Lemon Icebox Cookies

Lemon Icebox Cookies

Lemon Icebox Cookies

Total tart throbs….that’s what I call these buttery, lemony confections.  Cookie nirvana!  Cookie heaven!  Cookie num-yums!   I think you get how much I love these cookies.

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Lemon desserts seem so perfect at this time of year, more than any other, I think.  So I took my recipe for luscious butter cookies, added some (lots) lemon zest, plus a few drops of lemon juice, and zing went the strings of my heart.  Just lemony enough, just buttery enough, and just satisfying enough.  In other words…..perfection 🙂

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As you look over the recipe you will notice that confectioners’ sugar is used instead of granulated.   Powdered sugar gives these cookies their crumbly, sandy texture without too much sweetness, thus the lemon and butter flavors shine through.  The dough is made entirely in the food processor, divided in half and chilled before slicing and baking.  The dough cuts beautifully, not like some others I’ve made that like to crumble when you go to slice them.  Before cutting the cookies each log of dough is rolled in granulated sugar, so the edges of the cookies are glistening and crunchy once baked.

LEMON ICEBOX COOKIES

Yield:  Makes about 5 dozen cookies

Ingredients:IMG_9519

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

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Directions:

1.  In a food processor, pulse together the flour, confectioners’ sugar, salt and lemon zest until combined.

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This is how I cut butter into small pieces.

 

Add butter and process until sandy.  Add egg yolks and lemon juice; pulse until dough comes together.

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2.  Divide dough in half and form each into a 1  1/2-inch-wide log.

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Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 2 hours, or overnight.  Or after wrapping, dough may be frozen up to a month.

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3.  Preheat oven to 350*F. , with racks in upper and lower thirds.  Spread granulated sugar on a piece of wax paper or parchment; roll logs over sugar to coat.

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Roll dough logs in sugar to coat well.

 

4.  Slice logs into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

This dough slices so nicely.

This dough slices so nicely.

Arrange 1 inch apart, on two (or more) parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake until cookies are golden brown around edges, about 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.

Lightly browned around the edges.

Lightly browned around the edges.

Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.   To store, cover and keep at room temperature, up to 5 days.

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These are the perfect little sweet to serve with a cup of tea, or alongside a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

 

SOURCE:   Carolyn’s Originals

Three’s Company, y’all

Guacamole Sauce

Guacamole Sauce

It’s a marinade, it’s a dressing, it’s Super-sauce!!

Who doesn’t love efficiency in the kitchen?  So if you could spend a few minutes making one thing that could be used all week in several different ways, wouldn’t you be all for it?     I sure am!

Amazing Dip

Amazing Dip

Take this sauce for example… it’s a guacamole you’re going to love dipping into,  it’s a sauce to dress up some roast or grilled chicken, it’s a marinade to flavor fish or tofu, and finally, if you thin it out a little, it’s a dressing to dress up salads, from greens to veggies.

Use on a salad to wake up some greens or veggies.

Use on a salad to wake up some greens or veggies.

As I am prone to say at times like this..”that’s a lot of bang for your buck”.  And speaking of bucks, avocados seem to be plentiful now and the price is right.   Seems like the situation is just begging you to make this sauce/dip/dressing right now.   What are you waiting for?

 

MULTI-PURPOSE GUACAMOLE SAUCE

Yield:   Makes about 1 cup.  Adjust quantities to make more.

Ingredients:IMG_9230

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. ground cumin (according to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper, or dash hot sauce
  • 1 ripe peeled avocado, seeded and coarsely mashed

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Directions:

This couldn’t be easier…..put mashed avocado in a small bowl, add everything else to it, and stir to combine.

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Flavors will blend if you make it about an hour ahead of use time.  Cover and refrigerate till needed.

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 YUM_OH

SOURCE:   Carolyn’s Originals

Beefy Bolognese Sauce

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These are the days when I think a lot about comforts….and comfort foods.   Which brings me to the question:  just what is a comfort food?

If each of you were to give me an answer, I would probably get over 400 answers, so that means everyone has their own definition of what comfort food is to them.  For me, comfort foods take me back to my younger days, when Mom was doing the cooking.  There were so many dishes she made that I loved, so anything that reminds me of one of those meals is a comfort to me.  Comfort foods are tied up with memories….the family eating together around a big table with lots of talk and laughter going on, and enjoying favorite foods.

