Blue Cheese Mac and Cheese

For some reason I have a tendency to latch on to a particular flavor combination. For a while it was spinach, diced tomato, and feta cheese. Before that I was on some kind of southwestern kick. Now, it’s blue cheese.

I had forgotten how much I loved blue cheese until I had the Pioneer Woman’s blue cheese pasta several months ago. Before that, it had been years since I’d had blue cheese. Now I can’t use it enough.

I haven’t had very good luck with macaroni and cheese in the past. I grew up on the blue box and while I still love it, in all it’s processed and unhealthy goodness, I rarely eat it for those very reasons. My homemade attempts have been okay, but none of them have reheated very well. Because of that, I almost didn’t try this recipe–but thank goodness I did.

Blue Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

1 pound macaroni pasta (I used shells, but you can use your favorite)
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
3 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups blue cheese, crumbled
Red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste

1) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a baking dish. 13×9 inches is preferable, but it can be separated into two smaller baking dishes is necessary.

2) Cook pasta to al dente. Drain and save for later.

3) Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in the flour, stirring constantly, to make a roux. Make sure not to burn the flour. **If you’ve never made a roux, don’t be surprised to see the flour kind of clump up. This will help thicken the cheese mixture later.**

4) Gradually add the milk and cream, whisking them into the flour mixture. Simmer until mixture thickens, whisking constantly.

5) Reduce heat to low and add cheese (reserving 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese for topping), a small handful at a time. Whisk until all cheese had been added and is melted. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

6) Add cooked pasta to cheese sauce and stir to coat. Transfer mixture to prepared baking pan(s) and top with reserved cheddar cheese. Bake until top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling, 20-25 minutes.

This mac and cheese is delicious. If you’re not a huge blue cheese fan, you can always sub in more cheddar and less blue cheese, but the salty tang of the blue cheese is what makes this dish so good. It’s not an overwhelming flavor, it’s just enough to make this dish something a little special.

The leftovers were good, too. It reheats really well, and the cheese is almost as smooth as the first day it’s made.

 This makes way too much for two people, so if you don’t want to eat the leftovers (as good as they are) for a week, I would halve the recipe.

One tip: Make sure you get good, block cheese and shred/crumble it yourself. The pre-shredded stuff does not melt as well.

Adapted from THIS recipe.

Lasagna Roll-Ups

I originally planned to make no-noodle crockpot lasagna today. I had frozen the leftover veggies from last time I made it, but something happened during the thaw out process that left the veggies less than pretty. I really need someone to teach me how to freeze things correctly, this isn’t the first time I’ve tried to freeze leftovers and had a bad outcome.

So, since the crockpot dinner wasn’t going to work, I had to wing it. I did have some lasagna noodles and decided to make some form of a spinach lasagna roll-up. I’ve never made them before, but I decided to throw some stuff together and see how it turned out.

Well, it turned out to be a pretty great meal.

Lasagna Roll-Ups

Ingredients

2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 egg
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
23 oz. spaghetti sauce
2 c. shredded Italian cheese
5 oz of fresh baby spinach, washed and chopped
1/2 an onion, chopped
2 med. garlic cloves, chopped
15 oz Ricotta cheese
8 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
oregano and crushed red pepper to taste

 

1) Preheat oven to 350° F.  Heat water in a large pot and cook pasta as directed on package.

2) Spoon half a cup of sauce into the bottom of a 12×8 inch baking dish. Set dish aside.

3) Heat olive oil in medium pan over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic until tender, stirring frequently. Add spinach and toss, allowing to wilt slightly.

4) In a large bowl, mix spinach/garlic/onion, ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, the egg, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, and 1 1/2 cups of the Italian cheese until fully combined.

5) Spoon about half a cup of the ricotta mixture down the middle of a noodle and roll up. Place noodles, seam side down, into baking dish.

6) Top roll-ups with remaining spaghetti sauce, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Top with remaining cheese, sprinkle with oregano and crushed red pepper, and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Spicy Macaroni and Cheese

I love mac and cheese. Maybe it’s the five year old in me, but mac and cheese is the perfect comfort food.

This is not your normal mac and cheese. It’s kind of a more grown up version, but still every bit as delicious and comforting as the mac and cheese I remember from my youth. Plus it didn’t come out of a blue box, so it has that going for it.

