Baked (or not baked) Macaroni and Cheese: In the Woods

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This comfort meal is adapted from our own traditional recipe. It had to be downsized so as not to allow for leftovers (shocking, I know).

Start by boiling up a pot of salted water for your pasta. I figure 2 cups uncooked macaroni will do just fine.  Cook that according to the package directions and then drain.

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Continue by frying up some bacon or breakfast ham, a couple slices (the Pie has outlawed bacon in the house so ham will have to do).  Crumble or slice the cooked meat and set it aside. Chop up a large tomato as well and put that aside for now. These both went into the freezer for me. I also made sure to bring my trusty Tabasco:

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Assemble your sauce: in a saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter.

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Then mix in 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour. Slowly drizzle in 1 cup milk and stir until it starts to thicken.

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Then add in 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese, and stir until all the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Season to taste with Tabasco sauce and salt and pepper.

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Tip your sauce, meat, and tomato into the pasta and stir to coat.

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If it hadn’t been raining, we would have then shoved the whole thing into our Outback Oven and baked it for about 20 minutes until it was all crusty and bubbly. As it was raining and we were cold and damp, we just ate it in its squishy state and it was amazing.

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Antojitos!

Sorry again about the picture glitch folks! I thought I fixed the problem but I guess not …

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Happy Thanksgiving!  Let’s celebrate by making Tex-Mex food.  Seriously.  It’s been raining solid for like two days.

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I need something to remind me of warmer times and milder climes.

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There’s a restaurant chain here that we used to go to all the time.  Recently, we’ve been getting short-changed by them, with bad service, bad food, and, well, short change.  So we’ve stopped going.  The only thing we miss is their recipe for antojitos, a bizarre appetizer made of cream cheese and peppers.  It’s heavenly.  Fortunately, my hero Karen over at The Art of Doing Stuff, knows someone who knows the recipe and she posted it.  With a few modifications to reflect what was in our cupboards at the time, here it is.

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FINELY dice up a red pepper, a bunch of green onions, a jalapeño pepper or two (I used two fresno peppers because when I cracked open the jalapeño there was a WEEVIL in it), some pickled pepperoncini, and some parsley.  Also, not shown, is a diced red onion, which I didn’t have.

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Preheat your oven to 350°F and find yourself a baking tray.

Take a large flour tortilla and spread it with softened plain cream cheese, all the way to the edge.  Not too thick, but don’t be stingy.  Use your judgment.  Then take some hot sauce (we used Tabasco) and dot it all over the cream cheese.  Use a knife to spread the sauce out so it covers everything evenly.

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Then take all your ingredients and sprinkle them evenly across the tortilla.  Not too much.  You’re going to need to roll this up later.

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Then add some grated cheddar cheese.

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Now roll the whole thing up tightly.  Shazam.  At this point you can wrap them up tightly in plastic wrap and freeze them to bake at a later date.  You know, if you don’t want to just stuff them all in your face.

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Put the roll on the baking sheet, seam side down, and do it all over again with another tortilla.  Using an entire block of cream cheese and the ingredients at hand we ended up making about six of these rolls.  Bake them for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool for a little bit.

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With a sharp knife (serrated helps), slice the rolls diagonally into 6 pieces or so and serve with sour cream.

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We had a few leftover, and boy were they good the next day!

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Quick-Fry Breakfast Sausage (Gluten-Free)

I’m trying out some of the neat settings on my new wee camera. This is one of the shots where I ventured out of Easy Auto Mode.  This is a big step for me, people.

Signal Hill at Night

And did you know my wee camera has a FOOD setting? No longer do I have to frantically compensate in post-production for the lack of light on this ocean-bound rock: I can do it all before I even take the picture! Awesome. And these shots don’t look half-bad, considering it was a cloudy morning.

Breakfast Patties

This recipe comes from Lexie’s Kitchen and I totally LOVE it.  Well actually, I didn’t end up using her recipe at all, but the idea was fantastic.  You know when you’re looking for a little something extra in the morning but you want something easy, and for once, you (gasp!) don’t want any bacon?

Breakfast Patties

Why not try a breakfast sausage patty?  These ones are made with lean ground pork, but you can make them with any ground meat (bonus points if you grind it yourself).  When Jul and Cait were here I made some with ground chicken, and added a bit of almond meal to improve the consistency.  I bet moose patties would be worthwhile trying. Some day I am going to figure out a nice gluten-free veggie patty. But today is not that day.