Bolognese Sauce with penne pasta

Bolognese Sauce with penne pasta

One of my most favorite memories is the meat sauce that Mom always made from scratch, and served over pasta with lots of grated cheese over the top.  I’m guessing that pasta in some form is considered a comfort food by many people all over the world.  Therefore a recipe for a good meat sauce (Bolognese Sauce) should be in every cook’s repertoire.  It’s so versatile, it can be served over anything;  rice, bread, potatoes, polenta, and pasta, of course.  It goes with any pasta shape.

So welcome to my kitchen today while I prepare my best Bolognese Sauce for you.  This is not a sauce that needs to cook slowly on the back burner for hours.  What helps to speed up the blending of flavors is cooking it in a Dutch oven.  The Dutch oven, even with the lid on, allows the sauce to reduce a little, thus concentrating the flavors.  This method of cooking it also lets the layers of flavor come through, as the bacon, ground meat and veggies all get browned in the same pot, which is then deglazed with the cooking liquid.

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For anyone who might want to cook it in a slow cooker….I have done it that way, and find that the sauce is a little more liquid than I like it, so I would recommend using a little less broth, or omit the wine.  The end result will still be very good, but my first choice is the Dutch oven.

Also, since making this is so easy, I like to make double the amount, and freeze half of it, so it’s ready for a quick meal anytime…

BEEFY BOLOGNESE SAUCE

Yield:  Makes about 4 cups, or enough for 1 pound of pasta

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices center cut bacon, choppedIMG_9024
  • 8 oz. 90% lean ground beef
  • 4 oz. ground, lean pork, or sausage, casings removed
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup unsalted tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup unsalted chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup red or white wine
  • 1 ( 14.5-oz) can unsalted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Directions:

1.  Place bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; sauté 5 minutes or until beacon begins to crisp.  Add beef and pork to pan;  cook 6 minutes or until partly browned, stirring to crumble.  Remove mixture from pan.

Browning all the meat.

Browning all the meat.

2.  Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes.

Sautéing the veggies.

Sautéing the veggies.

Add tomato paste; saute 1 minute until it starts to darken.

Add tomato paste.

Add tomato paste.

Add chicken broth and wine; bring to a boil.  Cook 1 minute, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Return beef mixture to pan.

Add liquids, then return meats to the pan.

Add liquids, then return meats to the pan.

3.  Stir in tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Cover; reduce heat to low, and cook about 1 hour, stirring several times to prevent sticking.  Taste before serving and add more salt, if needed.

Serve over your choice of pasta.  In the photos here, I used penne pasta.  Grate some fresh parmesan or Romano cheese over each serving and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.    DEEElish!

Oops, in my haste to take the photos, I forgot the cheese.  How could I ?

Oops, in my haste to take the photos, I forgot the cheese. How could I ?

Leftover Turkey Dinner Baked Dish

 

Leftover Turkey Dinner Baked Dish

Leftover Turkey Dinner Baked Dish

 

Thanksgiving may be over, but there are more winter holidays ahead and that probably means there’s going to be more turkey on your table.  And that means more leftovers.    I have a few standard dishes that I make with leftover turkey beside the all-you-cram-into-it sandwich.  There’s turkey pot pie that we love, (see my chicken pot pie recipe) and turkey tetrazzini, another comforting favorite.  But sometimes you just want to make something new.

Every layer of this dish has something in it that you will love.

Every layer of this dish has something in it that you will love.

Here’s a recipe that is definitely new, because I just made it up.  It’s based on a number of recipes that I had seen for turkey pot-pie, but this is a mash-up that includes your stuffing, vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy.  It’s like having the whole dinner again in a new form,  and it tastes fabulous all over again too.

LEFTOVER TURKEY DINNER BAKED DISH

Yield:  Makes approximately 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked stuffing
  • 3 -4 Tbsp chicken or turkey broth

    Get out all your bowls of leftovers.

    Get out all your bowls of leftovers.

  • 2 Tbsp. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup turkey gravy
  • 2 cups cooked turkey, cubed
  • 1 cup vegetables, such as peas, carrots, green beans, small white onions, mushrooms, etc.
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese, swiss or cheddar is good
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 2-3 tbsp. milk or half and half
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted (optional)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese, same kind as above.

Directions:

1.  In a small bowl, combine stuffing and enough broth to reach desired moistness;  Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch square baking dish, or deep dish pie pan.  Bake at 350*F for 10 – 15 minutes until lightly browned.

Make a bottom crust with stuffing.

Make a bottom crust with stuffing.

 

I had a few mushrooms to use up so I cooked them up with some onions.

I had a few mushrooms to use up so I cooked them up with some onions.

