I have just the recipe for all of you cheese lovers out there. And who doesn’t love pasta with their cheese? You are all going to love this one!

It’s a scrumptious Four Cheese Mac & Cheese. This savory recipe combines the flavors of gruyere, asiago, fontina and sharp cheddar cheese. These four kinds of cheeses blend beautifully to give this dish a distinctive richness and creaminess. 

The flour and milk produce a wonderful golden “bechamel” sauce, also known as a white sauce. It is frequently used as a base for lasagne, scalloped potatoes, gratins and baked ziti among others. In this dish, they add onion powder, nutmeg and a bit of cayenne pepper to the bechamel, which give it a spicy “kick” that is just perfect. 

Since it is baked in the oven, it develops a crisp, delicious top of breadcrumbs that are browned to perfection. The recipe calls for rotelle pasta, but you can use any pasta of your choice. I would suggest a large pasta with ridges which will allow the sauce to permeate into the macaroni and explode with flavor.

This should be in everyone’s cooking repertoire. It is perfect as a main dish or as a side for any kind of meal. It is even better as a leftover. Make a batch and freeze it for a quick weeknight dinner. Take it for lunch. Whatever you do, make sure you do not miss this one. It is a “keeper” for sure! 

This recipe is courtesy of The_Swedish_Chef. It will serve about 8 people who will be dreaming about it forever!

Ingredients for Four-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

1 lb. rotelle pasta (or any pasta of your choice)
3/4 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 lb. gruyere cheese, shredded
1/2 cup asiago cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Fontina cheese, shredded
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dried mustard
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 cup panko breadcrumbs (Japanese Bread Crumbs)

Note: This is a baked macaroni and cheese; therefore, it will not have a lot of extra cheesy sauce as it is absorbed into the pasta while baking. If you require extra saucy mac & cheese, just reduce the amount of pasta you place in the dish or make more sauce so it is creamier.

Heat oven to 350.

Coat a 3-quart rectangular baking dish with non-stick spray. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling.

Toss all the shredded cheeses together in a large bowl. Set aside.

Macaroni 4cheeses

Melt butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.

Whisk in the flour until smooth and slightly bubbly.

macaroni butter, flour

 

In a thin stream, whisk in the milk. 

Stir in the onion powder, salt, nutmeg, dried mustard, and cayenne.

macaroni milk

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. 

Remove from heat; whisk in 2 1/2 cups of the cheese mixture and stir until smooth. Cover to retain the heat.

Macaroni cheese melted

Once water boils, add pasta. Cook until your consistency, then drain. 

In the pasta container, stir together the cooked pasta and cheese sauce.

Pour half of the mixture into the prepared dish. 

macaroni first layer noodles

Sprinkle with a generous cup of the reserved cheese. 

macaroni 1st cheese layer

Spoon remaining cheese-covered pasta into the dish and top with the remaining cheese.

Add 1 cup of Japanese Panko Bread crumbs to the top of the mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the Panko crumbs are lightly browned and the cheese is bubbly.

Cool slightly before serving.

It’s that simple! (And oh so Yummy)!

Macy and Mitzie on bed

Summer is upon us and it is  time to lighten up a little on our recipes. Well, at least for today. (I have an amazing mac-n-cheese recipe coming soon – sorry!)

I was short on time tonight for dinner and did not have the time to stop at the grocery store. I looked in my refrigerator and saw that I had some tomatoes-on-the-vine. I always have plenty of pasta at home, so I decided to combine the two.

I made this simple pasta dish using the ingredients I had in my pantry. Of course I added my usual lemon zest and fresh lemon juice. Needless to say, this dish took almost no time to prepare. It’s simplicity made it appealing, and I will be making this many more times this summer, especially when the tomatoes in my vegetable garden start to ripen.

This is a fabulous way to get a delicious meal on the table quickly. The cooked tomatoes, combined with the lemon zest, juice and red pepper flakes dance a beautiful waltz in your mouth. This is a memorable side dish that will add some elegance to any main dish. It will make your meal elegant and forever enshrined in your mind.

This Tomato Pasta will serve 4-5 people who will be thrilled to be eating it!

Ingredients for Tomato Pasta

8 ounces pappardelle pasta (or any kind you have at home)
4 medium tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. lemon zest
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan-Reggiano

Cook pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside.

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil. 

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Toss in the tomatoes, lemon zest, lemon juice salt and pepper. 

Cook for about 5 minutes or less, or until you see the tomatoes just begin to soften.

Tomato Pasta tomatoes mixed

Add mixture to the pasta and toss to coat.

Sprinkle with Parmesan-Reggiano cheese.

Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve warm.

It’s that simple!

Tiger Lilies

I am sure you know by now the reason this particular recipe caught my eye. Yes, the word lemon in the title gets me every time. 

As I read through the ingredients, I became intrigued with the use of mashed chickpeas in a pasta dish. Chickpeas, lemon and pasta -hmm-I definitely wanted to give it a try. I really wasn’t surprised how well these ingredients blended with each other. It was more than just good; it was wonderful!  The author gives you the option of starting out with dried chickpeas, soaking them and cooking them. I made it easy, for myself and used canned chickpeas. I am sure it was just as enjoyable.

This delicious side dish is so easy to prepare. I know there are a lot of ingredients, but once you measure them out, it comes together quickly. It is not as lemony as you would think, and has the perfect blend of flavors.  The pasta, when combined with the butter, cheese and chickpeas, is perfection at its best. The result is a light, flavorful dish you will love. Make this recipe soon; you won’t regret it!

