Saturday, December 19, 2015

Homemade Cream of Whatever...

Many people use cream of mushroom/tomato/potato/chicken/celery for their favorite holiday recipes. However, back in the day my grandparents made many of these "cream of whatevers" for use in their favorite dishes. Below is the basic recipe for a thick white sauce base to make your own "cream of whatever." As I have some dear friends who are gluten intolerant/allergic or lactose intolerant, I have included information on how to adjust appropriately.

Basic White Sauce:

3 Tablespoons butter or oil
3 Tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
1-1/4 cup liquid, milk or stock

Melt butter or oil in saucepan. Stir in flour and seasonings. Cook over medium heat until bubbly. Add liquid slowly, stirring with wire whisk to prevent lumps. Cook until thick. Makes 1 cup or 1 can of condensed soup.

Tomato Soup: Use tomato juice for the liquid. Add dashes of garlic, onion powder, basil and oregano.

Chicken Soup: Use chicken broth for half the liquid. Add 1/4 t. poultry seasoning or sage.

Mushroom/celery/chive soup: Saute 1/4 C chopped mushrooms, celery or chives and 1 T minced onion in butter before adding flour.

Gluten Free Suggestion:  Use a gluten-free flour (rice, tapioca, etc.) or cornstarch instead of flour

Lactose Free Suggestion: Use stock rather than milk & oil rather than butter.

Sugar Cardamom Shortbread Cookies

These are delicious & I haven't been able to improve on them. So I'm just going to share directly.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Way to a Man's Heart DOES Include Keeping His Tummy Happy

When my husband and I first started dating he admitted that he was not that into the "food scene" and that due to a tonsil removal his taste was still a bit off. I informed him that I could be labeled a "foodie" and that I very much love to cook. So throughout our dating period he opened his mind to trying new things and even asked to take a few cooking classes together. In true cook fashion, I told him that he needed to take a knife skills course BEFORE we took any cooking classes. We did that course together, he bought a beautiful chef's knife and has been my soux chef by my side in the kitchen ever since.

There are still some foods that my husband adores and I want to make from scratch for him. One of those is mac & cheese. You may even say that my husband has a thing for mac & cheese. And by "thing" I mean if it is on the menu and he has never had it from the diner/restaurant/vendor before, he MUST try it. As much as I love to cook, I haven't made mac & cheese from scratch in like a decade. I certainly don't want to screw it up for the first time I make some for my husband so I have been tinkering with recipes when he has been out of the area for work.

Not everything I do is from scratch and I still hold Kraft boxed mac & cheese near to my heart. I enjoy it with some sriracha on top and it gives it just a bit of heat. My husband has now taking a liking to that technique as well. So knowing that I made this as my first attempt at a good recipe with some heat. It also seems like a great base for fresh cooked and crumbled bacon or shredded chicken or pulled BBQ pork or carnitas!

Jalapeno Mac & Cheese
1½ hours | 30 min prep
  • 1 lb noodles of your choice
  • 1/2 lb cream cheese, melted
  • 1/2 lb cheddar cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted 
  • 2 or 3 small jalapeno peppers, thinly diced or sliced (I only used two & had plenty of heat)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning
  • 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs (for topping)
  1. Cook the pasta according to its directions on the box/bag. Drain and set aside. 
  2. In a saucepan melt butter over low heat then add cream cheese and mix until smooth.
  3. Add heavy cream and whisk it in slowly.
  4. Mix in Cheese, stir until cheese is completely melted.
  5. Mix in JalapeƱos, Salt, Black Pepper, Cajun Seasoning, and Flour.
  6. Continue whisking until all ingredients are completely mixed.
  7. Grease a casserole dish and layer bottom of pan with half of the cooked macaroni.
  8. Gently pour half the mixture over noodles.
  9. Add another layer of noodles and another layer of cheese mixture.
  10. Sprinkle top with bread crumbs. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
  11. Uncover and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.