Macaroni and Cheese

macaroni and cheeseWe had macaroni and cheese a lot as children. It was easy to make (I think I started to cook it when I was 7 or 8) and it was cheap. On a good day – we got some cut up hot dog added to the pasta… and going into adulthood – I really disliked mac and cheese. Now I like it as a comfort food dinner – Full of real cheeses and milk. I do add a bit of heat and bacon to it as well and after a day of -5F weather, this really hit the spot.

macandcheese3Ingredients:
1 quart whole milk
1 pound gluten free rotini
5 slices thick bacon, sliced and diced
1/2 onion, diced
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup rice flour
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
1 cup parmigiano cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

macandcheese2Place a bit of olive oil in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, and add the diced bacon. Cook for about 10-12 minutes (it should be crispy) and remove from the pot and place on some paper towels. Leave the bacon grease in the pan. Add the onion and butter to the pot, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the flour and mix well. Slowly add the milk (1/4 cup at a time is good) and combine. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a slow boil stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and allow it to thicken.

In a large pot prepare the pasta, shaving off about a minute of the suggested time. It should be slightly firm in the center yet. Make sure to salt the water (1/2 teaspoon or so) to add flavor to the pasta. Drain the pasta and return it to it’s pot without any heat.

macandcheese4Add the cheeses to the sauce and combine well. Last, add the bacon, cayenne, and a bit of ground pepper. Add it to the pasta and stir together well.

Serves 4-6. Enjoy!

Cheesy Potato and Beef Soup

potatoandbeefsoupThere’s been a lot of family and friends around with the holiday season. I’ve indulged in enough sweets and treats and have been craving healthier food. I really do crave vegetables and salad if I don’t get enough! This soup I put together as a bit of a compromise – everyone liked it, adults and kids. It filled up my crock pot, used ingredients I had on hand –  and I have some leftovers for my lunch tomorrow. Organic potatoes and carrots are both in abundance around here right now and I’m able to get for great prices – and they store well.

potatoandbeefsoup2Ingredients:
1 lb lean beef, browned
3 medium potatoes, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cups milk
2 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons sweet rice flour
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

potatoandbeef3In a large skillet cook the onions until translucent. Add the beef and salt, and cook until browned.

In a crock pot add 1 1/2 cups milk and vegetable stock. Take the other 1/2 cup milk and the rice flour and whisk together until thick. Add the thickened milk to the crock pot. Next add in the carrots, potatoes, and beef. Sprinkle the pepper and cayenne on top along with the cheese and stir well. Cover and cook for about 4 hours. Serves 6-8.

Jalapeno Crab Dip

Jalapeno Crab DipThis is one of my favorite appetizers to whip up for parties. It’s easy to put together, and people would never guess it’s gluten free. Everything I serve here is, and I bring gluten free items to pot lucks since I never know what I’m going to be able to have. I set this out with blue corn and regular corn tortilla chips (my family scoffs at the blue corn)! I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season.

jalacrapdip2Ingredients:
12 ounces lump crab meat (double check for cartilage!)
1 1/2 cups sharp white cheddar cheese
2 jalapenos, seeds removed and diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1 cup milk

jalacrabdip3Preheat the oven to 375F. In a large skillet over medium heat place the garlic and butter. When melted add the flour and slowly add the milk, stirring occasionally until thickened. Stir in 1 cup of the cheese, the crab meat, the lemon juice and the jalapenos. When combined place the mixture into a 9×9 baking pan or 1 quart dish. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top and place into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Makes about 2 cups.

Chocolate Pretzel Cookies

chocolate pretzel cookiesWho doesn’t like the combination of dark chocolate and salt? I served these on Christmas as a fun snack to go along with our lunch. They’re rich, fun, and easy to make.

pretzelcookie2

Ingredients:
1 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 dark cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup gluten free pretzels, chopped
pretzelcookies3Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa. In a large bowl mix together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Slowly combine the flour mixture into wet mixture and after combined – add the chopped pretzels and chocolate chips.

pretzelcookies4Make tablespoon sized balls on the baking sheets, and lightly press them down, and press a pretzel onto the top of each cookie. They’re going to be thick and more like a brownie – so they won’t expand much while baking. Bake for 11 minutes, and cool before serving.

