The original recipe calls this Macaroni and Cheese, I call it casserole. I think macaroni and cheese is just that, mac and cheese. There no veggies and it’s not baked. Casseroles are baked, as is this.
Back to start - this was soooo good. So incredibly good. Not very filling though, but so good. Would you believe that I wasn’t the one in my family who made this? Yep. My husband made it from beginning to end. When I came home, he already had it in the oven. I’m such a lucky girl!
My husband used whatever veggies we had, which happened to be broccoli, onions, and peppers. Next time, I’d love to add lots of mushrooms too. That’s the beauty about casseroles, you can add whatever you want and it’ll be a wonderfully tasting “belle melange”.
We also rarely have elbow macaroni in our house, so he used whole-wheat penne that was stashed somewhere in the back of our cupboards. Who knew that whole-wheat penne could taste this good? It didn’t taste “healthy” at all!
One thing before you run to make this - this requires cooked noodles, so give yourself extra time. This is also great when you have way too much left-over noodles, which always happens to me. Always.
It may not look pretty, but it sure is tasty.
Baked Pasta Casserole
(Original recipe from The Chef and Photographer)
1 cup low fat cottage cheese
3/4 cup low fat sour cream
1/2 cup non fat or low fat milk
2 TBS grated onion (we used chopped)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
2 cups (8 oz) grated cheese- you can use all cheddar or your favorite cheese or a combination whatever you have on hand
4 cups elbow noodles cooked (8oz uncooked)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tbs melted butter or olive oil
pinch of salt, pepper, and paprika
Pre heat the oven to 350. In a bowl mix the egg through the ground pepper until mixed. Add in the cheese and mix, then fold in the cooked noodles. Spread into a greased 2 quart casserole pan and pat down to evenly fill the pan. In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs, butter and salt, pepper, and paprika. Sprinkle over the pasta and cover the pan with foil. Bake for 30 minutes and uncover and bake another five minutes or until the bread crumbs brown.
*Feel free to add in anything you want along with the pasta. You could fold in some ham or broccoli, or maybe some roasted poblanos and use pepper jack cheese along with the cheddar cheese.
On Saturday, our friends Josh and Emily came over for an impromptu dinner. When our friends come over for dinner, we make the main course and dessert and they bring a salad or appetizers. Since this dinner wasn’t planned, after I invited them, I realized that we had no dessert. First, I thought to make brownies because we have cocoa powder and I never made brownies from scratch. Then I thought chocolate cookies. Then, while flipping through my just-arrived-that-day Martha Stewart Living magazine, I saw a recipe for oatmeal cookies. I gave Andy the option and he picked oatmeal cookies. Smack me surprised, because I was (beyond) sure that he’d pick brownies.
Right before Josh and Emily came the baby started being super fussy. The kind of fussy where if I put her down, she’ll scream bloody murder. So I put on my sling, put her in, and she promptly calmed down.
Anyways, long story short, Andy became the designated cookie-maker that night. I gave him the recipe and didn’t step into the kitchen until dinnertime. Can I just say, these cookies were incredible! I still can’t believe how much better everything tastes when it’s home-made and not store-bought. It’s really worth the time, mess, and effort to make as much as you can at home. Especially something like this.
As a sidenote, every single recipe I saw for Oatmeal Cookies required 2 sticks of butter. This was the only recipe I saw that only needed 1. I wonder if it’s because the recipe yielded less (cookies) than other recipes.
Anytime Oatmeal Cookies
(Recipe from Martha Stewart Living)
Makes about 4 dozen
- 1 cup cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 1/3 granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup golden raisins (Andy hates raisins, so he omitted this)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a bowl. Beat butter and sugars until pale and fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla, then flour mixture. Mix in oats, then raisins.
- Using a 1 1/4-inch ice cream scoop (or 1 tablespoon), drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing each scoop about 2 inches apart. Bake until edges are golden, about 14 minutes. Let cookies cool on a wire rack.
This, here, was the first real meal I made after our “little bit” was born. I bought pork chops (without the bone), roasted butternut squash (cubed, olive oil, salt and pepper), and sauteed kale. I’ve never had kale before and I can tell you, right here, right now, I’ll definitely have it again.
Ever since our “little bit” was born, as you can imagine, we haven’t had much time to cook. Nevertheless, the 2 months when I was home, I made a lot of effort to make good, delicious meals. Most of the time, though, there just wasn’t enough time during the day. You’d think, while on maternity leave, I’d be laying around, watching daytime TV. I wish! This babe of mine refused to sleep during the afternooon. Seriously. Aren’t babies supposed to sleep, poop, and eat? Well, somehow my baby didn’t get that notice.
