Browsing Tag

so good!

Kitchen Diaries: Mom’s Mac and Cheese

November 28, 2013

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Hands down, my mother makes THE best macaroni and cheese. Without a doubt, nothing else compares. During holidays and special occasions, my family can always count on this delicious dish to fill our bellies. Today was no different, and I demanded Mom allow me to help her make this glorious concoction. And she did. Yay! See below for this life-altering recipe.


Ingredients:

2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
5 cans evaporated milk
24 Kraft cheese singles
1 lb mild cheddar cheese (shredded)
1 lb sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
2 lb small elbow macaroni noodles

Boil water for the macaroni noodles and follow the cook time instructions on the package. Set macaroni aside.

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In a large saucepan, melt two tablespoons of butter. Add a tablespoon of all purpose flour and stir until it forms a rue-like consistency.

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Pour in all the evaporated milk. Slowly add the Kraft cheese slices, stirring often on low heat for about 30 minutes until the liquid thickens. Season with pepper.

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Put noodles in a large baking pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a half pound of mild cheddar cheese and a half pound of sharp cheddar. Then pour cheese rue over the noodles and mix in the remaining cheese. Leave some shredded cheese to sprinkle on top.

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook for 30 minutes, until the top is brown.

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This is a family-sized serving. However, you can cut the ingredients in half to make a smaller batch.

Special thanks to my mom for this wonderful recipe. And Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Kitchen Diaries: Chicken and Dumplings

October 29, 2013

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The past few days have really felt like autumn, so I was in the mood for something hearty. I happened upon this fast and easy recipe for chicken and dumplings on Evernote Food and was eager to give it a go. Initial reports from the boo wop confirmed that this batch, my very first, was indeed delicious. This is sure to be in heavy rotation well into winter.

Ingredients:
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups frozen peas and carrots (or vegetable medley)
2 1/2 cups cut-up cooked chicken
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed creamy chicken mushroom soup
2 cups Bisquick mix
1/3 cup milk

To simplify things and save time, consider getting a precooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and dicing the the breast meat into cubes. Saute the celery and onion in oil in a large skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes or until tender. Set aside.

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat 1 1/2 cups of milk, frozen peas and carrots, chicken, broth and soup to a boil. Add sauteed onion and celery.

While that’s cooking, in small bowl, stir together the Bisquick mix and 1/3 cup milk until soft dough forms. As the ingredients are boiling, drop dough by 8 to 10 spoonfuls onto chicken mixture.

Cook, uncovered over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Cover and cook for 10 minutes more.

Lessons learned: When dicing the chicken, I’ll be sure to look out for small, stray bones making their way into the pot. At least one found its way inside of the pot, and we don’t want any chipped teeth or choking hazards. Also, the dish was flavorful on its own, thanks to the pre-seasoned rotisserie chicken; however, next time I’ll throw in some additional spices and seasonings just to make it my own.

Kitchen Diaries: Pepperoni Pizza Omelette

October 23, 2013

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I can get used to this improvisation thing. I was looking for something to eat for a late breakfast and didn’t want a plain old omelette. Upon browsing through my fridge, I saw the makings of a pepperoni pizza minus the crust (after baking some homemade pizza for Monday night’s CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story movie viewing party), so I blended the two and came up with this delightful pepperoni pizza omelette.

Combining two eggs, pepper and some pizza seasoning, I proceeded to make an omelette, but added some pan-seared pepperoni and bell pepper, pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese inside. Amazing and simple! It was a pizza party in my mouth!

Kitchen Diaries: Banana Pudding With Fresh Strawberries

June 3, 2013

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Banana pudding has been on my brain for a while, and I finally broke down and made one yesterday. Finding a recipe that didn’t call for the instant pudding and wasn’t of the super advanced variety was tricky at first. I was adamant about the recipe basically being made from scratch. I wanted a challenge, by golly! Thankfully, I came across this Nilla Wafers Original Banana Pudding recipe on Cooks.com that was just the right blend for me.

Ingredients:
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
Dash of salt
4 eggs, separated, at room temperature
2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
35 to 45 Nilla Wafers (reserve 10 to 12 for garnish)
5 to 6 med. size fully ripe bananas, sliced (reserve 1 for garnish)

Combine 1/2 cup sugar, flour and salt in top of double boiler. Stir in 4 egg yolks and milk; blend well. Cook, uncovered, over boiling water, stirring constantly until thickened. Reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; add vanilla. Spread small amount on bottom of 1 1/2 quart casserole; cover with layer of Nilla Wafers. Top with layer of sliced bananas.

Pour about 1/3 of the custard over bananas. Continue to layer wafers, bananas and custard to make 3 layers each, ending with custard.

Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry; gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Spoon on top of pudding, spreading to cover entire surface and sealing well to edges. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes or until delicately browned. Cool slightly or chill.

Just before serving, garnish with banana slices, then stand Nilla Wafers upright around edge of dish. Makes 8 servings.

