Thursday, December 31, 2009

Apps for the New Year

And no, I'm not talking about apps for your phone...this is a food blog remember?  But in all seriousness, it's New Year's Eve and you better believe I have an app for that.  (two, in fact)  Check out some of the tasty treats we'll be enjoying at my place.

The first is one that I'm sure many of you have had in the past...

Mini Rye Bread Pizzas

1 lb. Velveeta cheese
1 lb. sausage, cooked and drained (I used salsiccia)
2 Tbls. ketchup
1 loaf party rye bread
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic salt

Brown and drain sausage and set aside.  In microwave melt cheese, then add ketchup.  Stir in sausage and spread on rye bread slices.  Sprinkle with oregano and garlic salt.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or freeze and bake straight from the freezer for 15 minutes.

We're also having this of my favorite appetizers that my mother-in-law makes.

Sausage Stars

1 lb. sausage, cooked and drained (again, I used salsiccia)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
1 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1 pkg. fresh wonton wrappers (find these in the produce section...go figure)

Press wonton wrappers into mini-muffin tin pan.  Bake for 5 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Cook and drain sausage.  Combine all ingredients (except wonton wrappers) in a bowl.  Remove baked wontons from tin and place on a cookie sheet.  Fill with sausage mixture and bake for 5 minutes or until bubbly, or freeze and bake later for approx. 10 minutes (bubbly).

Happy New Year's Eve to all my readers!  Hope it is fun and safe for all of you.  Here's to a delicious 2010!

Mmmm...Homemade Mac 'N Cheese

Went for the ultimate comfort food last night...homemade mac 'n cheese.  Now many of you might be surprised to learn that the only other time I have ever made homemade mac 'n cheese was with my students at school last school year in my after school cooking class.  Imagine that, I taught my kiddos how to make something I had never made was a bit tricky...but it turned out alright in the end. :)  We learned a lot about measuring and taste testing (we put it up against the box you make on the stove) and made predictions about which one we thought we would like better. But I digress...

So last night I was without a dinner plan but I realized I had a whole bunch of different kinds of cheese, macaroni noodles, and Italian bread it was time to experiment.  I've had lots of different kinds of homemade mac 'n cheese but I think this one took the cake.  It was creamy all the way through but each bite was a little different from all the cheeses it gets topped with before you bake it.  Serve this one up next time you need a last minute dinner option...I promise it will be a crowd pleaser!

Lauren's Homemade Mac 'N Cheese
(adapted from Kraft Foods' Velveeta Downhome Macaroni & Cheese)

Start with the recipe for Velveeta Downhome Macaroni & Cheese but when you get to the part about the shredded cheddar, stop and follow along here...

Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded cheddar, 1/2 cup shredded monterey jack, and 1/2 cup shredded asiago cheese.  Melt 1 Tbls. butter and mix with 4-5 Tbls. Italian bread crumbs.  Sprinkle over top.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes and enjoy!

We'll be eating the leftovers for lunch doubt.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm Back!

Hello everyone!  I know it has been a while and I would have loved to share recipes for Thanksgiving, Christmas cookies, and more but things have just been crazy!  Now I'm back with a new look for the blog (soothing, no?) and I'm kicking it off with some new recipes that, while time consuming to prepare, were absolutely worth the wait. 

These recipes are straight from my Cooking Light magazine (December issue).  I heart Cooking Light in a big way.  My January issue just arrived and I can't wait to go through it and find more yummy things to make this month!  The best part about these recipes...they are low in calories and fat!  Amazing!  If you happen to have the December issue handy, turn to page 206 to see what I'm talking about.

Not a subscriber?  No know I'd never leave you hangin'.  Here's the basic recipe for Belgian Beef and Beer Stew

And now for a few tips...

Next time I make this, I'm skipping the chuck roast.  Have you ever tried to trim a chuck roast??  Probably not, and neither had I before yesterday.  Just take my word for it...don't do it.  Took forever and was impossible to get all the fat off.  Next time, I'll be using the pre-trimmed, pre-cut stew meat.  Not into chopping onions?  Me neither.  Ore-ida and some other brands make bags of frozen, pre-chopped onions.  Look for them in the freezer section of the grocery store near the hashbrowns.  Can't find cremini mushrooms?  Regular ole white mushrooms work fine or go with baby bellas if you can find those instead.  Mincing garlic is minced garlic in the jar.  Totally worth every penny in my book.  I used a Fat Tire as my amber ale...cringed a little as I poured it in the pot but it sure was tasty.  What's a parsnip you ask?  Yeah...I had never used one before either.  Take a look in produce near the carrots.  They kind of resemble white carrots on steroids.  No kidding.  Don't let their raw aroma fool you...they tasted much different cooked in the stew than they smelled raw...much better, in fact.  Who has caraway seeds in their spice rack?  Not me...but I do have celery seed, which is a suitable substitute for caraway in a pinch.  It just packs a slightly milder flavor.  Don't forget to remove the bay leaf before serving!

I couldn't help but notice the next recipe on the page as being one to accompany the first...Herbed Asiago Rolls.  Yes please!  This was my first time in a long time making bread from scratch but they turned out quite nicely if I do say so myself.  I think Tom would agree.  :)  I gave up in Schnucks on my hunt to find ground red pepper so I left it out (1/4 big deal).  They were plenty yummy without it.  AND the recipe made 12 rolls so I froze half of them and will pull them out as needed over the course of the next week or so.  My only tip here is to make sure you read through all the directions carefully before beginning, noting how long you have to let it rise at each stage so you make sure to give yourself plenty of time.

Now I think you're ready to enjoy!  Be on the lookout for more new posts to come.  I have LOTS of cooking to catch you up on!