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Archive for May 2010

Baked Mac ‘n Cheese – Holy Moly Delicous.

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So, here’s the story: I had tried to make mac n’ cheese before, and it turned out not so great. I had overcooked the noodles, the sauce wasn’t thick enough and it had a bread crumb topping that was just a pile of breadcrumbs and not crunchy. I was disappointed. ESC tried to console me and tell me that it was still good, but she may have been blinded by my usual awesomeness. Luckily I was not deterred and decided to make it again, but better. This was my redemption. This made up for that one and then some. If these two Mac n’ Cheeses were to fight, this one would’ve punched that one in the mouth, squashed it to little bits and thrown them overboard for the fishies to eat. This one had just the right consistency, great flavor from the nutmeg roux, perfectly cooked noodles and a great cheese topping. The first bite was a little bit of mouth euphoria.

Baked Mac N Cheese

Cheesy goodness lies just underneath that gooey crust

Start water boiling for pasta in a regular saucepan. Cook pasta until almost done – should be a little bit tough but not completely cooked. While water is heating, melt butter in a saucepan. When it’s all melted, add flour 1 tbsp at a time stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in nutmeg and make sure there are no lumpy bits. Add milk, bay leaves, salt and pepper; let simmer for a few minutes. This would be a great time to drain and set aside the pasta, remember not to cook completely as the noodles will still cook a bit in the oven. Slowly add cheese to the sauce mixture make sure to continue stirring to incorporate fully. Let it simmer for another couple minutes while it thickens. Add 1/2 of the noodles to a 9×9 glass baking dish spread evenly. Spoon some sauce over noodles then add the remaining noddles and sauce. Try to keep it evenly layered with a consistent thickness. Sprinkle 3/4 of the topping cheese on top and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes at 350°. With about 5 minutes left, top this delectable creation with the remaining cheese. Remove from oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.

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Yayyy for good Mac n’ Cheese!!

1/2 lb Elbow Macaroni Pasta
3 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
1.5 cup milk (skim)
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp crushed bay leaf
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Pepper
8 oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
4 oz Mozzarella Cheese, shredded

1.5 cup Cheese mixed

Makes ~4 servings. 20 minutes prep, 35 minutes baking. ~$2/plate. It’s mac n’ cheese with real butter and cheese, what more do you want?


Written by Brent

May 26, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Posted in Main Course, Pasta

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Sausage w/ Bell Peppers & Onions on Sourdough Roll

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Steamy boiling action

Steamy boiling action

This was surprisingly delicious. I didn’t have great expectations for a flavorful dish thinking the peppers & onions would just be a side note to the sausage, but they were really flavorful due to the wine and sausage bits. The sourdough roll was a great addition instead of using a simple white/wheat roll, it added some tartness to a sweet dish. Make this with your favorite green veggie!

Sear sausage in olive oil on high for ~5 minutes, turning every minute or so. Remove sausage links and set aside, leaving the hot oil. Add bell peppers, onion & garlic to pan and sauté ~5 minutes. Once the veggies are browned a bit (not just softened), add all spices, red wine, canned tomatoes and sausages back to pan in that order. Stir for good measure. Boil together for 5-10 minutes until red wine has almost all evaporated. If you decided to make your own (recipe idea!) or are using uncooked sausages, cook for 15-20 minutes instead. If you want toasty buns (who doesn’t?!), slather the sourdough rolls with butter and toss in a toaster oven for 5-10 minutes to get a nice warm toasty bun. Now it’s time to get your plate ready! Put a toasty bun on the plate, place the sausage on a bed of peppers & onions and top with another scoop.

Sausage with peppers and onions on sourdough plated

Great color, great flavor, great meal

4 Pre-Cooked Sausage Links
3 Different colored Bell Peppers, sliced to 1/4″ strips
1/2 small Yellow Onion, sliced
4 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
1/3 cup Red Table Wine
1 8oz can crushed (or diced) tomatoes
4 Sourdough Rolls
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Sprinkles of Spices (Oregano, Crushed Red Pepper, Salt & Pepper)

Makes 4 Rolls. 20 minutes. ~$3/roll. Needs a side of green veggies, pretty healthy with some fat from the sausage. Go light on the olive oil and omit the butter for a healthier option!

Written by Brent

May 24, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Posted in Main Course

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Whole Grain Rotini with Seasoned Chicken and Sautéed Veggies

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Veggies!!!! And Curly Pasta!!!!

This is a pretty basic dish that’s both tasty and has a lot of flexibility with what goes in it. Zucchini and Yellow Squash provide some nice colors and compliment the pasta well. Overall, it was a good meal, but the Whole Grain Rotini would’ve been much better covered with a nice red meat sauce along with the sautéed veggies.

Start heating the water for pasta and a skillet to cook the chicken breast. Cook the chicken breast in a pan with garlic, oil, salt, pepper and assorted spices over medium heat ~4 minutes on each side. When the chicken is about halfway done, turn the heat up to high and toss in the veggies. The pasta water should be about boiling, add rotini and cook al Dente (~8 minutes). Just before the pasta is finished, remove the skillet from heat and prepare your plates! Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle parmesan.

1/2 lb Whole Grain Rotini pasta
1 Zucchini
1 Yellow Squash
1 Chicken Breast
Olive Oil
Assorted Spices

Makes 3 servings. Total Time: 15-20 minutes. ~2$/plate. Veggies, protein, starchy-stuff, more veggies!

Written by Brent

May 19, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Chicken Caesar Salad with Fresh Veggies

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On a hot spring/summer day, the last thing you want to do is be in the kitchen slaving away over a hot stove. Chicken Caesar Salad is a great summer meal: cold, refreshing, healthy and delicious. It is also ridiculously easy and quick to make. This could be a great appetizer for a larger meal or a dinner party! We had three kinds of raw veggies to much on between creamy chicken caesar salad bites: carrots, green beans, celery. They really helped clean the plate of creamy caesar dressing.

Chicken Caesar Salad

Refreshing, Delicious, Creamy Chicken Caesar Salad

Cook the chicken the same way as you would in Lemon-Herb Chicken. In a pan with some olive oil, season chicken breast with herbs & ground pepper, when it’s almost done, squirt them with lemon juice (use fresh lemons to make it even tastier!). While the chicken is cooking, wash and prepare the lettuce. ESC utilized the “Rip-Em-Apart” method to tear the lettuce into bite sized pieces. The chicken should be about done so get out your cutting board! Chop the chicken into small bites and let them cool a bit. Toss the lettuce with dressing and Parmesan, add chicken and toss again. Top with fresh ground pepper and more Parm.

1 Chicken Breast
~6 Large Romaine Leaves, chopped/torn
1/3 cup Creamy Caesar Dressing
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
~3 tbsp Lemon Juice
Assorted fresh veggies

Makes 2 large plates of salad. Total Time: 15 minutes. ~$3/plate. Very healthy, use Lite Caesar Dressing!

Written by Brent

May 8, 2010 at 2:21 pm