Made-up Macaroni Salad

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 11

Pasta salads are ideal for summer parties.  You can make them ahead of time and you don’t have to worry about heating up the house.  This one came together on the fly, as most of them tend to do.  I stuck with a reddish theme and it worked out.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 2

Start with a bowl of cooked pasta.  I used cavatappi, or Scoobi-do pasta.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 1

Chucked in a diced onion, tomatoes, garlic, red peppers, and green olives.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 3

Then some fresh oregano, chives, and some cubed feta.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 4

Then I decided to throw in a few bocconcini as well.  I also tossed in some tandoori spice and some Hungarian paprika for kick.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 5

When you make a pasta salad, make a lot of dressing to go with it, because the pasta will absorb so much extra liquid.  The base of this one was olive oil, maple syrup, Tabasco, and rice vinegar.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 6

As I said, make a lot.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 7

Put half in now and then the other half right before you serve it.

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 8

TADA.

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There was enough left over that I added some pasta sauce to it, topped it with cheese, and baked it into a casserole afterwards.  Waste not!

Made-Up Macaroni Salad 10

Baked Spinach and Mushroom Rigatoni

Spinach & Mushroom Rigatoni 14

It’s been a cold start to spring here and we were craving a nice hot casserole.  I found a recipe that intrigued me in a magazine, but about an hour before dinner time I realized that this “baked” casserole was actually cooked in a slow cooker and took 4 hours.  PAH.  So I winged it.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and find yourself a large 9 x 13″ baking dish.

Quarter a red onion and slice it up.

Spinach & Mushroom Rigatoni 1

Wrangle yourself about 1lb mixed mushrooms and slice them.  I found these handy mixed packages at the grocery store.

Spinach & Mushroom Rigatoni 2

Crack open a 28oz can of diced tomatoes.

Spinach & Mushroom Rigatoni 3

Defrost 2 10oz blocks of frozen spinach.

Spinach & Mushroom Rigatoni 4

Also, grate up about 1 cup mozzarella cheese.

Spinach & Mushroom Rigatoni 7

Boil up a pot of salted water and cook 1lb rigatoni.  When it’s cooked (it can be on the al dente side), drain it and set it aside.

Now, haul out a frying pan, add some oil and butter to it, and sauté your onions until softened and starting to brown. Mix that with a few teaspoons minced garlic.

Spinach & Mushroom Rigatoni 5

Dip those out and do the same for your mushrooms.

Spinach & Mushroom Rigatoni 6

Now you line up your ingredients.

Spinach & Mushroom Rigatoni 8

Mix them all up, except for the cheese.

Spinach & Mushroom Rigatoni 9

Now here’s the thing.  This recipe actually called for you to add about 4 cups ricotta cheese at this point.  I even bought the ricotta.  But I forgot.  So there wasn’t any.  So I leave it up to you whether you want to add it or not.  But you probably should.  Mine ended up feeling like it needed more sauce.

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Plop your pasta mix in your casserole dish and sprinkle the top with mozzarella.

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Bake for 30 minutes, until cheese is melted and everything is bubbly.  Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Spinach & Mushroom Rigatoni 16

New Potatos au Gratin

New Potatoes Gratin

Au gratin dishes are the ultimate in comfort food to me.  If you were wondering, “gratin” is of French etymology, coming from a combination of the words “gratter” (to scrape or to grate) and “gratiné” (having a crust or skin).  So it’s any baked dish with a nice crust on top, usually made with bread crumbs or melted cheese.  So much cheese.

For Easter dinner I bought some new potatoes in homage to spring.  And then I wanted to cover them with cheese, in homage to the fact that the weather is still miserable here and it might as well be winter yet.  This recipe is in essence the same as the one I made with Jerusalem artichokes last year, but with a few tweaks to reflect the season.

New Potatoes Gratin

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Start with your potatoes, however many will fit in the dish you wish to use.  Use a mandolin to slice them super thin.  I prefer them thin over thick, because they cook faster, and it means I don’t have to let them cook in the pan first before putting on the cheese crust.  I can put the cheese on before I bung it in the oven and I don’t have to worry about it burning.  I like to give them a rinse in cold water, too, to get rid of some of the starch.

New Potatoes Gratin

In a measuring cup, pour about 2/3 cup heavy cream.  Obviously if you’re just making a small dish you can use less.

New Potatoes Gratin

Fill it to about the 1 1/2 cup mark with milk and liberally add ground black pepper.  Give that a stir.

New Potatoes Gratin

Grate a whole heckuva lotta cheese.  I have a mix here of gruyère and aged cheddar.

New Potatoes Gratin

While you’re at it, chop up a bunch of Italian parsley.

New Potatoes Gratin

Generously butter the dish you want to serve your potatoes in.  Line the bottom with a layer of potatoes.

New Potatoes Gratin

Sprinkle on some parsley, then some cheese.

