Posts tagged ‘cheese’

February 16, 2011

Mac n’ Cheese n’ Salami

Chris and I celebrated our Valentine’s Day together on Sunday by having a lovely picnic/Element tailgate at Cabrillo National Monument. The afternoon’s menu consisted of vintage cheddar cheese (by far my new fav Trader Joe’s  cheese), Sopressa salami, crackers and a breathtaking view of San Diego and beyond.

Later that evening I used the left over vintage cheddar cheese (I can’t say how good this was enough times) and Sopressa salami to make Mac & Cheese & Salami. Do I know the way to a man’s heart or what? They can never say no to mac n’ cheese — especially if you add meat to it.

The golden crispy top gets me every time. The creamy cheese and salty salami combo was slammin’! Slammin’? I haven’t used that word since 1997 or so…I should bring it back.

Want a bite?? Open up…

This recipe was much easier this time than it has been in the past. I usually complicate things by using 3-4 different cheeses. This was also my fifth or six time doing it so I guess it should be easier now, right?

Oh, and Chris shredded all the cheese for me. Be sure you hand a man the grater. If you let him watch TV at the same time he won’t even know he’s doing all the work for you.

First step is to make your cheese sauce and add the nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Dump your heart shaped pasta into the sauce.

Top with a sprinkle of bread crumbs and bake until the top is golden and crispy.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb elbow macaroni (or heart shaped pasta)

1/2 cup Sopressa salami, diced — I recommend sauteing your salami a little bit before hand so that it can crisp up!

1 1/2 very sharp cheddar, shredded

1 1/2 cups white cheddar (or Gruyere), shredded

2 cups milk

1/2 cup flour

3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook the macaroni (or heart shaped pasta) according to the directions on the package. Drain well. If they stick together, drizzle some oil into them and toss it around.

Heat the milk in a small saucepan, be careful not to let it boil. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large pot (you will be adding the pasta to it later on) and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Continue whisking as you slowly add the hot milk. Cook until it becomes thick and all the clumps are smoothed. Stir in the nutmeg, salt and pepper.Turn off the heat and add the cheeses of your choice and the salami. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a medium sized baking dish or ramekins.

Melt the remaining 1 tablespoons of butter and mix in the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes if in a baking dish, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top. Ramekins only need 10 to 15 minutes.

From the Little Yellow Kitchen,

Lauren

February 7, 2011

Spicy Pepper Jack Fondue

Who doesn’t adore fondue? There are some restaurants solely devoted to serving this luxurious preparation of food. From cheese, to meat, to chocolate, fondue is one of those special-occasion delicacies. Even though we prepared this Spicy Pepper Jack Cheese Fondue for Lauren’s birthday, we’d like to think that if it was healthier, we wouldn’t need a special occasion to make it. But let’s be honest, this cheesey pot of love has to involve some stickin’ on the hips, so maybe we will keep with the “special occasion” criteria.  Regardless, you MUST TRY THIS!


A simple fondue makes for a happy tummy. These are all the ingredients you will need!

Flour and shredded cheese, combined. The next step is….

The melting! Its easiest to melt cheese in thirds, adding the wine and pepper in halfway through.

A nice, even consistency is what you are looking for. This double boiler action is the key to fondue success!

 

Fresh baked bread (from the store, or from your oven) is always a great fondue dipper, as well as a variety of  crunchy veggies.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

1 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded

1 1/2 Tbsp flour

1/2 cup dry white wine

dash of pepper

stuff for dipping! (veggies or bread, they both work great)

Directions:

1.  Coat shredded cheese with flour

2.  Add 2-3  inches of water in a medium sauce pan, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, place a large metal bowl in the boiling water, to create a Double Boiler (check out that link for a great “how to” on double boilers from the Baking Bites blog).

3.  Turn down the heat to medium (so the water isn’t boiling like crazy out of the saucepan) and add 1/3 of the floured cheese into the metal bowl, and whisk. When the cheesy contents are melted, add 1/3 more of the cheese along with some pepper and the wine. Whisk until combined, then add the remaining cheese.

