Panera Mac n Cheese

18 Apr

I love Panera Mac n Cheese.  I LOVE Panera Mac n Cheese.  It’s the most delicious mac n cheese on the planet, like anywhere ever.  Or at least that I can quickly grab and devour.

It’s so cheesey, and so creamy – it’s like, next level Kraft mac, but a trillion times better.

This is the recipe I use (thank you thank you Tim, husband of Brandi at sixmonsters for being a perfectionist with a savant like ability to taste and dissect a recipe for recreation; and thank you Brandi for posting it).

My only change is to add crumbled Ritz crackers on top because someone in this house loves his mac with crispies on top.  And who am I to argue with that?

8 to 12 ounces small or medium Shell pasta
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
3 slices American cheese, chopped
2 ounces Cream Cheese
1 ounce shredded Parmesan
6 ounces shredded extra-sharp White Vermont cheddar (if you can’t find white, who cares?  so it’ll look more like regular mac, but be just as delicious)
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 drops Frank’s hot sauce


1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, do steps 2 – 4

2. Melt butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.

3. Gradually whisk in cream; cook over medium heat, whisking until mixture starts to thicken. Reduce heat to low.

4. Add cheeses, mustard, salt, and hot sauce, stirring until cheese melts and sauce is smooth. Add a small amount of whole milk to thin out if needed. It should look kind of like vanilla pudding, but a little bit thinner.

5. Stir in pasta and cook over medium heat for 1 minute (or until thoroughly heated).



Tags: , , ,

Kale & Clementine Salad

5 Feb

You guys.  This salad.

We all know that kale can be tough – literally.  But this salad is bright, and fresh, and sweet, and creamy, and crunchy, and just yum.  Plus, it’s colorful and gorgeous.  Definitely a dinner party kind of salad.  Or a Wednesday night, the CSA gave us this kale and we’d better use it kind of salad.  It won’t judge.

I took my inspiration from this recipe, but tweaked it to my liking, and will even tweak it further here, since I include the dried cranberries, but easily could have left them out and wished that I had.  If you’re a visual person, head on over to that link for photos of this little beauty, along with the rest of the ingredients that I omitted or swapped if you’re curious.

1 bunch of kale, ribbed, massaged, chopped
1 avocado, diced
4 clementines (or similar citrus – I used tangerines), peeled and sliced into rounds or small strips
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup toasted pepitas or sunflower seeds

Honey-Lime Dressing
3 tbsp of fresh lime juice (about 2 limes; I used lime and pink lemon, which is what I had on hand – thanks again CSA!)
3 tbs olive oil
1 medium jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed, diced – remember not to touch your eyes after this step!!
2 tsp agave
1 tsp Dijon
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp salt

Whisk together all dressing ingredients and set aside.

You may question my direction to massage the kale above, but believe me – it really helps to break it down and soften it a bit.  I rip the ribs out, wash the leaves, and then as I dry them in a clean dish towel, squeeze them.  Like, a good squeeze, not a dainty squeeze.  You aren’t going to hurt these leaves really.  I squeeze them quite a bit, until I can feel that they’ve softened a little, and then I chop them up, and maybe even squeeze some more.

Add all the rest of the yummy ingredients to your bowl o’kale, and toss with the dressing.

It’s so great right away, but equally fantastic for lunch the next day – and how often does a dressed salad stay good for lunch the next day?  Thanks kale!

Tags: , , , , ,

Poached Tilapia with Lemon and Butter

23 May

We had one heck of a heatwave here last week. It was too hot to be inside the house (heat is not the norm here, so very few homes have air conditioning), but I braved the hellfires and cooked up a delicious meal, and then we promptly fled to the backyard to enjoy it.
Heat is handy in that it really lends itself to lighter eating, and this fish dish was perfection.


half eaten, yes

half eaten, yes

Poached Tilapia with Lemon and Butter

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons drained capers
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup chicken or seafood stock
4 (6-8 ounce) fillets of flounder or other white fish
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 lemon, sliced
handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add in the butter and allow it to melt completely, stirring occasionally.  Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir the capers, Worcestershire, and wine, and allow the wine to bubble up and reduce for a minute, then stir in the stock.

