Wednesday, January 27, 2016

One Skillet Mac & Cheese

I love traditional Mac & Cheese recipes but am always looking for ways to simplify the process. And, because I have almost always lived in potential drought conditions,  I have a problem with dumping the big pot of water used to boil the noodles. So I was thrilled to find this recipe from Martha Stewart Living which cooks everything in one pot...the cheese sauce is the liquid used to cook the macaroni.  Fantastic.

When I post a recipe, it is usually a dish that I have created or one that I made so many tweaks to someone else's version that I list "adapted from" to give proper credit. This Mac & Cheese is an exception in that I followed the instructions exactly and made only minor, insignificant changes to the ingredients. My purpose today is to share this cheesy deliciousness and to provide some tips that I learned while testing. My hints are listed in red font. MSL provided a video with further clarification. Click here to view...and make this tonight!  Enjoy.

One Skillet Mac & Cheese
(from Martha Stewart Living)
serves 8

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I used whole wheat panko)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (I used shredded)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced small
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 6 cups 2% milk
  • 3/4 pound elbow macaroni (I used regular and gluten-free without any difference)
  • 3 cups grated sharp white cheddar
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • Heat broiler. In a large straight-sided, oven-safe skillet, melt butter. Remove 1 tablespoon butter and combine with breadcrumbs and Parmesan.
  • Add onion to skillet and cook until softened. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Very gradually whisk in milk and bring to a simmer. Add macaroni and cook, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan, until tender, about 6 minutes. (This is where you will need to experiment. Some comments on the MSL site stated their final result was gummy. I found that the noodles at this point need to be very al dente...not hard...but with a lot of texture. The noodles will continue cooking in the following steps. I found that 5 minutes of cooking worked for me, but everyone will be different due to elevation, stovetops and your definition of "simmer." My version had small bubbles around the sides of the pan. I made this dish a couple of times to get it right for me. Do not be afraid to test. Just try not to overcook at this stage.) Remove from heat, stir in remaining cheese and the mustard, and season with salt and pepper. (Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go. Again, the noodles will continue cooking, so work quickly during this step. Top with breadcrumb mixture and broil until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. (Watch closely so your topping gets good and brown but does not burn)
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It is Mac & Cheese week at Food Network's Comfort Food Feast roundup. Do you have a favorite mac & cheese recipe to share? Please list (or link) in the comments below. And be sure to check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 

Feed Me Phoebe: White Cheddar Mac 'n Cheese Casserole
Creative Culinary: 
Green Chile Mac and Cheese
The Wimpy Vegetarian: 
Bang Bang Cauliflower Mac ’n Cheese
The Mom 100: 
Creamy Four Cheese Penne Rigate
Healthy Eats: 
5 Reasons to Put Down That Box of Mac and Cheese
Taste with the Eyes: 
Mac and Cheese, Ham, Carrot, Celery, Onion {gluten-free}
In Jennie's Kitchen: 
Cacio e Pepe
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
One Skillet Mac & Cheese
Red or Green: 
Three Perfect Mac & Cheese Recipes For Winter
From My Corner of Saratoga: 
Buffalo Mac n Cheese Recipe
FN Dish: 
Here's How to Eat Mac and Cheese for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Mashed Russet & Sweet Potato Casserole

This is my new favorite mashed potato dish. Imagine a layer of delicious mashed sweet potatoes topped with a layer of mashed russets and sprinkled with fried leeks? So good.

I saw this recipe last year in Martha Stewart Living and decided to add it to my Thanksgiving menu. It was such a hit that I made it again for Christmas Day dinner (different crowd). When my twin 19 yr old nephews came for a week of skiing after Christmas (6'5" each with huge appetites) I made these potatoes to serve alongside a smothered pork chop dish and, once again, every bit was demolished. Yes, this recipe is a keeper.

Martha's recipe is very rich, full of whole milk, cream, and butter...ok for major holidays, not so much for my regular diet.I have lightened it up by using nut milk and extra virgin olive oil to serve for regular weeknight dinners. Martha coats the leeks with flour and then deep fries. I just saute mine in olive oil and skip the coating. Both ways are delicious, pretty (the mix of orange and white is stunning on the plate) and easy. I will be making this dish all winter. Enjoy!

Mashed Russet & Sweet Potato Casserole
adapted from Martha Stewart Living
(serves 10)

2 pounds sweet potatoes
2pounds russet potatoes
3/4 cup milk (whole or your favorite nut milk)
3/4 cup heavy cream or additional nut milk
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted (or equal amount olive oil)
1 leek, white and light green parts, well washed and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter or oil a shallow 2 qt baking dish. Set aside.

Cut unpeeled potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces keeping russet and sweet separate.

In separate medium saucepans, add the sweet and russet potatoes. Cover with an inch of water, 2 teaspoons salt each, and bring to a boil. Cook until fork-tender, 8-9 minutes. Drain and return to their pans.