This recipe is courtesy of New York Times/Cooking. It says it will serve 2 people, but I think it will serve 3-4 people who will enjoy this wonderful combination of ingredients.

Ingredients for Lemony Pasta

Kosher salt, as needed
8 ounces regular or whole-wheat fusilli 
or other short sturdy pasta
2 cups cooked chickpeas, homemade or canned, rinsed and drained (save the liquid)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1/2 onion, diced
1 tbsp. finely chopped rosemary leaves
Pinch of chili flakes, plus more if needed
1 1/2 cups chickpea liquid or pasta water
3 cups fresh parsley leaves ( I used half)
2/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon (I used the juice as well)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until it is just shy of al dente (it should be slightly underdone because it will finish cooking in the sauce).

Save 1 1/2 cups of pasta water. Drain the rest. 

While pasta is cooking, prepare the chickpea sauce: Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and use a potato masher or a fork to lightly mash them; they should be about half crushed.

lemony pasta chickpeas mashed

Heat the oil in a 12-inch deep skillet over medium heat. (Use a deeper skillet than I did! It will be much easier!)

Add the garlic cloves and fry until they are golden brown (this happens very quickly so watch carefully), about 1- 2 minutes.

lemony pasta fried garlic

Stir in the onion, rosemary, chile flakes, and a pinch of salt.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the chickpeas and the cooking liquid (you can use either the chickpea liquid or the pasta water).

lemony pasta chickpeas and liquid

Bring to a simmer and cook gently until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the pasta and the parsley, and cook until the pasta has finished cooking and is coated in the sauce, 1 to 2 minutes.

Quickly toss in the cheese, butter, lemon zest, lemon juice (if using), black pepper to taste, and salt if needed.

lemony pasta cheese butter lemon zest

Drizzle with olive oil and shower with additional cheese before serving.

It’s that simple!


Now that the weather is finally cooperating and there are warm and beautiful days ahead, we can start eating healthy again. Of course, bathing suit season is right around the corner, which provides an enticing incentive!

Eating healthy means carefully planning what you consume. Nutrient-packed foods, such as whole grains, lean protein and fruits and vegetables are essential components of a healthy diet. You should alternate your vegetables to make sure you are getting a balance of nutrients by eating a mixture of colors, like spinach and kale, green and yellow squash and red and yellow bell peppers. Variety is a good way of knowing you are getting all the nutrients you need. And, of course, drink lots of water (but I know you already know that).

This recipe is a good way to start eating healthy. The whole wheat pasta is a good choice, but be careful and read your ingredients. I discovered an even better choice. For this recipe I used Ezekiel Food for Life Sprouted Grain Pasta -Spaghetti. You can actually pronounce and understand each ingredient. It is an all natural pasta I heard about from researching nutrition and all natural ingredients. There are a lot of foods out there which contain bad food additives. Read the labels carefully!

Whichever pasta you choose, I am sure you will be making this recipe again and again. After all, who doesn’t like puttanesca sauce? Easy-peasy! 

This recipe is courtesy of allrecipes.com and will serve 4 people who will love this new way of eating kale!

Ingredients for the Kale Puttanesca

1/2 (16 ounce) package whole wheat angel hair pasta
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. drained capers
1 (2 ounce) can anchovy fillets, drained and quartered
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups coarsely chopped kale
1 (4 ounce) can sliced black olives
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. 

Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente;drain.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes.

Cook and stir until the onion has softened and begins to turn golden brown, about 5 minutes.

kale puttanesca onions cooking

Stir in capers, anchovy fillets.

kale puttanesca capers anchovies

Bring to a simmer.

Stir in diced tomatoes and kale, and simmer over medium-low heat until wilted and tender, about 5 to 6 minutes.

kale puttanesca tomatoes and kale

Once pasta has been cooked and drained, stir into the puttanesca along with the black olives.

Toss and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese before serving.

It’s that simple!

Herb 2017

This is a lovely Mediterranean style side dish that can accompany any main course. I happened to come across it searching for “orzo” recipes. Orzo is a short cut pasta, and looks like a thick piece of rice. It is a very versatile pasta, as it can be used in soups, salads, casseroles, or simply alone.

The combination of spices caught my eye. Cumin and coriander are found in many Middle Eastern cuisines. You rarely see them in a pasta dish. I just learned that coriander is the seed of a cilantro plant.  I am just a wealth of information today! 

I loved this recipe. The spices blended perfectly and the result was a savory and delightful pasta. It is very simple to prepare. The orzo and spinach cook quickly. Just watch the spinach closely; you do not want to overcook it. Set your timer! I do not like cilantro, so I used parsley for this recipe. 

This recipe is courtesy of Cookstr.com and will serve 6 people who will be thrilled with the spices in this wonderful dish.

Today’s Hint: Place a wooden spoon over a pot to prevent the water from boiling over.

Ingredients for Spiced Orzo with Spinach

8 oz. orzo
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne 
6 oz. baby spinach leaves, washed, but not dried
4 tbsp. chopped cilantro or parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring a large pan off salted water to a boil.

Add the orzo and cook until tender, according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Add the onion  and cook, about 3 minutes, until softened.

Stir in the garlic, coriander, cumin, and cayenne, if using, and cook for 1 minute more.

spicey orzo oinioons, garlic, coriander, cumin

Stir the spinach (with the water clinging to its leaves from washing) into the saucepan.

spicy orzo, spinach added

Drain the orzo well, shaking off any excess water. 

Add the orzo to the spinach mixture and mix well.

Stir in the cilantro (or parsley) and season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve hot or cooled.

It’s that simple!

Zelda wisdom