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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Baked White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage

White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage (1)

White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage (2)

My friend Kim went on home for a week to visit her parents. I knew she’d be celebrating her birthday while she was gone so I thought I’d have something special waiting for her when she returned home. You know after traveling you’re always tired once you get home, no one really wants to cook. I thought, how about a Baked White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage waiting for her at home. All she’d have to do is to follow the reheating instructions that I attached to the pan. Happy Birthday, Kim!

You know, it’s just as easy to make two pans of Mac and Cheese as it is to make one. One for her family and one for ours. This recipe will yield two 9 x 9 pans of Baked White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage.

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White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage (3)

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White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage (1)

 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yields: 2 pans, 6 to 8 serving per pan
Equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, 2 6-quart stock pots, 12-inch sauté pan, 1 4-quart saucepan, 2 disposable deep-sided 9 x 9 casserole pans.

Note: Ingredients below are doubled to yield 2-9 x 9 disposable pans

Ingredients:
2 16-ounce boxes Barilla Cellentani, corkscrew-shaped pasta (or elbow macaroni)
3 sticks unsalted butter, reserve 1 stick for topping, plus butter for greasing pans
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 quarts milk
6 cups of diced smoked sausage sliced and quartered, 3 cups for each pan
2 8-ounce packages, extra-sharp white cheddar, shredded
6-ounces grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups of Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup dried parsley flakes

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Butter each of the 9 x 9 disposable pans

Into each one of the two (6-quart stockpot) pots of boiling salted water, add 1 box of Barilla Cellentani. Cook according to the directions on the package, 6-8 minutes. Drain well into separate colanders.

In the meantime, heat the milk in a 4-quart saucepan, just under the boiling point. In another (6-quart) stockpot melt 2 sticks of butter, add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, continuously whisking. While whisking, slowly add in the hot milk, then 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper, and freshly ground nutmeg. Switch to a wooden spoon, continue to stir until sauce thickens. Do not rush this process, cooking times may vary, anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes. Once the sauce coats the back of a spoon remove the pot from the heat. Add all the white cheddar and 3-ounces of grated Parmesan. Stir to combine.

Divide the bechamel sauce, equally into each of the (6-quart) stockpots. Divide equally the diced smoked sausage into each pot. Add one colander of the cooked, well-drained pasta into each pot. Stir to combine then transfer to the buttered disposable pans.

Breadcrumb Topping:
Melt the remaining 1 stick of butter into a large sauté pan, on low heat, add the Panko crumbs, stir until all the butter is absorbed.  Off the heat, add the remaining grated Parmesan cheese, and dried parsley flakes. Stir to combine. Divide evenly, then sprinkle the bread crumbs on evenly on top of each of the pans. Place each of the disposable pans onto a rimmed baking sheet pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and macaroni and topping are a beautiful golden brown.

Tip For Freezing:
Make sure the pan of Baked White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage is at room temperature before freezing.

If you plan to freeze one of the pans, DO NOT ADD the breadcrumb topping until you’re ready to bake. Cover the pan tightly with foil then wrap the whole pan again in plastic wrap. Freeze up to 2 months.

When you’re ready to bake, remove the foil and plastic wrap. Add the breadcrumb topping. Spray the dull side of a piece of foil with non-stick cooking spray. This will prevent the topping from sticking to the foil.  Cover the dish tightly with the sprayed foil and bake frozen for 1 hour at 350-degrees F. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown around 5 to 7 minutes, times may vary slightly.

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3 Comments »

Lobster Mac & Cheese

2016-10-13-17-48-42

I’m pretty confident in saying, Mac and Cheese is the favorite comfort food for people of all ages. There are so many recipes out there from the classic version to endless variations of the classic. Chorizo and smoked Gouda, or how about butternut squash mac and cheese! The one I like to serve when entertaining is my Lobster Mac And Cheese. The lobster adds a delicate sweetness along with a variety of delicious cheeses and a flavorful crunchy topping complete the perfect recipe for Lobster Mac & Cheese.

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Prep Time: 1 hour (the time it takes to cook the lobsters for the casserole)
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Yields: 8 servings
Equipment: 16-quart stockpot, 2 6-quart saucepots, 9 x 13 casserole dish, 2 large mixing bowls, colander, Microplane

Ingredients:
4 cups of lobster meat, large dice (equivalent to approx. three 1 1/2 lb lobsters)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) of butter, unsalted, (4 tablespoons for greasing the baking dish)
4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
4 cups of whole milk, *scalded
1 teaspoon of nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of corn (optional)
1 cup of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup of Brie cheese, without the rind, diced
2 cups of Fontina cheese, freshly grated (reserve 1 cup for the top)
3 tablespoon of fresh chives, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of tarragon leaves, chopped
2 16-ounce packages (2 pounds) of cooked Paccheri Rigati, just under al-dente ( large rigatoni shaped pasta, substitute rigatoni)
Topping:
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups of Panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons of freshly chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
3/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated

Directions:
Butter casserole dish.
For a 1 1/2 pound lobster, cook time is 15 to 20 minutes. Note: They need to be a vibrant red color when fully cooked.

