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I’m a TV Star!

I’m a TV Star!
two women cooking

Bridgett (left) and me (right) just cooking on TV, like we do…

Ok – maybe not a star, but I was asked to demonstrate my Mac & Cheese with Pears recipe on our local PBS station as a part of their KCTSCooks program. Twice a year our station asks for recipe submissions for a category of recipe – this show was about Pasta, Rice & Grains. They generally get 300+ submissions from all over and ask a small portion of folks to share their recipe on the air – I was one of 12. I had practiced at home a few weeks prior, showing my pal Jacquie how I prepared the dish and having her help me. I had to bring a finished dish, my demo pasta precooked, the rest of the ingredients,and a pre-made pot of the cheese sauce so it would all fit into the 10 minute segment. The day before heading to Seattle, I did all my prep and practiced in my head as I made two full recipes of the pasta and cheese sauce, packaged up my other ingredients and finished the full recipe so that, by the magic of television, a finished casserole could be removed from the oven for the unveiling. (Please note that the measurements aren’t exact on the video and that you are welcome to purchase the book from KCTS to get all the other recipes.) As I was preparing to go on – and it was shown LIVE, people! – I decided to pre-chop my onions to avoid crying and getting snotty on camera. (it was a good call). I was scheduled about halfway through, so I had plenty of time to be nervous and watch some of the people ahead of me. I was right after a low-fat, Vegan, gluten-free recipe – pretty much the opposite of my recipe which was fatty, gluten-filled and had meat, milk and cheese!Variety is the spice of life -am I right, people?

I’ve posted my Mac & Cheese recipe before, but I’ve jazzed it up some since – a recipe isn’t any good unless you can deviate from the printed text to make it your own! This version uses extra sharp cheddar (white) cheese as well as bleu cheese for the sauce.

It was a very fun day of being nervous, cooking, and eating! Recipe HERE. Watch video of segment HERE.

macaroni, cheese, sausage, pears

“Beauty shot” of my prepared dish.

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Posted by on November 14, 2014 in Entertaining, Information, Recipe

 

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Using Leftover Chicken: Mediterranean Pasta

Last time, I described how to roast a chicken and promised a good recipe for leftovers – this is it! This recipe has a lot going for it – it’s quick (about half an hour), it’s filling (hello? pasta!), and it uses leftover chicken (so you don’t end up with science experiments in the fridge!) Oh yeah – and there’s bacon in it – everything’s better with bacon! I think there will be a future blog post on bacon – so reviled and so delicious!

Note the fun pasta shape!

Mediterranean Pasta (click for printable pdf) The original recipe called for linguine – which is not my favorite, to tell you the truth. I chose a fun-looking pasta that looks like a piggy tail. I can’t recall the name of it, but it is one of the Culinary Circle-brand dry pastas at Albertsons. You can see what it looks like in the photo.

(UPDATE: I checked on the name of the pasta shape and it is called, “Trottole.”)

I’m not big on measuring for this type of dish (baking is a different story!), so there is probably more chicken than is called for in the recipe. The original recipe also called for a smaller-sized can of artichoke hearts, but what kind of fun is that? Also – more feta is not a garnish – it’s a must! I probably also ground some fresh pepper into it – I do that automatically. I don’t use a lot of salt, either – canned products have tons of sodium so I may not add any or just a turn or two from my sea salt grinder. The bacon is not an overpowering flavor in the dish – just a hint of smokiness! And the rosemary – well, I told you about my rosemary bush in the roasted chicken post! I dried my own rosemary in the microwave between 2 sheets of white paper towels and I’m pretty sure I put in more than was called for! (see Fun Facts page – #6)

This is one of those recipes that is nicely flexible and can be adjusted to individual family tastes. Now that I’m thinking about it, I probably slivered 1/4 red onion into the pan with the tomatoes… Want garlic? Sure! Want more bacon? Why not! Half of the family likes olives – the other doesn’t? Have a bowl of them on the side!¬† Hate artichoke hearts? What’s wrong with you???!!?

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2011 in Recipe

 

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What is your Favorite Comfort Food?

I started a survey on Facebook asking my friends what their favorite comfort foods were. I’m looking for more input before I do any kind of article, but so far many of the favorites involve cheese. If you would like to add your favorites to the survey, please post them as a comment on this blog post or – if we are FB Friends – look for that post on my profile page and post there. Sometimes the weather just has to be ugly to send me on a comfort food kick, but lately illness and bereavement have had me on that path. Anything can set off the need for real comfort food!

One of my favorites is Macaroni & Cheese – and I’m not talking about that orange processed “cheese food” stuff! I mean real, homemade, macaroni and cheese! This is a recipe I recently developed to rave reviews: Macaroni & Cheese with Pears (click for printable pdf) So I don’t bore you with repetition, I’m just going to discuss specific ingredient choices instead of how to make the recipe.

Macaroni & Cheese with Pears - also sausages!

Cheese: In researching the iconic dish, I found an article – could have been by Martha Stewart – that recommended using the sharpest cheddar you could find because the sauce dilutes the cheesiness and sharper cheese will preserve the cheesy flavor you are craving. I’m pretty sure those aren’t the exact words, but you get the idea! The first time I made this recipe, I used Cougar Gold Sharp Cheddar from Washington State University and, I have to say, it was really very good for this dish. I have since used Tillimook Extra Sharp Cheddar, but still find that Cougar Gold is the best! This recipe also calls for Parmesan cheese – and by that I don’t mean the powdered stuff in the green can. Select shaved or grated Parmesan from your grocer’s deli or dairy department or I will find you. You know I will.

Pears: I chose a lovely, large red pear and went all fancy by taking several slices out of the center of the fruit to de-core and arrange on top in a pretty pattern. The rest was peeled and diced into the mac & cheese. As you can see from the photo, there are no pear slices on top of this particular dish. Fancy is a state of mind and sometimes I just don’t go there! The important part is having the pear in the dish for the sweet-sharp flavor contrast in the dish.

Sausages: Our family loves Aidell’s Sausages and the one I chose for this casserole is their Roasted Garlic and Gruyere Cheese Chicken Sausage. It has a peppery flavor that goes well with all the ingredients. There are many varieties of these sausages and you may find your family prefers another. I have also made this dish “sausage-less” as a side dish for a ham dinner. That’s what I like in my recipes – flexibility!

Noodles: For your macaroni & cheese, you want a sturdy noodle that will hold onto the cheese sauce. I fell in love with the galletti noodle because it looks like a prehistoric elbow macaroni. It has the same shape as elbow, but has a ruffle along the curve – like a dinosaur! Here is an article describing the noodle (they use less colorful words…) with a photo of what they look like. And you can probably see the noodle in my photo, above. Believe it or not, I get mine under the Albertson’s Supermarket brand-name, Culinary Circle.

Bread Crumbs: Often, a casserole recipe will call for bread crumbs mixed with melted butter spread across the top. I rarely have bread crumbs (or bread that can be made into crumbs) in the house, but have taken to keeping low-fat croutons for salads in my pantry. I can take a handful of these, put them into a freezer zip-shut bag (sturdier bag = less crumb leakage) and use my rolling pin to crush them to crumbs for the recipe. To tell you the truth, the bread crumb step is probably not all that necessary except for presentation. Do not tell the pre-packaged crouton industry that I told you this!

I will be posting other comfort food selections along the way, so be sure to participate in my informal survey to have your favorites included!

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Recipe

 

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