Saturday, July 26, 2014

Smokey Macaroni and Cheese

I'm back!

Much has occurred since my last post.  Fortunately most of it good.  Thought I would start off with a recipe for Macaroni and Cheese.  I'm alway searching for the right combination of food that is good for you and tastes good.  Macaroni and cheese usually doesn't qualify to be in the good for you category!  This recipe is "less" bad for you!  You can also leave the cheese out and it makes a fabulous vegan dish (without nutritional yeast - yuk!).   I made this last night and my husband said it was the best Mac and Cheese he has had!  The sauce, either the vegan or with cheese added, would be great on broccoli, a topping for baked potatoes, or a vegan nacho dip (just add 1 tsp of chili powder (or more to taste)  and 1/2 tsp of cumin).  The possibilities are endless!  So here is my version of delicious less bad for you......

Smokey Sweet Potato Macaroni and Cheese

1 1/2 cup peeled small diced orange sweet potato (sometimes referred to as yams but truly are sweet) *
1/2 cup of finely diced onion (approximately 1/2 of a medium sized onion)
1/2 cup of finely diced carrot (approximately) 1 medium sized carrot)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 cup of water (you could use stock but I find the dish has a lot of flavor with just water)
1/2 cup of raw cashews
1 generous teaspoon of dijon mustard
1/3 cup butter (or vegan margarine)
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of salt (I cook with only kosher or sea salt.  I think
   the type of salt makes a big difference in flavor)
Black pepper to taste
For the cheese version...1/2 heaping cup of grated smoked
  cheddar and 1/2 heaping cup of swiss cheese.  You can use
   any combination of cheeses you have
1/4 cup of panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese (omit for vegan version)
12 ounces of dried pasta.  You can use any shape but I like to
   use a pasta that is a little more substantial than macaroni
  because it will stay a little firmer once it is baked.  Penne,
  fusilli or bow tie pasta works great or a combination.  This is
  a good way to use up any of those small bits of dried pasta you have laying around.  Just be careful to
   look at the cooking times and add the pasta first that need more time cooking time.
Large pot of salted water.

>First soak the cashews in one cup of luke-warm water.
>Heat large pan with water and salt for cooking the pasta.
>Add olive oil to a medium pan and put on med-high heat.
>Saute potatoes, carrots, onion and garlic for about 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.  Turn
      the heat down if you need to.  You don't want the vegetables to brown.

>Add 1/2 cup of water and simmer over med-low heat until carrots and sweet potatoes are very tender,
     about 10-15 minutes
>This would be would time to cook your pasta.  Cook for minutes 2 minutes less than the
     recommended cooking time or until the pasta is still very al dente.  Reserve about 2 cups of pasta
     cooking water before you drain it.  This will be used to thin the sauce if needed.
>Drain the water from the cashews and add the drained cashews to the vegetables.
>Add the butter or margarine, dijon mustard, cayenne and salt.
>Simmer for another 3 minutes to let the flavors mingle.
>Put everything in a blender.  Start on low speed and then turn up to high.  Blend to a smooth
     consistency.  You need to be careful anytime you blend hot ingredients.  Place a dish towel over the
     top of the blender and start slow.
>Once smooth, return to pan and simmer on low heat.  If you are making the vegan version the sauce is
     basically done.  Thin with some pasta cooking water if too thick.  Just add the pasta, topping and
>For the cheese version, add the smokey cheddar and swiss cheese and simmer stirring frequently until
     the cheese is melted.  Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and mix together.  Add 1/2 to 1 cup of the
     pasta water if the sauce is too thick.
>I used a small Le Creuset pan that is oven safe but you can also put the macaroni and sauce into a
     buttered baking dish.
> Sprinkle panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese and bake at 375 for about 15-20 minutes just until  
     bubbly and the topping starts to brown.
> Serve and enjoy!

 Here's a link with the low down on sweet potato vs. yams.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Kitchen Party!!

First big kitchen party and I forgot to take pictures  :-(
The party was a great success and many new faces to celebrate with.   We missed those of our family and friends that could not attend.  The food was a week long in preparation but was such a joy to prepare in the new kitchen.

