Thursday, September 30, 2010

California Club Chicken Burger

So, you know how everyone is going on and on about how great it is that fall has arrived?  So, they can start making pumpkin this.  And chili that.  Well, can we all keep in mind that some of us have been experiencing temps in the upper 80's and low 90's for the past TWO WEEKS!  

Ok, I am not complaining.  Bc I hate cold weather more than just about anything else.  Ever.  BUT, I do love pumpkin this and chili that.  And it is still too hot to heat up the kitchen.  And that is becoming borderline not ok.  I will give CO about one more week.  Then, I'm out.  

Anyways, as you may have noticed, I am still making quick dishes that don't use the oven or any excessive amounts of stovin'.  So......I am not a big fan of a chicken breast sandwich.  In fact, I would seriously never order that or eat that in a million years.  Yikes!  Strong statement.  But seriously, when I sit next to someone, at a burger place, for example, and they order a chicken breast sandwich with nothing on it, then put ketchup on it, I all is wrong in the world.  I am not going to lie, it actually makes me angry.  I know, I have problems.

Anyways^2, this chicken burger is fun (and I like that it is ground chicken, which, in my opinion, is much more sandwich-able than a whole breast).  Love a club.  I do like the guac, but it does kind of squish out of the sandwich when you take a bit.  Makes it messy, but still delicious.  And, I did use a toasted english muffin and I liked it!

California Club Chicken Burger

1 lb. ground chicken
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 clove garlic, finely minced or pressed
3/4 tsp. kosher salt ground pepper
4 thick cut slices of bacon, cooked and cut in half
1/2 cup guacamole or 1 sliced avocado
4 toasted buns

Lightly mix together the chicken, cumin, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 4 patties. Grill, pan-fry, or broil the patties until cooked through. Top with 1 slice (2 pieces) of the cooked bacon and guacamole, and serve on toasted buns.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 25 min., Cook time: 15 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  5/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Linguine with Tomato-Almond Pesto (Pesto Trapenese)

I have been regurgitating lots of recipes posted recently by other bloggers.  Living on the edge. 

This pasta was amazing.  It is a pesto made with tomatoes, toasted almonds, parmesan, garlic and olive oil.  So simple.  I tagged it "quick and easy", but not without some hesitation.  I promised myself that I wouldn't tag any recipe that uses a food processor "quick and easy".  But this really was super easy.  The hardest part was cleaning up.  I made it after a relatively long day (which included two minor injuries) and I didn't mind at all.  

Linguine with Tomato-Almond Pesto (Pesto Trapenese)

3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 large handful fresh basil leaves
1 to 2 large garlic cloves
Several sprinkles of sea salt
6 ripe plum tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
1 pound linguine

In a large skillet, sauté the almonds in a little olive oil until toasted. Let cool, then blend them in a food processor or blender until they are in coarse pieces. (“The size of orzo,” the original recipe suggests.) Scoop them out of the processor and set them aside.

Put the basil, garlic and a few pinches of sea salt into the food processor and chop. Add the almonds back to the food processor (keeping them separate will keep them from getting too finely chopped as you get the basil and garlic to the right texture) with the tomatoes, cheese and olive oil and whirl briefly. Season it with freshly ground black pepper.

Cook your linguine until it is al dente and could use another minute of cooking time. Reserve one cup of pasta cooking water and drain the rest. Immediately toss the hot linguine with the pesto and mix quickly so that it drinks the sauce up a bit. Add more pasta water if needed. Serve this lukewarm, or at room temperature.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 25 min., Cook time: 15 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Grilled Pineapple and Chicken Quesadillas

Another great recipe from Pioneer Woman.  Who doesn't love the pineapple/bbq/chicken combo?  Such a fun twist on a quesadilla.  

This recipe is fairly easy to throw together.  I actually used canned pineapple because sometimes (not always) I am too cheap to buy a $5 pineapple.  Especially when they don't look that great in the first place.  Although, this would be even better with a fresh pineapple.  Although, I do love canned fruit.  I will just eat a whole can of diced pineapple.  Whatever.  Who cares.  

