Sunday, June 21, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese

Here is a recipe for a healthier macaroni and cheese. In the picture I used whole wheat elbows and mixed in some spinach and mushrooms, but you could easily just use regular elbows and no veggies if you so desire. I left the bread crumbs off the top due to some time constraints but I will include the topping in the recipe. This is a recipe that I got from one of the cooking light cookbooks and have modified it a bit. The addition of the cottage cheese and sour cream add lots of flavor and creaminess without making it too unhealthy.

Mac & Cheese

Baked Macaroni and Cheese (serves 6)

1 egg
1 cup low fat cottage cheese
3/4 cup low fat sour cream
1/2 cup non fat or low fat milk
2 TBS grated onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
2 cups (8 oz) grated cheese- you can use all cheddar or your favorite cheese or a combination whatever you have on hand
4 cups elbow noodles cooked (8oz uncooked)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tbs melted butter or olive oil
pinch of salt, pepper, and paprika

Pre heat the oven to 350. In a bowl mix the egg through the ground pepper until mixed. Add in the cheese and mix, then fold in the cooked noodles. Spread into a greased 2 quart casserole pan and pat down to evenly fill the pan. In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs, butter and salt, pepper, and paprika. Sprinkle over the pasta and cover the pan with foil. Bake for 30 minutes and uncover and bake another five minutes or until the bread crumbs brown.

*Feel free to add in anything you want along with the pasta. You could fold in some ham or broccoli, or maybe some roasted poblanos and use pepper jack cheese along with the cheddar cheese.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

It's June and local strawberries are in season. I'm very lucky to live where I do, and have access to great produce and food. This past weekend we went to pick hood strawberries. Hood (as in Mt Hood) strawberries can be arguably some of the best strawberries to be found. We picked a whole flat, some of which I'll turn into jam and the rest will make for a great week of snacks! Later the same night I decided to make some strawberry shortcakes to highlight the beautiful strawberries we picked that morning. I didn't necessarily have a great go to shortcake recipe so I found one on King Arthur Flour. I think I was still inspired from my previous post experience! I made a few adaptions but it turned out to be a great biscuit for shortcake. I had perfect strawberries so there was very little need for sugar, but I did need some juice so I crushed a few strawberries and quartered the rest. I also included a few squirts of agave syrup and then topped it with some freshly whipped, lightly sweetened, organic heavy whipping cream

Shortcakes (from King Arthur Flour)
3 1/2 cups (14 7/8 oz) all purpose flour or pastry flour if you have it (I used half whole wheat pastry flour)
1 tsp salt
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 TBS sugar
4 oz (1 stick) cold butter cut into small pieces or thin slices
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F. You want the butter, buttermilk and egg as cold as possible. This will help to keep the biscuit a tender. Measure all the dry ingredients into a bowl and add the cut up butter. Break up the butter with your fingers or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles cornmeal (you can also pulse this in a food processor). In a separate bowl mix the buttermilk, egg and vanilla and pour into the dry ingredients and mix with your hands or a spatula just until the ingredients are barely mixed, make sure not to over mix! The batter will be fairly soft so make sure you turn it out on a floured surface to roll and cut out the biscuits. I took a bit of a shortcut and used a large scoop and just scooped it onto a sheet pan. Place the biscuits on a greased or parchment lined sheet pan. I pressed them down with my hand slightly (dampened my hand with water so it wouldn't stick)- because I had scooped them, this wouldn't be necessary if they were rolled out. I finished them off with a dusting of raw coarse sugar before putting the biscuits into the oven. They baked for about 15-20 minutes. I pulled them out when I saw them lightly brown and the felt firm in the middle. These also made great biscuits for breakfast the next day, gently rewarmed!


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ricotta Pancakes

Ricotta Pancakes

I had another post that I was going to put up today, until I made breakfast and found something more inspiring. My recipe and food choices for the day are usually guided by what's in the refrigerator and more importantly what needs to be used up. I had half a container of ricotta that wouldn't be good for much longer so I decided to try (again) some ricotta pancakes. I had made one recipe a while back but they were really thin and flat and didn't have a good texture at all. I had almost resigned to the fact that I didn't like ricotta in my pancakes until I tried this recipe. These may be my favorite pancakes! I got the recipe from The King Arthur Flour Bakers Companion Cookbook. I was short on a few ingredients, so I made a few modifications to the recipe, but they turned out so great that I think I will keep making them the same way, which is the recipe I posted below. I had some poached rhubarb which was a wonderful accompaniment to these very light and flavorful pancakes.

Ricotta Pancakes (made about 15 medium large pancakes)

3 eggs (2 of the whites separated and set aside in a clean bowl)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 TBS sugar
2/3 cup of ricotta
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

In a small mixing bowl, sift the flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda and set aside. In another larger mixing bowl, mix the eggs (minus the two separated egg whites), and ricotta until smooth. Add in the vanilla and buttermilk and whisk until smooth. Begin whipping the egg whites and when they are white a frothy add one tablespoon of sugar. Continue whipping and slowly add the rest of the sugar and whip until medium peaks form. When you hold up the whisk, the egg white should stand up and flop over a little bit at the top. Mix the dry ingredients into the buttermilk mixture, whisk just until the flour is mixed in, be careful to not over mix or the pancakes can be tough. Don't worry if there are a few lumps left. Gently fold in the egg whites. Cook on a griddle over a medium heat. The batter will be very light but thick, so make sure that as you ladle out the batter the pancakes aren't too thick by taking the back of the spoon and spreading the batter out a little. They will take a little longer than regular pancakes to cook, so make sure to keep the heat low enough so they don't get to dark before they're done. Enjoy!