Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

I am a big fan of macaroni and cheese, and I’ve always wanted to learn to make it homemade. The other day I stumbled across a very simple recipe, and I knew I had it to try it. It was delicious – I hope you think so too!

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Preparation:
none

Approximate Cooking Time:
1 hour

Ingredients:
1 lb. elbow macaroni
16 oz. colby jack cheese, cut into thin slices
milk
salt and pepper

Directions:
Cook pasta according to the directions on the box. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray an
oven-safe pan with non-stick spray, then add half of the macaroni. Next layer the cheese on top. Repeat those two layers then finish with some salt and pepper, if desired.


Finishing the macaroni and cheese layering.

Next, fill the pan with milk until the milk is almost at the top. Bake until the milk is no longer liquidy, and serve immediately.


Melted and delicious!

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By Request: Tzatziki and Stuffed Acorn Squash

One of my friends asked me what to do with cucumbers and squash, so I wanted to post my mother’s recipe for tzatziki as well as a Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe hubby and I made using my mother’s Amish recipe book. They’re both delicious, refreshing, and healthy. I hope this helps anyone who is trying to use up the rest of their summer vegetables!

Tzatziki (Greek Cucumber Dip)

Preparation:
none

Approximate Cooking Time:
15 minutes

Ingredients:
4 c. plain lowfat yogurt
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 T. fresh dill, finely chopped

Directions:
Combine all in glass bowl and chill for several hours. Serve as a dip, as a refreshing sauce with souvlaki, or with lettuce leaves as a salad dressing. Makes 6-8 servings
.

 

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Preparation:
none

Approximate Cooking Time:
1 hour

Ingredients:
3 acorn squash
1/3 c. molasses
1 t. salt
1 lb raw pork sausage, with casing removed
1 t. sage
bread crumbs

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook the sausage fully and spice with sage and any other desired spices. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Put 1 T. of molasses, some salt, and a sprinkle of sage in each half. Fill the cavity with the cooked sausage and top with bread crumbs. Cover and cook for 40 minutes, then remove the cover to brown. Test the squash for doneness before serving.

 

The squash recipe makes a lot, but you might be surprised how quickly it disappears! I can easily eat a half a squash, so this recipe probably serves 6. My family thinks it’s great for big family gatherings, like Thanksgiving. Enjoy!

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Update: Zucchini Muffins

A friend of mine recently asked if my zucchini bread made good muffins. I had never tried that before, so I decided to experiment. The results were a resounding success! I used my zucchini bread recipe to fill some small muffin tins. I cooked them for 25 minutes at the same temperature (normal-sized muffins would likely need to cook longer). Also, as a caveat, the muffins did not rise very much, so don’t be afraid to fill them almost to the top. They are deliciously moist and refreshing even if they don’t form a round top like some muffins do. Enjoy!


The experiment was a delicious success.

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Homemade Brioche with Mirabelle Plum Jam

A week or so ago, hubby found an online recipe for brioche here, and asked if I would be willing to try it. My previous experiments with bread hadn’t gone so well but I figured I’d give this one a shot. I had a bit of extra time on my hands and figured that hot, homemade bread would be worth the wait.

Brioche

Preparation:
none

Approximate Cooking Time:
4 hours

Ingredients:
1 2/3 c. flour
2 T. butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature, plus one extra yolk for glaze
1 packet yeast
2 T. sugar
1/3 c. milk, warmed
1 pinch salt

Directions:
Mix the flour with the yeast, then make a hole in the middle. Add the warm milk slowly and mix with your fingers. Next add the sugar and salt, then the butter. Add the butter one piece at a time, mixing between each. Finally, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each. Work the dough until it is elastic and stretches between your fingers (this may take a while, but the longer you work the dough, the better the breast tastes). Put the dough back in the bowl and allow it to rise in a warm, non-drafty place for at least 2 hours.

When the bread has risen, work the dough for 10 more minutes, then divide it into 4 balls. Select the pan you wish to cook the brioche in (I suggest a small but long and deep pan – I used a long banana bread pan), and grease it, and put the dough balls in (you want to have some space in the pan so the bread can rise, but not too much or the dough will be spread too thin and won’t form a puffy loaf). Let the bread rise for 1 more hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Add a dash of sugar to the egg yolk and gently brush the mixture on top of the dough. Make small cuts on each dough ball with scissors, if desired. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes.

My apologies for not having a picture, because my picture was somehow deleted. Soon after I made and consumed most of the brioche, I received a fruit share I had purchased from an Amish food supplier I sometimes buy from. In the fruit share were peaches, a cantaloupe, and some small yellow fruit that I had never seen before. After a bit of research I found these were Mirabelle plums, which somehow manage to be very tart and very sweet at the same time.


Picture courtesy of Vanilla Garlic.

Mirabelle plums make great jam, and jam makes a great compliment to the rest of my brioche, so off I went. I found this recipe, which required no extra ingredients and jelled wonderfully.

Mirabelle Plum Jam

Preparation:
allow plums to ripen

Approximate Cooking Time:
45 minutes

Ingredients:
10-12 ripe Mirabelle plums
3/4 – 1 c. sugar

Directions:
Prepare your canning jars by sterilizing and drying them. Boil water if you can using the water bath method.

Wash, drain and pit the plums. Cut the plums into smaller pieces, and heat on a saucepan at medium-high heat. Add the sugar and mix. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. When the mixture looks homogenous (after approximately 20 minutes), pour it into the jars, leaving some space below the lid.

