Sunday, October 31, 2010

salted brown butter rice crispy treats


A classic, made better :)

Salted Brown Butter Rice Crispy Treats
Taken from my fav, Smitten Kitchen
Makes 32 2-inch squares.
2 sticks butter, plus extra to grease the pan
20 ounces marshmallows
Heaping 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
12 cups Rice Krispies cereal (a 12-ounce box)

Butter (or coat with non-stick spray) a 9x13" pan.
In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don't leave your kitchen!  Brown butter goes from wonderfully brown and nutty to burnt in seconds.  Literally.
As soon as the butter gets all tasty and pretty, turn the heat to low and stir in the marshmallows. Stir until all melted and smooth.
Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the salt and cereal together. Quickly spread into prepared pan. Press down with a spoonula or clean, damp hands.  Let cool and cut into squares.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 29, 2010

chicken spaghetti

We'll close out the month with a classic from my family:  chicken spaghetti.

Growing up, we made this more times that I can count.
We always made it with leftover diced chicken from the night before's roasted chicken so technically, this could be a Round 2 recipe.

It is not a healthy casserole and it doesn't pretend to be, with 1/2 package of Velveeta in it, but it's creamy and satisfying and makes your heart all warm with that my-aunt-made-this-on-a-cold-Fall-night sort of feeling.

Chicken Spaghetti
Makes two 9x13's.
4 tablespoons butter
2 jalapenos or one green bell pepper, chopped
4 cans of creams-of (mushroom, chicken, celery, etc - any combo)
2 soup cans of milk
1 box of Velveeta cheese
4 cooked chicken breasts, diced (...or close to the equivalent of leftover roasted diced chicken)
A couple heads of broccoli, finely diced (or a frozen, thawed box)
2 pounds of spaghetti, cooked al dente, drained, and divided into two 9x13" pans

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add peppers and saute until tender. 
(I like my chicken spaghetti a bit spicier so I use the jalapenos but the original recipe from my great aunt calls for bell pepper instead.  Your call.)

Add the creams-of and reduce to medium-low.

Add the milk.

Cube the Velveeta and add that in to the mix.

Let simmer on medium-low until bubbly and all melty.
That's right.  Melty.  Yum.

Add diced chicken.

And broccoli.

Stir to combine and pour over the prepared spaghetti, in pans.

Don't mix it want the cheese sauce to cook into the spaghetti.
Don't worry.  It'll all mix and be all heavenly and gooey.

Cover with foil, label and freeze.

When ready to eat, defrost completely, bake at 350* for 30 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

penne a la vodka casserole

Okay, so I might have lied.

I told you a couple posts back that the pesto pasta bake was the easiest casserole in the world.
This is pretty darn close.

Although this does include two pots instead of just one, it's still that easy.

I mean, come on.
Six ingredients.

Well, plus pasta.
Which, in this case, I didn't even use the same kinds of pasta. 
I used an odd assortment of leftover boxes of mis-matched pasta.

But you'll forgive me when you try it.

Penne a la Vodka Casserole
Makes one 9x13".  (But why not make two?  Sooo easy!)
1 pound any smallish shaped pasta, cooked al dente, drained and spread in a casserole dish.
24 ounces homemade marinara sauce
1 cup of vodka
8 ounces heavy cream
Handful fresh basil
Large-ish pinch of red pepper flakes (to taste)
Assorted shredded cheeses to sprinkle on top (about 2 cups)

Heat the marinara and the vodka in a medium saucepan until bubbly.

Add cream and let simmer until nice and thick.  (And pink!  I love the pink.)

Chop the basil and add that and the red pepper flakes to the mix and let the flavors meld, about 5 minutes.

Pour over the pasta and kinda mix it in with your wooden spoon, until all the pasta is covered.

Top with cheese!  (Why are all casseroles topped with cheese?  Mmm....)

Cover with foil, label and freeze. 

When ready to eat, defrost completely, bake at 350* for 30 minutes until golden and bubbly, and enjoy!

Friday, October 22, 2010

beef stroganoff casserole

My husband loves beef stroganoff.

And my mother-in-law has perfected it.
I stole her recipe (nah, she really did give it to me...) and perfected it, myself.
I love that recipe.

This isn't it.
But, and a very big but, I wanted to convert it into a freezable (dare I say it?) casserole (I hate that word) so we could enjoy the taste of that wonderful dish even when I am running on no sleep and have a tiny new human to take care of.

Down from an hour or so of prep time to defrost in the fridge overnight and pop in the oven.
Can't get much better than that!

