31 December 2013

Foodie Tuesday | Homemade Mac & Cheese

In this house, we go cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs for macaroni and cheese.

Not just any macaroni and cheese. HOMEMADE macaroni and cheese. The kind Mom makes, if that mom is me.

This recipe is a quick-and-easy downhome favourite; the kids cheer - literally, cheer - when they hear it's on the menu. I'm not even making that up.

But don't be fooled by it's ooey-gooey golden-delicious good looks. It's terrible for you. No redeeming qualities whatsoever. Really, the only thing to recommend it is that it tastes SO. FREAKING. GOOD.

So I think I've fairly categorized how good this mac & cheese is for you (in that, it isn't at all), so you won't be surprised to see that the main ingredients are basically fat, salt and processed wheat. We can also universally acknowledge that canned soup is the devil and butter his faithful sidekick, but sinners need love, too.

And you know what says love-in-a-pot? Homemade macaroni and cheese.

Preparation: 20 minutes | Cooking Time: 40-50 minutes | Serves: 6
  • 500g whole wheat macaroni noodles
  • 2 (10 fl.oz.) cans Campbell's Cheddar Cheese soup
  • 10 fl.oz. (1 can) 5% cream
  • 5 cups old cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup salted butter
  • 1 cup bread crumbs

Cooking Directions:
  1. Boil salted water in a large pot and cook macaroni noodles until just tender. Drain, and set aside.
    You want to undercook them a little bit because they'll bake for 40 minutes later on and absorb the soup liquids.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. While pasta is cooking, in a large 3-quart casserole dish combine next 5 ingredients (Campbell's cheddar cheese soup through black pepper).
    Generally, I whisk together the soup and cream until well blended and smooth. Then I add the cheese, about one cup at a time, and whisk it gently to prevent clumping. Once all the cheese is incorporated, add the Worcestershire sauce and pepper, and give it a final stir.
  4. To the cheese mixture, add to macaroni and stir until the noodles are completely coated.
  5. In a medium heat butter in the microwave until completely melted. Add bread crumbs and stir thoroughly.
  6. Spread the bread crumbs evenly on top of the mac and cheese.
  7. Cover the dish and bake for 40 minutes until golden-bubbly. Remove lid and cook for 10 minutes more, to brown the bread crumbs.
  8. Serve with maybe a vegetable or two, to justify the splurge!

For a grown-up twist on this family classic, add a 1/2 cup of minced green onions and a 1/3-1/2 cup freshly diced tomatoes to the mix.


Other Foodie Tuesday comfort foods you might like:

24 December 2013

Foodie Tuesday | Nan's Chili

Happy Christmas Eve, peeps! Ready for the holidays?

As per usual, I'm doing the last of my holiday shopping this morning and will likely get the bulk of my wrapping done once the kids hit their pillows. (You'd think I would plan in advance, given that Christmas happens at the same time every year without fail, but every year I'm surprised. I'm lazy. Whatever.) It's become a default tradition in our house that the young'uns go to bed Christmas Eve with an empty tree, and wake up Christmas morning with a full one.

Sounds fun, right?! That's because it is. At first our lack of planning and last-minute-Sally approach to holiday prep sent us into an unending shame-spiral, but now, to be honest, we all kind of like it. Waking up Christmas morning to a tree overflowing with gifts is pretty darned exciting!

It's how we roll. It's tradition.

Another tradition in our house is a Christmas Eve chili dinner. My Nanny made the very best chili; it's always been a family favourite. Unlike turkey and stuffing, which is strictly an annual event at Casa Kilfoyle, chili makes a regular appearance in our weekly menu: as soon as the weather turns cool, we crank up the burners and churn out pot after pot; we can't get enough.

I'm an absolute sucker for traditions, especially when it comes to meals (for sentimental reasons and also because it's way easier to eat the same thing every holiday than it is to dream up a new, fab meal for every occasion.) And because it's possibly our very favourite meal, Nan's chili has been our Christmas Eve meal since 1998 when the Boy came along and made us a family. We serve it piping hot on a bed of rice, with a buttered loaf of crusty bread, side salad and a big ol' bottle of wine (which really helps facilitate the uber-excellent job of midnight gift wrapping, and may or may not have been implicated in more than one instance of OH-MY-GOD-WE-FORGOT-TO-WRAP-SUCHANDSUCH!! Christmas Day pre-party wrapping blitzes).

