Livin' in the Kitchen

Archive for September, 2011|Monthly archive page

Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese

In Savory on September 30, 2011 at 4:57 am

Mac and Cheese was the day of babysitters and no chocolate before bed. It was the day of playing kick-the-can with the neighbors while the sun set. Mac and Cheese marks the time in my life when everything was simple because it didn’t have to be complicated.

Baked Mac and Cheese really doesn’t take much effort. All you do is boil noodles in salted water for 5-8 minutes (until noodles are done. If they’re gummy, they’ve been in too long.) Strain, add olive oil, stir and set aside. Chop and saute an onion, then stir into the noodles.

Then put 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of butter on the stove and whisk for about 3 minutes. Add the rest of your spices and the milk. Stir until thickened (about 12 minutes) then add your cheese.

Place noodles in a baking dish and pour the melted cheese mixture over it.

Now just make a cup of bread crumbs and mix them with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Sprinkle over the top and bake in a 350F oven for 30 minutes. Done!

Enjoy! * If you’re doing this with kids or picky friends (eh-hem!) you may want to use only half an onion. While it really adds taste and flavor, it is strong for people who don’t have the acquired taste.

Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese
Adapted from ‘I Found Happy- Food and Life Ramblings’
8 oz. elbow macaroni, cooked until just tender in salted water
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1 onion, chopped
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp paprika
1 1/2 cups mixed cheddar and mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Topping:
2 tbsp butter
1 cup dry breadcrumbs

Mix butter and breadcrumbs, set aside. (If you don’t have breadcrumbs, you can easily foodprocess white bread without the crusts until it’s a crumbly-looking mixture.)
Boil water, and salt it. Add noodles and boil for about 5-8 minutes or until noodles are not crunchy but are not gummy. Drain, pour back into bowl, add a few tablespoons of olive oil, stir. Set aside.
Saute a chopped onion with salt to taste and white wine then stir into the noodles. Pour into a casserole dish or a baking dish. Set aside.
In a pan over medium heat melt the butter and add the flour. Whisk this for 3 minutes. (Preheat oven to 350F now) Then add milk and spices and continue to stir while it thickens for 12-15 minutes. Add cheese. Stir until melted (add salt and pepper to taste here) then pour over noodles.
Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the noodles. Bake for 30 minutes.

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Chicago Gourmet Food Festival and Sweet Potato Bread

In Bread, Culinary Experiences on September 26, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Life was nuts at the Chicago Gourmet Food Festival. Gale did a demo on the millenium stage with Tim Allen…. and I got to help!

Every time I looked up I saw Michelle, Sue, and Marco from Elawa farms- where we work- in the stands smiling down at us. To me the best accomplishment is being able to do what I love with people I love… and who doesn’t like to eat well along the way?

(above photo credit: the really nice guy backstage that I kept handing my camera to.)

More good news is that we ate so well that I wore my stretchy and all-glorious yoga pants the next day.

This dish was my favorite of the day. The Chicago Gourmet Food Festival really made me kick myself for not knowing more about savory food. Now not only do I not know what restaurant this came from (I forgot to take a picture of the sign) but I don’t even have a basis of an idea how to create this bite-sized deliciousness.

Last but not least is the cannoli. I say the cannoli because it is the best I have ever tasted. It is the only cannoli that has left me wanting more. Some may argue that it’s because of its size. Honestly, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but if this were a big cannoli I’m fairly certain I could polish off 2 1/2 before regret started kicking in. The best cannoli ever from: Lezza Spumoni & Desserts Inc. in Chicago.

Among all the extravagant food and all the extravagant people there is some level of simplicity that every person identifies with. Which is why I think sharing Sweet Potato Bread today is perfect. It’s simple but it can be spiced up. You can have it for breakfast with a thin coating of butter or you could have a slice with carmalized pecans, creme fresh and a sprinkle of cinnamon over the top. Wa-la! Here’s what I did:

In a large bowl mix the sugar, oil, sweet potatoes, egg, and vanilla.

Whisk together the dry ingredients, then add to the wet and stir until just combined.

Pour into (both greased and floured) one large pan and one mini-loaf pan. Bake for 75 minutes.

Wa-la! And choose what you want to do with it. Breakfasts that aren’t cereal are scare in my house while we have a surplus of desserts, so this was our on-the-go breakfast for school the next morning. Next time I make it, I think I’ll set aside half the large loaf to make a dessert, though! So delicious!

Sweet Potato Bread
Slightly adapted from Recipezaar’s Karen
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 cups sweet potatoes, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 325F
Mix the wet ingredients together in a large bowl by hand. In a separate bowl, whisk the dry together. Slowly stir the dry (by hand) into the wet until just combined.
Bake for 60-75 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Flavor will develop over night, so if you can hold out, wait.
Enjoy!

Savory Tomato Pie

In Pie, Savory on September 17, 2011 at 4:24 am

My family’s not a tomato family. This memo didn’t make it to our garden. I’ve been bringing in bowls full of tomatoes from our garden for the past few weeks. Normal families have bowls of articulate fruit on their counters. We have an overflowing bowl of tomatoes. Nothing else.

Which is why I decided that it’s come time to get creative. What could I make that my family would eat with tomatoes in it? Pie. So pie it was. Savory tomato pie. I don’t know that the mental trick of it being ‘pie’ helped anyone but my 4 year old brother. But I loved this! I think over a period of 3 days I did a pretty great job polishing it off with only a small amount of outside help. It was delicious.

