laborofwonder

Where Whine Meets Wine

Simple and Impressive


For a fantastic dinner, first you start with…

One very delicious margarita.

Next you get the main course going…

Yes, it did taste as good as it looks!

1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 lb)

2 tbs butter, melted

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp brown sugar

2 tbs soy sauce

1 tbs worcestershire sauce

2 tbs orange muscat wine (you can use 2 tbs frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed)

1. Heat oven to 375. Brush whole chicken with butter; sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, pepper, and half of the ginger (1/2 tsp). Place chicken in shallow roasting pan. 2. Roast chicken uncovered for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the other half of the ginger (1/2 tsp), brown sugar, soy sauce, worchestershire sauce, and the orange wine. (Don’t forget a sip for yourself, you know, just taste testing.) 3. Remove chicken from oven. Brush mixture over chicken. 4. Return to oven; roast uncovered 20 minutes. Brush remaining mixture over chicken and squash; cover loosely with foil, and roast 30 minutes longer. (Until thermometer reads 180 and legs move easily when lifted or twisted.)

While the main course is going, you get some sides together:

Really yummy ears of corn.

And…

Watermelon, Cantaloupe, and Strawberries. Served with an incredibly delicious cream cheese fruit dip.

And it was fantastic! We’d had so many grey days that I need a meal to make me feel like it was summer- and this did the trick! And I loved it so much that I’ve decided not to wait until Thursday to share it!

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Monkey Bread Madness


Do to my love of all things Pinterest, I have an ever growing list of foods I want to make. Well, after looking through my fridge, I decided on pizza… and then I remembered this. Monkey breadish pizza. (Seriously, the pictures are so good it’s no wonder they’re on pinterest for the rest of us to drool over!)

Looks fantastic, right? Photo Credit: Confections of a Foodie Bride. (You can go there for the original recipe too.)

In the morning, Big E had called one of his uncles asking him if he could come over and play. So just as I was gathering up things for dinner making, I got a phone call asking if I’d mind some visitors for dinner time. And we were so happy they could join us.

photo credit: Biggest E

I will admit that this took a little longer to make than I originally expected. With some organization -or an extra pair of hands- it could be done a lot more seamlessly. Overall, I did find this a great way to use up some leftovers! The original recipe used cubes of mozzarella, and pepperoni. I had neither. I did have shredded mozzerella, bacon, and chicken… all just sitting in my fridge, begging to be used before they went bad.

First things first, though… the pizza dough.

  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 2/3 cup white rice flour
  • 1 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp xantham gum
  • 2 cup water
  • 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar

Combine the flours, salt, baking powder, and xantham gum in a large bowl. In another bowl, blend the water, olive oil, and vinegar and whisk to mix. Pour the liquid ingredients of the flour mixture. Stir hard, briefly, to make a smooth, soft batter. Occasionally, I have to add a little more flour to get the batter so that it holds it’s shape. If more flour is necessary, I use tapioca flour, and add it in a tbs at a time.

Step Two

  • 4 tbs butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 oz mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded/chopped chicken
  • 1/4-1/2 package bacon
  • 3 cups marinara sauce, for dipping

Heat garlic and butter over medium heat just until the garlic begins to brown. Remove from heat and let sit. Lightly brush the inside of a bundt pan  with garlic butter. Pull off large marble-sized balls of dough and flatten- trying to stay consistent with the size. Top with a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese (I used shredded but you could certainly use cubes. Might be easier to seal with cubes instead of shredded.), chicken, and bacon. Wrap the dough around the toppings, pinching well to seal. Very lightly brush the pizza ball with garlic butter and place into the bundt pan. Repeat until all of the dough is used. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes, while preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is very brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a platter and serve with warmed marinara sauce for dipping.

Not a terrific picture, but you get the idea.

These were so good… super filled. And they went fast.

Ok, so I have a confession- the photos, and story, are actually from December… but for some reason I never posted. So, today seemed like perfect day to get back in the foodie saddle! Because a)it’s cold and grey out today, which makes me think about warm, yummy food. And b) my 3 little ones are all cuddled in a blanket together on the couch. Their being so sweet I’m a little worried they’re plotting something. Seriously, they’re all snuggled in, sharing a blanket and pillow. Giving each other hugs and occasional kisses on each others’ cheeks. So I’m going to be spending time soaking all this sweetness in.)