Original recipe can be found at Annie’s Eats.

Spicy Mac and Cheese

 

Ingredients

4 cups pasta shapesI used rotini
1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup roasted red pepper finely chopped
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely minced
6½ tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2½ cups milk
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
8 oz. colby jack cheese, shredded
4 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 tablespoons of bread crumbs

1) Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta as directed on box.

2) Melt 1/2 Tablespoon of butter over medium high heat. Cook onion, jalapeño, and red pepper for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until veggies are tender. Set aside.

3) Melt four tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. When butter is melted, whisk in flour. Continue to cook, whisking constantly until mixture begins to bubble and become thicker, about five minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and add spices.

4) Add cheese to mixture and whisk until completely melted.

5) Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease 2 quart casserole dish.

6) Drain pasta and return to pot. Add cheese sauce and veggies to pot and mix completely. Place mixture in prepared casserole dish.

7) Melt two tablespoons of butter and toss with bread crumbs. Sprinkle mixture over top of mac and cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until bread crumbs are golden. Let stand a few minutes before serving.

 

This was a delicious meal on a cold night. Next time I will halve or quarter the recipe. I have never found a good way to reheat mac and cheese, so the leftovers are always disappointing. Chad thought the reheated leftovers were fine though, so maybe it’s just me.

You can use whatever cheese you want in this, but I loved these flavors. I think I’ll experiment next time and use more cheddar or pepper jack and see how it goes.

 

Pasta with Blue Cheese Tomato Sauce and Spinach

I wish I could fully explain to you how amazing this recipe is. I mean, honestly, this is the best new recipe that I’ve cooked in ages. Although that has nothing to do with my cooking ability and everything to do with the fact that the originator of this recipe is, in fact, a genius.

Blue cheese. Pasta. Creamy tomato sauce. Spinach. Oh my God, I am drooling thinking about it.

And look, I get it. Not everyone likes blue cheese. Make this anyway. I’m not kidding. Sub in some different stinky cheese if you must, but I adore blue cheese so this recipe was perfect for me.

HERE is the original. Have you ever perused the Pioneer Woman’s blog? Ree Drummond is her name. Her blog is kind of amazing. Anyone who might happen to be reading this who buys me Christmas presents: I would love a copy of her cookbook. 🙂

Pasta with Blue Cheese Tomato Sauce and Spinach

Ingredients

1/2 pound Angel Hair Pasta
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 whole 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
a dash of sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 cups baby spinach
half-and-half, for thinning
extra blue cheese crumbles, for garnish

1) Cook pasta according to package instructions.

2) In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook until golden, about a minute. Pour in tomatoes. Add sugar, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste. Start off slow, you can always add more. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3) Reduce heat to low and stir in blue cheese. Cook, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted.

4) Add cream and stir to combine. Cook for a minute or two to heat through, taste and add more seasonings if needed. If too thick, add a splash of half-and-half.

5) Right before serving add spinach and toss, allowing spinach to wilt slightly. Toss in noodles and serve!

This recipe makes enough for about six servings. Obviously the husband and I can’t eat six servings of pasta by ourselves in one sitting. I went ahead and followed the directions for the sauce and once it was done I split it into separate portions. Then I only added spinach to the portion we were eating that night. I made just enough pasta for each of us. When I wanted the leftovers the next day I heated up some of the sauce, added spinach and made just enough noodles again. Repeat until leftovers are gone. It tastes much better that way than if you add all the spinach and then try to reheat the sauce with the spinach already in it.

I seriously love this pasta. I don’t even care that there is cream and cheese in it and it probably has a million calories. I ignore that and just enjoy the deliciousness that is blue cheese in tomato sauce with that little kick from the red pepper. I’m actually getting ready to finish off the last of the leftovers for dinner. Be jealous. 🙂

 

Super Easy Tomato Sauce

As soon as I found this recipe, I knew I had to try it. The last time I tried to make tomato sauce (a different recipe) it ended horribly because I tried to halve the recipe but forgot to halve some of the seasonings. Oops.

This recipe seemed easier and more interesting, mostly because I had never seen a recipe that uses lemon zest in tomato sauce.