I did add the jalapeno.  And I have to say, thinly sliced, it is good!  My problem with raw jalapeno may just be large chunks of raw jalapeno.  And the cilantro makes this taste so refreshing.  

Grilled Pineapple and Chicken Quesadillas
adapted from Pioneer Woman

8 whole flour tortillas
olive oil
2 cups pineapple
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, split
Cajun spice blend
salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1 whole jalapeno, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons barbecue sauce

To grill pineapple: cut wedges, stick on skewers, and grill over medium heat. Cut into slices.

To pound chicken, place inside a Ziploc bag and pound with a mallet or large can to flatten to uniform thickness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and Cajun spice (or cumin/cayenne, etc.) Drizzle olive oil on a grill pan and grill on both sides until done. Set aside and slice into very thin slices.

Warm griddle over medium heat and drizzle with olive oil.

To assemble quesadillas, sprinkle four tortillas with grated Monterey Jack. Arrange chicken slices evenly over the surface. Add pineapple slices and jalapeno slices. Sprinkle on cilantro. Drizzle barbecue sauce over the top. Add second tortilla on top of each one. (You’ll have four complete quesadillas at this point.)

Place on griddle and cook on each side until crispy (about 3-4 minutes per side).  Cut each quesadilla into six wedges. Serve with sour cream, pico de gallo, and lime wedges.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 15 min., Cook time: 25 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  6/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Monday, September 27, 2010

Yeasted Waffles

When we picked fresh raspberries this past weekend at Happy Apple farm, I wanted to make something with the berries that kept them relatively fresh.  So, I decided to try out a yeasted waffle recipe and top with some berries tossed in a little sugar and some whipped cream.  

Picking these raspberries brought me back to my first job, picking veggies and apples on a farm.  I didn't pick any berries back in the day.  I am sure that would have been a bad idea.  I would have definitely eaten more than I picked.  

Most of my time when I worked on the farm was spent in the green bean field (or the apple orchard).  My brother and I picked together.  We played all sorts of word games to keep us busy.  However, I did have plenty of alone time to day dream and think.  I remember one of the first couple of days I was there.  I was 12.  And I decided I wanted to grow up and be a farmer.  Because I absolutely loved being out in the fields.  

And I loved that we got paid for how much work we did.  It is hard work.  We would go up and down the green bean rows.  Always hoping we picked the BEST row.  And how great it was when you hit the jackpot plant.  You could grab the beans by the handful!  This is the feeling that I got to experience again picking raspberries.  You search and search for a few raspberries here and there.  But when you hit that one branch that is so heavy it is almost touching the ground.  It is somehow way too awesome.  

These waffles were great.  They had such a nice texture.  Nice and crispy on the outside.  I have the Waring Pro Belgian Waffle Maker.  I found that it worked best around the 3.5 setting.  They are not sweet on their own.  They smell a little like pizza dough because of all the yeast.  Oh yeah and the dough needs to be prepped the night before!

Yeasted Waffles

1/2 cup warm water
21/4 tsp. active dry yeast (instant is fine)
2 cups whole milk, warmed
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp. baking soda

Combine the water and yeast in a large mixing bowl. (If using active dry yeast, let stand to dissolve 5 minutes before proceeding.) Add the milk, butter, salt, sugar and flour to the bowl. Whisk until well blended and smooth (you can also use an
electric mixer.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight.

When you are ready to make the waffles, preheat the waffle iron. Preheat the oven to 200° F and place a plate in the oven. Just before making the waffles, whisk the eggs and baking soda into the batter until smooth. The batter will be very thin. Fill waffle wells and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Cook until crisp and golden. Transfer finished waffles to the warmed plate in the oven while you cook the rest of the batter. Top as desired with butter, syrup, etc.

(Servings; 4-6, Prep time: overnight, Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5  

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Grilled Cheese and Roasted Green Chile Sandwich

This is named Pioneer Woman's favorite sandwich.  Since roasted chiles are one of my top 10 favorite things of all time.  And also because I love PW.  I knew this sandwich would be amazing.  

