Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ham and Cheese Macaroni

I've got to admit...macaroni and cheese is NOT my favorite. At least the kind you get out of the Kraft box isn't.  This is a homemade version that I love though.  I like it so much that I'm drooling a bit writing this.  I've got to warn you, this is not something for those health nuts out there.  It's good old fashioned comfort food.  

I have modified this recipe just a little bit from one of Emeril Lagasse's.  This is one of the few recipes he makes that is simple and easy to throw together.  Nothin' fancy here.

Start off with a bit of butter.  Throw in some flour to make up a roux.  See, faaancy.


 Pour in some milk and stir it around until it thickens up.


 Add a bit too much cheese.:)


Get some pasta...I used ditalini and elbow pasta because it is what I had on hand.  I think penne might work really well too.  It was right about here that I threw in some ham chunks just to add more bulk, it really needs it doncha think?  Hey if your being bad, be reeeeally bad.
Sprinkle with some Italian bread crumbs, cheese, and Emeril's Original Essence seasoning.  I buy the stuff premade in the spice section of the grocery store.
Bake for a bit and voila...yum.

For those of you who might want a real recipe rather than the ramblings above, here ya go. 

- 6 Tbsp. butter
- 1/2 lb. pasta
- 5 Tbsp. flour
- 3 c. whole milk (I use 1% with good results)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- A pinch of cayenne or red pepper.
- A pinch of red pepper flakes (If you like a kick.)
- 2 1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese (The sharp variety is my fave, and I confess that I probably use a lot    more than 2 1/2 c.)
- Cubed ham to taste.  This is optional.
- 1/2 c. Italian bread crumbs
- 1 tsp. Emeril's Original Essence seasoning

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Throw on a large pot of boiling water (salt it a bit if you like).  Add your pasta of choice and boil until al dente.  Drain when done.

Place 5 Tbsp. of butter in a big saucepan.  Melt it over medium heat...throw your flour in and stir constantly being sure that it doesn't burn...not that I would know anything about that.  After about 3 minutes...pour in your milk and stir constantly until it thickens.  This takes about 5 minutes.  Throw in your salt, black pepper, cayenne, red pepper flakes, cheese, and ham.  Stir it all together until the cheese is melted.  Combine the cheese sauce with your pasta.  Pour into a large casserole dish sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray.  

Next mix together 1/2 c. of the cheddar cheese, Italian bread crumbs, and Emeril's Original Essence seasoning.  Sprinkle over the top of your mac and cheese.  Bake for about 25 minutes.

Can I just share that recipes like these really don't help with my whole "lose the baby fat" plan.  No fair!

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Pretty Primrose Pots

I couldn't resist.  I'm a total sucker for plants, especially those with bright, happy colors.

I found these cute little Primrose plants at the Home Depot the other day while I was looking for a new paint brush.  They were only a $1.25 each.  SOLD!


 I had a few white pots that have been sitting in the garage for awhile now waiting for the right thing to fill them up.  Yes, all of the pots are different, but I think the common color gives a nice cohesive look.  

I wanted a bit of variation in height, just for visual I sound like I know what I'm talking about?  Good, I've got ya fooled.  I took my small white clay pot that I've painted at some point and plopped it into a glass vase I was a perfect fit, and gave me a little height.


I love the color these are bringing onto my kitchen table.  At least the inside is popping, even when outside is a bit dreary.

Pretty cheap mood elevation.  Not even my husband could complain about me spending to much. :)

Now we'll see how long I can keep them alive.


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Monday, February 13, 2012

Clean Windows and Drop Biscuits

I know the title is about two totally unrelated things but hey, that's my life, it's how I roll.  I always have two (or maybe 3 or 4) things running through my head at once.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a nice little e-mail asking if I wanted to try out a window cleaning product and if I liked it, I would spread the news by blogging about it.

Oh boy, did I like it!


I can't quite figure out why it's called Fish Foam, but hey, it works, so who cares?  Not me.


I decided I would try it out on my worst messy glass...the door to the back yard.  Ya know, the one that my dogs (and maybe the kids too) jump on, drool on, and pretty much just make a disgusting mess.

Don't look at the deck in the back, it's a total disaster.  Focus on the glass, and save me further embarassment, ok?

The foam was thicker than I thought it would be.  Plus, it only took one pass with the paper towel to get all of the dirt and drool off.  With other products this often takes me two to three applications to get a clean look...even better, the smell was very mild.  All of these things equal l.o.v.e.