So, 2 months after her birth (today!), I’m going to attempt to get back into the kitchen for real, with pictures and everything. A few weeks ago, I made pork chips and kale. I used to hate pork chops and anything pork related. Then I started eating bacon (yes, I lived a good 25+ years hating bacon), then honeybaked ham, then slow-roasted pork, then pulled pork, then…well you get the point. This is all thanks to my husband and some friends.
This post, however, has nothing to do with ham. It does have something to do with cooking a delicious meal in under 30 minutes. It’s cheap, it’s fast, and it’s satisfying.
Husband and I currently have an empty-ish refrigerator but we almost always have ground beef in the freezer. So, when thinking about dinner yesterday afternoon, I suggested doing something with the ground beef. I sent him a couple of recipes and then decided on Hamburger Stroganoff. I don’t think my husband was too crazy about the end result, but I absolutely loved it.
Husband changed the recipe a little bit, so that’s why the pictures below may look different from your end result. Husband didn’t use as much water, cooked the onions and mushrooms together, and didn’t add as much sour cream. Also, as you can see, our sour cream might have curdled a little. It didn’t affect the taste though. I am also a little crazy about scallions and will add them to almost any meal possible. So I sprinkled some on top of my plate.
(recipe from SimplyRecipes.com)
- 1 lb ground chuck
- Salt and pepper
- 1 yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms (can substitute button mushrooms), sliced
- 1/3 cup of dry sherry, dry white wine, or water
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley, loosely packed
- 1 1/4 cups sour cream (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika or more to taste
- 8 ounces egg noodles
1 Put a large pot of salted water (1 teaspoon salt for every quart of water) on to heat, for the pasta.
2 Heat a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in the pan and swirl it around. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan generously with salt. Working in batches as not to crowd the meat (crowding it will make it hard to brown), break up the ground beef and add it to the pan. Sprinkle the meat with salt. Do not stir the meat, as stirring will prevent browning. Once the meat is well browned on one side (a couple minutes, depending on how hot the pan), use tongs or a fork or a metal spatula to flip to the other side. Once that side is browned as well, use a slotted spoon to remove from the pan and set aside. Continue to brown the meat in batches, adding a teaspoon of butter to the pan with each batch if needed, and salting the pan and the meat, until it is all browned. Remove meat from pan. Drain excess fat from pan.
3 Lower the heat to medium. Add the onions to the pan. If you are working with very lean meat, you may not have any residual fat in the pan. If this is the case, you’ll want to add in a tablespoon of olive oil or butter to the pan. Cook the onions, scraping up the meat drippings, until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove onions from the pan (add to the meat).
4 Depending on the cooking times of your particular brand of pasta, this is likely a good time to add the pasta to the (should be now) boiling, salted water.
5 While the pasta is cooking, add a tablespoon of butter to the pan, increase the heat to medium high. Add the sliced mushrooms. Sauté until nicely browned (about 4 minutes). Add the sherry (or dry white wine or water) to the pan to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Let the sherry reduce by at least a half, then lower the heat to low.
6 Remove the pan from the heat. Mix in the sour cream and paprika until smooth. Return the pan to very low heat, and not let the sour cream boil (or it may curdle). You may add a few tablespoons of water to the mixture to thin it out a bit at any time. Stir in the lemon juice, and about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of salt (taste). Stir in the meat and onions. Stir in the chopped parsley. Add more salt, pepper, and/or paprika to taste.
7 Keep the stroganoff on warm heat until the noodles are done cooking. When the noodles are ready (al dente) drain.
Serve the stroganoff on top of egg noodles.
So I haven’t posted in much in 2 months, I was a little busy birthing and rearing this little monkey.
Easy. Healthy. So incredibly delicious. Need I say more? Did I mention that this cooks in less than 30 minutes?
Chicken with Roasted Cauliflower and Tahini Sauce
(recipe from Serious Eats)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into 2” florets
- 2 chicken legs (I used 5)
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1 large clove garlic, finely minced (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
- Smoked paprika
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 500°F. Meanwhile, mix 2 tablespoons of the oil, 2 teaspoons of the cumin, the cauliflower, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss well, and then dump onto a baking sheet, leaving one end empty.
Rub the remaining oil onto the chicken legs. Season with the rest of the cumin, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place on the open end of the baking sheet, skin side up.
Set the baking sheet in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Flip the cauliflower and the chicken legs, and return the oven. Cook for 10 more minutes. Flip everything again, and then cook for a final 5 to 10 minutes. Remove when both the cauliflower and the chicken are nicely browned.
While chicken is cooking, make the tahini sauce. Mix together the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of water in a bowl. Season with salt.
Serve the chicken and cauliflower with the tahini sauce. Sprinkle a little smoked paprika on top of everything.
Seriously, October seems to be a month of firsts. This was the first time I made pumpkin anything. Seriously. The only pumpkin anything I’ve ever eaten was Pumpkin Pie and it’s always been store bought. I don’t see myself making pumpkin pie in the near future, but this pumpkin bread can easily become a common dessert found in my house.
