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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Recipe for Very Veggie Mac 'n' Cheese


There is something about it, isn't there? Macaroni Cheese I mean. Something about the creaminess, the cheesiness, the warmness, the hominess, the sharing, the crusty, crunchy top. The way you can't wait to eat it and burn your mouth on that first mouthful. The way you always eat a little too much, always more than you planned. And that point brings me to this recipe. For this recipe, I have vamped up the vegetables. There are so many vegetables in this recipe and cooked in different ways to get a maximum punch of flavour, this could be the only Macaroni Cheese you eat that makes you feel healthy (even a bit smug) afterwards. Be careful though, all that feeling goody goody, can lead to second, even third helpings!

Preparation Time: 45 minutes.
Cooking Time: 30 to 40 minutes (baking in the oven)
Ingredients for 6 to 8 Servings using an oven proof dish of approximately: 25cm / 10in. x 35cm / 14in., depth 5cm / 2in.

For the Vegetables and Pasta

300gr / 10.5oz whole wheat macaroni
2 x tbsp olive oil
I x large cauliflower
1 x large head of broccoli
8 x spring onions (scallions) chopped into lengths of about 2.5cm / 1in.
8 x chicory, chopped roughly
1 x tbsp of fresh thyme leaves
A handful of fresh chives chopped finely
Salt and Pepper
For the Cheese Sauce
4 x large garlic cloves chopped finely
40gr / 1.4oz. plain flour
40gr / 1.4oz. unsalted butter
600ml / 20.5 fl oz. skimmed milk (half fat)
2 x tbsp of Dijon mustard
2 x pinches of nutmeg
100gr / 3.5 oz. strong cheese like mature cheddar or aged Gouda or gruyere, grated
100gr / 3.5 oz. parmesan, grated
Salt to taste
To Finish
75gr / 2.5oz. grated parmesan cheese
4 or 5 large, ripe tomatoes, sliced thinly


To Make For the Vegetables and Pasta
Step 1, 2 and 3 can all be started at the same time
Place the cauliflower and broccoli in a large pan, cover with water from a kettle that has just boiled, add some salt, bring to the boil and cook for about 7 minutes or until the vegetables have become al dente (cooked, but with a little bite, or resistance to the point of a sharp knife). It may be easier to bring your large pan to the boil if you cover it with a close fitting lid.

Drain the vegetables, set aside to steam off a little and then return them to the pan.
At the same time cook the pasta as per instruction on the packet. When cooked, drain it and add it to your cooked vegetables.

Set your oven to heat to 200°C / 400°F. Place the chicory and the spring onions in a roasting tray with the thyme and the olive oil. Mix through the oil with your hands to coat the vegetables and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables have softened and taken on some colour.
When your vegetables are ready, both roasted and boiled, mix them together in a pan or bowl with the cooked pasta. Add some salt and pepper and taste as you do so. I find the easiest way to do this is to use my largest pan to cook the broccoli and the cauliflower and add everything to it.

To Make The Cheese Sauce
You can make this as your vegetables are cooking when you get confident with this recipe.
Melt the butter on a medium high heat in a heavy bottomed pan. Not a non-stick pan.
Add the garlic and let it cook for about 2 minutes until it softens a little. Try not to let it brown as it will affect the colour of your dish.
Add the flour and mix it into the butter using a metal whisk. The flour will take up all the butter and turn into a blob, almost like dough.
Add about 1/3 of the milk and whisk vigorously. It will be a bit lumpy at first, but don't worry, it will become smooth if you keep whisking.

Then add the next third of the milk and whisk through until it becomes smooth and then the last third. Leave it to cook for about 2 minutes, stirring your smooth sauce with a wooden spoon.
Turn the heat to medium and add the mustard and nutmeg, stir through until incorporated.
Add the cheese and allow it to melt into your sauce. Check for taste, and add some salt, be careful as the cheese and the mustard already contains salt. Your sauce will need a little bit of salt though as this will bring the flavours together. Remember that the flavour of the sauce should be quite strong as it has to go a long way to cover all those vegetables and the pasta.

