Thursday, March 17, 2011

Macaroni & Cheese

As I often do, I don't post for ages....and then I get gung-ho and post three items in one day!  I do actually cook at most other times, but I guess they haven't been internet worthy, so I haven't written about them (or most likely I've just gotten lazy).

This recipe for Buffalo Chicken Mac 'N' Cheese Casserole, I only happened to find online like two days ago on the Savour the Senses blog.  Since I'm going away next week (back home to Montreal for a 10 day visit), I've been looking for particular recipes that Chris would like and ones that would stretch for freezer meals for lunch and stuff.

I suddenly realized this afternoon that I reminded myself of my mother!  She used to make my father big pots of chicken curry only when she'd be planning a visit overseas to see my grandmother because she couldn't stand the smell otherwise.  Luckily the smell of this Mac & Cheese was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed my plate as well!  But sad!
Here's my dish pre-bake.  You wouldn't think it looking at this photo, but I totally screwed up on the recipe.  Firstly, I think I may have cooked too much pasta and then when I was assembling the casserole I ended up discarding a little bit of the pasta and cheese sauce.  What a shame since the sauce was to die for!  Either that or the dish I used was slightly too small.  I may consider using my 9x13 dish next time.  I also ended up having just a little bit extra sharp cheese available that I sprinkled on the bread cubes at the end.
Here's my dish post cooking.  Doesn't it look fabulous!!???  Let me tell tasted SOOOOOO much better than it looked!  It was awesome!
And even better....after mine and Chris's portion for supper (he piled a ton on his plate though), I was able to fill four other containers to pop in the freezer when I go.  No one can say he's not well cared for while I'm away!!

And the next time I make this dish, I shall use a bigger dish!

Buffalo Chicken Mac ‘N’ Cheese Casserole

From the site Savour the Senses
Serves 6-8
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 8 slices white bread (cubed into small pieces)
  • 5 cups low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 5 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups grated jack cheese
  • 1 pound cooked pasta (al dente)
  • 1 lb cooked shredded chicken
  • 1/2 yellow onion (chopped)
  • 3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot buffalo wing sauce
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F and grease a 3 quart casserole dish.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt 6 tbsp of the butter then whisk in the flour. Continue to whisk the mixture until golden brown (about 3 minutes).
  3. Slowly add the milk to the mixture, continuing to whisk to break up clumps. Continue to whisk the mixture until it thickens (about 10 minutes).
  4. Add the seasoning, 4 cups of the cheddar cheese and 2 cups of the jack cheese to the mixture, continuing to stir until all of the cheese is melted.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, buffalo sauce and onions and toss until well mixed.
  6. To build the casserole, place a layer of noodles over the bottom of the dish, then layer with the cheese sauce, shredded cheddar cheese and buffalo chicken, repeating until all of the food is layered.
  7. Melt 2 tbsp butter and toss with the bread cubes, then spread across the top of the casserole.
  8. Bake at 375F until top is golden brown and cheese is bubbling (about 30 minutes).
This was wonderful!  I suggest you all make it today!!


Here's another recipe that I made ages ago and just never got around to posting about.  I had always thought that Baklava was so difficult as I'd heard it involved layer after layer after layer of phyllo.  And then the idea of phyllo put me off as well because I'd heard it was so delicate to work with...but since I tackled my fear of phyllo a few months ago with baked phyllo triangles and I realized how incredibly easy phyllo actually was.....bring on the phyllo recipes!

As often happens when surfing the web looking at blogs, you're looking at one blog and then it leads you to another and then another.  I found myself on the Closet Cooking, the blog of Kevin from Toronto, Canada and his wonderful recipe for Baklava!

His recipe was very straight forward and well written and reassuring as even he'd been intimidated by making baklava, but then realized it was so much easier than he'd thought.  All the more reason to give it a try.

I halved his recipe when I made it as the only baking dish I had handy was about half the size (I'd still been waiting for my container of goods to arrive from Canada and hadn't wanted to buy a new dish).  Please excuse the horrible dish in the photos!  I think Chris bought it at IKEA and I have scrubbed it a million times and it never comes clean! Ugh.