We went down to southern-ish Colorado at visit the Happy Apple Farms yesterday.  And the desert landscape made it impossible to fool me into thinking this farm was anywhere close to a true midwest farm/apple orchard/pumpkin patch experience.  However, it was an awesome little CO farm.  

We met the owner/farmer immediately upon our arrival.  I love farmers.  He greeted our dog and welcomed him to run free in the fields as we picked raspberries, blackberries, apples and pumpkins.  The farm was small but cute and quite busy.  

This is one of the few apple orchards I have found in CO, but what also intrigued me was that they roasted chiles and served a BBQ beef brisket for lunch.  Even though I am skeptical of CO farming potential, I thought that they could surely win me over with the chiles and brisket.  And btw, the BBQ brisket was totally good.  They only serve it on the weekends and start it on Tuesday.  

And we bought a 1/2 bushel of roasted green chiles.  Big Jim variety.  They have a little kick, but mostly mild.  And when we got home, Scot personally peeled and seeded the entire bag.  His hands burned until 6 am but, you know what, he made it.  

I used some of those green chiles to make this wonderful grilled sandwich.  It is such a delicious sandwich.  You can also just buy Hatch, whole green chiles, canned.  Or you could roast like an anaheim or poblano.  Or even a roasted red pepper would be good if you aren't into the spicier stuff.  The rye bread, the dijonaise, the two different cheeses, tomato, red onion and roasted green chile.  Love this combo!

Grilled Cheese and Roasted Green Chile Sandwich
adapted from Pioneer Woman

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, to taste
1 tablespoon mayonnaise, to taste
2 slices mild cheddar
2 thick slices of tomato
several thin slices of red onion
1/2 - 1 whole roasted green chile
2 slices Monterey Jack cheese
2 slices rye bread

First, make the sauce. Measure 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise and mix the together in a small bowl. Spread a very thin layer onto the inside of both pieces of bread.

Place two slices of mild cheddar on one slice of bread. Top with tomato slices, red onion, roasted green chile, and then the two slices of Monterey Jack cheese. Place other slice of bread on top. Butter the outside top.

Heat a skillet (non-stick is preferable here) over medium-low heat. Place the sandwich (butter side down) in the skillet. Butter the other side now that it is on the skillet. Cook it for about 5 minutes, until golden brown. Flip and continue cooking for another couple of minutes, until golden brown. Remove to a cutting board and cut in half.

(Servings: 1, Prep time: 15 min., Cook time; 10 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  1/5

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Salmon in Lemon Brodetto with Pea Puree

This was such a light and refreshing meal.  Scot and I really enjoyed it.  It is grilled salmon that sits on a bed of pureed peas surrounded by a lemony broth.  A great way to eat your peas!  Actually, the pea puree is delicious.  Kind of like a pea pesto.  

I followed the recipe exactly except that I left out all the mint.  On purpose.  I just thought it sounded weird with mint.  And I read all the comments on the recipe, and it seemed like lots of other people left it out too.  I thought it was perfect without it, so I would recommend not using it.  

Salmon in Lemon Brodetto with Pea Puree
by Giada De Laurentiis via Food Network

For Lemon Brodetto:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, diced
2 lemons, juiced
1 lemon, zested
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
For Pea Puree:
2 cups frozen peas, thawed (about 10 ounces)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
For Salmon:
1/4 cup olive oil
4 (4 to 6-ounce) pieces salmon
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

To make the Lemon Brodetto, warm the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the lemon juice, zest, and broth. Bring to a simmer, and keep warm, covered, over low heat.

To make the Pea Puree, combine the peas, mint, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor and puree. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a steady drizzle. Transfer the pea puree to a small bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Set aside.

To make the Salmon, warm the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Season the salmon pieces with salt and pepper. Sear the salmon until a golden crust forms, about 4 to 5 minutes on the first side. Flip the fish and continue cooking until medium-rare, about 2 minutes more depending on the thickness of the fish.

