Bacon and Pea Macaroni & Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese — There is nothing more comforting on a cold fall day than a hot bowl of macaroni and cheese.

The other day was a typical fall day here in Michigan.  It was cold, wet, and windy.  Mark is only a month away from his first marathon — I am so proud of him and all the training he has been doing — and had an 18 mile training run to do.  Knowing that a good bowl of hearty, warm and comforting macaroni and cheese would be perfect for dinner I set off on my Pinterest boards to see what recipe spoke to me.  For weeks now I had been looking at this Bacon and Pea Macaroni & Cheese and when I came across again I knew instantly this was the one I wanted to make.  What is more delicious than bacon with pasta????  Although I have to say — I am partial to recipes that are filled with butter and cream — Paul Dean was right when she said “butter makes everything better!” — this recipe has zero butter and zero cream.  Ekk, I said to myself!  How can you make a hearty and rich macaroni and cheese without butter or cream?

Bacon and Pea Mac & Cheese

Knowing that Mark likes to watch what he eats I decided to take the plunge and make this “healthier” version of macaroni and cheese.  I did add more bacon and more cheese to the recipe, so in reality I probably cancelled out the fact that there is no cream or butter — opps!  This macaroni and cheese is amazing!  Even using yogurt it is rich, cheesy, and oh so comforting.  The peas add the perfect bite of sweetness to the mixture and the bacon adds a nice crunch and flavor to the mixture.  This will absolutely become a regular meal in the Reckling household!!!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Bacon and Pea Mac n' Cheese

Bacon and Pea Macaroni & Cheese
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8 ounces Penne Pasta
8 ounces Frozen Peas
8 slices Thick Cut Bacon, cooked & cut into small pieces
1/2 cup Plain Yogurt
5 ounces White Cheddar Cheese, shredded
5 ounces Fontina Cheese, shredded
Hot Sauce

In a large stock pot cook the penne pasta in well salted water according to the directions on the pasta package.  When there is one minute left on the pasta add the peas into the pasta water.

In a small sauce pan over medium heat add save one cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta and the peas in a strainer.  Return the pasta and the peas into the large stock pot once drained.

Add the yogurt, a few dashes of the hot sauce (to your taste), about 1/4 cup of the pasta water and about 1/3 of the grated cheese.  Stir the mixture until the cheese has melted.  Slowly stir in the remaining cheese by adding in small handfuls of cheese at a time.  If you add too much cheese at once the mixture will probably clump.  If you need to thin and melt the cheese slowly add a small amount of pasta water as needed.

Add the bacon and season the macaroni and cheese with salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well and serve immediately.

Source: adapted slightly from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Chicken & White Cheese Lasagna

Lasagna — what isn’t there to love about lasagna?  There are so many different ways to make it — from the traditional meat lasagna to a spicy southwestern black bean and corn lasagna.  I know plenty of people who avoid making lasagna because they consider it time consuming, but in the end making lasagna does not take that much work and it really is worth every minute it takes — specially this Chicken & White Cheese Lasagna.

Chicken & White Cheese Lasagna II

This lasagna is rich, hearty and most importantly cheese!!  The homemade white cheese sauce is to die for and using the broiler at the end of baking gives the lasagna this golden brown and crispy delicious crust.  This is the perfect lasagna to make for your next dinner gathering where you can break out the wine and enjoy spending time with your family and friends!  Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Chicken & White Cheese Lasagna

Chicken & White Cheese Lasagna
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9 Lasagna Noodles (not the oven-ready kind)
1/2 Cup Butter
1 Onion, chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Cups Chicken Broth
1 1/2 Cups Milk
4 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
1 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
1 Teaspoon Dried Basil
1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Pepper
2 Cups Ricotta Cheese
2 Cups Cooked Chicken, shredded or cubed
1 Package (10 ounces) Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and well drained
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, chopped

Fill a large stock about half way full with water, salt lightly and bring to a boil. Cook the lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8-10 minutes. When the noodles are done drain them in a strainer, rinse them with cold water, and set them aside.

In the meantime, in a medium sized mixing bowl add your chicken and season lightly with salt and pepper stirring to combine. Then add the ricotta cheese and stir again until the mixture is well combine.

Pre-heat the oven to 350◦.

Once the noodles are done cooking, dry the stock pot and place the pot over medium heat melting the butter. Cook the onion and the garlic in the butter until the onions are tender and begin to get translucent, which will take 3-5 minutes. Stir the flour and the salt and summer the mixture until it is nice and bubbly. Slowly add the chicken broth and the milk, bringing the mixture to a boil while stirring constantly. Stir in 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese, basil and oregano. Once the cheese is melted remove from the pan from the heat and set aside.

In a 9″x13″ back dish or a lasagna pan spread 1/3 of the sauce mixture on the bottom of the pan. Next lay down three of the lasagna noodles side by side and top those with the chicken and ricotta cheese mixture. Lay down three more noodles side by side on top of the chicken mixture and then spread 1/4 of the sauce mixture over the noodles. Evenly spread the spinach, remaining 2 cups of mozzarella and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese over the sauce. Lay down the remaining three lasagna noodles side by side and spread the remaining sauce evenly over the noodles. Sprinkle the top with the chopped parsley and the remaining 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in the oven uncovered. The last remaining 3-4 minutes turn on the broiler to high to make the top nice a golden brown. Allow the lasagna to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Source: adapted slightly from by Laurie (SimplyScratch).

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

The other night watching Food Network, a new show aired named “The Best Thing I Ever Made”. While watching the show, Anne Burrell came on with her recipe for Spaghetti alla Carbonara. As she continued to go through the recipe I knew instantly I was going to have to try this! Scott is not a big fan of pastas, mainly because he does not cream based sauces.

This pasta is so rich and creamy, and Anne described it perfectly when she calls it very home style and comfort food like! Scott said this is one of his favorite pasta dishes he’s ever had! The scallions on the top make the dish, do not forget them!!!

Spaghetti alla Carbonara
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1 Cup Bacon (or 3/4 Cup Pancetta & 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil), cut into 1/4″ dice
1 Pound Spaghetti (or other type of pasta)
8 Large Eggs
1 Cup Kraft Italian Blend Shredded Cheese
Black Pepper
4 Scallions, cut on a bias

Over medium-high heat, bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil.

In a large skillet, over medium heat cook the bacon (or pancetta and olive oil) until the bacon starts to turn brown and becomes slightly crips. Turn off the heat.

Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook it one minute less than stated on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, in a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs and the cheese together vigorously until they become a homogenous mixture. Season generously with black pepper.

Right before the pasta is done cooking, return to the pan and turn the pan on to medium heat. (Do not turn the heat higher medium, as it will cause the eggs to curdle and not cook properly!) Remove the pasta from the cooking water and add it directly to the skillet with the bacon. Toss the pasta in with the bacon to coat it with the remaining fat left in the skillet. Immediately stir in the egg mixture, while stirring vigorously. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly until the egg mixture looks like a cream sauce. If after 2 minutes the sauce is not cooked all the way, turn the heat off and add a lid to the pan for 1 to 2 additional minutes.

Serve immediately, topped with the sliced scallions.

Source: Anne Burrell on “The Best Thing I Ever Made: Comfort Food”