Remember how I mentioned I wanted to make something else with the leftover arugula pesto on Monday? Well here it is! It’s another pasta dish, but this has white cheddar int it – one of my favorite cheeses. While preparing and practicing my presentation for my committee meeting today, I was in serious need of some comfort food. White cheddar macaroni and cheese was already super comforting by itself, but the addition of the pesto added great flavor. I even served this mac and cheese with some chicken sausage. It’s an adult version of hot dog mac and cheese.
My meeting is at 10am central today. Here’s to hoping I will be super relieved and happy when I talk to you tomorrow!
One year ago: Bean and Cheese Taquitos
WHITE CHEDDAR AND ARUGULA PESTO MAC & CHEESE
13.25 oz. box uncooked whole wheat pasta
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 oz. freshly grated white cheddar cheese, divided
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup arugula pesto
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions, minus a few minutes of the cooking time since it will be going in the oven.
- While pasta is cooking, heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once sizzling, add flour and whisk until smooth to create a roux. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until golden and has a nutty aroma. Add milk and cream, bring to a boil while constantly whisking. Reduce heat to low and add all but 1/4 cup of the cheese, then cook for a few minutes while stirring until cheese is melted and mixture thickens. Add nutmeg, then taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.
- Add pasta to a baking dish and pour cheese sauce over top. Stir to distribute sauce, then stir in pesto. Top with remaining cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn on the broiler for 5 minutes or until top is golden and bubbly.
Source: Adapted slightly from How Sweet It Is.
Time for November’s Secret Recipe Club! This month I was assigned to K&K Test Kitchen, a blog run by a mother-daughter pair where they document the results from recipes they have collected over the years.
Pesto seems to make everything better. And with the ease at which it can be made, all kinds of variations have popped up. Since I had yet to try pesto made with arugula I decided to try it out, despite the copious amount of regular pesto I have stocked up in my freezer. The peppery bite of the arugula was a great change from traditional pesto and I especially loved the addition of sun-dried tomatoes. I am very glad that there is some leftover from this recipe to use later on.
Two years ago: Caramel Apple Pie
ARUGULA PESTO PASTA
4 cups arugula
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup walnut pieces
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 pound whole wheat linguini
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a glass baking dish with a bit of cooking spray or lightly coat with olive oil, set aside.
- To make the pesto, prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl, and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Put the arugula in a large sieve and plunge it into the boiling water. Immediately immerse all the arugula and stir so that it blanches evenly. Blanch for about 15 seconds. Remove (leaving the water boiling), shake off the excess water, then plunge the arugula into the ice water bath and stir again so it cools as fast as possible. Drain well.
- Squeeze the water out of the arugula with your hands until very dry. Roughly chop the arugula and put in a blender. Add the garlic, salt and pepper to taste, and walnuts. Blend for at least 30 seconds. Add the olive oil and blend. Then, add the cheese and pulse to combine. (The pesto will keep several days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.)
- Place the chicken in the dish and spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of pesto on top of each chicken breast. Bake for 30 minutes.
- While the chicken is cooking, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until it is al dente. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water. Put the pasta back into the pot, along with 1/2 cup (or more if you prefer) arugula pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and the cooking water. Stir well to combine. Serve with the cooked and sliced pesto chicken. Reserve the rest of the pesto for dipping bread or as a spread for sandwiches.
Source: K&K Test Kitchen
Thanksgiving is tomorrow, so many of you are probably not thinking about what to make for dinner tonight. Since I will be on the road during dinner time, sweet potato pie oat bars will be keeping my belly filled. But for the rest of you, I have a quick and easy dinner idea. It’s called trapanese pesto and is filled with all kinds of wonderful things, such as cherry tomatoes, almonds, basil and a pepperoncini. Who knew pesto could be so much fun? If you have some time to spare, this is great served with some oven-fried chicken and a spinach side salad.
What are you plans for Thanksgiving? Are you hosting dinner or bringing a side dish to someone else’s home? Or will you be enjoying the couch, away from any responsibility in the kitchen?
One year ago: Butter Pecan with Brandy Ice Cream
PENNE WITH TRAPANESE PESTO
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
1/3 cup almonds, lightly toasted
2 cloves garlic
12 basil leaves
1 pepperoncini, stem removed
1 pinch crushed red pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, almonds, garlic, basil, pepperoncini, crushed red pepper, cheese, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse a few times to get it going. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream. Taste it. Add a little more salt if needed.
- Meanwhile, cook your pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain and return to pot.