Seal the jars tightly and immerse in boiling water, with at least 2 inches of water over the top of the can, for at least 10 minutes. Be careful that the boiling water does not cool down or rock the jars. When the jars are processed, remove them from the water and sit on a flat surface. The lids should pop down within the next 24 hours. If the lids do not vacuum seal, put the jar in the fridge and consume immediately.


Canning is not a perfect process, but it sure saves money.

Now that I’ve started canning a bit, I find the process so much easier than I expected. It’s a great way to use up old produce. Feel free to taste test your jam mixture as it’s cooking (without burning your tongue)!

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Carbonara

The other day hubby asked if I could make one of his favorite dishes – my modified Carbonara. I modified this a few years ago because I am lactose-intolerant. I can eat the cream that usually goes into a white sauce as long as I take medication, but I don’t really enjoy the taste of heavy cream. Hubby and I consulted with an Italian friend and he helped us modify this recipe to eliminate the cream. We’ve tweaked it a bit more as we’ve made it over and over. We call our creation “Light Carbonara.”

Light Carbonara

Preparation:
none

Approximate Cooking Time:
30 minutes

Ingredients:
300 g thin spaghetti or linguine
1 package bacon
olive oil
3 cloves garlic
2 eggs
1/4 c. shaved Parmesan (best if shaved off a block that day)

Directions:
Put the bacon in a pan and pour a small amount of olive oil on top and begin to cook. While the bacon cooks, chop the garlic into small pieces, then add once the bacon is about halfway cooked. Next start cooking the pasta in a separate pan.

When the bacon is cooked to desired doneness (either soft or crunchy works), take it out of the pan and put it straight into a shallow bowl without draining. A small amount of the olive oil should still be on the bacon. Let the bacon cool.

Next, shave the Parmesan. Crack the eggs into the bowl with the parmesan and whisk everything around until the eggs are a little bubbly. Set that aside and crumble the cooled bacon into small pieces. When the pasta is done, drain it return it to the pan. Add the bacon pieces and the small bit of remaining oil as well as the egg mixture. Turn the heat on low to medium-low and stir the pasta until the egg is cooked. If the mixture appears too dry add a small bit of olive oil. Serve immediately with any fruit or vegetable.


Yummy comfort food.

 

This recipe serves a big meal, with leftovers, for 2. Enjoy!

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Helping Out a Friend: Caramel Cake

A friend of mine recently told me about her quest to make a birthday cake for every student in her class. The catch: she is not allowing herself to repeat any cakes. She has held to this so far and I am impressed. When I asked her if she had done caramel cake yet, she said she hadn’t, and I knew I had to share this recipe with her. My mother recently discovered this one. I don’t think I’ve ever had a cake this delicious before. The recipe is really only for the icing, because it is so flavorful that it overwrites the rest of the cake. The icing is very sweet, so you can modify it if you don’t prefer that, but I do not usually like overly sweet desserts and I LOVE this cake. It’s great for a big group because you can’t eat much in one sitting.

Caramel Cake

Preparation:
none

Approximate Cooking Time:
3 hours, if baking cake; 1 hour, if just frosting

Ingredients:
one unfrosted yellow cake (can be made from mix)

1/2 c. butter
1 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 c. light cream or evaporated milk
2 c. unsifted confectioner’s sugar
1 t. vanilla or 1/2 t. maple extract

Directions:
Bake cake and cool for at least 1.5 hours. When ready to make frosting, melt the butter over a low heat. Remove from heat and add the brown sugar, stirring until smooth. Put the mixture back on the heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 min then reduce the heat to low. When the mixture has cooled a bit, add the cream and return to just barely boiling. Once it is just barely boiling, remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool until it reaches 110 degrees Fahrenheit, which will be when the bottom of the saucepan just feels warm (it is best to measure this with a candy thermometer). With a wooden spoon or an electric mixer set to medium, add the confectioner’s sugar. If the frosting is too thin, add more confectioner’s sugar until the frosting reaches the desired consistency, then add the vanilla. Finally, sit the frosting in a bowl of ice water and beat it until it is thick enough to spread (this requires care so as not to put ice water into the frosting). Spread the icing on the cake and serve.

 

Note: If you want a stronger caramel flavor, use a combination of light and dark brown sugar, or replace the light brown sugar entirely with dark brown sugar.

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By Request: Zucchini Bread

I recently had a request for a zucchini recipe, and I instantly knew which one I wanted to share. My mother used to make Zucchini Bread all the time when I was a child. The recipe has been handed down my family line for generations. I do not think hubby would like this recipe much, as he doesn’t like the taste of zucchini, but I make it for myself sometimes.

I apologize for not having a picture, but please trust me when I say that this recipe has been tested many times!

Zucchini Bread

Preparation:
none

Approximate Cooking Time:
90 mins

Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 c. vegetable oil
2 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla
 1 t. salt
3 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
4 t. baking powder
3 t. cinnamon
3 med. zucchini (~3 lbs), washed but unpeeled

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, beat the eggs til while and foamy (this is easiest with an electric beater). Add oil, sugar, and vanilla and mix well. Slice zucchini and grate in blender a few slices at a time, then add to egg mixture and mix thoroughly (the zucchini will be watery but this is what makes the bread moist).  Combine remaining ingredients and slowly add to zucchini mixture. Pour into greased and floured loaf pans (we use 2 9 by 5 by 3 inch pans). Bake for 1 hour at 350. Cool loaves on rack, then wrap in foil and refrigerate.

Enjoy! I am now accepting more requests!

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