Breakfast Patties

So you take your pork and you plop it in a bowl.  Add some spices.  Or whatever.  I used some paprikaground garlicdried chives, and then some Worcestershire sauce and some sweet and spicy Tabasco.  Then I added a pinch of sea salt and a lot of black pepper.  Isn’t this grinder awesome?  Cait brought it for me.  You press its nose and it poos out pepper.  Moai pepper anyone?

Breakfast Patties

Stir all that goodness together.

Breakfast Patties

Then make yourself a bunch of wee patties.  Any size you like, really.  Just remember that the thinner they are the faster they cook up, and the harder they are to move around when raw.  I suggest spraying a sheet of waxed paper with cooking spray to hold your patties until you’re ready to cook.

Breakfast Patties

You can save yourself some time in the morning and make them the night before — just cover them with an additional sheet of sprayed waxed paper and chuck ’em in the fridge.

Breakfast Patties

The rest is really quite simple.  Plop the patties in a heated frying pan (non-stick works best) and cook for a few minutes, flipping once or twice, until they are done all the way through.

Breakfast Patties

My non-stick pan is so good that when I was flipping the patties, one of them *may* have accidentally taken a flying leap out of the pan and smashed itself to a million pieces on the floor. So Gren *may* have gotten a bit of extra breakfast this morning.

Breakfast Patties

We served ours with a bit of barbecue sauce, some eggs, and a big ol’ croissant.  But I’m sure what you have planned is also good.  Enjoy!

Breakfast Patties

Quick Mini Dips: Tzatziki and Chipotle Mayo

Quick Mini Dips

I get into trouble often with the Pie for making too much of something, which means we are left with leftovers well past the time when such leftovers retain any appeal.  As a result, I’m trying my best to cut down on the size of things I make, even if I’m not using a recipe.  I have discovered, when it comes to dips and sauces, the best way to keep them small is to actually construct them WITHIN the container in which you plan to serve them.  It even saves you having to wash an extra bowl.

Quick Mini Dips

These two dips can be made in minutes, and they provide a great side for fried or baked chicken, potatoes, burgers, na’an … you name it.  Making them in sealable containers meant that we could take them outside for a Victoria Day picnic.

For the Tzatziki:

In your container, place a dollop of minced garlic (about a teaspoon) and another of fresh chopped dill (this stuff came in a tube, so it’s a generous squirt, if that helps with your measurements).  I wouldn’t use dried dill, if you can avoid it.  I don’t think the flavour would be strong enough.  Then you want to grate up about 4 or 5 inches of cucumber.  It gets messy.

Quick Mini Dips

Squeeze your grated cucumber to get out the excess water and plop it in your container.

Quick Mini Dips

Fill the rest of the container up with Greek yogurt.  You can use plain Balkan-style yogurt but the Greek is thicker.

Quick Mini Dips

Give that a stir and let it sit for a little bit.  Yum!

Quick Mini Dips

For the Chipotle Mayo:

In your container, plop a few shakes chipotle seasoning, together with a couple drops tabasco sauce and a dollop of minced garlic.

Quick Mini Dips

Fill the container up with a combination of mayonnaise and sour cream or Greek yogurt.  I used half mayonnaise, then a quarter yogurt and a quarter sour cream.

Quick Mini Dips

Stir that up well (make sure to scrape up all the goodness on the bottom) and let that sit a bit.  It’s got some kick!

Quick Mini Dips

That’s a Spicy Ice Cream!

Tabasco Ice Cream

I may have told you this already, but a while back my parents took a road trip down to Louisiana with the specific goal of visiting the Avery Island Tabasco factory.  As a result all their family and friends received a plethora of Tabasco-related gifts.

Tabasco Ice Cream

One of these is this, a Tabasco ice cream mix.

Tabasco Ice Cream

 

I’ve had saffron ice cream.  Black bean ice cream.  Taro ice cream.  Hemp ice cream. Even wasabi ice cream.  So this can’t be too weird, right?  Granted, I didn’t really ENJOY any of those (well the saffron was pretty good), but I’m always willing to try something new.  The Pie, not so much.

Tabasco Ice Cream

It’s a mix, so I can’t really give you the recipe here (because I don’t know it), but it involves milk, cream, the mix, and Tabasco’s Sweet & Spicy Sauce (which we also received as a present).

Tabasco Ice Cream

So here goes.

The mix is revealed to be sugar, vanilla, and xanthan gum.  So nothing too scary.  Sweetener, flavour, and thickener.  Fine.

Tabasco Ice Cream

Put that in a bowl, add the cream.  Whisk.

Tabasco Ice Cream

Add in the sweet and spicy sauce.  Whisk.

