Tag Archives: pasta

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

My dad celebrated his 59th birthday last week, complete with a delicious vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting (sorry to all, but I won’t be sharing that recipe. It’s a secret!) And now, a bit about my dad:

Years ago he added a new part to his morning ritual (my dad is both a simple and complex man, but he’s always one to stick to his rituals with only a dash of spontaneity when needed)* which consisted of going on walks to get some more exercise. On his first trip out he could barely walk a mile without being winded and tired. Long had he strayed from his high school and college days on the football field and at the ice rink and while he kept the strength, it took a bit to get back into the swing of things. He also used to walk, from what I can remember, every morning – out the door around 5am and on the sidewalks surveying the neighborhoods and, in the winters, the local school ice rinks with a report back on their condition for skating. These days, thanks to his work schedule, he is only able to walk on weekends but how far he goes greatly makes up for that loss. A typical weekend walk is now up to 10 miles and sometimes he goes even further.

Yet, walking is not the only or even the favorite way he continues to get exercise. As mentioned, my dad played hockey when he was young. It was a sport he grew to love from his father and one that he eventually passed down to me. A few years ago Smidget found that a group of guys at the bank she worked for had formed a team and dad signed up. He has been playing ever since, even though Smidget left the bank years ago. They compete against other teams to try to win the championship (which they did this past year!) in the winter and scrimmage against each other every Thursday night in the summer.

Check out my Dad on the ice!

This means on Thursday nights he doesn’t like to eat too much so he’s not too full to skate, but he doesn’t want to eat anything heavy either so he doesn’t feel weighed down. Hence – Thursday has become our family’s Pasta Night. A bit of a carbo load, plus just really tasty food. Recently I have been trying to mix up Pasta Night a bit so it isn’t the same ol’ pasta and red sauce over and over again. Once we used the parsley we got from the farm share we belong to for pesto, as the farm had recommended to. Then, I decided to try something completely different from our family’s usual: Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese.

It was a success! Not only did it taste great, but dad said he even felt better playing that night after dinner. The hot sauce was just enough to be spicy, but not too much and the cheese really pulled the dish together (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk).

Buffalo- Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
Prep: 35 minutes         Total: 1 hour 15 minutes         Makes: 6-8 servings

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
Kosher salt
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup hot sauce (preferably Frank’s)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 ½ cups half and half
1 pound yellow sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 ½ cups)
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain.
  2. Meawhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and garlic and cook 2 minutes, then add ½ cup hot sauce and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 more minute.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and mustard with a wooden spoon until smooth. Whisk in the half and half, then add the remaining ¼ cup hot sauce and stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, then whisk in the sour cream until smooth.
  4. Spread half of the macaroni in the prepared baking dish, then top with the chicken mixture and the remaining macaroni. Pour the cheese sauce evenly on top.
  5. Put the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Stir in the panko, blue cheese and parsley. Sprinkle over the macaroni and bake until bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Adapted from Food Network Magazine, April 2010 issue

*Yeah, figure that out! 😛

Advertisements

Arrivederci New York! Bongiorno Italia!

It’s been a long while. Too long in fact. I’ve been noticing my blog’s button on my toolbar and have ever so not-very-sneakily been avoiding it. All because I know that the guilt of realizing you haven’t posted in forever is crushing. But sometimes you have to suck it up and deal. And post!

So here it is, the Friday before spring break, and in about half an hour or so a few of my friends and I will be loading the bus along with other art history students to head to the airport where we will fly to….VENICE! Spring Break studying art in Venice, does it get any better? Last year I went with the art history department to Florence and it was so amazing I already knew I wanted to go with them to Venice this year. And so, it has happened.

Me and friends in Rome last year

But part of the problem with such a lavish trip for Spring Break is that, even though I saved money for the trip, I seem to be lacking in funds in general. Don’t worry, I have enough to sample great Venetian food and shopping, but I have discovered the struggle of living on a budget because you’re forced to. Which is a great life lesson, and I’m actually surprised it has taken this long for me to learn it. What I have recently found to be the most difficult thing is this: I want to cook and bake delicious goods, but am unable to afford the ingredients for such goodies that I really want to do on a week to week basis! It makes me sad face. It’s time to learn how to make amazing foods on a budget, but how?

So to end this short post on a high note, OFF TO VENICE!!

And a question for all, what are you ways you continue to cook while staying on a budget?