I am including Kevin's original recipe for a large pan of baklava, but as I mentioned I only made half because of my dish.  I am sooooo making a large pan next time though!

From Closet Cooking
4 cups walnuts (chopped)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup butter (melted)
1 pound phyllo pastry (thawed)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick cinnamon
2 inch slice lemon peel
2 inch slice orange peel
3/4 cup honey

1. Mix the walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
2. Brush the bottom of a 9X13 inch pan with butter.
3. Brush butter onto the top of a sheet of the phyllo dough and place the sheet into the pan. Repeat until there are 8 sheets in the pan.
4. Sprinkle 1/3 of the walnut mixture onto the phyllo in the pan.
5. Brush butter onto the top of a sheet of the phyllo dough and place the sheet into the pan. Repeat until there are 2 sheets on top of the nut mixture.
6. Sprinkle 1/3 of the walnut mixture onto the phyllo in the pan.
7. Brush butter onto the top of a sheet of the phyllo dough and place the sheet into the pan. Repeat until there are 2 sheets on top of the nut mixture.
8. Sprinkle 1/3 of the walnut mixture onto the phyllo in the pan.
9. Brush butter onto the top of a sheet of the phyllo dough and place the sheet into the pan. Repeat until there are 8 sheets on top of the nut mixture.
10. Slice the baklava with a sharp knife.
11. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until golden brown on top, about 25-35 minutes.
12. Bring the water, sugar, cinnamon, lemon and orange to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
13. Add the honey and simmer for 2 minutes.
14. Remove the cinnamon, and peals from the syrup.
15. Pour the syrup over the baklava when it comes out of the oven.
16. Let the baklava cool for a few hours.

I recommend this recipe to everyone!  It is really easy to make and quite tasty!

Catching up with two pizzas!

I have totally been delinquent on this blog much so that my mum even commented the other day that I'd been slacking!!!  So I am catching up today by adding two pizza recipes that I found and made ages ago, but just hadn't gotten around to posting about.

Pizza Number One!
I think it was back in January that I had a desperate craving for pizza and something spicy!  Anyone that knows me knows that I just love Asian food of any kind and the spicier the better!  So, when I had some chicken in the fridge needing using up, I went in search of a Thai chicken pizza recipe.  I found a great recipe at the blog In Praise of Leftovers!  She posted a recipe for Thai Chicken Pizza that she apparently found through Rachael Ray and tweaked slightly...and then I just made a minor change myself.  Wow, was it every yummy!
 just loved how fresh and crispy the vegetables still were on top of the pizza!
 First I combined the sauce ingredients and coated the chicken pieces well before popping them in the over at 350F for about 20 minutes.  Don't  be fooled by the slightly unappealing photos...the smell in the kitchen was phenomenal!

Next I prepared my seasoned carrot and cucumber mixture.  Such a fresh smell!

Here is the prepared pizza all ready to go into the oven!

And here is the finished pizza.  I think I may have baked the pizza slightly longer than called for as it looks a bit too brown, but it was still wonderful.  The only thing I didn't care for as much was the recipe that Sarah included as her pizza crust.  I've included a link for it anyhow, but  I found it a bit too think and hard.  Perhaps that was my over baking it, but I don't think so.

Thai Chicken Pizza

Pizza dough - Here is Sarah's recipe for a thin crust
1/2 c. hoisin sauce
2 c. shredded mozzarella
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 red jalapeño, sliced into thin rings
1 Tb. vegetable oil
2 Tb. soy sauce
1 Tb. peanut butter
2 tsp. Asian hot sauce
1/2 lb chicken breasts
2 Tb. honey
2 Tb. rice wine vinegar
1/4 seedless cucumber, cut into matchsticks
4 scallions, julienned
1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned
couple handfuls beansprouts
handful chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Combine vegetable oil, soy sauce and peanut butter with hot sauce . Add chicken and coat evenly with mixture. Bake chicken in over at 350F until cooked through.  About 20 minutes or so.  Slice chicken into very thin strips.

