I have talked about my growing obsession with spam in recent months. I was looking for recipes to use it in, and found suggestions for Spam Mac and Cheese - of course! That sounded awesome! But the first recipe I tried didn't turn out great. It was probably due to the fact that I used shredded Mexican cheese blend (because that's what I had on hand) to make the cheese sauce, and not the idea of a mornay type sauce itself, that caused it to fail. But I was turned off to that method.
Then I made that really delicious Chicken, Bacon, and Ranch Macaroni and Cheese with Velveeta and realized this was the way to go. Of course weird processed cheese product would go well with weird processed meat product (don't judge me)!
I was right! It came out creamy and salty and just awesome in general. Again - I wouldn't recommend making this a weekly thing, but as an occasional treat, it's delicious.
I really love authentic Italian pizza. The kind with the thin crust that gets blistered and charred in the wood oven. My favorite place to get it around here is Pizzeria Orso, but I have been trying to make it at home. Step one is to get a pizza stone. I leave mine on the bottom rack of the oven. As long you are heating it with the oven (not sticking a cold stone into a hot oven) it will be totally fine to leave it in there all the time. In fact, heating it frequently will help keep it clean by burning any spills to dust. I've even left it in there on the self clean mode - totally fine and now very clean! It will take longer for your oven to preheat with the stone in it, but it will help keep the temperature even and constant. You will also need a pizza peel to transfer the pizza to the stone.
Step 2 for great pizza - great dough. I have tried many doughs, including whole wheat ones. For authentic pizza - this Jim Lahey dough is the best. It takes a long time to make though, so be prepared. The idea behind this dough is that the tenderness and pocketed texture come from fermenting the dough (for 18 hours, I told you it takes time!), and then handling it as little as possible. That means no kneading!
After letting the dough ferment (like sourdough starter), you carefully remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a floured surface. Then you separate it into four parts and gently fold (not roll, or knead) the parts into balls. Use them quickly or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. This dough is only good for a couple of days so plan to make a lot of pizza!
When you are ready to make the pizza (the oven and stone should be preheated at this point), carefully and gently stretch the dough. Either in the air on your knuckles, or on a floured surface. For some technique tips - check out this video. See those bubbles in the dough, there? That's what you are trying to achieve. Those will blister up and make your pizza awesome. Here's another handy trick - I always have trouble getting my pizza off the peel, no matter how much cornmeal I put on there. So I have started putting the pizza onto parchment paper and sliding that onto the stone. Then after about 2 minutes (you will smell it starting to char), I slide the parchment out from under the partially set dough - easy!
I've been playing with combining squash and pasta for comforting Fall/Winter dishes. Like last weeks White Lasagna or the Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells from the beginning of the month. And now I have a few more, starting with this Butternut Squash and Leek Pasta Sauce.
This is simple and delicious - pureed squash, leeks, garlic, butter, sage, and Parmesan form a rich and creamy sauce to perfectly coat spaghetti.
Next up is Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese with Amaretti Crumbles.
Roasted pumpkin combined with noodles, cheesy bechamel, and sage.
Who doesn't love macaroni and cheese? Seriously. Because I do. I even love the kind from the box, powdered cheese and all (I know it's wrong, don't hate me). Growing up, Hamburger Helper was a special treat that we would get really excited for - so when I found this recipe for a homemade version, I couldn't wait to try it.