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

Mac Cheese in the woods 7

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.

Mac Cheese in the woods 1

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:

Mac Cheese in the woods 5

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

Mac Cheese in the woods 2

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

Mac Cheese in the woods 3

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.

Mac Cheese in the woods 4

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

Mac Cheese in the woods 6

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.

Mac Cheese in the woods 8

Advertisements

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 17

This warm bowl of rosy goodness reminds me a bit of my winged red soup from ages ago (which I may try to recreate in the future) and it’s just as easy.  I made a heckuva lot of this, mostly to freeze for Krystopf and Atlas for after the baby comes, so feel free to cut this recipe into thirds for more reasonable servings.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 1

You’re going to need 3 heads garlic;

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 2

3 red onions;

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 4

24 ripe roma tomatoes;

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 3

and about 18 large red peppers.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 5

Preheat your oven to 450°F.  Peel the garlic and cut each clove in half.  Chop up the onions as well and chuck them in a roasting pan (I divided them between three roasting pans).

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 6

Chop up the tomatoes and red peppers and put them in the pans as well.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 7

Drizzle with olive oil, dust with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 8

Roast the vegetables for 25-35 minutes, or until they are soft and starting to char.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 12

Meanwhile, bring a pot with about 2 litres stock (chicken, vegetable, whatever) to a boil.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 10

When the vegetables are ready, chuck them in the broth and give it a good stir.  Add several dashes of Tabasco Sauce and remove it from the heat.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 14

Have a go at it with an immersion blender and then season with salt, pepper, and more Tabasco as desired.  Serve hot (or cold).  The flavour intensifies over a couple of days and it freezes great.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 15

Quick Quesadilla

Quick Quesadillas 12

It’s very hot.  And we’re moving so very soon.  The last thing we want to do is cook up elaborate suppers for ourselves.  But the blog must go on, right?  So congratulations, today you’re getting a quesadilla.

Quick Quesadillas 15

I didn’t eat my first quesadilla until I was in my mid-twenties, but I understand that they’re staple fare for the teenaged set.  Or at least, that was pretty much all Mags could cook for herself when I met her at fourteen.  In any case, if you’ve got the munchies, this one is for you.  It makes two hot and crispy quesadillas.

First, we sautéed a handful of mushrooms, about a dozen.

Quick Quesadillas 1

Then thinly sliced up half a white onion.

Quick Quesadillas 2

Then sautéed those up as well.

Quick Quesadillas 3

I was going for caramelized onions, but then I forgot about them and so they were slightly charred instead.  Oh well.

Quick Quesadillas 5

I also whipped up some guacamole with avocadoes, lime juice, salt, pepper, and some tomatoes.  Grate about 1 cup cheddar cheese while you’re at it.

Quick Quesadillas 4

When you’re ready to cook, plop a dollop of olive oil or butter into a pan on medium high heat.

Quick Quesadillas 6

Lay on top of that one large tortilla.  Allow that to heat until you can see bubbles of air forming between the tortilla and the surface of the pan.

Quick Quesadillas 7

Lay on half of your mushrooms and onions.

Quick Quesadillas 8

Sprinkle with half the cheese.

Quick Quesadillas 9

Plop the other tortilla on top and let that sit for a minute so the cheese starts to melt and stick everything together.

Quick Quesadillas 10

Then, very carefully, with the largest spatula you have (or two), flip the whole thing over.

Quick Quesadillas 11

Allow the quesadilla to cook on this side for about two minutes, making sure it doesn’t burn, then slide it onto a plate.  Use a knife to cut the quesadilla into wedges. Make the other quesadilla up while you wait for the cheese on the one you just cooked to become less molten.

Quick Quesadillas 16

Serve with sour cream and quacamole.

Quick Quesadillas 13

Ooey gooey goodness!

Quick Quesadillas 14

Aw Yiss. Some Motha. Flippin’. Tomato Soup.

Tomato Soup 30

I don’t know why I felt the need to use that title.  I just DID.  Also, in case you didn’t recognize the meme, Canadian comic artist Kate Beaton is awesome and you should read her stuff.

Tomato Soup 2

What do you do when you are moving and you have too many cans of tomatoes in your pantry, and your husband has left an open can of tomato paste in your refrigerator?

Tomato Soup 8

I think we all know the answer to this.  It’s in the title after all.  Besides, nothing says summer in Newfoundland like a big bowl of hot soup.  And I’m not even kidding.  I haven’t seen the sun in a while and as I write this it is raining and 7°C.  Now you can use fresh tomatoes in this soup, and I’m sure there’s a good argument for doing so, because the taste is so much better and whatever.  Personally, if I have a nice fresh tomato in my hands, I’m going to want to eat it as is, not simmer it in a soup.  But to each his own.

