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It's Not Just Popcorn!

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Today’s recipe I have Rachael Ray to thank for. I saw this recipe on her show just the other day and had to try it. I did change it a little bit from her recipe but not too drastic. If you want to check her original recipe go to her show site at Rachael Ray Show.

Just a warning also, this makes a huge amount of mac and cheese so make sure you have many hungry people to eat it! I’m sending leftovers with my husband to his office! I made this as a side dish to my Spicy Garlic Barbecued Ribs. It was a friend’s birthday and he loves the ribs so I had to make something else to go with it. I really wanted to make my Best Garlic Smashed Cauliflower, Ever! But alas he doesn’t really like cauliflower and I didn’t think I should try and trick him on his birthday.

This recipe came out really good. I had a huge serving and was stuffed! The fiber from the pumpkin and whole wheat pasta really fills you up! The house smelled so good while it was cooking also! I was trying to convince myself it really was fall outside so I needed “fall smells”. Florida Fall doesn’t really start till December so I had to improvise. I will also be eating this several more times for lunch this week! Oh well, I will have to suffer through!

"Before"

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound whole wheat or whole grain short-cut pasta. (I used rotelli)

4 tablespoons butter

3 slightly rounded tablespoons soy flour (Rachael uses regular flour)

1 cup amber beer

2 tablespoons agave nectar (Rachael uses honey or maple syrup)

2 cups half-and-half (Rachael uses whole milk)

½ teaspoon allspice (you can also use ground cloves)

1 teaspoon ground mustard

½-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (my husband says I should use Sirracha)

Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

salt and pepper to taste (I found it needed more salt)

1 can (14-15 ounce) pumpkin purée or 2 cups fresh pureed pumpkin (NOT PUMPKIN PIE MIX)

2½ cups shredded sharp yellow cheddar cheese

Paprika for sprinkling on top

"After"

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt it and cook pasta to al dente. Drain and reserve. Preheat oven to broil.

  2. Melt the butter in a medium size saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute.

  3. Raise the heat a little and add the beer. Reduce until almost evaporated.

  4. Whisk in the agave nectar and half-and-half. Season with the allspice, mustard, cayenne and a little bit of freshly grated nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Thicken to coat a wooden spoon, just a couple more minutes. Taste to see if you need to adjust the seasonings.

  6. Whisk in the pumpkin and stir in about 2 cups of the grated cheese with a wooden spoon until melted.

  7. Add the sauce to the pasta in a large bowl. It’s easier to mix in a big bowl.

  8. Add to a casserole dish or individual ramekins. (I used a casserole dish). Dust with a little paprika.

  9. Broil to brown and bubbly! Serve!

Serves 4-6

1 Comment »

Buttery Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings

I think just about everyone loves chicken wings. But after a while they can get a little boring. Same thing all the time…We have a favorite wings place here in Florida called Hurricane Wings. (They’re on Long Island in NY now too!) They have lots of different flavors along with the usual hot stuff. So the other night I remembered I had a bag of frozen wings and wanted to make up a batch. Well as most of you know, I love garlic. Can never have too much if you ask me. I also love butter and parmesan cheese. So why not combine them all with the chicken wings! Wonderful idea. What I liked most about this is that I didn’t have to defrost the wings first. I just followed the directions on the bag. Baked them for 45 minutes at 400ºF. My oven also has a convection option so I used the convection roast setting. I also turned them over a couple of times during the cooking. We love crispy wings and if you do them this way you won’t have all the extra fat from deep-frying. I am happy to say they came out awesome! We also served them with the usual blue cheese dressing. I also didn’t have any celery so I cut a cucumber into long slices and that worked just fine.

I’m thinking of making up another batch for tonight! 

