Mac & Brie

We only started having mac and cheese on Thanksgiving a few years ago, when our dad was inspired by a Cajun macaroni recipe he saw online and insisted on bringing it for dinner. After its introduction on our Thanksgiving plates, we couldn’t imagine another Thanksgiving without one of our all time favorite side dishes. We have a few variations of mac and cheese on our blog (Hatch Chile and Cauliflower) but what we like about this recipe is just how simple and classic it is. We have aptly named this variation Mac & Brie for the big pieces of melty brie cheese that have snuck into this recipe. Cheesy? Creamy? Brie-filled? Yes, yes, and yes. Sounds like our version of a perfect Thanksgiving menu addition.

Mac & Brie

  • Servings: 8-10
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A decadent way to level up your side dish game on Thanksgiving and beyond.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup extra sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 circle of brie (8 oz), rind removed and cubed

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring a large pot of salty water to a boil. Cook the elbow macaroni a few minutes less than the directions on the macaroni indicate so that the pasta is al dente. Strain and set aside.
  3. In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk continuously. The flour will form a paste. While continuously whisking, slowly pour in the milk, one cup at a time. Stir and heat for 3-5 minutes or until the milk starts to thicken.
  4. Stir in the white cheddar and mozzarella until the cheese is fully melted and the milk and cheese form a thick sauce. Fold in the elbow macaroni and remove from the heat. Season to taste salt and pepper.
  5. In a greased 8×12 baking dish, pour in the macaroni and cheese mixture in an even layer. Place the brie cheese cubes throughout the mac and cheese.
  6. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the brie is fully melted and the mac and cheese is bubbling. If the top of the cheese and pasta is starting to get too brown, cover with foil and continue to cook. Serve immediately.


Butternut Squash Linguini

It is officially fall which means it is pasta galore in our kitchens. We have no shame posting two pasta recipes in one week, and you shouldn’t feel bad about cooking both of these recipes during a chilly week either! There is something so satisfying about a creamy, hot bowl of noodles on a cold evening. That being said, just because a dish is hearty does not mean that it has to pack on the calories. The sauce for this Butternut Squash Linguini is pretty much just that, pureed butternut squash. We add some decadence to the dish by mixing sautéed pancetta and fried sage, but those ingredients act like garnishes versus heavy handed ingredients. For those of you with kids at home, this is a great way to sneak in extra veggies during this winter.

Butternut Squash Linguini

Makes: 4 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb linguini
  • 4 oz cubed pancetta
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 8 (approx) sage leaves
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 12 oz cubed butternut squash (thawed if using frozen)
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • grated Parmesan cheese for garnish, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta. Heat a large stock pot full of water. Add about 2 tbs salt and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook to al dente according to package directions, about 12 minutes. When the pasta is ready, remove 1 cup of pasta water and drain the noodles.
  2. Make the butternut squash sauce. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and pancetta to the pan and fry for about 3 minutes, or until the pancetta is crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta and set it aside. In the same olive oil, fry the sage leaves until crispy, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and again, keep the fat in the pan.
  3. Add the onion and garlic to the pan. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until the onions start to become translucent. Add the butternut squash and cook another 3 minutes to lightly sauté. Season with salt and pepper. Add the thyme (keep the stems intact) and the vegetable stock. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the butternut squash is fork tender.
  4. When the butternut squash is fork tender, remove the pan from the heat and remove the thyme leaves from the pan. Place the rest of the butternut squash mix into a blender and blend until smooth. You can add the pasta water in 1/4 cup increments as necessary to get the sauce to a smooth consistency. The sauce should be a little thinner than a butternut squash bisque. Reserve any extra pasta water.
  5. Add the sauce, pasta, and pancetta back to the pot and toss to coat. Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary. If the pasta is starting to slurp up the sauce and it looks too thick, add more pasta water 1/4 cup at a time. If you don’t have any pasta water leftover you can use vegetable stock until you have the texture you are looking for. If you have added liquid back to the pasta, taste and season again. Serve the pasta in four bowls with the fried sage leaves (chopped) and a hearty serving of shaved Parmesan cheese.

