Friday, December 7, 2012

December 7, 2012

The holiday season in full swing - crazy,  I know!  Only one more week of class for me until the semester is over, though I am enrolled in two classes in the spring.  I will enjoy the break and perhaps do some cooking to fill our freezer a bit since I will be out a minimum of two nights a week beginning in January! 

This week started off on the right foot- I made Chicken Wellington.  It had quite a bit going for it, and we enjoyed the flavors. Unfortunately, the accompanying sauce didn't match well, and I used the wrong dough...phyllo dough instead of puff pastry!  Ha!  Imagine my surprise when I unrolled the thawed dough expecting to see puff pastry and instead discovering phyllo!  They still turned out fine, but didn't blossom into beautiful little packets with golden coloring, rather they didn't do much of anything.  I will make the base recipe again, use the right kind of dough and find a better sauce to pair with the dish.  Perhaps with these tweaks a keeper will be born. 

Later in the week I made a new favorite - Tex Mex mac & cheese.  Pasta, cheese, taco flavored kids heard the ingredients list and were already ready to vote it a keeper!  Thankfully it lived up to the expectations they placed on this budget friendly casserole and it earned its place in the recipe archive.  Ryan brought it to work a few days later and he still enjoyed it.

Finally, I stumbled upon a new muffin recipe that I tried this week.  Let me tell you - they looked gorgeous!  Absolutely stunning - these muffins had bakery shop star power.  However, meh, they were a little bland.  I used blueberries and cranberries, though I think if I made them again I would add some lemon zest.  I will definitely be tweaking these because I want to turn this in to a keeper recipe.  One of the fabulous features of this recipe is that the batter can be made and placed in the fridge for 24-36 hours before baking, or better yet - the uncooked batter freezes!  Can you imagine pulling a frozen muffin batter ball out of the freezer, placing it in a muffin tin and then into the oven before you got ready for the day.  Fresh baked muffins without any work?  Sign me up!  So, I will be working on this recipe (it is really easy) and hope to get it to keeper status sooner rather than later.

Hope the week ahead looks good for you!
Happy Cooking!

New Recipe
Tex Mex Mac & Cheese

Tex Mex Mac & Cheese

lb lean ground beef

* 1 small onion, chopped
* 3 tbsp tomato paste
* 3 tsp chile powder
* 2 tsp ground cumin
* 1 1/4 tsp salt
* 12 oz veggie pasta (or whatever kind of pasta you want to use)
* 3 cups milk (skim worked very well!)
* 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
* 1 1/2 cups shredded pepper-Jack cheese
* 1 cup crushed baked tortilla chips (about 2 ounces) 

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Prep a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the beef with the onion. Drain the meat if needed.  
3. Stir in tomato paste, 1-1/2 teaspoons of the chile powder, 1 teaspoon of the cumin and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Add 1/4 cup water and cook 1 minute. Set aside.
4. Cook pasta following package directions. Drain and set aside.
5. While pasta is cooking, make the sauce. In a medium-size saucepan, stir together milk, flour, the remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons chile powder, 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes, until thickened. Off heat, stir in 1 cup of the cheddar and 1 cup of the pepper-Jack cheese until a smooth sauce is formed.
6. Combine the cheese sauce, the pasta, and the beef mixture and pour into the prepared baking dish. Top the casserole with the remaining cheese and crushed chips over the top. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes until bubbly and browned.

I ripped this recipe out of Family Circle back in 2007!  I found it earlier this week when I was looking in an old writing file for inspiration.  I think it was fate - I rediscovered a character that has quite a bit of potential, and I found a keeper recipe!   Everyone at the table loved this, and it reheated well for leftovers.  My kids love the veggie pasta, but you could use whole wheat pasta in this or any kind of pasta you have on hand. I used Taco flavored Dorito tortilla chips instead of plain tortilla chips, and that was a wonderful alteration!