Sunday, April 28, 2013

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is a universal comfort food, I think. In our house it’s not just the kids who love it, but the adults, too. I came across this recipe a decade and a half ago, and my family just LOVED it! I’ve played around with it and added butter crumb toppings, butter saltine toppings, etc. If you want a real treat, chunk up some ham and add that; it’s fantastic! As always, this recipe can be easily altered to cut down on fat and calories, and still be very tasty.

So, let’s get cooking!

Cook the pasta and when done, drain and rinse off to cool and prevent sticking. You can use any shape pasta, really, but I love elbow macaroni and shells; they’re like little pockets holding the yummy cheese sauce.

While the pasta is cooking, grate the cheddar cheese and cube the Velveeta.

Start the sauce. In a large saucepan, make the roux by melting the butter and adding the flour, using a whisk. Let it bubble for a minute or two, stirring.

Slowly add about 1 cup of the milk (measure out the full amount so you have it all ready, but only pour in about a cup) and stir constantly to mix into the roux. Use a rubber spatula to get around the edges of the pan where the whisk may not reach as well. You may have some lumps at first, but fear not; just keep stirring with the whisk and you’ll work them out.

Add the rest of the milk and do the same thing, stirring constantly with the whisk. It takes maybe about 5-7 minutes or so to start thickening. Keep the heat on medium high, stirring, until it’s thick enough. Add the salt and pepper.

Add the sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese and the parmesan, stirring to melt, then the Velveeta. Use the whisk to stir frequently, until all the cheese is melted and blended in well. Remove from heat.

Make the butter crumb topping by melting the butter in a bowl and then stirring in the bread crumbs until thoroughly coated. Set aside.

When the pasta is cooked and drained, place in a greased 13X15” baking dish. Pour the cheese sauce on and mix well into the pasta. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the macaroni and cheese.

Bake in a 350° oven for about 45 minutes, until golden brown on top, bubbly, and the food is nicely browned on the sides of the pan. People in my family fight over that golden brown cheesy yumminess around the sides of the pan! ;) Enjoy! ~TMMF

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

See how the cheese turns brown
and yummy on the sides? -Squee!-
1 lb. macaroni pasta
½ c butter
½ c + 2 Tbl flour
3 c milk
1 c sour cream
8 oz Velveeta
2 ½ c cheddar cheese
¼ c parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp pepper

Butter Crumb Topping

3 Tbl. Butter
¾ c. seasoned bread crumbs

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Traditionally, Chalupas are made with hard shells and have various fillings in them, usually meats, onions and peppers, salsa, etc. Taco Bell serves them in thick shells that are crispy on the outside, yet chewy inside. I have never had them at Taco Bell (I did eat there once in the early 2000s), but this recipe is one I just threw together one night and called Chalupas. With the exception of the hard shell, my Chalupas do fit the traditional definition of the dish.

Now, there are two ways you can make the bean filling for these, and both are delicious. Originally I had been making it with ground beef and rice, but one day I didn’t have any beef, so I used just rice, and it was still yummy! The reason I had added rice to begin with was to make the filling stretch, and also save on some fat and calories. If you’re counting carbs (diabetics), you can use the ground beef alone and skip the rice altogether.

So, cook your rice using the taco seasoning mix and water. When done, mix in the cooked ground beef and the refried beans.

If not using the rice at all, mix the ground beef with the taco seasoning and the refried beans.

Now, for the recipe I made up, I use a cheese dip for one of the ingredients. You have to know that I am very much into “real” food, “whole” food, etc. But, this is one instance where I deviate from that stance. Sorry to disillusion you. ;) You can either use a jarred salsa queso dip from the store, or make it like I do. We buy a #10 can of cheese sauce from Sam’s Club, and we mix 4 cups of that with a jar of hot salsa from Wal-Mart, the Equate brand. Sometimes I mince finely some jalepeños and add them to make the cheese dip hotter.

After assembling all the ingredients, you are ready to build the Chalupas.  Lay a tortilla wrap on the plate. In the middle, spread the refried beans/rice/ground beef mixture (or refried beans/rice, or refried beans/ground beef) about ¾ of the way down. Spread on some of the cheese dip. If you want, you can heat in the microwave for about 20 seconds.

Then spread on some sour cream, and the shredded lettuce. Fold up the bottom part of the tortilla wrap, then fold  over the right side of the tortilla, then the left.

These are so good, my kids beg for them! I have made chicken fajitas for them, and breakfast fajitas, but these Chalupas are such a different flavor, they ask for them specifically. I hope you and your family enjoy them as we do!  ~TMMF


          1 ¾ c. water
          1 c. rice
          1 packet taco seasoning
          ½ lb. browned ground beef
          1 can refried beans
          Mexican cheese dip
          Sour cream
          Tortilla wraps

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Simply Delicious Cole Slaw

When I first made cole slaw, it was so creamy, I had to name it that. I never even liked cole slaw until I was an adult. However, once I did, for years, we would buy cole slaw from a local grocery store (YUCK!!) or a small local seafood restaurant that had the absolutely BEST whole belly fried clams, but blah cole slaw. Either way, the cole slaw we bought was limp, white, and vinegary.

