Sunday, August 4, 2013

Baked mac and cheese


Normally for baked mac and cheese, I use this recipe from Food Network. However, the other night, I was a bit short on ingredients. I had no regular sharp cheddar in the house. Instead, I had a block of Kerrygold's Dublin Cheddar.

Now, normally this isn't the kind of cheese I use for cooking. It's meant for eating plain, because it's really good. I can usually find it for cheaper at Aldi, and use it for appetizers. However, I want to tell you, it rocks in this mac and cheese! It's a bit sharper than the usual, but pairing it with the Monterey Jack I had on hand balanced the flavor.

I also used a type of pasta called veggie pasta, which apparently has a serving of vegetables in it. I don't know about that, but it worked well in the dish. And I couldn't help reverting to childhood for a moment, and adding sliced cooked hot dogs. Farmland's cheese dogs to be precise. Made the dish!

So, here you go -- nostalgia in a pan.

Baked mac and cheese

12 ozs. macaroni (veggie)
2 eggs
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
1/2 c. butter, melted and cooled
1/4 t. cayenne
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack
1 1/2 cups shredded Dublin Cheddar
1 cup sliced hot dogs or grilled chicken
2 T. butter, melted
3/4 to 1 cup whole wheat seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 t. paprika

Heat oven to 350 degrees, and butter a 9-in. square pan.

Cook macaroni until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain. Beat eggs and add milk. Whisk in butter and cayenne. Shred cheese.

Layer half of the pasta in a buttered pan. Top with half of meat and 1 cup of shredded cheese. Top with remaining pasta, meat and cheese. Pour milk mixture over casserole, and top with remaining half cup of shredded cheese. Melt 2 T. of butter, and add bread crumbs and paprika. Top casserole with bread crumb mixture, and bake for 40 minutes, or until bubbly.

I paired this with steamed broccoli and cartoons. Highly recommended!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Beef stew over the fire, without scallops

It's a working title, but I'll explain....

It was shockingly cold here this past weekend. In fact, for runners and walkers of the Bix 7, it was the coldest race on record. 56 degrees at 7:30 a.m.! Ridiculously awesome.

On a day in July that barely breaks 70 degrees at the high, soup over the fire is expected — nay, demanded. I decided on a sort of beef stew. Really thick, with some beer bread to boot.

It surprises me now, but I sort of did this by feel. I have a recipe for you, but when I was throwing it together, it was a second-by-second decision of what to put in, or not. We forgot the green beans, which was a bummer, as we had some in the garden. You could also add a can, though.

In fact, this is a riff of sorts on a family favorite, Beef Barley Soup, which my grandma made in glorious quantities when she was alive. My aunt sent us the copy of the Chicago Tribune recipe once upon a time, though I haven't made it in years.

In any case, it hit the spot, and the fire was welcome for the heat as well as its cooking abilities.

At one point, however, D insisted upon adding scallops. He's become a bit obsessed with seafood lately, and we happened to get some at the market that day. I tried to be open-minded. Really! And whether it was the look on my face, or the dawning of logic, I can't say. But we decided against it. (Scallops? In beef stew?!? Nope.)

Beef stew, then, without scallops

1 lb. beef chuck roast, cut into 1-in. cubes
2 T. flour
1 t. salt
1/2 ground black pepper
1 T. olive oil
1 12-oz. bottle of stout (I used Stockyard's Oatmeal Stout)
1 small onion, diced
3 carrots, cleaned and sliced into 1/2 in. rounds
6 large brussel sprouts, quartered
two leaves kale, torn
three small tomatoes, diced
5 large mushrooms, sliced thick
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced, put in cold water, then drained before adding
1/2 cup pearled barley
1/2 t. rosemary, ground
1/2 t. thyme, ground
1/2 t. pepper
1 t. salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 can of tomato paste
4 cups water
4 t. beef base, or 4 cubes beef boullion

Cut beef into cubes, then pat dry with paper towel, and toss with flour, salt and pepper. Heat a cast-iron skillet to medium-high heat and add a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Sear meat on all sides. Put beef into Dutch oven. Add beer to skillet, and scrape browned bits off bottom. Reduce a few minutes. Add to Dutch oven. Add remaining ingredients to Dutch oven and cover. Cook over the fire 45 minutes to an hour, checking the water level every 15-20 minutes.

Fyi, putting the diced potatoes in cold water helps prevent browning while you're cutting everything else up. This made a rather thick stew, which is just what we like. It was actually better the following day as leftovers. Serve with garlic beer bread just out of the oven.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Carrot cake for doggies

Three weeks old

We had a birthday here recently. Augie turned one in July. He celebrated with carrot cake (for doggies) and the next day, he tore up a pillow. Maturity is a fickle thing.

The recipe I used for the carrot cake was pretty straightforward, although I tweaked it a bit. I forgot the vanilla, and I used whole wheat pastry flour. Augie loved it, however, and was straining for it before we could take a picture!

One year and a party hat!

Carrot cake for doggies

1 1/4 cups shredded carrot (about two large carrots, I think)
1 egg
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup oil 
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 t. baking soda

Mix ingredients, and put in greased 8x5 in. loaf pan. I baked this for about 30-35 minutes on 400 degrees. My oven runs a bit hot, though.

I mixed up some peanut butter and honey to put on top, but I think I could have skipped that. I cut the remainder in slices and put it in the freezer for future treats!