Lemon Fusilli with Arugula

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I know I have said this before, but I love Ina Garten recipes. I think I have every one of her cookbooks, and I have had great success with everything I’ve tried. This pasta dish is no exception.

The recipe indicates that it serves 4 – 5. I’d say it serves 6 – 7. It makes a LOT of pasta. Delicious pasta, but a LOT of it.

I am typically not a huge arugula fan, but it gives this recipe a nice bite. We had some (a LOT) left over (have I mentioned that our boys are really picky eaters?), and I noticed that the arugula flavor mellowed overnight.

For the tomatoes, I used a small container of heirloom tomatoes from Trader Joe’s. Yum! I also used Trader Joe’s whole wheat fusilli. Do make sure you use Kosher salt. If you don’t, definitely cut down on the salt called for in the recipe.

I loved all of the fresh vegetables in the pasta, and I also loved the lemon flavor in the sauce. It’s a great vegetarian meal. If you want to make it a little heavier, I think it would be nice with some chunks of chicken in it. This recipe is definitely a keeper, but next time I’ll make half the recipe so we’re not eating it for days on end.

Lemon Fusilli with Arugula
Recipe from Barefoot Contessa at Home

1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 cups heavy cream
2 lemons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch broccoli
1 pound dried fusilli pasta
1/2 pound baby arugula (or 2 bunches of common arugula, leaves cut in thirds)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic, and cook for 60 seconds. Add the cream, the zest from 2 lemons, the juice of 2 lemons, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.

Meanwhile, cut the broccoli in florets and discard the stem. Cook the florets in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain the broccoli and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the package, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta in a colander and place it back into the pot. Immediately add the cream mixture and cook it over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until most of the sauce has been absorbed in the pasta. Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl, add the arugula, Parmesan, tomatoes, and cooked broccoli. Toss well, season to taste, and serve hot.

Yield: ~6 servings

Two years ago: Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Muffins
Three years ago: Soft Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Frosting
Four years ago: Chicken and Rice Stoup
Five years ago: Sugar-Crusted Popovers
Six years ago: Whoopie Pies!
Seven years ago: Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Mini Churros

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Yesterday was the first day of spring, and it snowed almost all day! We have had quite a winter here in NYC. I thought for sure our snowstorms were over for the year, but Mother Nature had other ideas. We probably got a good 4″ when all was said and done. The city looked beautiful both last night and this morning.

Our boys had some friends come over after school yesterday. With the snow falling heavily outside, I decided to try this recipe, which I had torn out of an old version of Food Network magazine. Our boys LOVE churros. What’s a churro? It’s a pastry make of fried dough dipped in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. A woman sets up a stand selling churros outside the boys’ schoolyard after school, and they always want to buy one.

This is a recipe that needs a bit of equipment to make. You’ll need a deep-fry thermometer to make sure the oil is hot enough to fry the churros correctly. If the oil is not hot enough, you’ll end up with an oily, soggy mess. If it’s too hot, the outside will brown quickly, leaving the inside raw. Ideally, the churros should be light and crispy. You’ll also need a pastry bag with a 1/2″ star shaped tip. In other recipes, I have recommended using a ziploc bag and cutting a hole in the corner if you don’t have a pastry bag. Definitely don’t try that with this recipe. The dough is hot when it comes out of the pan. I think it might melt right through a ziploc bag.

These were a lot of fun to make on a very snowy afternoon, and the kids loved them!

Mini Churros
Recipe from FoodNetwork.com

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup cake flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch star tip; set aside. Combine 1 cup water, the butter, shortening, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and the salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon, then reduce the heat to low and stir vigorously until the mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute. Let cool slightly (the dough is very hot when it comes out of the pan), then transfer the dough to the pastry bag. Pipe 1-inch logs onto the prepared baking sheet, using kitchen shears to snip off each piece (you should have approximately 26 to 28 churros). Let them rest at room temperature for 15 – 20 minutes.

Heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or pot until a deep-fry thermometer registers 360 degrees F. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar and ground cinnamon in a large bowl. Working in three batches, fry the churros until golden and crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a rack set over a baking sheet. Let cool about 5 minutes, then add to the cinnamon sugar and toss to coat.

Yield: ~26 – 28 churros

One year ago: Broccoli, Cheddar and Wild Rice Casserole
Two years ago: Meyer Lemon Gelato
Three years ago: Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad
Four years ago: Alfajores
Five years ago: Pineapple and Meyer Lemon Sorbet
Six years ago: Peanut Butter Cookies
Seven years ago: Smashed Sweet Potatoes

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Nonna Luna's Rice

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I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I usually have a 2-lb bag of frozen shrimp in my freezer. I get a bag every time I go to Costco. The shrimp come frozen, peeled and deveined. They still have the tail on them, and you can choose to cook with the tails on or without them. I typically take them off, unless I’m using the shrimp for shrimp cocktail, in which case the tail becomes a nice little handle. Shrimp are very quick to cook, so they’re handy if you’re looking to make a last minute meal.

