Tag Archives: pasta

Aged cheddar mac and cheese with pancetta

I love everything about fall; the leaves changing colour, cozy sweaters, sipping hot chocolate and warm comfort food. Homemade macaroni and cheese is one of my favorites, and adding a bit of pancetta makes it even better. I think aged cheddar works best, since it’s the main ingredient. When you’re making recipes with very few ingredients, you should try to pick the best quality ingredients you can so that the flavours really shine through.

Grate 1 1/2 – 2 cups of aged cheddar, and chop 1 lb of pancetta. Set aside.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan. Add two crushed cloves of garlic, cook for one minute then add the chopped pancetta. Cook for two minutes, and add a tablespoon on flour to thicken.

Slowly add 1/2 cup of cream and 2 tsp of mustard (I like Dijon) to the pan and mix thoroughly. Add the grated cheddar bit by bit and mix to incorporate into the sauce, fully melting the cheese. If the sauce is a bit thick add a bit more cream. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the macaroni to the pan mixing to coat the pasta evenly. Serve immediately.

Best enjoyed with your favorite beer while wrapped up on the couch in a cozy blanket and watching a movie. (Bonus points if it’s a “cheesy” movie). 😉

Enjoy!


Easy weeknight cream cheese pasta

When the weather starts to get cooler, pasta is a great comfort food.  It’s also really easy to make after a long day, and there are so many recipes out there to choose from.

We made a delicious cream cheese pasta the other night, and it was the perfect dinner to eat curled up on the couch with a movie.

What we did

Boil the pasta. When the noodles are halfway cooked, heat a pan on medium and saute garlic in a few tablespoons of butter. (Use as much or as little garlic as you like. I prefer 3-4 cloves, but only if someone else is eating it too. Then we both have garlic breath.)

Add chopped green onions to the pan and heat for a minute.

Add one package of cream cheese, a pinch of sea salt, and lots of fresh cracked pepper.

Heat and slowly stir, until you have a smooth and creamy sauce. If your sauce is too thick, thin it with a bit of milk.

Mix the sauce with the pasta, and garnish with a bit of fresh basil if you have any on hand.

What’s your favorite cold weather comfort food?


Channel your inner Italian by making gnocchi! (Well, unless you are Italian I guess)

One of my best memories living with my old roommate Marissa was making homemade gnocchi from her grandmother’s recipe. It was a lot of fun, and ever since then I have loved fresh handmade gnocchi. This recipe is from the book Cook with Jamie (one of my favorite cookbooks, I’m a huge fan of Jamie Oliver.)

What you need (for 6 servings):

  • 6 medium potatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • nutmeg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • all-purpose flour

First, preheat the oven to 425 F and rub the potatoes with olive oil, pricking them with a fork to let steam escape. Bake the potatoes for about an hour until they are fluffy on the inside.

Cut the potatoes in half, and scoop out the inside putting it through a potato ricer (I bought mine at Homesense but you can get one at most kitchen supply stores).

When you have all your potatoes… riced? (I don’t know the technical term, sorry) add a dash of nutmeg, salt (1 tablespoon) and pepper (just a pinch), the egg yolk and a few handfuls of flour. Mix thoroughly.  Now this is the tricky part about gnocchi and you might have to try it a few times before you get it just right. You need to add enough flour to make a dry dough, if it’s too dry add a bit of water and if it’s too wet you’ll need to add more flour. Aim for the texture of play dough and you’ll be fine.

Once you have the dough, roll it our on a floured surface in little tubes and cut them into 1 inch pieces or half inch pieces. To test your gnocchi place one in a pot of boiling water. If it falls apart you need to add more flour to your dough. These are basically potato so you need to be careful with them, they aren’t noodles!

Once your gnocchi is rolled and cut, place it on a floured tray in the fridge for 10 – 20 minutes to set. After setting you can cook them right away, or put the tray in the freezer to freeze the gnocchi then put them into bags to be cooked another day. I doubled the recipe and made some for dinner, and froze a few bags to use whenever we have gnocchi cravings.

The sauce that you use it up to you really; tomato, cream, pesto etc. Oh, and make sure to clean up all the flour from the kitchen. There will be a lot, unless you’re a lot neater than I am. (It was like a flour bomb went off in there!)

If you give it a try, let me know how it turns out!


I Can’t Believe It’s Not Cheese Sauce

Cheesy pasta is one of my absolute favorites, but it’s not the healthiest option so I tend not to make it very often. Then I discovered nutritional yeast cheese sauce. Nutritional yeast is powdered tiny yellow flakes that you can buy in most health food stores, I get mine from Kensington Market in Toronto. I’m sure you can also find them online, you can buy pretty much anything online right?

