Category Archives: Brunch

One Dish Meals: First in a Series . Macaroni and Cheese

One of my sons has suggested a “one pot” theme.  Good idea, especially if the dish is such that you can do like the cavepeople did and all stick your spoons in the same pot!  No dishes! I like it.  To my way of thinking, soup makes a great one pot meal, especially if you have got (or have made!) some really good bread.  Anyway, watch this spot; there will be more to come.  But for the first one pot meal, let’s make it macaroni and cheese.  Technically, I use 2 pots, one for the mac and one for the sauce, but there is a way to make it in one pot.  Here it is.  Don’t forget  to serve with applesauce.

Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 bag of macaroni – usually about a pound.  And I like to use whole wheat mac, the spirals.
  • 4 tablespoons butter.  and it’s better if your butter is not margarine.
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk (or alternatively, 2/3 cup dry milk powder mixed with 2 cups water. or add the powder with the flour and then stir in the water.)
  • 0ne pound (or more) of cheddar cheese, shredded — or you can  use a mixture of Monterey Jack, cheddar, etc.  Sometimes I also use some cream cheese.  And, while some would say that Velveeta is not real cheese, it sure does melt nicely. Use the big box.
  • salt and pepper
  • additional seasoning: I like to use either Worcestershire sauce or Lawry’s seasoned salt.  Some chopped green onions are also good.

First, you need a big pot in which to boil your water and cook your macaroni.  I assume you can follow the directions on the bag.  When it is cooked, drain it and return to the stove (but turn the burner way down.  In fact, turn it off for a while.  The mac is pretty hot.) Now, stir in the butter and let it melt, and then add the flour.  Now the milk (or the milk powder and water). Now, with the heat on low, start stirring in the cheese til its melted.  If you choose to add the additional seasonings, go ahead.  Remember, the more cheese the better.  That’s it; you can eat it out of the pot, or if you are from southern Kansas, pour it into a greased casserole dish and bake at 350 til brown on top.  (buttered bread crumbs always make a good casserole topping.)

Like my Mom said, “Feed ’em macaroni and cheese!”

A Word about Powdered Milk

I don’t suppose anyone likes to drink powdered milk, but it is handy to have around.  If you bake or cook any recipe that calls for milk, the difference won’t be noticeable if you substitute reconstituted dry milk. It’s cheaper, and it keeps for a long time. And then you can save the real milk for drinking and eating cereal.

Zucchini: Is There Anything It Can’t Do? (Zuke Salad and Zuke Cake)

And, by the way, how do you spell it? I think this is the accepted form.  Tomorrow is the first day of summer, and if you’re a gardener — or the friend of one– it’s not to early to start planning for National “Leave a Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch” Week.  I’ve actually never grown zucchini, because I have so many generous friends who do.  This vegetable is good for everything from soup to dessert.  If you have a particularly large one, you can stuff it with a ground meat seasoned with cumin, oregano, garlic and mint (some chopped tomatoes, if you like) for a Mediterranean-style entree.  Here are two recipes that I think are excellent examples of zuke versatility. If you have a copy of Jane Brody’s Good Food Book (and I hope that you do!) check out her recipe for Zucchini Fritatta.

ZUKE SALAD

I’m not sure of the origin of this recipe; I may have gotten from a fellow teacher in Kansas City who probably brought it to some luncheon, as my copy is scribbled on the back of a blank test form.  When I pulled this scrap out of my bag  home the other day and prepared it, I had forgotten how delicious it is!  It is reminiscent of home-made pickles.

Mix together:

  • 3/4 cup sugar (I used about 1/2)
  • salt and pepper – you decide
  • 2/3 cup vinegar ( I used a combination of balsamic vinegar and apple cider; red wine vinegar would also be good.)

Add:

  • 5 cups of thinly sliced zucchini
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced

Mix it all up and refrigerate.  It keeps very well and gets better every day (just like you!).

ZUCCHINI CAKE

Grease and flour a Bundt cake pan.  Preheat the oven to 375.

Mix in a large bowl:

  • 3 cups peeled and grated zucchini
  • 3 cups sugar (you could probably get by with 2 cups)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine and add:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Add:

  • 1 cup nuts, optional
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, also optional
  • 1/2 cup cocoa, also optional

Pour into the pan and bake for 40 – 45 minutes.  It’s good with cream cheese frosting, but isn’t everything? You can see that this can be made to be a chocolate cake or not.  1 teaspoon cinnamon can also be added.

I have to be honest:  I don’t think you need that much oil.  I think you could leave out 1/2 cup, but it’s been a while since I’ve made this.  Tell you what:  I’ll make it up next week and let you know.

Banana Bread

We don’t let things go to waste in our house.  Brown, slimy bananas make great banana bread! Overripe bananas can easily be mashed with a little lemon juice and frozen  until you are ready to bake.  I have tried several recipes; one had grape-nuts instead of nuts. This one is my favorite.  We had one daughter who didn’t like nuts, so I usually made two loaves, one with and one without.  Chocolate chips are not bad either!

BANANA BREAD

  • 3 really ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups flour (of course, I use half whole wheat)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cups of nuts (walnuts or pecans) (black walnuts are really good) (you can use more if you’d like)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips if you like

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease a loaf pan.  Mix the bananas and eggs.  Add the flour, sugar, salt, and soda.  Add the nuts; don’t overmix.  Put the batter in the pan and bake for 1 hour (or so).  (Quick breads will be done when the shrink from the sides of the pan and a toothpick poked in it comes out clean.) Let it cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, and then remove.  It slices better when it is cool if you can wait, and it is great with peanut butter and a glass of milk for breakfast!

BLT Chicken Salad

This is a much-requested recipe (at least as far as my children are concerned). I have seen it from several different sources (mags, etc.) but it’s pretty much PD now. (I hope.) Enjoy.

Mix:

  • 1/2 c. real mayo
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1 1/2 teaspns. vinegar (balsalmic is good)
  • 1 tablespn. BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 teaspn garlic powder

Cook 1 pound chicken breasts; cool, cut in cubes.

Cook 1/2 pound rotini pasta (of course, I prefer ww)

Cook several strips bacon til crisp (how about 1 1/2 strips per person?)

Now, mix pasta and dressing. Toss in chicken, bacon.  Add 3 c. chopped Romaine lettuce and fresh spinach.  Throww in a chopped tomato. Toasted croutons made of good french bread are a good add-in: I toss the cubes with olive oil and bake at a low temp til crisp. This will probably serve 6 people.