Pat the fish dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Arrange the fish in the skillet, scatter the lemon slices around the skillet, and poach the fish for 10 to 12 minutes until firm and opaque.

Season the fish with parsley if using, then transfer the fillets and sauce to shallow bowls or deep plates to serve.

Serve with a side of your choice (we had a bumper crop of new potatoes, and served some delicious roasted spuds with garlic, olive oil and rosemary), and/or a big salad with a creamy dressing.  A cream based dressing was a nice cut to all the acidity of the fish; a vinaigrette likely wouldn’t have worked as well.  Served with a chilled, crisp white wine (the same one I used for cooking), and this was a stellar, easy meal.


We ate all the fish first because the potatoes weren't done yet. The horror!

We ate all the fish first because the potatoes weren’t done yet. The horror!

Roasted Cauliflower and Lemon Pasta – take two

8 Jul

I’ve tried before, and I’ve tried again – this time with more success, thanks in part to this recipe from Healthy Green Kitchen.

You’ll need:

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
5-10 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 shallots, peeled and halved; or some thickly sliced onions
olive oil
salt and pepper
breadcrumbs or crushed biscotti – 1/4 cup or so
grated Parmesan cheese
lemon zest
lemon juice (from 1.5 – 2 lemons)

Preheat your oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with foil. Put your cauliflower florets, garlic, and onions or shallots on, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss a bit and pop into the oven. The cauliflower will need about 30 minutes (stir once halfway through), but the garlic may be done before then, especially if you’re using small cloves. Keep an eye on them, and pull them when they’re mushy, but before they go as hard as little rocks, which they will do if you overcook them.
While the veggies are roasting, put on a pot of salted water to boil, zest one lemon, and get to toasting your crunchies (breadcrumbs or biscotti) in a little bit of olive oil. Once they’re toasted and golden, combine with the lemon zest and parmesan (a couple of big spoonfuls is good, but who am I to limit your cheese intake? I did BIG spoonfuls personally.). You can also add some parsley for a bit of green, but I tend to skip it. You’ll also want to juice your lemons – I used 1 and a half lemons to get my desired level of lemon flavor in the pasta – but if you just add it bit by bit, you’re bound to get right to where you want to be, based on your lemons and taste preferences. Start with a half of a lemon and work up from there.
Cook your pasta, and when done, drain – reserving a cup or so of the pasta water.
Your veggies should be done too, so just give the garlic cloves the slip (out of their skins that is), and give them and the onions/shallots a bit of a chop.
Put the pasta back in the pot and add all of the roasted veggies. Add your lemon juice, tbsp by tbsp (or half by half, since you usually get about 1 tbsp of juice from a half of a lemon).
Add the reserved pasta water bit by bit to make the pasta a little saucier, and definitely silkier. You don’t want it watery though, so take it easy, and stir between additions!
Serve with the toasted crunchies/cheese mixture sprinkled on top.

So, so, so yummy.

Tags: , ,

Rosemary Crackers

27 May

These are like store bought, fancy pants, amazing crackers. Served with a little bit of Irish cheddar or blue cheese and marmalade, they are seriously heaven.
All the credit must go to Elana and her pantry, because that’s where we found the recipe.

1 3/4 c blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp celtic sea salt
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 egg

In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and rosemary. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil and egg. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until combined.
Roll the dough into a ball and roll out to about 1/8 inch thick between two sheets of parchment paper. Remove top sheet of parchment, and then slide dough and bottom piece of parchment onto a baking sheet. Cut into 2″ squares with a pizza cutter.
Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes until golden, let cool, serve!

Tags: , , , , ,

Leek Tart

21 May

File:Selection of cultivated Alliums .jpg

I love alliums.  They make beautiful flowers and tasty eats.  I grew leeks, shallots, and garlic this winter, and just pulled my harvest over the weekend and I am up to my eyeballs in the stinky fruits of my labor.