Directions, How To Cook A Lobster:
Note: I prefer to cook lobsters one at a time.

Bring a 16-quart pot (a little over half filled) of well-salted water up to a rapid boil. Drop the lobster into the pot, quickly place the lid on. Using a towel, hold the lid in place for just a minute, giving the water a chance to come back up to a boil,  then start the cooking time. After about 15 to 20 minutes, remove the lobster from the pot and set aside to cool. Repeat this process two more times.

Boil 16 ounces (1 pound) of pasta just before the al dente stage, and drain. The pasta will finish cooking during the baking process.

Remove the lobster meat from the tails and claws. Chop the lobster meat into large chunks and place into a bowl.

Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.

In a large saucepot melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Continuously whisking the flour and butter to form a *roux. Cook, whisking constantly until the mixture becomes blond in color and paste-like, about 2 minutes. Again continue whisking while slowly adding the (*scalded) hot milk. Continue to whisk as the sauce thickens. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Sprinkle in the grated nutmeg, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, continuously whisking until sauce becomes thick and smooth. Remove from the heat, switch to a wooden spoon, stir in the chopped tarragon, finely chopped chives, grated cheeses, and corn (optional). Last, add the cooked lobster meat. Mix to combined.

Add the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce stirring gently not to break up the pasta. Pour the entire mixture into the buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle the reserved Fontina cheese evenly over the top.

For the crumb topping, add the melted butter to the Panko bread crumbs. Mix in the Italian flat-leaf parsley and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Allow the casserole to rest for 15 minutes before serving. This is my Lobster Mac & Cheese.

*Roux is a mixture of fat (especially butter) and flour used in making sauces

*Scalded milk is milk heated to a near boil. Small bubbles will appear around the inner rim of the pot.

3 Comments »

Shortbread Cookie Sandwiches Filled With Lemon Ricotta Cream

2015-03-18 20.11.25

I love #shortbread cookies but filled with a lemon Ricotta cream, that’s just taking them to the next level of awesomeness. One bite into my Shortbread Cookie Sandwich Filled With Lemon Ricotta Cream and you’ll #tastethelove. This recipe is so easy that it’s no problem to whip up these cookies anytime. I like to start out by making the filling. This way the filling really cold by the time the cookies have cooled and are ready to be filled.

All it takes is whole milk Ricotta, confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar), pure vanilla extract, and lemon zest. After it’s mixed really well, cover, and chill for 30 minutes. Here’s how to make the dough for my shortbread cookies.

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Shortbread Cookie Sandwiches (1)

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Prep Time: 15 minutes (for rolling out the dough and cutting out the cookies)
Inactive Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields: 24 cookies, 12 cookie sandwiches
Equipment: flour sifter, one 3-inch fluted cookie cutter, stand mixer, 4 rimmed baking sheet pans, large mixing bowl, small mixing bowl, parchment paper

Ingredients For Shortbread Cookies:
2 sticks unsalted butter, (plus 1 tablespoon if needed) room temperature
1 cup of sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling on top of the cookies
1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 scant cup of cornstarch (scant= almost 1 cup)

Ingredients For Filling:
1 3/4 cups of whole milk Ricotta cheese (15-ounce container)
1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
8 ounces of powdered sugar
zest of 1 lemon

Directions For Filling:
In a small bowl add the ricotta, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and powdered sugar, mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Start by lining 4 baking sheet pans with parchment paper.

Using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together room temperature butter, vanilla extract, and sugar. Into a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, Kosher salt, and cornstarch. Using a whisk, whisk the flour, Kosher salt, and cornstarch together until they’re thoroughly combined.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter. Once the dough comes together, turn the mixer off. If the dough seems too dry add in 1 more tablespoon of softened butter, but only if needed.

Remove the dough from the mixer and transfer onto a cutting board. Form the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Flour your surface area and roll the dough 1/2-inch thick out with a 3-inch round fluted cookie cutter. Place the cookies on lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the edges begin to brown.

Once the shortbread cookies have cooled spoon 2 teaspoons of the filling onto the flat side of the cookie. Place the flat side of a second cookie of the top of the filling allowing for the presentation side of each cookie to be on the outside.

Place the Shortbread Cookie Sandwiches Filled With Lemon Ricotta Cream onto a serving platter and serve with a cup of your favorite coffee.

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