However, KFC, which was the turning point for me and my love affair with cole slaw (theirs was actually what made me even like it!), was always so crisp and fresh tasting, and the sauce delicious. It was made a few times at my house, trying to recreate what I was tasting when I got it at KFC. I didn’t write down a recipe, so I just tried to wing it, using the ingredients I thought were used. It came up a hit. I believe this will be a hit with your family too.

First, after pulling off any outer leaves that are brown or withered, quarter the cabbage and cut out the core. Lay each quarter on a flat side and slice very thinly. Turn the pile of slices so the long side is horizontal, and chop finely.

Peel the carrot and grate. Add to the cabbage in a large mixing bowl..

In a medium mixing bowl, add the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, and celery seed. Mix thoroughly with a wire whisk.

Add to the cabbage and carrot, mixing to coat well. Refrigerate if you’re not serving right away. Yum yum! Enjoy! ~TMMF

                                                            Creamy Cole Slaw

                                                            1 small cabbage
                                                            1 large carrot
                                                            2 c. mayonnaise
                                                            ¼ c. white vinegar
                                                            1 Tbl. sugar
                                                            1 tsp. celery seed

*Note: Do not use celery salt.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

O'Henry Bars

Oh my goodness, you are going to love this recipe. Not only are they easy to make and relatively quick, they’re also scrumpdiddlyumptious. (yes that’s a made up word) My mother made these bars when I was growing up and I made them for my own children. It’s like bringing another piece of my past with me to the future. I hope my kids will make them for their children, too.

So, let’s get cooking!

Using your mixer, cream the sugar and butter together.

Add the Karo syrup, vanilla, and oats. If you’d like to, you can use the mixer to blend in the Karo and vanilla, then use a wooden spoon to mix in the oats.

Grease a 9 X 13” baking dish and press the oat mixture into the pan. It’s going to be sticky, so here’s a little tip: spray a rubber spatula with cooking spray and then use it to pat the oat mixture down into the pan.

Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 15 minutes exactly, no more and no less. Cool for ten minutes.

While that is baking, you can make the topping. Simply put the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a small saucepan and melt over medium heat. I don’t use a double boiler; besides the fact that I don’t own one, it’s easier to just heat it and stay with it, stirring, for the few minutes it takes to melt and blend together. You can be a little heavy handed with the chocolate chips and peanut butter, but what would I know about that; I always follow a recipe to the letter of the law. Bwahahahahaha! ;)

When the oat mixture bottom has cooled for 10 minutes, pour the chocolate-peanut butter mixture on top and spread evenly. When completely cooled and set, cut into 24 pieces. You can help the process along by placing in the refrigerator for a while, but these bars don’t need to be stored in the fridge.

I gave my 9 year old two of these for dessert and he begged for a third. Yours will too! Enjoy! ~TMMF

                                                        O’Henry Bars

                                                        2/3 c. butter
                                                        1 c. brown sugar
                                                        ½ c. light Karo syrup
                                                        3 tsp. vanilla
                                                        4 c. quick cooking rolled oats
                                                        6 oz. (1 c.) chocolate chips
                                                        2/3 c. crunchy peanut butter

*Notes: Use real butter. Paula Deen has it right with the butter thing. ;) Margarine is like putting plastic into your veins, but butter is a “whole” food. Don’t pack the brown sugar down. I stopped doing that decades ago. You don’t need the extra sugar, and trust me on this, it’ll be sweet enough. Use natural sugars if you can. If you want it to be really awesome, use natural peanut butter (Teddy and Smuckers both make it with just peanuts and salt). Your recipe will have less sugar in it and taste better. These are just some things I have learned from decades of cooking, messing around with recipes, and creating my own recipes in both the home and professionally in restaurants and nursing homes. Just take these little nuggets and run with them. ;)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Baked Beans

This is the easiest recipe for baked beans. If you’ve never made them before, or even if you have, this recipe is so good, you’ll get compliments for it, believe me. I believe that a big part of the reason why these are so good is because the recipe is simple. Most of my cooking follows the “KISS” method, short for Keep It Simple, Stupid. The minute you start throwing too many flavors together or try to make things complicated, that’s when things start to fall apart and the recipe will be a bust.

By the way, if you’re thinking of cutting down on fat and want to leave out the salt pork or bacon, don’t. Been there, done that, and it is not worth what you lose in taste. Maybe use a little less salt pork or bacon, or even better, cut down on the fat in the rest of the meal somehow. But do not take the fat totally out of this recipe.

So, let’s get cooking!

You’ll need to soften the navy beans, and you can do this one of two ways. The first is to soak the beans overnight, if you plan to cook them all day in a lower heat oven the next day for supper. The other way is to bring the beans to boil in 6-7 c. water for 2 minutes, turn off the heat, and set covered for an hour.