Whenever I make brownies from a box or any sort of baked deliciousness, I replace oil with apple sauce. Since this was a make-it-from-scratch type of a deal, I didn’t know if it would work the same way. Nevertheless, I did it and it worked! The pumpkin bread was super moist (maybe too moist?) and I had to bake it for a little longer than the recipe called for. Also, the outside wasn’t as crispy as I would’ve liked but, let me tell you, I didn’t hear any complaints.
(recipe from Baking Junkie)
1 1/2 cups sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used Apple Sauce)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 can (8oz) pumpkin
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together sugar and vegetable oil. Add eggs and pumpkin. Combine the remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to pumpkin mixture, alternating with water (starting and ending with the dry ingredients). Pour into a well greased loaf pan. Bake for approximately one hour, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Makes one loaf.
This was so incredibly easy to make. The only unfortunate thing is the amount of butter that goes in this dish. Fortunately, it make a lot of servings so I didn’t feel that bad eating a bowl (or two).
Honestly, after having made this, I don’t think I’ll ever want to have boxed mac & cheese again. Who am I kidding, of course I will!!!!
Next time, I think, I’ll experiment with other cheeses. Maybe use something more flavorful like a sharp cheddar or add Gouda instead. Any suggestions?
Quick Macaroni and Cheese
(Recipe from SimplyRecipes)
Serves 3-4 adults or 4-6 kids.
- 2 quarts water
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 lb cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups, packed)
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- 2 teaspoons flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/4 cup ham, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes (we didn’t use ham)
- Freshly grated black pepper
1 In a medium sized bowl, mix corn starch into the grated cheese, so that the cheese is coated, set aside. This will help the cheese from getting too stringy.
2 Bring 2 quarts of water with the tablespoon of salt to a boil in thick-bottomed saucepan. Add the elbow macaroni and follow the cooking time instructions on the package, minus about 2 minutes. (If your macaroni doesn’t come with instructions, start checking at 7 minutes). Cook until al dente - cooked through, but still slightly firm. Drain the water from the cooking pan.
3 While the macaroni is cooking, prepare the sauce. Melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Slowly dribble in the milk, while whisking (to avoid clumping) until the sauce is smooth. Slowly add the grated cheese, while whisking, until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice. Add the cooked, drained macaroni and ham. Do not over-mix. Sprinkle in some freshly grated black pepper.
I made this as a side dish to the beef stew. Since I’ve never made (or eaten) butternut squash, I really didn’t know what to expect. Secretly, I hoped it was as sweet as acorn squash.
As I stuck my knife in the squash I was became mildly panicked. My knife was stuck inside it. I didn’t expect it to be so super hard on the inside. So I did what I usually do when I need guidance, I turn to you-tube. There are tons of videos out there on how to prepare butternut squash, so I just picked the shortest one.
Then, as I cooked roasted the squash, I realized that I had no thyme. Of course I have every other spice known to man, but not thyme. So my friend just suggested I add rosemary instead…and that’s what I did.
Everyone was “falling over” this dish except me. I think it has to do something with the fact that I was never super crazy about vanilla. So why did I make this dish? Honestly, I have no clue. It sounded and looked good. I thought vanilla flavor would be more faint, which it was, but not faint enough for me.
My friend loved it so much, I gave her the leftovers to take home. So I think I would totally make this again, just go easier on the vanilla or maybe just add a lot more lemon juice (see recipe).
Roasted Butternut Squash with Walnuts and Vanilla
(recipe from simplyrecipes)
- 1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds, peeled, seeds removed, flesh cut into 1-inch cubes (see how to cut and peel a butternut squash)
- 3 bay leaves (if boiling the squash)
- 1 heaping cup of walnuts (can substitute pecans or pine nuts)
- 2-3 Tbsp butter
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- Black pepper to taste
1a If roasting Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat the cubed squash with a little vegetable oil and spread out onto a baking tray. Sprinkle with salt and roast until the cubes begin to brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven.
1b If boiling Put 4 cups of water into a medium-sized pot and add the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer. Add the squash to the pot. Boil, covered for 10 minutes. Drain.
2 Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and toast the walnuts. Stir frequently or they will burn. Once they they start to brown, and you can smell the aroma of toasted walnuts, remove from heat.
3 Melt the butter in the pan with the walnuts over medium-high heat. Toss the walnuts to coat with butter, then add the squash. Toss them to coat with butter.
4 Add the grated ginger, vanilla extract, black pepper, a little salt and dried thyme and toss once more. Turn off the heat and squeeze some lemon juice over everything. Taste for salt and lemon and add more to taste. If you want this to be a bit more luxurious, mix in another tablespoon of butter or two before serving.