I didn't expect to share this recipe with anyone else (not that it's a state secret but you know: "family" recipe and all that...) but honestly, it's too good not to. It's just back-to-basics delicious: what we like to call "good chow".

Preparation: 20 minutes | Cooking Time: 25 minutes + 3+ hours | Serves: 6-8
  • 3 lbs extra lean ground beef
  • 1 large Spanish onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 heaping tbsp minced garlic, divided
  • 1 can (28 fl.oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cans (19 fl.oz.) red kidney beans, undrained
  • 2 cans (10 fl.oz.) condensed tomato soup
  • 5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Tabasco sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • salt & pepper, to taste
Cooking Directions:
  1. Heat olive oil in a large, deep frying pan, over medium-high heat. Finely dice onion; add to pan with 2 heaping tbsp garlic. Sauté one to two minutes, or until fragrant.
  2. Into the pan, crumble ground beef by hand. Stir to mix thoroughly with onions and garlic; sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Let brown, stirring regularly and breaking up large chunks with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper twice more throughout the cooking process: once when midway browned, and once near the end of cooking.
  4. Meanwhile, combine remaining garlic, tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and chili flakes in a large soup pot. Stir to mix.
  5. To the contents of the soup pot, add the cooked ground beef mixture, including the cooking juices. Stir to mix thoroughly.
    The juice is particularly important: it provides much of the seasoned flavour to the dish. If you drain it off your chili will be bland and tasteless, which is why extra lean beef is best (to limit the fat levels of the dish)
  6. Simmer chili on low heat for a minimum of 3 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
  7. Serve, or let cool and refrigerate overnight; the more opportunities the flavours have to blend, the better it tastes. It's almost always more delicious the next day! Serve alone or on a bed of white rice, dressed with your toppings of choice. 

Wishing y'all a very, very merry; may your holiday be happy, healthy and safe.

From our family to yours, Happy Christmas.

xo April

Other Foodie Tuesday family recipes you might like:

17 December 2013

Foodie Tuesday | Turkey Pot Pie


Every Christmas I insist on purchasing a 15-pound turkey to feed 6 people. We eat a LOT of turkey at the holidays, but if I'm being honest (and it's the merry-merry season so I probably should be), 15 pounds is too much. We eat a leg and most of a breast, and then I have to get creative with my menu planning because I have 14 more pounds of turkey to choke down and there's only so many hot-turkey-and-gravy sandwiches a girl can force-feed her family, you know?

Uptown problems, I know.

I actually don't like freezing turkey as I find it completely dries out the meat. It's like eating string, or shredded rawhide. (I'm guessing on that last one. To be clear, I don't eat rawhide.)

This means I need tasty turkey recipes that either taste very different from regular roasted turkey or else can be frozen successfully in a way that doesn't turn the feature ingredient to rawhide. For brains frazzled by holiday planning and strung out on tryptophan, this isn't the easiest task so I'm blasting out a recipe early this year! Because I'm a planner.

I also want to make life easier for you, my peeps, so here it is. This is what you need to do with all that leftover bird:

Turkey. Pot. Pie.


That's the shizzle right there.

Anything that comes in pie format is a winner in my book, frankly, and it's full enough with veg and protein that you can totally kid yourself about it being healthy (it's not, but it could be if you want it bad enough.)

Honestly, you guys, what the hell. It's the holidays! Let loose a little (more). Your jeans are unbuttoned at the table already so roll with it.

Preparation: 30 minutes | Cooking Time: 30 minutes + 1 hour | Serves: 8-16

  • 2 deep-dish prepared pie crusts
  • 2 regular prepared pie crusts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion, medium-diced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 cubes chicken bouillon
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups shredded turkey
  • 1 (10 fl.oz.) can Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup
  • 1 (10 fl.oz.) can Campbell's Cream of Celery soup
  • 4 cups mixed "California" style frozen vegetables
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 tbsp Herbes de Provence
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
Cooking Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Using a fork, poke holes through the sides and bottom of both deep-dish pie crusts, to prevent bubbling. Bake crusts for 3-5 minutes, then remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, melt olive oil and butter together in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until onions are soft and translucent.
  4. Add bouillon cubes and water to the pot. Stir until bouillon is dissolved, then add shredded turkey. Cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Next, add both cans of soup to the pot. Stir until smooth. Add the final five ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  6. Lower the heat to medium, and let simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through. Remove from heat.
  7. Using a ladle, scoop the filling in equal amounts into each deep-dish pie shell.
    It's OK to overfill; the vegetables will cook down in the oven so be very generous with the scoops. Usually I end up with just a cup or so leftover which, by the way, makes a great snack for the chef while she's slaving away at the stove.
  8. Peel each regular pie shell from its tin and lay over the pie mixture. Pinch the edges of the dough to join the two shells, around the entire perimeter of the pie. Then, using a butter knife, cut three or four fancy slits in the top, to allow steam to escape.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour in the oven at 400 degrees, until golden brown and bubbling. Serve with a generous side salad, to make yourself feel better about your choices.

