Saturday, March 22, 2008

Macaroni & Cheese....

This is Marc and I's absolutely favourite Mac n' Cheese recipe! It took a bit of tweaking and now the recipe is PERFECT!

First of all, we skip the homemade bread crumb step altogether - to save time and also for convenience. Instead I use store-bought Italian flavoured bread crumbs and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. We use 2 tsp of dried mustard powder because we found that the amount called for was not enough. As for the cheese, we use an extra cup of cheddar cheese for a total of 3 cups. After a bit of trial and error we discovered that the best cheddar to use was an aged (minimum 2 years) extra strong kind. For the other 2 cups, we love gruyere.

Super yummy and super easy!

Classic Macaroni and Cheese
The New Best Recipe - Cook's Illustrated

It's crucial to cook the pasta until tender--just past the "al dente" stage. In fact, overcooking is better than undercooking the pasta. Whole, low-fat, and skim milk all work well in this recipe. The recipe can be halved and baked in an 8-inch-square, broilersafe baking dish. If desired, offer celery salt or hot sauce (such as Tabasco) for sprinkling at the table.

Serves 6 to 8, or 10 to 12 as a side

Bread Crumb Topping
6 slices white sandwich bread (good-quality, about 6 ounces), torn into rough pieces
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into 6 pieces

Pasta and Cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon table salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
5 cups milk
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese , shredded (2 cups)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , shredded (2 cups)
1 teaspoon table salt

1. For the bread crumbs: Pulse bread and butter in food processor until crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch, ten to fifteen 1-second pulses. Set aside.

2. For the pasta and cheese: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and set aside in colander.

3. In now-empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne (if using) and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are fully melted. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.

4. Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 9-by 13-inch baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning. Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Grilled Portobello Burgers.....

This was a great base recipe! I think my hubby was skeptical at first and wondering how a mushroom could replace meat but to my surprise he loved it...I did too!

I used Boursin Garlic & Herb cheese instead of cheddar and left out the mustard, ketchup, and pickles. It was delish!!! I can imagine how much better these would be on the BBQ this summer!

Grilled Portobello Burgers

Portobello mushrooms' large size and substantial texture make them a natural choice for a vegetarian "burger." These are quick and supereasy to prepare.

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons honey mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 large portobello mushroom caps
1 red bell pepper, cut into 4 wedges
Cooking spray
4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices onion
8 (1/2-ounce) slices reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
4 (1 1/2-ounce) hamburger buns
4 Bibb lettuce leaves
8 sandwich-cut bread-and-butter pickles


Prepare grill.
Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl; brush both sides of mushroom caps with sauce mixture.

Place bell pepper on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill for 10 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel. Place mushroom caps, top sides down, and onion on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until tender. Place 2 cheese slices on top of each mushroom cap; cover and grill 1 minute or until cheese melts.

Spread 1 tablespoon ketchup and 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard over top half of each bun. Place mushroom caps on bottom halves of hamburger buns. Separate onion into rings; arrange onion slices evenly over mushrooms. Top each serving with 1 lettuce leaf, 2 pickles, and top half of bun.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 burger)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 283(27% from fat); FAT 8.4g (sat 4.6g,mono 2.1g,poly 1.3g); PROTEIN 14.4g; CHOLESTEROL 20mg; CALCIUM 299mg; SODIUM 995mg; FIBER 3.2g; IRON 2.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 37.7g

Cooking Light, AUGUST 2006

Saturday, March 08, 2008


Pregnancy brings weird cravings and this is definitely one of them...I haven't had a craving for quiche in years!!! I went to the Cooking Light message boards for inspiration and a member by the name of Heavy Hedonist was kind enough to suggest this winner!