- Pour the pesto over the pasta and toss to combine. You don’t have to use all the pesto if you don’t want to. Store whatever is left in a sealed container in the fridge for a week.
- Serve with with more cheese and basil.
Source: Bev Cooks
Even though I am super pumped that the holidays are upon us, I cannot believe how fast they crept up. Like Kita of Pass the Sushi, I had a bunch of other fall-ish/Thanksgiving recipes I wanted to make and share with you before Thursday next week, but guess I’ll have to stow them away until next year. Although I definitely have covered sweet potatoes this season, I haven’t posted any butternut squash recipes and only a few pumpkin.
To make up for the imbalance I have a yummy pumpkin alfredo for you. It’s even good for you! The best thing about making alfredo guiltless is actually the lack of leftover heavy cream in my fridge. Every time a recipe calls for heavy cream I end up with half a carton that ends up going bad before I find reason to use it again. I always say I am going to whip up homemade butter and freeze it, but it never happens. Luckily I always have milk and cream cheese, and those are two ingredients I cannot keep enough of stocked.
One year ago: Butternut Squash Lasagna
Two years ago: Broccoli Cheddar Soup
TORTELLINI WITH GUILTLESS PUMPKIN ALFREDO
20 oz. package of cheese tortellini
1-1/4 cups 2% milk
2 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) (I used homemade pumpkin puree)
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh Italian parsley, for garnish (optional)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook according to label directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water, then drain the pasta.
- While the pasta cooks, in a food processor or blender, combine milk, cream cheese, and flour. Process until smooth and set aside.
- Heat the butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the milk mixture and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cheese and cook until thick, about 1 minute more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the tortellini to the skillet and toss with the sauce, adding the reserved cooking water to loosen the sauce if necessary. Divide among four bowls and top with more cheese and the parsley. Serve.
Source: Adapted from Handle the Heat.
I finally got my hands on a purple sweet potato!!! One day at lunch I noticed that Qing was eating something that had a beautiful purple color and I immediately knew what it was. You see, months earlier I had been searching for purple sweet potatoes after finding out they existed at all. Unfortunately my search produced no results. That was until Qing informed me that her friend grows them in his backyard! The very next day she came in and handed me the biggest sweet potato I have ever laid my eyes on. In other words, I am going to be making more than one recipe out of that baby.
This purple beauty came into my life at the perfect time too, because I recently discovered that November is “Better Nutrition Month”. Orange fleshed sweet potatoes are praised for being one of the best sources for beta-carotene (the precursor to Vitamin A). But what about purple sweet potatoes? Their purple color is caused by anthocyanins which have important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. But no matter the color, sweet potatoes contribute greatly towards your daily intake of Vitamin A and antioxidants. Totally nutritious and delicious! Now let’s make some gnocchi out of it, because it’s my favorite thing to make out of potatoes.
Obviously, I do not expect you to find your own personal purple sweet potato grower but you can most definitely make these gnocchi with a regular sweet potato. I am not aware of any taste difference, but my color preference is most definitely biased. However, when trying to decide what kind of sauce to make with these gnocchi I was perplexed. At first I thought of a pancetta butter sauce, but felt like that was just an easy way out after the butter sauce I served with another sweet potato gnocchi recipe I posted. But then I though of the guiltless alfredo that I love so much and decided to change it up a bit with goat cheese instead of using cream cheese. Now I want to smother everything in this goat cheese alfredo sauce. It’s so stinking good! And not overpowering, for those of you that might not enjoy a strong goat cheese flavor.
PURPLE SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI WITH GUILTLESS GOAT CHEESE ALFREDO
Serves 4, with some extra sauce
1 lb purple sweet potatoes (about 2 cups cooked and mashed)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
3/4 cup flour
2 cups 2% milk
3 oz goat cheese
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp light butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
- For the Gnocchi: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork. Bake the sweet potatoes until tender and fully cooked, between 40 to 55 minutes depending on size. Cool slightly.
- Cut in half and scoop the flesh into a large bowl. Mash the sweet potatoes and transfer to a large measuring cup to make sure the sweet potatoes measure about 2 cups.
- Transfer the mashed sweet potatoes back to the large bowl. Add the egg, salt, nutmed, and pepper and blend until well mixed. Add the flour, 1/4 cup at a time until a soft dough forms. Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough in a ball on the work surface. Divide the dough into 6 equal balls. Roll out each ball into a 1/2-inch wide rope. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces.
- If desired, roll the gnocchi over the tines of a fork using your thumb. Transfer the formed gnocchi to a large baking sheet lightly sprinkled with flour. Continue with the remaining gnocchi.*
- For the Alfredo: In a food processor or blender, combine milk, cream cheese, flour, and salt. Process until smooth and set aside.