2.  In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and gravy until smooth.  Stir in the turkey, vegetables, grated cheese, salt and pepper.  Spoon over stuffing crust.

Mix vegetables into gravy.

Mix vegetables into gravy.

Stir in cut up turkey.

Stir in cut up turkey.

3.  In a small bowl, combine potatoes and cream to loosen the potatoes and make them spreadable.  Spread over the turkey filling mixture.

Drop mounds of mashed potato over the filling and spread it out.

Drop mounds of mashed potato over the filling and spread it out.

Drizzle with butter, if using;  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese.

Drizzle with melted butter, if using, and shredded cheese.

Drizzle with melted butter, if using, and shredded cheese.

4..  Bake at 350*F.  for 25 – 30 minutes or until bubbly, heated through and browned.  Serve with additional gravy, that has been warmed.

Hot and bubbly out of the oven.

Hot and bubbly out of the oven.

Serve with additional gravy, if desired.

Serve with additional gravy, if desired.

SOURCE:    A Carolyn’s Original

 

Huevos Rancheros with Bacon and Corn Tortillas

Hoevos Rancheros with Bacon and Corn Tortillas

Hoevos Rancheros with Bacon and Corn Tortillas

I admit that sometimes I’m just weird, like when I jump out of bed thinking about what I’ll make for breakfast.  I’m not talking OJ, toast and coffee or a bowl of cold cereal here.  I mean really cooking up something good.  This happens mostly on a weekend morning, like today, Saturday.

It would be eggs, with bacon included, but in a not so ordinary way.  Like huevos rancheros.  That means eggs on the ranch,  or eggs ranch-style.  See, I’m fluent in Spanish.   I’m also fluent in cooking by the seat of my pants, which means no recipe in sight.  OK then, here’s how it unfolded.

Walk to the refrigerator and take out eggs ( natch), bacon, corn tortillas, an open jar of salsa and some grated cheddar jack cheese.  Do I know what I’m doing?  Not really,  I’ve never made huevos rancheros, but I have seen a recipe with a picture of the finished dish.  What I intended to produce was my own version of what I thought they must be like.  Be on notice: that’s open to wide interpretation.

Begin by cooking up 4 slices of bacon till crisp.  Save a small amount of the drippings in the pan.  Add two corn tortillas to the bacon drippings and cook until puffed and golden.  Remove to paper towels to drain.  Keep any drippings remaining in the pan and add a small pat of butter.   Prepare eggs in the usual way for scrambling,  add to pan and cook until just beginning to set.  Sprinkle with grated cheddar-jack cheese.  Cover and turn off heat, allowing cheese to melt, and eggs to finish cooking.   Place a crisp tortilla on each plate,  cover with a portion of scrambled egg,  spoon on some salsa, and top with strips of bacon.  Olé.  Mue Bueno!

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HUEVOS RANCHEROS WITH BACON AND CORN TORTILLAS

Yield:   Serves 2   Increase quantities accordingly to serve more

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices lean bacon
  • 2  (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 jar salsa, mild or spicy, your preference
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 small pat butter
  • grated cheddar-jack cheese or Cotija cheese or queso fresco

Directions:

1.  Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until crisp.  Drain on paper towels, reserving the drippings in the skillet.

Cook the bacon first and save some of the drippings for the tortillas.

Cook the bacon first and save some of the drippings for the tortillas.

2.  Cook the tortillas:   heat the bacon drippings in the skillet, add the tortillas and cook until golden brown on the bottoms, 3 – 4 minutes; flip and cook until golden on the other side, about 3 more minutes.  Wrap in foil to keep warm.

Corn Tortillas get crispy and puffed when cooked in a little oil.

Corn Tortillas get crispy and puffed when cooked in a little oil.

3.  Make the eggs:   in a small bowl, whisk the eggs together to blend,  add 1 -2 tablespoons water, salt and pepper to taste, and continue whisking to mix well..   Add the butter to any remaining drippings in the skillet, and allow to melt and become hot.  Pour the egg mixture into the skillet, and cook on medium heat until the eggs are set, lifting the edges and letting the liquid portion run underneath.  When the eggs are almost completely cooked sprinkle on the grated cheese.  Turn off the heat, cover , and allow the cheese to melt before serving.

4.  To serve:  Place a warm tortilla on each plate.  Top with a portion  of the eggs,   Spoon on desired amount of salsa, and lay two pieces of bacon on the top.

Layer it all up with some salsa and bacon on top.