Beef Stroganoff Casserole
Makes one 9x13". 
Olive oil
2 pounds beef (filet mignon, if you are really feeling it, or just some lean stew meat) 
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced 
2 cups sliced fresh cremini mushrooms
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 
14 ounces beef stock
1 can of cream of mushroom soup 
8 ounces sour cream 
2 tablespoons dijon mustard 
3/4 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
8 ounces wide egg noodles, cooked, tossed with a bit of butter, and kept warm 
A sprinkle of French fried onion rings, if desired

Heat a drizzle or two of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Cut beef into small strips, about 1/2" by 1" and brown.

Add diced onion and minced garlic and and let saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Add mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, beef stock and cream of mushroom soup.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer for about 15 minutes.  Add sour cream, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.

Spread egg noodles in your 9x13" pan and pour sauce over the top.

Cover with foil, label and freeze.

When ready to enjoy, defrost completely, bake at 350* for 30 minutes and dive in!

Monday, October 18, 2010

lasanga bolognese

Okay, so now we are ready for the "real" lasanga.
This is the authentic, Italian version.
And it'll take about 2 hours.

The only thing that's not authentic is the store-bought noodles.  If you wanna go all out, then by all means, make your own.  But....meh.  Even with good 'ol Barilla noodles, it takes just like what I had in Italy.

Mmmm....when this little guy is big enough, we are going back to Italy!
But, for now, this will have to do :)

Lasanga Bolognese
Makes 2 casseroles.
Taken, literally word for word, from Cook's Illustrated.....well, almost.  I use red wine instead of white.
For the meat sauce:
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 cans (28 ounces each) whole tomatoes with juice
48 ounces meatloaf mix (a mixture of ground beef, pork, and veal)
3 cups whole milk
3 cups dry red wine
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the bechamel:
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
8 cups whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
Noodles and cheese:30 sheets (19 ounces) no-boil lasagna noodles, Barilla is the best
16 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (4 cups)  ....and please use real Parmigiana Reggiano....I usually do but in that post-pregnancy mind of mine, I forgot to pick up some more at the market had to use the stuff in the green can :/

For the ragu: Process carrot, celery, and onion in food processor until finely chopped, about two 1-second pulses, scraping down bowl as necessary; transfer mixture to small bowl.

Wipe out food processor work bowl; process tomatoes and juice until finely chopped, six to eight 1-second pulses.

Heat butter in heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat until foaming; add carrot, celery, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes.

Add ground meats and cook, breaking meat into 1-inch pieces with wooden spoon, about 1 minute.

Add milk and stir, breaking meat into 1/2-inch bits, bring to simmer and cook, stirring to break meat into small pieces, until almost all liquid has evaporated, 20 to 30 minutes. Using potato masher or wooden spoon, break up any remaining clumps of meat (no large pieces should remain).

Add wine and bring to simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated, 20 to 30 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste until combined, about 1 minutes; add chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper.

Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook until sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. (You should have about 12 cups meat sauce.) Transfer meat sauce to bowl and cool until just warm to the touch, about 30 minutes.

For the bechamel: While the meat sauces simmers, melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming, add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 1 1/2 minutes; mixture should not brown.

Gradually whisk in milk, increase heat to medium-high and bring to full boil, whisking frequently.

Add salt, (and pepper, if desired) reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon, making sure to scrape bottom and corners of saucepan. (You should have almost 7 cups. Transfer bechamel to bowl and cool until just warm to touch, about 30 minutes.

To assemble:  Place noodles in two 9x13" baking dishes and cover with very hot tap water; soak 5 minutes, agitating noodles occasionally to prevent sticking.

Remove noodles from water, place in single layer on kitchen towel, and pat dry.

Wipe out baking dish and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Stir bechamel to recombine; mix 1 1/2 cups warm bechamel into warm meat sauce until thoroughly combined.

Working with one casserole at a time, distribute 1 cup bechamel-enriched meat sauce in baking dish.

Place three noodles in single layer on top of sauce, arranging them close together, but not touching, at center of pan.

Spread 1 1/4 cups meat sauce evenly over noodles, spreading sauce to edge of noodles but not to edge of dish.

Drizzle 1/3 cup b├ęchamel evenly over meat sauce.

Sprinkle 1/3 cup Parmesan even over bechamel.

Repeat layering of noodles, meat sauce, bechamel, and Parmesan cheese 3 more times. Place final 3 noodles on top and cover completely with remaining bechamel, spreading bechamel with rubber spatula and allowing to spill over noodles.

Sprinkle evenly with remaining Parmesan.  Do the same with the other casserole.

Spray a large sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover lasagna.  Label and freeze. 

When ready to eat, defrost completely and bake at 425* until bubbling, about 30 minutes. Remove foil, increase heat to 450*, and continue to bake until surface is spotty brown, about 15 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; cut into pieces and serve.

Look at those layers!

And look at that ooey-gooey-ness! 

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