- In a medium-large sauce pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds.
- Add the milk mixture to the pan. Stir constantly for about 3-4 minutes until the sauce begins to simmer. Keep stirring and let it cook for a few minutes more. It should become thicker.
- Remove from heat. Stir in Parmesan until melted and cover the pan immediately.
- Let stand for at least 10 minutes prior to using. It will continue to thicken to desired consistency.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the gnocchi in 3 batches and cook until tender but still firm to the bite; they will float when they are done. Drain the gnocchi using a slotted spoon and sprinkle with olive oil to prevent sticking.
- Serve (I served it with pecan crusted chicken).
*If you would like to save some of the gnocchi for later, after forming the gnocchi, freeze on a cookie sheet in a single layer then transfer to a sealed freezer bag. When you want to cook them, proceed with directions, although they may take a tiny bit longer to cook.
Source: Gnocchi adapted from Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Browned Butter Sauce. Alfredo adapted from Guiltless Fettuccine Alfredo.
The end of October is upon us folks. As much as I am disturbed by that fact, The Secret Recipe Club is here to save the day. This month I was assigned to Colie’s Kitchen. At first I really wanted to be a kid in the kitchen and make her Mall Style Pretzel Dogs, but I then found myself torn between the Gnocchi with Spicy Tomato and Wine Sauce and Scooter’s Spaghetti. I hope your powers of observation figured out which one won the battle. I mean come on, it has cream cheese in it which is like peanut butter in a dessert to me = weakness.
While making this I had the pasta boiling, the beef browning and the vegetables cooking in the microwave all at the same time. They all had about 5 minutes of time to get going, so I prepared as much as I could in advance and then threw it all together at once to cut down on time in the kitchen. I think everyone can appreciate a little less time spent cooking and more time enjoying your efforts afterwards.
Not to my surprise, the cream cheese mixture was my favorite part. It added such a creamy deliciousness that I could not stop eating it (and made me think about making lasagna with cream cheese instead of ricotta). The original recipe said it serves 10 but there’s no way that was happening for me. Maybe if you served it with a side salad or veggies. Or maybe I just have the appetite of a 16 year old boy.
Serves about 8 alone or 10 when served with a side)
8 oz. uncooked spaghetti (I used elbow noodles)
1 pound ground beef
1 large can (26.5 oz.) spaghetti sauce
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped green peppers
1/3 cup chopped onions
8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbsp milk
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
1 small can (3 oz.) French fried onions
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 9 x 13-inch baking dish and set aside.
- Cook pasta to al dente, drain and set aside.
- While the pasta cooks, brown ground beef in a large skillet. Drain excess grease. Add spaghetti sauce to skillet and heat on low while you prepare the rest.
- While the beef cooks, combine onions, peppers and butter in small glass bowl. Cover and microwave 3-4 minutes on high until soft.
- Add cream cheese and milk to vegetables and stir well.
- Assemble in the following order: half of that spaghetti sauce, pasta, cream cheese/vegetable mixture, remainder of the spaghetti sauce, Parmesan cheese (amount subject to your own taste)
- Bake for 25 minutes. Top with French Fried onion and continue baking 5 more minutes.
Source: Adapted slightly from Colie’s Kitchen.
One cajun mac and cheese has been seen on here already, and despite being incredibly similar to the one today I had to post it as well because it was good enough to not care. Besides, this one is made with chicken instead of sausage!
Stovetop mac and cheese is my favorite kind because it is always extra creamy compared to the baked versions I have had. I once even made one so creamy it should’ve been illegal. But I do appreciate the crunchy tops they tend to get after being baked. I suppose a little trip under a broiler with a crumb topping would give me the best of both worlds, but that little idea will be saved for another day because it did not occur to me until just now while writing this post.
One year ago: Pumpkin Biscoff Cream Cheese Bread
STOVETOP CAJUN CHICKEN MAC AND CHEESE
8 oz. dry penne or macaroni pasta
1 cup shredded or chopped cooked chicken
2-1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1-1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 green bell pepper, small diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk
8 oz. freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 oz. freshly shredded monterey jack cheese
1/2 tsp dry mustard
- Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Toss the cooked chicken with 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large sauce pot over medium high heat. Add the green bell pepper and garlic and saute briefly—about two minutes. Add the flour and stir constantly until it starts to turn a dark golden color. This will take about three minutes or so.
