Rosemary, Cheddar Cheese Curd, and Goat Cheese Mac and Cheese

Hello out there!

The summer is flying by.  Hopefully everyone has been out doing summery things!  I’m doing my best to pack everything into the few short months of extended daylight that we’re blessed with, and it’s been a lot of fun.  A few weeks ago I was part of a whirlwind trip out to the Midwest.  I didn’t pet any cows this time, but I did squeeze most of the Wisconsin food groups into about 72 hours {cheese, cheese curds, Prime Rib, sour cream, kringle, and bratwurst (boiled in beer of course)}.  I don’t know how I didn’t gain a gazillion pounds, but I escaped them this time.

I did manage to snag some cheese curds from one of my favorite places, Mars Cheese Castle.  I’ve always described it as pre-cheese.  I’m not sure if that’s exactly true, and I know it sounds a little funky, but they’re delicious.  I always try to pick some up when I’m out there to bring back home, but when I get home, I tend to be a little cheesed out, forget to eat the curds, and it’s not uncommon for them to die in the fridge.  I wasn’t going to let that happen this time.

Instead of giving in to food waste, I made the most of an evening in the kitchen.  Cheese curds don’t always melt down like regular cheddar, but I really wanted mac and cheese, and so I used a little patience.  My go-to mac and cheese recipe is from the Fannie Farmer cookbook, and I just tweaked it to use the cheese I wanted to.  I highly recommend the following recipe that I threw together.  It’s delicious, and the addition of the rosemary elevates the whole dish without being overpowering.

Rosemary, Cheddar Cheese Curd and Goat Cheese Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces dry pasta {I used shells this time, for the nooks and crannies}
  • 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 cups 1% {or whole or whatever you like}
  • 8 ounces Laack’s cheddar cheese curd, or comparable cheese curd brand.
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, divided in 2.
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • A few sprigs fresh rosemary

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  2. Grease an 8×8 baking pan {unless it’s non-stick or silicon}.
  3. Cook your pasta a few minutes shy of package directions.  {Very al dente since they’ll keep cooking a bit in the oven.}
  4. Drain pasta and reserve.  Do not rinse.
  5. In a medium saucepan, melt 4 tbsp butter.
  6. Add 4 tbsp flour and stir until combined.
  7. Let cook a few minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.   Stir so it doesn’t burn.
  8. Slowly pour in milk, stirring as you add it to help prevent lumps.
  9. Heat until just below boiling and then reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently.
  10. When the milk-flour sauce has thickened, add half the goat cheese and all of the cheese curds, a little at a time, stirring to distribute throughout the sauce.
  11. When all your cheese is melted, add the pasta to the sauce and mix until every noodle or piece of pasta is covered in cheese.
  12. Transfer your mac and cheese to the prepared baking dish.
  13. Crumble remaining goat cheese over pasta and top with panko breadcrumbs and rosemary.
  14. Bake uncovered until top is toasty golden brown.  It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
  15. Enjoy!
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Cheese curds close-up.

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Cooked and drained shells.

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Melty cheese curds in the milk sauce.

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See how they’re getting really melty?

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Melted down curds.

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Combined shells and cheese sauce.

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Poured into prepared baking dish.

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Dotted with goat cheese.

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Sprinkled with bread crumbs.

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And fresh-cut rosemary sprigs. {Another perk of having an herb garden, if you have the space!}

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Out of the oven, golden and crunchy top.

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Close-up of my bowl. Lots of cheesy deliciousness! The rosemary and goat cheese make it grown-up, so go ahead and grab an extra forkful.

What’s your favorite way to mac and cheese?  

* This recipe was my own idea.  Neither Mars nor Laack’s is sponsoring me, although if they’d like to I’d love to talk!