To assemble the dish, add the tablespoon chopped mint to the Lemon Brodetto and divide between 4 shallow dishes. Place a large spoonful of Pea Puree into the center of each bowl. Place a salmon piece atop each mound of Pea Puree. Serve immediately.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 45 min., Cook time: 15 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings

Shanon (taste):  8/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

When I think of stuffed squash (or really stuffed anything), I think of my mom.  She always made different stuffed creations for dinner.  As I was preparing these stuffed zucchini boats, Scot came into the kitchen and said something like, "wow, this is a unique kind of meal."  It is just funny because this is like spaghetti and meatballs to me.  That is an exaggeration.  Maybe it is like chicken noodle soup to me.  

These are some pretty healthy stuffed zucchini boats.  And they were really good.  We had them with some buttered white rice.  

Also, I had quite a bit of extra stuffing.  So, I just starting stuffing anything I could find.  I ended up filling two tomatoes and some onions.  Tomatoes...good.  Onions...good bowl for stuffing.  

Finally, I have decided to start a rating system.  For every recipe, I am going to provide my taste rating, Scot's taste rating, effort rating and dishwashing rating.  I will post these rating scales in the "about food" page above.  One thing to remember is that these ratings are different the "Difficulty" rating that is on each recipe.  That is actually referring to the technical difficulty.  I realize that my recipes are almost always rated "Easy".  But that is because they don't require any type of experience or skills to make.  Ya know.  

Taste Rating
1-inedible (obviously would never post such a thing)
3-forgettable (obviously would never post such a thing)
5-a solid meal
7-yum!  will definitely make/eat this again
9-near perfection
10-can't imagine anything better

Effort Rating
1-so easy!
3-some down time, could multitask other duties as I cooked
5-Mad crazy woman in the kitchen during this meal

Dishwashing Effort Rating
1-Shanon cleaned up mostly everything before we ate dinner
3-decent amount of cleanup
5-Scot had quite disaster to deal with, had to whip out the drying towels

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

1 zucchini, about 12 inches long (or 2 6-inch)
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 lb. turkey sausage or ground turkey
2 tbsp. dry white wine
2-3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out insides, leaving a shell about 1/4-inch thick. Reserve about half of the insides.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the onion and garlic until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and reserved zucchini insides to the skillet and sauté another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble in the sausage or ground turkey and cook until lightly browned on all sides, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cooked onion and mushroom mixture. Add the wine to the pan along with the tomatoes, basil and rosemary. Cook for 1 more minute. Drain of any excess fat, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Once the turkey mixture has cooled a bit, mix in the Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper. Fill the zucchini shells with the mixture. Fill a baking dish with 1/4-inch of water. Place the filled zucchini shells in the pan and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the zucchini from the pan and serve immediately.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 40 hr., Cook time: 40 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings

Shanon (taste):  6/10
Scot (taste):  6/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5  

Monday, September 20, 2010

Skirt Steak Salad with Arugula and Blue Cheese

There is a food blogger competition going on right now called Project Food Blog by Foodbuzz.  I am not competing because of lots of reasons (excuses).  They could all be simplified to me just being too big of a baby.  

I am scared of competition.  I pretty much have never done well in any sort of competition.  Which is weird, because I am kind of competitive.  I mean, I am definitely not not competitive.  All the more reason to stop trying, right?  

Ha, I am making no sense.  I actually would have really liked to give it a go.  In fact, I have a new favorite saying:

"do something that scares you"

But, I just didn't take the time, this time, to work it all out.  I am excited to watch the competition unfold and see how all the challenges go.  The first challenge was to "define yourself as a food blogger" or "explain why you could be the next food blog star".  Scary!   What does that even mean?  Ok, I am glad I didn't try because I would surely be ousted first round for my totally lame answers to those questions.  If you are interested in voting, go to the above link.  :)  

Anyways, this salad has absolutely nothing to do with the Foodbuzz competition.  It is a nice, quick meal.  I mean who doesn't love a steak and blue cheese salad?  I love it with the arugula and the cherry tomatoes.  And the dressing is a nice change from my usual balsamic vinaigrette.  Look, here is a pile of meat!