Tomato Soup 1

If you do decide to use fresh tomatoes, I recommend blanching them first to get the skins off.  Put a put of water on the boil and when it’s a-rollin’, submerge your tomatoes in the water for about a minute and a half, until the skins start to split.

Tomato Soup 11

Remove the tomatoes from the pot and plunge them into a bowl of cold water (to stop the tomatoes from cooking and going mushy).

Tomato Soup 13

Then you can just peel them easy as you please.

Tomato Soup 14

Take a few carrots, peel them, and chop them up.

Tomato Soup 9

Do the same with a large sweet onion.

Tomato Soup 15

You know when you are reading real estate listings and you have to sort of translate them to understand what the sellers are trying to tell you?  Like, “cozy” means “small”, “quaint” means that none of the doors are level and won’t shut properly, and “rustic” means “broken”.  I think you can apply almost the same principle to food.  At least in terms of soups.  When I read that a soup is “hearty” that tells me that there’s more stuff in it than liquid.  And when I read “rustic” I understand that the creators were just too lazy to cut everything up extra small.  So by that logic pretty much everything I ever make is “rustic.”

Tomato Soup 18

Sauté the onions in a large saucepan with a gob of vegetable oil until they are soft and transparent.

Tomato Soup 16

Now you can huck in your spices.  I used some minced garlic, smoked paprika, and then some powdered chicken stock.  Give that a good stir.

Tomato Soup 19

Now you can add in your tomatoes (I used 2 cans plus the 2 fresh ones I blanched) and your carrots.  I didn’t drain my canned tomatoes because I wanted the liquid.  If you’re using fresh tomatoes you may want to add in a bit of water. Plop in a can of tomato paste as well, to thicken it up.

Tomato Soup 20

Simmer that for a while until the carrots are soft.  Now you can leave this in its hearty, rustic state, or you can give it a whaz with your handy immersion blender and mix it up.

Tomato Soup 22

I chose the latter, obviously.

Tomato Soup 23

Then I took a can of evaporated milk that Mrs. Nice had purchased for undisclosed reasons and poured that in. Uh, don’t, you know, confuse evaporated milk with condensed milk. I don’t think that would end well.

Tomato Soup 24

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tomato Soup 26

Tomato Soup 28

I would have loved to serve it with fresh basil but dried had to do.  Yum!

Tomato Soup 29

The Family Sammy

Family Sammy 10

You may not like this sandwich.  It’s a bit of an acquired taste.  It’s also freaking weird.  But bear with me.  It’s really good once you get past the weirdness.

So this sandwich is actually a family recipe that goes back a few generations, to one set of the great-grands on my mother’s side.  Maybe even back to Scotland.  Hard to say.  Origins shrouded in mystery and all that jazz.

Family Sammy 1

Legend has it that my mother made this sandwich for my father as a token of her love back when they were first together.  She packed it into his lunch and sent him off on his day.  When he discovered this — thing — in his lunch he was absolutely horrified.  My mother was offended that he would be disgusted by such a beautiful sandwich.  Forty years later, it’s one of my dad’s favourites.

(Is any of this making you want to try this yet?  I thought so.)

So first you take some rye bread.  I like the swirly stuff, which is pretty mild but you can get a hint of the rye.  My parents prefer the super dense stuff that slices about a centimetre thick.

Family Sammy 2

On one slice of bread, spread some nice mayonnaise.  On the other slice, some peanut butter.  Crunchy is best, but we have smooth on hand for Papa John so that’s what is on offer.  Don’t worry, it’s gonna get weirder.

Family Sammy 4

Slice up a tomato and slide that onto a slice of rye.  Garnish with salt and pepper.

Family Sammy 5

Add a few pieces of red onion (I usually forego this part but I’m sticking with tradition here, just for you).

Family Sammy 6

Then a few thin slices of cheddar cheese.  The cheese, like the onion, is optional.  The main essence of the sandwich is mayo, peanut butter, and tomato on rye.  But I like it with cheese.

Family Sammy 7

And that’s the sandwich.  I know it seems rather icky, but if you are on the lookout for something a little bit different, I suggest you give it a try.  The combination of tangy mayo with crunchy earthy peanut butter, the burst of flavour from a good tomato on the faint bitterness of rye is actually quite good.  Give it a shot, I dare you.

Family Sammy 8

What’s your favourite weird sandwich?

