Monthly Archives: April 2013

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

They say, to the victors, go the spoils. We had a small victory in our house yesterday. Our oldest son came in third place in a local piano competition. This child gets up at 5:30 AM, four days a week so he can practice piano before school. That must be some sort of teenager miracle. So with the little trophy and all the hard work, it only seemed natural that he should be able to choose what we had for dinner and his choice was Homemade Macaroni and Cheese. Whenever I ask him what he wants for dinner, he either responds with Mac and Cheese or Fettucini Alfredo. He does love his pasta.

My Mac and Cheese certainly does not have any thrilling secret ingredients. It’s quite fast to make. In fact, you can have it prepared in just a few minutes longer than it takes to make the boxed stuff. Be creative with the cheese to suit your taste. While I haven’t made this with low fat cheese, it would probably work just fine. You may need to add extra flour to keep the cheese sauce the proper consistency.

Homemade Mac and Cheese
1 pound prepared pasta
4 tbsp butter
half an onion, chopped
4 tbsp flour
2 cups of milk, slightly warmed
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Start boiling the water for the noodles in a large pot.
2. Melt the butter on medium heat in a pan that will be large enough to hold all the sauce ingredients.
3. Add the chopped onion and saute until slightly translucent.
4. Check your water. If it’s boiling, add the noodles.
5. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and onion and let it sit for a bit so the flour absorbs some of the butter.
6. Add the milk, one cup at a time, stirring gently so you don’t make a mess and to dissolve the flour.
7. Lower the heat to medium low and allow to thicken. Keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the pan and burn.
8. Add your cheese and stir until it’s all melty and smooth. I used a combination of sharp and mild cheddar. You could use sharp cheddar and something zingy like gorgonzola. So many choices!
9. Your noodles should be done by now. Drain them well, put them back in the pot and add the sauce stirring through until all the noodles are thoroughly covered with sauce.

You can serve your Mac and Cheese immediately, or you can transfer it to a prepared baking dish and bake it for 20-25 minutes. I usually serve it right away. I have also baked it after stirring in two beaten eggs and a tsp of sugar. This makes a slightly custardy dish that is very tasty!

As you can see from the picture, I didn’t use elbow macaroni. I used a different noodle. I have no idea what it was but it was shaped a little like a scoop with a curly end so it really gripped the sauce.

Since I am trying to limit my carb intake, my bowl of Mac and Cheese started with some roasted cauliflower with about 1/3 cup of Mac and Cheese. It was delicious. Let me know how you make your Mac and Cheese! Enjoy!


Strawberry and Cream Scones

Do you make scones? Are they hard or soft? Super sweet and cake-like or more like a biscuit? I do love a scone. There are so many ways to make them. I prefer my scones soft and not so sweet, but with lots of fruit and other stuff. With strawberries abounding in the grocery store these days, I decided it was time to make some Strawberry and Cream Scones.

Strawberry and Cream Scones
2 1/2 cups flour – I used half white and half wheat
6 tbsp butter
4 tbsp sugar (you can use more)
1 tbsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
1 cup milk, cream or half and half
1 tsp vanilla

1. Mix dry ingredients together in a food processor
2. Add butter in one tbsp pieces and pulse in processor until everything is the consistency of coarse meal.
3. Transfer to a bowl and add strawberries, mixing gently with a spoon so they don’t get battered.
4. Add vanilla to milk and, also gently, add to the flour, etc and mix well. Be gentle! You don’t want to mangle the strawberries.
5. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a prepared baking sheet. I used parchment paper. You can also prepare with cooking spray.
6. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes for larger scones and 12-15 minutes for smaller scones.

I served my scones with some marscapone cheese. I liked that they weren’t very sweet but others in my home didn’t. They ate their scones with jam to make up for the sugar deficit.

If you aren’t a fan of strawberries, feel free to use the fruit you prefer, or no fruit at all. I’ve listed some ideas for you. Add about a cup of whatever you decide to put in your scones.

  • Peach Ginger
  • Bacon and Cheddar (no vanilla in these and you could skip the sugar)
  • Raspberry
  • Blueberry
  • Apple Cinnamon
  • Chocolate Chip

Bacon Cheddar Crab Rolls

I am very lucky to live close to a really great bakery, Great Harvest Bread Company. In addition to fabulous treats, some healthy and some just too darn good for me to care if they’re healthy, this bakery sells pizza dough. We get pizza dough quite often and use it mainly for pizza. But that’s another story for another post. This past weekend, crab was on sale so I decided to make myself some Bacon Cheddar Crab Rolls.

If you have never made a stuffed roll of any kind, it’s quite easy. They make a great lunch item. They’re great for picnics and they’re very versatile. In addition to the Bacon Cheddar Crab Rolls, I’ll share a couple other filling ideas with you too!

