Panera Macaroni and Cheese

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Confession time, I don’t like oven-baked macaroni and cheese…I’ll pause a moment for the shock and awe to die down. You OK now? Good. With that said, I looooove me some stove-top mac and one of the best (that doesn’t come in a blue or yellow box) is Panera’s. I found a recipe from Food, Folks and Fun that’s supposedly Panera’s official recipe and it’s super simple, super quick and super yummy – the trifecta.

Ingredients
  • 1 16-ounce Package package of rigati pasta (I used large shells because I couldn’t find rigati…or small shells, orecchiette would be nice)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cup milk
  • 6 Slices white American cheese (or like 12, whaaaatever)
  • 8 oz extra-sharp white Vermont cheddar (grated)
  • ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon hot sauce (I used Siracha)
Instructions
  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  2. Melt butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.
  3. Gradually whisk in milk; cook over medium heat, whisking until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat.
  4. Add cheeses, mustard, salt, and hot sauce, stirring until cheese melts and sauce is smooth.
  5. Stir in pasta and cook over medium heat for 1 minute (or until thoroughly heated). Serve immediately.

 

 

Spinach and Three Cheese Ravioli

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About a month ago now, I decided I wanted to make some ravioli from scratch – yes a month ago. I’ll admit it, I made the ravioli, took pictures on an ACTUAL camera and then forgot to post the result, mea culpa. I got the dough recipe from serious eats the filling recipe (spinach and cheeeeeese) from Tyler Florence and the method from serious eats. I didn’t have any rolling attachment for the kitchen aide so I used a hand cranked pasta maker (with the assistance of my father because MAN are those things hard to crank and hold down when they’re not anchored down) and used a ravioli press and pastry cutter. Make sure the dough is covered as much as possible so it’s not exposed to the air. I did this by rolling the dough onto, and covering it with a damp cloth. These came out nice but there was some water seepage because I didn’t seal them well enough. There was a lot of filling left over…I honestly can’t remember if I doubled the filling recipe or not though. If you do end up with extra filling, put it to good use, it’s yummers!

Egg Dough

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces (about 2 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 whole large eggs (about 4 ounces)
  • 4 yolks from 4 large eggs (about 2.5 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for salting water

Directions

  1. To Make the Dough: On a large, clean work surface, pour flour in a mound. Make a well in the center about 4 inches wide. Pour whole eggs, egg yolks, and salt into well and, using a fork, beat thoroughly. When combined, gradually incorporate flour into the eggs until a wet, sticky dough has formed.

  2. Using a bench knife, scrape excess dough from fork and fingers. Begin to fold additional flour into the dough with the bench knife, turning the dough roughly 45 degrees each time, until dough feels firm and dry, and can form a craggy-looking ball, 2 to 5 minutes.

  3. Press the heel of your hand into the ball of dough, pushing forward and down. Rotate the ball 45 degrees and repeat. Continue until dough develops a smooth, elastic texture similar to a firm ball of Play-Doh. If dough feels too wet, add flour in 1 teaspoon increments. If dough feels too dry, add water slowly using a spray bottle. (I lazed-out and added extra water by running my hand under the faucet and dripping water into the dough)

  4. Wrap ball of dough tightly in plastic wrap and rest on countertop for 30 minutes.

  5. To Roll the Pasta: Meanwhile, place a sheet of parchment paper on a tray or cutting board and dust lightly with flour. Unwrap rested dough and cut into quarters. Set one quarter on work surface and re-wrap remaining dough. With a rolling pin, flatten the quarter of dough into an oblong shape about 1/2 inch thick.

  6. Set pasta maker to widest setting and pass dough 3 times through the machine at this setting.

  7. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface. Fold both ends in so that they meet at the center of the dough, and then fold the dough in half where the end points meet, trying not to incorporate too much air into the folds. Using rolling pin, flatten dough to 1/2-inch thick. Pass through the rollers 3 additional times.

  8. Narrow the setting by 1 notch and repeat Step 7. Repeat once more (the dough should now have passed through the third widest setting). Continue passing the dough through the rollers, reducing the thickness by 1 setting each time until it reaches the desired thickness. It should now be very delicate and elastic to the touch, and slightly translucent.

  9. Place rolled dough onto a work surface or baking sheet lightly dusted with flour or lined with parchment paper, folding the dough over as necessary so that it fits; sprinkle with flour or line with parchment between folds to prevent sticking. (honestly to roll the dough, I just took 1/4th and passed it though the pasta maker and onto a damp towel until I got it as thick and wide as I needed)

  10. Cover dough with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel to prevent drying, then repeat Steps 5 through 9 with remaining dough quarters.

Filling
Ingredients

1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
2 (8-ounce) balls fresh buffalo mozzarella, water drained and shredded
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 cups fresh baby spinach, finely chopped
1 large egg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, stirring to incorporate.