This is a simple meal to cook, and if you’re looking for a meatless meal, you can substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth. I made a couple of small substitutions to allow me to use the ingredients that I had in my cabinets. I only had Arborio rice, which is the kind used for risotto. I didn’t have any long grain rice on hand, so I gave the Arborio a shot. It worked out very well. I thought the rice was delicious. I also didn’t have any hot sauce on hand, so I made some of my own. I mixed two teaspoons of white vinegar with one teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper. I considered this to be the equivalent of one Tablespoon of hot sauce. I mixed enough for the recipe, and then added some extra because my husband and I like things that are spicy.

I will definitely make this again because it’s so easy, and it has quite a bit of flavor, despite the short and simple ingredient list. My husband loved it, but next time he asked me to make more of the cream sauce. If you’re just cooking for two, you can easily cut this recipe in half.


Nonna Luna’s Rice

Recipe from Giada deLaurentiis via Food Network

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, divided, at room temperature
2 cups parboiled long grain rice, such as Uncle Ben’s
3 ½ cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 clove garlic
2 pounds small shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 cup whipping cream
Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium non-stick saucepan, heat 1/2 of the butter over medium-low heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add the chicken stock and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer covered for 20 to 25 minutes until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and rest covered for 5 minutes.

In a large skillet, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Add the garlic clove and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes until aromatic. Add the shrimp, lemon juice, and hot sauce. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the shrimp is pink and cooked through. Stir in the cream and heat through. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Using a fork, fluff the rice and arrange on a platter. Spoon the shrimp cream sauce over the rice and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

One year ago: Chocolate Nudges
Two years ago: Sugar Saucers
Three years ago: Banana Bars with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Four years ago: Avocado Fries
Five years ago: Chocolate Stout Cupcakes
Six years ago: Black and White Cookies
Seven years ago: Lasagna with Pink Sauce, Leeks and Sausage

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Sour Cream Corn Bread

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I have made this corn bread several times now. We’ll eat it with dinner, then I’ll serve it again as toast for breakfast. Making cornbread in a loaf pan allows you to easily slice it into toaster-friendly pieces. This recipe is delicious toasted, and spread with butter. This is a very moist cornbread, so you don’t have to worry about it drying out overnight, as long as you keep it covered.

I received Make It Ahead by Ina Garten for Christmas from my parents. Ina’s recipes have almost never failed me. I find that they’re straightforward, and one tastes better than the next. Sometimes I find that she’s a little heavy-handed with the salt for my taste, but I find that these days I typically cut her suggested amount of salt in half. In this recipe, I didn’t, and the bread was delicious. Not salty at all.

In the book, this recipe calls for a specific type of cornmeal: Bob’s Red Mill medium-grind cornmeal. I did not stray from the instructions. I found a store in my neighborhood that sold it, and didn’t try the recipe until I purchased it. I’m not sure how this recipe would turn out if fine-grind cornmeal were used.

The recipe calls for two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-2-inch loaf pans. I decided to cut the recipe in half and make one loaf in a slightly larger loaf pan, which is why my slices look more rectangular than square. The recipe calls for extra-large eggs. Many of Ina’s recipes do. I used large eggs, and they worked fine.

Sour Cream Corn Bread
Recipe from Ina Garten’s Make It Ahead Cookbook

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill medium-grind yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder (see note)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sour cream
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
Salted butter and strawberry jam, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line the bottom of two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-2-inch loaf pans with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, sour cream, and eggs and then slowly whisk in the melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix them together with a rubber spatula, until combined. Don’t overmix! Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the top, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Place the pans on a rack and cool completely.

When ready to serve, slice the corn bread, toast it, and serve with salted butter and strawberry jam.

Note: Check the expiration date of your baking powder to make sure it’s still active.

Make It Ahead: Bake the corn breads, cool completely, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost, if necessary, slice 1/2 inch thick, and toast.

