Posts Tagged ‘cheddar’

Cheddar Chicken

April 25, 2011

Sometimes you want to make (and eat) something simple. Something humble. Something ungourmet. Something that uses ingredients you know taste amazing, but might not be best for your diet. Something that makes you feel warm, fuzzy and “oh so bad” for eating it. I found that dish last week, from a somewhat unexpected place.

In my Real Simple, I read an article about a woman’s comfort food that her mother made – a recipe found on the box of her mother’s new blender. The recipe was called Cheddar Chicken and only included 5 ingredients – chicken, Ritz crackers, cheddar cheese, garlic and butter. Now that you have read the list of ingredients, you can surely understand my sentiment at the beginning of this post.

The dish is so drenched in butter (from the pure butter and the crackers) with a hint of garlic and the sharp, gooey cheddar cheese. It tastes nothing short of amazing. Nothing gourmet. No rare ingredients. No need to spend hours in the kitchen.

So anytime you want something that makes you feel satisfied, a bit guilty and takes nothing more than 45 minutes with your pantry staples, put this one in the oven. Serve with rice pilaf and you have a simple, flavorful dinner.

CHEDDAR CHICKEN
Serves 4

16 buttery crackers (such as Ritz), crushed (about 3⁄4 cup)
6 ounces sharp Cheddar, grated
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
wild rice pilaf and steamed green beans (optional)

Heat oven to 350° F. In a bowl, combine the crackers, cheese, garlic, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Dip the chicken in the butter, then in the cracker mixture, pressing gently to help the crackers adhere. Place the chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle any remaining cracker mixture on the chicken and drizzle with any remaining butter. Bake until the chicken is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve with the pilaf and green beans, if desired.

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Pimiento Mac and Cheese

April 4, 2011

Everyone has their own comfort food – the indulgence you turn to when you have had a bad day, the weather is glum or you just want to ignore calories and common sense. For some people it comes from a classic dish their mother made, for some it is the food of where they grew up. For me, it is the food that just makes me feel warm and cozy inside. Pasta. Spaghetti with a gravy that has simmered all day long or baked mac and cheese makes me want to put on my pjs, open a bottle of wine and watch terrible TV. And the best thing about comfort food, is it makes all of that ok – no guilt. Well, at least not until the next day…

So it is surprising, really, that I only have one version of mac and cheese on my blog so far. It has always been a go to – many types of cheeses with the salty richness of pancetta. But when I saw this unique version from Bon Appetit, I thought I would try it in hopes of finding another treat for the days I need a pick me up.

Oh. My. Goodness. There is something in this dish that is special – not your average mac and cheese. Yet it isn’t so gourmet that it loses the simple heartiness that makes the dish what it is. You taste this amazing pimento flavor, with a hint of heat and rich, gooey cheese.

Peppadew peppers are easy to find once you know where to look. In my grocery store they were with the pickles – but check around for where they might be at your store. There is something about the shells vs. elbows, as well, that really catch the rich sauce.

So, next time I have a bad day, the skies open up with some nasty weather or I just want to eat an amazing dinner, this one will be on my list.

PIMIENTO MAC AND CHEESE
6 Servings (although I think it is less)

1 7- to 8-ounce red bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces 2 garlic cloves, halved, divided
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3/4 cup drained mild Peppadew peppers in brine, 1 tablespoon brine reserved
1/4 teaspoon ground ancho chiles
1 1/4 cups (packed) coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup (packed) coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella
8 ounces medium shell pasta

Bring 1/2 cup water, bell pepper, and 11/2 garlic cloves to boil in small saucepan. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pepper is soft, about 15 minutes.

Toast panko in skillet over medium-high heat until golden, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to bowl; cool to lukewarm. Rub 1 tablespoon butter into crumbs to coat. Mix in 1/4 cup Parmesan.

Transfer bell pepper mixture to processor. Add Peppadews and 1 tablespoon brine, 2 tablespoons butter, ground chiles, and 1/2 garlic clove; then add cheddar and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Blend until sauce is smooth; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 8-cup baking dish (or 6 individual dishes). Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain; return to pot. Stir sauce and mozzarella into pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon pasta into dish. Sprinkle with crumb topping.

Bake pasta until topping is crisp and sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes (15 for individual). Let stand 10 minutes.

Bison Burgers with Cabernet Onions and Wisconsin Cheddar with Roasted Fingerling Potato Salad

July 18, 2010

So I have always been curious about bison. Everyone says it is leaner, healthier and some people even say more delicious than its beef alternative. And, as you know, I will try just about anything once. So, we thought one night we would give it a try.

