Posts Tagged '#everythingbutthekitchensink'

Homemade Mac and Cheese

This dish is some wicked good comfort food and the perfect antidote to the dark cold fall nights upon us. While this dish certainly falls under the umbrella of ‘every once in a while,’ when it’s served alongside a spinach salad with pears and feta and a big glass of red, you just can’t go wrong.


Over the summer while vacationing in Ketchum, Idaho, I stumbled into the cutest little shop. I immediately honed in on the cookbook, Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes by Jeanne Kelly. I had some birthday money burning a hole in my pocket, so the cookbook came home with me. It’s the first cookbook I’ve literally read cover to cover.

Kelly’s recipe for baked ziti with cauliflower and cheese caught my eye the very first time I opened the book, but it wasn’t until just this week that I finally made the dish. I altered a few things based on what was in my kitchen, but seriously, make this dish. It is the perfect fall comfort dinner.

Baked Pasta and Cauliflower with Cheese

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups cold milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 ounces shredded parmesan cheese (plus more for sprinkling at the end)
  • 8 ounces Dubliner extra sharp white cheddar, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 pound pasta (ziti/rigatoni/shells…whatever you like or have on hand)
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets, florets sliced into bite size pieces
  • 4 slices center cut bacon, cooked, cooled and crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Stir in garlic. Add the flour and continue stirring for one minute. Add the milk all at once along with the bay leaf. Cook, whisking the mixture until it comes to a boil and thickens, about 5-8 minutes. Add the cheeses, turn the heat to low and simmer until melted. Stir in salt, cayenne, pepper and nutmeg. Remove the bay leaf and season with pepper to taste.

Boil pasta in a heavily salted pot of rapidly boiling water until almost tender. Add the cauliflower to the pasta and cook until cauliflower is barely tender, about 4 minutes. Drain very well and stir drained pasta and cauliflower into the cheese sauce.

Transfer the pasta mixture to the baking dish. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon, fresh parsley and a handful of parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with salt. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover the last five minutes to let the edges brown slightly and make sure the cheese is boiling.


Scarlet gave this meal a hearty two thumbs up. She has subsequently been eating it now for three days straight. Aaron and I both stood at the stove and ate second helpings straight from the pan. The boys ate it but didn’t rave. I’m choosing to ignore their neutrality.



My Big Purple Pot

I got a new purple pot for Christmas…and I LOVE it.


It’s so cheerful sitting on my stove. And because the weather has been gray and so cold and just downright depressing, I decided I would make a big pot full of color in my purple pot.


And as the lovely smells of summer filled my kitchen, my mood lifted just enough to think I might make it through the winter…maybe.

Sun-dried Tomato and Pesto Pasta Salad

  • 1 pound of penne pasta
  • big handful of fresh spinach
  • 2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup prepared pesto
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Boil pasta until al dente. While pasta drains, add the spinach to the hot pot. Pour pasta over the spinach to help it wilt. Stir in pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. (Maybe add one more little handful of cheese if you have it).

This dish is tasty hot or cold. It reminds me of summer. It makes me happy.

It’s the little things on these long dreary winter days.

Turns Out I really Like Brussel Sprouts

I’ve seen several delicious looking brussel sprout recipes this fall but passed them up because I didn’t think I liked them.

Silly me! I do like them! Come to find out…I love brussel sprouts.

At my sister-in-law’s rehearsal dinner a couple of weeks ago, they served a wonderful roasted mixed vegetable dish. After about three helpings, I realized I was main lining brussel sprouts. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Which leads me to this post. Below is a super simple recipe that you can incorporate brussel sprouts into. Or not. Whatever side of the fence you fall on, the brussel sprouts are not a deal breaker.


Pulled and adapted from Pinterest: Chicken Sausage and Roasted Veggies

4 or 5 sausages (I use chicken sausage, but really, use whatever you like or have on hand)
1 pound potatoes
1/2 pound carrots
1/2 bell pepper
1 large onion
1 fennel bulb
handful of brussel sprouts (yes!)
small zucchini
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp oil
freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 tsp Italian herbs
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Dice up all the veggies into similar size pieces. Brown the sausages over medium heat. They don’t need to be cooked all the way through, but seared is ideal. Place diced veggies and sausages into 9×13 casserole dish. Salt and pepper liberally. Combine italian herbs, chicken broth and oil then pour over veggie mixture. Bake covered for about 15 minutes. After the allotted 15(ish) minutes, add the balsamic vinegar and give everything a stir. Cover back up and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes. I typically uncover the dish for the last ten minutes to brown everything up. Also, I leave out the fennel because I don’t like it.

This dish is great because you can use any combination of veggies you have on hand. I was thinking a sweet potato or butternut squash would be good too. They would add a little sweet to the savory.

My little boys actually eat this for the most part, of course being picky over which vegetables they eat, but usually the carrots and potatoes are safe along with the sausage.

Another Easy Dinner

This is another super-quick dinner and I’m sure just about every family has some variation of it on their dinner rotation. I’m hoping the day will come that the boy’s will dig into a big salad with us, but until then I like this kind of meal because its easily adaptable for everyone.


Taco Salad:

  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef, sautéed in 1/2 chopped onion and taco seasoning to taste
  • 1/2 bag of baby spinach
  • 1 red pepper or several mini sweet peppers, chopped
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • can of mild green chilis
  • handful of frozen corn, thawed
  • big scoop of salsa
  • Lighthouse jalapeno Ranch
  • handful of tortilla chips, crumbled

You guessed it…toss everything in a bowl including the salsa and chips and dress lightly with the dressing. For the boys, I make soft tacos filled with ground beef, black beans and corn and I give them salsa to dip and a few slices of avocado on the side. Everybody’s happy with tummies filled. Start to finish, this dinner takes about 20 minutes.


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