Pesto & Ricotta Stuffed Shells

As the weather starts turning cooler, we find that we start craving warm and hearty meals. One of our favorite family meals is stuffed shells. There are so many different ways to customize a stuffed shells recipe; you can incorporate the protein of your choice or add vegetables to get your greens in. For this version, we have chosen to incorporate ground beef, pesto and ricotta. We love the flavor combination of pesto and ricotta. The pesto brings in an herby freshness and the ricotta adds creaminess and unctuousness to the dish. This recipe can be prepared in advance and baked just as your family or friends come over for dinner. Serve this with our Kale Salad: Autumn Edition and you have balanced, full dinner.

Pesto and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Makes: 8 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients for the Sauce:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup parsley, minced
  • 2, 28oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tbs salt

Ingredients for the Shells:

  • 1 package jumbo pasta shells
  • 3 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup basil, minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Make the sauce. In a large pot, sauté the ground beef until it is cooked through. Set aside in a bowl but do not drain the fat. Add the garlic and parsley and saute in the beef fat for a few minutes. Add the tomato sauce, water and salt and bring to a simmer. Add the beef back into the sauce and keep on simmer, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes.
  2. While the sauce is simmering, cook your shells according to package directions. When the shells are cooked to al dente, rinse them with cold water. You will want them to be cooled before stuff them.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350.
  4. Create the filling. Combine the ricotta, pesto, egg, basil and Parmesan cheese in a bowl and mix to thoroughly combine. Season with salt and pepper. Put the mixture in a large Ziploc bag and cut the tip off the corner of the bag. Use the bag to pipe the mixture into each shell.
  5. Coat the bottom of a large baking dish with a layer of the sauce. Add the stuffed shells on top of the sauce in an even layer. Fill the rest of the dish with the sauce and top with the mozzarella. Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is fully melted and bubbly.

Farmers’ Market Brown Butter Orzo

Our inspiration for this recipe came from a weekend trip to the farmers’ market. There are so many fresh vegetables available this time of year, and we took a few things we bought and turned them into an orzo salad. This pasta has everything we love about summer- zucchini, tomatoes, and fresh corn- combined and tossed together with a delicious brown butter sauce. The sauce gives the veggies a decadent richness and makes the dish really pop. We topped the orzo with fresh basil and feta for the ultimate summer side dish. We like to serve this warm right after it is finished, but it also refrigerates well and leftovers can be served at room temperature.

Brown Butter and Orzo Salad

Makes:8 side servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb orzo
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 3 tbs garlic, minced
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 2 ears of corn removed from husk
  • 1 green zucchini
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1 bunch of basil, chiffonaded

Directions:

  1. Cook the orzo per package directions; about 10 minutes for most varieties.
  2. While the orzo is cooking, melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Once it is nice and bubbly, add the garlic and onion. Sauté for 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the corn and cook 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. Chop the squash, cucumber and tomato into bite sized pieces. Combine in a bowl with the orzo. Pour the butter sauce over the top of the orzo and mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Top with the feta and basil. This dish can be served warm or be made ahead of time and served at room temperature.

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

We love mac & cheese more than most things in life. It’s our favorite accompaniment for any bbq menu and most family gatherings. In the spirit of keeping ourselves “bikini ready” this summer, we wanted to create our version of a healthier mac & cheese recipe. Our goal was to create an alternative that is healthier than most recipes without sacrificing taste. 

To do this we used cauliflower as the base of our cheese sauce! It might sound like an odd choice, but steamed cauliflower is a delicious, mostly neutral, creamy base and often used for similar vegan recipes. Our mac is hardly vegan, and to help cut having a strong cauliflower taste, we used sharp white cheddar and gruyere to cheese up our macaroni. We chose to steam the cauliflower to preserve most of the vegetable’s nutrients, but you can save some time by boiling the cauliflower or buying frozen cauliflower florets. As long as the cauliflower is fork-tender, it is ready to be made into sauce. The results are pretty darn excellent and we don’t feel bad about digging in all summer long! 

