Conveniently At Home: Double Cheese Homemade Mac & Cheese


Welcome to my weekly series called Conveniently At Home. The idea of this series is to slowly transition myself from buying pre-made and/or processed foods and eventually make most of my foods “from scratch.” This will be a slow journey but one worth the wait!

I was flipping through my Taste of Home Magazine and I found a recipe I couldn’t resist trying—Double Cheese Macaroni! It was perfect timing as I had a few bags of cheese that were nearing their expiration date. So moving right along, here’s the recipe:

1 pkg (16 oz.) elbow macaroni
3 cups (24oz.) of 4% cottage cheese
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp garlic salt
3 cups of half-and-half cream
1 cup milk
4 cups (16oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

For topping: 1 cup dry bread crumbs and 1/4 cup butter, melted

Cook macaroni according to the package. Meanwhile, place cottage cheese in a food processor, cover and process until smooth. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in the flour, salt, peper and garlic salt until smooth. Gradually add cream and milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes until thickened.

Drain macaroni; transfer to a large bowl. Add the cheddar cheese, cottage cheese and white sauce; toss to coat. Transfer to a greased 13-in x 9-in baking dish. (Dish will be full.) Combine bread crumbs and butter; sprinkle over the top. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

MY NOTES:

So by far, this isn’t as easy as making boxed Mac & Cheese but it sooo yummy! It’s not really difficult to make but you do use a few pans & the food processor. So if you hate lots of dishes to clean, it may not be a recipe for you. But once you make it, it will probably become a favorite!

I had never put cottage cheese in the food processor and I was amazed at how smooth it became. I was kind of wondering if smooth cottage cheese could replace cream cheese in some recipes. One thing to note, when you are making the white sauce, don’t be distracted or you might burn it! Keep stirring! (I didn’t burn mine but I came close.) Since we have a smaller family, I cut the recipe in half and had an 8×8 pan full! The hardest part of this recipe was finding the white pepper, to which my husband joked, “Isn’t that salt?” :)

Some of you asked for pics in my recipes. My camera doesn’t take great food shots. I couldn’t get a good one showing you how cheesy and yummy this looks but since you asked here’s one of the finished product with that great breadcrumb topping…

When Nathan and I cook, Kaydi usually sits in her high chair and plays with toys. She loves banging measuring cups on the highchair. Today, she must have got bored watching us because…

That was my homemade recipe that I tried for this week. Here’s hoping that you’ve found something new to make from scratch and found that it was Conveniently At Home! I was just glad to have had another reason to use Black Beauty! If you made a recipe this week, or have one to share, please leave us a linky! And feel free to email me (or leave to a link to) any of your homemade recipes for me to try out. I’ll add them to my list for future weeks.

NOTE: Looks like Mr. Linky is having issues once again so I’m removing it for now. Feel free to leave a comment and I’ll try to put a link on the posting for you.

Here are a few more recipes on other blogs to check out:

Far Above Jules – Slowcooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Chantelle’s Adventures – Italian Beef Sandwiches w/ Squash and Corn Casserole

Conveniently At Home: American Fries and Baked Potato Omelet


Welcome to my weekly series called Conveniently At Home. The idea of this series is to slowly transition myself from buying pre-made and/or processed foods and eventually make most of my foods “from scratch.” This will be a slow journey but one worth the wait!

I received a gift certificate for this great little nearby cafe/pancake house. It was the perfect gift because I love to eat breakfast and my husband could go without ever eating eggs! I immediately turned to the omelets in the menu and one struck me as one to definitely try—Baked Potato Omelet! Now that sounded interesting. And it was delicious. So this week, I tried to duplicate it, so I wouldn’t feel compelled to pay restaurant prices for it!  And I thought I’d share a really good American Fries recipe with you that I learned in a restaurant where I used to work. The secret? After you boil the potatoes, you let them chill in the fridge before cooking to prevent them from turning to mush! :) So here are the recipes:

AMERICAN FRIES

You’ll Need:
Small Red Potatoes
Butter
Onions, chopped into medium pieces
Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

Boil the potatoes, with the skins on. They are done when they can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain and let cool in the pan for a bit. Then transfer them to the fridge to let them completely cool. Once cooled, cut potatoes into quarters, still leaving the skins on. Next, melt a little butter in a skillet and add the chopped onions. Once the onions are mostly cooked, add the potatoes and keep turning them until they are cooked thoroughly. When the potatoes are almost done, sprinkle the entire mixture with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and stir. The mixture is done when the onions are cooked and the potatoes are heated. Transfer to plate and enjoy.

