Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Week ONE: Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon, Autumn Apple and Spinach Salad, and Peanut Butter S’more Turnovers


  • 12 ounces (1 package) center-cut bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons butter

  • 1 pound pasta (elbows or shells), cooked until very al dente- still the slightest bit crunchy
  • 5 1/2 cups whole milk, heated until warm

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 12 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded & divided

  • 8 ounces herb & garlic flavored goat cheese, crumbled

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into pieces

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Butter a 3-4 quart casserole dish.
  2. To prepare breadcrumbs: Place garlic and parsley in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until they’re minced.  Add bread pieces and pulse until bread turns into crumbs and mixture is combined. Pour in butter and pulse until mixed in. Remove breadcrumbs to a bowl and set aside.
In a large skillet, sauté bacon until it is almost crisp. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain. Spoon out oil from pan, reserving about 1 Tablespoon of bacon drippings. 
  4. Add 3 Tablespoons butter to the bacon drippings and heat to medium. When butter sizzles, add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. 
  5. Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking.
  6. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until mixture bubbles up and becomes thick. 
  7. Remove pan from heat and stir in thyme, mustard powder, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and nutmeg. 
  8. Stir in 3 cups cheddar and goat, and Parmesan cheeses.

  9. Stir cooked pasta and cooked bacon into the cheese sauce. 
  10. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish. It will be very soupy.
  11. Sprinkle remaining cheddar onto the pasta. 
  12. Scatter herbed breadcrumbs over the top.
  13. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Check at 15 minutes to make sure the breadcrumbs aren't browning too quickly (if they are, just place a sheet of foil loosely over the top). 
  14. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.  Enjoy!

  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  • 2 teaspoons honey

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 cup thinly vertically sliced red onion

  • 8 cups bagged pre-washed baby spinach
  • 1 large firm, sweet-tart apple, cored & thinly sliced

  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
  1. Combine juices and spices and stir well with a whisk.

  2. Combine onion, spinach and apple in a large bowl.
  3. Drizzle with dressing; toss gently to coat. 
  4. Sprinkle with cheese.


  • 1 box puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed

  • 3 whole graham crackers, gently broken into quarters
  • 9 small milk chocolate bars 
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

  • Small bowl of water
1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water to make egg wash
1/2 cup jarred marshmallow fluff)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.
  2. Lay puff pastry on cutting board. Working with one sheet at a time, cut on three folds, creating 3 rectangles (about 3" x 10" each). 
  3. Cut each 3 x 10 rectangle in half. You'll have 6 pieces to work with for each sheet of pastry.
  4. Lay graham cracker on 1/2 of each square and top with chocolate that has been cut down to match the length of the graham cracker.
  5. Spread 1 tablespoon of peanut butter on top of each chocolate bar.

  6. Wet edges of pastry and fold in half to meet opposite edges. 
  7. Gently push edges together to stick; use fork to seal edges together and create ridged pattern. 
  8. Repeat with each turnover until all are sealed up. Gently move sealed turnovers to baking sheet with a small spatula.
  9. Brush turnovers lightly with egg wash, then use a sharp knife to cut two small slits into the top of each turnover.
  10. Bake 15 minutes, or until turnovers are puffed and golden. 
  11. Remove from oven. Let cool for 5 minutes. 
  12. Scoop marshmallow fluff into a zip bag (do not close).
  13. Microwave for 8 seconds to soften. 
  14. Zip bag and snip a small piece off of the corner of the bag. 
  15. Drizzle marshmallow onto the top of each turnover. Serve immediately!

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