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Stove top mozzarella mac

This is not my best photo. I was in a hurry. I was hungry.

That said, I found myself in a bit of a pickle. In fact, it was worse of a pickle than normal. I had a fridge full of nothing to eat and a dad who had driven me from Chicago to Champaign for the bajillionth time this year and he was in the garden pulling weeds (and scolding me for planting cilantro where he told me he had planted the beans, oops). ┬áI had to make dinner. I couldn’t let my dad go hungry.

My fridge had: caramel sauce, 3 bottles of beer, mustard, jelly, half a bag of shredded mozzarella, eggs, milk, yogurt and cilantro. This is not the stuff of great recipes. It is the stuff of a single girl who had not been home all weekend. I couldn’t let my dad go hungry. I found myself wishing that I had cheddar cheese and evaporated milk to make Alton Brown’s stove-top mac and cheese. I couldn’t get mac and cheese out of my head, no matter how many things I pulled out of the cabinets, nothing else sounded good. Or wouldn’t kill my dad.

So, out of desperation was born a new favorite around here.

Stove-top Mozzarella Mac
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Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Mary Fran Wiley
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 25 mins
Serves: 4
Inspired by/ adapted from Alton Brown’s Stove-top mac & cheese.
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces gluten free pasta
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/8 cup whole milk
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
  • 1 1/2 t granulated garlic
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh basil (optional)
Instructions
  1. Boil pasta & drain. Return to pot.
  2. Whisk together egg, milk, yogurt & granulated garlic.
  3. Put pot on low burner and add the butter. Stir until butter is melted.
  4. Stir in egg mixture & shredded cheese until a uniform sauce is made. It will be stringy & thick.
  5. Stir in tomatoes & season with salt and pepper to taste.
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Sweet Pepper Pesto Grilled Chees

Sweet Pepper Pesto

Sweet Pepper Pesto Grilled CheesAfter the Gluten Free Expo, I went straight to Whole Foods and bought a loaf of Rudi’s Gluten Free Multigrain Bread. I really hate gluten free bread. And I mean, I really hate it. I refuse to eat sandwiches any more because of my intense dislike of it. I don’t even like the popcorn bread that my dad makes that every one raves about. Maybe it is all in my head, but I digress. I had a grilled cheese sample at the expo and I was sold.

There is this great little restaurant in town that makes an awesome grilled swiss with pesto sandwich that I remember from my glutinous days. It was simply delicious. I wanted to recreate that experience tonight. But, the basil plants that I have are not doing so well because it is too wet and I was out of roasted red peppers. So, a pesto recipe was born.

I then used it to make a grilled cheese sandwich. I have to say, this might be my favorite discovery from the Expo.

Sweet Pepper Pesto Grilled Cheese
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Recipe Type: Sauce
Author: Mary Fran Wiley
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 15 mins
Serves: 2
Sweet peppers, sweet onion and italian herbs make this fresh pesto delectable.
Ingredients
  • 4 small sweet peppers or 1 large
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon dried basil or 10-12 leaves fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 slices Rudi’s Gluten Free Multi-grain bread
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 Tablespoons soft butter
Instructions
  1. Chop onion into quarters. Peel garlic. Remove stem ends and seeds from peppers. Combine in food processor or manual chopper along with herbs. Pulse until ingredients are finely chopped. Add olive oil and pulse until desired consistency is reached. I like mine chunky, but some people prefer theirs to have a finer dice.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat and butter one side of each slice of bread. Put 2 slices butter side down in the heated skillet and sprinkle on enough cheese to cover the slice (I used about 1/8 cup per slice). Spread pesto on top of cheese. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and top with the second slice of bread, butter side up. Place a heavy frying pan on top and cook for about 4 minutes. Remove frying pan, flip sandwiches and put the frying pan back on top. After about 4 more minutes, the bread should be golden and toasted. The cheese should be melty and gooey. Remove from skillet, cut in half on the diagonal and enjoy.
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Ricotta with my mamma

I really love going home. My mom’s kitchen is twice as big as mine and it is filled with exotic ingredients and fancy pots and a tool for everything. (Yes mom, it was me that took the purple sticky rice & the cranberry beans).

But more than the fancy kitchen is the sense of home and the fun that I get to have with my mom. Talking about ingredients, one upping each other with cupcake ideas & successes – she wins this round with lemon cupcakes with a lemoncello filling and lemon frosting with another dash of lemoncello. And no, she didn’t save any for me or give me the recipe.

Tonight, because I was only in town for one night, and because she has been bragging about this home made ricotta, we made cheese. We filled the house with the smell of buttermilk and whey and now have what looks like a science experiment in the fridge. But the little bit I was allowed to sample tastes divine. It is rich, slightly sweet and almost buttery tasting. It is home made, and it is real food. It has made it into the compendium of family recipes that my dad is compiling. One day I will sell out and get a cook book deal with all the deliciousness inside it. Until then, I will I will have to tide you over with the ricotta recipe. And pictures of it on this delicious crisp bread that I picked up at the local food coop last weekend.

Buttermilk Ricotta Cheese

  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

Pour all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for a few minutes making sure that you have lots of little curds formed. Remove your pan from the heat and let it cool slowly (for about 20 minutes).

Strain the cheese through a cheesecloth lined strainer. This process takes a little while – you don’t want to put too much liquid in the strainer at any one time. If you think some curds have escaped, you can run the liquid through the strainer twice. Squeeze out the extra liquid.

Refrigerate┬áin the strainer over night over a bowl to collect all the extra whey. The cheese will keep for about a week. Put the whey in a separate container and save to make something like my dad’s delicious english muffin bread.

I enjoyed my ricotta on a gluten free crisp bread with black berries from the food co-op and some University of Illinois Honey (as made famous on the Colbert Report). I might have died and gone to heaven. Now, go make your own ricotta and never buy it from a grocery store again.