Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ina Garten's Macaroni and Cheese

Sorry for the delay in posting... I haven't been cooking too much lately, other than quite bland foods that sound good to me at the time.  Because - I'm pregnant!  :)  Yay!  Although it doesn't inspire my palate in the least so I have had to cut back on the posting.  I will try my best to keep up better these next few months.

Onward to my first post in 2 months!

Because I had heard such great things, and because I love mac n' cheese.... I had to make this recipe for my own peace of mind.  And let me tell you - it's good people.  I loved the flavor of the Gruyere cheese and thought it added a twist to your regular mac n' cheese.  The cheese was creamy, and the topping added just enough crunch.  The tomatoes were perfectly cooked and I loved them, but if you didn't they're easy enough to pick out.

Barefoot Contessa Mac and Cheese
source:, slightly adapted by Amy's New Kitchen
Serves 8

  • Sea salt
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 1 qt milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 oz Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
  • 8 oz extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 4 small fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs or Panko
Preheat oven to 375.

Cook pasta according to directions in salted water.  Al dente is my preference.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the milk in a small saucepan, be careful to keep it from boiling.  Melt 6 Tbsp butter in a large pot and add the flour.  Cook on low heat for 2 minutes and continually stirring with a whisk.  Continue whisking then add in the hot milk and cook until thickened slightly and smooth.  Remove from heat and add the cheeses, 1 Tbsp salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Add in the cooked macaroni and stir well.  Pour into a baking dish.

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top of the mac.  Melt the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter and combine with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle evenly over the mac and tomatoes.  Bake for 30 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and the breadcrumbs are slightly browned.

So this is healthy because it has tomatoes in it, right?  :)  Doesn't matter -it's worth all those delicious calories. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Zucchini Pesto

Oh man, when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it!  And since so many people at my work have green thumbs and grow giant zucchini, I needed more recipes just like this to keep my palate happy.

Zucchini Pesto
source: somewhere on the internet...but not really sure where.

3 medium zucchini (or 1 gigantic homegrown one)
2 tsp sea salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup basil, shredded
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and finely chopped
1 Tbsp thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
Juice from one lemon
1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest
3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper
extra sea salt if necessary

Using a box grater, coarsely grate the zucchini.  Place the shredded zucchini on a fresh kitchen towel and sprinkle with salt.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes.  Squeeze the towel to remove all excess moisture that you possibly can.

Put zucchini in a medium sized bowl.  Add the garlic, basil, almonds, thyme, parmesan, lemon juice, lemon zest and 3 Tbsp olive oil.  Stir until well combined.  Add pepper and taste.  Add more salt and olive oil, a little at a time, if necessary.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. 

Serve with pita, pita chips, toasted ciabatta bread, crackers, etc. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Corned Beef Tacos

What do you get when you cross and Irishman and a Mexican?  Corned Beef Tacos!  Since marrying an Irishman I have learned to love corned beef.  And cabbage.  Something I'm sure my mom never thought would happen.  But since it has, I wanted to start using it more than just on St. Patrick's Day since it's so easy to make.  I like to cook it in my slow cooker, forget about it for 8 hours, then serve!

Corned Beef Tacos
Serves 4

1 6lb corned beef brisket
1 package soft white corn tortillas
cabbage, thinly sliced
thousand island dressing
horseradish (optional)

Cook your brisket along with it's juices from the package and spice packet in water (until just covered) in a slow cooker for 8 hours on low (or 4 hours on high, then one additional hour on low).  Remove the layer of fat then shred the brisket and keep set on 'warm' in the juices.

Warm the tortillas up in the microwave in a towel for 10-15 seconds.  Take your tortilla and layer the shredded corned beef, cabbage, thousand island and horseradish.  Serve!

It really is that easy and we thought this was a great combination of flavors.  It's a nice twist on a reuben, a taco, and corned beef and cabbage.   Oh, it's a little messy, so keep napkins handy!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Hummus was invented to make me happy, I think.  It's so simple yet can have so many different flavors and versions.  That makes it a fantastic snack or appetizer.  And it's fairly healthy too!  Woot!  This is by far the best hummus I've had and Jeff agreed.  It's soooo good!  Slightly sweet, a little spicy, mmm mmmm.  And I love the color.  It makes a festive addition to any meal.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
source:, slightly adapted by Amy's New Kitchen
serves: 6-8

1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, drained-reserving the juice
4 oz roasted red peppers
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 Tbsp tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt

In a food processor combine all ingredients and pulse/blend until smooth.  Add some of the reserved garbanzo bean juice if necessary to acquire the consistency you desire.  (I probably used 3-4 Tbsp)  Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are well blended.  Serve immediately or store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Butter Chicken

I love Indian food.  Why?  Because it almost always involves chicken and rice!  I have never tried Butter Chicken at a restaurant before but I thought it sounded interesting so I went ahead and tried it even though I had no idea what I was in store for.  It was good.  I wouldn't say I loved it but Jeff did!  So I am posting it anyway because I know this recipe is capable of people loving it and maybe that person is you! 