In a large glass measuring cup add the milk, cream, butter (or olive oil) and whisk to combine. Divide milk mixture equally between saucepans. Mash potatoes until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the mashed sweet potatoes in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Smooth to even. Top with the mashed russet potatoes. Spread evenly to edges.

Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. *

While potatoes are baking, heat a small frying pan until hot. Cover with 1/4 inch olive oil and the leeks. Fry until leeks begin to caramelize with the edges just turning brown. 

Top the potatoes with the leeks and drizzle the olive oil from the pan over the dish. Serve.

*The potatoes can be prepared one day ahead. Do not bake until right before you plan to serve. Refrigerate after placing in baking dish. Bring to room temperature before placing in the oven. Prepare leeks right before serving.

Other potato recipes you may enjoy:

It is Potato week at Food Network's Comfort Food Feast roundup. Do you have a favorite potato recipe to share? Please list (or link) in the comments below. And be sure to check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 

Creative Culinary: Bacon and Caramelized Onion Potato Salad
Homemade Delish: 
Parmesan-Crusted Potato Wedges
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: 
Stir-Fried Purple Potatoes
Healthy Eats: 
6 Better Ways to Eat Potatoes
In Jennie's Kitchen: 
Slow Cooked Baked Potatoes
Taste with the Eyes: 
Flatbread Pizza: Potato, Arugula, Sour Cream, Chives, Olive, Truffle, Lemon
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Mashed Russet and Sweet Potato Casserole
Red or Green: 
Taco Stuffed Baked Potatoes
The Wimpy Vegetarian: 
Sweet Potatoes Anna with Apples and Raisins
From My Corner of Saratoga: 
Air Fried French Fries
FN Dish: 
5 Downright Perfect Potato Dishes


I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Roasted Red Pepper Soup (in a Slow Cooker)

The middle of winter begins a weekly blog series called Comfort Food Feast at Food Network comprised of the dishes you want to eat when it is cold outside and the days are still short. The schedule is as follows:

7: Soup
14: Pasta
21: Potatoes
28: Macaroni and Cheese

4: Dips for the Big Game 
11: Chocolate for Valentine's Day
18: Cheesy 
25: Pizza

3: Peanut butter
10: Bacon 
17: Cake 

For Soup Week, I am sharing an easy and delicious recipe chock-full of roasted red bell peppers. The surprise ingredient is a boiled sweet potato that adds sweetness and thickens the base without added cream. The jolt of vitamin c and vitamin A included in this soup is off the charts. I double or triple the batch and keep in the fridge to eat all week. Easy to heat and perfect for lunch or, paired with a big salad and whole grain or gluten free bread, makes a wonderful supper.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
serves 4

4 red bell peppers
1/2 small sweet potato, unpeeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
extra virgin olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 sundried tomatoes packed in oil
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
sea salt
black pepper
1 lime, sliced
Italian parsley, chopped
4 radishes, chopped
1 tablespoon red onion, chopped

Preheat broiler. Cut bell peppers in half. Seed and devein. Place cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet and place under broiler. Broil until skin is completely blackened. Remove from oven and place peppers in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Allow to cool. Peel cooled peppers and roughly chop. Set aside.

Place sweet potatoes in a medium bowl and cover with water. Microwave until soft, about 4 minutes. Drain.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the onions, cooked sweet potatoes, cumin, sundried tomatoes and a pinch each salt and pepper to skillet and saute, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add to the bowl of a slow cooker, along with the reserved peppers and the stock.

Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Puree in batches in a blender or (my preferred method) with an immersion blender until it is a smooth as you like (I like a bit of texture). Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Serve garnished with lime slices, parlsey, radishes and red onion.

Other soup recipes to help get you through winter:

It is Soup week at Food Network's Comfort Food Feast roundup. Do you have a favorite soup recipe to share? Please list (or link) in the comments below. And be sure to check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 

The Lemon Bowl: Slow Cooker Posole Rojo
Creative Culinary: 
Split Pea Soup with Carrots and Ham
Homemade Delish: 
Italian Cioppino Soup
Taste with the Eyes: 
Wintery French Lentil Soup with Beef, Carrots, Sherry Vinegar
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: 
Tomato Soup
Dishing with Divya: 
Roasted Cauliflower and Carrot Creamy Vegetable Soup
From My Corner of Saratoga: 
Pressure Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup (in a slow cooker)
Red or Green: 
New Mexican Green Chile, Turkey & Posole Soup
The Heritage Cook: 
Creamy Cheesy Potato Soup (Gluten-Free)
In Jennie's Kitchen: 
14 Sensational Soups
Big Girls Small Kitchen: 
Winter Squash & Chickpea Ribollita
The Mediterranean Dish: 
Mediterranean Spicy Spinach Lentil Soup
The Mom 100: 
Spicy Thai Chicken and Rice Noodle Soup
Healthy Eats: 
5 No-Brainers for Improving Chicken Soup
FN Dish: 
Soup's On! 5 Warming Must-Make Bowls


I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.