I’m not a vegan or vegetarian but I do try to eat meat free one or two days per week. It’s healthy, good for the environment and forces me to try recipes I never have before. (Besides, how much actual “cheese” do you think is in processed cheese foods anyways?)

This sauce is so much better than I assumed it would be before trying it, and I now make it pretty often. Healthy points: nutritional yeast is a nutrient dense source of protein (apparently it has more protein than meat) and it’s a source of vitamin B. Then there’s the fact that it just tastes really, really good.

There are a lot of recipes online but after tweaking mine quite a few times here is (in my opinion) the best way to make nutritional yeast cheese sauce.

Dry Ingredients:

  • ½ cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (I like to use coarse sea salt)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (if you like garlic, you can use two like I do)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder (or the prepared kind if that’s what you have on hand)
  • Chili powder to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of water
  • ½ cup margarine

What you do:

Mix all dry ingredients in a saucepan until blended.

Turn stove on medium, slowly whisk in water. Use a whisk, honestly, it helps prevent clumping. (Yes, I know I didn’t use a whisk. It would have been much easier if I had.)

Continue stirring as the sauce begins to bubble and thicken. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit more water until it thins out to your desired consistency.

Serve over pasta noodles. I used wagon wheels because that’s what we had, and I like funny shaped pasta.

 

I like a bit of spice so I sprinkled chili powder on top of the pasta before I served. You can also use the sauce to make a vegan/vegetarian nacho dip with a bit of diced jalapeno in it, again, it tastes really good.

Hope you like it!


Very quick, very easy, very delicious lemon pasta

I haven’t blogged for a few weeks now, and I have a very good reason. I didn’t think the Chinese takeout containers or pizza delivery really counted as me preparing a quick and easy meal worth blogging about.

It really seems like it’s baby season right now, I have three people in my life currently expecting little wee ones. I could not be happier for them but it makes me wonder how working moms, new moms and all parents in general – how do they do it? I always feel so busy and the only dependants I have are a pug and a boyfriend. And the pug practically raises himself these days.

I came across a great blog, The Sweet Potato Chronicles, where a mom posts quick, easy and healthy recipes. I figured if she can manage, we can all manage. Last night I made a lemon pasta recipe she posted and was not disappointed – it was very refreshing with the citrus and fresh basil, perfect to welcome summer. Very few ingredients and so easy to make, I suggest you give it a try.

You will need:

  • 1 package of linguine or spaghetti pasta
  • 3  lemons juiced (1 zested)
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • handful of basil, washed and sliced into strips
  • salt and pepper to taste

 What you do:

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Save 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

 

While pasta is cooking: mix lemon juice, zest, oil, parmesan in a bowl. Set aside. (Yes, I added the basil right away. I break all the rules.)

Place drained pasta back into serving bowl. Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss well until well coated. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of the cooking water. Add basil and toss again (unless you already added it like me). Serve immediately.

 

There you have it! And after a long hard day, feel free to have a glass of wine while you enjoy your dinner.

 

Before anyone even asks, no, I do not give my dog wine. He actually prefers scotch on the rocks.


Cold Weather Comfort Food – Homemade Mac and Cheese

Sorry for the random nature of my blogging these past few weeks, who would have thought that getting ready to move two apartments into one would be so much work? I’m trying not to bring too much clutter with me (so that my boyfriend doesn’t have to keep all of his possessions on the balcony) which means I’ve been looking critically at my crowded closet and book shelves trying to get rid of a few things.

Spring is officially here and with the cold rainy weather who doesn’t love a bit of comfort food? A favorite of mine is homemade macaroni and cheese, made from scratch with aged cheddar.

What you need:

  • Butter
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Macaroni noodles (I used whole wheat)
  • Flour
  • Cream
  • Dijon mustard (I’ve also used yellow mustard before when I ran out of Dijon)
  • Old cheddar (I used an 8 year old white cheddar from a  cheese shop)
  • Salt and pepper

What you do:

  1. Bring water to a boil, cook about 2 ½ cups of macaroni. Drain and set aside.
  2. Grate 1 ¼ cups of old cheddar and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp of butter over medium in a deep skillet until melted. Add 1 tbsp of white flour and mix until well blended to create the base. Add the clove of garlic crushed and cook for 1 – 2 minutes.
  4. Slowly add 1/3 cup of cream and 2 tsp of mustard, mix thoroughly.
  5.  Add the grated cheddar bit by bit and mix to incorporate into the sauce, fully melting the cheese. If the sauce is a bit thick add a bit more cream.
  6. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper, then add the macaroni mixing to coat. Serve immediately.

You can also finish this off in the stove by adding an extra layer of cheese and breadcrumbs on top for a cheese/crunchy topping.

(Photo taken with iPhone camera and edited using the Camera+ app)