Posts filed under ‘main dish’

Classic Mac and Cheese

There aren’t too many mac and cheese recipes that I try and actually love. I keep searching ad trying new recipes hoping that one day I will find the perfect version. When I saw this Cook’s Illustrated version I figured it was worth a shot since they never let me down. I was pleased with this version and would definitely make it again. It’s makes a very large batch and I think next time I would bake in two smaller pans and freeze one for a quick weeknight meal.

Classic Mac and Cheese
bread crumb topping (see below)
1 pound pasta shapes
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
3 1/2 cups milk (low-fat is fine)
1 pound colby jack cheese, shredded (about 4 cups)
8 oz extra-sharp cheddar, shredded (about 2 cups)
ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bring water to a boil in a large dutch oven set over high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.  Drain the pasta and leave in the colander.

Wipe the pot dry, and add the butter, and set it over medium heat until melted.  Stir in the garlic, mustard, and cayenne, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the flour, and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk, and bring to a simmer.  Whisking often, cook until large bubbles form on the surface and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses until completely melted.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir the drained pasta into the cheese sauce, breaking up any clumps, until well combined.  Pour into a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish and sprinkle with crumb topping.

Bake uncovered, until the sauce is bubbling and the crumbs are crisp, 25-35 minutes.

To store and serve later:  Wrap the dish tightly with foil, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.  To serve, bake in a 400 degree oven until the filling is hot throughout, about 40-45 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to cook until the crumbs are crisp, 15-20 minutes.

Bread Crumb Topping
4 slices white sandwich bread, quartered
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. 

Pulse the bread and butter in a food processor to coarse crumbs, about 6 pulses.  Spread the crumbs out over a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden and dry, 20-30 minutes.  Let the crumbs cool, then toss with parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated Best Make Ahead Recipes via Pink Parsley


May 20, 2011 at 10:53 am 1 comment

Creamy Taco Mac

This recipe has been floating around all over the blogosphere and for good reason – it’s really tasty! This dish is supposed to be a spin off of its pre-packaged counterpart hamburger helper. I’ve never had the hamburger helper version so I can’t compare, but this version is so good that I’d be willing to bet it blows the other out of the water. Homemade vs. store bought? I don’t even think there can be a comparison. This is also a great week night meal!

Creamy Taco Mac

1¼ lbs. ground turkey
8 oz. dry pasta shapes
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
4 tbsp taco seasoning
3 oz. cream cheese
½ cup sour cream
Salt and pepper
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Cook pasta according to the package directions.  Drain, reserving ½ cup of pasta water.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet or sauté pan, cook the ground turkey over medium-high heat until no longer pink.  A few minutes before the turkey is cooked through, add the chopped onion to the skillet.  Once the turkey is cooked through, mix in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Mix in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Stir in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream and reserved pasta water, and continue stirring until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is well blended.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer over medium-low heat 3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce a bit.  Remove from the heat and top with shredded cheddar cheese, if desired.

Source: Annie’s Eats

April 28, 2011 at 6:56 am Leave a comment

Spring Green Risotto

Why is it when flipping through cookbooks there are certain recipes that just get overlooked for one reason or another? This was definitely the case for this recipe and I’m not sure why. I have flipped through Ina’s Back To Basics book countless times and I can’t say this recipe ever really stood out to me. Maybe because there are so many other wonderful recipes waiting to be tried? Whatever the reason, I’m glad this one finally caught my eye. I knew that this would be a definite winner in my book, but I wasn’t sure about my meat-loving husband. I was pleasantly surprised when he couldn’t stop raving about this risotto and immediately asked if he could take the leftovers for lunch the next day. This will be making more appearances in our home!

On another note, this was my first time cooking risotto with homemade chicken stock. I have been making a lot of it lately and have stockpiles in the freezer (recipe to come soon!). I really think it made a more flavorful risotto (and it saves money too!).
Spring Green Risotto
5 cups chicken broth or stock
1½ tbsp. olive oil
1½ tbsp. unsalted butter
1 small onion or two shallots, minced
3 cups chopped leeks, white and green parts (about 2 leeks)
1½ cups Arborio rice (medium grain rice)
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 lb. asparagus (thin spears preferable), cut into 1-inch pieces and tough ends discarded
10 oz. frozen peas (or 1½ cups shelled fresh peas)
1 tbsp. freshly grated lemon zest
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese) 
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
3 tbsp. minced fresh chives

In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken broth or stock over medium heat until simmering.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, keeping the stock warm.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat until the butter is melted.  Add the onions or shallots and leeks to the pan and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until tender.  Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat well with the oil and butter, cooking for about 1 minute.  Add the white wine and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed.  Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more.

Meanwhile, blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water for 4-5 minutes, until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse immediately with cold water to stop cooking.  (If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes as well.)

When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, add the asparagus and peas to the risotto.  Stir in the lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.  The entire process should take about 25-30 minutes.

When the risotto is done, remove the pan from the heat.  Mix in the lemon juice, mascarpone, Parmesan and chives.  Stir until the cheeses are melted in and the risotto is creamy.  Serve immediately with additional Parmesan, if desired.

Source: Ina Garten: Back to Basics

April 26, 2011 at 4:24 am 2 comments

Weeknight Bolognese

One of my favorite meals growing up was pasta with meat sauce. My Mom would make it for me quite often and it was always a treat. I still enjoy that now, but am always looking for new variations. I absolutely love this recipe because it is quick and delicious. I was actually quite surprised by how flavorful it really was. Bonus – only 2 pots are dirtied! It definitely satisfies that pasta craving and tastes like it took a lot longer to make.

