Macaroni Monday

I use this Macaroni Monday feature purely to give into my first love of Mac n Cheese.  The problem is each new recipe becomes my favorite.

This recipe is from Mac & Cheese – 80 Classic & Creative versions of the Ultimate Comfort Food.

No substitutions were made.

chick n broccoli macncheese 1

Chicken and Broccoli Mac and Cheese

2 c chicken stock
1/2 lb fresh broccoli crowns, cut into 3/4 inch florets
1/2 lb cavatappi
1/4 c unsalted butter
3 tblsp all-purpose flour
3/4 c half-and-half, warmed
1/2 c heavy cream, warmed
2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon (sub 1 tsp dried)
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
5 oz Emmental, grated, divided
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan
4 oz diced cooked chicken or turkey
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 c panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 13×9 baking pan. (I used a 9-inch baking dish.)  Have a bowl of ice water handy.

Place the stock in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Boil the stock until it is reduced by half.  Set aside.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the broccoli and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until crisp-tender.  Remove the broccoli from the pot with a strainer and plunge it into the ice water to stop the cooking action.

Bring the water back to a boil.  Cook the pasta until it is just beginning to soften to the al dente stage.  Drain the pasta, run it under cold water, and return it to the pot.  Drain the broccoli, and add it to the pot with the pasta.

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Heat the butter in a saucepan over med-low heat.  Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until the mixture turns slightly beige, is bubbly and appears to have grown in volume.  Increase the heat to medium, and slowly whisk in the reduced stock, warm half-and-half and cream.  Bring to a boil, whisking frequently.  Reduce the heat to low, stir in the tarragon and nutmeg, and simmer the sauce for 2 minutes.

Reserve 1/2 c of the Emmental.  Add the remaining cheese to the sauce by 1/2 cup measures, stirring until the cheese melts before making another addition.  Pour the sauce over the pasta, add the chicken and stir well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and transfer the pasta to the prepared pan.  Mix the reserved Emmental and breadcrumbs together, and sprinkle it over the top of the dish.

Bake the casserole for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the cheese sauce is bubble and the crumbs on top are a deep brown.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then serve.

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cartoon-strawberry-9Mac n Cheese with protein AND veggies?  It’s so good.  I served it with some salad on the side, just to add a little crunch.  I’d never heard of or had Emmental cheese before, its a light Swiss cheese.  Thankfully, Trader Joes carries all the cheeses I haven’t heard of and might need.

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup

The weather suddenly realized it was Fall and the temperatures dropped, we went from flip-flops to wool sock a matter of days.  So the word of the season is SOUP.

This recipe is from Food Network Magazine, October 2011.

No substitutions were made.

broc cheese 1

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup

2 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 c low-sodium chicken broth
2 c half-n-half
1 lb russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
Kosher slat and freshly ground pepper
2 c chopped broccoli florets
1/3 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 1/3c)
Croutons, for topping (optional)

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Heat the olive oil in a large pot over med-high heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, half-n-half, both potatoes, bay leaf, 2 c water, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to med-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, put the broccoli in a microwave-safe bowl; add 3 tblsp water and season with salt.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes, drain.

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When the potatoes are tender, remove the bay leaf from the soup and transfer the soup to a blender.  Puree until smooth, leaving the filler cap slightly open to let steam escape (or puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender).  Return the soup to the pot and thin with water, if necessary.  Return to a simmer over med-low heat; stir in the broccoli and season with salt and pepper.

Add the cheese and stir until melted.  Ladle the coup into bowls and top with croutons if desired.

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cartoon-strawberry-9This soup was good, but not great.  I’m wondering if a blend of cheese, cheddar and mozzarella?  Maybe a little Parmesan?  BUT, it was filling and hot on a cold Fall afternoon.

broccoli and three-cheese lasagna

My poor meat and potatoes husband.  I keep feeding him these vegetarian meals.  If he doesn’t love the dish, his comment will usually be “This’d be better with some chicken in it.”  Fortunately, this lasagna didn’t get the chicken comment.

This recipe is from Real Simple, December 2009.

No substitutions were made.

broccoli lasagna 1

broccoli and three-cheese lasagna

1 15 oz container ricotta
1 lb frozen broccoli florets – thawed, patted dry and chopped
2 1/4 c grated mozzarella
1/2 c grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 16 oz jar marinara sauce
1/2 c heavy cream
8 no-boil lasagna noodles
oilve oil

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Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, broccoli, 2 cups of the mozzarella, 1/4 c Parmesan, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  In a small bowl, combine the marinara sauce and cream.

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Spoon a thin layer of the sauce into the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish.  Top with 2 noodles, a quarter of the remaining sauce, and a third of the broccoli mixture; repeat twice.  Top with the remaining 2 noodles and sauce.  sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 c of mozzarella and 1/4 c of Parmesan.

Cover tightly with an oiled piece of foil and bake until the noodles are tender, 35 to 40 minutes.  Uncover and bake until the top is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

broccoli lasagna 4

cartoon-strawberry-9Broccoli, cheese and noodles – what could be better?  The heartiness of the broccoli stands up to the richness of the sauce with cream.  Total prep and cook time is about an hour and half, but so worth the effort!