Method

Place the metal base of the ravioli maker in front of you and lay your first sheet of dough on top.

Then, take the plastic mold and gently press down to form depressions in the dough. You want to work relatively quickly, so that your dough doesn’t have an opportunity to dry out and become brittle. If you press too hard and the dough tears, simply ball it back up and roll it through the machine again. (You do want them as deep as possible though)

Once you have even depressions in the dough, place approximately one tablespoon of filling in each depression. Try to avoid getting filling outside the depression, since the flat perimeter is what our second sheet of dough will adhere to. You can gently wipe away excess with your your finger or a small towel if need be. (Seriously, don’t overfill…I’m a notorious over-filler)

Gently rap the mold on the table to help remove any air bubbles.

Next, lay the other half of your sheet of dough over the surface of the mold, pressing with the flat of your hand to push out any extra air. Then take a rolling pin and run it over the surface of the dough until the ridges beneath become visible. At this point, you can flip the mold over and gently peel it away. (I did this with a drinking glass)

If the dough is sufficiently perforated to pull apart, go ahead and do so. It’s possible, though, that you’ll need to use a ravioli cutter to slice them into individual pieces. (I did, I used a pasta cutter, I’m fairly certain they’re the same thing)

Cover your ravioli with a towel to keep them from drying out and repeat with your remaining pieces of dough.

Now, all that remains is tossing your ravioli into a pot of water at a low boil, and cooking for approximately three minutes, or until slicing into one reveals no starchy line in the center. (I just waited until they floated)

I served this just with a little bit of melted butter. As I mentioned before, be careful about sealing them properly!

 

Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Garlic Bread

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Yes, you read that correctly…breaded chicken, covered in cheese and stuffed inside garlic bread. Heeeeaven, I’m in heaaaaaven…and it’s so much easier than it looks.

You may have seen this tasty treat floating around facebook lately. Here’s a link to it on youtube.

Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Garlic Bread

Servings: 3-4

INGREDIENTS
1 chicken breast, boneless & skinless
2 cups flour
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs (I used panko)
1 cup oil, for frying
1 large baguette (or french bread)
10-12 mozzarella slices (I couldn’t find thin sandwich-style slices so I opted for Asiago)
Marinara sauce (or not)

Garlic Butter
⅓ cup melted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon Parmesan, grated

PREPARATION
1. Slice the chicken breast into 1-cm thick strips. (I ended up with 8 slices)
2. Place the flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs into 3 separate bowls.(for once I didn’t have to double the breading, this was PLENTY)
3. Roll a chicken strip in the flour, dusting off excess. Dip the strip into the egg, then place into the breadcrumbs, coating it completely.
4. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
5. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat to 350˚F/ 180˚C and Preheat oven to 350°F / 180˚C.
6. Fry the breaded chicken strips until both sides are golden brown. Remove from heat and drain on a paper towel.
7. Slice the baguette into thirds or fourths (each baguette piece should be roughly the same length of the fried chicken strips.) (I cut off the heels…my favorite part of the bread normally. I ended up with 4 segments)
8. Hollow out the insides of the baguette pieces with a knife.
9. Lay two slices of mozzarella on top of each other with a 1-inch overlap. Place a chicken strip on the overlapping region, then fold the mozzarella tightly around the chicken. (Asiago isn’t the best rolling cheese so I kinda stuffed it in around the chicken.)
10. Push the rolled chicken strips into a baguette piece. (I ended up with 2 pieces of chicken per bread segment. I put some on top of each other and some end to end to make them fit)
11. Slice the stuffed baguette pieces into 1-inch slices, then place them tightly side-by-side on a baking sheet lined with foil.
12. In a small bowl, mix together ingredients for garlic butter.
13. Brush the garlic butter evenly over the baguette slices, making sure some drips in between the slices. (I brushed some on and then just poured evenly)
14. Wrap the foil over the re-assembled baguette and bake for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melted and the top is starting to brown.
15. Remove the foil and serve with marinara! (or nix the marinara)

Chocolate Pudding (healthy-ish)

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So, there I was, craving something chocolaty and creamy and oooomnooomnom. I wanted something easy that wasn’t going to be terrible for me so to the internet I went. I found a lot of recipes for healthy pudding but I opted on throwing together the following (it didn’t come from any particular recipe):

Healthy-ish Pudding

Ingredients:

2 boxes any kind of sugar-free, fat-free instant pudding (I used chocolate fudge jello)

2 containers of lite whip cream (I used cool whip)

3 cups milk (I used 30 calorie almond milk)

Directions:

Mix pudding powder and whip cream together…add milk. Eat.

It’s pretty simple. Stick it in the fridge to firm up if you can be civilized and not devour it immediately. I apologize for NOTHING!

I didn’t take great photos because I wasn’t really thinking of blogging this but I figured that I might as well.

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