I set mine to soak the night before with 7 cups of water.

The next morning, this is how they looked, having absorbed water and therefore softened to a degree.

Chop the onion. Cut up the salt pork or bacon. I used bacon this time. I buy my bacon for cooking in a bulk package of 3 lbs. bacon ends and pieces. It costs me $6.98 at Wal-Mart and I get seven meals out of it. I split them up, package in ziploc sandwich bags, and freeze for use in meals, each approximately a half pound each.

Now, you’re going to layer all the ingredients in the bean pot, or a casserole dish if you don’t have a bean pot. I have my grandmother’s, which was her mother’s or grandmother’s. I’m not sure which, but at any rate, it’s old and means a lot to me.

Start by scooping beans out of the water they’ve been soaking in, with a slotted spoon, about three full spoonfuls, into the bean pot. Add 1/3 of the chopped onion and 1/3 of the sliced salt pork or bacon.

Repeat two more times, ending with salt pork or bacon. Add the brown sugar and molasses. Pour in the water from the previously soaking beans into the bean pot, almost up to the top.

Cover and put into a 325° oven for approximately 6 hours. Stir at least every hour, adding water as needed, from the bean water first and then just from the tap. For the last 2 hours, bake uncovered to brown. The juice will also thicken up. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Baked Beans

1 bag dry navy beans
1 large onion
½ lb. salt pork or bacon
3 Tbl. brown sugar
6 Tbl. molasses

*Note: You can also slow cook these through the night, setting the oven at 300°, as long as you know you'll be getting up at least 2 or 3 times during the night to stir.and add water. And just FYI, the crock pot is not a good idea for this dish.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pizza Part Seis: Buffalo Chicken Pizza

The idea for Buffalo Chicken Pizza isn’t exactly new, but the ones I’ve had while out at pizzerias or ordering in have basically made the pizza as usual and then added buffalo chicken on top. Tasty, yes, but I wanted something different.

Being that I love Buffalo Chicken Dip, I decided to try making pizza using a sauce with the same ingredients and see how everyone liked it. It went over so well that I had to make it again just a few days later to appease the demanding populace in our home. ;)  Here are the tantalizing results.

Cook the chicken breast by either boiling or sautéing with a little oil in a skillet.

While the chicken is cooking, you can prepare the sauce. In a small pan, heat the ranch dressing and cream cheese, mixing thoroughly. Set aside to cool.

When the chicken is done, shred it by using two forks to pull it apart, or just use your hands, which I sometimes do. Add the hot sauce and mix well to coat.

Press the pizza dough onto the greased pizza pan or sheet pan. Spread the cream cheese/ranch sauce on  evenly. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top.

Distribute the hot sauce-coated shredded chicken on top, and it’s all done! Pop into the oven set at 425° for about 18 minutes. The bottom of the crust should be golden brown. Cut with a pizza cutter (rotary) or knife, three the long way by four the short way. Enjoy! ~TMMF

                              Buffalo Chicken Pizza

                              1 pizza dough
                              2 small chicken breasts
                              ½ c. Frank’s hot sauce
                              4 oz. cream cheese
                              ¾ c. ranch dressing
                              2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Teriyaki Chicken

Teriyaki Chicken is one of my most favorite recipes for chicken. It’s great on the grill in the summer, but still wonderful in the oven during the winter. This recipe is one that a sister-in-law gave me almost two decades ago, and it’s never failed to get raves when I’ve brought this dish to gatherings and potlucks. You can also use this marinade with beef (sirloin tips are awesome with it!) and fresh tuna or shark. So, let’s get cooking!

Using a whisk, dissolve the sugar in the boiling water, as much as you possibly can.

Mince the garlic. Add to the sugar and water, along with the ground ginger. You can use fresh ginger if you’d like, and I have, but the ground ginger tastes just as delicious in it, so I usually just opt for it as a time saver. Mix well.

Now, it’s time to marinate the chicken. I made a double recipe and used it for 5-6 chicken leg quarters, which I separated. Six chicken breasts would do fine with a single batch. Put the meat in the container you’d like to use and add the teriyaki marinade, coating all the meat. Cover and set in the refrigerator.

I use a gallon size freezer Ziploc bag because it’s easy to manipulate the meat to make sure all parts of it get a good soaking. You want to marinate the meat at least six hours, turning the meat every few hours or so. but if you want it to be really good, let it go 24 hours. That’s what I do and it is fantastic!

When you are ready to cook, place the meat in a baking dish or sheet pan. Add some of the marinade, if you’d like, a half cup or so. Bake for an hour at 350°, or until juice comes out clear when a knife is inserted. Serve, and savor the wonderful flavor! ~TMMF

Teriyaki Marinade

1 c. sugar
1/3 c. boiling water
1 c. soy sauce
4-5 cloves garlic
2 tsp. ground ginger
(or 2 Tbl. Minced fresh gingerroot)