*I just wanted to add that I made this recipe again tonight and it was even better than I remembered. Biggest and Miss helped me, and I’m not sure if they added more water/oil or what, but I did end up adding about a full cup extra of GF all-purpose flour before I could actually get it to be the consistency I needed. But they weren’t too dense or too floury or anything. They were perfect. That said… after hubby helped himself to them right out of the pan (hence no new, great photos), I discovered the bottom layer ones were not cooked through all the way- they were still a little doughy, so I threw them in for about 5 more minutes. I just didn’t want anyone trying this out and feel like I sold ’em a bag of worms! (Because that would be just gross)

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Cream Cheese Delight


Hubbyman was home early today, and since I stayed up late and got caught up on household things…today I could do what I want. Relatively. We played games, we cuddled, we read books. And then they requested “girl cheese” (grilled cheese) and toast with cinnamon.  It’s been months since I’ve made bread and so I decided today was the day for it! I used a recipe I found on Our Best Bites last August. (I blogged about it, but it went largely unnoticed.) They’re still rising, but I can tell you they’re going to be equally as fabulous this time!

I turned the rolls into bread…and it was fabulous!

Last time I made the frosting pink for Miss E since lots of times she gets left when it comes to deserts. This time I couldn’t bear to let the “filling” go to waste (since I’d forgotten to halve it, due to not making a full batch), but I still wanted it to be kind of glazed (versus frosted) so I added a good amount of milk, and then a little powdered sugar. Which also helped it to be not quite so rich since it already had the rich filling.) Perfect. Delicious. Even better than the first time around!

If you want to try them, go here for the full recipe! Or go to my link for my version of them (their recipe makes them rolls- I turned them into bread and used the extra dough to make a few of the cream cheese delights. Just enough to enjoy without them going bad as lots of desserts do in our home.) Oh, and the recipes are easy and other than the time for letting them rise, they take hardly any time!

I know, I normally (ie. when I remember) do recipes on Thursdays, but I decided these were too yummy to wait! That and my *&$#% keyboard has yet to be replaced.)

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Kidtastic!


Ok, so some of you may remember this year’s Christmas cookies, or my first Gluten Free Christmas cookie experiment. Thankfully there were only a couple of batches that went to the birds (literally). If you are gluten free, then you know sometimes cooking gluten free is a bit of an experiment. Especially if you’re like me and tend to make up your own recipes. Thankfully, in the last year, there’s only been one meal that I would consider inedible. And hubbyman still ate it. After the first cookie flop and my heart sinking to my toes (it’s a yearly tradition that I have done since being a little girl.). I mean like real disappointment. Not only are Christmas sugar cookies a tradition, but the kids and I love to make them during other times of the year. Dinosaurs and trains are not just for Christmas! So I needed to figure out how to make them work! I opened a million and two windows of baking gluten free tips and read and read and read… and picked a couple things and decided to go from there. Thankfully, the next batch turned out perfect. I’m not sure what exactly made them go from flop to perfection, but I am so glad they did! So, if you’ve been looking for a fun cooking expedition to go on with your kids- this is it my friends! If your household does wheat/gluten then by all means use any old sugar cookie recipe! If you’ve been looking for a good gluten free recipe- here you go!

trains, turtles, strawberries, bears, snowflakes... there were some actual Christmasy ones in there too

Ok, let me preface this by saying that these do take up some time, say an afternoon, or an evening. That said, they are not difficult to make. Really, the kids have so much fun with the cut outs and decorating… we made three batches this year!

my sous chefs!

SUGAR COOKIES

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 large egg

2 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

  • Beat powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond, and the egg. (With an electric mixer or by hand) And then stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I wrapped it in saran wrap and put it in the freezer for an hour. I put away all the ingredients and did kitchen clean up, by the time I was done and the oven was hot, it’d been an hour!
  • Heat oven to 375. Lightly grease cookie sheet. (I used a spray)
  • Divide dough into sections. I just grabbed a size that looked like a snowball to me (apparently I really am a northern girl). I kept the rest of the dough in the freezer. Roll out until the dough is about 1/4 inch thick, on a lightly floured surface. And then cookie cutter time! Sprinkle with granulated sugar or leave plain to frost and decorate!
  • Bake 7 minutes, or until edges are light brown. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool. (They must cool before frosting!)
  • Repeat!