Whole Foods has ground bison almost all the time so I would start there. Took me two other grocery stores in Cincinnati before I found it, so learn from my mistakes.

I don’t know if it was the way the bison was seasoned, the Cabernet onions on top or that wonderful, summer grill taste, but they were fantastic. My husband said it was officially his favorite burger I make. This would be a good one for a party, too, because it has that wow factor – especially with the onions. It calls for white cheddar and although I bought some for the occasion, I totally forgot to put it on top. It was great regardless, but I am definitely going to include it next time.

I served it with this roasted potato salad, which was fantastic. The salad felt a bit lighter (no mayo, etc.) so it went well with the burger.

Both recipes are from Bon Appetit. If you are curious about bison, I would give it a try with this simple recipe!

BISON BURGERS WITH CABERNET ONIONS AND WISCONSIN CHEDDAR
Makes 4 Servings

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 cups sliced onions (about 2)
3/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon or other dry red wine
1 pound ground bison (buffalo)
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
4 organic hamburger buns
6 ounces sliced Wisconsin white cheddar cheese
Dijon mustard
1 small head of escarole, leaves separated

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy medium skillet over medium- high heat. Add onions, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until tender and golden brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and continue to sauté until very tender and well browned, about 15 minutes longer. Add wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cool, cover, and chill.

Preheat grill. Gently mix meat and next 3 ingredients in large bowl. Shape into four 1/2-inch-thick patties. Grill burgers until desired temperature.

Open buns and arrange, cut side up, on rimmed baking sheet. Place cheese slices on bun tops. Grill until cheese melts and bottom halves are lightly toasted, about 1 minute. Spread bottom halves with mustard. Top each with a few escarole leaves, then burger. Spoon onions atop burgers, dividing equally. Cover with bun tops; press lightly.

ROASTED FINGERLING POTATO SALAD
Makes 6 servings

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
1 1/2 pounds 1-inch-diameter fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons Banyuls vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon coarse-grained Dijon mustard
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, chopped (I omitted this ingredient, but feel free to add if you wish!)

Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Brush heavy large rimmed baking sheet with oil. Place potatoes and 2 tablespoons oil in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss. Arrange potatoes, cut side down, on prepared baking sheet. Roast until potatoes are brown on cut side, about 23 minutes. Using tongs, turn potatoes over. Roast until crisp, deep golden, and tender, about 12 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir green onions, parsley, tarragon, vinegar, mustard, and 2 teaspoons oil in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer potatoes to dish. Spoon chopped eggs and herb salad over. Mix if you wish.

Cheddar Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread

February 13, 2010

So, I never had really thought of putting cornbread with chili until I met my husband. He always baked up some cornbread muffins and dipped them in the chili, so I thought I would give it a whirl. Once I did, I found it hard to eat chili without it.

So when I bought my prized cast iron skillet (I know I have said it before, but if you don’t have one, you need one) I started looking for great skillet cornbread recipes. Because after all, that is the best way to make it!

This recipe actually came from Gourmet and is intended for cast-iron stick pans. Well, I don’t have those, so I used the little note on how to bake in a cast iron skillet. I recommend sticking with one tablespoon of jalapenos unless you like your cornbread extra spicy.

CHEDDAR JALAPENO SKILLET CORNBREAD
Makes one 9-inch round cornbread

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 large egg
1/4 pound coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (1 cup)
1/4 cup finely chopped scallion (white and pale green parts only)
1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped drained pickled jalapeños
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Heat skillet in oven 10 minutes.

Whisk together cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together buttermilk and egg in another bowl, then add to cornmeal mixture along with Cheddar, scallion, jalapeños (to taste), and 2 tablespoons butter, stirring until just combined.

Remove skillet from oven and add 2 tablespoons butter until it melts. Pour in batter. Bake until top is golden and a wooden pick or skewer comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve warm.

Grilled Turkey Burgers with Cheddar and Smoky Aioli

October 24, 2009

turkey burger 2Anyone who has tried to substitute beef for turkey in a burger knows that keeping it moist can be a bit challenging. Sure, it is by far healthier, but can you still get a good flavor?

I will admit, I was starting to give up, until I found this recipe in Bon Appetit. Added to the turkey is a smoky aioli which gives the burgers amazing moistness and flavor. Give this one a whirl if you aren’t a fan of the healthier turkey burger – it might make you a believer.

