Yes, I'm still sick. And you know what that means? More pasta.
But Courtzilla... didn't you JUST finish the leftover tortellini?
When a craving for Mac and Cheese happens, it just happens. It also happens that I had some sweet pasta shapes to use. Ok, I took any excuse I could to make this comforting mac and cheese!
You'll need (for 2 - 3 servings):
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 cups of milk
- 1 1/4 cups of cheddar cheese
- 1 cup of parmesan ... but it would be WAY better with something creamy, like marscapone or gruyere. Just sayin'.
- various spices. Really..you can use what you've got. I used a splash of paprika, garlic powder, and red pepper. It would be great with nutmeg and cayenne though too! Orrr...whatever.
- 1/2 lb of pasta ... wait til you see the suckers I used
To start, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Boil a pot of salted water for the pasta, and whip out your skillet.
Melt your butter in the skillet!
Once the butter starts to bubble and get a little brown, sprinle in your flour, and whisk. We're making a roux again, which will help thicken the cheese sauce.
Then, slowly add in your milk, whisking the whole while. This will get rid of any lumps in the roux. Once the milk is in, let it cook on medium heat for about ten minutes.
At this point in the game you'll want to add in a dash or two of all your favorite spice. I didn't really measure, I just dashed. Make sure you get your salt and pepper in there too!
Ok, now you'll want to turn down the heat to low, and add in a handful at a time of the cheddar cheese. Let the handful melt, then add in another..etc. Leave a bit left to sprink over the top before we bake it.
Pretty. Now add whatever other cheese you want! I only had parmesan, so that's what went in there. I'm telling you though, a creamy cheese would be DIVINE. So yeah... same method as the cheddar, and leave a bit to sprinkle on the top at the end.
Once all your cheese is melty, take it off the heat. Drain your pasta, and toss it in the cheese mixture! If it looks too thick, you can add a bit of the pasta water to the sauce to thin it out a little.
Tell me you're not drooling, I dare you.
Ok! Take a baking pan and butter it down, then pour the pasta mix into the pan. I used a loaf pan, because I didn't want to make too much of it. After the pasta is in, sprinkle the leftover cheese over the top, then pop it in the oven for 25 minutes, or until brown.
Once it looks like this...
You're good to go. Let it cool for 5 - 10 minutes, then take a slice and die a happy death.
I love this pasta! Look at the cute spirals. I'll also tell you this secret: it holds cheese sauce EXTREMELY well. Delicious.
If you're REALLY feeling fancy, you can add a super gourmet dipping sauce for it.
HAHAHA. Ketchup. What?? I'm Canadian...it's how we roll.
This is the easiest tomato soup you've ever made. I know you all make a lot of tomato soup, so I feel totally confident saying that.
I was really craving tomato soup and grilled cheese the other day... and damn that canned stuff just doesn't cut it any more. All I could taste was tin and water. Noooo thanks.
Seriously. 15 minutes. Takes just as long as mixing up the canned stuff and putting it in the micro. Watch me work.
Makes about 2 - 3 servings.
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 1 1/2 tsp of garlic (minced)
- about 2 - 3 tbsp of flour
- about 2 cups of milk (or, Tina you can use vegetable broth!)
- 1 14 ish oz can of diced maters
- about 10 leaves of basil
- dried oregano
- 1 tbsp sugar
optional: tomato paste
Yeah. 15 minutes. Trust me. I won't steer you wrong.
Ready to get started?
Take your butter and melt it in a pot. Put the heat on medium to medium low.
Toss in your garlic!
Ok, at this point we're going to make what's called a roux. It's basically the base for a lot of sauces and gravies. You just take fat, either butter or meat grease (bacon gravy? hello.), and mix it with some flour. It acts as a thickening agent, and makes things super delish.
So, throw your flour in, and mix it around.
Here's a fun story. The recipe I was kind of using as a guide said to use a cup... A CUP of flour. EFF THAT. Smart sense says just to use a bit.. but noooo... so I ended up with this.
I added in some milk to thin it out and got it down so there weren't any lumps left. No big deal. Use a whisk if that happens to you, it's the easiest way.