Note: It really seemed to make a difference that I kept the dough in the freezer in between batches. Especially after being rolled out and cut, the dough then gets really soft and squishy and you don’t want the flat sheets of flop that I made- so keep ’em cold!

soooo many cookies

 

If you’re needing a frosting recipe, all I do is take about a cup of powdered sugar and add one tablespoon of milk. (That was really technical, I know.) Mix. Add more powdered sugar if it’s too runny and more milk if it’s too thick. You can always add food coloring as well. And then decorate with sprinkles or whatever your heart desires- before the frosting sets!

*Sorry the pictures are not terrific… my lens was dirty and I didn’t know until it was too late! Hubbyman cleaned it, so here’s hoping for some better pictures in 2012!

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Simply Delicious


Now if you’re anything like my husband, you may be a little bit afraid of things (foods) you haven’t tried. Especially if you’re a visual person. I completely understand how the way something looks can totally throw you off, but how many times have you judged a person, a store, or a book by the way they looked only to find yourself completely surprised? This is especially applicable to vegetables.

Anyways, so I have been stocking up on veggies (the ones that are hard -or non existent- to come by during the winter) and cubing, pureeing, and freezing them! Last week I got a bunch of different squashes, along with some brussel sprouts (they are so good for you!). Now I love squash and hubby merely accepts them as good for him, but I finally found a meal chock full of veggies that my family loved and ate!!! I should really word it to say that I finally found a meal chock full of veggies that HUBBYMAN will not just eat because it’s good for him, but because he likes the way it tastes! (my kids already love vegetables, their favorites being spinach and broccoli.)

Now for the meal! It wasn’t totally meatless this time (I was trying to warm my hubby up to the idea of brussel sprouts, which he adamantly claim to dislike), but it had little meat, and we’ve since had it without. I took one spaghetti squash and about a l-2 lbs of brussel sprouts and made a delicious dinner!!

That’s right.. the way I convinced my family they loved brussel sprouts after all, is by using bacon! Want to convince your family (and maybe yourself too) to eat brussel sprouts? Try it this way!

What you’ll need:

Brussel Sprouts

3 strips of bacon

Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

Preheat your oven to 350. Cut the brussel sprouts in half and throw in a pan (the recipes all call to throw them in a bowl for this step, but really it’s not necessary and just adds extra dishes). Drizzle with olive oil (over all of it!!), sprinkle on the salt (more than you think is necessary, like it’s popcorn of french fries!) and some pepper. I added some Lowry’s seasoning salt, because I know that’s a flavor my hubby likes. Stir in up, toss it, coat it! Make sure they’re all well-coated in the olive oil. Then make sure the halves are all faced down. I only used 3 pieces of bacon because eventually I’d like this to be eaten without! But you can use more or less (it’s good even without!). Anyhow, I just cut the bacon into  small pieces and layered in randomly through the sprouts.

Put it in the oven for about 20 minutes. Stir/shake every five minutes after until they’re nice and crispy, browning but burnt! Mine took about 30-35 minutes total They’ll be a little crunchy, but trust me, this is a good thing!

I actually did this part before the sprouts… I took one large spaghetti squash and cooked it until soft. (you can do this a variety of ways from crock pot, to oven, to microwave. I used the oven- it takes about an hour, but all you have to do before hand it wash it, cut it open, scoop out the seeds and stick it in. So you can have it cooking well ahead of time.) While the brusell sprouts were a’cookin’ I threw some olive oil in a skillet, threw in some peas (my kids -and I- love peas), some chopped spinach, a little bit of chopped garlic cloves, and just a little onion and sauteed. Next I added the spaghetti squash.