GRILLED TURKEY BURGERS WITH CHEDDAR AND SMOKY AIOLI
Serves 4

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (or use ground)
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds (or use ground)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 pound ground dark-meat turkey
4 slices white cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese
4 sesame-seed hamburger buns

Toast cumin seeds and coriander seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until aromatic and slightly darker in color, shaking skillet often, about 1 1/2 minutes. Cool. Finely grind toasted seeds in spice grinder or in mortar with pestle. Whisk mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, smoked paprika, garlic, and ground spices in small bowl. Season aioli to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Aioli can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Place turkey in medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons aioli; mix gently. Using damp hands, divide turkey mixture into 4 equal portions, then form each into scant 3/4-inch thick patty, about 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Using thumb, make small indentation in center of each burger. DO AHEAD: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Sprinkle burgers with salt and pepper. Grill turkey burgers 5 minutes. Turn over; grill until almost cooked through, about 4 minutes. Top each burger with 1 cheese slice and grill until meat is cooked through and cheese melts, about 1 minute longer. Place 1 turkey burger on each of 4 bun bottoms. Top each with dollop of aioli and whatever else you would like on your burger. Cover burgers with bun tops.

Santa Fe Pizza

June 28, 2009

Mexican PizzaI think it is so easy to get into a food rut. What new variation on chicken should I make tonight? Maybe pork? It sometimes starts to all run together, which is why I love to throw burgers, sandwiches and pizzas in the mix to give a little variety.

I think pizzas might be one of the most underrated home-cooked foods. You generally think of delivery or frozen, but it is so quick and easy to make amazing pizza at home.

This recipe is a classic Santa Fe pizza and has a great Mexican flare. It is overflowing with ingredients and spicy flavor. If you don’t have chicken strips on hand from leftovers, just saute up some cut up breasts with a little cumin (which is what I do when I make this recipe).

Thanks to Bon Appetit for this quick weeknight meal.

SANTA FE PIZZA
Serves 6

1 10-ounce purchased fully baked thin pizza crust
1 3/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups roast chicken strips
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
6 tablespoons frozen corn kernels, thawed, drained
6 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 large jalapeño chilies, cut into thin rounds, seeded
2/3 cup drained purchased refrigerated fresh salsa

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Place crust on rimless baking sheet. Leaving 3/4-inch plain border, sprinkle 1 cup cheese, chicken strips and cumin over crust. Top with onion, 4 tablespoons corn, 4 tablespoons cilantro, 3/4 cup cheese, jalapeños and 2 tablespoons corn. Bake pizza until crust is crisp and topping is heated through, about 13 minutes. Top with salsa and remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro.

Mac and Cheese with Pancetta

March 3, 2009

img_01651There is something about Mac and Cheese that just screams comfort food, and seems to make you feel all warm inside when the winter weather is dreadful.

Mac and cheese is one of those classics that I have about 10 recipes for – the classic, butternut squash, etc. But, the following recipe is one of my favorites. Reason one – pancetta. Reason two – the mixture of cheeses.

Pancetta, Italian bacon, is one of my favorite ingredients. It has all of the greasy goodness of bacon but without the smoky flavor that can sometimes distract. This recipe can surely be made without it if you want, but unless you are a vegetarian, I wouldn’t consider omission.

The cheeses are another reason I love this recipe. It not only has the classic cheddar but also a little Parmesan for some saltiness/sharpness and mascarpone for a tangy kick (you could probably use cream fraiche for the same flavor).

The recipe is attributed to Bon Appetit. I cut it in half so it works with an 8×8 pan and is the perfect amount for 4 (or a very hungry 2!).

SIDE NOTE – The recipe calls for Panko, which is a Japanese breadcrumb. Although you could certainly substitute regular breadcrumbs, I highly recommend you take the time to go down your international food aisle and pick them up. I promise once you use them, you will never go back to regular breadcrumbs!

MAC AND CHEESE WITH PANCETTA
4 tablespoons butter, divided
4 oz thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 (or less to taste) teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups whole milk
2 cups coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
4-5 oz container mascarpone cheese (generally this is half of a standard size container)
3/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 pound elbow macaroni

Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta; saute until crisp, about 6 minutes. Add onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add crushed red pepper and garlic, stir 1 minute. Stir in 1.5 tablespoons butter; allow to melt, then add flour and stir 1 minute. Gradually whisk in 1 3/4 cups milk, simmer until thick enough to coat spoon thickly, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in cheeses. Whisk in more milk by small amounts until sauce is thick but pourable. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add panko and stir until very light golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter 8×8 glass baking dish. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain well. Return pasta to pot. Add warm cheese sauce, toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over. Bake mac and cheese until heated through and topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes.


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