Friday, June 5, 2015

French Onion Mac and Cheese

I'm a big fan of stovetop macaroni and cheese.  I prefer it over any type of baked pasta because I like the creamy consistency the dish has before it's baked.  To get that crispy top that most people love I serve it with a toasted breadcrumb topping that gives a great texture and crunch.  This version of mac and cheese has the fun addition of caramelized onions which is the base of one of my favorite soups, french onion.

French Onion Mac and Cheese


4 tablespoons butter
2 large Vidalia onions, very thinly sliced
A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup whole milk
Freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 pound gruyere cheese, shredded
½ pound Italian fontina cheese, shredded
1 pound penne

Breadcrumb topping, optional – see note


In a skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Stir in the onions, thyme and bay leaf and cook for 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat and cook until the onions are browned and softened, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a plate and discard the bay leaf. Reserve the skillet.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and return to the pot.

In the reserved skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour for 1 minute, then whisk in the wine.  Let the wine cook down for a minute, stir with whisk so mixture is smooth.  Slowly add chicken stock and milk until combined and smooth and bring to a boil; season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Lower the heat to simmer and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cheeses until melted.
Combine the onions and sauce with the pasta and toss well. If using breadcrumb topping add a sprinkle to the top of the dish and serve the rest in a bowl for passing at the table.

Note - To add some texture to this dish I added a breadcrumb topping.  I had some extra garlic and parmesan panetini crackers and pulsed them in the food processor and added them to the top.  Alternatively, you could sauté 1 clove of minced garlic in 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or butter.  Add about ½ cup to ¾ cup panko bread crumbs.  Toss with garlic oil and let get lightly browned.  Turn off heat and toss with ¼ cup parmesan cheese.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Swedish Apple Pie

It's Dinner Divas time and once again it was my turn to make dessert.  The theme was Swedish food which is not the easiest to work with but I was able to find a Swedish dessert thanks to Stacey Snacks!  This was easy enough that I was able to make it and not worry too much about it being perfect.  It is a very simple rustic dish that everyone seemed pleased with....even though I forgot to peel the apples! Talk about rustic!  If you ever find yourself with an abundance of apples you've got to give Swedish Apple Pie a try. 

Swedish Apple Pie
Source: Stacey Snacks


5 medium apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sugar (for sprinkling)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cloves


1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
3/4 cup butter (1 and 1/2 sticks)
1 egg


Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9" pie pan and fill with sliced apples & walnuts.

Mix the 1/4 cup sugar with the cinnamon and cloves. Sprinkle over apples and coat well.

Melt butter and add remaining ingredients (flour, sugar and egg). Pour the batter over apples and spread with a rubber spatula.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Orechiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Pesto

I've always had mixed feelings about Anne Burrell.  She has such a strange personality and says weird things (like calling the yummy stuff that sticks to the bottom of a pan, crud.) that turn me off but her recipes always look delicious.  So when I found out that she had a cookbook coming out I immediately put it on my Christmas list.  My parents gave it to me as one of my gifts (thanks mom and dad!) and now I have half the book covered in post it notes.  I really enjoy reading cookbooks as much as I enjoy the recipes.  I like to get to know the story behind the chef and learn what makes them different.  One of the things I learned from reading Cook Like a Rock Star is that Anne Burrell is not a huge fan of black pepper.  Guess what, either am I.  In almost all of my recipes I write salt and pepper to taste as an ingredient however, I often leave out the pepper or put very little.  I know this may seem silly but it was almost liberating to read that salt and pepper DON'T always have to go together.  It is perfectly OK to leave out the pepper!  So from now on I am letting go of the rule that I somehow learned about where you add salt you add pepper.  Thanks Anne!

I followed this recipe pretty much word for word except I only used anout one-third of the pesto and as always I keep Pecorino Romano cheese in my house so that's what I use.  Other than that the only change I would make next time is to use the full pound of sausage.  This was a fantastic recipe and I can't wait to make some more pasta to eat with the leftover pesto! Just thinking that if you left out the sausage this would be a great meal to serve on one of those meatless nights during Lent. 

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe Pesto and Sausage

Source: Cook Like a Rockstar by Anne Burrell


For the Pesto:

Kosher Salt
1 bunches of broccoli rabe, tough lower stems removed, coarsely chopped into 1-inch lengths
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup mascarpone

For the Pasta:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 pound Italian sausage, sweet or spicy, casings removed
1 pound orecchiette
Big fat finishing oil
Freshly grated Parmigiano


For the Pesto:

1.  Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.  Drop the rabe into the water, give it a swish, and remove it immediately, saving the water to cook your pasta in later.

2.  Reserve a cup of the rabe.  Toss the rest in a food processor and pulse, pulse, pulse until you have a coarse paste.  Add the pistachios and Parm and puree until smooth.  If it seems dry, drizzle in a little olive oil while the machine is running.  It should be slightly bitter, nutty, and creamy at the same time. Reserve.

For the Pasta:

1.  Coat a large saute pan with olive oil and bring a medium-high heat.  Add the sausage, using a spoon to break it up, and cook until brown and crumbly, 8-10 minutes.

