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Kerrian’s Kitchen

KN, p. 202 “The Kerrians’ Mac & Cheese”

 

The temperatures are cooling off and comfort food takes center stage at our house. We fend off the chill with body warming soup and hearty sandwiches during the Fall and Winter, but every once in a while, we like mac & cheese. It works for lunch or dinner.

 

I like to taste test the new versions with different goodies added to the mix, but there is a basic recipe that Sheila uses (and even I can make) that is fail-safe. We sometimes prepare it ahead and serve it as a side dish if we’re expecting a crowd.

 

A couple of thoughts: It looks like a lot of instructions, but you’re boiling noodles, grating cheese, making a sauce, and putting it together in layers – like lasagna. No bodies were found while making the latest batch. Promise.  🙂

Here’s our famous Mac & Cheese recipe:


Ingredients for noodles

1    8 oz box small elbow noodles

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon butter or margarine for boiling water, to keep noodles from clumping

1 teaspoon butter for tossing noodles

 

Ingredients for white sauce

4 Tablespoons butter

5 Tablespoons flour

4 cups milk

1 teaspoon Sea Salt

pinch ground black pepper

 

Additional ingredients

12 oz. Sharp Cheddar, grated

2 cups Croutons, seasoned  (we use the garlic & herb variety)

Optional –  1 cup Bacon, crisp, crumbled

Optional –  Whole tomato

 

Preparation

 

  • Bring 1 and 1/2 quarts water to boil in a 3 quart pot, add 2 tsp. sea salt and stir.
  • Add dry noodles and 1 teaspoon margarine to boiling salted water and stir.
  • Boil noodles until fork tender, stirring frequently (about 20 mins).
  • Thoroughly drain the noodles, toss with 1 teaspoon butter, and set aside.

 

Preheat oven to 375.

 

While noodles are boiling, prepare the white sauce

  • In one quart pot, melt 4 Tablespoons butter on medium heat, being careful not to burn it.
  • Add 1 Tablespoon flour, 1 teaspoon sea salt, and stir until well blended.
  • Add 4 more Tablespoons flour, 1 Tablespoon at a time, stirring each until well-blended and the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pot.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add 1 cup milk (1/4  cup at a time) stirring until smooth, without clumps.
  • Return to heat and gradually add 3 more cups milk, while stirring.

As the sauce thickens, stir to keep it from sticking to the pot and/or clumping.

It is ready when it is the consistency of creamy gravy.

Add pinch of black pepper.

Remove from heat and set aside. It will thicken a bit more while sitting.

 

Grate all of the cheese and set aside.

Use a 2-quart baking dish. You will be assembling the mac & cheese in layers (like lasagna).

 

Spread 1/4 cup of sauce on bottom of baking dish.

Spread 1/3 of the noodles in the bottom.

Spread 1/3 of the remaining white sauce on the noodles.

Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese on top of the sauce.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the croutons on top of the cheese.

 

Repeat the layers twice more, but with the top layer, crumble the remaining croutons and spread evenly on top.

 

Bake at 375 until heated through and cheese is bubbly, about 20 minutes, no lid.

 

Serve with salad.

 

Options: 

Create a well in the center of a whole tomato and serve mac & cheese in it.

Sprinkle crumbled bacon on top of mac & cheese as a garnish.

 

 

Prep time: 1 hour

Cooking time:  20 minutes

 

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KN, p. 201 “Black Bean Lentil Soup”

 

It’s time for football parties and baseball playoffs! It’s time for great food, easy to make for a crowd.

 

We both like black beans in several dishes, so we decided to make black bean soup, but added diced tomatoes and lentils for texture and color. This soup is so thick that it can be used as a topping for rice or pasta.

 

I ate it like chili, in a bowl, and there was very little soupy liquid. Don’t want it that thick? Just add water.

 

"Black Bean Lentil Soup"
Author: 
Recipe type: soup
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups water (add another cup for a thinner consistency)
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Vegi-soup Mix – dry (or 1 cup uncooked lentils)
  • 6 15 oz. cans black beans (not soy)
  • 1 15 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic
  • 1 4 oz. can chopped green chilies
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
Instructions
  1. Spray large soup pot with canola pan spray (for easier clean up).
  2. Add water, sea salt, and dry vegi-soup mix.
  3. Cover pot and bring to boil. Boil for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Add black beans, diced tomatoes, chilies, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and stir until well mixed, then return to heat.
  6. Cover pot and cook on medium for about an hour, until lentils are tender.
  7. Stir frequently to keep beans from sticking.
 

We made so much while testing the recipe, that I gave some to the neighbors to try. They lived. Promise!  🙂

 

This one bubbles and pops, so keep the lid on.

 

Optional garnish: sprinkle shredded cheese on top.

 

Options:
Add meat and/or serve over rice/pasta for a delicious, filling, main dish.
A scoop on top of a baked potato would be delish!

 

Watch the game, and enjoy!  🙂

 

 

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KN, p. 197 “Kerrian’s Favorite Fruit Smoothies”

 

Blueberries have been sighted at the store! Sheila and I both love anything made with them – muffins, jelly, jam, syrup, cookies, pancakes – you get the idea. We buy as many berries as we can while the crop is at its peak, then freeze most of them to save for later in the year. There’s a special shelf set aside in our freezer just for blueberries.

 

This year, we happened to buy a small watermelon during the same shopping trip, so this morning we made watermelon-blueberry smoothies for breakfast. Wow! They were great.

 

Here are two of our favorite fruit smoothie recipes:

 

Watermelon-Blueberry Smoothie (pictured above)

 

Ingredients

1 cup frozen blueberries

2  1/2  cups cubed seedless watermelon

1/2 cup watermelon juice

pinch sea salt

 

Preparation

Use 16 oz (or bigger) blender.

Make watermelon juice by squeezing/straining 1 cup cubed watermelon through a medium-mesh strainer held over measuring cup.  Makes 1/2 cup juice.

Add blueberries, 1  1/2 cups cubed watermelon, watermelon juice to the blender.

Add pinch of sea salt to blender.

Blend until smooth, about 1 minute.

Serves 1

 

Blueberry Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen blueberries

6 oz. canned pineapple juice

1/2  cup water

Pinch sea salt

 

Preparation

Use 16 oz. blender (or bigger)

Add blueberries, pineapple juice, water, and sea salt to blender.

Blend until smooth, about 1 minute.

Serves 1

 

Variations:

 

Sheila adds 2 Tablespoons almond butter and a scoop of protein powder to her blueberry smoothies to change them to protein smoothies.

 

Whether you prefer plain or fancy, I can report that nobody in our house died drinking either kind.  😉  Enjoy!

 

Photos by Patti Phillips

 

 

 

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