Adult Macaroni & Cheese

“He is the cheese to my macaroni”<<<Juno

I have a macaroni and cheese recipe that was passed from my mother to my sister and I that is super fabulous. We’ve both added our own little spin to it, changed it up a little, but for the most part it’s exactly the same as what we grew up with. Well, this isn’t it..
I’ll post it sometime when I actually take the time to measure everything out…right now, I just make it from my brain, nothing’s written down.
But this recipe, I love also. I got it from Morton’s Steakhouse blog, and I’m so freakin’ glad I found it. They’ve recently 86’d it from their menu, but there was such an uproar that they published the recipe…and I’m super glad they did!

Ingredients

12 ounces dried cavatappi or other small, hollow, ridged pasta
1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded (about 1 2/3 cups)
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into small cubes
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (about 2/3 cup)
1 ounce Swiss cheese, grated (about 6 tablespoons)
1/2 tablespoon chile paste, such as sambal oelek
Kosher salt
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Directions
1.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2.Cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente. Drain but leave a little water on the pasta to keep it moist. Reserve another 1/2 cup of pasta water to thin the sauce. Return the pasta to the cooking pot and cover to keep warm.

3.In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and saute the onion for about 1 minute or until tender. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Stir in the 2 cups of shredded cheddar, the cream cheese, Parmesan, and Swiss cheese and cook, stirring, until the cheeses melt and are fully incorporated into the cream. Let the sauce reach a simmer and stir in the chile paste. You will have 2 1/2 to 3 cups of sauce.

4.Remove from the heat and, using an immersion blender or handheld electric mixer, beat for about 45 seconds until the cheeses and onion are completely blended. The sauce will be thick; thin it with up to 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water and mix well. Season to taste with salt.

5.Ladle the sauce over the pasta and mix well with rubber spatula. Transfer to a deep 2-quart baking dish and spread the pasta and cheese evenly. Sprinkle the 1 2/3 cups of coarsely shredded cheddar cheese over the casserole and sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until hot and bubbling around the edges. Serve immediately.

Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

“The best sauce is cooked in an old pan” <<<African Proverb

When I worked at a very popular Italian restaurant in Denver, we had this pasta dish that basically consisted of grilled chicken breast, walnuts, grapes, penne pasta…all topped with a gorgonzola cream sauce. I’m commited to try to master this dish, because it was so freakin’ good (it was my favorite). But for right now…I think I’ve got the Gorgonzola Cream Sauce just about right.

I’ve used this over steak, chicken, vegetables, pasta…it’s super versatile.

Ingredients

4 cups heavy cream
1 whole garlic clove, peeled
4 ounces gorgonzola cheese crumbles
4 tbsp parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp white pepper

Directions

In a heavy bottomed pot, bring the cream to a low boil. After about 30 minutes, add the garlic clove, and continue boiling for an additional 20 minutes, reducing the cream by half.

After the cream has reduced, remove and discard the garlic clove and immediately add the cheeses, salt and pepper. Whisk until all the cheese has melted, and serve.

Toasted Garlic

“Shallots are for babies; Onions are for men; garlic is for heroes.”>>>unknown

Don’t you just love garlic?? Toasted garlic is a condiment that is used on everything from the Filipino dish Pancit, to the wonderful and addicting bread dipping oil at Johnny Carino’s. It’s flavorful, mild and can literally be used atop of almost any dish.

Make this easy condiment, let cool, place in an air tight container, and use it anytime you want to add great flavor!

Ingredients

8 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil

Directions

Peel and mince the garlic. In a medium pan, warm the olive oil on medium-low heat. Once heated, add the garlic. Cook on med-low heat, stirring frequently until it reaches a golden color. Do not put the heat any higher, and make sure you stir it frequently,as the garlic can burn very easily. Once the garlic reaches the color you desire, remove and drain on a paper towel.
Use this to top anything from salad, pasta, asian dishes to your favorite take out pizza.
Place any extra in an air tight contanier and keep in the fridge.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

“A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something Brussels sprouts never do.”>>>P. J. O’Rourke

As you might know from prior Brussels Sprout post’s…I love them. Here is a very basic recipe for a side dish that turns out so delicious. The sprouts come out perfectly soft on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside.

After they’re done roasting, I usually sprinkle a bit more salt and some parmesan cheese on top.

Ingredients

1 lb brussels sprouts
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees f. Cut off the base of the brussels sprouts and remove any loose or off colored leaves. Slice in half and place in a bowl. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper and toss thouroghly but gently to coat. Place on a foil lined baking sheet in an even layer and roast for 20-30 minutes. (Shake the pan about every 10 minutes to toss the sprouts). They should appear brown and crisp on the outside, while soft on the inside. Remove and serve immediately.

