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.

May 23, 2011

Farfalle with Broccoli and Cannellini Beans

Farfalle with Broccoli and Cannellini Beans

Back when I first started cooking, this was one of the first recipes I tried. I think I was drawn to it because it was healthy and simple. I looked at it and thought, I could do that.

And I could. But I have to say that after making this dish again, I am not satisfied with it as it is. It is very light but I didn’t find it all that flavorful. I like the idea of combining pasta, broccoli, and cannellini beans since I like all of these components, but I think I might try a different sauce next time. I think I might prefer it with my default roasted tomato sauce or even with a pesto. Both of these options might make the dish a little heavier. If you are looking for an easy, light, quick, vegetarian pasta dish, I would still recommend it as is.

Farfalle with Broccoli and Cannellini Beans

Adapted from Epicurious

Makes 6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon Italian herb blend
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper, to taste
1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans), drained
8 ounces farfalle
14 oz bag frozen broccoli florets

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; stir 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes with juices and 1/4 cup water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; boil gently until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season sauce with Italian herb blend, salt, and pepper. Stir in beans.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until almost tender, about 8 minutes. Add broccoli florets; cook until pasta is just tender but still firm to bite and broccoli florets are tender, about 5 minutes longer. Ladle out 1/2 cup pasta cooking water and reserve.

Drain orecchiette and broccoli florets and add them to the skillet with the sauce and beans. Add reserved pasta cooking water and toss to blend. Serve with parmesan cheese.

May 16, 2011

Linguine in Tex-Mex Pepper Cream Sauce

Linguine in Tex-Mex Pepper Cream Sauce

I like recipes that combine different culinary traditions, especially when the culinary traditions are delicious ones like Mexican and Italian. I have a couple recipes like this that are already staples, and this one interested me as a possible addition to the list. The creamy pureed sauce makes it different from the ones I usually make.

This is an extraordinarily quick and easy recipe and the results are spicy and delicious. I think the next time I make it, I will toss in a can of black beans (drained), in the third step, just to give it a little more substance as a main dish. I could also see using this as a side dish for a simple meat entree, if you are so inclined.

Linguine in Tex-Mex Pepper Cream Sauce

Adapted from The Cooking Photographer

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sour cream
4-ounce can mild diced green chiles
2/3 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
1 pound linguini pasta

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the
onions, bell peppers and salt and cook until tender stirring
occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Meanwhile cook
the pasta in salted water according to package directions

2. Place the veggie mixture into a food processor with sour cream, green chiles, cheese, cayenne and black pepper. Puree until
smooth scraping the sides as needed.

3. Toss the pasta with the sauce and reheat over very low heat in the skillet.

April 6, 2011

Baked Ravioli

Baked Ravioli

This recipe is adapted from one that I got off the internet so long ago I didn’t even make a note of where it came from. I tried to Google it and nothing came up.

This dish is fairly quick and definitely delicious, but it is not exactly low in calories. I comfort myself by saying that it is at least not as bad as the deep-fried, toasted ravioli recipes that are similar. Please feel free to use this excuse as well.

Baked Ravioli

1 package (25 ounces) frozen cheese ravioli
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
1 cup Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
Jarred or homemade marinara sauce

Heat oven to 400º. Lightly spray a 13×9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Cook ravioli as directed on package; drain well. Toss ravioli with melted butter in prepared dish. Mix bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and
pepper; toss with ravioli.

Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until ravioli is hot and mixture is
golden brown. Serve with warmed marinara sauce on the side.

Yield: 6-8 servings

March 9, 2011

Rigatoni with Sundried Tomato Wine Sauce

Rigatoni with Sun Dried Tomato Wine Sauce

I modified this recipe from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe, but I’ve changed it so much that it is not at all the same recipe. All of my modifications were in the direction of streamlining and simplifying, until there were only the basics that drew me to the recipe in the first place: pasta, garlic, tomatoes, and wine.

So this a very simple and quick recipe, although you could make it more complicated if you wanted to. Giada adds fresh parsley and goat cheese to this recipe. I am not likely to have fresh herbs for a weeknight dinner, and I don’t like goat cheese at all. But you could add any kind of italian herb blend, oregano, or basil, and parmesan would probably be great, too. But I usually just make it plain.

The most important thing to have is the best kind of sun dried tomatoes, which in my opinion are these:

Sun Dried Tomatoes

These have been seen on this site before, in the most delicious focaccia and in the sundried tomato pesto spread. I have tried to make this recipe with another kind of sundried tomatoes, but it was not as good, and I think it is because the oil from these sundried tomatoes is the best. And since you use the sundried tomato oil in the sauce, it makes a big difference. If you can’t get these tomatoes, and the oil from the sundried tomatoes doesn’t seem like it will be awesome, I might just substitute a couple of tablespoons of good olive oil instead of using it.

Rigatoni with Sundried Tomato Wine Sauce

Heavily adapted from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe

4-6 servings

1 pound rigatoni
8 to 10-oz jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped (oil reserved) [preferably California Sun Dry Tomatoes, julienne cut with herbs]
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 oz. can tomato paste
1.5 c white wine [I have used all kinds of white wine, and red wine, too, and it is still yummy]
1 tsp salt

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as package directs, until done. Drain with a colander over a bowl or 4-cup measuring cup, reserving the cooking liquid for the sauce.

Put a colander over a large, heavy skillet and drain the tomatoes into it, so the oil drains into the skillet. Heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the wine and chopped sun-dried tomatoes and simmer until the liquid reduces by half, about 2 minutes. Add the salt, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for another five to ten minutes. Usually I start the sauce right after putting the water on to boil, so I just simmer it until the pasta is ready.

Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat, adding between 1 and 2 cups of the reserved pasta water to moisten. Serve.