Layer it all up with some salsa and bacon on top.

 

This is probably not the most appetizing-looking meal I’ve ever made, but it sure tasted good, and got a weekend morning off to a great start.

 

SOURCE:   A Carolyn Original

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Blondies

Pumpkin Spice Blondies

Pumpkin Spice Blondies

Do you ever play the “what if” game?  It goes like this…..”What if I use a different kind of flour here?”    What if I use all butter instead of shortening in this cake?”

Today’s recipe came about when I asked ” what if I used a cookie mix to make some squares”?    Yes, I know there are a gazillion recipes out there that use cake mixes to make cookies, but what I had on hand was a boxed pumpkin spice cookie mix, but I didn’t really want to make cookies.  This is how I changed the directions to make blondies with all the flavors you would expect in a pumpkin square, and then some!!

Soooo Good!

Soooo Good!

These came out chewy, and chunky because of the extra add-ins.  I found that by using miniature marshmallows, they melt while baking leaving an extra gooey spot in the bar.   I also used caramel bits and dried cranberries in these and all the flavors combined will remind you of fall.  To make the glaze on top I used about a cup of powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice mixed with about 4 teaspoons of water.  This was spread on after the bars had cooled completely.     Today’s game of “what if”  was successful…. my experiments don’t always turn out as well.  So I invite you to try them for yourself.  Any brand of pumpkin cookie mix will work, using the amount of butter and egg specified on the package.

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PUMPKIN BLONDIES

Yield:  Makes 16 barsIMG_8053

Ingredients:

  • 1 package ( 16.5-oz.) pumpkin spice cookie mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup ( 1-stick) butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup each caramel bits, mini marshmallows, and dried cranberries
Disregard the can of pumpkin…I didn't use it.

Disregard the can of pumpkin…I didn’t use it.

Directions:

1.   Preheat oven to 350*F.  Lightly grease an 8x8x2-inch pan.

2.  In a medium bowl, stir together the cookie mix, egg and butter until a dough forms.

3.  Stir in the caramel bits, mini marshmallows, and dried cranberries until well incorporated.

4.  Scrape dough into prepared pan and press in evenly.

5.  Bake for 28-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely before topping with glaze.

Cool the baked squares before adding glaze.

Cool the baked squares before adding glaze.

6.  Glaze:  1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice,  3-4 teaspoons water.  Whisk together to form a loose glaze that you can spread on top of the blondies.

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SOURCE:    a Carolyn’s Original

 

 

 

 

Blue Cheese Burgers

Blue Cheese Burgers.

Blue Cheese Burgers.

We have a wonderful burger restaurant in our town that we go to on occasion.  They grind their own beef mixture from grass-fed cattle, and it’s juicy and so flavorful.  Using this great beef they come up with some very interesting burgers with unique toppings.  One of my favorites is their blue cheese burger.  This is not your standard burger with blue cheese on top.  Instead it’s crumbled and added to the meat mixture.  When the burger is cooked, the cheese melts, adds its flavor to the other seasonings and makes this burger so moist and juicy that it runs down your fingers and into your hands.

Can't wait for the first bite.

Can’t wait for the first bite.

Licking your fingers is allowed because you don’t want to waste one drop of that deliciousness.  Well, I have been wanting to replicate this burger at home for some time now, and last weekend I did just that.  It may not be an exact copy, but close enough that I was more than satisfied with the result.  We cooked them on the grill, but they would be just as good cooked in a hot skillet on the stove-top.  I would recommend serving them on the best buns you can find.  A good burger deserves a sturdy roll to capture all that goodness.  This burger will definitely be “in your face”. 🙂

Even if you don’t like blue cheese one little bit, you will most likely enjoy these burgers, because there is no strong flavor of blue cheese, but the overall flavor is just perfect.  If you would like a more pronounced flavor of blue cheese, increase the amount that you put into the meat mixture.

An added benefit to adding the cheese to the beef is that you can use a leaner cut of ground beef and still get a moist and very flavorful burger.  These burgers can be served with your favorite toppings.  I served them with sliced tomatoes and lettuce, and a little mayo on the bun that had been toasted.  These have zoomed to the top of my list of favorite burgers.  In fact I have already made another batch to freeze.  It’s so easy to pull out the number you need for a meal, and they’re pan ready.  Just defrost, cook, and eat!!  Exactly what summertime calls for!

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BLUE CHEESE BURGERS

Yield;    makes 12 burgers

Ingredients:

Mixing up the beef mixture.

Mixing up the beef mixture.

