Monday, May 26, 2014

Creamy Macaroni & Cheese

Serves 4 

Chicken Breast, trimmed, sliced thin, cooked and sliced- 12 oz
Mushroom, cleaned and sliced-1 1/2 cups 
Bacon, cooked and chopped- 4 strips
Penne Pasta, cooked- 3 cups

Bechamel Sauce 

Butter, unsalted- 3 Tablespoons 
White Onion, diced- 1/2 cup
Garlic, chopped- 1 teaspoon
Sun-Dried Tomato- 1 Tablespoon 
Salt- To Taste 
Pepper- To Taste
Paprika- To Taste
All Purpose Flour- 3 heaping Tablespoons
Milk- 1 quart
Bay Leaf- 1 
Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese, freshly shredded- 1/2 cup

1. Bring salted water to a boil and cook the pasta, drain and set aside covered. 

2.  Meanwhile, in a non stick pan, with a little oil cook the chicken and set aside. Then cook the bacon until crispy and set aside. If there are any burned bacon or chicken on the pan, pour a little vinegar on the hot pan to deglaze and drain the access liquid from the pan and cook the sliced mushrooms with a little for about 5 minutes. While the mushrooms are cooking sliced the chicken and chop the bacon. 

3.  In a separate large pan, over a medium-high heat melt the butter and cook the onions, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes, with a little salt until the onions become clear and aromatic.  At this point add the flour and stir for about 1 minute. Add the milk and at the same time whisking the mixture to remove any lumps. Stir in the bay leaf and continue to stir until milk starts to simmer. Allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes, this allows the flour to cook off.  Remove from heat, remove the bay leaf and stir in the cheese.  

4.  Stir in your pasta, chicken, bacon & mushrooms. Return to a medium heat and heat for another 1-2 minutes until pasta is hot.  Taste and add more salt and a little pepper to your liking. Sprinkle with a little paprika and enjoy. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tomato Sauce

This tomato sauce is easy to make and can be ready in under 30 minutes. I use this sauce for chicken parm, penne ala vodka, pizza and basically anything you need a tomato sauce for.

Whole Peeled Plum Tomato - 1 can (1 lb 12oz) 
        I prefer Hunts 
Tomato Paste - 1 can (6 oz) 
        I prefer Hunts
Spanish Onion, chopped - 1/2 cup
Carrots, chopped - 1/2 cup
Garlic, chopped - 2 teaspoons
Sundried Tomato, chopped - 2 Tablespoon
Paprika - 1 teaspoon
All-Purpose Seasoning - 1 Tablespoon
Fennel Seeds: 1/2 teaspoon
Bay Leaf- 1 each
Fresh Basil -  4-6 leaves
Fresh Thyme Leaves - 1 Tablespoon
Fresh Rosemary - 1 Tablespoon
Red Wine Vinegar - 1 Tablespoon
Olive Oil - 2 Tablespoons
Light Brown Sugar - 1-3 Tablespoons

1.  In a medium sauce pot heat the oil over medium-high heat, then add onions, carrots, garlic, sundried tomato, all the seasonings & fresh or frozen basil. Cook the mixture until onions start to darken around the edges. 

2.  Reduce to medium heat and add the red wine vinegar to the pot to deglaze, stirring and allow the vinegar to cook off for 1-2 minutes.

3.  Then add the tomato, tomato paste & sugar (add desired amount, I usually use 2) Allow to come to a boil and then lower flame to allow to simmer for about 15 minutes. Carefully transfer to a blender and blend until smooth, then have a taste to see if you prefer more sugar.  If so then add and blend a little longer.  Return to pot to hold until your ready to use it or allow to cool and store in an air tight container in refrigerator for later use.