This year has kinda sucked, so I’ve fallen back hard on recipes I already know how to make, and haven’t really pushed myself to try many new ones. But I saw this about a month ago, and felt like this would be a fun riff to try. And with the cold turn that finally came this weekend, this seemed like the perfect thing to make for the week. This is definitely getting added to my long term repertoire – it is the good shit.

A few variations: I used smoked cheddar instead of the recommended medium cheddar, used gigli from Trader Joe’s for the macaroni, held off on the cayenne, and didn’t quite get the toasted panko right. But oh man. Bacon, cheese, and a good kick from the kimchi that gets mellowed out by the dairy a bit. You could probably add a dash of shichimi togarashi for a more interesting kick. I’ll try it with the next batch.

Bacon and Kimchi Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 6 slices bacon
  • .5 lb macaroni of choice
  • 5 T unsalted butter, divided into 4 T and 1 T
  • 4 T flour
  • 2.25 c whole milk
  • 1.75 c shredded smoked cheddar cheese (recipe recommends a medium cheddar, go with whatever cheddar your heart desires)
  • Pinch ground pepper and sea salt
  • 2/3 c chopped kimchi
  • .75 c panko
  • (1 t cayenne, gonna try shichimi togarashi next run around)

Heat your oven to 400 F, place the bacon slices on a foil lined baking sheet, and bake for appx 15 mins until done to your preference. Set aside and cool. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and while you wait for that to happen, chop up your bacon. Add your macaroni of choice and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside (pic 1).

In a large pot (possibly the same one), melt 4 T of unsalted butter over medium high heat, and once melted, add the flour and whisk constantly to make a roux (pic 2). Slowly add the milk to the roux in the pot, continuing to whisk until the sauce thickens. Once thickened, add in the cheese and stir until it’s melted and smooth (pic 3), followed by the salt and pepper, and finally the bacon and chopped kimchi (pic 4). Finally, gently fold the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce (pic 5), and pour it all into a 9 x 13 in baking dish (pic 6).

Meanwhile, melt the remaining T of butter in the microwave, and then stir together with the panko and sprinkle over the mac and cheese. Bake for 15 mins until the cheese is good and bubbly and the panko are golden brown (pic 7).

If you have a CSA this time of year, you are likely to have a small excess of a fuck of a lot of broccoli. I tend not to like my broccoli raw, so I’ve been looking for some interesting recipes with it, and I can say the two I’ve tried the last two days definitely didn’t disappoint. These recipes are simple, quick, cheap, and delicious to boot. Here? All you have to do is roast the broccoli, brown the butter, toss in the panko and garlic, and boom, you’ve got a great tasting side dish!

Roasted Broccoli with Brown Butter Toasted Panko

Ingredients

  • 2-3 heads of broccoli, stems cut and broken down into florets
  • 2 T olive oil
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 2 T butter
  • .5 c panko
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat your oven to 425. Take your broccoli florets, and spread them out on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper to taste. Roast for fifteen minutes, and check where they are at. If you feel like flipping them do so, otherwise, roast for another ten minutes, until the edges are golden brown, and the stems of the florets are fork tender. 

During that last ten minutes, heat your butter in a small pan over medium heat, and keep swirling once it’s melted, until you get a nice light brown color and it’s nice and nutty smelling. This usually takes about five minutes. Once you’ve got it at that sweet point, add in the panko and minced garlic, along with a little bit of sea salt and pepper, and toast until the panko is nice and just barely browned from the butter, about two to three minutes. 

Right about then, the broccoli should be done. Remove your broccoli to your serving dish or storage container, toss with the panko, and enjoy!

Looking for a quick, simple, but ridiculously delicious breakfast? Look no farther than this. You should have almost all of this on hand (especially if you buy your panko in bulk like I do), and even if you don’t, there’s lots of substitutions that can be made.  The result is amazing. As in, why the hell didn’t I think of this sooner. (Please note that the dark stuff on the final picture is reduced balsamic vinegar, not burned crumbs, lol.)

Fried Eggs and Panko
Makes single serving

Ingredients

  • ~2 T olive oil
  • Handful of panko (substitute normal bread crumbs if you don’t have panko, but trust me, you want the panko)
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 eggs
  • dash balsamic vinegar (if you don’t have it, you can substitute red wine or sherry vinegars)
  • pinch sumac (substitute fresh ground pepper if you don’t have any)

Take 1 T of olive oil, and heat it in a small pan over medium heat. When heated, add a handful of panko along with the sea salt and red pepper flakes and stir to toast lightly, getting them to a nice golden brown (see pic 1).  Remove to a small container.

Bring the pan back to the heat, add your other T of olive oil, and crack your eggs, frying till desired doneness (I like mine sunny side up, with the yolk still loose). Remove to plate, and sprinkle the fried panko over them.

