Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Macaroni and Cheese - Cheater Version

I'm going to let you in on a little secret.  I don't really like to cook.  I can cook.  I'm a pretty good cook, actually.  But it's not something I really enjoy doing, like baking.  (And no, cooking and baking are not the same.)  So when it comes to making dinner, I like to go with as little fuss as possible, unless it's a special occasion.  (I do love to put on a big Thanksgiving dinner...I'm really not sure why...)  Although, in an attempt to be a little more healthy, I make our dinners from scratch, and don't buy ready-made food from the grocery store.  Go figure.  Anyhoo, this recipe fits the no-fuss rule.  And it's very popular at potlucks.  It's a win-win.

Now that we've got all that out of the way, here's the recipe.  It's really yummy, too.  I make this when I don't feel like making real macaroni and cheese.  Which is pretty much all the time. 

First, gather your ingredients:

You'll need elbow macaroni, cheese, an egg, cottage cheese and sour cream.  (Not pictured, salt and pepper to taste.)

While your macaroni is boiling, turn your cheese into this:

This is sharp cheddar and colby jack.  Sometimes I use a mix of sharp and mild cheddar.  You can use whatever cheese you like, really.  And if you buy pre-shredded cheese, it's even easier.  And then you can do something productive, like organizing your icing colors, while the water boils.  See, I'm looking out for you.

Once the macaroni is cooked just short of al dente, drain it and return it to the pot.  You can either let it cool naturally, or rinse it under cold water, whatever floats your boat.  But don't add the egg until it's cool.  Or you'll be sorry.  Very, very sorry.

When your egg is incorporated, mix in the cottage cheese and sour cream.  Followed by the shredded cheese.  Doesn't look very appetizing, does it?  Never fear, it will be lovely once it's been baked.

Now, don't be like me and forget to hold back a cup or so of cheese to sprinkle on top once the macaroni and cheese is in the baking dish.  That would just be sad.

Bake it in a 350 oven until it's nice and bubbly.  Then put it under the broiler to crisp up the cheese you sprinkled on top.  I'm going to have to ask you to use your imagination on this last shot.  Pretend there's a nice golden brown layer of perfectly broiled cheese sitting on top.

It's really good and really easy, especially on a busy week night.  Here's the recipe:

Macaroni and Cheese

16 oz box elbow macaroni
1 egg
16 oz cottage cheese
8 oz sour cream
4 cups sharp cheddar (approx. 16 oz)
2 cups mild cheddar (approx. 8 oz)
salt/pepper to taste

Boil macaroni to just short of al dente.  Drain, cool and add egg.  Mix well.  Mix in cottage cheese and sour cream.  Mix well.  Add cheese, reserving 1-2 cups.  Mix well. 

Transfer to a 9 x 13 baking dish and sprinkle with reserved cheese. 

Bake at 350 for 30 - 35 minutes.  Increase oven temp to broil and broil for 2-4 minutes, being careful not to burn the cheese.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Look What I Got...

Aren't they beautiful?  It's peach season.  Finally.  The fruit farm sent out a newsletter that said peaches are in, and we were all over it. 

After we ate a few, I whipped up a quick peach crisp.  The recipe is adapted from the Pioneer Woman's Raspberry Crisp.  But we don't care for raspberries, and we adore peaches. 

First peel and slice about 5 cups of fresh peaches.  Mix in cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.  Let that sit and get cozy while you mix up  the topping.

In a separate bowl, mix brown sugar, white sugar, flour, salt, butter and oats.

Mix it all up until it forms a nice crumb. 

This is my favorite pie pan.  Only, I don't make pie in it very often. I make pie in my glass pie pans.  I like this one for all sorts of other things...

Like peach crisp...

Now put on the topping and pat it down...

Pop it in the oven at 350 until it is golden brown and bubbly.

Lovely.  Please note that mine is bubbly but not golden brown.  I misjudged the time and had to leave for work.  But it was still yummy.  Just make sure you leave enough time to bake yours thoroughly before you leave for work. 

And I didn't have time to put any on plate and take a photo.  Maybe next time.

Here is the recipe:

Peach Crisp

5 cups sliced fresh peaches
2 heaping Tbs cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup oats
dash salt
6 Tbs butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine peaches, corn starch, 1 cup sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Stir and set aside.

In a separate bowl combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar, brown sugar, oats, dash of salt, and butter pieces. Cut together with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add peach mixture to a small baking dish or pie pan. Sprinkle topping mixture all over the top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.

Allow to sit for ten minutes before serving.  Top with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.
Posted by on August 10 2010


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cars Birthday Cake

Well, it's certainly been a while since I've posted.  I have no excuses, except that it's summertime, and the boy is not in school, which means we have to do more stuff to keep him busy.  Which for us, usually just means going outside and running through the sprinkler...but it's something, anyway.

So, my co-worker demanded asked that I make a cake for her son's 4th birthday.  She brought me a picture, but, again, I have no idea who made the original. 

And here it is:

I could have done better, if I'd had a chance to do it over, but it came out ok.  I'm not an artist, so I wasn't able to capture their expressions, but it's like enough so you know who it is.  I think.  I've never actually seen Cars.  (The original photo has a blue guy on top, but I have no idea who he is.  He has a monocle, though.)

Top tier is strawberry, bottom is chocolate.  Vanilla buttercream filling and homemade chocolate marshmallow fondant covering/decorations.  Yum. 

That's all for now.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Happy Belated Independence Day Cookies!

So we've experienced a busy week.  The power was out for a few days...on the week we decided to play hookey from work...good times. 

After the power came back on we took the kids to an amusement park, which was a hugely popular decision.  In the ensuing days we went to an historical farm, grilled out in the back yard, treated Daddy's sunburn, went to a parade, made popcorn and watched Goonies...it's been a fun-filled week.

All that excitement meant that I was not anywhere near the computer for most of the week.  Which means I didn't post my 4th of July cookies.  So, without further ado, here they are!

Please don't judge me for my picture quality.  I arranged them nicely and took some pictures, but they didn't turn out.  Lighting again.

Some close-ups:

Please note the America is not chubby.

(Design above shamelessly lifted from LilaLoa )

Disco Dust!!!!

And that's all for now.  I sent most of these cookies to my grandparents across the country.  They haven't been well, so hopefully the cookies cheered them up a little.

I started to make more cookies, to take to cookouts and give to friends, but with the power out, I found myself outlining and flooding by candlelight.  The results were not optimal.  I did not give the cookies out, nor did I photograph them.  The family will be forced to eat them.  The horror.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Betsy Ross Cookies

I made these in August 2010, but I thought I'd post them anyway. 

The boy had some questions about the American flag, so we did a little study on Betsy Ross.  We researched her life and times, then talked about the Revolutionary War and George Washington.  The hubby looked up how to cut a 5-pointed star our of fabric with one snip; just like Betsy used to do.  It was not easy, but he did it! Then I made cookies.  And gave them to the boy's new teacher on the last day of summer vacation when we dropped his supplies off at the school.  Gotta love brownie points with educational value!

Sugar cookies with glaze icing:

I have a spool of thread cutter now.  I bought it because of these cookies. ^^^

Surfboard cutter...I chopped off the "tail".  This was before I learned about drawing on the cookie with an edible marker before piping, in order to maintain uniformity.  Live and learn.

These were before I fully conquered the cookies spreading in the oven issue.  But I've got it under control now, so no more chubby Americas for me!  (Chubby Americans, on the other hand, I can't help you with.)

I love making patriotic cookies...and I love the 4th of July; so I should have some new red, white and blue cookies to post shortly.