Saturday, February 15, 2014

Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese with Scallions and Bacon

Repeat after me: It is right to give thanks and praise to Velveeta Cheese. I'm sure there are some real cheeseophiles out there that would never consider Velveeta worthy of being named cheese. But for me, this stuff is heaven. Mind you, I hadn't actually had Velveeta in years but, last week, my mother brought a big 2 pound block to my house when she and my dad stayed with us during a big snow storm.  I was shameless. I stole nibbles at every chance I could get. I hid it in the way back of the refrigerator so the kids would not find it. Velveeta reminds me of my childhood. My mom used to make me Velveeta grilled cheese sandwiches and Cream of Tomato soup on snow days. And here I am, all these years later, stuck inside during another snow storm. I could not resist making a batch of Velveeta macaroni and cheese for dinner.  I added a nice twist with the addition of scallions, crisp bacon and buttered Panko crumbs. Velveeta rocks when it comes to melting. No fuss and no hassles with making a white sauce and adding shredded cheese. The end result is a perfectly smooth and creamy macaroni and cheese worthy of the highest praises.

2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked until tender
1 cup of cubed Velveeta cheese
1/8 cup milk
A few generous shakes of Parmesan cheese
black pepper to taste
2-3 scallions, sliced
5 pieces of cooked, crisp bacon
A handful of Panko crumbs for dusting
2 tablespoons butter

1. Cook the elbow macaroni until tender and drain. Put it back in the pot.
2. Add the cubed Velveeta cheese and stir, on medium heat until it starts melting.
3. Add the milk and stir.
4. Add a few generous shakes of Parmesan cheese and stir.
5. Add the scallions and 4 pieces of crumbled bacon and stir.
6. Add black pepper to taste.
7. Turn the macaroni and cheese mixture in to a small greased casserole dish. Dust it with the Panko crumbs, the 5th piece of crumbled bacon, another shake or two of Parmesan cheese and dot it with the butter.I added a tiny bit of milk at each corner of the casserole dish before popping it in to the oven for some extra creaminess.
8. Bake at 350 , uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake

It was high time I featured a desert here. With Labor Day coming tomorrow signaling the end of summer, I decided to honor the lemon. I found this recipe in The Yogurt Bible.

I can't remember the last time I made a cheesecake by hand. It's been so long, in fact, that I had to borrow a 9 inch spring pan from my mother. This is not your usual cheesecake. When I think of cheesecake, a dense cheesy slab of sweet creamy goodness comes to mind; thick and leaving you stuffed. But this one is light and bursting with the refreshing flavor of fresh lemon. The shortbread cookie crust helps out too. Also, it's more of a tart thickness even though it's made in a full size spring form pan. You don't have to limit this to blueberries. I'll try this again with fresh raspberries or a canned cherry pie filling. Whatever you decide, this is a delicious desert that will be gone before you reach for the second slice.

Preheat oven to 300 F.

9 inch springform pan, ungreased

1 1/2 cups shortbread cookies or graham cracker crumbs (put through food processor)
1/4 cup butter, melted

2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 cup lemon yogurt
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1tbsp grated lemon zest
1tsp vanilla extract
2 cups fresh blueberries

1. Crust: in a bowl, combine cookie crumbs and butter and press in to bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of spring form pan. Bake in a preheated over for 6 minutes or until firm but not browned. Let cool for at least 10 minutes.

2. Cheesecake: In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat on low speed for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for about 30 seconds after each addition. Beat for 2-3 minutes on low-medium speed until well combined. Add yogurt, condensed milk, lemon zest, and vanilla and beat for 2 to 3 minutes on medium speed.

3. Scrape cheesecake mixture over crust in spring form pan. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until the edge is firm. The center may be cracked and slightly wobbly. Turn off the oven and let cheesecake cool for 30 minutes in the oven with the door ajar. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Serve garnished with fresh berries.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Blue Cheese and Walnut Wafers

Finally, a slice and bake for cheese lovers! Come to think of it, I'd probably still be a good Catholic girl if the communion wafers where made out of Blue Cheese.

I came across this recipe somewhere on the Internet and it grabbed my attention as soon as I saw "blue cheese." I'm in love with the stuff. It's the butter to my toast, the apple of my eye, the peanut butter to my jelly. This was way too easy to make. If you've got a food processor, you've got this one in the bag. Serve them up next to a platter of red grapes, smoked almonds and a nice glass of wine. At first I couldn't imagine that the amount of ingredients used would produce two logs yielding 4 dozen wafers, but it really does. The wafers can be stored in an air tight container for up to a week but I can't image why, on God's green earth, you'd have any left after 15 minutes.

Two side notes:

1. I couldn't put walnuts in mine since I've had to cut them out for health reasons. But if you're okay with them, I'd triple the amount because too many walnuts is always a good thing!

2. When I made the logs and wrapped them in plastic, I stored them in the freezer until I was ready to slice them.

1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened
6 oz crumbled blue cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts

Mix together the butter, flour and blue cheese in a food processor. The mixture will start to pull away and form a soft ball of dough.

Remove the dough and place it in a bowl. Mix in the walnuts. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.

Remove from the refrigerator and divide in to two balls. Form each ball in to an 8 inch log and cover well with plastic wrap. Chill for an hour.

