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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Beef & Macaroni Casserole

     I believe it was my brother Mitchell who dubbed this family favourite as "slop", and I have to say, I like it. This is basically a dish of bolognese sauce and homemade mac and cheese. So simple, and great for leftovers!

Bolognese Sauce
1 lb ground beef (I use extra lean for the lowest fat content)
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can pasta sauce
1 can tomato paste
Italian spices

Cheese Sauce
1 Tbsp butter/margarine
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 -2 cups milk
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

2 cups macaroni noodles

     Brown the beef in a wok pan or large skillet, and then drain the extra fat out of the pan. Add the other sauce ingredients, and leave it on the stove (not unattended!) on a low, simmering temperature for however long you want. I'd recommend a minimum of 2 hours.
     Cook the macaroni while you're making the cheese sauce.
     In a large microwaveable bowl, microwave margarine on high for 20 seconds (until mostly melted). With a wire whisk, whisk in flour. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Gradually add a cup of milk while whisking, using a rubber spatula to get the flour off the sides.Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Whisk and use spatula.
     Continue to microwave on high for 1 or 2 minutes at a time, watching carefully, until it bubbles up and thickens. Add more milk as necessary to get proper consistency. Whisk and reheat each time milk is added. Remove from microwave and stir in cheese.
     Pour the meat sauce into a casserole pot or other baking dish, filling it about halfway. Depending how big the container, you may not use all the sauce.Mix the cheese sauce with the macaroni noodles and pour gently on top of the sauce.
     Bake at 350º for 20 minutes, or until the sauce starts to make little bubbles through the macaroni around the sides of the casserole dish.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Messy Mess

     Yesterday I went on a cooking spree. I made slop (which is actually macaroni and beef casserole, get the recipe here) and peach crisp. The kitchen wasn't entirely clean before I started, but yesterday and today are my total relax days, so I just didn't feel like doing dishes first. Well, the end of the night looked like this:

     Scary, right?! Well, it's clean now, so it doesn't really matter, but I'm wondering if anyone else experiences a kitchen like this, or if they do the dishes as they go. I hope I'm not the only one who makes a mega-colossal mess of her kitchen. At least the end result is delicious food, right?!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pesto Sauce

     This is a super easy recipe for pesto sauce. I made it with linguine (as pictured above) but you can use any type of pasta, or as a spread for crackers or bruschetta or anything else you fancy trying.

1 cup lightly packed, coarsely chopped, fresh basil
½ cup olive oil
½ cup parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
salt & pepper

     Start by rinsing the basil leaves, and dry off the excess water with a paper towel (this is really important). Then blend the basil and olive oil in a food processor until roughly mixed together. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue blending until the consistency of purée is achieved.
     Toss with pasta, use as a spread or anything else you'd like. Eat it with a spoon? Whatever you fancy. I like having pesto cold, so I refrigerate the sauce for a few hours before adding it to the dish. The excess can be covered and frozen for up to 3 months.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Steamed Mussels

     This dish reminds me of my family trips to PEI and the all-you-can-eat mussels at my favourite lobster restaurant. They literally brought tubs of steamed mussels to your table. (My brother opted out of sea food and ate exclusively chick peas. All of them.)

1 cup chicken broth OR 
cup white wine and 
½ cup water
2 shallots
1 clove of garlic

     Rinse all the mussels, and throw out any that are cracked or open. (TIP: If a mussel is open just a tiny bit, run it under cold water, and it may close! Then you can use it.)
     Put everything into a pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Leave the mussels boiling for about five minutes.

     Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

     Okay, so everyone has some sort of relationship with chocolate chip cookies. Mine is "Grammie Cookies" in which she would put all different kinds of chips (dark and white chocolate, raspberry, butterscotch and peanut butter) and they always came out golden brown and crispy. I didn't have said recipe in my repertoire, so I decided to find one and make it my own. Oh and by the way; it's incredible.

1 cup butter or margarine
¾ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
1 package vanilla instant pudding mix
2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract
2¼ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips (use whatever you like, but my favourite is half dark, half semisweet)

     In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugars and pudding mix until it's smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla.
     In a medium bowl, combine the flour and making soda. Add slowly to the creamed mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips (the dough should be stiff).
     I then used my hands to mold the cookie dough into round, flat shapes, placing twelve on an ungreased baking sheet. The cookies don't splay out or rise much, so the shape you make them is roughly the shape they will have when cooked.
     Bake at 350º. Here's the tricky part... Cookies are good for nothing if they are even one second overcooked. I hate crunchy cookies, so these instructions are for chewy ones. Put the timer on for 8 minutes, and when it goes off, sit on the floor and stare into the oven until the edges just start to brown. Depending on your oven, this could take between one and four more minutes. Take them out immediately and remove them from the cookie sheet onto a metal rack to cool, or else they will continue to cook, and they will suck.
     Makes 3 - 4 dozen cookies.

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