Twisted Bee Ell Tee

B-A-L-T 15

I love taking classic dishes and putting a little something extra in them to add just that little bit more to their perfection.  And there is nothing more perfect than the classic BLT (that’s a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, for those few of you uninitiated).  But is that actually true?  No.  Because you can always add.  There’s the BELT, for instance: bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato (on a biscuit, no less).  And a variation of the grilled cheese that we like around these parts, the BTC (bacon, tomato, cheese).

B-A-L-T 11

As I have learned, adding avocado makes pretty much ANYTHING better.  In fact, I think I’m going to make a decree here for the Avocado Rule, which parallels the Pie’s Banana Rule, wherein adding a banana to anything (shakes, smoothies, pies) makes it better.  So this one is the same rule, but, you know, with avocados.  So we’re making a BALT (bacon-avocado-lettuce-tomato).

B-A-L-T 1

We don’t do a lot of sandwiches here at Ali Does It, but with the Pie away for the weekend it’s all I can really muster up the energy for.  This sandwich is at the high end of my give-a-crap level for the next few days.  So stand back in awe.

First you take a nice ripe avocado.  And you cut it open.  And you get rid of the pit.

B-A-L-T 2

And you empty it into a bowl.  I know, this is heady stuff.

B-A-L-T 3

And you mash it up with some garlic and some lime juice.

B-A-L-T 4

Until you have a marvellous guacamole.  I would use a whole avocado for one sandwich but the Pie doesn’t let me so I would recommend one avocado for TWO sandwiches.  Leave that alone for a bit.

B-A-L-T 5

Then you take a couple teaspoons of mayonnaise (whatever kind you want, it’s your sammich), and add a sprinkle or two of chipotle seasoning. Give that a stir.  Tada.  Now you have chipotle mayo.  CAN YOU EVEN HANDLE IT?  Me neither.

B-A-L-T 6

Slice up a tomato while you’re at it.  And wash and dry some lettuce.

B-A-L-T 7

Now you need some bacon.  However much you want, cooked however you like it.  I would recommend at least two slices of bacon per sandwich, but you can do what you want.  I’m not your mother.

B-A-L-T 8

Slice up some bread of your choosing.  This is a simple ciabatta.  Regular sandwich bread is standard.  What is the total BEST though is a nice fresh croissant (it might be my favourite thing ever, especially if you add some gooey Brie to your BALT).  Like the BEST.

B-A-L-T 9

Now you put it together!  Smear on some spicy mayo and soothing guacamole, then layer on your bacon, lettuce, and tomato and you’re good to go.

B-A-L-T 10

Did you need a DIY on how to make a sandwich?  Perhaps not.  But I don’t care.  Because now I get to eat this. With a salad that is mostly comprised of exactly the same ingredients: lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, and bread. Oh well.

B-A-L-T 17

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Here is yet another Martha Stewart soup and I think I like this the best of the three I’ve made recently.  I made all three over one weekend, so I got a chance to taste them all at the same time.  In this soup, the vegetables are roasted beforehand to bring out the flavour, and man oh man is it some flavour!

Preheat your oven to 425°F and position your oven racks so one is at the very top and one is at the very bottom.

On the bottom tray you’re going to have your eggplant and your chickpeas.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

On the top tray will be your tomatoes, carrots, and garlic.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Peel about 12 cloves garlic and peel and chop up about 1/2lb carrots.  This equaled 2 large carrots, for me.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Then you need to halve and core about 3lbs plum (Roma) tomatoes.  The recipe says that this is about 12 tomatoes, but I ended up with 18 to make that weight.  I found the tomato huller tool worked great for this.  It took out the top stem bit, and then after I halved them it was great at scooping out the innards.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Toss the tomatoes with the garlic and tomatoes and 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Garnish liberally with fresh ground pepper and pinches of sea salt.  Spread them in a single layer (if you can) on a rimmed baking sheet with the cut sides of the tomatoes facing downwards.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Chop up 1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2lb) into 3/4″ pieces.  Of course our grocery store never has the same kind of eggplant two days in a row, so I got 4 baby eggplants instead.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Rinse and drain 1 can of chickpeas.  Toss those in with the eggplant, together with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 teaspoons curry powder.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Spread that out on a rimmed baking sheet as well.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Roast your vegetables, tomatoes on the top rack, eggplant on the bottom, for 45 minutes.  Toss your vegetables halfway through.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Now your tomato skins will be all lovely and wrinkly.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

You can just pick them off with a set of tongs.  Be careful not to burn yourself.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Once your tomatoes are peeled, dump the contents of the tomato tray (carrots, garlic, skinless tomatoes and juices) into a large saucepan.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Purée the tomato mixture and then add 3-4 cups water.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Stir in the eggplant mixture and bring the whole thing to a simmer.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Serve garnished with fresh cilantro and crusty bread.  You can also freeze this soup for later on down the road.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup