Let's Dish With Linda Lou

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Homestyle Baked Mac & Cheese

Homemade Mac & Cheese

Can you think of anything better than a Homestyle Baked Mac & Cheese? I’ll bet your answer is no, and I agree.

Meatloaf Withh Sundried Tomatoes (2)

Meatloaf Withh Sundried Tomatoes (1)

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Mac & Cheese (4)

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Mac & Cheese (6)

Mac & Cheese (7)

Mac & Cheese (5)

Mascarpone Cheese

Mac & Cheese (2)

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Mac & Cheese (8)

Mac & Cheese (3)

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White Cheddar Mac & Cheese (3)

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White Cheddar Mac & Cheese (1)

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Homestyle Mac & Cheese

Homemade Mac & Cheese

Meatloaf Withh Sundried Tomatoes (2)

 

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment: 1 (9 x 13) baking dish, 2 (6-quart) saucepots, whisk

Ingredients:
1 box or pound of Cavatappi (or elbow macaroni)
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 stick (8 tablespoons) of butter plus 6 tablespoons, unsalted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12-ounces (4 cups) Gruyère cheese, freshly grated
8 ounces (2 cups) white cheddar, freshly grated
4 ounces Mascarpone, room temperature
1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded for garnish on top
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon sweet Paprika (substitute smoked paprika)
1/2 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (reserve 1/4 cup for breadcrumbs)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the macaroni, and cook according to the instructions of the box, 6 to 8 minutes, drain really well.

At the same time, heat the milk and heavy cream in a small saucepan, but do not boil. Melt 8 tablespoons (1-stick) in a large (6-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes while whisking, until it’s light blond in color. Whisk in the hot milk and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and grated nutmeg, continue whisking until sauce thickens and becomes smooth.

Off the heat, switch to a wooden spoon, add the Mascarpone first, stir to combine. Next, add the grated Gruyére, white Cheddar, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, again stir to combine. Add the cooked macaroni, 1/4 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, mix to combine. Pour into a 9 x 13 buttered baking dish.

Topping:
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan. Add the Panko breadcrumbs, Paprika, remaining Italian flat-leaf parsley, toss to coat. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs all over the top of the casserole. *Dot the top with the remaining butter. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and macaroni is browned on top. Optional, sprinkle finely shredded Parmesan cheese and Italian flat-leaf parsley over the top while hot.

Serve hot.

*Dot: To scatter bits of butter over food.

Meatloaf With Sundried Tomatoes

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Homemade SpaghettiO’s With Meatballs

Homemade SpaghettiO's (1)

What’s better than reliving one of your favorite childhood meals. You know the one I’m talking about, SpaghettiO’s with meatballs! Well, I’ve recreated a Homemade SpaghettiO’s With Meatballs for you, and its super easy to make.

Making homemade sauce and meatballs takes this to dish to a grown-up level that will definitely surprise your guests. I’m also adding a couple of secret ingredients to the meatballs that are going to blow your mind!

Let’s start by making the meatballs and getting them into the oven before working on the sauce.

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Sweet Basil (2)

fresh basil

Basil and Italian flat-leaf parsley

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The first secret ingredient for my meatballs is fresh basil pesto. Normally I wouldn’t use a store-bought basil pesto however, in this instance, I’m using it as one of the ingredients for my meatballs. If you’re going to add basil pesto to your meatballs, look for the fresh pesto that’s kept in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, rather than the jarred variety.

In some of my earlier posts, I’ve mentioned using basil pesto in my meatball recipes and it really elevates the flavor. When you think about it, they’re really ingredients you would most likely add to your meatball recipe.

The second secret ingredient I’m using is whole milk ricotta cheese. Ricotta doesn’t add any noticeable flavor but it definitely acts as a tenderizer.

Note:
Anytime you want to make meatballs start with the flavorings in a large mixing bowl first. You want the flavoring mixture to have the consistency of wet sand. Next, you’ll add your choice of ground meat and combine. I use a fork to slowly combine the wet flavoring mixture to the ground meat. Keep the ground meat as loose as possible, do not over mix. This will ensure you’ll have super tender meatballs.

Below are three cookie-dough scoops. The cookie-dough scoop in the middle is equivalent to 1 1/2 tablespoons and perfect for my mini meatballs. Relatively speaking that’s half the size of a golf ball.

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Olive Oil

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Dried Basil

Dried Oregano

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Sweet Basil (2)

fresh basil

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Homemade SpaghettiO's (2)

Homemade SpaghettiO's (1)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 2 baking sheets, lined with parchment paper, 2 (6-quart) saucepots, cookie-dough scoop

Ingredients For Meatballs: Yields 48 meatballs
2 pounds ground pork, substitute ground beef, chicken, or turkey
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup half-and-half, room temperature
1/4 cup water, room temperature
1/4 cup Ricotta cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup of a fresh store-bought basil pesto
5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 to 1 1/2 cups of Italian breadcrumbs, Italian-style
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients For Sauce:
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 large onion diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup chicken stock, unsalted
3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves,  reserve extra sprigs of basil for garnish
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated for the cooked pasta
2 (1-pound) packages of La Molisana pasta

Directions For Meatballs:
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and spray them both with non- stick cooking spray.
Start by placing all the flavorings for the meatballs into a large mixing bowl. When blending in the bread crumbs, start with 1 cup, add an additional 1/2 cup if needed. The finished consistency should look like (and have the texture of) wet sand.

