Sunday, August 28, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese (and Butternut Squash?)

When I saw this month's cover of Cooking Light magazine, promising "Favorites Made Healthy - Mac & Cheese - Creamiest Ever" I was skeptical.  I was even more skeptical, after reading the recipe, since one of the main ingredients that gave the dish its typical yellow-orange color was not cheddar cheese, but pureed butternut squash.  I'm a big fan of squash, but really didn't see how it would fit in this recipe.  

After making this, I couldn't be more surprised. This was the best macaroni and cheese I've ever made.  The combination of three hard cheeses (gruyere, parmgiano-reggiano, and pecorino romano) provided a great, nutty, salty flavor.  You can't taste the butternut squash, but it gave the dish a great creaminess. I'm definitely making this recipe again. It's great for potlucks, and very simple. Other than adding a sprinkling of paprika on the top right before baking, I followed the recipe as it was written. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cream Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

I've always been a fan of Hostess cream filled chocolate cupcakes. I used to work in a grocery store and would often get the plastic wrapped 2-pack on my breaks.  When I saw this recipe on and at I decided to give it a try.

These are so much better than packaged cupcakes.  They are incredibly choclatey, containing both cocoa powder and chocolate chips, as well as a small amount of instant espresso to enhance the chocolate flavor (for those people who don't like coffee, don't worry, you can't taste it at all.) 

The filling is a mixture of butter, vanilla extract and marshmallow creme (I used the Kraft Jet puffed brand.  The small 7oz. jar was exactly the amount that I needed.  The filling is also used to make the swirls on the top (I need to work on my piping a little bit.) 

Three people have tried them so far and absolutely loved them.  Cronk had one, then immediately went for a second one saying, "I'm used to them coming in packs of two...I can't just eat one!"

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thai Shrimp Stir Fry

I made a garlic-chile infused olive oil over the weekend and used that in this stir fry recipe.  The shrimp was cooked perfectly and the vegetables still had a crunch to them.  It was served over basmati rice.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hail Mary (and her Roasted Red Pepper Dip)

A few years ago, I was planning a party, and searching online for a unique dip recipe. I found one on titled "Mary's Roasted Red Pepper Dip" and decided to give it a try. It came out amazing and it's been a staple at my parties ever since.

The recipe has only a few ingredients (roasted peppers, cream cheese, dijon, monterey jack, and a few others) and is very easy to make. I've tried it using jarred roasted peppers vs. roasting them myself, and you can't tell the difference. I've pureed the peppers in a food processor with the other ingredients, to give the dip a smooth texture, and also tried it just chopping the peppers, which made it more chunky. Either way was delicious.

It's great straight from the oven, bubbly and browned, or at room temperature. I also had a friend who used the leftover dip as a pasta sauce which also turned out great. Give it a try at your next shindig.