Pumpkin Mac and Cheese…with a side of Kielbasa

When I was looking for some recipes to try, I came across this recipe. It looked interesting and so I suggested it to Paula. She agreed with me but said that she wanted ot have some protein with the meal so I grilled a kielbasa to go with the dish. It was really tasty and both of us enjoyed it.

Here’s what you will need if you make it for two of you…

  • 1/2 pound of macaroni, medium pasta shells, or elbow pasta
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 can (14.5 oz.) of pure pumpkin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon of white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups of grated cheddar
  • 1 ounce of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and add the pasta. Cook until 1-2 minutes shy of being al dente.

While the water is coming to a boil, melt the butter over medium heat in a medium pot. Whisk in the flour, then slowly whisk in the milk. Bring to a bubble. Cook, whisking often, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and then whisk in the pumpkin. When the pumpkin is thoroughly combined, add the granulated garlic, dry mustard, cayenne, white pepper, and nutmeg. Season with salt if necessary. Add the two cheeses. Stir in a figure eight motion until the cheeses melt into the sauce.

When the pasta is finished cooking, scoop out 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and Add it to the sauce. Add cooking water a little at a time if the sauce is too thick.

Serve and enjoy! This could be a meal all by itself or you could add a protein to the meal. Any grilled meat would taste good with this dish.


Fish with Rosemary Potatoes

I was looking for a recipe that focused on fish and I came across this one in a recent issue of Rachael Ray’s magazine. The original recipe called for using red snapper but you could use tilapia or even cod or halibut if that is easier. It was relatively easy to make. The hardest part was preparing the potatoes and making the sauce but they came together in very little time.

Here’s what you will need if you want to make it for two…

  • 1 pound of small round white or yellow-skinned potatoes, quartered or halved
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 2 large cloves of finely chopped garlic
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, (Note: Remove the leaves and finely chop them.)
  • 1 large finely chopped shallot
  • 1 large fresh bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup of light- to medium-bodied red wine
  • 1/4 cup seafood stock or clam juice
  • 2 red snapper (or other mild white fish) fillets (6 to 8 oz. each)
  • Finely chopped fresh chives, for garnish (optional)

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 475°.

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat. Salt the water and cook the potatoes until just tender on the outside but not quite cooked through, about 8 minutes. Drain the potatoes.

While the potatoes are cooking, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large skillet, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and half of the garlic. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add the potatoes and toss until coated. Arrange the potatoes, cut-side up, on the baking sheet. Season with salt, pepper, and the rosemary. Roast or broil the potatoes until crisp, 10-12 minutes.

When the potatoes are cooking, prepare the sauce. In a saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, half of the garlic, and the bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. Stir until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and fish stock. Boil over high heat until reduced to about 1/2 cup. This should take about 10-15 minutes. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of butter. Remove from the heat. Discard the bay leaf.

As the sauce reduces, cook the fish. Heat a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Add the fish (skin side down if using red snapper…) and cook, pressing the fish with a spatula, until the skin is flat and crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Turn the fish and cook until just opaque in the center, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to plates or a platter.

Spoon the red wine sauce over the fish. Top with chives if desired and serve with the potatoes.

Braised Chicken Thighs with Butternut Squash

We had some boneless chicken thighs and chopped butternut squash in the freezer so I decided to make this recipe that I found in one of our Food Network magazines. It was relatively easy to prepare. I decided to make it with some rice in order to soak up some of the juice that is made in the cooking process although that was not called for in the original recipe. It was quite tasty, especially with the cinnamon and raisins added during the cooking.

Ingredients: (for two people…)

  • 4 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs (Note: I used boneless chicken thighs and just cooked them for a shorter time…)

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

  • 1-2 cups of peeled and cubed butternut squash

  • 1 medium chopped sweet onion

  • 1 cloves of minced garlic

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1 small cinnamon stick

  • 1/4 cup golden raisins

  • 2 wide strips lemon zest

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth

  • Fresh cilantro, for topping

Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Add the squash and onion to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned in spots, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until softened, about 30 seconds. Add the turmeric, cinnamon stick and raisins and stir to coat the vegetables. Add the lemon zest and chicken broth to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the skillet and reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to plates. Stir the lemon juice into the broth and season with salt and pepper. If you make rice like I did, then place some rice on the plate and spoon the broth and vegetables over the chicken and rice. Top with some of the chopped cilantro.

Middle Eastern Lamb Chili

I was looking for ideas for dinner and wanted to use up some of the meat that we have in the freezer. I came across this recipe in the most recent Food Network magazine. It was called Middle Eastern Lamb Chili. I reduced the amount since we only had 1/2 pound of ground lamb in the freezer. But that wasn’t too hard.

Here’s what I used to make the chili:

  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of ground oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon of paprika
  • 1/2 pound of ground lamb
  • 1 15.5 ounce can of chickpeas (drained)
  • 2 15.5 ounce cans of fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh chopped cilantro

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring often, until they are softened, about 6-7 minutes. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, and paprika. Cook, stirring until brick red, about 2 minutes.

Add the ground lamb, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Cook the meat until is no longer pink, about 4-5 minutes. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 40-45 minutes. Enjoy!

Salmon, Rice and Asparagus tonight…

I was volunteering at school today. Paula also had to work so we had a really, really simple meal. I cooked some basmati rice on our rice cooker. (Actually Paula set up the rice to cook while I was on my way home…). When the  rice was done, I put the salmon (two pieces, about .75 pounds) in the oven where I had turned on the broiler so that the oven was ready for the fish. Before cooking the fish, I had brushed the salmon with 2 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce. I also microwaved some asparagus for 3 minutes while the fish was cooking. It took about 6-7 minutes in the oven for the fish to be done. All in all, this meal was done in just minutes and it was quite tasty! Another example of how easy it is to enjoy a good meal at home without much effort…

The Best Cookies that I’ve had in a long time!

I saw these cookies in the holiday edition of Food Network magazine. When Paula asked me if she could make me a treat, I picked them out of the magazine. They are absolutely incredible! They have quickly become my favorite cookie and Paula has made me several batches since that first one.


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 3 1.4-ounce chocolate toffee bars, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Beat the butter, espresso powder and brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low, then gradually beat in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the dark chocolate chips and toffee bars.

Roll the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and arrange 2 inches apart on the prepared pans. Bake, switching the pans halfway through, until the cookies are puffed and just set around the edges, about 10 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes on the pans, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring, until smooth. Drizzle over the top of each cookie and allow to set, about 30 minutes.

Chicken Livers!

Paula is out of town so I treated myself to sautéed chicken livers tonight. It was easy. I just rolled the livers in some flour. Then I melted a few tablespoons of butter in a skillet and cooked them until they were crispy. I enjoyed my treat with a baked potato and some asparagus.

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