Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mac Daddy & Cheese

Sundays are my days to cook up some good food and relax with my wife. With our little one on the way it is time for me to brush up on some family meals that will work for the adults and for the kids.

As a child mac n cheese was my favorite. Yeah it came from a box and the cheese was powdered but I loved it anyway. If we got velveeta I was too the moon. Needles to say times have changed and so has my mac n cheese. Here is how I get it done.

Makes 8 servings

1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese
1 1/2 cups Vermont cheddar
1 1/2 cups Pepper Gouda
5 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp thyme
3/4 dried basil
4 cups milk
1 lb penne pasta or elbow pasta
1 lb Chicken cut in cubes
4 Roma tomatoes diced
Chives for garnish

Melt your butter in a hot pan and add in flour to make a blond roux.
Slowly stir in your milk not too fast or it will lump. Stir in thyme & basil.
Simmer till it is just hick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Thick but not stiff.
Remove from heat and stir in the grated cheese. Set aside.
Season & cook your chicken.
Add in tomatoes.
Drain and add your cooked pasta.
Pour cheese mixture over everything and stir till coated.
Adjust seasoning and serve.

If you want a little bit of crunch you can top with bread crumbs & brown in the oven.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What's that smell?

You can smell it in the air, strong & distinct and you know it must be Curry. Why do you smell this spice before anything else? Well, three main spices found in most curry powders are, turmeric, coriander, and cumin. If you have taken a whiff of cumin you know it is not the most fresh smell in the world. It kind of smells musty to me but it makes for damn good flavor. Anyway this combination of spices are the building blocks for such a strong flavor which makes for great sauces. Curry powder imparts flavor very quickly and can over power a dish if not treated with respect. You can find curry powder on the spice isle in you local super market. If you are seeking more exotic blend you can search international food stores. One of my favorite curry powders I purchased while I was in Jamaica in the street market. Jamaican spice has alot of Southern Asian influence in it. If you have had a Jamaican beef patty you have had curry. Nine times out of ten curry powder is mixed in the dough. But I am not here to talk about beef patties that's another blog another time. Lets talk lunch.

A weekend lunch does not have to be all brunch and BBQ in my book. Why not hookah's and curry? Ok maybe not the hookah but if you feel the mood why not? For fast lunch that will fill you I love curried brown rice. It's healthy and can be vegan friendly and jam packed with flavor.

1/2 onion chopped
1 large clove garlic minced
1/2 green bell pepper chopped
1 can of chickpeas drained
2 bags of 10 minute brown rice cooked and drained
1 Tbs. curry powder
1 1/2 veggie stock

Heat your pan with light olive oil and add in your onions and peppers. You want the onions to become just translucent before adding in you chickpeas.

Allow the chick peas to toast just a little. From this point it goes quick. Mix in your garlic careful that it does not burn from the heat of the pan. From here you can stir in the curry powder and add the veggie stock.

Stir in you cooked rice before the liquid has reduced. If you would like to add in a meat substitute, once the liquid has reduced by about half, thats when you should mix it in. For my meat eaters I some time use ground turkey for some lean protein. Finally, season with salt and pepper to taste. You now have and exotic flavorful dish that is no average Saturday Sunday brunch.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Beef with Quesadillas.

(Thats not my quesadilla.)

My deepest apologies to all my hispanic friends but I must speak out.

Quesadillas in my opinion are one of the most problematic travel and party foods EVER. The idea of eating one on the go is full of holes. First of all the dang thing is not shut all the way, so of course it is going to leak as soon as you grab it. There goes your clean floor for the party. Second, when they cut it for you you now have multiple escape hatches for you food contents. More spills to clean up beside the the normal drunken ones. The center pieces are the worst! I mean who's idea was it to fold a tortilla in half and fill it with great food and then cut it up more and not seal it? All the warm goodness that has been so carefully stuffed in now end up out of the warm tortilla and on to your lap or picked apart on a plate. Not to call anyone stupid, but what would you call this?

Fear not for I have come to save the day. Okay maybe not the day but at least your clothes from unwanted trips to the dry cleaners, rentals of rug doctors, and stain removers. Now before we jump the gun you must have something awesome to stuff your quesadilla with. By awesome I mean not the same old tired southwestern blah blah blah or chicken hum drum done. For this I went with a an old stand by shared with me by my mother-in-law Pam. (I added my twist of course.) Here is what you need.

Breakfast sausage browned and drained.
One can of Rotel (you chose how hot)
One stick of cream cheese
Liquid smoke (just for flavor depth 1-tsp)
Tortillas cut in half

Once you have your cooked meat add it back to the pan with your rotel. When you rotel starts to simmer stir in the cheese and liquid smoke. Allow cheese to melt until smooth. It will thicken once cool and ready to work with. This should be your end product for the filling.

Now comes the fun part. Follow the steps as pictured below to lock in your filling. Glob a bit in the middle and fold on side over the fold over the other flap. It's almost like making a paper cone. Tuck in the flap and then just flip it folded side over and it is ready to grill.

The finished product is a crisp treat you can eat on the go and stuff with just about anything. Don't worry they will be flying off my food truck soon enough.

Hot Dog Casserole

So one night my wife and I were relaxing on the couch enjoying some TV time. Because it's around Super Bowl time a hot dog commercial comes on. That is the moment we realize something epic. We like hog dogs. NO! WE LOVE chili dogs, even better grilled onion hot dogs. How about with fries or some potato crispiness to go with it too!? This leads me to thinking, how awesome it would be to have this hot dog, chili cheese, potato, baked goodness as a casserole? I plot. I plan. I rush to the store the next day to create this glorious dish that kids & true kids at heart will love too. Enjoy!


Hot Dogs & Buns
Tater tots or Hash Browns
4 cups Cheddar Cheese
Rotel Mild


1. Heat oven to 400
2. Bake your tots first & reserve.
3. In a small pot heat your rotel and chile
4. Stir in 2 cups of cheese and set pot to low.
5. Slice onions and caramelize in a saute pan.
6. Add the hot dogs to the onions until just brown on the outside.
7. Line a small with all hot dog buns ( You want them to fit snug in the pan.)


Line the buns with the 1 cup of cheese
Add the onions & wieners
Layer half of the chile on top
Layer your tots over the whole dish pressing it down on the hot dogs to make almost a crust.
Pour the remaining chile over the top.
Bake for 15 minutes then top with remaining shredded cheese.
Return to oven until cheese is melted and golden brown.