Warm Mango Salsa

“Salsa has now passed ketchup as America’s favorite condiment. Isn’t that amazing? You know it’s bad when even our vegetables are starting to lose their jobs to Mexico.” >>>Jay Leno

Ingredients

1 cup red onions, charred and chopped (quarter inch pieces)
1 quart small diced mango (drained and chopped in quarter inch pieces)
1/4 cup diced red pepper (eighth of an inch pieces)
1/2 cup mango puree
1/4 cup scallions (chopped on bias)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions

Peel and slice red onion in 2 to 3 large pieces lay on hot grill and char. Chop the red onion into quarter inch pieces. Dice the Mango and red pepper; then place the red onion, diced mango and red pepper in a large bowl. Add the mango puree and mix well, let the mixture refrigerate for about an hour to let the flavors meld together. When ready to use, heat on the stove top on medium heat until warmed through. Remove from heat and add the scallions and cilantro. Serve over grilled fish or chicken.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 24,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 5 fully loaded ships.

In 2010, there were 126 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 301 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 18mb. That’s about 6 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was May 5th with 454 views. The most popular post that day was Homemade Corn Tortillas.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were foodbuzz.com, alphainventions.com, stumbleupon.com, en.wordpress.com, and WordPress Dashboard.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for peach cobbler, betsey johnson, pecan pie, peach cobbler recipe, and soft shell crab.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Homemade Corn Tortillas March 2010
4 comments

2

Peach Cobbler February 2010
1 comment

3

Betsey Johnson Takeover? Ugh… September 2010

4

Fried Soft Shell Crab & Remoulade February 2010
1 comment

5

Feijoada, Brazilian Rice, Couve a Mineira, and Farofa. The Perfect Brazilian Meal. February 2010
4 comments

Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake (kinda)

Chandler: The other cheesecake came. They delivered it to the wrong address again.

Rachel: So, just bring it back downstairs. What’s the problem?

Chandler: I can’t seem to say good-bye.

~~~Scene from ‘Friends’ (Episode: The One with All the Cheesecakes)

Those of you that frequent this blog know that I’m not a baker.  Matter of fact, I’m not exactly the biggest dessert person.  I’m not a huge fan of chocolate (unless the taste is minimal and not the star of the dish), and for the most part, the less decadent the dessert the better.  Give me a Krispy Kreme and a glass of milk and I’m good for a couple months.  Like I said…for the most part.

When it comes to my prior post for Tiramisu, or this Cheesecake, I could easily eat these desserts on a regular basis.  Like, everyday.  Seriously.

I was VERY excited to stumble upon The Cheesecake Factory’s basic cheesecake recipe on the Goodmorning America website, which also provided a link to where the recipe originally hails from…Top Secret Recipes.  I guess it’s not the absolute authentic recipe from The Cheesecake Factory, but wow!  After trying it, I found that it sure comes damn close! It turned out FAN-TAS-TIC!

Ingredients

Crust:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 cup melted butter

Filling

4 8oz pkgs cream cheese, room temperature

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

2 tsp vanilla extract

5 eggs

Topping Ingredients

1/2 cup sour cream

2 tsp granulated sugar

canned whip cream (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place a large pan or oven-safe skillet (that the cheesecake pan will fit inside) filled with about ½-inch of water into the oven while it preheats. This will be your water bath.

2. Combine 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon into a medium bowl. Mix in 1/3 cup melted margarine. Press the crumb into a 9-inch spring form pan that has been lined on the bottom and side with parchment paper. Use the bottom of a drinking glass to press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and about 2/3 the way up the side. Wrap a large piece of foil around the bottom of the pan to keep the cheesecake dry when placed in the water bath in the oven. Put the crust in your freezer until the filling is done.

3. Use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese with sugar, sour cream, and vanilla. Blend mixture for a couple of minutes or until the ingredients are smooth and creamy. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl and then add them to the cream cheese mixture. Blend the mixture just enough to integrate the eggs.

4. Remove the crust from the freezer and pour the filling into it.

5. Carefully place the cheesecake into the preheated water bath. Bake for 12 minutes at 475 degrees, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the top of the cheesecake turns a light brown or tan color. Remove the cheesecake from the oven to cool.

6. When the cheesecake has cooled, combine ½ cup sour cream and 2 teaspoons sugar. Spread the sweetened sour cream over the entire top surface of the cheesecake. Cover and chill the cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. To serve, slice the cheesecake into 12 equal portions. Apply a pile of canned whipped cream to the top of each slice and serve. Makes 12 servings.