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Rosemary Infused White Rice

Hi you guys!  I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted an actual recipe.  Rest assured, I have been cooking, it’s just usually meals I’ve already shared.  Last night I needed something to go with my salmon, and my rosemary plant is doing so well I thought I’d snip off some to add to my rice.  This recipe is super easy and makes a great side dish, so I thought it would be a good one to share!  I used white rice, actually paella rice, since I’m trying to use up what’s in my kitchen, but you could easily swap in whatever rice you prefer.  I like to make all rice like risotto, but I’m not super-fussy about it.  I just think it cooks faster if you don’t add all the liquid at once.  I intended to make this rice like paella, and not stir it at all, but after a while it was obvious that my  stove has some serious hot spots – some of the rice was still raw and some was halfway cooked, so I gave in and stirred it a bit.  Still really easy and delicious.  The broth adds flavor that water really can’t, without adding fat and calories like extra butter does.

Rosemary Infused White Rice:

  • 1 large sprig rosemary, about 5-6 inches
  • 2 cups rice
  • 4 cups good quality low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil and the butter over medium heat in a large skillet.
  2. Add the rice and let cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add the rosemary.
  4. When rice has heated, add enough broth to cover the rice.
  5. When liquid has almost all evaporated, stir and add more liquid to cover.
  6. Repeat, simmering on medium, until cooked through, about 30 minutes.
  7. If you run out of liquid, you can use water.  If you have liquid left over, that’s okay too.
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Pre-liquid. I like my rice to get a little toasty first.

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Just enough to cover.

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Almost done. You can see how the rice is puffing up as it cooks.

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All done. Transferred to another dish for serving.

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As I enjoyed it, on a bed of arugula topped with my market-fresh salmon. Sidenote: Is this not the skinniest piece of salmon you’ve seen? The filet was so broad that they only had to cut a little bit, but it was tricky to cook without falling over.

I ate all the rice last night, and it was so good!  What’s your favorite way to eat rice?

La Cantina de Frida Taquería: Restaurant Review

Hi you guys!  Sorry, again, for being out of touch for awhile.  These past few weeks have been truly hectic, and on Friday I ended up moving apartments.  I’ve spent a lot of this long weekend unpacking, which isn’t the most fun, but I’ve also made it to the beach yesterday and today, and it is gorgeous.  To help redeem myself, I thought I’d review the Mexican restaurant I went to on Friday night.  I went with a friend to celebrate our move.  We were going to just stop in for drinks, but drinks turned into dinner, and it was so good.  It’s been so long since I’ve had Mexican food, and this was especially timely with Cinco de Mayo coming up! 

We’d both heard mixed reviews about this place, namely that it was impossible to get in without a reservation, and that it was crazy expensive.  We walked right in and they sat us at the bar, which was perfect.  And honestly, the place never got that full.  There’s no set menu, instead you pick your courses off of a blackboard.  When we went it was 18/person.  I’m not sure if that drinks were included or not, which I know is something I should know, but it was that kind of night.  Basic margaritas were 5 on the drink menu, so at most, it was 23 total, plus any extra margaritas you might want, which I thought was reasonable.  They also had a lot of beer and tequila to try, but I was happy with my frozen margarita.

The ceviche I had was really good, and so were the nachos, and my burrito.  My friend enjoyed her quesadilla, but the best part of the meal was undoubtedly the tequilamisu – a homemade tiramisu with tequila instead of rum.  If you have the chance to try it, you have to.

All in all it was a very successful Mexican food adventure.  When I googled it today, I learned the place is not actually called Frida Kahlo, but Frida’s vibe is certainly there.  I spotted her picture in a few places, and I read somewhere that the restaurant was designed to look like her home, but honestly, I don’t know how much I believe that part.  Either way, it’s a worthwhile pit stop in Palma.

Do you have plans to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?  What’s your favorite Mexican restaurant?

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View from the bar – can you see Frida?

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My ceviche and the nachos in the background. Sorry it’s a little blurry.

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Quesadilla in the distance.

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My burrito! I went with vegetarian, and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything! So good!

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Frozen margarita with a flower petal.

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The star of the show. Tequilamisu.

Pasta and Lentils

Hey you guys.  Hope everyone is having a nice relaxing weekend, and staying nice and warm.  Here’s a recipe to warm you up.  I made it for the first time on Friday, and it’s a keeper.  Pasta and Lentils.  It’s super-simple, and healthy and delicious.  Almost too good to be true!  Almost.  Here it is.