Yield: 2 loaves

One year ago: Easy, Cold Sesame Noodles with Shredded Chicken
Two years ago: Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Muffins
Three years ago: Easy Black Beans and Rice
Four years ago: Jerk Shrimp Mini Pies
Five years ago: Chocolate Pancakes
Six years ago: Baked Shrimp Scampi
Seven years ago:
Chicken Piccata

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Candied Orange Peel

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One of my sons has been asking me to make candied citrus peels for a couple of years now, but I was never able to find a recipe that received consistently good reviews. The reviews were all over the map. Last week I received a box of tangelos from Harry and David (a wonderful Christmas present that I receive from my sister-in-law every year) and my son asked again about the candied peel, so I decided to try to make them. I combined the technique from two different recipes and I was very pleased with the results. To me, these taste exactly like those orange slice candies that my grandmother used to buy me when I was little. To this day, I still love them. They’re one of the very few non-chocolate candies that I like. I might even say love. They take me back to the days when my grandmother would take me to Woolworth’s (which she called the five-and-ten) and let me buy a bag, which was a big deal because when I was growing up, our general rule at home was that we weren’t allowed to have candy unless we were bleeding.

This recipe is not difficult, just a little time consuming because you have to boil/blanch the orange peels three separate times. Next time, I might make my segments slightly thinner.

Next, the boys want me to try lemon and grapefruit peel. They’d also like me to dip some of them in chocolate!


Candied Orange Peel

Recipe adapted from Epicurious and Food Network

2 large oranges, washed
2 1/2 – 3 cups sugar, divided
Water

Cut 1/4″ off the top and bottom of the oranges. Score the orange peel into quarters. Remove the peel including the pith. Slice the peel into 1/4″-wide pieces, lengthwise.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Boil the orange peel for 15 minutes, then drain.

Put the peel back into a pot of cool water. Bring the water to a boil. When the water has reached a boil, remove the peel and drain. Repeat this step again then set the peel aside.

Pour 2 cups of sugar into a saucepan. Add 1 cup of water. Bring the solution to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is gently boiling, add the orange peel. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, drain the peel.

Just before the peel is boiled in the sugar syrup, pour 1/2 – 1 cup of sugar into a shallow bowl. Toss a couple of pieces of peel in the sugar at a time to coat them. Once coated, place the sugared peels individually on a piece of aluminum foil. Don’t let them touch or they’ll stick together. Let them dry for several hours until they’re no longer sticky.

Yield: ~32 pieces

Seven Years Ago:
Zucchini Gratin

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Graham Cracker Bites

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Graham Cracker Bites

My boys LOVE this recipe. Well, three out of four do. The other one likes these, but doesn’t go crazy over them. One of my sons asks me to make these all the time. The boys can’t decide if they like them dipped in dark or white chocolate better. These are reminiscent of s’mores, with their graham crackers and chocolate, but they’re not as messy, and nicely bite-sized.

I use Honey Maid graham crackers for this recipe. The box comes with three packages of graham crackers, each wrapped in waxed paper. This recipe calls for two of those three packages. Do make sure that once you grind the graham crackers, you have 2 1/2 cups of very fine crumbs. If you don’t have enough, your mixture won’t be firm enough. Once you pour the liquid ingredients into the crumbs, it takes a little elbow grease to get everything mixed together smoothly.

It’s important that once you form the mixture into balls that you chill them. I notice that mine tend to sag a little after I get them rolled and before I get them into the refrigerator or freezer (I used the freezer the last time I made them to speed up the chilling process.) Once chilled, you can re-roll them if they’ve sagged a bit. Make sure you have a parchment-lined baking sheet available once you start dipping the balls. Once dipped, they want to go immediately onto the parchment. If you’re using candy melts, which I did, the chocolate will become firm very quickly, so make sure that as soon as each ball is dropped onto the parchment, you’re ready to sprinkle them with a little salt.

 

Graham Cracker Bites
Recipe from Mother Daughter Dishes via Serious Eats

2 packages graham crackers, crushed finely (approximately 2 1/2 cups)
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 bag chocolate melts or dark chocolate chips (for dipping)
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Grind approximately 2 packages of graham crackers in a food processor to form fine crumbs. You should make enough crumbs to equal 2 1/2 cups. Transfer the cracker crumbs into a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Add sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and salt to the graham cracker crumbs. Mix with a firm rubber spatula until completely combined.

Scoop out the mixture using a small cookie scoop and roll into balls. I like them to be about an inch in diameter.

Place the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate until they are firm.

Melt the chocolate chips or chocolate melts in the microwave until smooth. Remove the balls from the fridge and drop them, one at a time, into the melted chocolate—use a fork to completely coat each candy.

Carefully place the coated bites on parchment paper then immediately sprinkle with kosher or sea salt. Allow the candies to sit at room temperature until the chocolate sets—it won’t take long.

Keep refrigerated.