First I made my dough with the help of my food processor. The way I personally like rolling pie dough is between 2 pieces of tinfoil, plastic wrap, or parchment paper. Personally, it makes my pie-making experience much more stress-free and enjoyable…

Because I can just put the pie pan face-down, and just flip with little to no damage!

If a bit of it cracks, just stick it back together. And wa-la! You have your pie crust. Use a sharp knife to cut the excess off the edges, and smooth the tops with your fingers for a cleaner look. Poke holes in the bottom with a fork and bake until lightly browned.

While that’s in the oven, you’ve preped your tomatoes by washing them and slicing them in half then slicing those into halves again. Sprinkle the tomatoes with vinegar and white wine and your garlic and basil, onions, salt, pepper. Place seasoned tomatoes into the crust and sprinkle half the vinegar based sauce onto the tomatoes.

 Grind a cup’s worth of pieces of bread (bread with the crust sliced off) in the food processor and have the mozzarella and parmesan cheese out. Sprinkle the bread crumbs first, then the cheese on top. Sprinkle the remainder of the vinegar based sauce over the cheese. Return to the oven until warm.

Then take a picture at sunset so that you have a pretty purple tint in your picture : )

Savory Tomato Pie
1 pastry crust recipe, baked (Recipe Below)
5 fresh tomatoes
Kosher salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
4 tablespoons minced (not super fine) onion
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon white wine
3/4 – 1 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven 350 degrees
Wash you tomatoes then slice in half and slice each slice in half again. Cut out the green top. Set in bowl and sprinkle the balsamic vinegar, white wine, salt, pepper, basil, minced garlic and minced onion over the tomatoes. Let sit 10-15 minutes. Feel free to move around the tomatoes.
Take about 4-5 (depending on size) pieces of white bread and process them in your food processor until the mixture is crumby. Get out cheese.
Assort tomatoes in baked crust, pour half the balsamic vinegar mixture over the tomatoes and reserve the rest. Sprinkle the bread crumbs and cheeses over the top of the tomatoes and pour the remaining vinegar over the cheeses. Bake at 350 until just warm – 15-20 minutes.

Butter Crust Recipe
Recipe by Dana from Allrecipes
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup ice water

In a food processor combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate if you can.
2. Roll dough out to fit a 9 inch pie plate. Place crust in pie plate. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate.
3. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

I’ve discovered the secret to great pie crust. It’s butter and ice water. Do not skip this step. Measure 1/2 cup of water into your measuring cup and put ice in it until it really is ice cold. Trust me, it makes a world of difference! Then pour our your ice and readjust your measurement to 1/2 cup again.

Friday Nights and Monkey Bread

In Uncategorized on September 11, 2011 at 4:34 am

That is the face of a girl (me) thrilled to not be at a football game on a Friday night.

That is the face of a girl fully anticipating a dessert that sat in the oven for an hour.

And that is the reaction you get when someone eats the dish meant for picture-purposes. That white blop? That’s sour cream, not ice cream. Sigh. Poor Tiffany…. 

On the bright side Monkey Bread is comfort food at its finest. Without sour cream, that is.

Plus the process is so simple that you can make it in the most troubling of times. I’m pretty sure you could have tears rolling down your cheeks and this could still come out perfect… just make sure you hold back the tears long enough to zip your plastic baggie.

And when you’re flipping the pan make sure to wait the entire 15 minutes. Don’t wait 12 and think it’s okay. It’s not coming out whole. Trust me.

Not speaking from personal experience or anything. But theoretically if you were to tip the bread out at 12 minutes, I bet it would break on the side and make for a gorgeous picture. Just sayin’.

Monkey Bread
Slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman’s Monkey Bread
3 cans Buttermilk Biscuits -Non Flaky Ones- (I made my own! Check out recipe below.)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the cylinder pieces of dough into 1/2-1 inch thick slices. Then slice those into four pieces.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a big plastic bag and add your dough, mix until the sugar coats the dough completely.
Melt the butter and brown sugar over the stove top until the sugar has dissolved, continue to stir until it does.
Place the cinnamon sugar dough into a bunt cake pan, pour butter mixture over the top, and bake for 30-40 minutes.
Allow to cool 15-30 minutes!
Enjoy!

Buttermilk Biscuits
Adapted from Alton Brown’s Southern Biscuits
4 cups flour
8 teaspoons baking powder
2/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 2/3 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter
2 cup buttermilk, chilled
Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and butter together in a mixer. Add the buttermilk until combined. Beat for 30 seconds.*
Roll into 2 long cylinders and refer to above recipe.
*Remember that this recipe doesn’t call for flaky rolls which is why you’re beating it together. It’s also why I omitted the shortening. Don’t be afraid to mix this!

Stay Sweet and thanks for reading,
Jess : )

Confections of a High School Baker, Peanut Butter Pie

In Uncategorized on September 9, 2011 at 4:12 am

Hey guys! I know it’s been a while since I last posted… So you’re probably wondering what I’ve been up to.
A local online newspaper has been taking on bloggers and a couple of weeks ago, I applied! I don’t plan on leaving Livin’ In the Kitchen, but during the year it’s hard for me to keep blog traffic up. Having a community blog will fit really nicely into my busy schedule.

If you have time, check it out! And if you like what you see, click the recommend button and recommend me on facebook or twitter! Check out my latest post here : http://libertyville.patch.com/blog_posts/peanut-butter-pie-and-obsessions
It’s peanut butter pie! Yumm!

I also helped Gale Gand tonight with a cupcake decorating class at The American Girl Place, to give you an idea of what I’ll be blogging about soon!