Sunday, September 22, 2013

One Pot Bacon Mushroom Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese, the ultimate comfort food
We are still rehabbing our kitchen. I don't think we will ever be done (grrrrrr). But the stove it done and I love my induction stove top. It is incredible. I bought a lot of new pots and pans to work with the stove and I rediscovered cast iron. I don't think I will be parted from it again. Not only is it a great conductor of heat and easy to clean but it also add a bit of iron to our food. We need iron and every little bit helps.

The most used pan in my house is a cast iron skillet. I use it for my one pot mac and cheese, the ultimate comfort food. This dish can be tailored to your tastes and mood. You can switch out the onions for leeks or green onions.  Don't like mushrooms? Then don't add them. The cheeses can be switched around based on what you feel like or more likely in our house, what you have in the refrigerator. One of these days I am going to add bacon and tomato. So what is the inspiration for this dish?  I became obsessed with this dish after having mac and cheese at Anna's Oven (50% of the profits from this restaurant go to charitable causes). I always get the roasted chicken with a side of mac and cheese.

One Pot Bacon Mushroom Mac and Cheese

5 Tbsp (70 g) of Butter
4 oz. (113 g) of Sliced Mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
1/2 Small Onion, Diced
4 Slices of Bacon, Crispy
1/4 Cup (31g) of Flour (Depending on how thick you want your mac and cheese)
6 Cups (1.4 l) of Milk
12 oz. (340 g) of Pasta
Salt, Pepper, and Cayenne, To Taste
4 Cups (500 g) of Shredded Cheese (I used a mixture of White Cheddar and Mozzarella)
1 Tsp of Dijon Mustard
1 Cup (125 g) of Breadcrumbs or Panko
1/2 Cup (63 g) of Shredded Cheese (I used Parmesan)

Preheat your broiler. Melt the butter in a large oven safe skillet. Add the mushrooms and onions and cook until softened.
Sautéing the mushrooms and onions.
Whisk in the flour and them slowly whisk in the milk.
Whisking in the flour
Once the milk is added, raise the heat and bring the milk mixture to a simmer. Add the pasta and the salt, pepper, and cayenne. Watch the mixture so that it doesn't boil over. Cook the pasta, stirring frequently, until tender.
Cooking the pasta
The time varies depending on the pasta you use. Don't worry if the mixture is a bit thin, it will thicken when you add the cheese. Add the mustard, bacon, and cheese stirring until combined.

Ready for the oven!
Taste and adjust seasonings. Cover with breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup of cheese. Place under the broiler until golden brown on top (about 2 minutes).
The bottom line: will I make this again? Oh my goodness yes. This is so yummy.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Cedar Planked Bacon Wrapped Chicken

Cedar Planked Bacon Wrapped Chicken
Wow that is a lot to say.  There is a lot of tastes to this dish. First let me say it is really is wonderful. But how could it not be? It has bacon. Here is my advice for making this dish great:
  • Start soaking the cedar plank early. I like to soak it for about an hour. If I am making it on a weekday night, I soak the cedar plank as soon as I get home from work. 
  • I like crispy bacon so I precook the bacon in the microwave for one to two minutes before I wrap it around the chicken. I also use a thicker sliced bacon because well, you get more bacon. 
  • I use chicken thighs because they stay juicy. I also use bone in with the skin on. I think they are tastier. It is certainly easier to use skinless boneless thighs and they roll up nicely. But I think that is cheating....
  • I use a meat thermometer to get the chicken cooked to the correct temperature. I hate cutting into raw chicken. My own personal belief is every kitchen should have a digital scale and a digital meat thermometer and a really big cast iron skillet.
  • The bbq sauce is key.  If I am too lazy to make my own which happens more than I would like to admit, I use a good bottled sauce. My current favorites are Arthur's Bryant's Sauce (you can't go wrong with the classics), Head Country BBQ Sauce and Wabash BBQ Sauce (I think you can only get this in and around Kansas City).
Cedar Planked Bacon Wrapped Chicken

Chicken Thighs (2 per person)
2 Pieces of Bacon per Chicken Thigh
Paprika (Smoked or Sweet or Both)
BBQ Sauce

Presoak the cedar plank. Preheat grill to medium heat. Precook your bacon for 1-2 minutes (if you want crispy bacon). Salt, pepper and paprika each chicken thigh. Wrap the chicken thigh in bacon. 
Ready for the grill
Place the chicken on the cedar plank and place the cedar plank on the preheated grill. 

Chicken on the grill
Grill for approximately 15 minutes and then brush with bbq sauce.
Basting the chicken

Insert meat thermometer at this point. Grill for 10-15 more minutes (until chicken reaches an internal temperature of  165F/74C). While the chicken is grilling continue to baste with bbq sauce. Remove from grill and let rest for 5 minutes and then dig in.

The bottom line: will I make this again? Oh yes, I almost didn't get pictures. It smelled incredible and tasted even better. The best part: Steven did the grilling. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Microwaved Salmon

I know what you are thinking.... microwaved salmon.... yuck! But wait! I microwaved it in silicone cookware. Yep- I bought a Lékué and decided to try it out. I decide why not go all out and start with salmon? I brought 1.5 pounds (680 g) of salmon and cut it into three pieces. It cooks in minutes so why not try salmon three different ways? My thoughts it is utterly amazing. I am not often surprised but I was by this microwave pot.You can also use it in the oven but I was much more interested in the microwave. And the clean up?  You rise it and put it in the dishwasher. That's it.

Salmon with Broccoli 

Katie loves broccoli so I decided to make salmon with broccoli.

Add in the following order:

4 Tbsp of Water
1 Tsp of Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp of Olive Oil
2 Cups (125 g) Broccoli Florets
Salt and Pepper, to Taste

Close top and microwave 4 minutes. Remove

Add .5 lbs (450 g) Salmon
1 Tsp of Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Pepper
1 Tbsp of Water

Close top and microwave 3 minutes.

I thought the broccoli was too well done but Katie really like it. The salmon was amazing. Next time I will cook the broccoli and salmon together.

 Salmon with Onion, Tomato and Basil

Add in the following order:

1/2 Cup (60 g) of Diced Onions
1 Tomato (180 g)
Basil, Chopped
4 Tbsp of Water
1 Tbsp of Oil
.5 lbs (450 g) Salmon
Salt and Pepper, to Taste

Close top and microwave 3 minutes

Finished product was salmon in broth lovely! Steven added capers to his and really liked it.

Salmon with Lemon and Dill 

Add in the following order:

2 Tbsp Water
2 Tbsp of Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp of Olive Oil
.5 lbs (450 g) Salmon
Salt and Pepper
Lemon Zest (from 1/2 of a lemon)

Close top and microwave 3 minutes.

I added broccoli this time with the salmon this time. It was cooked perfectly.

The bottom line: It worked. Wonderfully and quickly. Who knew that microwaved salmon could be so good. I may have to try the microwave omelet maker next. Just think an omelet in 2 minutes!