Yield: ~36 pieces

Seven years ago: Chewy Sugar Cookies

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Quinoa and White Bean Burgers

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I know I’ve mentioned this several times before, but I LOVE Fine Cooking magazine. I receive a subscription every year for Christmas from my parents. I end up trying several recipes from each issue and I have many magazines on my cookbook shelf with dog eared pages, waiting for me to have time to try their recipes.

I love quinoa burgers and I also love bean burgers, so the combination of both in a single burger was very appealing to me. I’m also always trying to find something that’s appealing to my vegetarian son (the vegetarian who doesn’t really like vegetables.) I figured he might like these because they look like burgers, yet there’s no meat in them. Well, no luck. He’s always willing to taste things, but he never seems to like any of them. Hopefully one day…

These come together quickly and unlike some other vegetarian burgers, these don’t need to chill prior to cooking, so once you mix them up, you can form them into patties and cook them. This recipe offers some flexibility. For instance, I didn’t have any pine nuts, so I substituted cashews. I’m also not a huge fan of fennel seeds, so I omitted them.

Don’t forget to rinse your quinoa before cooking it. If you rinse it prior to cooking, it’s natural coating, called saponin, will be washed away. Some think that saponin can taste either bitter or soapy, so it’s a good idea to rinse it away before cooking.

I served these burgers on brioche rolls, and they were delicious. There’s a slight hint of lemon in the burgers which gives them a light and lovely taste. As with many of the recipes I’ve posted recently, if you have extra burgers, they heat up very well and make great leftovers. I had one for lunch and a minute in the microwave was all it needed.

Quinoa and White Bean Burgers
Recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine, Issue 134

1/2 cup red or white quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons olive oil

Bring a 3-quart saucepan of water to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cool water. Drain well, pressing against the strainer with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much water as possible.

Transfer to a food processor and add the beans, oats, pine nuts, mustard, Worcestershire, thyme, fennel seeds, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Process to a thick, smooth paste. With wet hands, form the mixture into eight 1/2-inch-thick patties.

Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Add the patties and cook, flipping once, until browned on both sides, ~8 minutes total. Serve hot.

Yield: 8 burgers

Seven years ago: Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Shrimp with White Beans, Spinach and Tomatoes

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The flavor in this dish was unexpected and wonderful. The lemon zest and juice brought this dish to life. I loved it so much I had two big servings. I also had it the next day for lunch. I love a meal that makes for good leftovers.

I love this dish for a number of reasons: it’s very healthy and it’s easy enough to throw together for a weeknight meal. I almost always have the bulk of the ingredients on hand. I always have a bag of frozen shrimp from Costco in my freezer. I buy the biggest ones I can find that are peeled and deveined. They come with the tails on, and sometimes I take them off before cooking, and sometimes I leave them on. This time, I took them off. I always have chicken stock, garlic, onions and lemons on hand too, and based on the number of recipes that I make with beans, I typically have a shelf full of them in one of my kitchen cabinets.

I served this dish as is, but it can also be served over rice, which will nicely sop up some of the sauce. When making this, the amounts of the ingredients are not set in stone. If you really like tomatoes, add another one. Add some more spinach if you like greens. The recipe is very forgiving and can be modified to suit your taste. I made it exactly as specified, and don’t plan to change a thing next time I make it.

Shrimp with Spinach White Beans and Tomato

Shrimp with White Beans, Spinach and Tomatoes
Recipe from The Kitchn

Olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium ripe tomato or a handful of cherry tomatoes, diced (~3/4 cup diced)
A few handfuls of washed baby spinach
8 fresh basil leaves, sliced into a chiffonade
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 (15.5 ounce) cans Great Northern beans or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chicken stock
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (thawed if frozen)

Warm a teaspoon or two of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until they begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like your food), and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir the diced tomato into the onions and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until some of the tomato liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes are beginning to break down. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Add the beans and chicken stock, and simmer for a few minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated and the beans are warmed through. Stir in the basil, lemon zest, and juice. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Turn the heat down to low and partially cover to keep warm.

Wash the shrimp, pat them very dry, and season both sides with salt and pepper. Set a second pan over high heat and coat the bottom with olive oil. When the oil is hot enough that a flick of water evaporates immediately, begin cooking the shrimp in batches. Cook the shrimp, 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until they are pink and opaque all the way through. Transfer to a plate.

To serve, spoon the spinach and bean mixture into bowls and top with a few of the shrimp.

Yield: 3 – 4 servings

Two years ago: Quinoa Mac and Cheese
Four years ago: Boston Cream Pie
Seven years ago: Chicken Stew with Biscuits

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Individual Mac and Cheese Cups

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One of my sons is a huge dairy fan. He loves milk, yogurt and things made with cheese like macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, cheese quesadillas, etc. He saw me looking at this recipe the other day and he begged me to make it. When I looked at the recipe I found that it was easier than traditional macaroni and cheese recipes because you don’t need to make a roux. The cream cheese mixed with the milk, which is incredibly easy to do, replaces the roux.