Food and felines…

These are a few of my favorite things…
I’ve been experimenting a bit in the kitchen on using up things in the fridge and in our pantry that we have had for awhile, and really just need to be used. Case in point, spinach spaghetti. Good stuff, nothing wrong with it, but how long ago was it shoved t0 back of the shelf? Smidget signed up for a deal at the university she teaches at too so that we get fresh from the farm greens every Monday, which is fantastic, but sometimes we don’t know what to do with all the stuff before it starts to go bad or what not. So, why not find something to make that combines the old with the new? Spinach Spaghetti with fresh Pesto Sauce.

I wish I could tell you what greens we used for the pesto, but honestly I don’t remember…sorry! All I know was that one night I was home alone, pulled out the left over pasta, a chicken breast, and went to work making something I’d seen friends do at school but with my own twist.

It was delicious. I simply pounded down the chicken, dipped it in egg wash followed by bread crumbs spiced with a little of Emeril’s Essence seasoning, of all things, and then fried in a fan with olive oil until crispy and fully cooked. So good!

Plus, the weather has been shifting back and forth from downpour to bright and sunny, which the entire family likes, including jungle kitty…

Huh…these two pictures almost look like the same thing….weird…thanks color scheme!

Aside from all this I have actually been doing more cooking and baking, but continue to neglect my camera and its dying battery. From here on out I have some promises to make and keep. I promise to post more, although don’t be surprised if there are a few “Busy! Really busy! Gah!” posts, and I promise to take pictures so I have something to post during the non-busy times! I promise!

Tri-Color Rotini with Chicken-Apple Sausage

As the semester, and the school year, comes to a close I’ve drawn back to one of the few things that helps allow me to keep my sanity, cooking. The only bad thing about doing a lot of cooking is that it takes time away from doing actual work (like 3   response papers, one 3-5 page paper, one 8 page paper, one 12-15 page paper, and one creative project, not to mention all the things I have to do for my campus job) but at least it keeps my tummy satisfied as I plow though all that work (2 response papers done so far!).

Yet, as I have mentioned, it can be very difficult to actually get some good cooking done in the residence hall kitchen with only minimal ingredients and supplies. As much as this lack seems to take away from the variety of food that one can cook, it does allow you to be a bit more creative when it comes to what exactly you make.

This past weekend was a special one for two reasons: 1st, it was the 30th anniversary of a campus-wide spring time celebration known as Quad Jam, which lasts all day outside on our quad and is filled with fun, food, and student music as well as headliners, this year Fabolous and Reel Big Fish and 2nd, one of my good friends and co-workers was celebrating the day they started working in our office.

Therefore, while making a fantastic dinner for myself of Tri-Color Rotini with Chicken-Apple Sausage, I grabbed a box mix at the store and baked a cake!

I brought everything with me to the kitchen, which luckily for me this year has only been a few doors away, in this fantastic bright green cupcake bag a friend sent me in a care package. Now I just have to get hers together.

Notice the rainbow whisk, gotta love it

The box mix was great, I would love to be able to bake my own cakes from scratch, and maybe over the summer at home I will, but here, mixes are the way to go. My friend who wanted the cake asked for chocolate with vanilla frosting, so that’s what I made. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of the fully made and frosted cake, but I do have some of what it looked like after coming out of the oven!

While these guys sat in the oven I made myself some dinner. I had been thinking of cooking something for a while now and had the idea of pasta with Chicken-Apple sausage through my mind over and over. I had the sausage maybe once or twice before when Smidget would make it, but sadly it always came out kind of dry and not so good. But suddenly the sausage had been running through my mind, I don’t think all the ads for it in my Food Network Magazine helped either.

So, I got to cooking!

One of the cardinal rules when it comes to food photos is don't use flash, obviously I broke that but the colors came out so much more vibrant in that dull kitchen!

Tri-Color Rotini with Chicken-Apple Sausage

Servings: Probably about two, although can always make more, I just wanted enough food for one person and ate way to much of it

Time: About 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • One half of an 12 oz box of Tri-Color Rotini
  • Two Chicken-Apple sausages
  • Extra light olive oil
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

1. Fill a pot with enough water for pasta and bring to a boil on stove. Once boiling, add some salt to the water to help flavor the pasta a bit and then add the pasta. Cook according to directions on box.

2. Put a bit of the extra light oil, or extra virgin if you have it (I don’t at school, it’s a crime, I know) into a skillet and put on medium heat. Take two Chicken-Apple sausages which have been pre-cooked according to packaging, and place in skillet until nice and browned.

3. Drain pasta once cooked, and drizzle with more extra light oil. Once sausages are browned and heated, cut into pieces and add to pasta, toss to serve and enjoy!

He's watching you bake...