Saturday, May 30, 2015

Pimiento Cheese Mac and Cheese

I am a Southern girl at heart and I love my Pimiento Cheese. I was raised on a healthy dose of “cheese salad” sandwiches, and I still love them to this day. I also love Mac and Cheese, so you know that, eventually, a combination of the two just had to come to pass.

Mr. O-P, Yankee that he is, is not a particular fan of either, so I didn't bother to offer him any of my experimental dish when I served it as a side with roast chicken and sugar snap peas tonight. Eying my plate with more enthusiasm than I had expected, he asked if he might give it a try. I could tell this recipe was successful when he went back for seconds, and then thirds!

This is a tasty, creamy, comforting way to enjoy macaroni. The pimiento here is really
Melissa's Fire Roasted Sweet Bell Peppers that add so much more flavor than a dozen jars of pimientos ever could. A heavy hand with the smoked paprika gives it a nice color and complex taste. It's Mac and Cheese for mom and dad, but the kids are going to love it too. I dare you not to like it.
Pimiento Cheese Mac and Cheese

1 cup uncooked rotini pasta
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup whole milk
4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1-1/2 Tablespoons stone ground mustard
1-1/2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
8 ounces (1/2 jar)
Melissa's Fire Roasted Sweet Bell Peppers, drained and diced

Cook rotini according to package directions. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Whisk in flour and cook over medium low heat until combined. Increase heat to medium, whisk in milk and continue to cook until thickened, whisking occasionally. About 5-7 minutes.

When mixture has thickened, stir in cheese, mustards, and paprika until combined.  Fold in rotini and peppers.  Serve immediately.

Here's another delicious and unique way to eat pimiento cheese, Pimiento Cheese Toasts.

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Friday, May 29, 2015

Inside-Out Ravioli

Rummaging through my mother's recipe box, I came across this old recipe for what I remember being a ‘70s favorite. I remember eating and enjoying this many times in the seventies, and then came eighties, and we never had it again. I have no explanation for this phenomenon except to provide my own excuse for doing pretty much the same with some of my favorites. There are just so many recipes, from so many sources, and so little time to try them all, that, in the doing, the old ones often get cast aside.

Here is the recipe written in my mother’s handwriting.  Apparently she got if from her friend, June, and my guess is that it was something that June served at one of their many bridge luncheons.

It was clearly written in haste because there is no indication here as to when to add the meat! I struggled with this a bit, and incorrectly added the spinach to the sauce/spinach liquid mixture, but it came out fine all the same. I also added a lot of my own ingredients (reflected in the parentheses in the written version below).  Both my dad and Mr. O-P really enjoyed this one. 

The directions state to make it in a 9” x 13” pan, but I made it in two-serving casserole dishes, so a number of servings went into the freezer to be enjoyed at a later date.
It’s a bit more work than the average casserole, but well worth it, which is why it’s my Casserole of the Month!

Inside-Out Ravioli

1 pound ground chuck
(1/2 pound Italian sausage)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 10-oz. package frozen, chopped spinach
(1/2 cup pitted black olives, sliced)
(1/2 cup, loosely packed pepperoni, cut in slivers)
1 lb. jar Chef Boyardee Spaghetti Sauce with mushrooms (I used Paul Newman's Sockarooni
®, about 3/4 of the jar)
8 oz. can tomato sauce
6 oz. can tomato paste
1/2 tsp. salt
Dash pepper
2 cups (7 oz. pkg.) uncooked Creamettes
® elbow macaroni, prepared according to pkg. directions
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs (I used Italian bread crumbs)
2 well beaten eggs (I used extra-large)
1/4 cup salad oil (I used canola)

Brown meat and onion; drain.

Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain well, reserving liquid. Add water to drained spinach liquid to make one cup.

Stir spinach liquid (just the liquid not the spinach, as I did, sigh) and next seven ingredients together until blended, add meat mixture, and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

Combine spinach with macaroni, cheese, crumbs, eggs, and salad oil. Spread macaroni mixture into a 9
x 13 baking dish. Top with meat sauce (and additional cheese, if desired).

Bake at 350
ยบF for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly along the sides. Let stand 10 minutes after removing from the oven.

Can be made a day ahead, and freezes beautifully.
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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Coconut Water Smoothie with Mango, Banana, and Strawberries

In the heat of the summer, and, trust me when I tell you that it is here, there is both a need for hydration and good nutrition.  But, really, who wants to eat?  Enter the fresh fruit smoothie! Yes, I know that this is nothing new, but this version, from Bobby Flay, pumps up both taste and nutrition with the addition of those coconut ice cubes that you made a while back. I adapted his recipe slightly to serve one, but you can double or triple this to serve as many parched souls as you can find. If, like me, you enjoy a nice smoothie in the afternoon during the cocktail hour, a shot of vodka makes this extra special.

Coconut Water Smoothie with Mango, Banana,
and Strawberries
Slightly adapted from Bobby Flay

½ frozen banana*
½ mango, cubed
1/3 cup fresh strawberries, halved
½ Tablespoon organic honey
2 Tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
3-4 coconut ice cubes

Toss all ingredients into a blender and whir until thoroughly blended, creamy, and smooth.  Add suitable garnish and cute swizzle stick, and serve.

*When the bananas on your counter have darkened beyond comfortable usability, cut them in half, pop them into freezer bags, and store them in the freezer.  Any time you want a smoothie, grab a half, peel it and cut it into chunks.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Texas Roadhouse Cinnamon Honey Butter Clone

I know I am probably in the minority here, but I am not a fan of the rolls at Texas Roadhouse. And, brace yourself, people, I don't like the ones at O'Charley's either. Truth be told, I am a crispy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside kind of girl, when it comes to rolls, that is, and just don't like the soft rolls with the doughy interiors. I do, however, enjoy flavored butters and particularly the honey cinnamon variety served at the Roadhouse. After a bit of experimentation I think I have come up with a version that closely replicates what they serve. I make mine in small amounts (Mr. O-P considers such things a punishment), but this recipe can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, well, you get the idea. As a rule, flavored butters last no more than 2 weeks in the fridge, so keep this in mind when determining quantity. I think this butter is wonderful on a seedy honey wheat bread, warm from the oven. Enjoy!

Texas Roadhouse Cinnamon Honey Butter Clone

½ stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon organic honey
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Place all ingredients into a small mixing bowl.  Whip at high speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Mound in serving container and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes until slightly firm.
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