Add the (your choice of) ground chicken. Using a fork to combine the flavorings and meat together, do not over mix.

NOTE: If the ground meat starts to stick to the ice cream scoop, spray with a little non- stick cooking spray and the meat will release easier.

Scoop the meat mixture into your hands, roll into balls, then place the meatballs on the greased parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Each baking sheet should hold 24 meatballs. For nice golden brown meatballs, spray the tops of the meatballs with a little non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 45 minutes.

Directions For Sauce:
While the meatballs are in the oven, start the sauce. On med-high heat add the olive oil to a heavy bottom pot. Add in the onions, cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until translucent. Add the minced garlic, Kosher salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, brown sugar, and tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes. Next, add the chicken stock. Let the stock come up to a bubble and reduce by half. Once the stock has reduced, add in the tomato products. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let simmer until the meatballs come out of the oven.

After the meatballs come out of the oven, add them to the sauce. Simmer the sauce for another 45 minutes.

In a large stockpot of boiling salted water add the pasta. Cook according to the directions on the package. In a large serving bowl, add the well-drained cooked pasta. Add 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and toss through. Ladle the sauce with meatballs over the pasta and toss through. Add fresh basil leaves.

Serve tableside into individual porcelain pasta bowls. Garnish each bowl with sprigs of fresh basil. Have extra cheese on hand for your guests. There you have it my Homemade SpaghettiO’s With Meatballs.

This meatball and tomato sauce recipe works with any style of pasta you choose.

Linguine With Meatballs

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Chicken And Dumplings With Vegetables

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What’s the definition of comfort food?, Chicken And Dumplings With Vegetables. It’s so comforting you’ll get warm fuzzies inside!

I do have to honest here, I didn’t make my own dumplings or this dish, I took some help from my local grocery store. I mean, making your own from scratch is probably best and can make all the difference in the world except if you’re like where the value of your time, store-bought dumplings are a quick alternative and a great time saver.

One ingredient that’s a staple in my frig is chicken fat. Steve loves to grill chicken thighs and doesn’t use the skin, he gives those to me. I render the chicken skin down and collect all the drippings (chicken fat) for recipes like, Matzo ball soup and this dish. The fat adds so much flavor by enhansing the chicken flavor thoughtout certain recipes. I’ll show you how I incorporate it.

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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thyme (1)

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Chicken Quesadillas (10)

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Chicken Quesadillas (12)

Shredded Chicken

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 1 (4-quart) saucepot with a tight-fitting glass lid, 1 (6-quart) stockpot

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil plus 2 tablespoons chicken fat (substitute 3 tablespoons of olive oil)
1 yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, poached and shredded
1 teaspoon of dried rosemary (crush up in your hand)
1 1/2 teapsoons of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning
1 (10.5-ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1/2 package of Mary B’s Open Kettle Dumplings (12 ounces, break strips in half, freeze unused dumplings)
1 package frozen peas, optional
6 cups of chicken stock, unsalted
4 tablespoons of cornstarch
4 tablespoons of water
1/4 cup of finely chopped, fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

Tip: While chicken is poaching, prep all the vegetables for this dish.

Directions For Poaching Chicken:
To start, place 3 boneless-skinless chicken breasts, in a single layer, 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, and a sprinkling of Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, into a large pot. Cover the chicken with either water or (I’m using) unsalted chicken broth. If the 1 quart of broth does not cover the chicken completely, add water so that it will cover the chicken by at least 1-inch.

Bring the chicken to a boil on medium-high heat. You’ll see some white scummy foam collecting on the surface as the liquid starts to boil.  Since I’m not using the poaching liquid for this recipe, there is no need to skim this off, it’s fine to leave it.

As soon as the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and let the chicken simmer. The chicken will typically finish cooking between 25 to 30 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat and whether it has a bone. The chicken breasts are done when they are opaque through the middle and an instant-read thermometer put into the thickest part of the chicken reads 165-degrees F.

Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid, transfer the cutting board, and begin shredding them using two forks, transfer to a bowl.

Directions For Frozen Dumplings:
Gently separate the dumplings right before adding them to the broth.

Directions For The Chicken And Dumplings:
In a small dice, dice the onions, carrots, and celery. Finely mince the garlic. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil, and chicken fat over medium heat. Add in all the vegetables, poultry seasoning, bay leaves, and rosemary. Season with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Cook until the onions until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add cream of chicken soup to the pot and stir. Next, add the chicken broth (making sure to add enough broth to where it comes up to over the halfway mark in the soup pot), and give another good stir. Turn the heat to medium-high and wait until it returns to a boil. Once boiling, drop in the dumplings one by one. Let them boil in the soup, (45 minutes according to the package), stirring occasionally until they are all tender. Next, carefully fish out the two bay leaves.

Return cooked shredded chicken to the pot and gently stir through.

To Thicken Broth:
In a small bowl combine 4 tablespoons of corn starch with 4 tablespoons of water.
Add to the boiling broth, a little at a time, stirring to reach desired consistency. This is my Chicken And Dumplings With Vegetables.

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