To Bake and Finish
Add your cheese sauce to the vegetable and pasta mix, stir everything through and check for seasoning.
Pour the mix into your oven proof dish and spread it out.
Sprinkle with half of the parmesan. Lay out your tomatoes over the top, evenly. Sprinkle over the rest of the cheese. Cover with aluminium foil.
Place your dish in the oven (which should still be at 200°C / 400°F) and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the top is crispy with the melted cheese.

Tips and Variations
If you decide to make this dish in advance and bake it the next day for example, remember that it will need more time in the oven as it is being heated from cold. Baking time will take about an hour or maybe a little more.

You can of course use all sorts of vegetables, I like to add lots of green beans to the broccoli and cauliflower.
This dish keeps for a few days in the fridge and it also great eaten cold with a simple green salad.
If you enjoyed this recipe, check out the cooking coach website for more
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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hot Crock Pot Meals for a Cold Day


It's that time of year again. If you live in the Midwest or similar regions like I do, you have to transition to cooking hearty meals during the fall and winter. Gone for the most part are grilling and salads. Aromatic soups and thick stews are now par for the course. Pork roasts are substituted for barbecued ribs, roast beef for steaks on the grill. Whatever you tend to make during the cold days of the year, your crock pot makes it easier. Start your meal in your slow cooker before you go to work. Dinner will be ready when you come home from work and the children are back from school. Check out these quick and easy recipes you can make for you and your family in your crock pot slow cooker.

Hunter's Slow Cooker Stew

What you need:

• 1.5 lbs ground beef, browned and drained
• 1 medium head of cabbage, cut in small wedges
• 15 oz can tomato sauce
• 8 oz fresh mushrooms, washed and sliced
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 1 large green pepper, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• black pepper to taste
• salt to taste

What you do:

• Add all ingredients to a 5-6 quart crock pot and mix. Cook,
covered, for 6-7 hours on low.
• Add 1/2 - 1 t red pepper flakes for a spicier version.

Three Meat Crock Pot Chili

What you need:

• 1 lb ground beef
• 1 lb Italian sausage
• 1 lb round steak, cubed
• 2 c beef broth
• 28 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
• 15 oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
• 15 oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
• 12 oz can tomato juice
• 2 large onion, chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 4 oz can chopped green chiles, drained
• 3 T chili powder
• 2 t ground cumin
• 2 t oregano
• 1 t salt
• 1/4 t black pepper

What you do:

• Brown ground beef, Italian sausage and round steak in a large
skillet; drain. Place meats and remaining ingredients into a 5
quart or larger crock pot and mix. Cover and cook on low for 7-8
hours. Serve by itself or with sour cream, jalapenos, shredded
cheddar cheese, raw chopped onion and/or crackers.

Creamy Chicken and Bacon Pasta

What you need:

• 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts halves, cut in half
• 1/2 lb bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
• 2 (10.75 oz) cans cream of mushroom soup
• 4 oz can sliced mushrooms, drained
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 2-3 T olive oil
• salt and pepper to taste
• fettuccine or cooked pasta of choice

What you do:

• Heat oil in a large skillet. Lightly season chicken breasts with
salt and black pepper. Place chicken in skillet and cook over
med-high heat until browned, about 1-2 minutes per side. Place
chicken in a 3.5 quart or larger crock pot and cover with onion
and mushrooms.

• In a medium bowl, combine soup, garlic and bacon and mix.
Pour soup mixture over chicken breasts. Cook, covered, for 6-8
hours on low. Serve over hot cooked pasta.
If you love easy recipes, especially easy crock pot recipes, then visit Easy Breezy Recipes at for some quick and easy recipes for you and your family.
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Most Common Ingredients in Pasta Dishes


Italian Cuisine is known as one of the worlds healthiest diets. It focuses on simple and natural ingredients and the benefits of this Mediterranean diet can include weight loss, improved sugar levels and a healthy mind. The best way to start is to stock up on the core ingredients used in commonly used in their various dishes.
Olive oil is a common one to stock up on. By replacing butter with olive oil you'll be replacing bad cholesterol with good cholesterol. It is high in monounsaturated fat and is the best cooking oil to use. The Extra virgin olive oil is high in polyphenols, the antioxidants which have been linked to good heart health. Use olive oil to dress your salads with a bit of lemon, or to lightly sauté fresh vegetables.
Tomatoes are a must have ingredient for any Italian cuisine. They are either used in a fresh salad or in a red Italian sauce and are packed with vitamin c and lycopene, another antioxidant which protects the heart and is also known to prevent some cancers. Additional nutritional ingredients in a tomato include vitamins A, potassium and folate.