Tabasco Ice Cream

In the ice cream maker, it reveals itself to be a lovely pale peach colour.

Tabasco Ice Cream

And it actually froze up pretty quickly. You are supposed to put it back in the container in which the mix came, but ours didn’t fit.

Tabasco Ice Cream

The verdict?  The Pie, Fussellette, and I all tried it, and as Fussellette says, “It tastes like stir-fry.”  So if you like that, I recommend this stuff.  If you’d prefer your ice cream to be a little more traditional, you might want to leave this on the shelf.  I wonder if there’s anyway this could be saved.  Any suggestions?

Tabasco Ice Cream

Sweet Potato Quesadillas

Happy Birthday in advance to Kristopf — this one is for you!

The Pie and I had Rene over at I Love Leftovers in mind when we thought this up.  I’ve been fighting off some form of the plague for the past couple of weeks and we’ve been getting pretty lazy when it comes to our meals.  We were also trying to clear out our fridge in preparation for the influx of our houseguests, so we were combining a lot of our leftovers and running out of ideas.

On this particular night, the Pie was inspired, however.  We had some leftover poached, shredded chicken and tortillas from some wraps we’d made the day before.

We also had some roasted sweet potato left from the day before that.  Add those together, plus cheese, and you have quesadillas!

So first, the Pie grated up a whole whack of cheese.  Gren decided he needed to help.  He’s a very helpful puppy.  And if a little cheese falls on the floor, he’s right there to clean it up.  Very helpful indeed.

Plop the leftover chicken (probably about a cup and a half) in a bowl.  It has already been seasoned with a Tex-Mex dried spice mix, but we thought we would add some more flavour.

My parents went to Avery Island, Louisiana, to visit the Tabasco factory (let’s not even begin to talk about how weird that is).  So for Christmas last year we all got lots of Tabasco-related gifts.  We even have Tabasco ice cream mix, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.  Anyway, the Pie and I got these wee bottles of flavoured Tabasco in our stockings, and we thought we would try the chipotle one.  Ask the Pie to say “chipotle.”  He can’t do it.

To give you an idea of the scale of the bottle, we wanted to place it next to Gren.

Actually, we had to try several times to get the shot.

He kept knocking the bottle over with his nose.  On purpose.

Finally.  Though I’m sure you’ve already figured out how small the bottle is.

So we emptied that sucker all over the chicken.

Then we added the cheese (about a cup and a half).

Then the roasted sweet potato (probably about one sweet-potato’s worth).  Mix that up.

Lightly brush the bottom of a flour tortilla with olive oil (for browning) and plop it in a hot skillet.

Plop half the chicken mixture on top. 

Add another oiled tortilla on top of that and carefully flip the whole thing once the cheese is partially melted.

When the cheese is fully melted, remove from the heat and slice it up like a pizza.  Then do the same thing all over again.  Makes two.  Serve them with sour cream and/or guacamole.  Mmm, lazy dinners …

Bar Night: Buffalo Chicken Strips

The Pie and I went to Buffalo, NY, for a shopping trip once.  We drove past the Anchor Bar, undisputed home of the Buffalo chicken wing, and it was closed.  We never went back.  I regret it to this day.  And when you order wings in St. John’s, you can get them with barbecue sauce or honey garlic, but none of that tangy, vinegary spiciness that comes with the bright orange Buffalo wing sauce.  It’s truly sad.

Out of necessity, therefore, I have had to come up with my own version of that sauce.  It’s not quite right, but it will do in a pinch.

Start with a base of hot sauce, like Tabasco.  Add in a bit of butter, as well as some light barbecue sauce (not the dark smoky stuff).  The sauce I used is the one I made the Pie for Christmas.  Pour in some rice vinegar and some white vinegar to taste.  Adjust your amounts until it’s the way you like it.

Simmer that down for a while.

While that’s cooking down, peel and thinly cut some carrots into sticks.

Cut up some celery as well, and plop your veggies in a bowl of water to await your pleasure.

Get yourself some blue cheese and some sour cream.

Crumble the blue cheese into a bowl and smush it together with some sour cream to make a blue cheese sauce.

Process some bread crumbs until they are superfine.

Slice up some chicken breasts into thin strips.

Dip the strips into buttermilk, then into your bread crumbs.

Repeat until you’re out of strips and thoroughly covered with gooey bread crumbs.

Fry up those strips until they are brown and crispy.

Toss the strips in a bowl with your simmered down sauce until the strips are all coated.

Serve with your vegetables, blue cheese dressing, and, hey, why not some French fries?