Indian Butter Chicken
source: Joelen of What's Cookin', Chicago?, slightly adapted by Amy's New Kitchen
serves: 6


1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 white onion, chopped
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp ginger, finely grated
1 clove garlic, finely grated
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 bay leaf
2 cups tomato puree
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pinch salt
1 pinch black pepper
1/4 cup finely ground cashews

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add chicken and season with 1/2 tsp garam masala and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper.  Cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by heating 1 Tbsp oil in a large saucepan on medium high heat.  Saute onion until soft and translucent.  Stir in butter, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, garam masala, chili powder, cumin and bay leaf.  Cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Add tomato puree and jalapeno and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.   Stir in cream, yogurt and cilantro.  Reduce heat to low, and add the browned chicken.  Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Just before serving, add the ground cashews and stir.  

Serve over steamed basmati rice.

 Does that not look awesome?  We had this with pita and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus!  More on that later! 

I made some slight changes to the amounts of ingredients from Joelen's version of this recipe.  There was a little too much garam masala for my taste so I halved it in my recipe.  I also added a jalapeno pepper because I think it would've added a little kick and really put this dish over the top!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mexican Rice

What can I say?  I'm making another rice recipe.  :)  My dad makes the best Mexican food ever.  Maybe I'm a little biased but who cares-I love it and that's all that matters.  Ha!  But if you would like to know what it tastes like too, here is his 'recipe' (I use that term loosely as the man never measures-he just eyeballs amounts of ingredients) and I hope you like it too!

Mexican Rice
serves: 5

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup long grain rice
1 (4oz) can Mexican flavors tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 tsp camino (cumin)
1/2 white onion, sliced
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and quartered lengthwise

Heat oil in a skillet and add rice and salt.  Stir frequently on medium heat until the rice grains become larger and start to look a little whiter.  About 5 minutes or so.  Add tomato sauce, water, garlic, pepper, and camino then stir until combined.  Place the onions and the jalapenos on top of the rice.  Cover and simmer on medium to low heat for 18-20 minutes.  Fluff with fork and serve.

You can choose to eat the vegetables or discard them if the pieces of peppers are too hot or that much onion flavor isn't your thing.  I leave them in and cut them up on my plate and mix them right back into the rice!  So tasty and reminds me of growing up.  This recipe isn't exactly how my dad used to make it but I am working on it.  One day I hope to perfect it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Shredded Chicken

Tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, nachos, taco salad, and burritos are just a few things that I can think of that this chicken would be perfect for.  This was a really fresh dish since it uses fresh vegetables for flavor and not just a packet of taco seasoning mix to go with it.  We used the meat to make chicken tacos but there was so much leftover that we saved some for lunches the next day and froze some so that I can make chicken enchiladas when the weather starts to turn cooler.  And the chicken was so tasty I can't wait for those enchiladas!

Shredded Chicken
source:, slightly adapted by Amy's New Kitchen
servings: depends on what you're making with it.  About 8-10 servings.

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts  
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves,  smashed
  • Tbsp sea salt 
  •  water
  • Tbsp butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
  •  3/4 green bell pepper, diced 
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (seeded if you prefer less heat)
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly grated black pepper
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce 
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • chicken broth (reserved) 
Place chicken, onion slices, garlic cloves and add just enough water to cover the chicken in a large pot.  Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat to a simmer.  Continue cooking for 25 minutes.

Remove chicken from broth, let cool, then shred.  Reserve the broth for later.

Meanwhile, while the chicken is cooling saute the butter, garlic clove, onion, tomato, bell pepper, jalapeno, pepper, cilantro, and cumin for 10 minutes.  Stir in shredded chicken then briefly saute.  Add tomato sauce, salt and 1/2 cup of chicken broth at a time until the chicken is as juicy as you like.