Variations: This time around, I added fresh strawberries. I was going for that Polly’s Pies Banberry (their signature banana and strawberry pie) feel. It also didn’t hurt that I was given a large crate of the fresh berries, so I was more than excited to throw them in to the mix.

Lessons learned: Be careful when separating the eggs. If even a drop of the yolk gets in the whites, the eggs won’t stiffen properly. Next time, I’ll make sure that all the fruit is sliced beforehand, as I had to wait to do this once the custard was ready. As a result, the pudding thickened more while cooling. Though it didn’t ransack the recipe, it was more difficult to separate and spread. I was only able to get two layers in the pan, which was just fine by me, because I know it was chock full of fresh, fruity goodness. However, next time I’ll definitely use a larger pan or casserole dish.

In all, I’m proud of myself for taking on the more challenging recipe. I feel like I earned some street cred for successfully using a makeshift double boiler for the first time, in addition to separating egg whites and making a meringue from scratch, without a whisk or electric mixer no less. It was a great learning experience, as evidenced by the serious mess in my kitchen. Any takers for dish duty? Going once, going twice…

Kitchen Diaries: Caribbean Chicken Wings

April 16, 2013

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It’s been quite some time since I’ve made these Caribbean Chicken Wings, which I discovered from Food Network’s “Cooking for Real” with Sunny Anderson. But the cravings were getting the best of me, so I gave in. This is a great dish for a picnic, potluck or cook out. I especially enjoy it because it has a little bit of kick (heat), courtesy of the habaneros. The list of ingredients is a little daunting, but take my word for it: It’s all worth it when you taste the finished product.

Ingredients:
1 habanero, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons fennel seed
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground ginger
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice
7 pounds chicken wings

In a food processor (or blender), blend together all the ingredients but the chicken until smooth. Reserve 1 cup of marinade. Place chicken wings into a large resealable plastic bag and pour remaining marinade over them. Seal and marinate in the refrigerator 4 to 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 sheet trays with parchment (or aluminum foil). Remove chicken from bag and place on the baking sheets. Bake 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan bring reserved marinade to a boil. Reduce by 1/3 until it thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove chicken from oven. Brush chicken with the glaze. Raise the heat to 400 degrees F and cook chicken until cooked through, another 20 minutes.

Lessons learned: I highly recommend doubling the sauce recipe, just to make sure you have plenty extra to coat the chicken. That includes adding another habanero (I am a huge fan of spicy foods. The additional pepper just takes the dish to all-new heights! However, use discretion according to your own preference). I personally like doing two coats of the glaze: one after the first 20 minutes of baking and another after you take the wings out of the oven to really get that flavor in there. Lastly, be VERY careful when handling the habaneros. I made the mistake of not wearing gloves when slicing the peppers, so I washed my hands twice really good with soap. Several moments later I had forgotten about that when I got an itch in my eye and went to rub it, at which point the burning kicked in. Thankfully, I was able to act quickly and flush my eye with cold water. I followed that up with an ice pack to my eye for a couple minutes and all was well. Silly me.

Kitchen Diaries: Get Yo’ Man Chicken

April 11, 2013

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So you may or may not know that for the past six months I have committed to being single while reading the book, Your Knight in Shining Armor. It basically encourages self-reflection and self-improvement while seeking God concerning your future mate. It’s been a great, rewarding journey but now that my time is up, I’m celebrating by cooking a tried and true dish, courtesy of The Neelys from the Food Network’s “Down Home with the Neelys”: Get Yo’ Man Chicken.

And when I say “tried and true,” I mean it works. On that particular episode, Gina recalled how preparing this dish made her irresistible to her now-husband Pat (They’re such a cute couple). Heck, it may have even helped seal the deal for my ex-boyfriend, being that it was the first dish I ever cooked him. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right? So ladies, give this one a whirl. You never know what could happen (wink, wink).

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 chicken thighs, skinless
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons pepper
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in thick puree
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon lemon pepper
Hot buttered rice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.

Pat chicken dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken, meat-side down first, and turning once, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate to reserve.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan.

Add onion to the pan and saute until tender, roughly 3 minutes. Add the stock and wine and stir, scrapping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Turn heat to high and reduce by half, about 3 minutes. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and add the dried herbs and lemon pepper. Add the chicken thighs back into the pan. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 40 minutes.

Remove chicken from liquid and serve on hot buttered rice. Ladle the sauce on top and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Lesson learned: You’re going to want to use the white wine with this dish. I have made it without the wine numerous times before and it tasted good, but this time around you can taste just how much the flavor is enhanced because of it. Delightful!

Kitchen Diaries: Quick-Fix Pizza

March 23, 2013

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I could eat pizza every day. Pepperoni. Bell peppers. So good! It just doesn’t get old. Instead of ordering pizza or picking up a “hot and ready” from Little Caesars, I decided to get ingredients to make it myself. Surprisingly, it was very affordable.

So on your next grocery store run, consider making your own pizza pie. Live a little!

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