Goth Panda

February 3, 2014

Macaroni and Cheese with Buttery Crumbs

Mac and Cheese Done

This is one of the first recipes I made, many years ago when I was first trying to learn how to cook, and it has stuck with me because it is delicious. How can you turn away a recipe that requires one and a half pounds of cheese, and in addition announces the presence of “buttery crumbs” in the title?

I have made this many times, but usually for special occasions because it does take a while to make. You have to start it between 1-1/2 to 2 hours before you want to eat it, although the recipe does have a make ahead option, below. But it makes a lot, usually around 8 servings for us, so there are plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week. I like mine with hot sauce.

Mac and Cheese Before Baking

Before going in the oven

Macaroni and Cheese with Buttery Crumbs

Adapted from Food and Wine

5 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 1/2 c half-and-half or whole milk
1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 pound Colby cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
1 pound rotini
3/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs (I usually use seasoned)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously spray or butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the half-and-half and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add one-half of the Cheddar and Colby cheeses and cook over low heat, stirring, until melted. Stir in the mustard, nutmeg and cayenne; season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain very well. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the cheese sauce and the remaining cheese and stir until combined. Spread the pasta in the prepared baking dish.

In a small glass bowl, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. Add the bread crumbs and stir until evenly moistened. Sprinkle the buttered crumbs over the macaroni and bake for 45 minutes, or until bubbling and golden on top. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

The assembled dish can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature and bake.

March 27, 2013

Roasted Veggie and Black Bean Burritos

The idea behind this recipe was so simple, when I read it I thought, why didn’t I think of that? Roast up some veggies, combine with black beans, and then bake the burritos. You can roast in advance on the weekend and bake the burritos on a weeknight for a quick dinner. You can make and freeze the burritos individually. I made the filling, and then only defrosted two tortillas, so instead of baking a bunch of burritos, I just baked two.

Roasted Veggie and Black Bean Burritoes

I made some adjustments to the recipe. I used more olive oil in roasting the veggies. I didn’t add cilantro because I am not a fan of cilantro. I didn’t add jalapenos because I didn’t have any, although I might have thrown one in there if I did. I also didn’t add the lime juice, because I didn’t have any. I would totally have added the lime juice if I had had it though. Unlike cilantro.

Roasted Veggie and Black Bean Burritos

Adapted from Aggie’s Kitchen

2 whole Sweet Potatoes, Peeled And Cubed Small
1 whole Red Pepper, Diced Small
1 whole Onion, Diced Small
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Salt
Black Pepper, to taste
1 15-oz can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons Fresh Lime Juice
2 cups Shredded Cheddar
1 package Burrito-Sized Tortillas Or Wraps (6-10 Count)

Toss your raw veggies in a bowl with the olive oil and spices. Place on a sheet pan and roast in a 425 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, tossing around halfway through.

Let cool. Add the black beans and lime juice to your roasted veggies. Combine gently. At this point, mixture can be stored for later use.

Warm your tortillas or wraps in microwave according to directions on package. Spray a casserole dish with nonstick spray or olive oil spray.

Add two heaping tablespoons of vegetable and bean mixture to center of wrap. Top with shredded cheese. Fold over, fold in sides, place in pan seam side down so that they stay together.

Bake in 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Baking this way will make the tortilla wrap crisp. For a softer burrito, spray burrito with nonstick spray, then wrap in aluminum foil and bake for same amount of time.

Makes about 6 burritos.

December 19, 2012

Spanish Rice

Spanish Rice

I usually make this as a main dish, but it could easily be a side. You could also use it to fill tortillas.

Easy Spanish Rice

Adapted from Betty Crocker

1 cup uncooked white rice
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups No-Chicken Broth
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 small red bell pepper, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 15-oz. can black beans

1. Cook rice and onion in oil in 10-inch skillet over medium heat about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is golden brown and onion is tender.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender.

December 13, 2012

Homemade Spaghetti-Os

I love this recipe. It tastes much better than I remember the canned stuff tasting. And it makes about a million servings (okay, maybe just 8-10), but the leftovers can be frozen. I usually make a pot of this and then Mike has emergency lunches in the freezer for when we don’t have leftovers.