Is it healthy? Meh. Not so much.

But is it delicious? And does it use up a sizable chunk of that blasted holiday bird? Yes. Yes it does.

You're welcome. Oh, and bon appétit!

Other Foodie Tuesday poultry recipes you might like:

03 December 2013

Foodie Tuesday | Homestyle Beef Stew

'Tis the season!

It's technically been the season for a couple of weeks now (can we say: brrrrrrr.....) but for me, the first of December marks the beginning of all things cozy and comfortable. I want to spread my big feathery Mama wings and bring my family in close. It's time to hibernate.

I try to feed my family with love at all points of the year, but doesn't this season just feel like love in a bowl? For me it does. I want people to know how I feel about them - how madly, truly, deeply I love them - with every spoon- and forkful.

It's also the season of rich, one-pot wonders. I'm always a fan of one-dish meals (you know how busy we are!) and the less complicated a meal is - and the fewer dirty dishes it produces - the higher it ranks in my books. So this gorgeous beef stew is right up at the top. It goes from stovetop to oven in one pot (so easy!) and tastes amazing.

Added bonus for allergy sufferers or those with food sensitivities: this stew is grain and gluten free, and can be easily adapted (mostly by eliminating the wine and replacing it with additional stock) to a Paleo diet. It can also be dairy-free by substituting coconut oil or another vegetable-based fat of your choice for the ghee.

It's kind of a super-hero dish; the cape is optional.

So.... Ready to give your family some home-cooked love? Here we go:

Preparation: 15 minutes | Cooking Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes | Serves: 6
  • 4 lbs stewing beef
    I use a blade roast, which I trim and chop myself into 1 - 2 inch pieces. You can use whatever beef you like best, as the slow cooking tenderizes even the toughest cuts
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp ghee, divided
  • 4 large yellow onions, sliced thinly
  • 4 tbsp quinoa flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp minced or finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine (Paleo diets can substitute with additional stock)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp sea salt
Cooking Directions:
  1. Trim the beef and cut into 1 - 2 inch chunks. Season generously with sea salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a large dutch oven (capable of transitioning from stovetop to oven) on high heat. Add half the meat and cook for 2-4 minutes. Ensure beef is browned on all sides, but not cooked through. Remove from pot (to a plate/bowl). Add the remaining 2 tbsp of ghee, allow to heat, then cook the remaining half of meat. Also remove to waiting dish.
  4. Reduce heat to medium high.
  5. To the empty pot, add onions and sauté for approximately 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions release their juices. If the pot dries out, add a small amount of stock to prevent scorching.
  6. Once the onions have caramelized, stir in quinoa flour and cook for 1 minute. Add thyme, garlic, sea salt and bay leaves; stir to combine. Allow to cook for two minutes or until fragrant, then add wine and chicken stock. Simmer for 3-5 minutes.
  7. Add beef and their released cooking juices, if any. Stir in honey and cider vinegar; combine thoroughly.
  8. Bring to a boil, then cover and place in the preheated oven, on the middle-lower rack. Cook for 2 1/2 hours, until meat is tender. Serve piping hot! 

Don't freak out and think you did it wrong if your stew is really liquid-y, even after it's finished cooking. That's just how this stew is. We serve on a bed of mashed potatoes, which is fanTAStic. OR, if you're into that kind of thing (which I totally am), you can eat it "straight" and just drink spoon up the juice afterward like a soup.

What I'm trying to say is, there's no wrong way to eat this stew. Just go for it.
{gently adapted from this recipe at Deliciously Organic}
Other Foodie Tuesday one-pot-wonders you might like: