Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday - Comforting Mac & Cheese

Well, we've started round two of strep, and I am hoping it won't spread!  But since Edwin happened to be out of town last night and James happened to feel miserable, I decided to make macaroni and cheese.  I can vouch for how yummy this particular mac and cheese recipe is because Edwin actually does like it now and then, and that is saying a lot since he isn't usually fond of what is one of my favorite things (This is probably best for my mid-section!).  James and I on the other hand, love all things mac and cheese, and are even made happy by the old blue box version.  But don't worry, this one is much, much better!

The recipe is from the Rachael Ray Show, which I have never actually watched, and from the Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine, which I always try to read or hang onto until I have time to read it.  But I think I was just looking around on the internet when I found this recipe, which you can see here, along with a short video. (The web page seems to load slowly, at least on my computer, but it does come up.)

One nice thing about this recipe is that you can change it around by leaving out or changing the meat (ham works nicely).  It is good without any meat, though my family is so addicted to bacon that they will miss it if I leave it out.  Another great thing is that you can freeze this easily, and you know how I love to make things ahead of time!  It's just warm and comforting, like food should be when your kids are sick.  Nothing fancy.  And though it's not the healthiest thing, at least it is 100% real food, which can't be said about the blue box.

I'll list the ingredients below, but take a look at the web-site for the directions.  Enjoy!

Grilled Chicken-and-Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese by Rachael Ray

  • 6 slices good-quality smoky bacon, such as apple-wood smoked bacon

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 pound whole wheat, short-cut pasta

  • 2 pieces skinless chicken breasts, lightly pounded

  • EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling

  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika

  • 4 tablespoons butter

  • 1 large onion, quartered lengthwise and very thinly sliced

  • 2 rounded tablespoons flour

  • 1/2 cup cloudy apple cider or chicken stock

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp white cheddar cheese

  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley or celery greens, for garnish
  • Monday, May 23, 2011

    Spared Again

    I just have to post the pictures I snapped while Edwin was driving to and from the pizza place for take out last Saturday.  This funnel cloud did touch down briefly with no damage.  And, sadly, there were some worse ones that did cause damage and even a death in Minneapolis on Sunday.  Not to mention what happened in Missouri.  I am feeling spared again, and thankful for it. 

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    What's Cooking Wednesday?

    What's cooking this Wednesday?  Um, nothing.  Sorry!  Check back next week for something yummy...

    Meanwhile, a quick update.  Anna's ballet performances went very well.  She was (is) so beautiful and graceful, and she really had a great time.  I fulfilled a mother's duty by crying afterwards, overwhelmed by seeing my daughter so happy and surrounded by such sweet and loving people.  I cannot say enough good things about the Reign Dance Theater.

    We have been enjoying ourselves with Edwin's parents here over the weekend, and his mom will stay here until Friday.  The online classes are done, so we have been celebrating by having a math-only school week and playing the rest of the day.  After lunch today we are going to the Science Museum to see the King Tut exhibit, which can definitely count for school (if we were counting).  Tomorrow we will celebrate James's 12th birthday - Fun!

    Hence, no real recipe post today.  But if you have missed any of the other Wednesdays you can always look back:
    What's Cooking Wednesday - Better Than Fast Food Chicken "Fajitas"
    What's Cooking Wednesday - Breakfast for Dinner
    What's Cooking Wednesday - Do What You Do Best
    What's Cooking Wednesday - Eat the Leftovers
    What's Cooking Wednesday - Yummy Kebabs
    What's Cooking Wednesday - General Tso's Chicken
    What's Cooking Wednesday - Red Velvet Cake with the Super-Special Frosting
    What's Cooking Wednesday - King Ranch Chicken Casserole - A Guest Post!
    What's Cooking Wednesday - Food Link Round-Up

    Wow!  I can't believe there are that many of those.  Enjoy the sunshine! 

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    What's Cooking Wednesday - Food Link Round-Up

    I've mentioned this is quite the busy week for our family, so I will now use that as my excuse to do an easy version of What's Cooking Wednesday.  I have been collecting links to interesting recipes over the past couple of months; today I will share them.  If you have seen any great food links lately, please feel free to share them in the comments!

    Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies - Look at the picture and you will see why I really want to try this!

    Salmon with Basil Romesco Sauce, Spaghetti with Cheese and Black Pepper, and Poppy Seed and Mandarin Orange Salad - I want to try this because I need to eat more fish, I love all things spaghetti, and I love complete menus.  Not to mention I love the lady who writes Wednesday Grace.

    Muffin Mondays - I have no idea how I stumbled across this blog, but it was probably from a link in one of the other blogs I read.  This lady posts a new muffin recipe every Monday, and lots of them look good to me.  Another thing I like about it is how similar the recipes are; it makes me feel like I can branch out and make any kind of muffin by just modifying the thing I already know.  I made the Heavenly Vanilla Muffins and they were very good and filling.  The one I plan to try next is Whole Wheat Banana Muffins.

    And now two from Macheesmo, another food blog I am not sure how I found.  I do enjoy it, though, and often talk abut Mr. Macheesmo when discussing cooking or my new iron skillet.

    More about Kabobs - Has anyone noticed I can not settle on the way to spell this food?  But you know how I love them!

    Chile Relleno Burrito - This looks so good, and it looks very versatile too!