INGREDIENTS:

2-4 lbs. uncooked chicken wings (frozen or unfrozen)

6-8 cloves garlic minced (cut back if you don’t like a lot of garlic)

6-8 tablespoons butter, melted

½ cup of grated parmesan cheese of choice

½ teaspoon each dried basil and oregano

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Follow cooking directions on bag of chicken. Different cooking times for frozen or thawed. Place the chicken wings on a cookie sheet or roasting pan and cook as directed. This will take 30-45 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile in a medium bowl combine the melted butter, garlic, basil and oregano. Add ¼ cup of the parmesan cheese. Mix well.

  3. When the wings are done to your liking, we like them crispy, remove from cookie sheet and put them in a large bowl. Add the butter, garlic mixture to the wings and mix well.

  4. Put the wings back onto the cookie sheet, making sure you get all the mixture on them. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of parmesan cheese.

  5. Broil for about 5 minutes about 3-4 inches from the broiler element. Keep an eye on them so the cheese doesn’t burn.

  6. Remove from oven and transfer to a platter and dig in!

3 Comments »

Asian Style Quinoa

Once again I am looking for things to add to my yummy quinoa dishes. That is one of the great things about quinoa. It’s so versatile! Love it!! Anyway, I was making my Asian style pork chops for dinner and decided to have quinoa with it. So I came up with this quick and easy dish to go with it. This recipe used the plain white quinoa, only because I was out of the colorful ones. Use whichever you wish. I’m finding more and more recipes with quinoa and it’s getting easier to find in the regular supermarket which is fantastic! I still like to get mine from Whole Foods (when I take the trek there) because I can get it in bulk. Much better for me. Just look for it in your local grocery store with the rice and you’ll be happy you did!

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

2 cups fat-free low-sodium chicken broth (gives it a better flavor)

3 scallions sliced, green and white parts

4-5 cloves garlic minced

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (it really does make a difference)

1 tablespoon soy sauce*

DIRECTIONS:

1. Place the chicken broth and quinoa in a medium pot.

2. Bring the broth to a boil, lower to simmer, covered. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed.

3. When quinoa is done keep stove on low but add in the garlic, ginger and soy sauce. Mix well. Add the scallions and serve.

*If you want more soy sauce just add it. This is a conservative amount but feel free to add more.

Makes about 4 servings

1 Comment »

Best Garlic Smashed Cauliflower, Ever!

So I have been totally slacking in my blogging duties. I apologize. I have many recipes to add and I’m going to start with this one. I love mashed potatoes. My favorite veggie of all time. But what I don’t love is the calories that go with it. For a while I have seen a few recipes from different sources that combine a potato and cauliflower. I know I’ve posted a recipe for my smashed cauliflower before but this one blows it away! I’m not kidding. The majority of the recipe is cauliflower which is low-calorie and good for you. But you will swear there is no cauliflower in this when you taste it. OMG! Oh and it has a bunch of garlic in it too! I made this last night as a side for our pork chops. I was so excited that I forgot to take a picture of it before we demolished it. The recipe makes 4 servings and the picture I have here is what was left. Needless to say I will most definitely be making this again, soon! One of the recipes I found used buttermilk but I didn’t have any so I used fat-free half-and-half. You can definitely use buttermilk or regular half-and-half, whatever you wish. But the great thing about this is that there is about 100 calories per serving! I know! So without further ado here is the recipe I came up with.

(See I told you there wasn’t much left!)

INGREDIENTS:

1 large potato, peeled and cut into small cubes

4 cups cauliflower florets, washed (a small head is probably fine)

¼ cup milk of your choice (buttermilk, half-and-half, regular milk…)

2 tablespoons butter substitute (I use I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter, light)

 6 cloves garlic, peeled

salt and pepper to taste (I did find that it does need salt so you may even want to add some to the water)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place the cauliflower, potato and garlic into a pot large enough to hold it all. Cover with water and bring to a boil.
  2. When it boils, lower the heat to a simmer and continue cooking for about 15-20 minutes. Making sure the cauliflower is very tender and soft.
  3. Drain and return to pot. Add the milk and butter. 
  4. Using a hand mixer or potato masher, mash till smooth! Add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve and be ready to be amazed! Makes 4 servings or 2 very large ones! 

4 Comments »

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