Monday, November 29, 2010

Emeril's Baked Macaroni and Cheese

I've been craving Mac & Cheese for days. Normally I would just make the old standard, but this recipe appealed to me because it was half the size as my recipe, it had bacon in it, and it looked creamy after baking--something Joey misses from my regular recipe.

This was a pretty quick dish to make--the most time consuming part was shredding the cheese and trying to make the bacon crispy (did not achieve this). We were very impressed with the creaminess. This recipe serves four adults as a main course. I didn't use the Parmesan the recipe called for and just increased the amount of cheddar.

3 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2lb elbow macaroni
8oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4oz Monterey Jack, grated
1/2 t salt
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t nutmeg
12 oz evaporated milk
3 small cloves garlic, minced
3 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 475
2. Heat water over high until boiling, add macaroni and cook for 6 minutes, drain, noodles will be undercooked. After draining, return noodles to pot and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan over medium. Add bacon and cook until crispy, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds more. Turn off heat and, with a slotted spoon add bacon mixture to macaroni.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Add salt, cayenne and nutmeg. Add cheese and macaroni mixture and stir well to combine.
5. Pour mixture into an 8x8 or 9x9 pan. Bake for 12 minutes until sauce is bubbly. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pacific Snapper over Spinach

Have you heard about Jessica Seinfeld? Jessica is Jerry's wife, it's true, but she is also a cook and cookbook author. I have one of her books--but while the meals are healthy, they can also be time consuming because most of them are filled with pureed vegetables. I thought it was the perfect book for cooking for Joey--a way to sneak in veggies. But I never used it because I felt bad about the sneaking part...and plus I don't have the time to peel, cut and puree all my vegetables.

Recently, Jessica published her second book. And, at the same time she taught one of her family friends how to cook. She taught her friend how to cook through a series of videos. But most importantly, she gave her friend family meal ideas that are quick, easy and healthy. The great thing about the videos is that she actually measures things showing you a healthy way to have some fats and salts too. On the food network, the chefs tell you how much to measure but then they don't do it. As a result I often don't measure things like olive oil or salt either. But I did this time, and it makes me feel better.

So today, my husband wasn't home for dinner. Normally when he isn't home for dinner, I rush out for Thai cuisine or sushi. Sometimes I just have leftovers or a chicken leg. But this time, I was going to the store anyway just before dinner, so I decided to whip up something fast, healthy and delicious. I recalled this recipe Jessica Seinfeld posted on her new website for baked halibut. My husband doesn't eat fish, so it was a perfect opportunity to try it!

I ran into a snag. The market didn't have halibut. I spoke with the fishmonger and decided on Pacific Snapper. It may come as a surprise to you, but while I LOVE sushi, I am rather uninformed on cooked fish--I never much liked fried fish and would prefer to eat fish raw--but I thought I'd try this. My dinner cost $7. It was fantastic. I followed the directions exactly from Jessica's video & website except that I cut it in half and used Pacific Snapper instead of halibut.

Next time I won't cut the spinach in half. I wanted more spinach. Next time I might try another fish. Maybe halibut. I want more of this delicious fish. Make this.

Did I mention this dish took 10 minutes from start to finish? $7. 10 minutes. Totally worth it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Toasted Ham & Cheese

Toasted Ham & Cheese should not be confused with Grilled Ham and Cheese. These two sandwiches are completely different.

While studying abroud in Austria, I discovered open-faced sandwiches. I was an amatuer cook and I was made to cook and shop for all of my meals. The thing about Austria is that the refrigerators are the size of a postage stamp so you are supposed to stop at the market daily--and cook fresh things. I shared our postage-stamp sized fridge with 2 others. Sandwiches were fast, easy, and I could try the fantastic cheeses and meats that could be found in the deli section (many of which I was unsure of the English translation).

Toasted sandwiches are fast, delicious and can be made in infinite combinations. Sometimes my sandwiches were fancy--bread rubbed with butter and garlic and then some delicious full-fat cheese and meat that you can only get abroad. And sometimes they were ridiculously simple.

This afternoon, I had a very Austria kind of day. I went hiking in the morning, had breakfast (pancakes are not as filling as I want them to be) and came home for a 2pm meeting. Around 4 I was starving. Knowing dinner wasn't going to be soon, I made myself a toasted sandwich. Last night I happened to buy a fresh loaf of Italian French Bread (this is the wider version of french bread, with a crispy crust and soft white inside). The sandwich was exactly what I needed to tie me over and it was delicious too!

Toasted Ham & Cheese
Fresh Italian or French bread (ok so you could use sandwich bread, but then you might want to reduce your cooking time)
Cheese of choice (I used colby jack)

Preheat Oven to 450
1. Slice bread to desired thickness (but thicker than sandwich bread)
2. Layer on ham and then cover the ham with slices of cheese
3. Bake on the top shelf in whatever pan you have on hand (that cake pan was out) for 5 minutes until the cheese is melted. The bread on the bottom will be slightly toasted. Eat warm.
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Friday, November 5, 2010

Product Review: Lovin' Scoopful

I've been wanting to have vanilla ice cream around the house. You never know when you need a perfect garnish for a rich dessert or a miniature ice cream sundae for that sweet treat after dinner. So I turned to the versatile vanilla as a flavor need for my freezer.

Have you been in the ice cream aisle lately? It is seriously overwhelming! There were at least 20 different vanilla ice cream options! I was torn. I didn't want to spend lots of money on the quart and I was aiming for something that was not full-fat. I considered the Dreyer's Slow Churned variety--but it was kind of expensive. I browsed the store brands but they didn't seem to have a light variety. I considered the vanilla ice cream taste test winner--Haagen Dazs 5 ingredient, but it is full-fat and tiny and expensive. So I looked on.

And I came across something new--and on sale and light--and with a cute name. Lovin' Scoopful Cozy Vanilla. This ice cream has 1/2 the fat and "fewer calories" than other ice cream flavors plus it shares 1/4 of its profits with causes like the Special Olympics.

And the flavor? Pretty good actually. I didn't notice the low-fatness of it in the taste and it had a certain creaminess that all vanillas have. If this brand were on sale again, I would buy it and I will certainly give the other flavors a try.