I gave some of the leeks away, but prepped the rest.  I froze two large bags of cleaned and sliced leeks for fall soups (yum!) and still had plenty leftover.  What to do, what to do. . . . . I’ve sauteed leeks before and used them on pizza (and if you haven’t, please consider it; so good), but I didn’t want pizza.  I decided a leek tart or quiche was the way to go, but was reluctant to use all the cream and fatty stuff that I knew would show up in most recipes.  Enter NY Times and Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe.  It has taken every shred of willpower I have not to eat the entire thing in one sitting.  I used a random frozen, premade piecrust (such a cheater), but let me tell you – totally okay.   I might add a bit more egg next time and make it more of a frittata-y breakfast treat.

3 large leeks, about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds, white and light green part only

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter

Salt to taste

1 garlic clove, minced (optional)

2 egg yolks

1 whole egg

1 Mediterranean pie crust or whole wheat yeasted olive oil crust

Freshly ground pepper to taste

3/4 cup milk (2% or regular – I used nonfat and it still turned out great)

3 ounces Gruyère, grated (3/4 cup tightly packed; um, I may have used considerably more than recommended. . . . that’s probably why the nonfat milk was no big deal)

1. Cut away the root and dark green leaves from the leeks and cut in half lengthwise. Run under cold water to remove sand. If the leeks are very sandy soak them for 15 minutes or so, then run under cold water again. Drain on paper towels. If the leeks are very fat, cut the halves in half again lengthwise, then cut in thin slices.  My leeks were all nice and thin, so I just sliced them and washed them before cooking.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the oil or oil and butter over medium heat in a lidded skillet or saucepan and add the leeks and a pinch of salt. Cook gently, stirring, until they begin to soften. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook gently until the leeks are very soft but not browned, stirring often, 10 to 15 minutes. If they begin to stick or brown, add a little more salt and/or a spoonful of water or wine. Stir in the garlic if using and cook for another 30 seconds to a minute, until fragrant.  I did NOT use the garlic.

3. Beat together the egg yolks and egg in a medium bowl. Set the tart pan on a baking sheet to allow for easy handling. Using a pastry brush lightly brush the bottom of the crust and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

4. Add salt (about 1/2 teaspoon), pepper and the milk to the eggs and whisk together. Spread the leeks in an even layer in the crust. Sprinkle the cheese in an even layer on top. Pour in the custard filling. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until set and just beginning to color on the top.

5. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Yield: Serves 6

Advance preparation: The crust will keep for a few days in the refrigerator and freezes well. The finished quiche will keep for two or three days. Warm in a low oven or serve at room temperature.

Nutritional information per serving (based on whole wheat yeasted olive oil pastry): 291 calories; 17 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 9 grams monounsaturated fat; 126 milligrams cholesterol; 2 grams dietary fiber; 240 milligrams sodium; 11 grams protein

Tags: , , , , , ,

Eggs in Hell

8 Mar

I love me a good, spicy, tomato saucey bed upon which to nestle our freerangeorganiclocalhormonefreecagefree eggs.

While I still think the Spanish version (Eggs Flamenco) wins over this one, this was a fun, spicy option.  I halved this recipe since 8 eggs for two people seemed a little intense.

I really should've wiped that smudge off before taking this photo. . . .

Eggs in HELL.

Mario Batali’s Eggs in Hell

  • 4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 4 jalapeño peppers seeded and cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon hot chile flakes
  • 3 cup basic tomato sauce (I just used jarred stuff that I had on hand)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4  grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino
  • Shredded basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Place a skillet, preferably cast iron, on the grill over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat until just smoking.
  • Add the chopped onion, garlic, jalapeños and chile flakes and cook until softened and light brown, about 7 minutes.
  •  Add the tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Immediately lower the heat to a simmer and carefully crack the eggs one by one into the tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until as set as desired. I like it when the whites set but the yolks are still quite runny.  Mario says this takes about 5 minutes, but I nearly ruin it every. single. time., despite having my own little egg factories making plenty of eggs to eggsperiment with.  I think you want that tomato sauce to be shrieking hot to help cook the whites quickly, before the yolk starts to set, but clearly, what do I know?
  •  Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle with cheese and some shredded basil. Allow to cool 3-4 minutes.  Garnish with basil and serve.
Bubbling away - it does look a bit hellish.

Bubbling away – it does look a bit hellish.

Tags: , , , , ,

Phat beets

6 Mar

Our first crop of beets.