Bacon Cheddar Crab Rolls
8 ounces crab
6 pieces turkey bacon, cooked until very crispy and crumbled
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
dash of Old Bay seasoning
dash of celery salt

2 tbsp melted butter
1-2 cloves of crushed garlic

1. Combine all the filling ingredients.
2. Melt the butter with the garlic
3. Divide your dough into several equal portions. I had about 2 pounds of dough so I made eight rolls. Four were crab and four were something else.
4. Roll each portion into a circle. Brush dough with garlic butter.
5. Place about a half a cup of filling on it and fold it. Start at the top and fold about to the middle. Bring in the sides and then roll it closed.
6. Bake at 350 degrees on a baking sheet with parchment paper or cooking spray with the seam down for about 20-25 minutes until a little brown.

Other fillings you might enjoy are:

  • Salami and cheese – four of the rolls I made this weekend were these
  • Pepperoni and mozzarella 
  • Chopped veggies 
  • You can chop up apples and add some butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and make little apple turnover rolls. 
  • Combine shredded coconut, chopped almonds and chocolate chips for an almond joy roll
  • Another favorite filling in our house is almond paste and white chocolate chips
This is another item that is only limited by your imagination. You will want to use about 1/2 cup of filling for each piece of dough. Roll your dough into roughly a six inch circle. Or in my case, something resembling a hat?
Tell me what you decide to fill your rolls with! Enjoy!

Mango Smoothie

I love a smoothie and Mango Smoothies are, by far my favorite of the smoothie family. One thing that makes them really wonderful is that a certain child in my home who will only eat bananas and won’t touch yogurt would actually consume one of these every day. It would satisfy his tremendous appetite and my need for him to get more fruit and calcium in his growing body.

I am hesitant to call this a recipe. How can I when all you do is throw a bunch of stuff in a blender and press the “On” button? I am going to give you two versions of this drink. The first is what I make my kids and the second is what I make myself. I add a couple things that make it a little healthier.

Kid’s Version
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup fruit (in this case mango)
1/2 tsp vanilla

Blend and serve. Two servings.

Grown up Version
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup fruit
1/4 cup oats
1 tbsp flax seed

Same instructions as above. :)

 I know there are approximately 1.2 gazillion “recipes” for smoothies on the Internet. I certainly cannot claim mine is better than any other. I would like to point out one thing about mine. I don’t add any sugar. Of course, the kids get vanilla yogurt but I usually have Greek yogurt which tends to have less sugar in it than the non-Greek kind.

You can use fresh fruit or frozen fruit. I tend to save my fresh fruit just before it’s about to be pitched and freeze it for smoothies. We also put it in oatmeal.

So try this out. Compare it to your own version or the others you have seen online.


Homemade Asian Noodles

A few weeks ago, Bernadette of Rants from My Crazy Kitchen posted a recipe for Homemade Ramen Noodle Soup. She had prepared the soup after she and her mother-in-law were stricken with the flu. Thankfully, both made a complete recovery. Bernadette wanted to make chicken soup but she had only frozen chicken. So instead, she doctored up some chicken broth with soy sauce and sesame oil and created a much healthier version of that old college favorite.

My 16 year old LOVES ramen noodles. I do not love the sodium content. I rarely buy them for him. I decided to try making Bernadette’s soup. It was incredibly tasty and ridiculously easy. It has become a go-to meal on nights when I am literally stymied and can’t think of anything to make. I usually keep broth, shredded carrots, green onions, garlic and chicken thighs on hand as well as some type of Asian noodle.

The photo is of the Ramen Noodle Soup with chicken broth and no extra meat. Last night I used Udon Noodles with Wegman’s Thai Culinary Stock, chicken thighs and the same veggies. I let my people decide how much broth they wanted. I had more to make it more soup-like. The rest of them went with less broth to make it more “noodley.”

The link to Bernadette’s recipe is above. Below are the modifications I made. This was one of those meals that makes you feel good about having a well stocked pantry and an imagination!

Homemade Asian Noodles
1 quart broth
1/2 lb of protein (chicken, tofu, beef)
4-5 chopped green onions
1/2 shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp ginger
Dash of pepper
2 individual servings of Asian noodles of your choice without the flavor pack

1. Saute your protein in a small amount of oil with the garlic.
2. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook until softened, about 6 minutes.
3. Boil the noodles in the broth until they are cooked, maybe 3-5 minutes depending on how thick they are.
4. Combine everything into one pot and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.

If you don’t have a Wegman’s near you, you can add some lime juice, ginger, white wine and lemon grass to veggie broth to make a pretty close likeness to the Thai Culinary Stock. If you are close to a Wegman’s and haven’t tried this item, I highly recommend it.