Thursday, May 20, 2010

Easy Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

This is a recipe that I got originally from Dustin's aunt Julia, which I have now adapted enough to take my own credit for, I think. Dustin loves homemade mac-n-cheese, but I find that it tends to be greasy. This recipe isn't greasy and is easier than a "real" homemade version because of one special ingredient:

Ragu Cheese Sauce (no chubby baby required).
Let me start off with an apology. Like most things I cook, I cook this to taste, which means I don't really know exactly how much of each ingredient I add. For those of you who feel lost and scared if you don't measure things exactly (mom), I will give you approximate amounts of the ingredients. But if I were you, I would give it a little taste now and then to see if it is what you like. I have also used Velveeta cheese, very thinned out and it works well, too. For the topping, I either use crushed up cornflakes, bread crumbs (store bought) or any kind of crunchy crackery thing. My cheese ended up a little salty this time, so I went with cornflakes, rather than anything that would add more salt (like crackers or store bought bread crumbs).

Lazy Homemade Mac-N-Cheese
Ragu Cheese Sauce
1/2 tsp. onion powder
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 to 2 cups milk
parsley flakes (just a little, for color)
ham-cut into chunks
24 oz. macaroni noodles
crushed cornflakes or other topping

Cook macaroni noodles according to package directions. While the noodles are cooking, pour Ragu Sauce in a medium sauce pan and heat over medium low heat. Add milk and stir well (I add enough milk to thin it out and lighten the cheese flavor). Add onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
When noodles are cooked, drain and pour into a 9X13 pan. Add cut up ham and parsley flakes to the sauce and pour over noodles. Spread evenly in the pan. Sprinkle crushed up cornflakes over the top. Bake for 20 minutes in 375 degree oven.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chicken Bow Tie Salad

Jen tried this out for me and didn't love it. I, however, thought it was great! When I made it I didn't have any spinach and I think that would have added a lot. I also didn't add bean sprouts or water chestnuts because I don't love them. I loved the crunch that the pine nuts added and according to my friend who gave me the recipe, almonds or sunflower seeds work well, too. This may be hardy enough to stand alone for dinner (we ate it as the main dish), but it is also a great flavorful side dish.

Chicken Bow Tie Salad
1 small package spinach
18 oz. bow tie pasta
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 c. pine nuts (or almonds or sunflower seeds)
1 can water chestnuts
1 c. bean sprouts
2 chicken breasts, chunked and cooked with lemon pepper seasoning

1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sesame seeds
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar (can substitute regular vinegar if you don't have this)
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. minced garlic

Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, mix dressing ingredients in a glass jar, cover and shake until well mixed. Pour cooked pasta into a large bowl. Add dressing, chicken, pine nuts, sesame seeds, water chestnuts and bean sprouts and stir until combined. Add spinach and stir gently. Chill in fridge.

Black Bean Tostadas

Recently James decided he was a sugar addict. He came to this conclusion one day after he had 3 bowls of Butterfinger ice cream, 2 crispy cream donuts (the Chocolate Iced Cream Filled ones) and 3/4 of a package of chocolate covered wafers. Not only did this combination of foods not bother his stomach at all, but he had to work hard to keep himself from eating a third donut. Clearly this was a problem.

So, he went on a diet. A very serious diet. So serious in fact that I forced him to quit because

a) it was ridiculously expensive and

b) it took way too much time to think about/prepare/eat the food.

I couldn't handle it.

But, because of his failed effort (and because we watched Food Inc.-which I don't recommend unless you can sell one of your kidneys in order to feed your family organic foods and not crappy beef (pun intended)), we have been trying to eat more healthy and less meat. It's not very easy.

But I am trying, and this is one recipe I have to show for it.

Here we go...

Black Bean Tostadas
(adapted from Eat Better America)

38 inch flour tortillas
4teaspoons olive oil
3green onions, chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1cup chopped seeded tomato
1cup shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack, cheddar, or mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
2tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1clove garlic, minced
1T green chilis
1.Preheat oven to 425°F. Place tortillas on an ungreased baking sheet. Lightly brush tortillas on both sides with 1 teaspoon of the oil. Bake about 3 minutes; turn. Bake about 3 minutes more until lightly browned and crisp.
2.Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 3 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, green chilis, and garlic; cook until onion is tender. Stir in black beans and tomato; heat through.
3.Sprinkle tortillas with half of the cheese. Spoon the bean mixture over the cheese. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining cheese. Bake about 4 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with cilantro.