Bring pan back to the heat, and then pour your dash of balsamic, and sprinkle your pinch of sumac in. Swirl for a few seconds to warm it, drizzle it over the eggs and panko, and enjoy your insanely delicious breakfast.

Some days, you’ve had a real fucking long week, and you are looking for some real comfort food, but also to turn the comfort factor up to ten by adding some really, really good cheese. This is possibly my new favorite mac and cheese recipe, ever. Getting all the cheese properly grated takes some time, but the end result is so, so worth it.

I picked up most of the cheese from the farmer’s market, and for the brie, I went with a triple cream brie, because yes. I also substituted panko for bread crumbs, because panko are the best version of bread crumbs (light, airy, and they stay crispier longer). It’s also going to last me a good long while, too, because of the sheer amount this makes. 

Cheesemonger’s Mac and Cheese
Lasts a damn long time; at week two of this as a main for lunch

Ingredients

  • 1.5 c coarsely grated gruyere cheese (I used what I had leftover from making toast soldiers, which was about maybe half of a 6 oz block, and a bit of a .33 lb block to top it off)
  • 1.5 c coarsely grated aged sharp cheddar (I used a 6 year aged white from the local farmer’s market, about a third total of a pound block)
  • 1.5 c brie, rinds removed and diced (I cut the rinds off of a pound of triple cream brie and just diced it all up, probably ended up being closer to 2 c)
  • 4 T butter
  • .25 c flour
  • pinch thyme (fresh thyme leaves if you have them, otherwise ground works fine)
  • ~1 t nutmeg
  • 4 c whole milk
  • 1.75 c panko
  • 1 lb penne pasta

Mix your grated gruyere, aged sharp cheddar, and brie together in a bowl, and reserve one cup. Chill both the bowl and the reserved cup. 

Melt your butter in a large pot over medium heat, and as soon as it melts, add in your flour, whisking until the mixture turns golden brown. (You could probably also brown the butter to amp up the flavor even more.)  Add in your thyme and nutmeg, followed by your milk, whisking until it’s thickened and smooth (about four minutes). Add the 3 c of cheese mixture, and stir until the cheese has melted into the sauce, and is smooth.

In another pot, cook your penne according to the directions on the package, and preheat your oven to 375 while it cooks.  After draining the pasta, take a large glass pan and pour the cooked pasta into it.  Pour the cheese sauce over it, and toss to coat. Take that remaining 1 c you had of the cheese mixture, spread it over the top of the pasta and cheese sauce, and then spread the 1.75 c of panko over the dish. Bake for about twenty minutes until the panko start to turn golden brown and the sauce bubbles (see the difference between pictures six and seven). 

(The original recipe has you baking these in separate ramekins, but that seems a bit unecessary to me. In addition, the instructions at the end aren’t that clear as to how long you need to actually bake it – there are two sets of instructions for doing it ahead and doing it day of, and they’re not separated out – but as far as I can tell the twenty minutes at 375 is how long you’re supposed to bake it.)

Basically, the moment this recipe went up on Smitten Kitchen a few weeks ago, I knew I had to try these ASAP.  Made these right before tonight’s episode of Hannibal, and snacked a bit on them throughout; fast tracking these was definitely an excellent decision.  

I got to use the herbs at the least fresh from the garden (which’ll get its own post on here eventually), so the amounts used were changed slightly there.  I also didn’t have the patience to zest a lemon, so lemon juice was used instead. Otherwise, this recipe was followed pretty closely to the original.

Lamb Meatballs with Feta, Olives, and Lemon
Lasts 5 to 6 meals, depending on # of meatballs

Ingredients

Meatballs:

  • 2 lbs ground lamb
  • 1.25 c panko
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 T water
  • .5 c crumbled feta cheese
  • .75 t salt
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • appx 4 T lemon juice
  • 2 T olive oil

Sauce

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 to 3 glugs red wine (I used part of the large bottle of Yellowtail Sweet Red Roo I had in the fridge)
  • 28 oz crushed or pureed tomatoes
  • 1 T fresh oregano, torn
  • 1 t salt
  • .5 c kalamata olives, pitted, drained, and chopped
  • 1 T fresh peppermint, torn
  • lemon juice
  • feta cheese crumbles (I used what I had leftover in the cup after using the rest)

Take all of your meatball ingredients and combine them using a fork in a large bowl, until you have one big coherent ball of meat.  Once the Allmeat is combined, break off small chunks and roll until you have the size of meatballs you want (I went with about medium sized). While you start to make the balls, heat up your olive oil in a pan on medium heat.  Add the balls once rolled ot the pan, and roll them around with a chopstick in the hot oil to brown completely.  This may take more than one batch of browning.  Once the balls are browned (lol), remove them to a small dish.

Take the remaining fat and add your garlic and onion from the sauce ingredients, cooking until soft (about five minutes). Then, add your red wine, scrape up anything that might’ve stuck to the pan, and cook it down until it’s almost gone.  Then, add your remaining sauce ingredients (except for the feta and lemon juice) to the pan, and bring to a low simmer.  Once simmering, add the meatballs back in, and simmer for another twenty minutes.

