Monday, November 28, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

Cooking is one my very favorite things to do, but I'm not as consistent as I would like to be.  We've made a family pact to not eat out at least through the end of the year (barring any emergencies), so now my opportunities in the kitchen have definitely increased (except for the nights we grab frozen food).

Tonight I decided to take the opportunity to cook.  We had meatloaf, baked potato casserole, sauteed squash, bacon wrapped green beans, and Sister Schubert's rolls.  I meant to take pictures of the progress of the entire meal, but I didn't remember until my hands were buried in the squishy raw ground beef I was mixing for the meatloaf.  I will have to say that I think this was my best meatloaf yet.  I'll post the recipe for it one of these days....I need to sit and reconstruct the steps in writing since I changed it up.

The baked potato casserole wasn't a new recipe, but I did do something different.  I had some leftover homemade mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving lunch and about 2 cups of instant potato flakes.  I made the instant potatoes, then combined the leftover potatoes, mixed them up and added all of my baked potato casserole ingredients.  They were delicious.  I surprised myself. :)

I would like to make a commitment to try a new recipe at every meal, but I don't think I can actually follow through with that, so I'll toss one in when I can.  The bacon wrapped green beans were the new recipe I tried with this meal.  I found the idea on Pinterest, but I changed it up a little.

Wash and dry one pound of fresh green beans.

Snip the ends off of the green beans.  Just snip them off with your need to cut them unless that's easier for you.  Leave them long...don't cut them down to smaller pieces. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cover a baking sheet with foil.  Place the green beans on the baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and garlic salt.  Mix the beans with your hands so all the pieces are coated with the oil, salts, and pepper.  Place the green beans in a separate bowl while making the bundles.

Open a 1-pound package of thick-cut bacon.  Leave the bacon intact in the package and slice it in half right down the middle.  This yielded 18 slices of bacon.

I wrapped 8 green beans in each piece of bacon. Lay seam side down on the foil-covered baking sheet.  Place a sheet of foil on top of the green bean bundles and roast for 35 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  Remove foil and roast another 10-15 minutes or until the bacon gets nice and crisp.

These are the final product.

The recipes I found on Pinterest called for butter, brown sugar, and minced garlic, but I didn't add this.  If I make these again, I will probably try the original recipe.  The bacon never really got crispy on top (it did on the bottom), and apparently I didn't salt them enough, because they were pretty bland.  I did find one recipe that called for cooking the bacon in the oven for a little while first to start the crisping process, but I couldn't find that one again.  They were everyone's least favorite item on the plate, including my husband's friend who came over for dinner.  I love bacon, I love roasted green they were fine to me. 

P.S.  My husband invited his friend over while I'm in the  midst of preparing dinner...thank goodness I tend to cook more food than necessary for our family.  My husband's not a heel....he did make sure we were going to have enough food before inviting his friend!

Happy Eating!
Collette :)
Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Salt
Wash and dry the green beans, then snip off then ends.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (I start it preheating here so it's not preheating too long, because it takes a little time to snip the ends off of a pound of green beans).  Cover a baking sheet with foil.  Place the green beans on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and garlic salt. Mix the beans with your hands so all the pieces are coated with the oil, salts, and pepper. Place the green beans in a separate bowl while making the bundles.  Open a 1-pound package of thick-cut bacon. Leave the bacon intact in the package and slice it in half right down the middle. This yielded 18 slices of bacon. 
I wrapped 8 green beans in each piece of bacon. Lay seam side down on the foil-covered baking sheet. Place a sheet of foil on top of the green bean bundles and roast for 35 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Remove foil and roast another 10-15 minutes or until the bacon gets nice and crisp.

Print Bacon Wrapped Green Beans Recipe

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese

I grew up with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  Ed grew up with cheese slices, milk and butter melted into elbow macaroni.  When we married, I discovered that Ed didn't like the Kraft version, so I made his mom's version.  After doing this a few times, I decided to change it up. 

My current mac and cheese recipe:  melt Velveeta, butter and cheese in the microwave in a large glass bowl, add a handful of Cheddar cheese and microwave until that is melted, stir, then fold in the cooked macaroni.  It's pretty yummy, but for some reason I've been looking for a different recipe lately.  I've found some on Pinterest (possibly the most addicting site ever) and have recently tried two of those.  I made the recipe below on Thanksgiving Day this year.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

2 cups large elbow macaroni, uncooked
2 cups milk (I would have used more)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon salt
Dash nutmeg
Black pepper, to taste (optional)
1 cup grated cheese (any one or combination of Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Swiss, mozzarella, gouda, parmesan*, asiago*, or pecorino*) *Hard cheeses are best combined with a secondary softer, better melting cheese.  I used Monterey Jack, Gruyere, and Cheddar.  I prefer a sharper taste to my mac and cheese, so if I make this again, I will change up the cheeses.
  1. Place raw macaroni in colander and quickly rinse under water; drain.
  2. In medium saucepan, add milk, raw macaroni, salt, butter, mustard powder, and nutmeg.
  3. Slowly bring the macaroni mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring the macaroni frequently as it comes to a simmer.  This will separate the macaroni and keep it from sticking together.  DO NOT LEAVE THE STOVE!!  The macaroni will come to a boil very quickly and leaving it unattended could leave a big mess on your stovetop.
  4. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, immediately turn heat to LOW.  The macaroni will slowly cook in the milk.  Having the heat too high will evaporate the milk too quickly.
  5. Continue to stir the mixture frequently so that the macaroni will cook evenly and absorb the milk evenly.  Stir the mixture frequently or a big clump of macaroni will form in the end.
  6. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until milk has been fully absorbed.  If macaroni is not fully cooked, add a little more milk (in small amounts) until macaroni is done.  This will take approximately 5 more minutes.  I preferred a little milk remaining in the helped blend the cheeses and macaroni more smoothly.
  7. When milk has evaporated, stir in grated cheese or cheeses of your choice.  Stir until cheese and macaroni are well blended and cheese is mostly melted.
  8. Turn off the heat.  Place a lid on top of the pan and cover for about 5 minutes.  This rest period will allow macaroni to plump up and absorb any excess milk.
  9. Take a final taste and add additional salt, if needed.  Before serving, stir one final time until everything is well blended.  Adding a 1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt gives this dish a lot of flavor.
Serve immediately.