Slice each log in to 1/4 inch slices. Place slices on an ungreased or parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cheesy Herbed Popovers

I can't say that I was always a fan of Emeril Lagasse but it was his recent cookbook, Farm to Fork, that made me give him a second look. There are so many tasty recipes in the cookbook and of course I gave the ones with cheese the highest priority. So last night I decided to whip up a batch of his cheesy herbed popovers. These were so simple to put together. While the rest of the dinner was cooking, these popovers were in the oven doing their magic as only popovers can do. Light, cheesy and perfect!


4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs such as parsley, basil or chives
2 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese

1. Pre heat oven to 450 F

2. Brush the cups of a standard 12 cup muffin tin with some of the melted butter. Divide the Parmesan evenly among the cups.

3. Combine the eggs, salt, pepper, milk, cream and the remaining butter in a blender and blend until well combined. Add the flour and blend for 15 seconds, until smooth.

4. Add the fresh herbs (no more blending) and fill each muffin cup half way with the batter. Divide the cheddar among the cups and fill the muffin cups to the top with the remaining batter.

5. Bake the popovers at 450 for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for 10 more minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DURING THE BAKING TIME!

6. Remove the muffins tin from the oven and unmold the popovers on to a wire rack. Pierce the side of each popover with a small sharp knife to allow the steam to escape (this will help keep them from deflating.) Serve immediately.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Apricots with vanilla blue cheese

It's been quite a while since I've posted here. Life just gets in the way sometimes PLUS I got hit with an acute case of Diverticulitis a few weeks ago. While I was recovering, my food was limited to a very bland diet which did not include cheese. But I have been dying to get back here.

Yesterday I bought some fresh apricots. I thumbed through my copy of The Great Big Cheese Cookbook and came up with an adapted version of Miniature Blue Cheese Balls with Winter Fruit. Summer is the perfect time to mix up some fresh fruit and cheese. I think these would make a lovely presentation at a summer cocktail party or brunch. The original recipe calls for 30 apricots; I used about 6 which yields 12. Also, I opted for no pecans since I can no longer eat nuts but I think they would add a delicious kick.


6 fresh apricots
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
4-5 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
a handful of toasted and chopped pecans for garnish
Drizzle of honey


Wash, dry and cut in half the 6 apricots; arrange on a plate.

In a small bowl, mix together vanilla, cream cheese and blue cheese.

Put a small scoop of the vanilla cheese mixture in to the center of each apricot and garnish with pecans.

Drizzle some honey over the apricots.

Ready to serve!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Cheese Bread

It seems like an eternity since I've posted here. But with Easter less than 24 hours away, how can I not give cheese the highest praise? This morning I brought a bottle of wine next door to my next door neighbor as an Easter gift. She walked over to her dining room table and handed me a loaf of bread wrapped in tin foil. "It's my mother's recipe for cheese bread," she said. Oh my goodness...she had me at cheese. I couldn't run home fast enough to unwrap it and slice through it. She told me that she has a family tradition of baking several loafs of Easter Cheese Bread just once a year and it is always on the Thursday before Easter Sunday. That would explain the amazing smell coming through our shared wall of our houses two nights ago. And just to make things more interesting, my neighbor once owned a successful Italian restaurant with her brother. They didn't cook for four; they cooked for dozens and that would explain the recipe that she handed to me upon my request:

Easter Cheese Bread

1 ¼ cup oil

15 eggs

14 cups or 4 pounds of flour

3 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon white pepper

3 cups warm water

3 packages yeast

7 cups or 2 pounds of parmigiana cheese

3 teaspoons baking powder

Make a well with dry ingredients and cheese. Put yeast in bowl with sugar and ½ cup warm water. Let sit 10 minutes until bubbly. Then in well, add in beaten eggs, oil and yeast mixture. Knead and mix until combined. Put in greased pot. Grease top of dough. Put wax paper over dough and then a towel. Let rise until double in size. Punch down and divide in to 4 pieces. Shape and put in to greased loaf pans. Let rise until top of pan. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or golden brown. Brush with egg wash (yolk and water). The egg wash will set with the heat of the bread.

I'm certainly not going to make that large of a quantity. I'm playing with the numbers and cutting it down to a third. That should make about 2 loaves. There are other Easter Cheese Breads on the Internet. I found one here and here. I'm going to go with my neighbors' recipe because it was absolutely outstanding.

Toasted up with a slather of butter and some Cranberry Apple die for!

Forget the jelly beans and chocolate bunnies. My guests will be lucky if this bread makes it to the table tomorrow night. Happy Easter!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cheese Danish

I know, it's not some magnificent cheese that we can barely pronounce that I'm writing about today. But it is Sunday morning and I think Sunday mornings are all about a good cup of hot coffee and a warm sweet treat to go with it. When I asked my husband what he might like for a lazy Sunday morning, he replied, "Cheese Danish." So off I went in to the land of Google and came across Ina Garten's Easy Cheese Danish recipe. The recipe makes 8 flaky and delicious cheese danish. Put them on a plate and watch them disappear. It'll be the best magic trick you've performed since grade school!

* 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
* 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
* 2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
* 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream them together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don't whip!

Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it's a 10 by 10-inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters with a sharp knife. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold 2 opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.

Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.