Pasta and Lentils {serves 1-2}

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound tubular pasta  {like penne or rigatoni}
  • 3/4 cup uncooked lentils
  • 28 oz can crushed/chopped/diced tomatoes/tomato puree
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups mushrooms, cleaned and quartered {stems removed if you’re picky}
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • butter and olive oil for the pan and the pasta
  • salt for the pasta water

Directions:

  • Saute mushrooms in a little butter and oil over medium heat in a large frying pan.
  • When mushrooms are fairly browned, add garlic, tomato paste, and lentils.
  • Cook a few minutes, until lentils look a little brown and nutty.
  • Add entire can of tomato {in my case puree} to the pan.
  • Fill up the empty tomato can halfway and add to the cooking lentils.
  • Meanwhile, heat a pot of water for the pasta.  Add salt.  It will make the water boil faster, and flavor the pasta.
  • When the water and the tomato sauce in the lentils cooks down and thickens, your lentils should be done.  You can shut the heat off at this point.
  • Cook your pasta according to package directions for al dente.
  • Drain.  Don’t rinse your pasta.  Try to get the pasta back in the pot before all of the delicious pasta water drains away.  It will help everything come together.
  • Return the pasta to its pot.  Add a tbsp or so of butter and stir.
  • Add the pasta to the lentils.  Stir until combined.  Top with cheese if desired and serve.

*Use a damp paper towel to wipe off your mushrooms instead of submerging them in water.IMG_2777Feb 22, 2015 IMG_2781Feb 22, 2015 IMG_2782Feb 22, 2015 IMG_2789Feb 22, 2015 IMG_2791Feb 22, 2015 IMG_2792Feb 22, 2015

Gnochhi in Tomato Sauce with Zucchini, Burrata, and Fresh Basil

I’m really beginning to love my three-day weekends.  And my day off on Wednesdays.  Yesterday I took the time to go for a nice run-walk and then grocery shop.  I am seriously getting tired of schlepping everything home from the store carrying water and milk.  I just looked it up on Google Maps, and it’s almost a half mile.  I do enjoy the actual grocery shopping process though.  You never know what you’re going to find!!

Earlier this week I found some gnocchi in the pasta aisle, and yesterday I found Canadian maple syrup, a basil plant, and burrata from Italy.  The maple syrup had nothing to do with this recipe, but I love it because the brand name is “Vertmont”.  I’m definitely skeptical.  I don’t even eat that much maple syrup when I’m at home.  The cost-benefit ratio just isn’t high enough for me.  But, here I would love nothing more than a stack of pancakes loaded with butter and maple syrup.  I’m getting off-topic, but I’ll let you know how the syrup is when I get to it.

The gnocchi I got was good enough, and my new basil plant is prettying up my kitchen, but the star of this dish was the burrata.  I don’t know how I’ve never had it before.  It’s fresh mozzarella with a creamy center.  And it came in the cutest little bucket.  I’m saving the cheese water in my fridge for now {I have no idea for what}, because it was so delicious I can’t bear to toss it yet.  Unless you’re a cheese-hater, you have to go buy some right now.  And eat it all.

Ingredients:

  • 500g gnocchi {Next time I’ll make it from scratch}
  • One decent-size zucchini
  • 1 large can tomato puree
  • 200g burrata
  • Oil and garlic
  • Basil
  • Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. I admit I got hungry last night and forgot to sautee any garlic.  But if you were going to, now would be a good time to do so.  If not, slice and sautee your zucchini.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the gnocchi according to package directions.  Mine took 2 minutes.
  3. Drain gnocchi, reserving some of the gnocchi water.
  4. Mix together tomato sauce, gnocchi, and zucchini over low heat.
  5. Slice up the burrata.
  6. Serve gnocchi.
  7. Top with buratta, parmesan cheese, and basil.  {I forgot the basil until my second bowl of gnocchi}
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Fresh basil is always so pretty to have.

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Everything coming together

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Burrata time!

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It’s the best time.

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Look at how delicious it is!!!

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Plating

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Up-close.

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There’s the basil!

What’s your favorite way to cook or eat gnocchi?  Am I the last one to make it to the burrata party, or is it a new thing for you too?  Happy Weekend!