All you have to do is take a fork to the squash and it comes out all stringy and spaghetti noodley like (hence the name). I only used one half- the other half I scooped out and froze for a quick, easy, gluten free spaghetti night!!) I sauteed, then threw in my homemade spaghetti sauce! Hubbyman likes spaghetti to have a good amount of sauce so I used a whole jar! I added a small amount of pepper, seasoning salt, and basil. Stirred it all up, and voila! It was delicious! And best of all, you could really throw in whatever veggie you like best!

I also made a super yummy fruit salad! Yum! This was a delicious, healthy meal that my whole family loved!! And those brussel sprouts? Hubby and kids ate them like candy! MissE declared them, Really nummy!

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(Simple) Game Day Foods!


To go along with my football post this morning, today’s Simply Impressive recipe will be game time foods! Which is one of my favorite things about football season! One was a first time taste-testing and the other I’ve made several times, but always forgot to post it on here…and I was having a hard time deciding which to post! But after some encouragement from my facebook wall (haven’t “liked” labor of wonder on facebook yet?! Well, get on over there and do it!), I decided on both!!

The first is my trusty jalapeno popper dip! This is seriously easy and seriously good! I’ve made it a handful of times, and find myself craving this anytime there is football on! (Yes, I crave it a lot) I found it/created it when I was really craving some actual jalapeno poppers, but it sounded like a whole lot of work and time to make… naturally, I searched for an easier way to fulfill this craving! I got the basis of my recipe here, but of course, made it my own way! Not a whole lot different, but just enough that I feel more like it’s mine! (When I googled this dip this morning, a flood of websites and blogs came up, each with a little different twist. So you can do it basic or find something fancy-shmancy if that’s what you’re looking for!)

I used peppers from my garden!

2 packages (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

1 cup mayo

6 oz jalapeno peppers (I found this amount to not have much heat to it, so this last time I used a whole 12 oz jar of them plus about 2 tbs of the “juice” but we like heat!)

3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Optional Topping:

1 cup of crushed croutons/breadcrumbs (I used chili cheese GF “protons”/croutons with lots of protein)

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

2 tbs melted butter

 

Preheat oven to 350. And spray pan. (I use a square 7×7 or my deep dish pie pan)

I do this all in my food processor so that I don’t have to chop anything, but you certainly can chop the jalapeno by hand. (If you bought whole jalapeno, remember to seed them! If it’s canned, don’t drain! If they came in a jar, use about 2 tbs of “juice.”) So, I throw in my jalapeno for dicing, and then I add in the cream cheese, and cheddar cheese until well blended. You can add more “juice” if it’s very dense, as you want it to be nice and creamy!

Now for the topping. I find it kind of unnecessary, as does my hubby, but if we’re going for more of a traditional jalapeno popper look and taste, then you might want to do it. (If you do skip the topping, I’d still sprinkle the top with the parmesan cheese.) In a small bowl, mix the croutons or breadcrumbs with the parmesan cheese and melted butter, then sprinkle over the top.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Until dip is bubbling and top is browned! My hubby prefers it served with tortilla chips (which is also an easy way to keep it GF and simple). If you want to gourmet it up a bit, I’d serve it on top of some really yummy bread! (All this talk of it, is having me reheat it for lunch!) *One note, if you’ve used the topping, when you reheat it, for the love of all things tasty, do so in the oven! Just throw it in (even as it preheats) and it’s done in a couple minutes (like 5ish).

I couldn't find a "end result" photo... but it's pretty hard to do wrong!

 

Now for the simplest, easiest, mini pizzas you’ve ever made! While cruising through some blogs, I came across this article from This Italian Family, showing where she’d made these mini deep dish pizzas from Dashing Dish (both of these blogs are wonderful! I also kind of hate them for the amazingness of their photos. Let’s just say my camera is less than mediocre and in dire need of replacing! Most people’s phones take better pictures than my camera…that’s just sad. If any of you ever hear hubbyman griping about not knowing what to get me, have him refer to this post!) Back to the pizzas…. they remind me just a little of my lasagna cupcakes, due to their saucy-ness (which is what -obviously- makes them like a mini deep dish) but they were really, really yummy. The kids were not sure about the looks of them, but when biting into it, Big E exclaimed, “This is delicious! Were you trying to trick me?” They each requested more and more.  There were no leftovers!