Print Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese (recipe and photo borrowed from Pinterest)

As far as recommending this mac and cheese, it wasn't my family's favorite, but with a little tweaking, I think it has the potential to be very good.  If you try it, I hope you enjoy it!

Happy Eating!
Collette :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mother!!

Today is my mom's birthday, so I'm going to start out by saying how thankful I am for my precious mother (and happy birthday!).  As I was sitting here thinking about my post today, I realized that if it hadn't been for the freedom my mom allowed my brother and I to have in the kitchen, we probably wouldn't love cooking so much.  My brother and I are 17 months apart and were only one grade apart in school.  We stayed home by ourselves some growing up, since my parents worked full-time and I don't ever remember us having any reservations about experimenting in the kitchen by ourselves. 

I remember the first thing my mom ever had me do while she was cooking was stir the Kool-aid until the sugar dissolved.  I'm sure she had other little jobs for me to do, but my next "big" job was learning how to peel potatoes.  Have you ever given your 7 or 8 year old child a potato and potato peeler?  My kids want to peel potatoes all the time and I'm usually in such a hurry preparing a meal that I don't have the time to wait on them to peel (yes...shame on me).  I'm sure my mother started me out early enough in the preparation so she didn't have to wait.

How patient she must have been with us as we were learning in the kitchen.  I'm sure there were times she became extremely frustrated during the teaching process, but I don't remember that.  I just remember ALWAYS being in the kitchen and her ALWAYS having something for me to do.  I guess this should be the time I tell you about one specific time she did get pretty frustrated with me and my brother...

Growing up, we never owned a deep fryer.  My mother just filled up an iron skillet with oil if we ever wanted to deep fry something.  And to tell you the truth, the only thing I ever remember deep frying was frozen breaded shrimp (don't knock it until you try it).  Anyway, for years, I watched my mother place a funnel in the top of the empty oil container, scoop the oil out of the skillet with a ceramic coffee mug and pour it through the funnel back into the original container.  She did this to discard the oil.

So one time we were cleaning up the kitchen and my brother and I insisted on taking care of the oil for her.  I don't remember our exact ages, but we were at least young teenagers.  She agreed and went and sat down in the living room.  Now I'm sure she had all the confidence in the world that we knew what we were doing...we had watched her for years, right?  For those of you who are raising or who have raised teenagers, they know everything, right?

We started out with the funnel in the empty container and scooping the oil with the coffee mug.  I have to say that it was probably my brother's idea <grin>, because this way was taking forever, but we decided to nix the coffee mug.  He was going to pick up the iron skillet while I held the funnel and just slooooowly pooouuurrr the oil in.  My brother has never been tested, but I'm pretty sure he's near-genius; however, I'm not sure either one of us had ever taken Physics at that point or if we did, we didn't pay attention in class.  BUT!  my brother was a football player and one of the strongest guys I knew, so I had complete confidence that we could make this happen successfully.  Iron skillets are already VERY heavy, but loaded down with oil...why do you think my mom used her method?

He picked up the skillet, I had a death grip on the funnel....did you hear me say I had a death grip on the funnel?  NOT the funnel AND the oil container, but just the funnel.  He started to slooooowly pooouuurrr the oil into the funnel and this is where things get kinda fuzzy.  I'm not sure to this day exactly what happened.  I think he might have rested the skillet a little on the funnel and when he did, the funnel tilted one way and the bottle went the other...either way, the next thing we knew as the bottle and funnel shoot out from under us, we have just poured a crazy amount of fried shrimp oil all over the counter and floor of the kitchen (mostly the floor).  What does one typically do when something like this happens?  I'm not sure, but I know we both said aloud, "OH NO!!!"

I need to preface this next section by letting you know my mom is a klutz.  She knows she's a klutz.  She has been our entertainment for years.  Well, not my dad' frustrates him, but me and my brother think she's pretty funny.  Anyway, my mom came bee bopping into the kitchen like a goofy person and in a funny voice said, "What happened?"  It is difficult to describe her body motions, but she was kind of jogging in there with her feet going side to side (kind of in a rocking back and forth motion sideways).  As we see her enter the kitchen, we throw our hands up in the stopping motion, and yell, "Don't come in here!!!!"

Too late!  She got too close, hit that oil and went flying like a cartoon character.  I will just say while it wasn't funny then, we do laugh about it hysterically now.  On her way down, she caught her elbow on one of the ornate kitchen drawer handles that had pointed edges and when she finally landed, she hit her head pretty hard on the floor.  And she was lying there in the shrimp oil.  Oh...and did I forget to mention that through all this commotion, my dad was on the phone in the living room?

Our first instinct was to help her up, so we both reached down to grab an arm, but as we did, she yelled to the top of her lungs, "DOOOOOOON'T  TOOOOUUUUCCCCCHHHHHH MEEEEE!!!!" several times.  Our dad ended his phone call, made me and my brother go sit on the couch.  I don't remember exactly what happened from there, but after everything calmed down, we did go clean up the mess.  I'm surprised she ever let us back in the kitchen!

Mother, I love you so much!  I hope you have a wonderful day and thanks for being the best mom and providing not just the entertainment for me and Charles, but so much love as well!