Super Easy Tomato Sauce



Ingredients

1/4 cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2-3 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed red tomatoes
zest of one lemon

1) Bring water for pasta to boil. Add pasta and cook as directed.  (I use whole wheat pasta.)

2) Combine the olive oil, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and garlic in a cold saucepan. Stir while you heat the saucepan over medium-high heat. Heat until garlic becomes fragrant, but do not allow garlic to brown.

3) Add tomatoes and bring mixture to a simmer. Let simmer for a few minutes, then remove from heat and add lemon zest, reserving a little if you want to sprinkle some on top of your pasta.

Honestly, while this sauce was easy, I didn’t love it. It’s not the recipes fault, I just don’t love the lemon in my sauce. Next time I’ll leave it out and throw in some more herbs/spices.

I did really love the bite from the red pepper though, so I might add just a LITTLE more of that next time.

Either way, check out the original recipe, which I linked above, and look through that blog. The blogger is a genius and her recipes all look amazing!


Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic, Gorgonzola, and Herbs

I stole this recipe from Giada. I admit it, I love her. She is the only chef on Food Network that I get actual dinner recipes from (I’ve used Alton Brown’s cookie recipes before).

Don’t get me wrong, I love watching some of the other chefs, especially Paula Deen, I think she is hilarious to watch and I love southern accents. When we went to Savannah this past September I had to make sure I got a picture of her restaurant (although we didn’t eat there). But I have just never felt the urge to make any of her recipes, or the recipes of the other chefs on Food Network.

But this recipe from Giada…mmmmm….definitely delicious.

Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic, Gorgonzola, and Herbs

Ingredients

12 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
3/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese, finely crumbled
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2) Using a teaspoon or grapefruit spoon, remove the seeds from the tomatoes. Place the tomato halves, cut side down, on paper towels to drain. This takes approximately five to ten minutes.

3) In a large bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss the drained tomato halves in the oil mixture until coated. Let sit (to marinate) for about ten minutes.

4) In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and Gorgonzola cheese.

5) Place tomato halves, cut side up, on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Fill each tomato half with the bread crumb filling. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until slightly softened and the underside of the tomatoes are brown.

6) Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

**Gorgonzola is a type of blue cheese, so if you don’t like blue cheese you can sub in 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. But I love blue cheese, so I used the Gorgonzola.**

To make this a complete dinner instead of just an appetizer (which is how Giada served it on her television show) I just put the tomatoes on a little bed of whole wheat pasta. It was unnecessary, I ended up not even eating most of my pasta because the tomatoes were just so good by themselves.

You can easily halve or quarter the recipe (which we did) if there are only two or three of you.

This recipe was really good, but next time I will drain the tomatoes a little longer, and use just a little less of the breadcrumbs. All in all, it was a wonderful meal.


Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

I found this recipe, and realizing that I had never made a pesto sauce before, I decided to make this one.

Chad helped, of course. I always like it when he helps me make dinner, not just because he is more useful in the kitchen than I am, but because I like spending that time together.

The original recipe for this was found in Cooking Light. The only thing I changed is that I used dried pasta, a whole wheat version.

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Serves 4
240 calories/serving

Ingredients:

9 ounces whole wheat linguine
3/4  cup  oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves, drained
1/4  cup  loosely packed basil leaves
2  tablespoons  slivered almonds
2  tablespoons fresh Parmesan cheese
1  tablespoon minced garlic
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
1/2  cup  (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

1) Cook pasta as directed on package. Reserve one cup of pasta water for pesto mixture.

2) While pasta cooks, place sun-dried tomatoes, basil, almonds, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper into a food processor. Process until finely chopped.

3) Combine tomato mixture and reserved pasta water and whisk together.

4) Toss with pasta, coat evenly. Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese.

Chad really liked this dish. He had it as written, with the feta crumbled over the top, while I sprinkled a little bit of parmesan on mine. I love feta cheese, but generally only on pizza. Chad said the feta made the dish even better, though, so if you decide to make it, feel free to weigh in and tell me which one of us was right. 🙂

What I liked best about this dish is that it was pasta without feeling so heavy. It also didn’t take very long to make, which is always a bonus.