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese 
Makes: 8 servings 
Prep Time: 40 minutes     Total Time: 60 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb pasta 
  • 1 large head cauliflower 
  • 12 oz milk or vegetable stock 
  • 2 tbs butter 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1/4 tsp ground mustard 
  • 6 oz block sharp white cheddar cheese, grated 
  • 6 oz block Gruyere cheese, grated 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Remove the leaves and excess stem from the cauliflower. Chop the cauliflower into medium-sized florets. Fill a large steamer pot with about 2 inches of water and heat on high. Put the cauliflower florets into the steamer basket, cover, and cook the cauliflower for 20-30 minutes, or until the cauliflower can easily be pierced with a fork. 
  3. While the cauliflower is steaming, heat a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside. 
  4. When the cauliflower is fork-tender, remove it from the steamer and place it directly into a large food processor or blender. Pulse the cauliflower so that it starts to break down. Add the liquid- the milk or vegetable stock- to the blender 1/4 cup at a time, until the cauliflower forms a thick and smooth sauce. Reserve any extra liquid that you did not use in case you need to thin the sauce after adding the cheese. 
  5. Heat the pot you used to cook the pasta over medium heat. Add the butter to the pot and give it a quick stir until it is melted. Add the cauliflower puree, garlic powder, and ground mustard to the pot and stir. Add about 3/4 of each of the cheeses to the cauliflower and continue to stir until the cheese is completely melted. If at any point you think the sauce is too thick, add more of the liquid to the sauce. When the sauce is completely melted and has a thick but smooth texture, give it a taste and season it with salt and pepper. 
  6. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir thoroughly to combine. Spray a large pyrex baking dish with cooking spray and transfer the mac and cheese from the pasta pot to the pyrex. Use a spatula to spread the mac and cheese into an even layer in the dish and top with the remaining cheeses. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly, before serving. 

Summer Pesto Pasta Salad

We love serving pasta salad as a side dish for a cookout or barbecue. There are hundreds of recipes to choose from, but we tend to go with a veggie filled pesto version as we head into the heart of summer. Pasta salads can often time be filled with mayo which makes it a very bulky side dish. This version is made with quinoa pasta, pesto, and tons of veggies like zucchini and roasted tomatoes. It is filling, yet healthy, and goes with just about everything. We prefer to serve this pasta salad warm or room temperature; if you want to serve it chilled make sure you mix it well and season again with salt and pepper, as chilled foods tend to taste less seasoned than hot foods.

Summer Pasta Salad

Makes: 8 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fusilli pasta (we used a quinoa based)
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 zucchini, ends trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, and diced
  • 2 yellow squash, ends trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, and diced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup pesto
  • 1/3 cup grated or crumbled Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, about 12 minutes to al dente. Reserve 3/4 – 1 cup of pasta water before straining the pasta into a sink.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes to the pan. Sauté for 2 minutes or until the garlic is starting to brown. Add the zucchini to the pan and saute for another 4-5 minutes, or until the zucchini also starts to brown. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the zucchini from the pan and add the tomatoes. Cook just a few minutes- you don’t want the tomatoes to turn into a sauce- you just want them to brown up.
  3. Put the pesto in a large serving bowl. Add the hot pasta and stir everything well, adding pasta water as necessary so that everything is nicely coated and not sticky. Add the zucchini and tomatoes to the pasta and gently mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Momofuku Inspired Chilled Spicy Noodles

If it isn’t abundantly clear, we love ourselves a good noodle bowl. It was love at first bite when we first tried Momofuku in New York and have made it a point every time we go to the city to stop by for noodles, steamed buns, and any and everything else on the menu. One summer we tried their Chilled Ramen Bowl and Tate’s Dad couldn’t get enough. We have since been recreating this dish at our homes so we can enjoy it year round. 