Garlic adds flavour to any Italian dish and is good either fresh, dried or in powder form. It is a well-known natural health remedy used to treat certain ailments and can strengthen the immune system as well as fight off infections and reduce cholesterol. Garlic can also prevent the growth of the candida fungus.
Seafood is low in fat and cholesterol and high in protein, vitamins, minerals and omega 3 fatty acids. Fish is known to eliminate some problems associated with memory loss, cardiovascular functions, colon cancer, strokes and PMS. Omega 3's are healthy fats which are important for optimal immune function. They increase metabolism and help in hormone production.

Whole Grains are the core ingredients in Mediterranean cooking and known to lower cholesterol, prevent constipation and lower the risk of many chronic diseases. The risk of type 2 diabetes, strokes and heart disease is reduced by eating whole grain foods and it also helps in weight management.
Beans are a big part of Italian cuisine and are an inexpensive source of protein that can be very versatile. They are often substituted for meat and can be used in salads, soups, stews, pasta, side dishes and dips to name a few. They are known to prevent health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. They contain protein, fibre and almost no fat and are good at filling up on as they contain almost no fat.

Dark Leafy Greens. The Italians love their dark leafy greens which contain magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, and betaine. The vitamin K found in the greens help to prevent blood clots and age related issues and not getting enough of this can result in cardiovascular disease, fragile bones and artery and kidney calcification. The best way to eat leafy greens is in a salad or sautéed in olive oil with garlic.

Nuts. Nut trees are almost as popular as olive trees in Italy and they offer various health benefits. They are loaded with protein, fibre and essential fats and are good in salads, as a snack on its own or use pine nuts, hazelnuts or almonds to make a good pesto sauce.

Red Wine. No Italian meal is complete without a glass of wine. Red wine is better for your health and a glass of red with your meal can be good for cholesterol, blood sugar and help with digestion.
As they would say in Italy "Buon Appetito!'.
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How to Make Pasta Carbonara - Quick and Easy


Pasta Alla Carbonara - pasta in the style of the coal workers - is a simple yet deliciously rich dish that can be thrown together very quickly with just a few ingredients you probably already have on hand: pasta (traditionally made with spaghetti but any shape will work), eggs, bacon, freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, and freshly ground black pepper. The trick to making a luscious, creamy Carbonara is to carefully control the heat when you mix the eggs into the hot pasta. Do it wrong and you end up with scrambled eggs and pasta. If this happens, don't worry, it will taste fine but the texture won't be quite as satisfying. Just follow the recipe step-by-step and your dish will be beautifully rich and creamy. Buon appetito!


1 pound of pasta (serves 4 for dinner, 6 for lunch)
5 large eggs (1 egg per person + a spare)
½ pound of bacon, sliced (1/2 package)
1.5 cups of FRESHLY grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
Salt to season the water
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Put a large pot of cold water on to boil. (4 quarts of water per pound of pasta)

2. While the water is heating, slice the bacon into small pieces and place in a cold saucepan. Turn the heat to medium low and slowly render the bacon until brown and crispy. You can drain off some of the fat but leave at least 3 tablespoons in the pan to create the sauce. Turn the heat to low to keep it hot.

3. While the bacon is cooking, wisk together the eggs, 3/4 cup of the grated cheese and a few cranks of pepper in a bowl or large measuring cup until well blended. No need to add salt as the bacon has plenty. Set aside.

4. When the water is at a rolling boil, add a heaping tablespoon of salt and drop in the pasta. Stir gently to prevent it from sticking as the water comes back to a boil. Cook according to package directions, stirring occasionally, until al dente or cooked but still firm to the bite. Just before draining, reserve a ½ cup or so of the starchy pasta water. Set aside.

