Friday, January 31, 2014

Mac n Cheese

Comfort food at it's finest:  Mac n Cheese.  Mmmmmmmmmmmm . ..hearty, flavorful and cheesy.  Don't miss out on this one - it's amazing.

Mac n Cheese

1 lb Macaroni
3 Cups Water
1 and 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
1 lb Bacon
1 Cup Red Onion, Diced
3 Teaspoons Minced Garlic
2 Cups Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
2 Cups Parmesan Cheese (divided)
2 Egg Yolks, lightly beaten
1 and 1/2 Cups Breadcrumbs

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a 9x13 pan (butter it).  Set aside.

Step 2:  Cook the macaroni according to box instructions.  Drain and set aside.

Step 3:  Cook the bacon until crispy.  I prefer to bake my bacon, but frying works fine.  Once crispy, remove the bacon from the pan and place on a plate lined with a paper towel.  The paper towel will absorb the excess grease.  Do not throw out the bacon grease that is in the pan!  Let the bacon cool until it becomes easy to handle.  Once cooled, chop/crumble into small pieces. 

Step 4:  In a fry pan (use the same one as the bacon if you fried it) - add the onion and garlic and fry until onions are soft.  Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on plate lined with a paper towel. 

Step 5:  In a large saucepan, heat the water and cream to a simmer.  Once simmering, remove from the heat and slowly stir in the cheddar cheese and 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese.  Continue to stir until it's mostly dissolved.  Next, slowly temper the egg yolks by adding a tablespoon of the cream sauce to the yolks and mixing together thoroughly.  Do this again with the cream sauce and egg yolks (do it 4 or 5 times total).  Always be sure to mix the cream sauce into the egg yolks thoroughly!!  This is an important step because you do not want your yolks to curdle.  Then, slowly add tempered yolks into the the rest of the cream sauce and mix thoroughly.

Step 6:  Place the macaroni into a large mixing bowl.  Pour the cream sauce over the macaroni and add the onions and bacon to the bowl too.  Mix together well.  Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top as well as the breadcrumbs.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until bubbly and heated through.  

Friday, January 24, 2014

Chicken Cordon Bleu Hand Pies (or Hot Pockets)

The other day we made a big ol' ham that resulted in a lot of leftovers.  So far, we've had sandwiches and eggs benedict with the leftovers.  And then this morning, my hubby says,  "can we make chicken cordon bleu with the ham . . .but like a hot pocket?"  Sure, what the heck . .sounds rather delish!  And if you don't want to make homemade pie crust - you could surely use store bought.  Although, this particular pie crust was super yummy and very easy to work with when rolling out.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Hot Pockets
Makes 8 Hand Pies

2 Cups Flour
1/4 Cup Cornmeal
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
4 Teaspoons Baking Powder
2 Teaspoons Sugar
2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Water

3 Cups Chicken, Cooked and Chopped
1 Cup Ham, Cooked and Chopped
1 Cup Swiss Cheese, Shredded
1 Cup Milk
3 Tablespoons Flour
3 Tablespoons Butter
1 Teaspoon Nature's Seasoning
1/4 Teaspoon Tarragon (optional)
1 Tablespoon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

Tops of Pies
1 Egg
1 Tablespoon Water or Milk

To Prepare the Filling:
Step 1:  In a large bowl, combine the chicken and ham.  Set aside.

Step 2:  In a small sauce pan over low heat, add the butter and melt.  Once melted, stir in the flour until well combined.  Next, add in the mustard and lemon juice and stir until well combined.  You should have a smooth paste.  Now, add in the milk a little bit at a time (I pour about a 1/4 cup at a time) and stir until smooth.  Repeat with the milk until it is all combined.  Then, add in the Nature's Seasoning and tarragon.  Stir to combine.  Raise the heat and bring to a boil, constantly stirring.  It will begin to thicken and you will want it the consistency of gravy.  Once thickened, remove the stove and pour over the meat.   Mix well so all the meat is coated.

Step 3:  Add the cheese to the meat mixture.  Mix thoroughly.  Set aside.

For the Crusts:
Step 1:  Grease 2 large cookie sheets and set aside.

Step 2:  In a large bowl, combine all of the crust ingredients except for the water.  Mix together until it looks like a course meal.  Now, you will add in teh water a little bit at a time.  DO NOT ADD IN ALL THE WATER AT ONCE.  When working with dough, you always want to add in the liquid in small amounts and mix in between additions.  Many times, you may not use all the water.  The goal is have the dough comes together in a ball - but not too sticky, not too try.  I used about a 3/4 cup water total.  You want the dough to be wet enough to stick together and not be crumbly.

Step 3:  Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and take your dough out of the bowl.  The easiest way to portion it out so that you have enough for 8 pieces, is to cut in half (now you have two pieces).  Put half back in the bowl and out of your way.  With the remaining dough on your work surface, cut in half again and in half again - you should have four equal pieces.

