... I used 1 cup of whole wheat flour, and the remaining cup and a half, I used bread flour (King Arthur; I think it's whole wheat as well.) I used olive oil instead of vegetable oil, and added some hot pepper flakes, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.

This was actually my first time kneading dough. Woo!

I completely forgot the pictures, but it looked pretty!

I did find that this made more dough than was necessary for my pizza pan. Next time, I will use half the dough and freeze the rest.

I also didn't have any mozzarella in the house (woops!), and instead used shredded Monterey Jack. BAJ said it tasted different, and wouldn't say whether it was bad or good, just different. I am still fighting a cold, and couldn't really taste anything, but it tasted pretty good to me! I topped with canned mushrooms, and frozen mixed pepper slices.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Grilled Turkey and Ham Sandwiches with Tomato Soup

Posted about this one here. These are the pics.

Stir Fried Chicken and Pineapple in Sweet and Sour Sauce

From ATK, this was GOOD STUFF. I chopped my chicken a little too large in some cases, and it cooked for a little too long. I really hate getting oil so hot that it's smoking, because it's so messy and it HURTS, but I do it nonetheless. I have invested in a few aprons too.

In all, this was pretty tasty, and I'll probably make it again. I did use fresh pineapple, about half of it too (although I halved the rest of the recipe..woops, just realized!). I served with brown rice and a frozen steamed vegetable we like.

Cranberry-Orange Chicken Bake

Another secret recipe from ATK. This one was really good.. I have to make it again, as well as the other modification, Apricot Chicken Bake. I actually made the base recipe, Pineapple Chicken Bake, tonight.

Made on March 30.


Dunno WTF this was, but it looks tasty!

Cheesy Chicken and Salsa Skillet

Posted about this here, this is the pic.

Mozzarella Sticks

I posted about Mozzarella Sticks here, and this is the corresponding picture.

I think this is the Saucy One Pot Dinner?

I posted about a recipe here, and I think this is the corresponding picture.

Pan Seared Chicken with Hearty Brown Ale Sauce

This one can't be found on the internet, being ATK and all. Well, that's not completely true since I did find a hit on the Cook's Illustrated website, but am not going to pay the fee to see if it's the right recipe when I have the recipe in my book, KWIM? Anyway, this was pretty stinking good. I must say, these ATK folks do know what they're doing, and I encourage you to check out their cookbooks out, either buy purchasing or by seeing if your local library has any!

Here's the brown ale I used:

Mmm, beer. If you haven't tried Leinenkugel's, I do recommend you do.

Trying out the apeture settings on my camera. Looks good, huh?

As you can see, I served with roasted red potatoes, and some frozen vegetable side dish. We liked both the chicken and the potatoes, although the side dish has been retired. I'm not sure what I used as inspiration for my roasted potatoes, but do know that I played with it a bit... wish I remembered what I did because they came out great!

Made on March 5.

Linguine with Scallops, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts

From my Food and Wine cookbook, but you can find the recipe here!

This was somewhat dissatisfying. It was really sort of bland and flavorless. Easy, yeah, sure, but make it again good? Not so much.

Made it on April 3.
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