4. Transfer into a fondue pot and turned on the low-heat setting (so the cheese doesn’t burn).

5. Cube up a loaf of french bread, or arrange a variety of veggies (raw or blanched) and use these to dig into that cheesy fondue dip.

6. Enjoy. Fondue is so delicious, how could you not?

From the Little Yellow Kitchen

-Chrissy

January 26, 2011

Mean Green Chicken Enchiladas

That’s right. Watch out, these cheesy fiends will enlarge your thighs! Ha, funny. But seriously, check these puppies out!

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FYI, this isn’t a totally unhealthy dish, it has tons of spinach in it and light cream cheese. Plus, the color comes from lots o’ yummy veggies: green onion, cilantro, spinach, and chiles.

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It’s been a while since the Fajita Fiesta for One so we thought it was time to re-release our inner urges to Americanize Mexican food. We just can’t resist things like California burritos (carne asada, avocado and fries), nacho cheese sauce from a push pump, and apparently green and creamy enchiladas. If American’s love of cream and cheese and Mexico’s love of tortillas and cilantro had a baby, this would be it.

I made this with my mom during the holidays and have been thinking about it ever since. It was clearly love at first bite.

Mean Green Chicken Enchiladas

Sauce

  • 1/2 12-ounce package fresh spinach
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 green onions, minced
  • 1 4-ounce can diced green chilies, drained
  • 1  teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1  teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Enchiladas

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 8 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • sour cream and salsa to top it all off

How to:

Warm cream cheese and milk for 20-30 seconds and blend well. Melt butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add flour and stir mixture for about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in cream cheese and milk mixture. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in spinach, cilantro, green onion, chilies, cumin, coriander and red pepper. Use an immersion blender to puree (or put into a food processor). Season with salt and pepper.

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Heat oil in heavy small skillet over medium-high heat. Dip tortillas in oil to soften, shake it off, and put onto paper towels to drain.

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Let’s just pretend the Italian wine in the background is a Corona with a snazzy little lime in it. Thanks.

Combine cheeses in large bowl; set aside 3/4 cups for topping. Combine onion and cilantro in small bowl.

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Place 1/4 cup cheese mixture in center of 1 tortilla. Spoon 2 teaspoons onion mixture over. Roll up tortilla. Place seam side down in large glass baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas, cheese and onion, using 1/4 cup cheese for each.

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Preheat oven to 375°F. Sprinkle the top with with a happy trail of reserved 3/4 cup cheese.

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Bake until the cheese browns a bit, about 25 minutes.

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Enjoy your Mean Green Chicken Enchiladas with LOTS of loved ones, because it can sure feed all of them + some.

From the Little Yellow Kitchen,

Lauren

January 26, 2011

Crispy Eggplant Spinach Parm

Eggplant. I repeat, Eggplant. Do not be scared of it! It is so delicious when prepared the right way. I promise.

Here, have a look for yourself…

Since Lauren and I prepared some Mediterranean-style, grilled eggplant sandwiches for work yesterday, we still had a large portion of the eggplant hanging out in the fridge. On occasion, the remaining eggplant half might just end up pushed to the back only to be found during an intense cleaning session, thus resulting in a mass exodus of forgotten leftovers. We tried to steer clear of this from happening (again), so it was time for an eggplant parmesan creation.

Here are a few rules of thumb when preparing Eggplant:

1) Make sure you pick a fairly solid eggplant; if it is squishy in spots or feels hollow, steer clear.

2) Cut thick slices (about 1/2 in.); if slices are too thin, then they will turn out soggy and mushy and you will be so sad.

3) Soak up moisture. Use an old towel to press each side of the eggplant slices, before breading them, which will ensure a crispy and firm baked eggplant result.

Note: this is a messy task, try to only dirty one hand.

For the Eggplant:

Prepare a dredging station consisting of the following:

  • bowl with a 1/2 cup flour
  • bowl with 2 eggs, beaten
  • bowl with breadcrumb mixture (2/3 cup Italian bread crumbs; 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, additional dash of oregano, thyme, basil)

Don’t be shy, smother eggplant slices in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Place on foiled cooking sheet and bake for around 10 minutes on each side in a 400 degree oven.

