Apr 012012
 

perfect

If you want to add pizazz to your homemade mac-n-cheese, this is what you do.

Buy GOOD cheese.  Pick something local, cause it will be fresh. Pick something fancy – something full of flavor.  Our friend Jason visited the Harpersfield Farmstead recently and brought back a block of Basil & Tomato with a THS Mac N Cheese creation in mind.

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Buy blocked cheese, not pre-grated.  The freshness factor of grating your own block of cheese versus buying prepackaged shredded cheese is no where near comparable.  Take the extra time and make the extra effort.  It’s worth it.

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Use corkscrew shaped pasta. Corkscrew pasta holds cheese sauce the best.  Speaking of pasta – don’t rinse it off after draining. The starchy layer on the pasta after cooking will help to thicken the cheese sauce. This is what makes the difference when wanting your cheese to really stick heartily to the pasta!

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Allow the dish to cool for 10-15 minutes [or more!] before serving. This cooling time allows sauce to thicken to a great, creamy texture.

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Eat it with people you love. It just tastes better this way.

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Basil & Tomato Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, [1 – 1 .25 pound, total]
  • 1 T dried basil
  • 1 lb whole wheat corkscrew shaped pasta
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2+ cups, firmly packed, shredded tomato & basil cheddar cheese
  • breadcrumbs

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Rub basil over chicken and set into a baking dish. [I used a Pyrex pie plate.] Bake chicken for 35-40 minutes, until cooked through.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven to cool.  When cool to touch, dice into bite sized pieces.
  • Cook pasta to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, combine heavy cream and milk over medium high heat, bringing to boil.
  • Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  • Raise heat to medium-high and stir in cheese.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. 
  • Add chicken pieces to cheese sauce and continue to simmer for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Fold pasta into sauce to mix. 
  • Pour into Pyrex dishes [one 9×13 or 2 pie plates will do!] and top with breadcrumbs to your liking. [we used about half a cup, total.]
  • Bake dishes for 10-15 minutes, until breadcrumbs brown.  Remove from oven and cool 10-15 minutes. 

Nov 072011
 

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Earlier this fall, I invited some friends to the apartment for a Badger Game Day get together.  The Badgers may have blasted Nebraska on game day, but it is possible that two other attractions were the stars of the Game Day show at THS Headquarters.

1. Benson.  Everyone loves snuggling with the little kitten.  Just ask Emily and Alicia.  

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2. The food. [Shocking, I know.]
Somehow, both Nicholas and myself failed to get a photo of the entire spread, but our cameras are filled with the photos we took testing the kitchen lighting moments before I finished putting the dishes on the table.  Oops. Here’s a photo of some of the delicious food we served at the party.

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The menu consisted of many blogstar recipes, all of which come highly recommended.

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I spent the majority of the morning preparing for the party, cleaning and cooking up a storm and was very thankful to have Nicholas over to help.  He even managed to make a specialized gluten free treat for our Gluten Free friend, April.

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 Explosion of Flavor
Gluten Free Cocoa Crispy Treats
Makes approx 12 2-inch squares

 Ingredients:

  • 1 box gluten free Cocoa Crispy Brown Rice cereal (we used Erewhon – one of my favorite GF brands!)
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 5 oz plain flavored marshmallows
  • 5 oz fancy caramel & vanilla flavored marshmallows, (we used Kraft Jet-Puffed SwirlMallows Carmel & Vanilla – a guilty pleasure treat I’ve been crazy about all year!)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

 

Instructions:

  • Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch dish.
  • Melt margarine in a large sauce pan on the stove top, over medium high heat.
  • When margarine is melted, turn heat to low and add plain mallows.  Stir until melted.
  • Repeat with the caramel vanilla mallows.
  • Remove pan from heat and stir in extracts.
  • Gently stir in rice cereal, coating with marshmallow mixture.
  • Pour mixture into prepared dish.  Use a buttered spatula or fingers to press rice cereal down into pan as evenly as possible. 
  • Allow to cool and cut into 12 pieces.

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Blog Recipes: tried & loved

 Posted by at 4:00 am  review
Sep 142011
 

In the month of August, THS Headquarters doubled as a sort of blogger-recipe-testing central.  We got creative in the kitchen during ‘Hurricane Vacation’ – when slumber parties were had at my apartment due to evacuated friends, lots of flooding, and several nights of thunderstorms.  Here are the recipes that were MAJOR successes with my friends and I this August.

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Yukon Gold White Bean Basil Burgers from Peas and Thank You 
These were all the rage on several blog’s I’ve read this summer, and I’m so glad we tried this recipe.  Super easy, super tasty, and they freeze and reheat well, too!

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Homemade(ish) Chocolate Chip Maple Walnut Ice Cream from Girl Meets Life
I love that Gracie is constantly bringing me treat recipes perfect for my SGITK self.  This mix of flavors was delightful!

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Black Bean & Sweet Potato Burgers from Eating Bird Food 
Probably my FAVORITE recipe I’ve tried from a blog in 2011, thus far.  We topped ours with pepper jack cheese, guacamole, artisan lettuce, ripe tomato and a rancho sauce.  YOU MUST MAKE THESE!!

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Blueberry Pie Bars via Savvy Eats – which we made into Dark Chocolate Cherry Pie Bars!
[let me know if you want my substitutions!] 

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Vegetable Soft Tacos from Eat Live Run 
We used broccoli slaw instead of shredded cabbage, and yellow and orange peppers instead of red.  I love that these are so easily customizable; you can mix and match what produce you have in your house or available from the garden.

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Cake Batter Pancakes via How Sweet It Is 
The perfect morning-after slumber party brunch, if you ask me.  My visitors where pretty stoked to see sprinkles in their fluffy pancakes.  I’m quite certain Molly squealed.

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And another fabulous showing of The Best Pizza Dough from Eat Live Run
This is my go-to favorite homemade pizza dough recipe. I’ve used it several times this year, and love sharing it with my friends looking to make their own homemade pizza. Kevin was especially a fan.  I don’t have a kitchen-aid, but the dough blade on my food processor has never given me a problem with this dough.

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What blog recipes have you tried and loved lately?