These little mac and cheese “muffins” are great right out of the oven, and they’re also great as leftovers. I was surprised how well they stayed together. I didn’t have any trouble getting them out of the muffin pan. I had one for lunch today as a leftover and my son had three for dinner. This recipe is definitely a keeper and good enough to be added to our regular dinner rotation. My son, the one that requested that I make these, LOVED them. My husband and I did too. These would be great as an after-school snack. They reheat well in the microwave.

This basic recipe has infinite possibilities. I might add bacon next time. I think some broccoli would be a nice addition too. A little cayenne pepper would be nice too when I’m not making them for my son. You can add anything that you think goes well with mac and cheese.

 

Individual Mac and Cheese Cups
Recipe adapted slightly from Martha Stewart

1 tablespoon melted butter, plus more for greasing the muffin pan
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
8 oz. grated cheddar cheese (2 cups)
Salt and pepper
8 ounces elbow macaroni
1 1/4 cups whole milk
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 12-well muffin pan. In a small bowl, toss 1 tablespoon melted butter with breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup cheddar.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni until al dente, according to package directions; drain.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring milk to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; add cream cheese and stir until melted. Gradually stir in remaining cheddar until melted. Add cooked pasta, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; toss to combine. Taste for seasoning.

Using a 1/2 cup ice cream scoop, divide the mixture into the 12 muffin wells. Using the ice cream scoop, the mixture should divide evenly into the muffin pan. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on top of each “muffin”. Bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven; let sit for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan. You might need to run a knife around the outside of each “muffin” to loosen it from the pan.

Yield: 12 servings

Two years ago: Homemade Wheat Thins
Four years ago: Alsatian Pizza
Five years ago: Pear Salad with Raspberry Cream
Six years ago: Roasted Potato Leek Soup
Seven years ago: French Lentil Soup

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Gnocchi Verde (Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings)

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One of the many reasons I love shopping at Trader Joe’s is because of their frozen food section. They have the most interesting frozen vegetables. Two of my favorites are their sliced peppers and cleaned and sliced leeks. They sell 10 oz. bags of frozen, chopped spinach too, which are perfect for this recipe. For the last couple of weeks, my TJs has been out of frozen spinach, so I have had to use fresh baby spinach (I used four 5-oz. bags), which adds a little extra cooking to this recipe, but is just as delicious.

When making this, it’s important to cook the spinach until nearly all of its moisture has evaporated. If it hasn’t, your dumplings will be too moist and there’s a chance that they’ll fall apart when you boil them.

Another tip about this recipe: the dumpling mixture takes a full hour to chill, so do allow enough time for that when you start the recipe. When you boil the dumplings, you’ll notice that some of the chopped spinach comes off in the water. I haven’t figured out how to avoid this.

These can be served as an appetizer, or as a side dish with dinner. They are also incredible as leftovers. I ate a plate-full for lunch and they were delicious and very satisfying.

My husband and I love these dumplings. The boys? Want to take a guess? Not one taker. Go figure.

Gnocchi Verde (Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings)
Recipe from Food52

4 tablespoons butter
Two 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted completely, squeezed dry of all moisture, and chopped very fine (about 1 1/2 cups), or 1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, cooked, squeezed dry, and chopped
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons melted butter, divided

Melt 4 Tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until almost all of the moisture has boiled away and the spinach starts to stick to the skillet.

Add the ricotta and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 more minutes.

Transfer the spinach-ricotta mixture to a large mixing bowl and use a rubber spatula to mix in eggs, flour, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan,1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour, until the mixture is quite firm.

Preheat the broiler and bring 6 to 8 quarts of water, seasoned with the remaining 1 tablespoon salt, to a boil over medium heat in a large pot. Flour your hands lightly and shape the chilled gnocchi into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Drop the gnocchi gently into the simmering water and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until they puff slightly and are somewhat firm. Lift them out of the water with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with a towel to dry.

Pour 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into a shallow, ovenproof dish and swirl it around to evenly distribute.Arrange the gnocchi in one layer across the bottom, leaving about 1/4 inch between each one. Dribble the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over top, then sprinkle the gnocchi with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Broil for about 3 minutes, until the cheese melts and is golden brown.

Serve at once, with additional grated cheese if desired.

Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Two years ago: Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting
Four years ago: Cocoa Banana Muffins
Five years ago: Honey Wheat Cookies
Six years ago: Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing
Seven years ago: Turkey Meat Loaf

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