Sprinkle the lemon juice and feta over the meatballs, and then nom!

Let’s be real: the words beer cheese potatoes should tell you all you need to know about this recipe.  Beer and cheese in Wisconsin generally make up for the fact of how cold it gets, but with it hitting negative fuckass degrees way too many times this year, it gets a bit debatable.  Either way, all of this in a cast iron skillet smells fantastic as it’s cooking, even though grating the 2.25 c of cheese necessary for this recipe takes FOREVER.

Beer Cheese Skillet Potatoes
Lasts appx 6 lunches as a side

Ingredients

  • 2/3 c IPA (or pale ale or black ale) (I used Dogfish Head’s Burton Baton)
  • 2 c grated sharp cheddar cheese, plus .25 c grated (I used smoked cheddar from the dairy store down the block from where I work)
  • .5 c milk
  • 1 t salt
  • .5 t pepper
  • 1 t garlic powder (I used significantly more than that because garlic ❤ )
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 2 T butter
  • 1.5 lbs potatoes, sliced (I used reds, they’re my favorite)
  • 1 c panko

Grate your smoked cheddar (all but the .25 c), and then put it in a blender with the beer, milk, salt, pepper, cornstarch, and garlic powder. Puree on high until blended and smooth (see pic 1 for what it should be looking like) and set aside.  Preheat your oven to 350 (325 if you’re me). 

Melt the butter over medium high in a cast iron skillet (or some other ovenproof skillet), and then add your potatoes, cooking them over medium high heat until lightly browned on each side (about five minutes each).  Spread them evenly throughout the skillet and then pour the beer cheese over them, simmering for ten minutes.

Once the ten minutes are up, pour the panko over the top, and then sprinkle the remaining .25 c smoked cheddar over the top, put it in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

And then, enjoy, because you have beery cheesy potatoes!

After a week of it being what I can only refer to as negative fuckass degrees, it’s finally above zero, and accordingly, warm enough for me to be able to attempt to venture from my bedroom to the kitchen to cook again!  And this is a fantastic way to warm up, and a cheap, hearty meal.  

If you buy the components at this at the right time, this can be a very cheap meal – the chicken was bought from the meat counter of one of the grocery stores on sale and put in the freezer until it was needed, and the pillow packs of pepperoni went on sale for significantly cheaper this week.  Go for fresh mozzarella on this, it’s absolutely worth it.  

Also, this can be a little on the messy side, especially if you don’t have the kitchen space (like I don’t).  I’ll be giving you tips in the recipe to make this a little bit less so.  The recipe is a bit approximate, and is pretty much up to your best judgement in most cases.

Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken
Makes 2x however many chicken breasts you have

Ingredients

  • chicken breasts (try to go for thick ones if you can; I got mine from a meat counter)
  • 1 pre-sliced ball of mozzarella (6 to 8 oz)
  • 1 package pepperoni
  • 2 large eggs
  • flour
  • panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • vegetable oil

Take your chicken breasts and clean them (I just had them in a ziplock bag from thawing, so I filled the bag with cold water to clean it). Cut them in half diagonally, so you have two diamondish shapes (see pic 1).  Then, cut a pocket into your chicken, right in the middle of the breast, but not all the way through.  Pic 2 is the best illustration I could get of what your pocket should look like when you’re done cutting it; not all the way through the meat (at least a few cm left on the meat on all three sides), but deep enough to keep the fillings in.

Then, set up a station similar to that for tonkatsuone bowl of flour, one bowl of beaten egg, and one of panko.  Have your pepperoni and mozzarella slices on hand nearby.  Coat the chicken in the flour, then dip it in the egg, and then dunk it in the panko.  Once the chicken has been coated in the panko, open the pocket and stuff a slice of the mozzarella and a few slices of the pepperoni in the center (see pic 3 for an example). 

While you coat your first few chicken breasts, take a frying pan and coat it in vegetable oil, bringing the heat to medium high.  Add the breasts to the heated oil, and fry on each side until the crumbs are golden brown on each side, usually three to five minutes each side (see pic 4 for a good example of the breasts in progress). 

Once your breasts are golden brown, they need to go into a pan, as you’ll be baking them. If you’re like me, you don’t have a lot of space in your kitchen, especially as you’re using the dunking stations.  What I did to save space was to put the pan I was gonna bake the chicken in in the oven, and just transfer the chicken breasts, once golden brown, into the pan (see pic 6.  The oven was then heated to 350 (325 because mine runs hot) once the last two pieces were in the pan, and by the time the last pieces were finished and in the pan, the oven was ready to go.

Once your stuffed chicken breasts are in the oven, bake them for 25 minutes to finish cooking them all the way through.

And then, enjoy the cheesy pepperoni stuffed breasts!  (Hehe. Breasts.)