The menu:
Heirloom Tomatoes with Basil and Capers
Roasted Eggplant and Cannelini Beans with  Crispy Proscuitto
Goat Cheese, Lemon and Arugula topped with Imported Olive Oil
Italian Marinated Shrimp and Calamari
Caprese Kabobs with Basil Oil and Balsamic Reduction

Italian Sausage Rounds with Homemade Marinara

Mini 3-Meat Meatballs with Homemade Marina
Italian Marinated Olives
 A medley of Italian olives marinated with olive oil, garlic, oregano, basil and hot pepper flakes
My Nana’s Marinated Eggplant Salad
A long standing family recipe. mmmm  Recipe soon to follow.  
Antipasti Platter
Hot Coppa-cola, Dry Salami, Proscuitto, Pepperoni, and Sharp Provolone
Cheese and Fruit Platter
Cambazola Cheese, Honey Comb (from our bees), Grapes and Almonds
Bagna Cauda with Crudite "recipe"
Yummy warm dip made with anchovies, olive oil, butter and garlic and served with blanched green bean, tri colore peppers (red, yellow and orange), carrots and Belgian Endive 

And For Dessert!
Almond Biscotti
Pine Nut Cookies with Fennel  "recipe"
An Assortment of Dessert Wines.
Some of the recipes came from my head and other’s I found here and there however I often just use recipes as a guide and add my own touches.  I added links next to the recipes that I found on the internet and made just as they were.  Just click “recipe”. 
My cousin Jan took a couple of pictures and will post them when available.  

Friday, September 9, 2011

Vietnamese Bun

This was my first attempt at making Bun, (pronounced boon)  a Vietnamese favorite of ours.   The possibilities are endless for changing up the ingredients based on your favorites or what you have at home.  One of the best things about this dish is the combination of crunchy and soft, hot and cold, and salty and spicy.  You prepare the noodles, add the veggies around the side, add the meat (or whatever you choose), sprinkle on the herbs and nuts and then pour over this amazing sauce called Nuoc cham and stir all together. As you eat everything marinates in the Nuoc cham and is better at the end of the bowl than the beginning.   It can be made vegetarian by substituting tofu for the pork or just using veggies. It’s very light but filling at the same time.  Great summer dish.   You can go vegan with it but will have to skip the fish sauce in the Nuoc Cham and substitute wakame, dulse or other dried seaweed.  

Here is my rendition:
Vietnamese Bun - Serves 2

1 country sparerib - sliced into thin strips
2 cloves garlic - chopped
3 tablespoons hoisin
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped Thai basil
Combine and marinate overnight
Make Nuoc cham and let the flavors meld for at least 30 minutes.

Nuoc cham

1/4 cup cold water
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Sugar - If using seasoned rice vinegar add 1 tablespoon of sugar.  If using unseasoned   
   vinegar add 2 tablespoons
1 clove of finely minced or crushed garlic
1/4-1/2 teaspoon of Sambal oelek or other spicy pepper sauce
1 tablespoon of finely diced carrot

Combine all ingredients together in small bowl.  Set aside

Rice vermicelli noodles - there are many sizes so cook by package directions then rinse in cold water thoroughly until no longer starchy.  Drain and set aside.
Have the following prepped  and set aside:
1/4 head lettuce - sliced into thin strips
1/2 cucumber - sliced or chopped
1 carrot - julienned
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 additional tablespoons of chopped Thai basil
3 tablespoons chopped peanuts

Stir fry the onion, eggplant and pork together until done and the sauce has thickened some.  If too dry you can add a little more hoisin when cooking.  Set aside.
Microwave the noodles for a minute or 2 to warm them.
Now put it all together...

Place the warmed noodles in the center of a large bowl. 
Put the lettuce, cucumber, carrots and meat around the edges.  Top with cilantro, Thai basil and peanuts.  Pour over about 1/2 cup of Nuoc cham and stir all ingredients together.  
You can add additional Sambal oelek or Sriracha sauce for extra spice.
The Bay Market on Sprague in Spokane or other Asian markets are a good place to buy supplies if you can’t find them in your local grocery store.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Summer - Where did it go?

