Monday, January 28, 2008

Hee Hee Hee Macaroni and CHEESE

I love Macaroni and Cheese! I used to enjoy the boxed kind but as an adult, thankfully my tastes have matured a bit. I have tried many a recipe and with delight I have 2 recipes to share with you. I had a third to share but, in my messy hand written cookbook that I have had since I was 14 years old, I cannot seem to find it. That recipe has cottage cheese in it! I do not care for cottage cheese but when you blend it up in the Cuisinart with the seasonings and use it in the Mac & Cheese it is Divine.

I do not care for cream cheese either. Not in frosting or on a bagel. I know I am WeIrD! But it ends up that cream cheese is not too bad in Macaroni and cheese. This recipe is modeled after a recipe in Southern Living by Heather Markowski.


1 pound cooked rigatoni noodles
2 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1- 12 oz can evaporated milk
1 cup 2% milk
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
3 oz. cream cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. dried Italian seasonings
1/8 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
1/2 pound cooked and chopped up bacon
2 green onions sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Slowly add flour by tbsp. full and whisk, until all flour has been used and the mixture is smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Pour milk/s slowly into flour/butter mixture. Cook, being sure to whisk constantly until sauce thickens, about 3-5 minutes. Whisk in cheeses and seasonings. Remove from heat and stir in the bacon and sliced green onions.

In a large bowl or pasta pot from cooked pasta, mix pasta and cheese sauce together. Grease your casserole dish and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

GARLIC MACARONI & CHEESE from my kitchen

1 pound cooked Trottole Pasta (its a cool curly noodle I found at Trader Joes)
1/2 tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. Lawry's Garlic Salt
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup milk
8 oz. sour cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
1/2 cup Perlini (tiny mozzarella balls, also a find at Trader Joes)
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup grated Sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the pasta pot dump cooked pasta, melted butter, milk and minced garlic. Stir until well combined. Add Sour cream and stir. Slowly add different cheese until all cheeses are incorporated. Spray Casserole dish with cooking spray and bake covered for 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cupid Is At It Again

Valentine's Day is quickly approaching. I have fond memories of Valentine's Day starting with heart shaped boxes filled with See's Candies, boxed Valentine's Day cards exchanged in Elementary School and Valentine Candy Grams in Junior High!

Edible Valentines! Could be a breakfast treat or different dessert!

Chocolate Heart Shaped Tortillas
makes one dozen

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup Semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 cup warm water
1/4 corn oil

For topping and to make hearts extra special for your Valentine!

Cinnamon Sugar ready to sprinkle or Powdered sugar
Fresh whipped cream or cool whip
extra mini chocolate chips
Hershey syrup to drizzle
Cut Strawberries in their own juice with a bit of sugar

Mix first five ingredients in a bowl. Add vanilla and oil, stir. Add the water very slowly and mix. Dough should be smooth and pliable. If dough is dry add a little more water and knead. Form dough into golf ball size rounds. Rub each ball with oil and cover with a paper towel. Allow dough balls to sit for 15-20 minutes. Roll with a rolling pin until thin and rounded. Trim the top of tortilla to make the top of heart shape and then trim the bottom sides to form the pointed part of the heart. Smooth trimmed ends with water and your finger tips. Lightly brown on a hot griddle until bubbly and then flip and brown the other side.

Top with goodies and enjoy! Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!


It's Superbowl time again. I really enjoy Superbowl. I am not a huge fan of football, but I do enjoy spending time with family and partaking in the Superbowl Cuisine. I usually bring some appetizers to the party. I bring Pigs In a Blanket, made with Lil Smokies and Crescent Rolls and Potato Skins with lots of Green Chilis, cheese and bacon!

For a different yet very creative appetizer, I want to make hardboiled eggs. You ask hard boiled eggs? Yep, hard boiled eggs for those still continuing their New Year's Resolve to Diet on protein and hard boiled eggs because I am going to make them so Superbowl-riffic!

Take a dozen or two hard boiled eggs. Use a white crayon and draw the football design on your eggs. Two lines that connect. One around the top of the egg and one on the bottom, then make three small lines one one side of egg for the threads of the football. Set aside.

Prepare your brown food coloring as you would to dye eggs and dye them. Your hard boiled eggs will look like footballs. How Superbowl appropriate is that?


3 pounds chili grind ground beef
1 medium onion diced
1 Tbs minced garlic
Salt and pepper

Brown the above in a skillet. Drain fat and dump meat into the crockpot.

1 large jar Pace Picante Sauce
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 bag Carrol Shelby's Chili Kit

Pour Picante Sauce and diced tomatoes over meat and stir. Open the Chili kit bag and add the Chili seasoning packet to the tomato and meat mixture. Add the salt to taste and cayenne pepper if you like a spicy chili.

If you like a thicker chili mix the masa packet from the Chili kit with 1/4 cup water and then add to your chili.

Let the crockpot do the cooking. Low heat for 4-6 hours. The crockpot makes the meat tender and boils all the flavors together.

Layer the bottom of your bowl with Fritos Scoops corn chips. Pour a scoop or two of the all beef chili onto your chips. Then top with one or more of the following...