  • 3-4 tortillas (I used GF tortillas and threw them in the microwave for about 15 seconds so they’d be soft. If you can do wheat, go ahead and use regular flour tortillas, or make it even healthier and use whole wheat ones!)
  • 1 (15 oz can) pizza sauce- you may have some leftover (I used our homemade spaghetti sauce! sooo good! If you have spaghetti sauce on hand, just use that!)
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • mini pepperoni (or large/regular cut into 4 pieces)
  • If using already seasoned spaghetti sauce, you can omit these. If using plain pizza sauce: 1 tsp basil/oregano mix (or Italian seasoning), 1/2 tsp garlic powder, pinch of sweetener (I added one packet of stevia)
  • pinch of black pepper

*Add in whatever your favorite pizza flavorings are! (I added mushrooms to the sauce of half of the pizzas!)

Preheat oven to 425 and spray a 12-muffin tin. Lay each tortilla out individually, cutting out medium circles. (I used the lid to my jar as a guide, and the original poster used the top of her can. Can also use the top of a cup or a circle cookie cutter.) It doesn’t have to fit the entire side of the tin, just fit snuggly!

Pour pizza sauce into a med. bowl, add in the parmesan cheese, and the rest of the seasonings. Stir until well combined. Spoon (about 2 tbs) into each tortilla. Top evenly with mozzarella cheese and top cheese with the mini pepperoni!  (I did about 6)

Bake about 12-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and starting to brown. Wait for pizzas to cool (not cold, but cool enough to touch and kids to eat- they hold their form better if you’ve waited for them to cool.) and then they just pop right out! And I’ll just mention once again- these aer ridiculously easy as well as ridiculously good!

They looked cuter than the photo portrays! Unfortunately, they were eating them before I could get an out of the pan shot!

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Seasonally Impressive


These are some of my seasonally favorite foods: acorn squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins. Last week I made sweet potato mash (1/2 sweet potatoes, 1/2 regular potatoes) as well as maple acorn squash (just cut it in half, pour in some maple syrup and bake for 1 hr @ 350). Sooo yummy. Up next? Pumpkin butter and roasted pumpkin seeds!!! Never tried pumpkin butter? It is seriously delicious! I love all things apple and that includes apple butter. But every time I’ve canned pumpkin butter, I am out in no time…and I always have some apple butter left. So that’s sayin’ something! Plus it makes such a fun gift too! I may make it tomorrow… in my crock pot. Which works famously if you have a busy household (and really, who doesn’t?! If you don’t, I’m sorry, but I’m just not sure we can be friends.). I’m actually sad that I didn’t get more sugar pumpkins (or pie pumpkins) before the farmer’s market ended. Sadly, we missed the last week because Littlest was not feeling good. Boo! Hiss! On seasonal allergies and the genetics he gets it from (mine!). Anyways, just in case you felt like making something extra special, I am going to share my recipe with you! It’s really easy (and you can even used canned pumpkin puree which makes it basically a dump-everything-in kind of recipe!)!

For 6 pints you will need:

3 pie pumpkins (or 2 29 oz can pumpkin puree)

1 tbs ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp allspice

2 cups sugar

*Clean pumpkins, cut in half, and deseed (but save them for roasted seeds!). Cook pumpkins (microwave, steam, or oven) until  soft and gut. Throw in the crockpot with the rest of the ingredients over low for about 6-8 hours.  If you like a creamier texture, throw it in the blender. And if the consistency is too thick (especially if you used canned as fresh is a little runnier), add in some apple juice/cider. And if it needs more of a certain spice, you can add it in! Want to make more? For 6 qts. use 5-6 pumpkins and double everything else! Can, bottle, freeze, whatever…. it is incredibly delicious!

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Simply Impressive


Ok, I have a confession to make…while I don’t normally loooove lots of fried food, there is one thing I’m addicted to. (Or at least one that I’m willing to admit to!)  Onion rings. A week or two ago, hubbyman came home from a boys’ night out and was famished, so we looked through the cupboards and the fridge, deciding what to make. Then he looked at me with those blue puppy-dog eyes and asked that I make him some breaded chicken and onion rings… thankfully, he was willing to help! I made them again last Friday because they were just that good!! In fact, last week hubbyman dubbed them “the best he’d ever had.” And those are big words from him! I even bought some more huuuuge onions this week so that I could make them again! I’m also thinking mozzerella sticks… but all this fryin’ just seems not so healthy. But when paired with the fact that we normally don’t eat it very often and the rest of what we normally eat is really healthy… I’ve decided I’m not going to feel guilty about it! I will warn you… they’re so good they’re definitely habit forming! I may look into a way to bake them instead of fry them, so they’re a little healthier. But I just love the flavor and taste and crunch!