For my blog viewers, I apologize for the long delay.  This has been a busy summer with many exciting changes, however a bit exhausting.  Best of all we have a new grandson.  He is adorable!!!!  He is grandchild #4 and the first boy.  We love him and such a great addition to our family.
5 days old!!

And then there's the kitchen!   Speaking of the kitchen...It is amazing.  Just a few finishing touches to go but is now very functional.  I love not having a refrigerator in the living room!

  We have had a few bumps in the road but our contractor (Berry Built) has bent over backwards to keep the project going.  We have a corner cabinet being remade and a touch of trim and a few light dimmer switches to install but otherwise complete.  I LOVE IT.

From the living room looking in.

My favorite new appliance!!!

Coming to the blog soon will be some of the new food cooked in the new kitchen.  

Friday, July 29, 2011

Travel Bound

Heading to Seattle this weekend and will be there for the week to await the birth of grandchild #4 - First boy!  I am so excited and hope he decides to join us while I am still there.

Leaving the kitchen remodel behind which makes me a little nervous.  Here is the most recent pictures. With drywall up I can really start to visualize the end product.  Fortunately the husband will be home working and keeping up on the remodel.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Paley's Salmon

I am really starting to miss my kitchen.  The drywall is up but waiting for the taping and painting and then cabinets.  We have been enjoying all the local fare but ready to start cooking in our new space.  We had an amazing dinner at the Italia Trattoria last night and this morning breakfast will be served to us by Kate and Shane.  I find cooking to be such a creative process and I miss that connection. 

Here is my favorite way to prepare salmon.  I made this pre kitchen demo and I suppose we could prepare it again in our pseudo kitchen (aka spare bedroom) but the clean up is a big hassle.  Anyways, make sure and start with a good piece of fish.  On a recent fishing trip, my husband caught this beautiful mackinaw at Priest Lake so I made the recipe with mackinaw and was also delicious. The mackinaw worked well but salmon is still the bomb!

This recipe is from the Paley's Restaurant, in Portland OR, cookbook.  We dined there with our good friends and traveling buddies and they were kind enough to buy me a copy of the cookbook.  If you are a cookbook fan and love good food, this one is for you.  We bought cedar planks especially for cooking but according to the official recipe, you can use cedar shakes.  Here is a few pictures of the process along the way and here is a link to a copy of the original recipe.  Click Here

Sweet Walla Walla onions , basil and a whole head of chopped garlic

Cedar planks brushed with olive oil then topped with chopped garlic

Mackinaw marinated in orange rind, brown sugar and kosher salt placed on top of garlic

Fish is covered with onions and basil and topped with a little olive oil and put on a hot barbecue.  I'm a big fan of the charcoal Weber but the gas grill works great.  The planks catch fire but the onions protect the fish and the garlic permeates!!!

The finished product

Served with grilled asparagus and lemon vermicelli

Here's the lemon pasta recipe again.  Enjoy!  I think any type of fish could be good.  Thinking about a vegan version and may try it some night with tempeh or seitan  for the vegan kids! 

Lemon Pasta

In a large bowl add the zest and juice of 3-4 lemons, about 1/2 cup of good olive oil, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 3-4 scallions thinly sliced, 1/2 cup of chopped fresh Italian parsley (the only kind to use) and a pinch of sugar to mellow some of the tartness and a few shakes of salt.  (You can add more salt later after you add cheese).  Let set on the counter for 3-4 hours.  Cook your desired pasta, I like vermicelli or linguine, but any pasta that isn't too hearty will do.  Drain with al dente and toss in lemon mixture.  Add about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan Reggianio.  Add additional oil and salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Just sailing along

Not much cooking going on in our house.  I have tried to cook a few times but sans kitchen, it's just too difficult.  We have had some amazing vegan food at Kate's and otherwise restaurants and take out (Thai food tonight) has been the plan.

The kitchen does not look much different at this point but the plumbing, electrical, structural work and insulation is done.  Now being inspected and should have some sheet rock up in a couple of days.

In the mean time we have been spending a little time on the lake.  
Robb, Kate and our friend Steve bringing the boat in after a windless race!

Sunset view from our boat

Water reflection view of the clouds with our boat sneaking in!