New Potatoes Gratin

Repeat that until you get to the top layer.  Sprinkle on your parsley, then pour your milk mixture all over the whole thing.

New Potatoes Gratin

THEN cover it with the rest of the cheese.

New Potatoes Gratin

Pop that baby in the oven and bake until the top is crusty and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Enjoy!

New Potatoes Gratin

Gluten-Free Chocolate and Raisin Brownies

Gluten-Free Raisin Brownies

Fussellette and I have been attempting to re-create the ooey-gooey goodness of Gluten-Free Pantry’s Chocolate Truffle Brownie Mix.  This recipe, from one of my favourite bloggers Nick at Frugal Feeding, may very well replace that mix in my heart.

The ingredients are simple: chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs, cocoa, almonds, and raisins.  And we all know the best things in life are often the simplest.

Gluten-Free Raisin Brownies

Preheat your oven to 350°F and spray and line a glass baking dish.  The larger your dish, the thinner your brownies will be, so keep that in mind.

Gluten-Free Raisin Brownies

In a large metal bowl suspended over simmering water, melt together 200g dark chocolate and 75g butter until smooth.  Remove it from the heat and put it on a heatproof surface.

Gluten-Free Raisin Brownies

Chuck in 130g sugar and stir that up.  Then add in, one at a time, 2 eggs.

Gluten-Free Raisin Brownies

Stir in, as well, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons ground almonds.  I think next time I might experiment using almond flour instead, but today I didn’t have any. With just ground almonds I did have some trouble with cohesion when it was done.

Gluten-Free Raisin Brownies

When that’s all combined, add in a couple handfuls raisins according to your preference.

Gluten-Free Raisin Brownies

Slide that good stuff into your dish and bake for anywhere between 15 and 25 minutes, depending on your brownie depth, until the centre is JUST set.  If you bake any longer, then you’ll have cake, not a brownie, and that just isn’t the point.

Gluten-Free Raisin Brownies

As hard as it will be, make sure you let the brownies cool completely before slicing and serving.  in fact, it often helps, when making especially tender brownies, to freeze them for an hour before cutting them.  You can always heat them up again later, but if you move in too soon you’re likely to end up with a brownie mess.

Gluten-Free Raisin Brownies


Turkey Casserole with Broccoli and Cheese

Today is an auspicious day: my paternal grandmother turns ONE HUNDRED AND ONE.

I know, right?  She was born in 1909Happy Birthday Grandma!

Because she’s a hundred and one she’s not really up-to-date on the how-tos of internet surfing, but I figured it’s the thought that counts.  I’ll probably bake her a cake too.

Today’s post is about leftovers, which are rather inauspicious, but it’s in the spirit of the sort of thing my dad remembers his mother making for him when he was younger.

Casserole.  I’m not a huge fan of casseroles.  Believe it or not I’m not a huge fan of turkey, either.  I know, it’s shocking.  It’s always a struggle for me to figure out what to do with my leftovers once I’ve finished a major turkey holiday such as Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter.  Sure, there’s soup, but aside from the Pie’s favourite Hot Turkey Sandwiches (*shudder*), what else are you going to do?  Turkey salad, turkey sandwiches, cold turkey … and turkey casserole.  But this one I actually like.  I pulled it off the internet a few years ago and the ubiquitous casserole dish finds its way into my refrigerator like clockwork when there’s turkey around.  The original recipe calls for asparagus, but I use broccoli because asparagus is out of season.

Get your mise en place ready, because all the steps kind of follow each other really quickly so it’s good to be prepared ahead of time.First, chop up and gently steam about 2 cups broccoli.

Chop up a bunch of green onions (I used three green onions and a shallot) and a red pepper and set all your vegetables aside.

Cook one cup penne or similar pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and set aside.

Grate one cup cheddar cheese.

Have your garlic-in-a-jar at the ready.

Have also ready the following:

6 tablespoons flour.

1 1/2 cups chicken broth.

3 cups cooked diced turkey.

1 cup soft bread crumbs.

1 tbsp melted butter, cooled.

Also you will need 2 cups milk, but I don’t have a photo of that because the chicken broth was in my only remaining measuring cup.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish.

In a large saucepan on medium-low, melt 6 tablespoons butter (that’s slightly less than half a cup).

Add the red pepper and sauté until tender. 

Add 2 teaspoons garlic and the onions and cook for a further minute.

Stir in the flour until well blended.It should look all mushy.

Stir in chicken broth, cooking until thickened.

Stir in milk and cook, stirring, until thickened and hot.

Add in salt and pepper to taste, together with any herbs of your choosing, such as oregano or basil, then add the broccoli and the turkey.  Heat through.

Stir in the cheese and cook until it’s all melted in. 

Stir in the cooked drained pasta.

Pour it all into a baking dish.

Mix your melted butter with your bread crumbs.

Sprinkle that over top.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes until hot and bubbly. 

Let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

You can keep leftovers covered in the fridge for a couple days, too.