  • 3 pounds lean ground beef
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled, or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh chives or green onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce, or more to your taste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon spicy mustard ( such as Gulden’s)
  • 12 French rolls or buns

Directions:

1.  In a large bowl, mix ground beef, blue cheese, chives, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, salt, and mustard.  Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

2.  Gently shape burger mixture into 12 ( 1/2-inch-thick) patties.

You will want to keep a few of these in your freezer.

You will want to keep a few of these in your freezer.

3.  Preheat an outdoor grill to high heat.  Oil the grill grate.  Grill patties 3 minutes/side for medium well; and 5 minutes/side for well done.  Serve on rolls, with toppings of choice.

Serve with fresh corn for a great summer meal.

Serve with fresh corn for a great summer meal.

 

SOURCE:    Carolyn’s Originals

 

 

Roast Tomato Bruschetta

Roast Tomato Bruschetta

Roast Tomato Bruschetta

It’s a fact that the majority of foods that we love and that I prepare here at home make their way to the pages of this blog.  However, there are some recipes that I make over and over again and somehow never think to share them with you.  Usually that’s because they are so simple, I don’t view them as a “recipe’, but they are non-the-less-good in spite of it.

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A few weeks ago I shared a picture on Facebook of an appetizer that I was making to bring to a family picnic,  and almost instantly I was getting questions about what it was, and requests for the recipe.   All it consisted of was roast tomatoes, coarsely chopped then mixed with some diced shallots, olive oil, and chopped basil.   Spread this mixture on some  toasted whole-wheat baguette slices, and you have yourself  one delicious appetizer, an accompaniment to a salad, or a little extra something to round out a meal.

I make this using whatever kind of tomatoes I have in abundance, but my favorite is to use small heirloom varieties.  I like the mixture of colors.  The tomatoes can be roasted in the oven on a cookie sheet, or on the grill if you already have it heated up.  One quick way to do this on the grill is to thread the tomatoes on skewers (6-8/skewer) and lay them on the grill, turning every 2 – 3 minutes until the tomatoes start to crack and begin to look charred.  Then bring them into the kitchen, chop them up, add the remaining ingredients, and its done!

ROAST TOMATO BRUSCHETTA

Yield:   Make about 2 cups

I get the dressing ready before roasting the tomatoes.

I get the dressing ready before roasting the tomatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, or any variety of tomatoes you desire
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 small shallot, chopped  (or finely minced red onion)
  • 1 whole wheat French bread baguette, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, halved

Directions:

1.   Preheat oven to 375*F.   or heat grill to medium-high heat.

2.  Thread tomatoes evenly on 4 skewers;  lay on a cookie sheet and brush all over with 2 teaspoon olive oil.  If using grill, brush tomatoes with oil and lay on grill .   Turn the skewers several times for even roasting, and when the tomatoes start to crack and look charred ( about 5 minutes on the grill) remove from heat.

Roasting the tomatoes on skewers.

Roasting the tomatoes on skewers.

3.  Remove tomatoes from skewers; chop coarsely.  Place tomatoes, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, basil, and shallot in a small bowl, stirring to combine.

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4.  Brush bread slices evenly with some olive oil,  Grill for about 30 seconds on each side or until toasted.

Toasting the bread.

Toasting the bread.

Rub cut sides of garlic over one side of bread slices, top evenly with tomato mixture.

Once you try this, you will want it with every meal. 🙂

 

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SOURCE:  Carolyn’s Creations

Tortellini and Broccoli Salad

Tortellini and Broccoli Salad with Bacon

Tortellini and Broccoli Salad with Bacon

There’s a certain kind of math that goes on in my head every time I stare into my refrigerator and try to decide what to make for dinner.

It goes something like this:  6 eggs,  1/2 bag of cheese tortellini, part of a head of broccoli, 1 stick of butter, some leftover chicken soup, a block of cream cheese, 4 slices of bacon, and  half a loaf of Italian bread.

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There’s also a strange correlation at work–the less time I have and the hungrier I am, the harder it is to process all this math.  Let’s see, if  I scramble the eggs and mix them with warm garlicy broccoli, and sprinkle toasted bread crumbs over the top, would that work?

Oh, wait–how about if I cook the tortellini, mix it with broccoli, and treat the mixture like macaroni salad with a mayonnaise dressing.   Top if off with a sprinkle of bacon?    Yes, now is there enough mayonnaise?   Do I have a lemon?   And what’s this?—one romaine heart hiding at the back of the crisper drawer!   Perfect, I’ll serve the salad on a bed of romaine.  Whew!  That was a tough one.

