Grown up Mac ‘n Cheese

July 7, 2010

Pasta can be considered a main staple at our house. Along with pizza, this is a dish that shows up on our menu every week almost all year long. We love the little blue box of macaroni and cheese that takes less than 10 minutes to whip up, but also appreciate the grown up version like this one. The bacon (who doesn’t love them!), blue cheese, gruyere and cheddar really add nice complex flavors to the everyday macaroni and cheese. I’d say that this is something that is worth turning on your oven for in the summer. Happy eating!

Adapted from Ina Garten, as seen on Food Network

Ingredients
4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 tablespoons of fresh unseasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven – there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.

Mix the bread crumbs with chopped basil. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Yield: 2-4 servings

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Turkey Lasagna

January 24, 2010

My husband Red has been taking over the cooking duty at our household for the past couple of months. This is a recipe that we often make at our house, but I just realized, I have never posted. The recipe was inspired by Ina’s famous Turkey Lasagna Recipe, but we have modified it to the ingredients that we have readily available at the house. It’s a no-fail recipe that will be sure to satisfy your diners. Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (the next six seasoning will be mixed into the ground turkey)
2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound lasagna noodles (no-boil)
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large (10 to 12-inch) skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.

Mix the following six seasoning listed under ground turkey ingredient into ground turkey.

Add the seasoned ground turkey mixture and cook over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a fork, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened.

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with the hottest tap water. Add the noodles and allow them to sit in the water for 20 minutes. Drain.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of Parmesan, the egg, the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch rectangular baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Then add the layers as follows: half the pasta, half the mozzarella, half the ricotta, and one third of the sauce. Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and finally, sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.

Yield: 8 servings


Penne a la Carbonara

September 18, 2009

Sometimes I forget how simple pasta dishes are! They usually can be put together pretty quickly using ingredients I already have in my pantry and are usually satisfying.  One of my all time favorite way to enjoy pasta is a la carbonara. I absolutely love the Tom Cruise’s version of spaghetti carbonara and appreciate that he uses olive oil instead of cream in his sauce. However, I still wanted to try another variation of this pasta dish and the recipe that I decided to try was Giada’s Penne a la Carbonara from her Everyday Italian cookbook.

This dish uses heavy-cream instead of olive oil, so it definitely has a little more depth than the Tom Cruise’s version, but it was still light and delicious. This actually reminds me to a lot of the pasta carbonara that I had during my trip to Italy earlier this summer, so it scored points with Red!  It was so good that I was amazed that we don’t make this more frequently!

DSC06818

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb pancetta, diced into 1-inch cubes (I used bacon)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste
1 lb dried penne
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions

In a large saute pan, heat the oil over a medium flame. When almost smoking, add the pancetta and saute until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper and remove the pan from the heat.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and cream. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, 1/2 tsp of sea salt, and 1/4 tsp of pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the penne and cook until it is just tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain. Do not rinse the pasta with water; you want to retain the pasta’s natural starches that help the sauce adhere.

While the pasta is still hot, return it to the pot, and quickly toss with the browned pancetta, then the cream mixture. It’s important to work quickly while the pasta is still hot so that the cream mixture will cook, but not curdle. Toss with the remaining cup of Parmesan cheese and the chopped parsley. Season the pasta with more salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the pasta to bowls and serve.

Yield: 4-main course serving