5. Drain the pasta quickly in a colander (but don't rinse! the starchy water helps blend the sauce). Return the hot pasta to the hot pot, off the heat.

6. Carefully add the hot bacon and oil to the pasta, scraping the saucepan with a rubber spatula to get every morsel of deliciousness. Stir well to completely coat the pasta with the hot oil.

7. Slowly pour in the egg mixture, stirring quickly as you go to keep the eggs from cooking too fast. Put the pot back on low heat and continue stirring. Add a splash of the reserved pasta water and a ½ cup of the grated cheese. Stir continually to smooth out the sauce as it heats through. If the eggs are cooking too fast, take the pot off the heat again. The pasta will continue to absorb the sauce after it has been plated so you want it just a bit on the "goopy" side when you serve it.

8. Plate the pasta, garnish with the remaining grated cheese and a few cranks of fresh ground black pepper to taste. The spiciness of the black pepper goes really well with the richness of the sauce.
For step-by-step photos and a great video demonstration of this and other delicious pasta recipes, visit us online.

Christine Coughlan is the author, designer and publisher of, your one stop resource for pasta recipes, ideas, how-to and more!
You'll find simple step by step recipes with beautiful images, helpful how to videos, drool worthy culinary tours, timely seasonal inspiration and much more. Quick and easy one-dish dinner ideas, classic pasta and sauce combinations, rich and satisfying lasagnas, even an in depth video series on how to make fresh pasta by hand will keep you coming back for more.

To keep things flowing smoothly in your kitchen, look for her handy tips and timing techniques. From gathering your ingredients to garnishing your plate, you'll look like a seasoned pro. To check out more great pasta recipes, visit today!
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Monday, September 23, 2013

Mackerel Cakes


Canned mackerel is cheap and can make a great substitute for salmon croquettes. I have also used it for tuna casserole as well. Mackerel is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids which is good for the heart and cost less than salmon. I like salmon croquettes but salmon is much higher and mackerel is the next best thing to use.
Growing up I couldn't stand to eat croquettes and had to eat them. I would always cover the taste of them with ketchup. Most people use hot sauce but as a child I didn't like hot sauce. I have learned to appreciate the taste of croquettes now that I am grown and like to eat them with tartar sauce mixed with hot sauce. Here's a recipe I made that are just as good as salmon croquettes. This recipe is for mackerel cakes.

1 can mackerel
1 cup bread crumbs (I used a mix of panko and regular bread crumbs)
1 tsp lime juice
½ cup miracle whip
1 tbsp mustard
½ of an onion
½ green pepper
1 potato
4 to 5 cloves of garlic

Canned mackerel have bones in it. The bones are small but are not that difficult to remove. Take mackerel out of the can and remove the bones trying to remove as much as you can. Add the mackerel to a mixing bowl and squeeze the lime juice over the mackerel. Dice a potato and boil until tender. Can potatoes work too; chop the can potatoes and add in the bowl along with the chopped onion and green pepper. Dice the cloves of garlic and mix in with the mackerel mixture. After that you add the ½ cup of miracle whip and mustard and mix all the ingredients in the bowl. Season the mixture with salt and pepper then add in the bread crumbs. For this recipe I used ½ cup of Italian bread crumbs and ½ cup panko bread crumbs but you can use what ever type of bread crumbs you choose just make sure you use enough bread crumbs to make a patty with. After incorporating all the ingredients form the mixture into patties. Heat ¼ cup vegetable oil in skillet on high heat and Brown patty on one side for 5 minutes then flip and brown the other side until golden brown. Remove the cakes from the hot grease and drain on paper towels. This is a good recipe to have with potato salad and green beans.
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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Stuffed Banana Pepper Recipe


My family grows banana peppers every year. They love the summer heat and produce mass quantities. We always wonder what to do with our huge harvests. Pickling them is a nice option. You can use them to top sandwiches and salads or simply pop and eat them. Another fabulous option is to make stuffed banana peppers. They are delicious this way!