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I’m wishing you the same kind of success when this happens to you. 🙂

TORTELLINI AND BROCCOLI SALADIMG_7632

Yield:   Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 0z. refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Romaine lettuce or spring greens mix
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled (vegetarians can omit bacon)

Directions:

1.  Cook tortellini according to package directions.  Add broccoli florets in the last 5 minutes of cooking time.   Drain, and rinse with cold water to stop cooking action.  Transfer to a mixing bowl.

2.  In a small bowl, mix together the dressing ingredients, i.e.. mayonnaise through salt.  Pour this over the tortellini and broccoli, and mix well to coat evenly.

3.  On a large platter or serving dish, arrange the salad greens,  Spoon the tortellini salad on top.   Sprinkle with crumbled bacon and serve.

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This salad is good slightly warm or at room temperature, or thoroughly chilled.  Try it on a warm day when you want a quick, cold meal.

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SOURCE:   Another of my own creations!

Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon

Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon

Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon

Comfort Foods!  Just those two words bring to mind certain foods that we grew up with, or crave at one time or another.  Maybe you’ve had a bad day, and just want a familiar meal that you know you love.  Perhaps it’s mid-winter, freezing cold, and you want something to eat that feels like being wrapped up in a warm quilt.  Or you just broke up with your boyfriend, best friend, or had to have a pet “put to sleep”.  You want food that will make you feel better, if that’s possible.  Food that gives you comfort is naturally called “comfort food”.

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Well, here’s a question that I’ve been pondering;  do you crave comfort foods in hot weather?  Aren’t comfort foods warm foods that give you a “warm fuzzy”?  I can’t think of any cold foods that do that, and in hot weather don’t we usually want cold foods to cool us off, so where do comfort foods fit in?

That is the dilemma I faced last week.  The weekend had served up warm, sunny days in the mid to high 80’s.  It was hot, we ate salads!   Come Monday, the temperature is in the 60’s, and its raining, cold and damp outside.  Then I go for my dance lesson, where every move I make gets corrected, and I can’t seem to do anything right.  (That’s an exaggeration, but it felt that way).  And to top it all off, I forgot to take something out of the freezer for dinner.  Does this day qualify for a comfort meal?  I thought it did.

This recipe for a variation on Mac and Cheese is my solution to wanting, no needing, something comforting to eat, but little time to prepare it, so let’s call this “Quick Comfort Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon”.  Even though the calendar tells us it’s late spring or early summer, this dish was perfect for my needs.  And Mr. D.  loved it too, saying it was fabulous, and “hit the spot”.

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Note:  included here is a trick I learned at one time:  a little bit of turmeric enhances the color, making you perceive the sauce as cheesier than it actually is.  It adds no additional flavor of its own, it’s only there for color, so if it’s not in your cupboard, just omit it and use a yellow cheddar cheese.

BROCCOLI MAC AND CHEESE WITH BACON

Yield:  Serves 4IMG_7492

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces uncooked large or regular elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups prechopped broccoli florets
  • 3 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)
  • 1 cup 1 % low-fat milk
  • 1 jar Alfredo Sauce with cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

1.  Cook pasta according to package directions, adding a little salt to the water.  Add broccoli to pan during last 2 minutes of cooking.  Drain.

Add broccoli to end of pasta cooking time.

Add broccoli to end of pasta cooking time.

2.  While pasta cooks, place bacon in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat;  cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.  Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon.  Reserve 1 1/2 teaspoons drippings in the pan.  Add chopped garlic and the turmeric, if using.  Cook 1 minute, stirring throughout.

3.  Combine the milk with the Alfredo sauce, stirring with a whisk to blend well. Add to skillet with garlic, and mix together.  Bring to a simmer, and add 3/4 cup shredded cheese.  Stir to melt and blend in the cheese, stir in half the bacon.  Taste sauce and add salt and pepper if needed.

Making the cheese sauce with Alfredo sauce.

Making the cheese sauce with Alfredo sauce.

4.  Add the drained pasta and broccoli,  toss to coat.  Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese and remaining bacon over the top.

Add macaroni and broccoli to cheese.

Add macaroni and broccoli to cheese sauce.

Preheat the broiler to high.   Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts and just begins to brown.  If time allows,  this dish could be baked for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the top a little browned.

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Broccoli Mac and Cheese served with a salad.

Broccoli Mac and Cheese served with a salad.

 

SOURCE:   a Carolyn’s Originals