 

Meanwhile, start preparation For the Sauce:

1/2 Jar of  tomato & basil marinara

1 Mexican squash (zucchini is fine too)

1 Medium onion

6-8 Small crimini mushrooms

1 Can drained diced tomatoes

Handful of fresh spinach

Garlic powder, salt, pepper (to taste)

Directions: Saute onions for a few minutes. Add in the diced squash and mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients, except for the spinach, and let simmer for around 15 minutes, stirring occassionally. Turn off the heat and stir in a handful or two of spinach.

Now, for the layering!


Start with a base of sauce. About a cup covered the bottom of our casserole dish.

Then put first round of eggplant slices atop the sauce. Follow with a few handfulls of spinach and cheese (we cut back on the mozzarella this time, and used a pre-shredded, 6- cheese Italian mix, along with some grated Parmesan & Romano.

Now, its time for the last layer of crispy eggplant slices. Lastly, top with a thin blanket of shredded cheese (mozzarella or the 6-cheese blend that we used) and grated Parmesan.

Put it in the oven and let cook at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the top is looking golden brown. Remove, and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting into it, so that its not so messy when dishing it up.

Seeeeeee... Eggplant is good enough to eat! (or scarf down, in our case...)

 

 

 

From the Little Yellow Kitchen

–Chrissy

December 11, 2010

Cleanin’ out the Fridge: Last Minute Goat Cheese Raviolis

A while back we created some delicious Pumpkin Raviolis with Brown Sage-Butter Sauce, and man was that good! Instead of rolling out our own pasta dough (we WILL attempt to do this at some point), we used wonton wrappers and the extra’s ended up in the back of the freezer, just begging for attention. So as they were defrosting, we set out on an adventure through our fridge in hopes to find something tasty to stuff into the raviolis. Here are the ingredients we had on hand…

  • La Chevre Goat Cheese — FYI, Lauren was lactose intolerant not too long ago so we always had goat cheese on hand! (This story for a later post)
  • Fresh Herbs — dried would work too

Oh wait, did I mention that we haven’t had the chance to make it out to the grocery store in ages so we were lucky to find these things in good shape.

Naturally, we put our creative minds to the test in coming up with a fitting sauce. Herbed Goat Cheese Ravioli paired with a Red-Wine and Balsamic Reduction sauce with tomatoes. Yea. We’re not joking. Sounds like something you would spend a whole paycheck on at some fancy schmancy restaurant. Be assured that this sauce is affordable, simple and tasty!

Herb Goat Cheese Raviolis w/o Sauce

Our improvisational preparation went as follows:
1. Crumble the goat cheese into a small mixing bowl.
2. Finely chop up any or all of the herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano, and basil) and combine with the goat cheese. Add salt and pepper.
3. Take a wonton wrapper and place a hearty dollop of herbed goat cheese in the middle.
4. Dip a finger in a cold water and run across the edges of the dough. Fold in a triangle and press watered edges together to seal.
5. Repeat until you have either run out of the stuffing or the wrappers. Since we had extra herbed cheese, we are going to use it for a tasty snack on crackers.
6. Boil a pot of water (with a tablespoon of oil) and add in the ravioli. Since they are fresh, they should only take about 3 minutes to cook, or you can pull them out about 30 seconds after they start floating on the surface.
7. Lay flat on dish, drizzle with olive oil and let cool.

The tender tomatoes are packed with flavor!

 

Red-Wine Balsamic Reduction Sauce with Tomatoes
1. Pour about a ~½ cup balsamic vinegar into sauce pan and bring to boil, whisking briskly.
2. Add ~1/3 cup red wine.
3. Allow to reduce by about half the amount.
4. Add a couple chopped (in fairly large chunks) vine-ripened tomatoes and let them stew in the vinear-wine goodness for several minutes, on a low simmer.

Now all that has to be done is to introduce the two and garnish with fresh herbs, if you haven’t already started digging in by now.

From the Little Yellow Kitchen,
–Chrissy