Weeknight Bolognese
1 lb lean ground sirloin
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 Tbs dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/4 cups dry red wine, divided
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
2 Tbs tomato paste
kosher salt and ground black pepper
3/4 lb dried pasta, such as shells or oricchiette
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


Add the sirloin to a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, 5-7 minutes, until the meat has started to brown and is no longer pink.  Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, and tomato paste and cook for 1 more minute, or until fragrant. 

Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits.  Add the tomatos 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper, stirring until combined.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain and pour into a large serving bowl.

As the pasta cooks, finish the sauce.  Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and remaining 1/4 cup wine.  Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened.  Add the sauce to the pasta, along with the Parmesan cheese, and toss well.  Serve hot and pass additional Parmesan at the table.

Source: Pink Parsley

April 1, 2011 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Spinach, Green Onion, and Smoked Gouda Quiche

I was quite skeptical as I was making this quiche. The dough was quite crumbly and not perfect as the original recipe stated. I was very close to scraping the whole process and starting a new dough, but I decided to go with it and see what happened. I’m glad I did because the texture of this dough was spot on. It didn’t roll out beautifully and create a perfect crust, but the taste was phenomenal. After all, that’s what is really important, right?

The combination of green onions, spinach, and gouda is delightful and a welcomed change of pace in our home. As you can see from the photo above – my toddler approves!

Spinach, Green Onion, and Smoked Gouda Quiche

For the crust:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk
heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1 cup milk
3 large eggs
4 ounces (about 1 cup) shredded smoked Gouda cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
pinch fresh grated nutmeg

for the crust

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until smooth and creamy.

In a small bowl, whisk together milk, salt and egg yolk. Add milk mixture to butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and mix just until combined. Scoop mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap and press into a 4″ circle. Cover well and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove dough from the refrigerator and unwrap. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 10″ circle. Gently transfer and fit dough into a 9″ pie plate – place into the freezer and chill for 15 minutes. Place pie plate into the oven and bake until lightly browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.

for the filling

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, cheese, salt and nutmeg. Stir in spinach mixture. Pour filling into crust – place into the oven and bake until the center has set, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Source: Culinary in the Desert

March 30, 2011 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Chicken Marsala


This is not a new recipe on the blog. In fact, it is one of the most popular and because of that I thought it deserved some updating. I recently made this dish and forgot how much I really do love it. It is better than any marsala I have ever eaten out. The complexity and depth of flavor is spot on and I can’t wait to make this again SOON.

Chicken Marsala
6 chicken thighs, bone in
1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
salt and ground black pepper
2 Tbsp oil
2 ½ oz. (about 3 slices) pancetta, cut into 1 by 1/8 in. pieces (bacon also works fine)
4 Cups sliced mushrooms
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley leaves
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 tsp tomato paste
1 ½ c. Marsala


Pat the chicken dry. Place flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow baking dish or pie plate. Dredge chicken in flour to coat shaking off the excess.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place chicken in a single layer and cook until golden brown (approximately 4 minutes per side). Remove Chicken and set aside. Return the skillet to low heat and add the pancetta. Sauté, stirring occasionally, scraping the bottom of the skillet to loosen the brown bits. Once the pancetta is browned remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to paper towels to drain. Add the mushrooms to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Saute, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms begin to brown. Add the garlic, tomato paste, and cooked pancetta and cook, stirring constantly, until the tomato paste begins to brown, about one minute. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the marsala. Return to high heat and simmer vigorously until the sauce has reduced and is slightly thickened. Add the chicken back into the pan for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking. Stir in the Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: adapted from Good Things Catered, originally from America’s test kitchen

March 21, 2011 at 6:00 am 4 comments

Greek Pasta Salad with Steak


My sweet husband cooks dinner for me every year on Valentine’s Day. It is always quite the production. First, he decides on a recipe, then he calls me to ask if we have every single ingredient listed, then he goes shopping and usually has to call me to ask where to find something, and finally he cooks. I’m never allowed to watch or even be in the kitchen. It’s always a complete surprise and he never disappoints. he actually really has a knack for picking out good recipes.

This pasta salad was really delicious. The sundried tomato pesto was a nice change of pace and the fresh herbs gave the dish a nice brightness. I even enjoyed the crunch of the sunflower kernals which I was really surprised about. Everything about this dish was great (and it’s quick too!). I’ll definitely be asking my honey to make this again.

On a side note – this was the first time we tried whole wheat pasta. I had always been afraid that I wouldn’t like it. We actually really liked it and could barely tell the difference. That is definitely one way to feel better about eating pasta.

8 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 (1 pound) beef rib eye steak
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup sun-dried tomato pesto
1/2 cup sliced black olives (he omitted)
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 teaspoon basil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons sunflower kernels

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. When cooked, drain, then toss with olive oil, and keep warm.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the rib-eye on both sides until pink in the center, 7 to 10 minutes depending on thickness. Remove steak from skillet and cut into bite-size pieces. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the skillet, and stir in the garlic and shallots. Cook 5 to 10 seconds until fragrant, then return the steak to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes or to desired doneness. Stir in the soy sauce, and cook a few seconds longer, allowing it to evaporate.

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the sun-dried tomato pesto, olives, spinach, basil, parsley, feta cheese and sunflower kernels. Toss with the pasta in a large bowl and serve.

Source: Allrecipes

March 15, 2011 at 6:30 am 1 comment

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