Feb 20, 2010

Penne Pasta with Ham & Cheese

The Durstelers, my good friends, led me to this recipe, and I just tried it for the first time tonight. Yum! Ham and cheese make a delicious combination with pasta. The recipe called for pappardelle pasta, but I used penne because that is what I had. I will definitely make this again.

1 pound penne pasta
8 tablespoons butter (plus 1 tablespoon for baking dish)
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
8 ounces ham, julienned (I used commercially diced ham, which worked fine)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare pasta and preheat broiler. Melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat; add flour and stir with wooden spoon until well blended, about 2 minutes. Stirring constantly, add milk gradually. Continue to stir until it thickens and is smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add ham, half the Parmesan, and 6 tablespoons of butter. Stir while butter melts. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Grease 8 x 12 oven dish. Add drained pasta and then pour white sauce over the top and mix well. Sprinkle evenly with remaining Parmesan. Broil until golden, about 3 minutes.

Corn Bread

This delicious corn bread recipe comes from my friend Kathy (you can find more of her recipes here). It is sweet and has more of the texture of a cake, which is the way I like it best.

2 cups flour
2 cups cornmeal
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 cups milk
2 eggs
2/3 cup oil

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients and stir until they are thoroughly combined. Pour in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan and bake for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

Feb 16, 2010

Roasted Beets

Growing up, I thought I hated beets. The flavor seemed too overwhelming to me. But I've changed my mind fairly recently. I now know that I like beets if they are roasted instead of pickled. If you haven't tried roasted beets, give this simple recipe a try. It is adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.

4 medium beets, greens removed, trimmed, and scrubbed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Wrap the beets individually in foil (like a baked potato) and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until a skewer can be inserted easily into a beet, 45 minutes to an hour.

Remove the beets from the oven, open the foil packets, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Take the warm beets, one at a time, and gently rub off the skin using paper towels. Slice the beets 1/4-inch thick, then toss with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve warm or at room temperature.

French Vanilla Ice Cream

This ice cream, along with the tunnel of fudge cake (search for cake recipes on this blog), were what Mom requested for her birthday this year, but both of these recipes are long-time family favorites. The recipe comes from Ben & Jerry's.

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Pour in the cream, milk, and vanilla and whisk to blend. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream freezer and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions.

Makes 1 quart.

Feb 12, 2010

White Chocolate Popcorn

This recipe comes from my sister Amy. She made it for me for Valentine's Day one year. Her recipe included just popcorn and M&Ms, and it was really good, but there are other possible add-ins. Whatever extra ingredients you throw in, this is delicious and easy!

2 bags microwave popcorn, popped and with unpopped kernels removed
1 12-ounce bag white chocolate chips
1 medium package regular or peanut M&Ms (about 1 1/2 cups)
Could also add miniature marshmallows, pretzel sticks, etc.

Put popped popcorn in a bowl along with any add-ins. Melt white chocolate chips in a microwave, 45 seconds at a time, stirring each time until the chips have melted completely. Pour the melted white chocolate over the popcorn. Stir until thoroughly combined. Stir in M&Ms. Then spread the popcorn out on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate for 10 minutes or more, until chocolate has hardened and popcorn breaks in pieces.

Feb 10, 2010

Stuffed Bell Peppers

I've always "kind of" liked stuffed peppers, though probably more the idea of them than the reality. Actually, I've liked the filling but not the peppers they were stuffed into. The problem, I have come to discover, is that I'm not a big fan of green bell peppers. However, red, yellow, or orange bell peppers are a different story. So now I make stuffed peppers with bell peppers I like, and I end up eating both the peppers themselves and the filling. This recipe comes from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.

4 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, 1/2 inch trimmed off the top, stemmed and seeded
1/2 cup long-grain white rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
3/4 pound (85 percent lean) ground beef
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained with 1/4 cup juice reserved
1 1/4 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup ketchup

1) Bring 4 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the bell peppers and cook until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Remove the peppers from the water, allowing any excess water to drain back into the pot. Place the peppers, cut-side up, on a paper-towel-lined plate.

2) Return the water to a boil. Add the rice and cook until tender, about 13 minutes. Drain thoroughly and transfer to a large bowl.

3) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beef and cook, breaking it into small pieces, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the rice. Add the tomatoes, 1 cup of the cheese, and parsley to the rice and stir to combine. Season the rice mixture with salt and pepper to taste. In a separate bowl, combine the ketchup and reserved tomato juice.

4) Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the over to 350 degrees. Place the peppers, cut-side up, in a 9 by 9-inch baking dish. Divide the filling evenly among the peppers. Spoon the ketchup mixture over the tops of the peppers, then sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake until the cheese is browned and the filling is heated through, about 30 minutes.

Feb 5, 2010

Lion House Taffy

I have fond memories of family taffy pulls and this was always the recipe we used. It is definitely a home and hearth memory from my childhood--my parents and siblings all gathered around the kitchen table to pull the taffy and have fun together. This is a fun activity for both adults and children. I love the buttery, sweet flavor of this taffy.

2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup white corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons glycerin
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter

Mix sugar, water, corn syrup, salt, and glycerin in a heavy saucepan. Bring to boil over medium to medium high heat; cook to 258 degrees. Watch carefully so that the taffy doesn't overcook. Remove from heat and let stand for 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla and butter; stir vigorously until butter is melted. Pour into buttered cookie sheet; cool until lukewarm and easy to handle. Pull taffy with buttered hands until it turns white. Then stretch it into a long rope, and using buttered kitchen shears, cut the rope into individual pieces and wrap each piece in wax paper. Makes about 4 dozen pieces. Note: glycerin can be purchased at a pharmacy.