Macaroni and Cheese with Caramelized Onions

These are my favorite foods: bread, potatoes, cheese, pasta, onions, mushrooms, and garlic. You’re going to see all of this in the next couple weeks. When I cook for myself I only eat the above! Sauteed mushrooms and onions with muenster cheese on bread, bruschetta, anything with potatoes… Every day.

This is one of my favorite comfort-food-goes-gourmet recipes. The blue cheese really kicks the macaroni up a notch, and the caramelized onions are a pleasant surprise with every bite. It is very rich, though–I can only handle very small bites!

Macaroni and Cheese with Caramelized Onions from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

4 strips bacon
1 large sweet onion, halevd and thinly sliced (I can never seem to find these so just sauté the onion with a few Tbs of sugar)
1 ½ cups dried elbow macaroni (6 oz.)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz.)
4 oz. processed Gruyer cheese, shredded or blue cheese, crumbled (I always use blue)
1 cup half-and-half or light cream
1/8 tsp black pepper

In a large skillet cook bacon over medium high heat until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels; crumble. Reserve drippings in skillet.

Cook onion in reserved bacon drippings over medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes or until tender and golden brown. Again, I just use regular onions and throw in a few Tbs of sugar while sauteing.

In a large saucepan cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and return to saucepan. Stir in crumbled bacon, onion, 1 ½ cups of mozzarella cheese, the Gruyer or blue cheese, half-and-half, and black pepper. Tos gently and spoon into 1 ½ quart casserole.

Bake uncovered in 350F oven for 20 minutes. stir gently. Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake about 10 minutes more or until top of casserole is brown and bubbly. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

One-Ingredient Ice Cream

Okay, so this really isn’t really ice cream. It’s much easier to make, does not require an ice cream maker, and is undeniably healthy. And it definitely has the same effect as ice cream on a hot summer day.

Your one ingredient: bananas. When frozen, they’re creamy and smooth like you wouldn’t believe. No artificial sweeteners–bananas do it all! They taste absolutely delicious when frozen; I don’t eat bananas any other way!

Chop the bananas and place in freezer until solid–an hour or two.

Put in blender or food processor.

Blend! You might have to stir with a fork a bit to make sure everything is touched. It will look crumbly for a while but eventually becomes creamy.

That’s it! You can add something if you want (it definitely doesn’t need it!). I added a bit of Nutella to half the batch just to test it out.

After I made it with bananas, I threw in some strawberries. Yum!  This is so, so simple and so tasty!

Bananas and/or any other fruit
Optional: peanut butter, honey, chocolate spread

Cut fruit into small pieces and freeze for a few hours. Put pieces into a food processor or blender. Blend on high, occasionally stirring to make sure every piece is blended. Keep blending until smooth. Voila!

If desired, add extras like peanut butter or chocolate spread.

It may at first be smoother than you’d like, similar to frozen yogurt. If so, place in the freezer again until the desired consistency.

I can’t believe how long it took me to do this–I did it all the time as a kid! I had a kit (with a McDonald’s label on it, oddly enough) that made soft serve-style “ice cream” when you put the fruit in the top and turned a crank to blend it. I loved it with bags of mixed fruit. I saw this featured on The Kitchn and had major flashbacks.

Crocheted Bow Headbands

I’ve been knitting for a while now–my mom taught me the basics when I was 14, and everything else I picked up through books and online (things really took off when we got high-speed internet and I could watch tutorial videos!). I decided it’s finally time for me to learn to crochet, and YouTube videos helped tremendously. I watched a couple explaining the chain stitch, and that’s simple enough. I had a hard time figuring out what to do from that point and how to go onto the next row–this is the only vide I found that explained it. After that I was ready to go–crocheting is very easy!

Crocheting is very tactile, which took me a while to get used to.  It allows a lot of creativity and is not very structured.  I think I prefer knitting still; it’s strange having to search to pick up the next stitch rather than have it on the needle. I can knit anything without looking at all, but crocheting doesn’t allow for you to enjoy a movie while working.

The very first day learned to crochet, I knit myself this bow headbands (that’s how easy crocheting is compared to knitting!). I’m still torn on whether it’s too childish or if Lady Gaga made bows okay, but I love wearing it. Headbands don’t normally work on me, but this one does. It’s also very comfortable and stays firmly in place.

The dress is from American Eagle. It’s so light, and I love the design! I only wish it weren’t so prone to wrinkles.  I fixed that particular headband so that the bow hangs crooked; the other ones I made are straight in light with the bands.

After a few friend told me they wanted to buy one, I spent a day making a few of different colors. I put five on my Etsy, but four were gone within two hours.

Sadly, I’m nearly out of yarn, but I placed an order for more yesterday so should have some fun headbands available soon. If you want to bookmark my shop for later, I’m selling them for just $5 each!

The Only Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe You Need

I hate making cookies, especially chocolate chip. I can never seem to get the right shape, and they rarely taste as good as I had hoped. These, however, are perfect. The NY Times recipe is the only chocolate chip one I will ever use.

My pictures are not very good, I’m sorry. I nearly didn’t post but decided these need to be shared with the world once more.
The only bad thing is that the dough must chill for at least 24 hours (the longer the better–I like to make them in batches over three days, and the last always tastes the best). However, this makes so much dough that you’ll have plenty to snack on while you wait to bake.

Chocolate Chip Cookies from The New York Times

2 cups minus 2 Tbs (8 ¼ oz.) cake flour (This is when an simple kitchen scale comes in handy–I use mine all the time!)
1 2/3 cups (8 ½ oz.) bread flour
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp coarse salt
1 ¼ cups unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups (10 oz.) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbs (8 oz.) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp natural vanilla extract
1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate disks/chips (recommended: at least 60% cocoa)
Sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Gently stir in chocolate pieces. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

Shape into small rounded spoonfuls, pressing down gently (as pictured above). Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

Embroidered French Knot Monograms

I embroidered these monograms for Joseph and myself a few weeks ago. I’m dreaming of setting them up in a round or oval frame but can’t find any at a reasonable price! If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. I’ve read some very technical terms describing why round frames are much more difficult to make than rectangular, but I still want some!

They are made of hundreds of french knots that look like tiny roses.

The three I’ve made so far–the “c” is for an art swap I’m doing with my friend Carly. Hers is mounted on a 5×7″ white canvas

And good news for you–I’m now selling these on Etsy! If you need a handmade (keep in mind these take anywhere from four to eight hours to make!) gift or something to spice up your beside table, these are a great option. They are available in any color and letter–the sky’s the limit, really!

I’m sorry, that was some really pathetic self-promotion. But I’m very excited as I only made my shop today! I can’t wait to get many more items listed :)

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