Cinnamon Sugar Almonds

cinnamon sugar almondsGetting into the holiday spirit a bit around here and I wanted to serve up a tasty treat. I honestly haven’t done any holiday baking this year – and I usually do so much.  These are great to leave out for a snack or to send as a gift.

cinnamonalmondsIngredients:
1 pound plain whole almonds
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup water

cinnamonalmonds2In a large skillet over medium high heat combine the water and sugar. Dissolve the sugar completely and add the cinnamon. Stir in the almonds. Occasionally stir and the sugar will start to crystallize. Will take about 10-15 minutes. Let them cool a bit before serving  – I do prefer them warm myself!

cinnamonalmonds3

Balsamic Pork Chops

balsamic pork chopsThese pork chops have a bit of the sweet and sour thing going on. If you or your family likes sweeter food – these will go over well. I personally prefer more savory and spicy dishes, and I did like them. The only way to make a bad pork chop in my opinion is to overcook them. You can only get pork chops here in a 3 or 5 pack, which seems a bit odd to me. Maybe they figure one of us would like one for lunch the next day.

balsalmicchop1Ingredients:
2-3 pork chops (I used bone in)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 an onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper, to taste
chop2In a large skillet over medium heat add the onion, balsamic, honey and garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally, to let it reduce. Add the butter to the pan and let it melt in. Salt and pepper your pork chops on both sides to your taste preference. Add the chops to the reduction, cooking on each side for 5-6 minutes.
chop3Serve immediately.  1 pan and easy to make!

 

Roasted Curried Cauliflower

curried cauliflowerI like roasted cauliflower a lot. I make it for a side dish – and for snacking. Today I changed it up a bit, and was quite happy with how it turned out! It’s packed full of great flavor and made the house smell good. This side dish is also very easy to put together.

currycali4Ingredients:
I head of caluflower, cut into bize sized pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

currycali3Preheat the oven to 375F. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, curry powder, cumin, and salt. Place the cauliflower on a large baking sheet and carefully pour the liquid on top. Carefully stir the cauliflower together to coat all the pieces. Place into the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Side dish for 4.

currycali2

Baked Spaghetti Casserole

baked spaghetti Ingredients:
12 oz gluten free spaghetti
1 lb lean ground beef
28 oz spaghetti sauce
12 oz mushrooms, coarsely chopped
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 an onion, chopped
1/2 a green pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons basil
salt, to taste
3/4 cups parmesan cheese
bakedspaghetti2Cook pasta to package directions, salting the water. Preheat the oven to 375F. In a large skillet cook the beef, onions, and green peppers together with the garlic. When the pasta is done, drain the water out and place the pasta in a large bowl. Cut the cream cheese into smaller cubes and place with the noodles. Gently stir the cream cheese into the noodles until it’s melted and the noodles are covered.

bakedspaghetti3Add the spaghetti sauce to the beef and combine well. In a large casserole dish (I used a 9×13) place a light layer of the beef and sauce mixture. Add the spaghetti on top, and then the rest of the sauce. Gently stir the sauce into the pasta a bit. Place a layer of the mushrooms on top, and then the parmesan cheese and basil. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes at 375F.

bakedspaghetti4I’ve found this to be appealing to both adults and children – and it went over big here last night. It’s also great leftovers. Feeds 6.

 

Mango Millet Porridge

mango millet porridgeSome mornings I like to start with a warm comforting bowl or porridge. This one is easy to make, delicious, and a great way to start the day.  You can even cook the millet the night before and then reheat in the morning adding the fruit.

mangoporridge2Ingredients:
3/4 cup uncooked millet
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 mango, diced
maple syrup to taste
milk if desired

mangoporridge3In a medium pot over medium heat bring the millet, salt, water, cinnamon, and nutmeg to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the maple syrup and mango and stir into the millet, just enough to warm the mango. Add milk if you desire.

Makes 1 large bowl or 2 smaller.

Pomegranate Hot Chocolate

pomegranate hot chocolateI can’t remember the last time I’ve had a good hot chocolate. I’ve seen lots of great looking homemade marshmallows lately – which made me crave this. It’s quite rich, and left me with a smile on my face.

hotchocolate2Ingredients:
3 cups milk
1/3rd cup pomegranate juice
3.5 ounces dark chocolate of your choice (I used a 72%)
pinch of salt

hotchocolate1In a medium sized pot on medium heat bring the milk to a soft boil, stirring occasionally. Break up the chocolate bar and slowly add it in while stirring. Add in the juice and salt. Cook until well blended.

hotchocolate3Serves 4 medium cups, 3 larger. It’s quite rich – feel free to add a bit more milk or marshmallows.