- When the roux starts to turn brown, add the milk and keep stirring. Cook, while stirring, for about five minutes or until the sauce starts to get thick. Add the cheeses and mix to melt.
- Add the remaining teaspoon and a half of Cajun seasoning, as well as the dry mustard, to the cheese sauce and mix well. Then, add the chicken and cooked noodles. Toss to coat and serve.
Source: Adapted slightly from Eat, Live, Run
With cooler temperatures creeping up on me, I am desperately trying to use up all the basil leaves left on my basil plants before they start to freeze off at night. It will likely result in a freezer-full of pesto because new ones sprout up when I’m not looking. Any other basil-utilizing suggestions?
Of course I couldn’t freeze all of the pesto, so I made these lasagna rolls that I had bookmarked long ago. The homemade pesto in this was essential for me. Even though I’ve never made this recipe with store-bought pesto, I could definitely tell that there was fresh pesto rolled up in there. Good thing I have a stock-pile of homemade pesto to last me through the winter so I can make these lasagna rolls again. Maybe I’ll venture into the world of homemade lasagna noodles next time. Look at me living on the edge .
Also, don’t forget to add you favorite brownie/bar recipe to the #BYOBrownies link up party!
One year ago: Pesto Burgers
CHICKEN PESTO LASAGNA ROLLS
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp whole wheat flour
1 cup milk
Salt & pepper
1 cup shredded chicken
15 oz container of low-fat ricotta cheese
1/2 cup homemade or store-bought pesto sauce
6 whole wheat lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
1 cup of your favorite chunky marinara sauce, divided
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 8×8-inch pan with non-stick spray.
- Melt butter over medium-high heat. Add flour and stir until mixed. Let cook for a minute. Stream in the milk, whisking until completely smooth. Add salt and pepper, and then cook until thickened.
- Place 1/4 cup of white sauce in the bottom of prepared pan.
- In a bowl, stir together the chicken, ricotta, 1/4 cup mozzarella, pesto, salt, and pepper. Spread ~1/3 cup of the ricotta mixture over each lasagna noodle and roll up. Place the roll in the prepared pan. Repeat for the remaining noodles.
- Spoon the remaining white sauce over the lasagna rolls. Spoon the red sauce over the lasagna rolls and top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for ~30 minutes, until hot, bubble, and the cheese begins to brown.
Source: Adapted slightly from Confections of a Foodie Bride.
Are we really halfway through September already? I know many of you are experiencing fall weather, but it’s still summer in Memphis. Although I think whoever controls the temperature inside my lab building wants to pretend it’s fall inside, because I now require two sweatshirts to be comfortable. I don’t know about you, but if I saw someone walking around in high 80 degree weather with two sweatshirts and jeans, I would think they were a little off their rocker. So I leave them at my desk and try not to shiver on my way out for the day. Apparently being a graduate student now requires costume changes.
To comfort my seasonally confused self, I made some mac and cheese! Speaking of comforting things, I really do require comfort anywhere I can find it these days. After missing my flight this past Sunday, I didn’t think this week could get any worse. That was until I got a notice in the mail Wednesday saying I failed to show up to an August 10th court date for my expired license plate tags (which btw were processed the very next day, pain in my butt). Ya know, the court date for which I called about two months ago to reschedule to this very day, Friday September 14th, because I was living in Knoxville for all of August? Oh, but wait the person with whom I spoke to about this failed to do their job and file the proper paperwork. Now I have to hope the judge believes me and doesn’t take away my drivers license for a “failure to comply” charge. I wish I could bring in some cupcakes to sweeten the deal.
In other words, this recipe may state that it serves 4 but with my current emotional level this week I took that as a joke. Good thing it’s a little bit healthier than traditional mac and cheese.
One year ago: Peanut Butter Hummus
BACON AND BROCCOLI MAC AND CHEESE
3 cups broccoli florets
8 oz. uncooked rigatoni
1 Tbsp butter (I used Melt)
1-1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
2 oz. reduced-fat processed American cheese, cut into pieces (I used 2% Velveeta)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 slices center-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup packed)
- Steam broccoli 5 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Pat dry, and keep warm.
- Cook pasta in boiling water in a large saucepan for 8 minutes or until al dente; drain and keep warm.
- Wipe pan with paper towels, and return to medium heat. Melt butter in pan. Sprinkle flour over melted butter; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add milk to the flour mixture in pan, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook for 1 minute or until slightly thick, and remove from heat. Add American cheese; stir until smooth.
- Stir in sliced green onions and the remaining ingredients. Stir in broccoli and pasta; serve immediately.
Source: Cooking Light, April 2012.