Our first crop of beets.

Our first attempt at growing beets was okay, but not great.  I should’ve thinned out the seedlings, and I didn’t, so I think it prevented some of the beets from getting very big.  Some were more carrot shaped than beet shaped.  However, the flavor did not disappoint at all.

We oven roasted them (wrapped in foil), peeled off the skins (hey super pink fingers), and sliced them up for a salad with thinly sliced sweet onions, orange segments, and goat cheese.  I used orange juice, olive oil, and red wine vinegar to make a quick vinaigrette.  It was divine.  I think next time I’ll add some nuts as well.  You may notice that the onions are pretty pink – before I dressed the salad, I put the onions, beets, and oranges into the vinaigrette to sit for a couple of minutes.

Beet & Citrus Salad.

Beet & Citrus Salad.

The next day for breakfast, it was on to the greens – we can’t just let them fall by the way side!!  The rest of that sweet onion was sliced up and sauteed with some smashed garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.  I let them cook until soft, then added the freshly washed greens (with all their “attached” water) and let them wilt down, finally adding a dash of apple cider vinegar to finish things off.  Then they got topped with eggs of course.  I sort of hate the way the greens make my teeth feel (spinach does it too – anyone know why that is?), but it made my mouth very happy all the same.  Soon, we’ll be able to make this entire dish with food from our backyard, minus the condiments of course.  Maybe the vinegar some day, but I’ll stick to purchasing the oil, salt and pepper.

Eggs with sauteed beet greens and onions.

Eggs with sauteed beet greens and onions.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Carne Asada Tacos

11 Feb

I love me some Mexican food. Carnitas and carne asada are two favorites to make at home (some day I’ll get a spit so I can get a good al pastor going. . . ), and since I feel confident that we’ve got the carnitas down, I was wanting to find “that” perfect carne asada recipe.

I found this recipe on All Recipes, and it is totally a winner, even with my tweaks.  Pardon me, while I try out the new Word Press recipe thingy. . .

Carne Asada Taco Marinade

Cuisine: Mexican
  • 3 pound flank steak
  • 1/3 cup vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  1. Combine the ingredients and marinate the steak for a few hours (no more than 8), turning once to coat.

Grill the steak to your desired doneness, slice or chop, and serve as tacos.  I am super in love with the following salsa to go with the meat:

1/2 white onion chopped
a big old handful of cilantro, chopped, because, yum
juice of 1/2-1 lime
2 avocados, chopped
salt to taste

Stir ingredients and use generously on your tacos.

Tags: , , , , ,

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

14 Nov

We got a request at work to share a family favorite recipe with the group, since Thanksgiving is imminent.  It made me realize, that I don’t think I’ve ever posted my sort of go to Brussels Sprouts recipe.  They may not be a traditional family favorite (I did not grow up subjected to these, thanks to my father’s aversion), but they have become a family favorite over at the Dowd house, in addition to the more traditional boiled sprouts.  As is usual, I’m pretty sure this is how I do it. . . .

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

2 pounds of Brussels Sprouts, washed and trimmed, and cut in half

6 slices of bacon (but you might want to just make the whole pack for snacking)

2 cloves of crushed garlic

salt & pepper

¼ cups of toasted pine nuts

optional: balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese, or dried cranberries


Preheat the oven to 400.  Cook the bacon through, but pull it before it gets too crispy.  Chop it into small pieces.  Reserve 1-2 tbsp of the fat.

Toss the bacon with the garlic and bacon fat.  Roast for 20 minutes, then add bacon pieces and toss with the sprouts.

While the sprouts are roasting, you can toast the pine nuts in a hot pan until aromatic and just starting to tan.

Roast 10-20 more minutes, until the Brussels sprouts are crisp on the outside and tender inside, and the bacon has crisped up.

Stir in the pine nuts, season with salt and pepper and serve hot.



Skip the salt and add Parmesan cheese and pepper before serving.

Toss with a glug or so of balsamic vinegar, or drizzle with a balsamic reduction.

Leave out the garlic when roasting and add dried cranberries along with the pine nuts.  Balsamic is good here too if you’d like.



Tags: , , , , ,