Category Archives: casseroles

Simply Sinful Shrimpy Mac ‘n’ Cheese

About a month ago, I had a terrible craving for mac ‘n’ cheese.  Recipes were floating around all over the food blog circuit and I kept seeing it on TV.  I just couldn’t seem to get away from it!  So I attempted to whip some together, after work one day, and failed…pretty miserably.  I was rushed and I think I just wanted it too badly.  What I got was a decent tasting pasta dish, but it was not mac ‘n’ cheese, it was not ooey gooey and awesome, it was a little dry and just okay.  My craving was not satisfied.  I tried again last week, and I hit a home run.  I still didn’t really plan ahead so I had to work with what I had on hand…a great mixture of three cheeses, some wine, and frozen shrimp.  This is not a traditional, homey mac ‘n’ cheese, it’s rather gourmet and definitely more for the foodie crowd, so mac ‘n’ cheese traditionalists should beware.  My hubby and I absolutely loved it and I can’t wait to make another batch.

Ingredients

A few of your fave Cheeses (I used Rosey Goat, Cheddar, and Parm)

Short-Cut Pasta (like elbows, penne, etc. I used whole wheat)

Milk

Dijon Mustard

White Wine

All-Purpose Flour

Shrimp (Frozen or Fresh)

Onion

Garlic

Nutmeg

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Kosher Salt

Butter

Process

First, set a large pot of water to boil for your pasta.  Then sautee enough shrimp to suit your fancy, in a large heated skillet.  Season with salt and pepper and cook until just pink.

003While the shrimp cooks, preheat your broiler and finely chop the onion and garlic.  You can also start bringing a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.  When the water boils, add the pasta and cook until al dente (still a little firm).

0041When the shrimp is cooked through, remove from the pan and set aside.  In the same pan, melt a couple tablespoons of butter and add the onions and garlic.

005

Cook until softened and sprinkle in a couple tablespoons of flour.  Season with salt and pepper and mix well, until flour is smooth.

0081Allow the roux to cook out for a few minutes.  While it does so, shred up a heaping pile of cheese.

002At this point, your shrimp should be cool enough to handle, and you can cut them up into bite size pieces (you can also leave them whole, I just think this dish eats better with the shrimp in smaller pieces).

007When the roux has darkened just a tad in color and no longer tastes pasty, you can begin adding liquid.  I started by adding in the wine.

0111Stir rapidly until everything smooths out and allow to come to a boil.  The alcohol must be cooked out before you add the milk, or the sauce will curdle.

0122Then add milk until sauce reaches desired amount and consistency.  Remember you want enough to coat all of your pasta and a little extra.

013Season with salt and pepper, add a dijon mustard to taste, and just a touch of nutmeg, bring to a boil.

015Next stir in all but a few tablespoons of the cheese and continue stirring until melted and completely incorporated.

016At this point, you should check your pasta for doneness, strain it when it’s ready, and return it to the pot.  Then stir your shrimp into the cheese sauce.

0171Pour the sauce into the pot of pasta and gently stir until every noodle is coated (note how I’m using two different pastas, this is not technique my friends, this is lack of planning…still tastes good though).

0181Add more seasoning if necessary, transfer to a baking dish, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and pop into the broiler.

0192Remove from the broiler when the top is brown and bubbly.

0201Serve it up and indulge in this cheesy delight.

0222ENJOY!

3 Comments

Filed under casseroles, Pasta, Seafood, Uncategorized

Parmesan Peppercorn Pasta Bake

Empty cupboards…Empty fridge!  Oh, jeesh!  What’s a girl to do?  Why, turn to her trusty casserole dish, of course.  After being out of town for almost six days, I was plagued with the ever-daunting bare kitchen, and nor the time or the energy for the grocery store.  So, I searched the cupboards high and low.  I needed something quick, tasty, and of course bloggable.  I came up with a sort of fake-out lasagna pasta bake, using a partial box of lasagna noodles, some Italian sausage, and tomato puree.  We really, really enjoyed this dish, and I will definitely remember it when I need another weeknight quickie.

Ingredients

Italian Sausage (I used hot)

Onion

Fresh Garlic

Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles

Tomato Puree (or any canned tomatoes of your liking)

Bay Leaf

Italian Seasoning (or fresh herbs, of course)

Parmesan Cheese

Butter

Flour

Milk

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Kosher Salt

Process

Start by bringing a large pot of water to boil.  Once it reaches a hard boil, add a hefty amount of kosher salt to the water (remember, the water should be just about as salty as sea water, I know it seems like a lot, but pasta needs it).  While the water comes to a boil, slice the sausage into bite size pieces.

0016

Add the sausage to a frying pan over medium heat( no need to add oil, the sausage has enough fat in it) and allow to brown and cook almost all the way through.

0022While the sausage browns, chop some onion and mince some garlic.

0032When the sausage is almost all the way browned, add the onion and garlic to the pan and continue cooking until sausage is golden and veggies are cooked through.

0051In the meantime, break up your lasagna noodles.  You can really have fun with this.  There is no need for uniform pieces, as long as the sizes are similar (so they cook at the same rate).  The more rustic the better.

006When the sausage is ready, add the tomato puree, salt, pepper, italian seasoning and a bay leaf.

0092By now, the pasta water should be boiling, so go ahead salt it, and add your noodles.  Give them a good stir, until the water returns to a boil.  Since it is now in small pieces, you may need to stir the pasta occasionally so it won’t stick, but just occasionally.  While the pasta cooks you can make the cheese sauce and preheat your broiler.  For the sauce, make a basic roux (you can find a more exact description of how to do this in Meatloaf Meatballs) out of butter and flour.  In this case, the roux should be a blond one.  You want the flour to cook, but not pick up any color.

011After a few minutes, the flour should be cooked through and you can add some milk.  You want the final product to be thick but not stiff.  I suggest starting out with a little more milk than you think you need for this consistency, because it will reduce a little.  Once the sauce comes to a boil, you can reduce the heat and add a hefty handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

0131

Stir the sauce until the cheese is completely melted in, then add lots and lots of freshly ground black pepper.  Remember, this is a Parmesan Peppercorn sauce, so it should be really peppery.

015Now, when your pasta is just al dente (after about 7 minutes start checking it by tasting it), drain it, but don’t shake off too much of the cooking water, it helps everything move around well when you combine the pasta with the sauce.  After the pasta is drained, return it to the pot and combine with the red sauce (remember to remove the bay leaf, it is not digestable).

0161Pour half of the pasta into a casserole dish and top with a few dollops of the Parmesan sauce.

0181Add the rest of the pasta and a few more dollops and pop into the broiler to brown the cheese sauce and crisp up the top layer of pasta.  Keep a close eye on it.

020Okay, so my sauce got a little darker than I would have liked, but I swear, those dark spots were the tastiest bits of the entire dish.

0231ENJOY those burned bits!  I sure did.

3 Comments

Filed under casseroles, Ethnic, Pasta