Skirt Steak Salad with Arugula and Blue Cheese

1 pound skirt steak, trimmed of excess fat if necessary, halved crosswise, at room temperature
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pint (2 cups) cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
1/2 pound baby arugula
Vinaigrette (below)
3 tablespoons minced chives, 2 thinly sliced scallions or 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion, for garnish

Pat steak dry and season on both sides with 1/2 teaspoon salt and many grinds of black pepper.

In a cast-iron skillet: Heat skillet on medium-high to high and add olive oil. When oil begins to shimmer, place steak in skillet and do not move it for 5 minutes. Turn it once, and cook for another 3 minutes for medium-rare. You may need to cook your steak halves separately, depending on the size of your pan.

On a grill: Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over hot charcoal or high heat for gas. Oil grill rack, then grill steak, covered only if using a gas grill, turning once, 4 to 6 minutes total for medium-rare.

Transfer steak to a cutting board and let rest, loosely covered with foil, for five minutes. Arrange arugula on a large platter. Thinly slice steak on the diagonal, across the grain. Arrange over arugula, then toss halved cherry tomatoes and blue cheese over platter. Add vinaigrette to taste, then sprinkle with chives, scallions or red onion. Serve with additional vinaigrette on the side.

Steakhouse Mustard Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon coarse Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon honey 1/3 cup olive oil

Whisk ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and adjust ingredients to taste.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 10 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  1/5
Dishwashing Effort:  1/5

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


A week or so ago, I was given some home-grown tomatoes.  And kind of a lot of them.  First, I fell in love.  Second, I decided that I HAD to make salsa.  Soon after, I realized that many salsa recipes call for canned tomatoes.  This was slightly depressing.  Because I was so excited to turn this huge bag of tomatoes into a delicious salsa.  It was hard to get this salsa idea out of my head, but I eventually did.  I ended up making a bruschetta topping and other things.

Now that my gift tomatoes are gone, I went back to the salsa idea.  I looked up several recipes and realized there are about a million different versions of the kind of salsa I was trying to make.  So, I just made up my own version.  And let me tell you, it was delicious.  And so ridiculously easy.  

I love fresh salsa, like this.   Lime and cilantro.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I may have already told you about my aversion to raw jalapeno.  I just like to say the word aversion because that is what the food judges always say.  But, I love jalapeno spice and flavor, but hate biting into a chunk of raw jalapeno in salsas.  Am I the only one?!?  

This salsa is all blended up and so I like the raw jalapeno flavor.  In fact, I love it.  

Last thing, this salsa tastes best cold.  All the way cold.  It is hard to wait, but I would recommend putting it in the fridge for a few hours before eating it.  


1 28-ounce canned whole tomatoes
3 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/4 of an onion, roughly chopped
2 peppers (I used 1 Serrano and 1 jalapeno), seeded and finely chopped
2 limes (juice)
1 handful of cilantro, chopped
pinch of sugar

Throw everything in the food processor and pulse until it reaches desired consistency.

(Servings: lots, Prep time: 20 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pioneer Woman's Mac and Cheese

I was making dinner with a friend the other night.  Her friend was also coming.  Friend of a friend, but now she is my friend too.  Anyways, I asked what she likes when we were deciding what to make.  And the answer was extremely straight-forward, "Mac and cheese and broccoli".  It didn't leave much room for creativity, but it made things easy.

Me, I am not a cheese person.  (Yes, I am a goat cheese person, obv.)  But, I totally wish I was.  And that I was sophisticated enough to enjoy fine wines and fancy cheese.  You know, the straight up fancy cheese.  No crackers or anything like that.  

As a result, I don't usually make/eat cheesy mc-cheese cheese dishes.  Unless, someone else reminds me or wants me to.  Good thing for all the cheese lovers out there!

I enjoyed this mac and cheese recipe from Pioneer Woman.  I actually liked it a lot pre-baking.  I love all the black pepper and the dry mustard.  I added some garlic and onion powder, as was recommended at Annie's Eats.  I couldn't really tell, but I am sure it didn't hurt anything.  Annie actually tested out 5 different recipes and this was her favorite (which is part of the reason I picked it).  And good for Annie because I couldn't eat mac and cheese that often if my life depended on it.  

And we did have this with some steamed broccoli.  Served in a piggy bowl.  For obvious reasons.  

Here it is all baked up.  

Pioneer Woman’s Mac and Cheese

4 cups Dried Macaroni (you can use a full pound, which is slightly more)
1 whole Egg, Beaten
1/4 cups (1/2 Stick Or 4 Tablespoons) Butter
1/4 cups All-purpose Flour
2-1/2 cups Whole Milk
2 teaspoons (heaping) Dry Mustard, More If Desired
1 pound Cheese, Grated
1/2 teaspoons Salt, More To Taste
1/2 teaspoons Seasoned Salt, More To Taste
1/2 teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
Optional Spices: Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Thyme

Cook macaroni until very firm. Macaroni should be too firm to eat right out of the pot. Drain.

In a small bowl, beat egg.

In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly. Don’t let it burn. Pour in milk, add mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until very thick. Reduce heat to low.

Take 1/4 cup of the sauce and slowly pour it into beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking eggs. Whisk together till smooth.

Pour egg mixture into sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth.

Add in cheese and stir to melt.

Add salt and pepper. Taste sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed! DO NOT UNDERSALT.

Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine. Serve immediately (very creamy) or pour into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.

(Servings: 4-6, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  5/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Monday, September 13, 2010

Poppy Seed Dressing

I have been wanting to post this recipe for a while now.  This is a sweet poppy seed dressing.  A dressing that I never pick.  But a dressing that has always caught my eye because I do love poppy seeds.  It is a sweet/tangy dressing.  Perfect for any fruity nut type salad.  Some big chunks of cheese like a swiss or cheddar.  

We had it with a pretty hearty, chunky salad.  Grapefruit segments, whole almonds, grapes, tomatoes and (randomly) blue cheese.  Scot loves blue cheese.  Like loooooooooves it.  Capital L.  I think it would have been better with a cubed mild cheese.  But you can't really go wrong.  I love grapefruit.  

BTW, maybe you already noticed, but I don't buy pre-made salad dressing.  Several reasons:

1.   Kinda hate them.
2.  Really hate having millions of random bottles of dressing in the fridge.  I like to keep our fridge pretty empty.  
3.  Don't like to commit to a dressing.  If you make it yourself, you can have a different kind each night. 
4.  It is SO easy.  This recipe uses a blender (which definitely helps emulsify and keep it together long term).  However, if you are strong and have a good whisk, you can do a pretty decent job by hand.  And it doesn't even matter if you use it all right away, which is what I do 80% of the time.  
5.  I can chef it up.  Throw in a little apple cider vinegar.  Maybe I want some honey.  Pretend I am more amazing than I am. 

Poppy Seed Dressing

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoons mustard (I use Coleman’s)
1 teaspoon table salt or 2 teaspoons Kosher
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup canola or grapeseed oil
1/3 cup apple cider or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely grated red onion
1 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

Pour the olive and canola oil into a measuring cup and set aside.

Add the sugar, mustard, red onion and salt to the jar of a blender. Pour in the vinegar and blend on high until the sugar has thoroughly dissolved.

With the motor still running, remove the lid from the blender and pour in the combined oils in a steady stream until emulsified.

Pour the dressing into a jar, add the poppy seeds and shake or stir the dressing to combine. Seal the jar tightly and refrigerate until use.

(Servings: about 2 cups, Prep time: 20 minutes, Difficulty: Easy)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Soup Bar--How To Serve 150

Earlier this year, my sister-in-law and I were emailing back and forth about her Labor Day wedding.  She asked at one point if I could help with some appetizers for the reception.  I thought, "Hmmm...maybe?"  I knew I was going to be in the wedding (bridesmatron), so I thought I could pull something off, but not sure what.  Etc.

5-7 emails later...I had offered, she accepted and I would now cater the wedding.