We ate these with sour cream and salsa and the were wonderful. I was very pleased with the result. And we were vegetarians for one whole meal. I'm pretty proud.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pizza Balls

I made these the other day, thinking that my kids would love to dip little pizza balls in sauce. I made two batches and the first I made into balls and the second I made into a regular pizza (because of time). Maren and Grant liked the pizza balls. Avery (surprise, surprise) and Ryan wouldn't touch them and ate the regular looking pizza. Hey, but on the upside, Avery usually hates homemade pizza. I guess it was better than the alternative. Anyway, I thought they were fun. I am throwing in my easy pizza dough recipe, in case you don't have a super easy one of your own.
Pizza Dough
1 Pkg. yeast
1 c. warm water
2 1/2 c. flour
2 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in remaining ingredients and beat vigorously 20 strokes. Let rest 5 minutes. Shape into pizza.
Marinara Sauce
2 cans tomato sauce
garlic powder
onion powder
italian seasoning
2 tsp. sugar
salt & pepper to taste
Stir all ingredients in a saucepan over medium low heat. I always make pizza sauce to taste the way I like, so I have no idea on the amounts of the seasonings, but I usually do at least that much sugar.

Pizza Balls
1 recipe pizza dough
1 recipe marinara sauce-for dipping
1 tsp. italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic
2 Tbsp. butter
parmesan cheese
pizza toppings

Make your pizza dough and roll out into a rectangle shape (about 9X13). Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into 24 squares. Place desired toppings on each square. I used pepperoni, sausage and mozzarella cheese. I put two pepperoni slices or 1-2 tsp. sausage and maybe 2 tsp. of cheese.

Pick up each square and fold dough around the ingredients. Pinch the bottom to seal the ball shut. Now, I had 3 little helpers rolling, cutting and adding ingredients (plus, I didn't get a nice shaped rectangle). Don't panic if yours don't look like nice little squares. I made sure the balls were mostly sealed and they all worked out just fine. Place them, seam side down, in a pie tin.

Melt butter and brush over the top of the balls. Mix garlic and italian seasoning and sprinkle over top of balls. Sprinkle Parmesan on top, as well.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve warm with marinara for dipping.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze

I saw this recipe while browsing a food blog I recently discovered: Our Best Bites. One of the authors and her husband were in Dustin's Horticulture program at BYU. The recipes on this blog all look amazing. I have wanted to make everything I see!

I tried this banana bread recipe tonight. I am not a total lover of banana bread. It's ok, but not my favorite. This one looked just enough different that it was enticing to me. And I wasn't disappointed! The smell of this cooking was divine. The lime added just a little, tangy yumminess. And it was really pretty to look at. I used sour cream instead of yogurt, milk instead of apple juice and I reduced the sugar just a little, like maybe by 1/4 cup (I always do).

Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. real butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. mashed, ripe banana (about 4 bananas)
1/4 c. sour cream or plain yogurt
3 Tbsp. apple juice or milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. coconut

Topping: 2 Tbsp coconut
Glaze: 1/2 c. powdered sugar whisked with 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Combine flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. In a large mixing bowl mix sugar and butter until well combined. Add eggs and beat well. Add bananas, sour cream or yogurt, apple juice or milk and vanilla and beat until well blended. Stir in 1/2 c. coconut.

Pour into a greased 9X5" loaf pan and sprinkle the top with 2 Tbsp. coconut. Bake for 1 hour. Note: Check after 40 minutes and if top looks brown and coconut is toasting, cover with tin foil and bake for the remaining time.

When done, let cool for 10 minutes and then remove bread from the pan. Prepare glaze by whisking powdered sugar and lime juice and then drizzle over the top of the bread. Let cool an additional 15 minutes before serving.