The formula is simple:
1 pie shell, unbaked
1/2 -1 cup grated cheese
1 cup sauteed veggies or 1/2 cup each chopped meat and vegetables
A ratio of 1 cup milk/half-n-half to 3 eggs or 1 1/2 cup to 4 eggs
Salt, pepper and/or a dash of nutmeg
Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes

I used:
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sauteed mushrooms
1/2 cup cooked/chopped chicken bacon
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
1/4 tsp pepper
Baked at 350 for 50 minutes

Super Yummy!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Carrot Cupcakes with Mascarpone Icing...

What do you do when you have leftover mascarpone cheese - you make cupcakes!!! I made these yesterday! Yummy! The icing is lick-the-beaters good and the cupcakes are delish! Only change I made is I added a bit more mascarpone cheese for the icing since I found the icing a bit too sweet with only 4 oz.

Carrot Cupcakes with Mascarpone Icing
Nutritionists have long known that yellow and orange fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which the body converts into essential vitamin A, but only recently have the full benefits of this color group of produce come to light. Orange fruits and vegetables taste bright and zesty, and they help keep us healthy in many ways throughout the year. In this recipe, carrots help make these cupcakes moist and sweet.
1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs. maple syrup or honey
1 Tbs. finely grated orange zest
2 eggs
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
7 Tbs. fresh orange juice, warmed
1 tsp. baking soda
For the mascarpone icing:
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
4 oz. cold mascarpone or low-fat cream cheese
Strips of dried mango for garnish (optional)
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line 10 standard muffin cups with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, maple syrup and orange zest until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the carrot.

In a bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. In another small bowl, stir together the orange juice and baking soda. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture in two additions, alternating with the orange juice mixture in two additions until smooth. Do not overbeat or the cupcakes will be tough.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake until the cupcakes are risen and lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a baking sheet and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

To make the mascarpone icing, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and confectioners sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the lemon zest and mascarpone until blended.

When the cupcakes are cool, frost them and garnish with strips of dried mango. Cupcakes may be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Makes 10 cupcakes.

Adapted from New Healthy Kitchen Series, Desserts, by Annabel Langbein (Simon & Schuster, 2006).

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Chocolate Panna Cotta...

I recently bought 3 of Lori Longbotham's books....I really had a hard time deciding what I was going to make first!!! I finally decided to make chocolate panna cotta...

This recipe was excellent! Perfect texture, perfect amount of chocolate and sweetness, perfect richness....It is definitely NOT low-fat though (heavy cream and mascarpone cheese...need I say more!) so I probably won't be making this too often! While I was pouring the panna cotta into the molds I thought that the portions would be too small but finally the portion size is just right since they are soooo rich! I also loved the fact that the recipe is relatively easy to make and can be made ahead of time....

All in all, a great dessert recipe for entertaining!....

Chocolate Panna Cotta

Panna cotta has become a very popular dessert on our shores these last few years, and for good reason. It's a luscious, totally Italian custard, no eggs, just cream and flavorings. This is good served alone or with the slightest dusting of finely ground cocoa nibs or shaved chocolate. Panna cotta is usually vanilla—this one is for chocolate lovers.

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 tsp. plain gelatin
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese or additional heavy cream
2 Tbs. sugar
Pinch of salt
2 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Coat four 5-oz. ramekins or 6-oz. custard cups lightly with flavorless oil. Pour 1/4 cup of the cream into a small heatproof bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over it and let stand until softened, about 10 minutes. Place the bowl in a larger bowl of hot water and stir until the gelatin has dissolved.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, bring the remaining 1 1/4 cups cream, the mascarpone, sugar and salt just to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate and whisk until smooth.

Add the gelatin mixture to the chocolate mixture and stir until well blended. Pour through a fine strainer into a 4-cup glass measuring cup or a bowl with a pour spout. Divide the mixture evenly among the ramekins and let cool to room temperature.

Cover the panna cotta loosely and refrigerate until set and thoroughly chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 1 day.

To serve, dip the ramekins one at a time into a bowl of hot water for about 5 seconds, then run a table knife around the edges of the custard and invert onto a chilled serving plate. Serves 4.

Adapted from Luscious Chocolate Desserts, by Lori Longbotham (Chronicle Books, 2004).