This dish is the perfect combo of spicy, sweet and crunchy. We used spinach in this recipe but you can substitute for any green vegetable that you have on hand. Because it is served cold, you can make extras that will hold up extremely well in your fridge so you can have this all week long.

Momofuku Inspired Chilled Spicy Noodles
Makes: 6 servings 
Prep Time: 20 minutes    Total Time: 35 minutes 

Ingredients for The Candied Cashews**:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs water 

Ingredients For the Noodles: 

  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated 
  • 4 dried thai chiles, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 6 cups spinach
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 2 tbs sesame oil 
  • 1 lb fresh wonton noodles (any fresh soup noodle will work) 
  • scallions, for garnish 
  • salt and pepper to taste. 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Make the cashews by combining the cashews, sugar, and water in a small bowl- stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a medium skillet over medium heat. Let the liquid and sugar start to bubble. When it starts to caramelize pour the cashews onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the cashews are golden brown and crunchy. 
  2. While the cashews are cooking, start the pork. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the pork, ginger, thai chiles, and garlic to the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cook until the pork is cooked through. Add the spinach, reduce the heat, and cook until the spinach is cooked through. Drain most of the fat from the pan, reserving 1/4 cup for the noodles, and turn the heat off the pan. 
  3. Cook the noodles. Heat a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain the noodles when they have finished cooking and rinse with cold water to cool. Toss the noodles with the soy sauce, fish sauce, and sesame oil; season with salt to taste. If they need a little extra liquid, use a bit of the reserved fat from the pork to give them a flavorful coating. 
  4. Create the noodle bowls by layering the noodles on the bottom of the bowl. Top with the ground pork and spinach mix and finish with the candied cashews. Garnish with chopped scallions if desired. 

** You can skip this step and buy a number of candied cashew varieties at the grocery store and skip this step! We often use Trader Joe’s Sesame Candied Cashews as a quick replacement. 


Penne a la Vodka

Keeping things simple in quarantine does not mean that the food we make has to lack flavor. This penne a la vodka has just a few ingredients, most of them pantry ingredients, and is a much more exciting dinner than regular old spaghetti. Not to mention we could all use a little extra dash of vodka these days! Our recipe is different from other vodka sauce recipes because we cook the vodka down separately before adding the tomatoes. This helps smooth out the vodka taste so that there’s just a hint of it compared to other bolder tasting variations. We love to serve this creamy pasta as it is, but also bulk it up with slices of chicken or chicken sausage for a complete meal. 

Penne a la Vodka 
Makes: 4 servings 
Prep Time: 15 minutes   Total Time: 25 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb penne pasta (we used Trader Joe’s brown rice penne) 
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs olive oil 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 shallot, minced 
  • 1/2 cup vodka 
  • 1- 28 oz can tomato puree 
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream 
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 4 basil leaves, chiffonade 
  • salt and pepper, to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Heat a large soup pot over high heat to bring to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, about 8 minutes depending on the pasta you have chosen. When the pasta has finished cooking, remove 1/2 cup of pasta water with a measuring cup and drain the pasta in your sink. Set aside. 
  2. While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. 
  3. Add the butter and olive oil to the pan, letting the pan get hot and until the butter starts to bubble. Add the garlic and shallots to the pan and saute for 3-4 minutes, or until the garlic becomes fragrant. 
  4. Add the vodka to the pan. Cook for 3 minutes to burn off most of the alcohol.
  5. Add the tomato puree to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook another 7 minutes.
  6. Add the heavy cream and 1/2 cup of the cheese to the tomato sauce. Stir and keep over medium heat until the cheese is melted. 
  7. Add the pasta water and pasta to the pan. Stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the pasta is well coated with the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve hot with chopped basil and the remaining 1/4 cup cheese, for garnish. 