I managed to find Spaghetti-O rings at Wegmans, the store brand pasta in the red box. You can use any type of small pasta, of course, but I like having the traditional rings.

Homemade Spaghetti-Os

Adapted from So Says Sarah

14 ounces pasta rings
1 28-ounce tomato puree
4 cups water
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp butter
1/4-cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Boil the pasta rings in a big pot of boiling water for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile assemble the sauce in another large stockpot. Combine the tomato sauce and water over medium heat. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, sugar, and pepper, and let it simmer while the pasta cooks.

Drain the pasta when it is done and return it to the original pot. Add the butter and stir to coat the pasta.

Slowly add the rings to the tomato sauce and let them simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir frequently so the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

Turn off the heat, and while stirring, add the milk and shredded cheddar until melted and combined.

December 10, 2012

English Muffin Toasting Bread and Cheese on Toast

Cheese on Toast is pretty much my idea of a perfect meal. Maybe it comes from being a vegetarian, but a surprising number of my meals are made up of combinations of bread and cheese. Basically I have the diet of a medieval English peasant.

I made the English Muffin Toasting Bread specifically for the Cheese on Toast, but it was pretty good on its own, and very easy to make.

Welsh Rarebit

The cheese sauce was quick and easy to make. I used Cabot cheddar, to make it extra Vermont-y.

Mike was uncertain about a meal consisting of Cheese on Toast. He likes to eat things that have an aura of healthfulness to them. But once he tried it, he was won over. The power of cheese sauce is mighty.

We ate this with baked beans, but we had much more cheese sauce than we needed. I ended up mixing it with macaroni for an improvised mac and cheese, and that was tasty, too.

English Muffin Toasting Bread

from King Arthur Flour

3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 (1/2 ounce) tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 cup (8 ounces) milk
1/4 cup (2 ounces) water
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) vegetable oil or olive oil
cornmeal, to sprinkle in pan


Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and instant yeast in a large mixing bowl.

Combine the milk, water, and oil in a separate, microwave-safe bowl, and heat to between 120°F and 130°F. Be sure to stir the liquid well before measuring its temperature; you want an accurate reading. If you don’t have a thermometer, the liquid will feel quite hot (hotter than lukewarm), but not so hot that it would be uncomfortable as bath water.

Pour the hot liquid over the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl.

Beat at high speed for 1 minute. The dough will be very soft.

Lightly grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, and sprinkle the bottom and sides with cornmeal.

Scoop the soft dough into the pan, leveling it in the pan as much as possible.

Cover the pan, and let the dough rise till it’s just barely crowned over the rim of the pan. This will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.

Remove the cover, and bake the bread for 22 to 27 minutes, till it’s golden brown and its interior temperature is 190°F.

Remove the bread from the oven, and after 5 minutes turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Let the bread cool completely before slicing.

Yield: 1 loaf

Cheese on Toast

Also from King Arthur Flour

Cheese Sauce
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) butter
6 to 8 tablespoons (1 1/2 to 2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard or 1 teaspoon prepared mustard, optional
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
a pinch of cayenne pepper, optional
1/2 cup (4 ounces) beer or ale
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) milk: skim, low-fat, full-fat, evaporated, half & half, or light cream
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

6 thick slices toast, your choice of bread


In a saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter, then stir in 3 tablespoons of the flour, the dry mustard, Worcestershire, salt, and cayenne until well combined.

Gradually stir in the beer or ale, whisking until no lumps remain and the sauce is thick.

Put the remaining 3 to 5 tablespoons flour in a bowl or measuring cup. Whisk in the milk, stirring vigorously to avoid lumps. Pour the milk mixture into the saucepan, whisking constantly until all the milk is added and the mixture is smooth. Cook until very hot, but not simmering.

Gradually add the cheese, again stirring constantly until the cheese is melted. Reduce the heat to low, and stir the sauce occasionally as you make the toast.

Slice bread 3/4″ to 1″ thick and toast until it’s golden brown on the outside, yet still a bit soft inside.

Place each piece on a plate, and pour on the cheese sauce. Serve hot.

Yield: 6 servings