2. Bring your broccoli rabe water back to a boil and toss in the pasta, cooking for 1 minute less than the package recommends.  Drain the pasta and add it, along with 1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water, the reserved rabe, and two-thirds of the pesto, to the pan with the sausage.  Stir to combine and cook until the water evaporates and the pesto is clinging to the pasta.  Remove from the heat, drizzle with some big fat finishing oil, sprinkle with more Parm, and stir vigorously to combine.  Divide among bowls and serve immediately. 
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

The dish I served this in is microwave and oven safe.  It can be found by clicking here. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Spiced Applesauce - Secret Recipe Club

It's that time again, time for the Secret Recipe Club!  If you don't already know SRC is a group of bloggers that are assigned a secret blog and we each pick a recipe from our assigned blog and post it on ours with links to the original source.  It is a great way to discover new blogs and have others discover ours.   This month I was assigned Pepper and Sherry , a blog from England.  This was brand new to me and I there were a ton of recipes I wanted to try.  Unfortunately for this blog but wonderful for my business, the past two months have been extremely busy and I hardly cooked much at all.  I was planning on making the Cottage Pie because it has so many unique ingredients than what you normally find in Shepherd's Pie, such as dried Shitake mushrooms and a red chile.  I will get to this as soon as I can but if you try it before me please let me know.  It looks divine!

I decided to make Appelmoes also known as Dutch Apple Sauce.  I've been wanting to make apple sauce (and baked apples) all season and I loved the spices that are added.  I also picked this because my nieces and nephew love apple sauce and eat it as a snack all the time.  I thought that they might like to try a homemade version and since I'll be seeing them tomorrow it was a perfect fit.  This recipe couldn't have been easier and yet it is still full of flavor.  You can eat it as is or use it as an accompaniment to pork or something I love...Pierogies (Steve thinks that is so weird)! I didn't make many changes to the recipe at all.  I just left out the cardamom because I couldn't find a small container and I didn't want to buy a big bottle for $7 that I may not use again.  I don't think that mattered too much.  I also reduced the amount of some of the spices because I wanted to make sure the kids would eat it and it wouldn't be too strong on their delicate palettes.  I will post the recipe with my changes but you can view the original recipe (and check out all the other fantastic recipes) by clicking here

Spiced Applesauce


4 cortland apples
2 tablespoons brown sugar 
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon 
1/4 tsp ground ginger 
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 
2 whole cloves

  1. Very simply, peel and chop the apples, place in the saucepan with the sugar and spices and only about 1/2 cup of water.
  2. Bring to the boil and then cover, turn down to a low heat and cook, covered, for thirty minutes.
  3. The apples should now be soft so bring up the heat and stir until it thickens into a good, proper sauce.  (I used a potato masher so the sauce wouldn't be too chunky for the kiddies.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Teriyaki Mini Meatballs

We went to a Superbowl party last week and I knew that I wanted to make those Buffalo Chicken Meatballs again.  They were damn good!  I was having fun with the mini meatballs so I thought I'd try another one.  Steve was looking for an Asian style meatball so I made my usual meatballs (minus the Romano cheese and just a couple of additions) and found this fantastic sauce recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  What a great find her blog is!  You should check it out! I followed her ingredients for sauce but I thickened it with a little butter in flour instead of the cornstarch but either method is fine.  I also added some sesame seeds and later thought some sliced scallions would be good so I'll try that next time.  Let me just tell you, I definitely scored with those buffalo chicken meatballs but the teriyaki meatballs were a Touchdown!

Teriyaki Mini Meatballs
Yield: 38-40 meatballs 


1 lb ground beef (85% lean)
3 large gloves garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg
salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup bread crumbs
1  tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon Teriyikai Sauce


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  
Mix all ingredients together and form mini meatballs.  Place on a greased baking pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned. 


slightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 3/4 cups water
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablspoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup sliced scallions


In a bowl whisk soy sauce, water, ginger, garlic powder, brown sugar and honey in a bowl. In a small sauce pot melt 2 tablespoons of butter and then add 2 tablespoons of flour.  Whisk together and let cook for 1 minute.  Add the sauce mixture and let cook until combined and thickened.   Add meatballs to pot and let simmer for about 10 minutes.  Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced scallions 

So what do you think of my new dish?  It's called a split server.  Have any suggestions on how else to cook in it/serve in it?  It's oven safe up to 450 degrees.  You can see the details here

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Farro salad

Say goodbye to boring rice salad forever!  Farro is a grain that reminds me of barley as it has great texture and a chewy bite.  I’ve used it in place or Arborio rice and made Farroto.  It was delicious.  I’ll be making that again and posting it for you here.  It’s a great blank canvas but has a lot more interesting flavor that any rice does (in my humble opinion).  Try adding this to soups instead of pasta or with some sauteed veggies. Most supermarkets carry Farro now and it is affordable at about $3.99 per pound. 

Farro Salad

Serves 4 as a side dish


1 cup Farro, rinsed
1 tomato, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons muffaletta salad, olive tapenade or chopped olives
1 tablespoon capers
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1celery stalk, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste
Red wine vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil


Combine Farro, salt and 3 cups water in a small saucepan.  Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 15- 20 mins.  The Farro should have a bit of a bite to it.  Drain and add to a large bowl to cool.  To the bowl add olives, tomato, scallion, celery, garlic and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil and vinegar to taste.  Toss and taste to adjust seasonings.  Serve room temperature.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.