Re-Post: Italian Mac and Cheese

pasta

I haven’t made this in nearly three years, but it tasted better than I remembered it. The leftovers didn’t last long in our house and ¬†we happily ate them for lunch two days in a row – yeah, it’s that good! ūüôā Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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Italian Mac and Cheese Ingredients ‚Äď adapted from The Food Network

  • 1 pound¬†penne,¬†ziti¬†or rigatoni pasta
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 12 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 3 ‚Äď 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheese blend ( I used Fontina, mozzarella, Pecorino Romano and Asiago)
  • 1 ‚Äď 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tsp hot sauce, optional *I used chili flake*
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions –

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt water and cook pasta to a chewy al dente, about 8 minutes.  In a large skillet, brown and crumble the sausage. Drain cooked crumbles on a paper towel lined plate. Return pan to heat and add extra-virgin olive oil, butter, mushrooms and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Saute about 5 minutes, until garlic is fragrant and mushrooms become lightly browned.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Add flour to skillet and stir, cooking 2 minutes. Whisk in stock, then stir in milk. Bring to a bubble, then stir in 2 cups of Italian cheese blend. When cheese has melted into sauce, add tomatoes. When sauce comes to a bubble, remove from heat and adjust seasonings, adding hot sauce if desired.  Combine cheese sauce with sausage and pasta and transfer to a large baking dish.  Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbly.

Pico de Gallo

I haven’t made this in a long time – which is probably due to the fact that there is no short cut to making this. There is lots of chopping, dicing, and mincing involved; thankfully it’s totally worth the effort. This recipe comes from one of my favorite bloggers – The Pioneer Woman ūüôā She knows her stuff and she is a home cook just like me – no formal training is required when you have a love for food and a desire to try out new techniques. I have come a long way in 8 1/2 years of marriage. In the beginning, I used a lot of boxed meals, frozen and prepackaged stuff – I had to start somewhere, right? Thankfully, my husband wasn’t raised around a lot of fabulous cooks, so he didn’t know what he was missing out on! ūüėČ I could never go back to that kind of cooking and those fuss free, easy stuff. I get such a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment out of giving my family the very best.

Anyway, this turned out perfectly and wasn’t too spicy when we added it to these tacos. By itself though, it has quite a kick! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Pico de Gallo – adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 5 whole¬†Plum (roma) Tomatoes
  • ¬Ĺ whole¬†Large (or 1 Small) Onion
  • 3 whole¬†Jalapeno Peppers
  • Cilantro
  • Lime Juice
  • Salt To Taste

Directions –

Chop jalapenos, tomatoes and onions into a very small dice. (Leave seeds in your jalapenos for a hotter pico). Adjust amount of jalapenos to your preferred temperature. Next, chop up a nice-sized bunch of cilantro. Just remove and discard the long leafless stems before chopping. No need to remove the leaves from the stems completely. Place all of these ingredients together in a bowl and give it a good stir.

Squeeze the juice of half of one lime into the bowl. Add salt to taste and stir again.

Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Tomatoes…(my 100th post!)

This was simple and so flavorful. I also love that it can be served warm, cold or at room temperature. It would be perfect for picnics, potlucks, or parties because it makes so much too. Parmigiano Reggiano is a must for this and the vinaigrette is light and a perfect complement to this salad. We ate this alongside this tilapia dish, which I am going to have to make much more frequently!  Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Tomatoes – adapted from A Big Mouthful

  • 12 oz. orzo
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 4 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs. fresh parsley, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano*
Directions –
Bring 2 large pots of water to boil.  Add a big pinch of salt in each.

To one pot, add asparagus and blanch, about 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the thickness of your asparagus.  Place blanched asparagus in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and keep them green.

To the second pot, add the orzo.  Cook per package instructions.  When tender, drain and place in a large bowl.  Add blanched asparagus and tomato halves.

Mix olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Stir into orzo and vegetables.  Stir in parsley and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

This can be served warm, room temperature or cold.

Homemade Chili Mac

I love having a well stocked pantry! All I needed to pick up from the grocery store today for this meal was the ground beef. This is the kind of meal I like to make when I don’t want to put too much effort or thought into dinner – sorry, family! I don’t think they’ll mind;) They’re concern isn’t how much time a meal took but it does have to taste good, of course.

This recipe delivers smoky, slightly sweet flavor with a hint of spice. I didn’t add quite the full amount of green chiles for Little S – she’s so picky as it is, I didn’t want her to feel justified in not liking this meal. It’s so good and she’s still moping at the table picking at her food. M on the other hand loved it and had two helpings! ¬†God has a sense of humor is all I can say – they’re so different:) ¬†Either way, I’m going to have to make this again soon. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Chili Mac Ingredients – adapted from The Cooking Photographer

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ¬ľ pounds lean ground beef
  • Salt and pepper to season beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (4.5 ounce) can chopped mild green chiles
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • ¬Ĺ cup cheddar cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions –

1. Heat oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat and add ground beef and diced onion. Season with a dash of salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Once the meat is no longer pink, strain off the grease in a colander and place the meat mixture back in the pan.

2. Add chili powder, cumin, onion powder, coriander, 1 teaspoon salt, minced garlic and brown sugar and cook over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant.

3. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes with roasted garlic, can of green chiles, elbow macaroni, and 2 cups water. Stir to combine, cover and keep at a high simmer for about 14 minutes or until juices are absorbed and macaroni is tender.

4. Stir in pepper jack, vintage cheddar, and cilantro and season with freshly ground pepper. Taste for salt and add if needed. Garnish with sour cream and parsley if desired.