Where to find me...

If you have been visiting, you will notice my lack of posts. I have only been writing on my other site, Imperfect Polish, as time has gotten away from me these days.  Recipes can be found there and I promise they are worth the extra click.



Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

I have tried a lot of macaroni and cheese recipes. They all pretty much taste amazing, but did not have that creaminess that I crave. Really you can only get it from Velveeta, which I refuse to use. Although secretly want to. This recipe is the closest to that uber creaminess I have found and it also allows you to make it ahead. Which is also tricky for mac and cheese. This is not a fancy version, or something that will be the highlight of your elegant dinner party. This is simply delicious, easy recipe that you are going to love.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
Forks & Amusement 2012
serves 8

You can serve this in one large greased casserole dish or individual greased ramekins.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, divided, plus some for greasing the dish
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups bread crumbs, I like panko
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup flour
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cayenne pepper (more if you like more spice)
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
8 oz sharp cheddar grated
8 oz fontina grated
1 lb pasta like elbows, fusilli, shells

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. melt 2 tablespoons of the butter, add it, along with the olive oil, to the breadcrumbs and stir well.

2. Cook pasta in salted, boiling water 3 minutes less than recommended. You do not want it cooked all the way through. Drain, rinse with cold water to stop cooking and set aside.

3. Combine milk, half and half, and sour cream in a bowl. Season a bit with salt and pepper. Set aside.

4. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons of butter in a large pot or high sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, quickly add flour. Whisk well until all the lumps are gone and then cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes.

5. While whisking, slowly pour milk mixture into roux. Add the bay leaves. Continue cooking, stirring and scraping the sides frequently, until thickened, about 15-20 minutes. If it seems that the bottom is burning, turn down the heat.

6. Remove pot from heat and take out the bay leaves. Stir in all the spices and the cheese and combine well. Taste to adjust seasoning. Stir in pasta.

7. Pour mixture into prepared dish(es). Sprinkle with the bread crumbs. **If making ahead, cover and refrigerate to be baked later, up to three days.

8. Bake at 375 degrees until browned on top and bubbling, about 30-40 minutes. Let cool a bit before serving.



Herbed Cheese, Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Chicken

Another year, another way to make chicken. I wish I had some culinary super break through to share, but really I am just trying to come up with ways to enjoy dinner at home. This chicken could have turned out to be something very forgettable, much like most of the attempts to make a quick chicken dinner at home. But, I was surprised at how flavorful and delicious this was. It was put together from a few recipes I read and I loved the flavor combination of the garlic-y melted cheese, the rich tomatoes and the crunchy crust of chicken skin. With a new year comes even more opportunities for greatness in the kitchen. And although this is a pretty simple one, you can never substitute for good taste.

Herbed Cheese, Sun Dried Tomato, and Basil Chicken
Forks & Amusement 2012
Serves 4

4 boneless chicken breasts, skin still on (I bought the breasts on the bone and just cut them off myself or ask your butcher to do it)
8-10 oz herbed soft cheese, such as Boursin
1 cup sun dried tomatoes (use the jarred in oil kind), drained and patted dry
16 basil leaves
salt  & pepper
olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place chicken breasts on a oven safe baking sheet. Gently pull up the skin and using your fingers, make a pocket between the skin and the breast meat. Fill each pocket with a quarter of the cheese, tomatoes and basil. Pull skin over the filling tightly. Brush entire breasts with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until cooked through. Serve warm and piping hot.

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