It may seem unusual to use banana peppers to stuff and bake. It is a unique way to enjoy them though. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how delicious they taste. The small size of the peppers allows the flavors to meld together into a delicious taste explosion.

My recipe is perfect for a light, summer dinner. When I think of stuffed peppers, the first thing that comes to mind are large bell peppers stuffed with ground beef and breadcrumbs then topped with a red sauce. This stuffed banana pepper recipe thinks outside the box. It is light, flavorful and delicious.
Get started with the step-by-step instructions. Here's my stuffed banana pepper recipe for your garden fresh peppers. It's easy to follow, and should only take you about 20-30 minutes of total preparation time. The peppers will then bake for about 25 minutes and voila, dinner is done!

1. 10-12 Vine Ripened Banana Peppers
2. 1-2 lbs raw chicken breast
3. 1 can cream of chicken soup
4. 10 oz bag saffron yellow rice
5. 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
6. Water
7. ¾ Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
8. Salt & Mrs. Dash Original (to taste)

• Season chicken breast with salt & Mrs. Dash and place in crock pot with 1 cup of water and cook on high for about 4 hours (you can also simmer in a pot with water for a quicker cooking method, the goal is to cook the chicken breast so it will easily shred). Allow chicken to cool slightly before shredding.
• Pre-heat Oven to 400 degrees.
• Prepare Saffron Yellow Rice according to package directions (my personal favorite is Mahatma Saffron Yellow Rice).
• Wash & seed the banana peppers.
• Make a slit down the center of the peppers so you can stuff them.
• Coat the banana peppers with 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, salt & Mrs. Dash. Place in baking dish.
• Shred chicken breast.
• Mix cream of chicken soup with one can of water and whisk until blended.
• Add about half of the prepared rice and half of the prepared cream of chicken soup to the shredded chicken. Mix well.
• Stuff the chicken rice mixture into sliced banana peppers.
• Top with shredded cheese.
• Bake for 25 minutes until cheese is bubbly.
• Enjoy!

Did you enjoy this recipe? If you would like to see a photo illustration of the recipe in an easy to print format, visit our website: Come visit us and give feedback about how the recipe worked for you. We would love to hear from you!
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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Fruity Chicken Salad Sub Recipe


Chicken salad is a great quick lite recipe to make for the summer. I love sub sandwiches and there is a fast food sub place I frequent a lot but I won't mention them here. You'll have to guess who they are. Here's a hint, some man named Jared lost a lot of weight eating them. Anyway they have added one of my favorite sandwiches back to their menu for the summer.

Even though they are relatively a cheap place to eat, I still like trying to cut corners on spending as little money as possible. I like coming up with my version of how I make something you buy at a fast food restaurant. It's healthier, cheaper and probably taste better than the original. Here, I will share my Fruity Chicken Salad sub. This is a recipe where you can put your own creativity into what ingredients you like in your sub sandwich.

12-16 oz can chicken
1/2 cup grapes (red, green or both)
1 celery stalk
half onion
1/2 cup mayo
1 peach yogurt cup
1 tsp rosemary
2 tbsp dill
1/4 cup green peppers
1/2 cup of raisins, cranberries & almonds
black olives
hot pepperjack cheese

In a large mixing bowl add the can chicken drained. Chop your onions, celery and green pepper small and add to chicken. Add the fruit mix with almonds in along with the grapes. Add the mayo and peach yogurt and mix well with the ingredients. Add the dill and salt and pepper to season. Don't skimp on the dill, it gives the salad a nice flavor after it's been in the refrigerator. The longer in the fridge the better tasting. Choose your favorite bread. I use any kind of bread but if I'm making subs, I will use an Italian loaf or french bread. I cut the loaf in half then slice the half separating the top and bottom. I use two slices of pepperjack cheese to line the bottom bread then top with my cold chicken salad. You are ready to dress you sandwich. I like lots of black olives, spinach and cucumbers lined neatly across the sandwich. You can choose whatever toppings for your sandwich according to your taste. I don't use any other dressing on mine because the mayo and peach yogurt is enough but you can. Fold the sandwich together and you have fruity chicken subs.

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