For the months following, I was just fakin' it until I made it.

The challenge was not only that I would not actually physically be there to set out the food and prepare anything day of (because I'd be working the ceremony runway/photoshoot), but also, the reception was in a barn.  Like a real barn.

Cute, huh?

Now, I am just being dramatic because it makes me sound more badass.  But, there was electricity in the barn.  Lots of it.  But no commercial kitchen.  Just a regular kitchen.  And we were expecting about 150 people.

Although I gave the bride-to-be a few meal options, I had a feeling the one she picked was the absolute only one that would actually work.  Soup bar!

The idea was to serve a good variety of soups with various toppings, crusty bread and rolls.  Round it out with a few salad options and some substantial apps beforehand.  Everything could be prepped beforehand.  I could still be a bridesmatron.

So, who would serve the food?  I emailed some friends who lived in the area (btw, the wedding was in Wisconsin, far far away from my little apartment kitchen).  Here is how those email conversations went:

Me:  "Hey best friends!  Want to help me cater a wedding?"

Friend 1:  "Hell no, are you crazy?  How is that even possible."  --This is my realistic friend.  Who realized that this wasn't the easiest task in the world.  After she found it was a soup bar, she was much more comfortable...but had to opt out anyways because she was busy (it was Labor Day weekend).  Haha, totally agree with her though.

Friend 2:  "Sure!"  --This is my go-with-the-flow friend who probably had no idea what this favor required of her.  But didn't worry about it.  Haha.  You may remember Nicole from this post.

Friend 3:  "Probs.  Whatever.  Remind me later."  --This is my laid back friend who I had to remind that she agreed to do this for me at least 5 times before the event.  You may remember Megan from this post.

Bottom line, Megan and Nicole were the best dang sous chefs I could ask for.  They made sure to watch Top Chef the night before to mentally prepare.  I gave them very detailed instructions and schedules of what they needed to do.  I prepared a binder for them.  We had skype meetings in the days before the wedding.  All very official stuff.

And guess what?  I would say the whole thing went as smoothly as I could have hoped for.  No major disasters.  The only thing I would change is how we actually served the soups.  But this is something we wouldn't have really known until we did it.  I will explain more about this later.

Even though,  I love food and love cooking, and usually love my cooking, it is still a little hard to put yourself out there and cook for a big crowd  (or a little one).

I know everyone has different tastes, so I try to remember that.  But this idea for a soup bar, rather than a traditional sit down dinner, was probably pretty out there for many of the guests.  For me, I was only going to make and serve food that I thought was delicious.  And it isn't possible to serve a delicious meat and potatoes meal for 150, out of a tiny kitchen and have it be prepared in advance.  In fact, I would argue, it isn't really all that possible to do that in a commercial kitchen, the day of, with a staff of catering peeps.  Almost all the catered food I have had hasn't been that great.  It is really hard to do well.

Anyhow, I think lots of people loved the idea and loved the soups.  Or at least lots of people were being nice and told me that.  :)  And I personally would have preferred this over what we had at our wedding.

Here was the menu:


-Hummus with Pita Bread and Carrots
-Tomato Pico De Gallo with tortilla chips
-Pineapple Pico De Gallo with tortilla chips
-Thin Pretzel Sticks



-Traditional Veggie Salad (Romaine, shredded carrots, cucumbers and grape tomatoes) with Homemade croutons and Ranch


-Aunt Chris' Chicken Wild Rice Soup (Scot's aunt made this one, secret family recipe)


-Crusty French baguettes and whole grain rolls from Panera
-Corn bread muffins from Famous Dave's (for Chili)

Scot and I made all the food in advance.