OK! After you've dealt with disaster and lived to tell about it, add in your milk and tomatoes. I smooshed them down a bit so they weren't in huge chunks. If you're feeling really motivated you can pulse it smooth in the food processor, or in the blender... but this is me here. I'm lazy. And now I can say it's "rustic". Plus, chunks don't bother me.
At this point, add in your salt and pepper, to taste. I like a lot of ground pepper in this. I also threw in some basil, and some dried oregano for a little flavor boost. I add about a tbsp of sugar, just to combat the acidity of the maters, but taste it first, see if you need it.
Now at this point I tasted it and noticed two things. One, too milky. I wanted some ROBUST flavor, baby. So, I added about a half a can of this:
This packs some tomato PUNCH man. It's scrumptious. Optional, but scrumptious. Also, I noticed that the freaking huge amount of flour was doing it's trick, and it was a little too thick for me. One of my biggest pet peeves is when tomato soup tastes like pasta sauce. GROSS. So, I added about a cup of low sodium chicken broth. You can use veggie broth, or just water if you've got nothing on hand. It won't hurt the flavor none.
Now THAT'S what I'm looking for.
Put it in your favorite bowl with a couple of leaves of basil! (I LOVE my new basil plant!)
Looks positively gourmet.
Wassat in the background.... hiding there...
AH HA!! Sneaky grilled cheese sandwich. See that wasn't fancy at all, so I couldn't show you I was making it. Kraft singles baby, ain't nothin' wrong with that.
Nothing says summer more than fresh fruit, baked with a crispy top and served with ice cream. Sounds nice doesn't it?
What's in season. Peaches! Peaches are in season. I've got a few let's use those.
Wait... what's that in the back of the crisper there... how long have I had these apples? Apple crisp it is.
Still, totally divine. Oh wait... no ice cream... maple cream sauce? Yeah that'll do in a pinch.
For as thrown together as this was, I devoured it in record time. And it's totally healthy! I mean... it's got fruit in it?
You'll need (for 2 servings)
- 1 apple
- 1/4 cup of flour
- 1/4 cup of quick oats
- 2 tbsp of sugar
- 2 tbsp of brown sugar (I know I know, these are pitifully small bits, but I'm just feeding me here, ok?)
- 2 tbsp of butter
- squirt oh lemon juice
- pinch of salt
- drizzle of maple syrup... or the fake stuff. I'll look the other way.
Ugh. I want to eat this every day for the rest of my life.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
To begin, take two apples. Old apples. Of different races. It's cool, they'll get along.
Peel two apples, until they look naked and alone.
Slice up one of your apples and put it in a small oven safe dish.
Realize one apple takes up a lot of room. Proceed to eat the reject apple.
Drizzle the apples with lemon juice to prevent them from browning.
EXTREME ANGLE SHOT!!
Then, drizzle with some maple syrup, and stir around until everything commingles. Fun word.
Now! For the crisp.
Mix together your flour, oats, sugar, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.
Now, cut up your butter into tiny cubes. You want the butter to be cold, that way it'll still be in little chunks when it goes into the oven, and will distribute pockets of love all over the top of the dish.
Mix your butter into your flour mix with a fork or a pastry cutter, until it resembles coarse sand... or something like this. Chunky is good, as long as everything is mixed together.
Evenly sprinkle over the top of your apples.
Now cover it with foil, and pop it into the oven for 10 -15 minutes.
While your waiting.. if you're feeling really naughty... and you've been surviving on tortellini for a day and a half...
Take a splash of cream, and put it in a sauce pan over the stove. Heat it up on low, and add a bit of maple syrup to it, like so...
Wait like 5 minutes until that cooks down a bit, then put it in the fridge so it thickens. Trust me. It's better than ice cream.
Once your 10 - 15 minutes is up, take out the crisp and uncover it. Put it back in the oven for another 2o minutes.
Then, when it looks like this:
Take a ginormous spoonful, and put it in a bowl.
You won't believe the apples with the maple syrup. It's insanely good. And then when you add some of that cream sauce?
Let's just say this didn't last too long. Good thing this was my dinner... ok ok I ate some tortellini too, so kill me.
