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Posts Tagged ‘Rachael Ray’

Go figure, it’s been five weeks since I posted anything.  For which I apologize.  However, I haven’t really cooked anything exciting lately.  There was a stretch somewhere in those five weeks where I worked 13 or 14 days straight, often until 7 or 8 at night.  More than once I came home, stood in my kitchen, and ate a bowl of leftovers quick for dinner before showering and passing out 🙂  Not to mention I’ve been busy trying out restaurants in the neighborhood….(Here’s my shout out to The Burger Kitchen…where they not only have awesome burgers, but probably the best fried pickles I’ve tasted yet.  And bacon-wrapped homemade tater tots.  The sheer caloric load of it all makes me feel like I’m back home instead of in vegan and organic obsessed Los Angeles.)

However, Ali and Chris are here now, which means when I cook there aren’t leftovers for several days of meals anymore.  Which means more cooking, and more reasons to blog!

I find it difficult to believe it’s already closer to December than it is to October, and that Thanksgiving is only a few days away.  Probably because, for the most part, it’s 70 degrees here every day and the sun is almost always shining through the smog.  The past few days have been a tad odd, however.  It’s sprinkled a few times and today there was an outright downpour that lasted several hours.  I found it extremely comforting to be watching football in a sweatshirt and wool socks, drinking my coffee and being cozy.  The weather also put me in the cooking/eat a lot of carbohydrates because it’s time to hibernate mood.

We settled on this old reliable Rachael Ray recipe for dinner.  The first time I made this was for Ali while we were holding down the fort at my parents’ in the middle of winter a few years ago.  They were in Florida experiencing record highs, and we were experiencing near-record lows and constant below-zero temps in Wisco.  A big steaming pot of cheesy noodles sounded about right (as did starting a fire and watching Bedknobs & Broomsticks…ha!).

Homemade mac n’ cheese is about as easy as it gets, even though it sounds scary because it involves making a roux to thicken the cheese sauce.  And I know foreign languages in recipes can be quite daunting 😉  Hol and I made a pretty delicious one with bacon and pepper jack last winter.  This one is a little more subdued, but delicious nonetheless:

  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta (thick elbow mac works well too), cooked
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 3 TBSP all purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2-3 cups shredded provolone
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 3/4 lb. thinly sliced deli roast beef (cut into strips)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for 12-15 minutes until they’re tender and slightly carmelized.  (This was harder than it sounded for me the first time.  I totally burned the sh*t out of the first batch of onions.  For real…take the full 15 minutes and use lower heat 😉 ).

While the onions do their thing, melt the butter in a small pot over medium-high heat.  Add the flour and cook for 1 minutes, stirring constantly.  Whisk in the milk slowly and bring to a bubble to thicken, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk in 1.5 cups cheese until melted.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

*Let’s take a time out and discuss cheese, shall we?  I’ve made this with provolone, and I’ve made it with Monterrey Jack.  I’ve used brick cheese sliced thinly, which works just fine.  It’s getting melted, after all.  But since this is a cheese-steak inspired recipe, I’d stick with a white cheese.  It just seems proper…*

Preheat your broiler.  Add the beef stock and sliced beef to the onions and cook to warm through.  If your skillet is broiler-safe, add the pasta and cheese sauce at this time, top with the remaining cheese, and broil for a few minutes until the cheese melts/browns.  If your skillet isn’t safe for the broiler, place the mixture in a baking dish that is, and then broil it.  Or just skip the broiling step if you want.  A few minutes in a hot oven will do essentially the same thing.

That pan is probably the most useful thing in my kitchen....

My tummy is nice and full as I type this, but as usual I have a few comments on what I just created.  Though the broiler does give the top layer a nice crunch, I think it would be yummy to add some bread crumbs to the top with the cheese to sort of extend that.  Make it sort of tuna casserole-esque.  And though my cheese sauce turned out fine, I used skim milk.  I’m sure the French, as well as Rachael Ray, would shudder at the thought.  And I’m sure 2% would make it a bit richer.  I just want you all to know, skim works fine.  Don’t worry 🙂

I hope I can find the time to blog more here with the holidays coming up!  But for now, I will wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.  Enjoy that turkey, and while you’re at it…cheer for the Packers!

 

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