Here was our schedule:

Tuesday Night
-grocery shopping for Wednesday food

-make Chili and Chicken Noodle Soup
-make Ranch
-make Croutons

Wednesday Night
-delivery food to different fridge
-grocery shopping for Thursday food

-make Butternut Squash and Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
-make Hummus
-make Balsamic Vinaigrette

Thursday night
-deliver food to another fridge
-grocery shopping for Thursday night and Friday
-prep Chicken Enchilada Rollup filling
-prep Mushroom Crostini spread
-shred all cheese
-prep cucumbers for Traditional Veggie Salad
-prep green onions for Chili topping

-make Broccoli Cheese Soup
-make Greek Orzo Salad with Mustard-Dill Vinaigrette
-make two Pico de Gallos
-pick up lettuce from grocery store, delivery it and some other food to reception site

Friday night (rehearsal and dinner)
-prep diced apples for Butternut Squash soup

Saturday morning (getting hair done and ready)
-other people delivery food from various locations to reception site
-Megan and Nicole arrive and begin prepping apps and do just about everything else

Saturday afternoon
-Megan and Nicole did have to finish the mushroom crostini and chicken enchilada roll-ups, assemble the salads and set everything else out.  Sounds easy, but they were busy the whole time.  No down time, they said.

Here would be my suggested quantities for 150 people:


For 6 varieties, I would do 12 qts of each.  I found that this is typically about 3 times any soup recipe.


For 2 varieties of lettuce salads plus a pasta salad,

*Green Leaf Lettuce Salad with Craisins, Goat Cheese and Walnuts--I would do 40 ounces of Spring Mix (this is equivalent to about two 4-inch full size food pans) plus all the veggies and toppings.
*Traditional Veggie Salad--72 ounces of chopped Romaine (this is equivalent to about two 4-inch full size food pans) plus all the veggies and toppings.
*Green Orzo Salad--half a 4-inch food pan of Pasta salad (~3 lbs of dry Orzo pasta plus all the veggies and dressing).  This is about 4 times this recipe.
*Salad dressings:  I would do one total gallon.  1/2 gallon of Ranch (4 HVR packets) and 1/2 gallon of Balsamic Vinaigrette.


*Chicken Enchilada Roll-ups--5 times this recipe
*Hummus with Pita Bread and Carrots--3 times this recipe, 4 bags of pita bread, 2 lbs of baby carrots
*Tomato Pico De Gallo & Pineapple Pico De Gallo - About 10 lbs of tomatoes and pineapple, plus the other ingredients (cilantro, lime, red onion)
*Tortilla chips--3 big bags (the Mission Chips in the brown bags)
*Pistachios--1 lbs
*Thin Pretzel Sticks--2 big bags

This is obviously not what I made for this wedding.  I was right on with most of the appetizers.  But, I bought way too much lettuce for the salads.  Something that really surprised me because both Scot and I didn't think it seemed like enough.  Maybe we didn't have big salad eaters at the reception or something.


I made between 16-20 quarts of each soup.  It was way too much, but since we weren't sure how much to make with the soup bar format, we decided to make a lot more than we thought because soup freezes so well and we could eat the leftovers the day after (and the day after that...)  And with soup, it doesn't affect how much you spend (time and money) too much if you decide to make 12 qts vs. 18 qts.  Definitely could have done without lugging around extra quarts of soups though.  :)

To serve the soup, I rented 12 soup kettles.  Six of them had the power capacity to actually heat the soups up (necessary, since they were cold).  Six of them could only keep already warm soup warm.   Each had a capacity of 12 qts (so we needed two for each soup).  Seemed to work out great.  We did have to be careful with how we distributed them on the circuits because the cookers were 10 we could only put two on each circuit.  Luckily, the barn had just had the electrical system upgraded, and had plenty of circuits that we could use.  Thanks to all the men who figured out all the cords and plugs and circuits and amps.  I am sure it was more of a challenge than I am making it out to be.

We had it set up buffet style.  The guests grabbed 2-3 8-ounce paper soup cups (placing them on a glass dinner plate).  Then, they ladled the soups they wanted into their cups.  Put on the toppings.  It was ok, but pretty slow.  I would recommend having a table in the back with all the soup kettles and then having Megan and Nicole ladling out the soup into the cups and just having people grab the cups and put the toppings on themselves.  It will also keep things cleaner.

Now if you want to do a Soup Bar at your next party for 150, you should be all set!