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Garlic-Herb Mac & Cheese

January 3, 2010 Leave a comment

I had to make several changes to this recipe.  Since it was a King Arthur Flour recipe, several of the ingredients were products that they make exclusively and therefore I had to omit.  I also did not have panko breadcrumbs, garlic oil, or Pizza seasoning, but I think the Italian Style breadcrumbs I used made up for the missing seasonings. The resulting Mac & Cheese was tasty, but was lacking in cheese flavor, most likely due to the fact that I did not have the special cheese powder the recipe called for.  I would like to get the proper ingredients and give it another go, because I think this recipe has the potential to be really kick-ass.

Garlic-Herb Mac & Cheese
(Source: King Arthur Flour)

Macaroni:
8 ounces (about 2 cups) uncooked pasta (elbows, trumpets, or ziti)
1/4 cup Signature Secrets Culinary Thickener or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (I used flour)
2 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup Vermont cheese powder (I omitted)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard powder, optional
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste

Topping:
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons garlic oil, optional (I omitted)
2 teaspoons Pizza Seasoning or rosemary and thyme (I omitted)
1 1/2 cups Japanese panko (I used Italian Style bread crumbs)

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease four 1 1/2 to 2-cup ramekins, or one 2-quart baking dish.

2) Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente (slightly firmer than you would normally eat it). Drain and rinse with cool water. Set aside.

3) In a large saucepan set over medium heat, whisk together the Signature Secrets, or flour, milk, and cheese powder. Bring to a boil.

4) Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and seasonings. Stir occasionally, until cheese is completely melted.
5) Stir the pasta into the cheese sauce. Spoon it into the baking dish(es).

6) Melt the butter and garlic oil together, then stir in the pizza seasoning and panko bread crumbs. Sprinkle a thick layer over the pasta and cheese.

7) Bake the casserole for 25 to 35 minutes, until bubbly and browned. Remove from the oven, and serve hot.

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Farwell 2009, Hello 2010

January 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, 2009 is officially behind us and it is time to start fresh with 2010!  This year for New Year’s Eve, Andrew and I had the opportunity to spend time together and with friends.

We started off the evening with a wonderful home cooked meal. Andrew wanted to make something special, so I sat back while he busied himself in the kitchen making Lamb Chops with Mint Pan Sauce and Homemade Potato Chips.  After dinner, we headed to the movie theater and saw Up in the Air. A good movie (well anything with George Clooney could be classified as a “good” movie) with not your typical happy ending, which was both refreshing and unsatisfying.

We rang in the new year with Dick Clark and some of our friends from college. Our friends, Maggie and Aaron, were in town for Christmas and we wanted the opportunity to see them again (we saw them on the 23rd for a pre-Christmas party) before they left.  We played several rounds of Mafia, a game my friend Maggie is obsessed with and I happen to enjoy a lot as well. We got home a little after one and hit the sack. I’d been up since 5am (why we met my father-in-law for breakfast at 6am on New Years Eve is beyond me), so I was completely wiped out.

Happy New Year everyone!

Lamb Chops with Mint Pan Sauce and Homemade Potato Chips

December 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Andrew wanted to have a special dinner to celebrate the new year, so he picked out this recipe from Food Network.  The lamb chops were amazing and let’s just say homemade potato chips are our new thing.

Lamb Chops with Mint Pan Sauce
(Source: Food Network)

1/3 cup apple juice
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
8 lamb loin chops, trimmed of fat (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp canola oil
1 shallot, minced
1/3 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp mint jelly
2 Tbsp minced fresh mint, divided

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine apple juice and cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside.

2. Sprinkle lamb chops with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chops and cook until browned on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn them over and transfer the pan to the oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into a chop registers 140°F for medium-rare, 6 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness. Transfer the chops to a plate and tent with foil.

3. Place the skillet over medium-high heat (take care, the handle will still be hot). Add shallot and cook, stirring constantly, until browned and softened, about 1 minute. Add broth, vinegar and jelly and bring to a boil, whisking to dissolve the jelly. Cook, whisking constantly, until the liquid has reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir the cornstarch mixture; add to the pan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and stir in half the mint along with any accumulated juices from the chops. Serve the chops topped with the sauce and the remaining mint.

Homemade Potato Chips
1 Large Idaho or Russett Potato
3 tablespoons olive, canola, or peanut oil
Spices

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Using a mandolin, slice the potatoes into a bowl and immediately toss them with the oil. Season lightly (we used sesame seeds and chili powder) and arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet.

3. Bake in the oven until golden brown — about 12-15 minutes. Season again lightly when they come out of the oven. Transfer to a rack to cool for maximum crispness.

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Mushroom Potato Lasagna

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m not going to lie. When Andrew informed me that he wanted to try this recipe he saw on an episode of Julia Child: Lessons with Master Chefs, I cringed just a little bit. I don’t do mushrooms, but I promised him I would keep an open mind and give it a try.

And you know what? This recipe was really good.

I couldn’t find the recipe anywhere, but you can watch the video from the episode by clicking this link and then selecting “Mushroom Potato Lasagna” at the bottom.

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12 Days of Cookies

December 23, 2009 Leave a comment

I took the plunge this year and participated in “12 Days of Cookies.”

Well, sort of.

I love the idea (in theory) of trying 12 new cookie recipes (that are almost guaranteed to be delicious) but, to me, Christmas isn’t Christmas without my beloved Spritz, Peanut Butter Blossoms, and all of the other goodies I grew up with.

So this year, I made 12 different cookies of my own choosing. Some were the classics I enjoy making every year, while others were new recipes I wanted to try. Some weren’t  Christmas cookies per say, but they were still yummy holiday themed treats.  Here’s a glimpse of the delectable goodies I made:

Truffles

Pfeffernussen

Holiday Cake Bon Bons

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Spritz

Mint Truffle Brownie Bites

Peppermint Bark Cookie Tartlets

Almond Bark Pretzels

Minty M&M Cookies

Peanut Butter Balls

Gingerbread Bars

Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

To say this little projects was a lot of work is an understatement, but it was a lot of fun and I feel very accomplished.  By the end of it, we literally had cookies coming out of our ears. Thankfully I threw together goody bags for all my coworkers and some of Andrew’s. By the time we brought some over to our respective family gatherings, they were almost gone which means, thankfully,  I won’t need to worry about them wreaking havoc on my girlish figure.

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Good Food, Good Wine, Good Friends

December 6, 2009 Leave a comment

When we were out in California this summer, we joined a wine club at our favorite winery, August Briggs (Andrew and I visited the winery while on our honeymoon). We had a few friends over last night to drink the bottles of wine from our first shipment from California.

The dinner menu consisted of steaks, scalloped potatoes, Caesar salad, and, of course, dessert (a Raspberry Truffle Tarte)!  I think over the course of the evening we ended up drinking 11 bottles of wine.  Needless to say, I was tipsy halfway through dinner. We had a blast and I can’t wait until we get to do it again in the spring when our next shipment comes in.

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8th Street Grill

November 22, 2009 Leave a comment

We stopped here for breakfast this morning by default.  We wanted to go to Keys Cafe but, since the Vikings were playing at home, the line was out the door with hungry fans.  We then decided to try to go to Hell’s Kitchen, but there was also a ridiculous wait.  As we were walking back to the car, we passed by 8th Street Grill, which was offering a breakfast buffet.  SInce we were both hungry and were craving breakfast food, we decided to stop.

The food was okay. Nothing special, really.  It reminded us both of the food we used to get in The Caf at St. Olaf.  Guess we’ve learned our lesson – no going down town on a Sunday morning before a Vikings game!

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