Grated Cheddar cheese and or Monterey Jack cheese
chopped onion or green onion
dollop of sour cream

A Twist On An Old Sweet

Have you ever had the chocolate covered toffee like bars made with Saltine Crackers?

My Grandma John made them for us when she visited a long time ago. I was reading through some old recipes and wanted to replace the Saltines with something else. I over bought baking supplies for the holidays and camping over New Years weekend. Ran out of time during the holidays and did not go camping over New Years. I hate throwing that kind of stuff in the trash so WHA-LA... I am using up some of the goodies I had for making Smores.

These bars are not as crunchy or toffee like as the ones my Grandma made but they are not too bad. Give them a whirl. Maybe make them for your Valentine/s! (:

Almond Caramel Graham Cracker Bars

1 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup butter, melted

15 to 20 full cinnamon Graham crackers broken into 4 segments

1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

5 large size HERSHEY bars

1 cup toasted sliced almonds

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line a 10 by 15 jelly roll pan with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Using the 1/4 cup of the melted butter, pour over aluminum foil and spread with back of spoon until foil is covered in melted butter. Place Graham crackers, side by side and spaced evenly, so that they cover the entire bottom of pan. Small gaps are OK.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, pour the other 1 cup of melted butter into pan. Add brown sugar and stir over heat until combined. Bring butter and sugar to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, until the mixture is a thick and bubbly caramel colored syrup. Boil until your candy thermometer reads 248 degrees. Remove from heat and slowly add the sweetened condensed milk. Use a whisk until both are blended smooth. Should resemble a thick caramel sauce at this point. Pour this mixture over the crackers, until every Graham cracker is covered.

Put the pan in the oven and bake for 10 minutes in the 425 degree oven. Open large Hershey bars and break into segmented pieces. Have them ready. After 10 minutes remove bars from the oven. They will be bubbly and brown. Place candy bar segments on top of bubbly caramel, being careful not to burn yourself. Let chocolate sit for about 5 minutes to melt and then using back side of spoon spread melted chocolate over caramel layer. Sprinkle toasted almonds on to the chocolate layer. Put bars in the freezer for 30 minutes or until chocolate has solidified.

Remove from freezer. Pull aluminum foil and lift bars from jelly roll pan. Set aside. Line jelly roll pan with paper towels or saran wrap. Turn bars almond side over onto paper towels or saran wrap. Some almonds might fall off, no biggie. Carefully remove aluminum foil from your bars. Using a knife follow the lines of Graham crackers and cut bars to that shape. Trim those pieces into smaller bite size pieces. Store in air tight containers or Ziploc bags and keep them in the refrigerator until ready to enjoy or serve.

These are super sweet and rich and toffee-licous!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

New Year... New old school FOOD

Do you ever get tired of making the same old things for dinner all the time? Or do you ever get sick of paying the high price for mediocre food at a restaurant? Don't be afraid. YOU CAN COOK! Cook at home and save money. With all the money you will save eating at home, when you want to splurge at a restaurant you can afford to and the price of gas it takes to get you there.

It seems as though in our busy lives, convenience is key. We eat what is convenient. But those foods are not always the best for us. For some of us, it is easier to make reservations than open the refrigerator or pantry. Dust off those cookbooks or search the web for something that tempts your palette. One meal we can make convenient is CASSEROLES!

Crazy to think that the word casserole entered the English language in 1708. Casseroles have been around for a long time. They are a great way to incorporate leftovers into a new meal. Try an old family classic for a new meal.

Casseroles are awesome! They can even be made ahead and frozen to be used for a night when you don't want to prepare a meal. You can even make them in disposable tins so you don't have to do any caked on casserole dishes. The two casseroles below can be made ahead using one main ingredient, chicken. On a weekend mess up the kitchen and make a few meals to freeze.

This casserole is one from my Grandma Esther Getskow Johnson. She made this for us when she would visit from the Midwest. It is excellent comfort food.

Overnight Casserole

1 3/4 cups cooked macaroni noodles

2 cups shredded cooked chicken (or cooked hamburger)

1 can Campbell's Cream of Celery Soup

1 can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup (I use Cream of Chicken)

2 cups milk

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Buttered bread crumbs or croutons

Combine soups and milk in a large bowl. Add macaroni, chicken and cheese, stir until mixed. Pour mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to cook, place casserole in a 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. Serve with crusty bread and a fresh lettuce salad.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

from the kitchen of Bonnie Olson

4 chicken breasts cooked and shredded

1 can Campbell's Cream of Chicken

1 can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom (I use another Cream of Chicken)

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 cup milk

1 cup sour cream

1- 4 oz can diced green chilis

10-12 corn tortillas (cut into bite size pieces)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese

Combine milk, soup, onions, sour cream and green chilis and set aside. Spray bottom of 9 x 13 pan or smaller pans with cooking oil spray. Layer tortillas, sauce mix, chicken and cheese. Repeat until all ingredients are used up. Refrigerate 12-24 hours. Bake for 1 hour in a 350 degree oven.

These two casseroles are tasty and easy to make.