Angel Hair with Confit Tomatoes & Burrata

Yesterday we posted a detailed recipe about how we confit cherry tomatoes during the spring and late fall to help give out-of-season tomatoes a flavor boost. We infuse them by cooking the tomatoes low and slow in the oven in a bath of olive oil, garlic, and herbs to help bring them to life. These little blistered gems are great for storing in the fridge and freezer so that they are available to us on a whim. One of our favorite uses of them is for pasta. The fresh tomatoes give a nice remix to traditional pureed tomato sauce and are already super flavorful from the garlic and herbs. We top the angel hair with fresh burrata and basil for the ultimate simple dinner. If you’ve made the tomatoes in advance, dinner is on the table in less than 20 minutes.

Angel Hair with Confit Tomatoes & Burrata

Makes: 4 servings

Total Time: 20 minutes if you have made the tomatoes in advance; 1 hour 20 minutes if you have not

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb angel hair pasta
  • 2 cups confit tomatoes with their oils and juices
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 package burrata (usually comes with two balls)
  • 6 large fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and garlic to the pan. Sauté for about 3 minutes, or until the garlic is starting to crisp and become fragrant. Add the white wine and confit tomatoes to the pan and cook another 3 minutes. Reduce the heat of the pan to low until the pasta is finished.
  2. Heat a large stock pot with salted water. Bring to a boil and cook the angel hair according to package directions, about 4 minutes. Remove 1 cup of the water from the pot before draining the pasta. Drain in the sink and throw the pasta directly into the tomato pan. Increase the heat to medium high.
  3. Use tongs to toss the pasta in the tomato sauce so that the pasta is coated with the sauce. Add the pasta water as needed if the tomatoes and oil seem too dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve the pasta in a large, family style bowl. Top with the burrata, basil, and another drizzle of olive oil.

Semi-Homemade Lobster Ravioli With Shrimp & Spinach

A few days of quarantine and social distancing has proven to be quite the challenge in mental health. It’s hard to feel like we all aren’t going a little crazy in the midst of the world’s chaos. In order to bring some normalcy back into our lives, we created this ravioli recipe. It is simple in ingredients but elevated in taste and presentation. Just the act of eating a composed plate has helped us feel a little less out of our heads and more like we are participating in the real world.

This semi-homemade recipe involves just a few ingredients but really ups the game on what dinner looks like. We have taken pre-made lobster ravioli and combined it with shrimp, spinach, and a lemon cream sauce to create a recipe that feels a little more sophisticated in the days of freezer meals. As always with our recipes, substitute the ingredients you have on hand if you can’t find these in your grocery store. Frozen shrimp and frozen spinach are easy substitutes for fresh and any cheese flavor ravioli will be great in this recipe if you can’t find lobster ravioli in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.


Lobster Ravioli With Shrimp & Spinach

Makes: 2 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet lobster ravioli (about 12 in a package)
  • 16 shrimp (about 3/4 lb), peeled and deveined
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced and separated
  • 6 cups packed fresh spinach (substitute 1 package frozen)
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, 1 tbs garlic, and spinach and saute for 3-4 minutes, or until the spinach begins to wilt. You don’t want the spinach to wilt away completely, you just want to cook out most of the water. Remove the spinach from the pan onto a plate and set aside.
  2. Add the second tbs of olive oil to the pan. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and add them to the pan. Cook the shrimp 3 minutes per side and remove them from the pan onto the plate with the spinach.
  3. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the ravioli and cook according to package directions.
  4. While the ravioli are cooking, add the remaining tbs of oil to the saute pan. Add the remaining 2 tbs garlic and saute until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and juice and white wine to the pan. Whisk to combine and cook another 2 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Reduce the heat and add the heavy cream, Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. When the ravioli have finished cooking, remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and place directly into the lemon cream sauce. Toss well to coat before adding the spinach and shrimp back into the pan. Cook another 2 minutes so that the flavors can combine. Season as necessary before serving.