I've been majorly sick lately. Swine flu? Likely. (Kidding mom, it's just a really bad cold). When I'm sick I always crave pasta. Since John wanted to know how to make a baked pasta dish with some meat in it...(btw, what's with all the guys and meat? Holy carnivores batman)... this seemed like the perfect opportunity!
Bonus: I made this dish for around 4 servings. Aka I get to eat this 4 times this week. What's the awesome part you ask? I only used... ONE sausage and ONE small pack of tortellini. Pinching pennies? Try this out.
Here's the cast of characters.... missing a couple that I threw in randomly later.
- 1 small package of cheese tortellini (or really, any pasta you have on hand will do!)
- 1 sweet italian sausage
- about 1 cup of marinara sauce
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (would be splendid with marscapone too)
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup shaved/grated/whatever parmigiana cheese. You can even use the cardboard Kraft stuff in the green container, see if I care.
Stuff I added because I can:
- 1/2 onion
- 1/4 green pepper
- 10 basil leaves
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- salt and pepper
- small splash of cream
If you add these extras... your life will be the better for it, trust me.
Ok! Let's get crackin'
First things first, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Put a pot of water on the stove on high to boil. Add some salt.
Heat up a large skillet on medium low with a splash of oil in it.
Alrighty! Take your sausage and cut a slit down the center of it, like so.
Looks so gross. Tastes so delicious.
Remove the clear casing from around the sausage, and plunk the sausage into your skillet to brown. Break it up a bit. I leave them in decent sized chunks 'cause I like to pick them out and eat them first. :)
Then, finely dice an onion. No idea how to do it? Let me show you!
First, cut off a piece of the onion, going from tip to root. Cut that piece from top to bottom, in several vertical strips. Leave a bit at the top so it doesnt fall apart on you... like so!
Then, tip your knife and halve it, leaving a bit at the top again... like this...
Then turn your knife up again, and chop down, perpindicular to the vertical cuts you made in the first chop. Check it out, you're dicing, man!
Throw it into the pan and give it a stir.
Next, I chopped up a bit of pepper into match sticks, and then turned my knife just like I did with the onion, and I showed that pepper who's boss.
In my power trip moment, I forgot to take a picture of the final dice.... but I did throw the peppers into the pan!
Onions, peppers, and sausage. It was a natural choice to add the veggies.
Then, I added 1 cup of marinara sauce to the skillet!
At this point, the water in my pot was starting to get bubbly, so I tossed in the tortellini. You'll want to under cook your pasta a bit since we'll be baking it later, that way it doesn't turn all mushy and it'll absorb some of the sauce. That's called love, kids. Moral of the story: Instead of the full 7 - 10 minutes, I only let it boil for around 5.
Back to the sauce. This dish is all about the sauce. And the tortellini. And the cheese. But mostly the sauce.
Speaking of cheese, dump in your spoonful of ricotta to the hot sauce.
Mix it in and let it melt down a tad.
Oh hello there, beautiful. At this point I added some oregano, salt and pepper, and a slash of cream because I was feeling rebellious.
Ok! Now dump your drained tortellini into the scrumptious sinful sauce, and give it a good mix.
More dumping. Dump into an 8 x 8 pan, and spread it around so it's even.
Now, my favorite part. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of mozzarella over the top...
Then some parmesean... I had a big hunk of it so I just took my vegetable peeler and put a layer on the top.
Now... toss it into the oven for 15 - 20 minutes, until it gets all bubbly and browned on top. It's kind of fail proof.
While it's baking you can...
-Whip up a caesar salad!
- Chiffonade some basil for the top!
-Realize you really need a manicure! Look at that poor thumb nail.
- Keep up the chiffonade anyway!
- Admire your cute new basil plant!
- Try not to kill your new basil plant!
Look how productive I was. While all that was happening... this was happening in the oven.
SERIOUS DELCIOUSNESS ALERT.
This is one of my new favorites, I'll just throw it out there. It hit the spot times four billion.
Enjoy it with your favorite wine. Or if you're me...
Your favorite glass of milk. Ha! I figured the drinking gods would forgive me for one night off. I really had a rough day. This may have cured me though. Sigh. I can't wait for lunch tomorrow so I can eat it again.