I’ve tried many different things to make batter to fry in, but so far, this has been the best, I think. It’s really pretty hard to make a bad batter though (in my opinion)… so if you interchange a different flour, it’ll probably turn out fine.  Just keep in mind that different flours (like almond meal) may brown faster or slower than all-purpose, so just keep an eye on it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lg sweet onions
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used GF)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk, as needed (my first batch i needed the full cup, the 2nd I didn’t. Pour in by 1/4 cup)
  • Seasoned salt to taste (I used Lowry’s)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 qt. oil for frying, or as needed (I used half veg/half olive)
Heat oil to about 350 degrees. Cut the onions into strips/rings about 1/2 inch thick, and set aside. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Next, coat the onion slices in the flour mixture. Whisk the egg and milk into the flour mixture. Dip the floured rings into the batter to coat. Set on wire rack (I used a cookie rack with a cookie sheet underneath for easy clean up) until batter stops dripping.

Deep fry, a few at a time, for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and place on paper towels to drain. Season with seasoning salt and serve!! Yum! And then to make the breaded chicken I did the same process, exactly the same, with the exception of cooking/frying it for about 3-3 1/2 minutes. (Make sure to cut one at the widest to make sure it’s done! If not, add more time to your batches, if it’s done, continue on!) They were sooo, sooo yummy. When I make these, I normally make enough of them to freeze half, but my children ate soooo many of them, there was enough for next day leftovers, but that was it! Did I mention that next time I want to try making mozzarella sticks?? (I’d use the same recipe!) They are a favorite of mine! Friday’s are kind of our make something super yummy night and I look forward to it every week! And I have a great idea for tomorrow….and I’ve already bought the onions!

I like this one, because one of the chicken pieces looks like a peace sign!

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Macaroni Twist (Simply Impressive)


Ok, so I don’t have pictures to include with this post (yet!), but I will this evening! I have gotten out of the habit of my Impressively Simple Thursdays, and I am wanting to get back into the habit! So today I am just starting doing it! (It can’t be a habit if I don’t ever start, can it??) Because I’m hoping to get a ton done today (I’ve been hiding from the mountain of laundry screaming my name.), I want a meal that’s simple, and doesn’t require a lot of time or effort… which is why this wonderful, yummy casserolesque dish gets the pick! I got an email (click here to see original recipe) that I got the base from, and of course, adapated to make it my own.  It’s incredibly yummy and incredibly heavy (so not something I’d make on a weekly basis, but a wonderful comfort food!). Perfect twist on plain old macaroni if you ask me! And hubbyman loves any recipe that includes bacon!

Some things to know before hand: They used penne pasta, but my children loooove “phone noodles” (otherwise known as elbow) and so that’s what we’ll be using, but I of course recommend using whatever your favorite kind of noodle is (or even better, let your kids pick out what their favorite kind is- they’re waaay more likely to eat and enjoy it!). Also they said a serving size of 12 and since I’m only feeding 5…. 12 seems unnecessary. So this is for a family of five and you can reduce it still if necessary, or copy their ratio (or just double what I have listed here) and freeze the leftovers (or make it in two dishes- one for tonight and one for another night!). Anyways, here’s what I did:

Ingredients:

pasta (about 5 handfuls or whatever equals 5-6 servings)

bacon (I used 3 pieces of bacon)

1/2 cup crushed protons (gluten free croutons- you can use panko or whatever breadcrumbs you normally use, or even a little almond meal instead. whatever you have on hand!)

1/8 cup butter, melted

1 tsp parsley (fresh; use less if dried)

1 1/2 tbs olive oil

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 small onion, finally chopped

1 tbs flour (I used coconut flour with an extra pinch or two of almond flour, but you can use all-purpose or whatever your favorite flour/thickener is)

1 cup heavy cream (the recepiet called for 4 CUPS of heavy cream… yikes! I happened to have a small amount left, so I used it up because otherwise it would go to waste, but I’d really just use milk otherwise. That’s alotta cream! And between the bacon and the cheese, heavy cream just seems above and beyond!)

1 cup milk

1/2 tsp thyme (fresh, less if using dried)

1/2 cup cheese (calls for monterray jack but I had pepperjack and mozzarella… so I did half and half)

1 cup cheddar cheese

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Now, go ahead and cook your noodles (boil slightly salted water, add noodles, bring to a boil again. Now you don’t want these all the way mushy, you want them still slightly firm to the bite. So if you think they’re not quite done enough to eat, they’re done.) and drain well.

Cook bacon until evenly browned, reserving (saving) the drippings in a small bowl. Drain bacon on towel-lined plate, and then crumble bacon into a bowl, mix in the breadcrumbs (or in my case the crushed GF protons/croutons), butter, and parsley.

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium, adding in onions and garlic. Cook and stir until they’ve softened; 3-5 minutes. Stir in bacon drippings and flour. Cook and stir for one minute and then whisk in the cream/milk and thyme. Continue cooking and stirring until reduced by about 1/3. Then add the cheeses, stirring until melted. (I find it clumps less if you add it in slowly rather than all at once.) Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the pasta. Transfer mixture into an oven-safe dish. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb/bacon mixture and bake until crumbs have browned and sauce is bubbly. About 15-20 minutes.

Seem like a lot to do? Here’s how I simplified it. Instead of doing it one at a time, I did it all at once. I promise it’s not as complicated as that may sound.  Get water going for noodles. While water is boiling, cook your bacon in a skillet (or something similar that you can then use for cooking the onions and garlic = less dishes). Yes, your noodles will probably be done before the full cheese mixture is done, but it will save you time in the long run. This way too if your noodles are not as firm as you need/want them, you have time to run some cold water over them or throw some ice cubes in with them and let them firm up before baking. As far as reheating, it’s not quite the same when microwaving (especially if you used all that heavy cream)… but you can reheat it in a skillet with a little extra milk/butter) for just a minute or two and voila it’s yummy!

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Simply Irresistable!


This is so, so yummy (and so, so simple)… and those that know me that this time of year is a busy time in my kitchen. Salsa making and canning will occur and end shortly and then the fall season will start. Which brings apples galore! My grandparents have an apple orchard and lots of friends with apple orchards. Which for me, equals- I get lots of apples! I make (and can) applesauce, apple butter, and send hubbyman to work with countless batches of one of my personal favorite treats- apple crisp! It’s actually one of the few desserts that I can make a whole pan of and not have to throw any out! (We’re just not big dessert eaters, hubbyman and I.) Plus, this is one dish that always says home to me. And have always made it no matter where we lived!

My brother and his new bride have apple trees in their new yard and my dad brought back a bun was thoughtful enough to share them with me! There was exactly enough for each of the kids to help themselves to one and for me to make a (7×7) pan! I know what I will be having for breakfast the next couple of days! The recipe is so simple, truly! For a 7×7 pan this is what I used: 6-8 small to medium apples (peeled and sliced in wedges- uniform size is best so they all cook the same) Drizzle cut apples with splash of lemon juice 1/4 cup of sugar 1/2 cup apple juice (you can use water and it will still taste good!)

Next (this is the topping) you will combine 1 cup of flour (you can also use oats. I used too many oats/not enough flour… I think a 3/4 c flour to 1/4 c oats would be a better consistency than my half and half- but it still tasted good.), a cup of butter (2 sticks), and 1/3 cup of sugar in a small bowl. I usually start with the butter and soften (not melt!) and then “cut” the butter into the flour/sugar, (Which means I take a knife and fork and act like I’m literally cutting it) until it’s in about pea size balls. I love the topping so I make sure that it covers the whole thing. Top it off with cinnamon and bake at 375 for 35 minutes. And voila! You have an amazing dessert! Serve it hot and top with vanilla ice cream (especially if you’re trying to impress someone!) or cold with a dollop of cool whip! Yum!

 

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