    I hope you click and cook this week!  Enjoy!

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Looking Forward to Esther: Courage to Rise

    I had a lovely Mother's Day, thanks to my sweet kiddos and husband.  Fajitas, wine, doughnuts, and Starbucks, sandwiched between two worship services - can't really beat that!

    This week is going to zoom by fast since it is the week leading up to Anna's ballet performances on Friday and Saturday.  This year's performance is Esther: Courage to Rise, and I can't wait to see it!  If anyone is interested in joining us there, let me know (or you can buy tickets through the website).  Some portion of our family will be at all three shows, with all of us at the last show on Saturday night.  Reign Dance Theater has been great for Anna and I highly recommend it.  The big show is the main fund-raiser for what is really a very inexpensive ballet school, which explains the high ticket price.  But it is more than your standard ballet recital, believe me!  Watch the trailer here.

    We also have Edwin's parents coming to town later this week for the big show.  And we are wrapping up the on-line classes for the big kids, which means some important tests thrown in with the late-night ballet rehearsals.  It should be a very fun week!

    For you weather-watchers - I woke to a rip-roaring thunderstorm this morning, which I think means that spring is finally here.  We have not seen any snow flakes for a whole week now, and there are a few leaves on the trees!  And I think I saw that the high tomorrow is 80.  I think this is why I have said that spring is really one of our shortest seasons.  That is fine with me - bring on the summer!

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    What's Cooking Wednesday - King Ranch Chicken Casserole - A Guest Post!

    I must admit that I am so excited about this, my first "guest post."  It makes me feel like a real blogger!  When I asked for ideas on Facebook yesterday for What's Cooking Wednesday, my friend Julie chimed in with a suggestion.  Then she graciously agreed to write a guest post about her recipe, King Ranch Chicken Casserole.
    I met Julie at the University of Montevallo, where we were in the same sorority.  I remember her as being fun-loving and hilarious, and found out that she is still that way, in addition to being a loving Christian wife and mother, after meeting back up with her on Facebook a couple of years ago.  We recently (not as recently now, but compared to the almost 20 years that went by before that, pretty recent) had the pleasure of getting our families together for one short meal, which was really fun.  After a stint of moving around, she is now settled in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband, Tim, and their three sweet daughters. Daughters who, by the way, give her so many hilarious stories that Julie could easily write her own blog!  Her cheery way of dealing with whatever life throws her way is enjoyable and refreshing to hear about.  And she has a special talent for making animals out of food!

    And now, What's Cooking Wednesday, a guest post by my friend Julie!

    We lived in San Antonio, Texas for six years. One of the many things I love about the city is the wonderful food.  My Texas friend, who is actually from El Salvador, introduced me to  King Ranch Chicken Casserole (KRCC).  It's an easy and versatile dish to prepare; it freezes well, and you can make any number of variations to suit your tastes.  During our time in San Antonio, I had many versions of KRCC at work functions, church potlucks, Bible study/small group dinners, San Antonio Spurs Championship parties, etc.   This recipe makes a lot, I usually cook half and freeze the other half for a night we need a quick dinner.

    Read on for the recipe!

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    I am Free to Run

    May 2nd already, yet I awoke to 31 degrees and gloom.  Everytime I pull on my winter running pants I think surely this will be the last time I wear them this year.  After seeing Edwin off to work I get a text from him: "It's snowing."  "Ugh" is my reply.  Now we are two for two days of snow flurries in May.  I decide I will run anyway and grab a baseball cap in case it turns to rain before I get back.  Though complaining about the weather again in my heart if not aloud, I head out the door.

    Surprisingly, or better yet mercifully, I begin to feel better as soon as the fresh air hits my lungs, despite the snow I can see on my jacket.  It's windy but the snow is more like small styrofoam balls and I don't seem to be getting wet.  And 31 is not that cold if you are moving.

    Then I begin to pray, something I usually do while I am running though it is not the ideal prayer time - there is the music, the traffic, and the breathing to worry about after all.  I thank God for the day, confess my sins (including the complaining), and begin to pray for the victims of the devastating tornadoes last week in Alabama, my home state.  I am so thankful my family and friends were spared, yet it saddens me greatly to realize how many homes, businesses, trees, and people are gone.

    This is when it hits me (I am sure I would have had this realization much sooner if I were not here, so many miles away from the disaster.) - my house is still standing, warm and full of groceries.  My husband is at work, our power is on, we will have a full day of school, cook three meals, do the laundry.  The hardest thing I have to do today is probably this run, and I have chosen to do it because I enjoy it.  I will not spend today sifting through piles that used to be my home, hoping to find my children's clothes.  And I should be very, very thankful to be spared from yet another catastrophe.

    Then I hear the music on my iPod - "I am free to run...I am free to dance...I am free to live for You...I am free..."  And I realize how true that is.  I am free to run today because God has been merciful to me once again.  It is true everyday, even, or perhaps especially, the day I will "wake up" in heaven.

    So I continue to pray for all of those affected by the enormous tornadoes, once again realizing how God takes care of us every moment.  It is impossible to imagine the destruction and how many aspects of life have been affected there, but I do know this: God is sovereign.  He did not leave those who were hurt by these storms.  He is there, working out His perfect will in a way we may never understand.  Lord, have mercy on them.  May they feel Your love as never before.