This stuff really works...and I didn't get paid to say that.

I also tried this out on the front of my fridge, the oven door, the dishwasher front, the microwave, etc. and it left everything shining beautifully.  If you are interested in some of your own go check it out here.

Now onto the baking portion of this post.

Last night I needed something to round out dinner.  Of course, I decided this at the last minute and didn't have time to make any rolls.  These drop biscuits fit the bill though.

They are super quick and use ingredients that most of us have on hand.

My husband described them as, "Not beautiful, but they taste pretty good".  They turned out crumbly but moist.  I even did a double take this morning and had a couple left over from last night with butter and jam spread on them...all I can say is mmmmm!


Here's the down and dirty recipe:

2 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 tsp. double acting baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening (I used butter flavored Crisco.)
1 cup milk

Combine all of your dry ingredients.  Cut in the Crisco until it is broken into small pieces.  Add the milk.  The dough will be pretty sticky.

Take a large spoon and drop your biscuits onto a greased cookie sheet.  This should make 10 to 12 biscuits depending on the size you make.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 16 minutes.  Spread with butter and roll your eyes in delight as you enjoy!

There you have it, cleaning and baking...two things I do the most.  Happy Monday!

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Get Outta My Head Please
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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Big Weekend

This last weekend was soooo busy but awesome! 

On Saturday we baptized our 8 year old son, Will.  He is getting so seems like just yesterday he was just an infant, and he is now a little man.  We also blessed little Jack on Sunday.
We had all kinds of family in town, which I love.  After several years of living too far away for them to attend all our special events, it is so great to be close enough to have them share such beautiful experiences with us.  I love family and the closeness and comfort that goes along with it.

I just thought I'd share a few pictures that were taken, just because I love them.

"Little" Jack is a bit less than 3 months but fitting into 6 month clothes.  So far, he's still holding the record for my biggest baby.  I absolutely love his cheeks and he gets a lot of kissin' because he is so yummy.

I love the white blessing outfit that grandma bought to make this boy handsome for his big day.  It makes me remember and value how new and special he is. 

I'm going to miss this stage as this is the last little member of the family, so I'm going to eat it all up for the last time!


He gets called Jack Jack quite a bit.  Doesn't the round head remind you of the baby off of Incredibles?  I just hope he doesn't become a flaming monster someday...hehehe!  Really, he is the eas-i-est baby I've ever had even though he's spoiled rotten.


Here we are all decked out together.  I honestly can't believe I have four kids, and that they are all boys.  I wouldn't have it any other way though. ;)  I love all of these guys...that includes my great husband sitting there.

I'm still recovering from the business of the weekend, but have a few projects under way.  Unfortunately, my time to work on them is limited to the weekends because I'm still working like a dog at my paying job.  Catch ya'll later.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cream of Broccoli, Cheddar, and Bacon Soup

Whew! What a crazy week! 

My job that pays (home health nurse) has ex-plod-ed.  I've done a few admits, and several visits plus have been on-call for whatever else is needed.  It's kicking my butt.  I'm finding out how much work it takes to get myself and 4 kids out the door at a reasonable hour.  All I can say is, it's a good thing the hours are flexible!

I have just enough time today to share a recipe I've tried out recently.  It was pretty darn good.  I usually use Bear Creek instant soup so it was a stretch to make this from scratch...but soooo worth it!


Here's my recipe which I adapted from

2 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 box of chicken stock or 2-14 1/2 oz. cans
4 c. broccoli cut into smaller pieces
4 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. flour
2 c. milk
1 pkg. bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 c. cheddar cheese

Melt 2 T. butter in medium sized stock pot, saute onion, garlic, and celery until tender.  Add broccoli and broth; cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Puree soup (I have an immersion blender for this) or you can mash the mixture with a potato masher.  I like to leave the soup a bit chunky since I prefer to really see and taste the broccoli.

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt 4 Tbsp. butter, stir in flour, cook for approximately 1 minute, then add milk.  Stir until thick and bubbly and then add the rue to the soup.  Add the bacon and cheese and stir until melted.  (I ended up adding in a little corn starch and water mix because I like my soup pretty thick, but this is optional.  You could also make a bit more rue.)  Season it all up with a bit of salt and pepper.

This was perfect served with fresh rolls too.  Of course, I rarely make my own since Rhodes frozen rolls are so stinking awesome.  Come on, I already made the soup from scratch so why would I completely spoil people with scratch rolls too?  I've got to keep the expectations low around here.;)

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