Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mac and Cheese

I have seen lots of recipes for homemade mac and cheese on various other food blogs. It really inspired me to make my own mac and cheese. I wanted it to be new and fun but still be a true mac and cheese and not a casserole. That is why I didn't add any veggies or meat to the dish. I felt it turned out ok, but my husband loved it and made me post the recipe. I think I would have loved it more if I had followed my own directions and didn't just "eyeball" it like I did. So, here is the recipe the way it should be.

What you will need:

Pasta (I used the new mini bowtie pasta)
Cheese (I used Cheddar, Colby Jack, Motzerella, Pepper Jack and Parmesian)
Celery Seed
Refrigerated Cressent Rolls

What you do:

The first thing you will do is make a rue. A rue is simply a mix of equal parts butter and flour cooked together to thicken sauce. You start this way to ensure that you don't have lumps of flour in your sauce. The best way to determine how much rue you will need is to decide how much liquid you will be adding. For my 9x13 casserole dish of mac and cheese I figured I would need about 3 cups of sauce. A good ratio is 1 tlbs. flour, 1 tlbs butter to 1 cup of liquid. So for this recipe I used 3 tlbs flour, 3 tlbs butter and 3 cups milk.

First, melt the butter in a pan. Let it get nice and bubbly. Add the flour all at once and stir it in with the butter. The flour and butter will turn into a clump. Let it cook for a minute and start to brown. The darker you let it get the more flavor it will give your sauce but the less thickening power it will have. Use your judgement on how long to cook depending on how thick you like your sauce.

Add the milk all at once and whisk until rue is incorporated. Let cook until starting to thicken. Add your cheese. You can use any mix of cheese and any ratio. I used the largest portion of cheddar. I used equal portions of motzerella, pepper jack and colby jack. Let your cheese melt until smooth.

Season to taste with salt, pepper, celery seed and paprika. Pour sauce over cooked pasta and stir well. Place pasta in casserole dish.

I wanted something different for a topping. Something besides breadcrumbs or cheese. I had a can of refrigerated crescent rolls in my fridge and I cut them into little squares. I sprinkled the dough squares over the top of the pasta and then sprinkled parmesian cheese over the dough.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until sauce is bubbly and the crescent rolls are golden brown.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

French Toast

One of my favorite things that have come about from me making bread every week is that we get to use the day old (or couple days old) bread to make super yummy french toast. Now, I am not claiming to have a super amazing french toast recipe. We just make the standard french toast recipe with milk, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon. But doing it with homemade, slightly dry bread makes amazing results.

One of my families favorite ways to eat french toast is to "stuff" it with cream cheese and peaches. We haven't made it like this for awhile because we will only use fresh or bottled peaches. I haven't botteled peaches since we moved from Utah, but on Saturday I am going to be botteling them again. Peaches and cream french toast here we come!

This morning I was using up the last of a loaf of bread to make french toast and I figured that some of my faithful readers must have some great recipes for french toast. Post a comment and let me know your favorite way to eat french toast. I will make them for my family and we will recognize our favorite one in its own post. I look forward to trying some super scrumptious french toast recipes.

Chocolate Bundt Cake

This is one of the most moist, gooey chocolate cakes I have ever had. I can't begin to tell you how yummy it is. I found this recipe on one of my favorite food blogs My Kitchen Cafe and instantly had to try it. I am sorry the picture isn't the greatest. Maybe someday I will buy one of those fancy cake dishes, but until then I just use a Tupperware bowl and put the cake on the lid and the bowl over the top to keep it from drying out. That is the lovely green bottom you see in the picture. I know I will be making this cake again so, I will try to get a more fabulous picture up soon. Until then, make this recipe for yourself and see how happy you will be when you are done, and how much more you will weigh... but we won't think about that part now will we?

What you will need:

1 devils food cake mix
1 4-serving instant chocolate pudding mix
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

What you do:

Place all ingredients except chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Stir down sides. Continue to mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Cool 20 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack. Dust with powdered sugar after completely cooled. Store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chicken Spaghetti

A few weeks ago I first heard about chicken spaghetti. My friend and I were at the pool letting our kids play and we were discussing what to have for dinner. She said Chicken Spaghetti and I said "what?" I had never heard of it. She gave a brief description and then we continued on in our conversation. Then a couple days ago, I found a recipe on The Pioneer Woman Cooks blog for chicken spaghetti. It seemed was similar to the one my friend told me she made. I decided that it was time that I tried my hand at chicken spaghetti. This is what I came up with.

Oh, and in case you are like me and have never heard of it, chicken spaghetti is nothing more than a casserole. It isn't spaghetti with chicken instead of beef like I had originally thought. I will have to say it ranks pretty high in the comfort food department. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

What you will need:

1 16 oz. package angel hair pasta
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans chicken broth
1 cup milk
2-3 small tomatoes cut into chunks
3-4 celery ribs cut into small pieces
1 onion chopped
1/2 rotisserie chicken taken from bone and chopped into bite sized pieces
Cheddar Cheese (1-2 cups depending on how cheesy you like it)
1 sleeve buttery crackers
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
4 tlbs. butter
Black Pepper
Lowery's Seasoning Salt
Cayenne Pepper

What you do:

Cook the spaghetti in the two cans of chicken broth plus enough water to fill the pot. Cut up the celery, onion and tomato. Mix celery, onion, tomato, cream of chicken soup, rotisserie chicken, cheese and milk together in large bowl. Add spaghetti when cooked to just before aldente. You want it with a good bite because you will continue to cook it in the oven. Season with seasoning salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. You can leave out the cayenne if you don't like your food with a little spice. You will want to taste the sauce to see how much seasonings you like.

If I had to guess I would say that I used about 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 tsp. seasoning salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper. I may have used a little more than that, but that is a good place to start from.

After seasonings are all stirred in, put in a 9x13 baking dish. Crush crackers in a bowl and add Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over top of casserole. Cut the 4 tlbs. butter into small pieces and dot around top of crackers.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melty, sauce is hot and cracker crumbs are golden brown.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Homemade Flour Tortillas

I know I don't look it, but I am actually 1/4 mexican. My grandpa was the real tamale :). That being the case, mexican food has always been part of my diet. I LOVE mexican food. One time when we were at my dad's aunts house, I asked if I could learn how to make flour tortillas. Flour tortillas were at every extended family function that included food. These ladies were PROS! They could whip out perfectly round tortillas so fast your head would spin. I claim no such expertise. I do, however, remember a few tips that I will share with you. First the recipe.

What you will need:

4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 tlbs. shortening
1 1/2 cups hot water

What you do:

Mix all dry ingredients together with a whisk. Add shortening by pinching it into the flour with your fingertips. Add hot water and mix until a dough forms. Again, use your hands. Let stand about 10 minutes. Pinch off small balls and set them around a space on the table with flour laid out for rolling. Let the balls of dough sit for another 10 minutes. Roll the tortillas flat and round. Cook on a very hot dry fry pan until brown spots appear. Turn over and cook other side. Keep tortillas wrapped in dish towel to keep warm.


1. Don't use too much flour for rolling out the dough or tortillas will become too dry.
2. To get rounder tortillas, start with a round ball, press flat and roll. Turn dough 1/4 turn and roll again. Keep turning dough to keep the tortilla looking round.
3. The best rolling pin to use is actually a 1" wooden dowel cut to about 8" long. You can then keep the pressure in the middle of the dowel instead of the edges and you will get a more even tortilla
4. Thick homemade tortillas are the best. You will be tempted to leave the dough thick when rolling. Don't do this. Even at the thinnest you can roll it out, it will still be thicker than store bought. If you leave your dough too thick, you will be eating flatbread instead of tortillas.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Grilled Veggie Pizza

I got this recipe from savingdinner.com when I was a subscriber. I have changed up the veggies to fit my taste but I think I do the sauce pretty much the same. Really this concept can be played with and you can jazz it up however you like. Here is how I do it.

What you will need:

1 recipe for pizza crust (recipe to follow)
1 tlbs. olive oil
1 tlbs. balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp. dried rosemary leaves
salt and pepper to taste

1 onion cut into wedges
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 jar artichoke hearts in water or brine
1 fresh tomato, cut in large chunks

mozzarella cheese, grated

You can use any pizza crust recipe. I have found the one from saving dinner to be simple and just as good as any other I have used. Here is that recipe.

3/4 cup warm water
1 tlbs olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp yeast

What you do:

To make crust: Mix all ingredients together to make a soft dough. Try to not use too much flour, especially when rolling the dough or it will be dry and tough and have a floury taste. Break dough into small balls and roll into circles. Layer dough on a pan with parchment paper separating each disk.

To make topping. Saute all veggies in a pan. If you have a grill pan, use it to saute the veggies on the grill, otherwise just saute them indoors over your stove. In a large bowl mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper with a whisk. Add sauteed veggies and mix to coat evenly.

Spray your grill with a nonstick spray. Get the grill nice and hot. Place one disk of pizza dough on grill. Add a scoop of sauteed veggies on dough. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Repeat with other disks of dough until you have filled the grill. Put the lid down and let the heat get the cheese melty. Rotate the dough a quarter turn half way through the grilling. This process happens quick! Make sure you watch it so you don't burn your crust.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Grandma Thorn's Basic White Bread

My grandma made bread every week. I never thought much of it growing up because it is just what she did. I loved to eat it hot out of the oven. She always gave my dad a loaf who also loved her bread. Once I got old enough to appreciate the difference between homemade and store bought bread I asked my grandma if she would teach me how to make her bread the next time she made it. Unfortunately she passed away before she ever made bread again. For years I have wished that I was able to learn from my grandma the art of her bread. She had made it for so long that the recipe wasn't written down. Every reunion and family gathering I would ask around for the recipe and nobody ever had it. Then, a few years ago I was talking to my aunt and longing for that recipe and she said "I've got it." I couldn't believe my ears! She sent me the recipe as soon as she got home. Problem was, she only sent me the ingredients. I am such a novice when it comes to making bread and I didn't even know how many times to let it rise! I set out to figure it out. This is my 3rd batch and I feel it turned out pretty darn good. My husband doesn't like a dark crust so this crust isn't as dark and chewy as my grandma's but it is pretty darn close.

What you will need:

4 1/2 tsp. yeast
1 tlbs salt
4 tlbs sugar
1/4 cup oil
3 cups hot water
Enough flour to make a soft dough

What you do:

Mix the water, yeast and sugar and let sit for a minute or so. Add the salt, oil and a couple cups flour. Let sit for 10-20 minutes or overnight in the fridge. Add the rest of the flour to make a soft do that won't stick to your hands. Don't add too much flour. Kneed in a mixer for about 5 minutes or by hand for about 15 minutes. Make sure you kneed it well to get the best bread quality. Add about a tablespoon of oil in the bottom of a large bowl. Put kneeded dough in the bowl on the oil then turn dough over. The oil helps to keep the dough from drying out. Let rise until double in a warm spot covered with a clean dish towel. After the first rise, punch down and let rise again until double. After the second rise roll the dough out and get rid of all the air bubbles. Shape into 3 loafs and put in loaf pans. Let rise again until almost double. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven until crust is deep brown, about 40 minutes. Turn out of loaf pans immediately and let cool on a cooling rack. Let cool at least 20 minutes before cutting or the bread will squish and basically be ruined.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Grandma Thorn's Cinnamon Rolls

Growing up I ate lots of yummy baked goods made by my Grandma Thorn. I always took them for granted because I had never had yucky baked goods. Now that my grandma has passed and I don't live by my aunt who inherited the great baking gene from her mom, I miss the yummy goodness that I grew up with. After trying multiple recipes for cinnamon rolls and hating all of them, I had almost given up making cinnamon rolls thinking that I just didn't have the knack for it. Then, last week I was making my grandma's bread recipe and was really getting caught up in nostalgia and remembered that my grandma made great cinnamon rolls. Then I remembered that my aunt made those same great cinnamon rolls, so I called her for the recipe. It ended up being easier than I thought it would be and they turned out so good. Next time I will cook them a little less time because my husband said he liked his a little gooier. One thing I learned when talking to my aunt is that there are two basic kinds of cinnamon roll recipes out there. One is with a regular bread dough and one is with a sweet bread dough. I realized that all the recipes that I had tried and they just didn't taste sweet enough for me were made with regular bread dough and my grandma's is with a sweet bread dough. So, without further adieu here is the recipe.

What you will need:

1/4 cup warm water
2 tsp. yeast
1 cup milk
1/4 cup shortening
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
enough flour to make a soft dough

Here is what you do:

Mix the warm water and yeast in a small bowl and set aside. Scald the milk and shortening in a saucepan. In the main bowl you will mix in, mix the eggs, sugar and salt. Add the milk, then add about 2 cups of flour. Add the yeast, water mixture. Continue to add flour until a soft dough forms.

Let the dough raise in a lightly coverd bowl until double in size. Roll the dough into a rectangle. Add melted butter to cover the entire rectangle of dough. Next sprinkle cinnamon over the dough and also sugar. I used brown sugar for extra goodness. I also put a thin coating of butter on the bottome of my 9x13 pan.

Roll the dough width wise making sure to keep the dough tightly rolled. Slice the dough into slices as thick as you would like. I got 12 rolls out of this recipe and they were big rolls!

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Glaze with your favorite icing. I tried a cream cheese icing and my family gave it two thumbs down. Next time I will use just the standard powdered sugar icing.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Blog Updates Comming Soon

I have been doing some research on food blogs and have realized that there is a whole world out there that is very popular and new to me. It has made me want to revamp how my food blog looks and the way I do it. I have been taking photos of all my cooking and am diligently working on a new look for my blog. Please be patient and I will return shortly with lots more yummy food!