While chicken cooks, mix honey and vinegar and add the cucumber and carrots. Turn to coat evenly.

Form pizza crust on pizza pan or cookie sheet. Top with hoisin sauce - spread it around like pizza sauce. Top crust with cheese, peppers, and chicken. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 15 minutes.

Top the hot, cooked pizza with scallions, sprouts and cilantro. Drain cucumber mixture and scatter over the pizza. Serve with crushed red pepper flakes on the side.


Pizza Number Two!
Since I had pizza on the brain that week and I just loved making it all from scratch, a few days later I went in search of another pizza recipe....enter Pioneer Woman.  Anyone who follows cooking/food blogs has definitely heard of the infamous Pioneer Woman, Ree.  She regularly cooks wholesome, down to earth meals that are always hearty and even more tasty!  It was in my search for to die for pizza tastiness that I found her post for CPK's (California Pizza Kitchen) BBQ Chicken Pizza.  I cannot tell you how much I loved this pizza!  OMG, it was so delicious!  Just as delicious as the Thai pizza above, but just completely different.
CPK's BBQ Chicken Pizza
Courtesy of The Pioneer Woman
  • 1 whole Recipe For Pizza Crust (mine Makes Two Crusts)
  • 2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • ½ cups Barbecue Sauce
  • Olive Oil, For Drizzling
  • Salt For Sprinkling
  • 16 ounces, weight Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Sliced Thinly
  • ½ whole Red Onion, Cut In Half And Sliced Very Thin
  • Chopped Cilantro, to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Salt chicken breasts on both sides, then place in an ovenproof dish. Pour BBQ sauce over the breasts and turn them over to coat. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Remove from oven and cut into a fine dice. Set aside.

Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees.

Roll/stretch out one pizza crust. Lay it on a sheet pan drizzled with olive oil. Drizzle a little olive oil on the crust, then sprinkle on a little salt.

Spoon a couple of tablespoons of extra BBQ sauce on the crust and spread it evenly. Top sauce with half the sliced mozzarella. Sprinkle on half the diced chicken and thinly sliced red onion.

Sprinkle again with a little salt, then bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and toppings are bubbly.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle on plenty of chopped cilantro. Cut into squares and serve immediately. Repeat with other crust and other ingredients, or save for another time.

The Pioneer Woman's Awesome Basic Pizza Crust

  • 1 teaspoon Instant Or Active Dry Yeast
  • 1-½ cup Warm Water
  • 4 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • ⅓ cups Olive Oil
Sprinkle yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm (not lukewarm) water. Let stand for a few minutes.

In a mixer, combine flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed (with paddle attachment), drizzle in olive oil until combined with flour. Next, pour in yeast/water mixture and mix until just combined, and the dough comes together in a sticky mass. (I did this all by hand and it still turned out wonderful!)

Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil, and form the dough into a ball. Toss to coat dough in olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it aside for 1 to 2 hours, or store in the fridge until you need it.

Note: it’s best to make the dough at least 24 hours in advance, and 3 or 4 days is even better.

When you are ready to make the pizza, grab HALF the pizza dough (recipe makes 2 crusts) and squeeze the dough toward the bottom to form a nice, tight, pulled ball. You can roll out the pizza with a rolling pin if you’d like, but sometimes it’s just as easy to throw it around and pull and stretch till it feels right. And when the crust is nice and thin, lay it on an oiled baking sheet or pizza pan. Drizzle a little olive oil on the dough and spread it with your fingers. Very lightly sprinkle some salt on the crust.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Top your crust with your toppings of choice. Then bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and toppings are bubbly.
 My photos really don't do this pizza justice because it was really DELICIOUS!!  I LOVED THIS PIZZA!  I think one thing that I really loved about this pizza was the crust as well.  Really, I just loved everything about this pizza, the crust was just how I liked it and the flavours were perfect. 

Don't let me put you off the Thai one though because that was really yummy too!

Out of the two, this was my favourite, but Chris loved the Thai one to each his own.  The neighbours are coming for supper with their young son this coming Saturday and I think BBQ chicken pizza would be perfect for him!