Pumpkin Lasagna

As is fairly evident by this recipe blog, I don’t eat meat. This is a fairly recent transition, I think it’s been about 8 months since I started cutting meat out of my diet. It hasn’t been easy, and there have been times that I’ve wanted to go back to cooking with/eating meat just for convenience sake. But I watched a movie (The Cove…go rent it) and read a book (Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer) recently that renewed my desire to go meat free, and I’m adding fish to that. Before, even though I wasn’t eating meat, I was still eating fish. This has absolutely nothing to do the recipe I’m about to post, I just wanted to plug that documentary and the book. 🙂

My family has been really supportive of me being a vegetarian, and over the holidays a lot of family actually incorporated vegetarian options into holiday dinners. This is one of those recipes.

Pumpkin Lasagna

Ingredients:

1/2 lb sliced fresh mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt + another 1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 can (15 oz) solid-pack pumpkin (not pie filling)
1/2 cup half and half cream
1 teaspoon dried sage leaves
Dash of pepper
9 no-cook lasagna noodles
1 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1) In small skillet, sauté the mushrooms, onions, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in oil until tender. Set aside.

2) In small bowl, combine the pumpkin, cream, sage, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

3) S[read 1/2 cup pumpkin sauce in an 11 x 7 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with three noodles. Noodles will overlap slightly.

4) Spread 1/2 cup of pumpkin sauce to edges of noodles. Top with half of mushroom mixture, 1/2 cup ricotta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles and sauce.

5) Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted. Let lasagna stand 10 minutes before cutting.

**Recipe adapted from the Taste of Home version.**

It sounds very strange to have lasagna in a pasta. At least it did to me, as I had only ever had pumpkin in desserts. But this lasagna was delicious.

A bonus is that if you know you’re going to have a busy week, you can assemble the lasagna on Sunday and keep it in the fridge for later in the week.

Super Easy Pizza Casserole

I really have been cooking more than it seems. I have a couple recipes that I just haven’t posted yet, including one for a chocolate cheesecake. And once Valentine’s Day is over I’ll have a recipe for Black Tie Mousse Cake that will (hopefully) be amazing.

This is one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made. And really, who doesn’t love easy? 🙂

Pizza Casserole

Makes 6 servings
370 calories/serving

Ingredients

4 cups uncooked wagon wheel pasta
1 jar (28 oz) tomato pasta sauce
1 can (8 oz) mushroom pieces and stems, drained
1 can (2 1/4 oz) sliced ripe olives, drained
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1) Heat oven to 350 degrees

2) Cook pasta until tender

3) In 2  1/2 quart casserole dish, mix pasta and remaining ingredients except cheese

4) Cover. Bake about 30 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with cheese and bake, uncovered, an additional 5 minutes.

Chad added some oregano, just sprinkling it on the cheese before popping it back on for the last five minutes, but that was really the only change made.

It was simple, fast, and good. Perfect for a busy weeknight.

**This recipe came from Betty Crocker’s Easy Everyday Vegetarian cookbook.**

Curried Ravioli with Spinach

Some days a girl is just too busy to cook…but we still have to eat. So a couple nights ago I handed Chad the cookbook, told him to pick one of the bookmarked recipes and go to town.

He decided to make this ravioli recipe:

Curried Ravioli with Spinach

Cook Time: 20 minutes
Makes 4 servings
320 calories/serving

Ingredients:

1 package (9 oz) refrigerated cheese filled ravioli
1 box (9 oz) frozen spinach
2 oz cream cheese
2/3 cup canned coconut milk
1/3 cup vegetable broth
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 medium green onions, sliced
1/4 cup peanuts

1) Cook and drain ravioli as directed on package. Cook and drain spinach as directed on box.

2) In 1 quart saucepan mix cream cheese, coconut milk, veggie broth, curry powder, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot.

3) Spoon spinach onto serving plate. Top with ravioli and sauce. Sprinkle with onions and peanuts.

Obviously since Chad made this I cannot speak about the difficulty level, but he seemed to have no issues with it.

I was a little worried because, to be honest, it smelled awful while cooking. I was fully prepared pull out the peanut butter as a sub if I hated it. Turns out I should have more faith in my husband.

This dish was actually good. The flavors were interesting and it is unlike anything I’ve had before.  Plus it doesn’t take too long to make, which is always good after a long day of work.

**recipe from Betty Crocker’s Easy Everyday Vegetarian cookbook.**