Step 4:  Set three of those pieces aside and dust the remaining piece with a little flour.  Also, dust your rolling pin with a little flour too.  Now, roll out the dough into  a thin circle.  It does not need to be perfect.  

Step 5:  On the bottom half of the circle, place about 1/2 cup of the filling on top of the crust.  Fold the top half of the crust down over the filling and pinch the edges together.  A fork works very well to pinch the edges.  Carefully, pick up the hand pie and place on the greased cookie sheet.  

Step 6:  Repeat the above steps regarding the crust until you have assembled 8 hand pies.  

To Bake:
Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Step 2:  Poke each pie with a fork to vent.

Step 3:  Make a simple egg-wash by cracking 1 egg into a small bowl and beat.  Add in 1 tablespoon of milk or water and beat until well combined.  Brush each hand pie with the egg-wash.  Sprinkle each hand pie with paprika.

Step 4:  Place the pies into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cinnamon Roll Cake

Thought I would try a new recipe this week.  I've been craving cinnamon rolls - but too lazy to actually make them.  Gasp!  What's that you say, I am too lazy to go out and buy a can of Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls?  Oh contrare mufraire!  I just don't care for them.  I'd rather have a really good homemade one, and I just aint's got the times for that!  Instead, I gave this a try instead :)  This recipe is adapted from

Cinnamon Roll Cake

Ingredients for the Cake:

1 and 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/8 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
3/4 Cup Milk
1 Large Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Butter, Melted

Ingredients for the Cinnamon Swirl:
1/2 Cup Butter (1 Stick), Melted 
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar 
1 Tablespoon Flour
3/4 Tablespoon Cinnamon

For the Cake:
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Faherenehiet and grease a 8x8 square pan or a 9x9 square pan.

Step 2: In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, white sugar and baking powder. Mix to incorporate.

Step 3: Next, add into the bowl: the milk, egg and vanilla. Stir to combine.

Step 4. Slowly add in the melted butter and stir until combined and smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan and set aside.

For the Cinnamon Swirl:
Step 1. In a small bowl or large coffee mug, combine the melted butter, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir well to combine. It will be runny. Continue to stir together until well combined, but still a liquid/paste.

Step 2: Pour the liquid paste over the top of the cake batter. Then, take a butter knife and swirl the liquid paste into the cake batter (as you would for a marble cake).

Step 3: Bake the cake for 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Frost as desired. I used a premade frosting that I had in the cupboard:

Thursday, January 9, 2014


One of the most amazing things about having a farmer in your family - is reaping the benefits :)  At Christmas time we were given a freezer-full of pork.  So, what to do with all of it?  How about a hearty chili to warm you up during this freeze-a-thon we call winter?  This recipe is slightly adapted from Fine Cooking (Feb/March 2014 issue).  They did a featured article on a 'build your own chili'.  I have to say, this turned out super yummy.  Serves 6.

1.5 lbs of Ground Pork
2 Cups Onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon Chopped Garlic
2 Tablespoons Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
2 Teaspoon Oregano
1 (4 oz) Can of Green Chiles
3/4 Cup Water
1 (14 oz) Can of Dice Tomatoes
2 and 1/2 Cups Chicken Stock
2 (14 oz) Cans of Pinto Beans (drained)
1 Tablespoon Vinegar
1 Tablespoon oil

Step 1:  In a large pan, brown your meat.  Remove from pan and add to a crock-pot.

Step 2:  In that same pan, add 1 tablespoon of oil and heat.  Add in the chopped onion and garlic.  Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, just beginning to brown.  Then, add in the chili powder, cumin, tomato paste, coriander, oregano and green chiles.  Stir together and cook about 1-2 minutes.  Do not skip this step - letting the spices cook together and heat up really starts to realease their flavors!

Step 3:  Add the 3/4 cup of water and bring to boil.  This will loosen the stuff that may be stuck on the bottom of the pan (which contains a ton of flavor!!).  Stir and scrape up anything stuck to bottom.

Step 4:  Add the tomatoes and chicken stock.  Stir.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes.

Step 5:  While your stock is simmering, drain your pinto beans and add them to the crock-pot.

Step 6:  Remove the pan from the heat and add the stock/onion/tomato/seasonings concoction into your crock-pot.  BE CAREFUL - it will be hot.  Is your pan too full?  Then just transfer it scoop by scoop with a measuring cup or large spoon.  Better to be safe than sorry.

Step 7:  Let it simmer in the crock-pot on low for 4-6 hours.

Step 8:  Just before serving, stir in 1 Tablespoon of Cider Vinegar.  This will add a ton of 'bright' flavor.

To Serve:  Fill a soup bowl and garnish at own will :)  My hubby is all about sour cream and cheese.  I prefer mine plain, but I like to eat it with buttered crackers.  To each their own!