These are also a nice side dish and are especially good dipped in Ranch dip.

BAKED POTATO OMELET

You’ll Need:
Eggs
Milk
Butter
Shredded Cheese
Red Potatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Bacon, cooked and chopped into bite-sized pieces
Chives
Sour Cream

As with all omelets, the amount of ingredients is dependent on how big you want the omelet to be. The general rule is that you add 1 TBSP of Milk per egg. It seems to work out. So you’ll mix the eggs and milk, accordingly. Heat some butter in a skillet. Add the egg mixture and cook on a medium-low heat. Once the mixture is almost cooked through, add a layer of cheese, chunks of red potatoes and pieces of bacon. Sprinkle chives throughout. Fold the omelet over in the pan. Add a few more sprinkles of chives. Once it’s cooked completely, transfer to a plate and add a small dollop of sour cream. Super Yummy!

That was my homemade recipe that I tried for this week. Here’s hoping that you’ve found something new to make from scratch and found that it was Conveniently At Home!

Conveniently At Home: Calico Beans


Welcome to my weekly series called Conveniently At Home. The idea of this series is to slowly transition myself from buying pre-made and/or processed foods and eventually make most of my foods “from scratch.” This will be a slow journey but one worth the wait!

I decided last minute to change this week’s recipe because I realized…it’s 4th of July weekend coming up, and this one would be PERFECT to share right now! This recipe comes from my dear friend Kristen. I was so incredibly grateful that she’s allowing me to share it. Her mother has been making it for her family for over 15 years. Super Yummy!

Here are the ingredients needed:
*4 strips of bacon
*1/4 cup of vinegar
*1/2 cup of brown sugar
*2 Large Onions- cut into rings
*1 can of Dark Red Kidney Beans, drained
*1 can of Large Butter Beans, not drained
*1 can of Bush’s Baked Beans, not drained, taller can
*1/2 tsp of Baking Soda
*Pinch of Garlic Salt
*1/2 tsp of dry mustard (optional)

In a large skillet, cook the 4 strips of bacon. Right before it turns crisp, add the 1/4 cup of vinegar. Then add the 1/2 cup of brown sugar and large onions that are cut into rings. Cook for about 15 minutes on low heat.

Next, you’ll have to decide if you are going to bake these in the oven or use a crockpot. Either way, pour the 3 different kinds of beans in the proper dish, making sure to drain only the dark red kidney beans. Add the bacon mixture. Next, add the baking soda, pinch of garlic salt and dry mustard (if you are using that).

For the oven, you’d cook them at 375 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. For the crockpot, you’ll cook them on High for around 2 hours, if your crockpot runs hot.

Then…enjoy!

My Notes:
I love how this recipe has so many different varieties of beans. I did ask Kristen what she thought of using Turkey Bacon in the recipe and she really thought the recipe was better with the added grease of “regular” bacon. (I’ve found this to be true with some recipes, too!) The only thing I don’t like about this recipe is that I can’t stop eating them! :) They go perfect for BBQs!

Thank you again, to Kristen, for sharing this wonderfully delicious recipe with us!

That was my homemade recipe that I tried for this week. Here’s hoping that you’ve found something new to make from scratch and found that it was Conveniently At Home! If you made a recipe this week, or have one to share, please leave us a linky! And feel free to email me (or leave to a link to) any of your homemade recipes for me to try out. I’ll add them to my list for future weeks.

Conveniently At Home: Pizza Dough & Sauce


Welcome to my weekly series called Conveniently At Home. The idea of this series is to slowly transition myself from buying pre-made and/or processed foods and eventually make most of my foods “from scratch.” This will be a slow journey but one worth the wait!

This week, it was all about pizza! I thought I’d take a break from the food processor and drag out my bread machine instead. This was a nice find at $3.50 at a Thrift store! It was in mint condition and only missing the manual. ($3 on eBay!) So if you don’t have one and want one, definitely try your local thrift store or garage sale! Anyway…

I had pizza on my original “goal list” and All Things Frugal For 4-U and Me was sweet enough to share her recipe with me. Lucky me because it’s delicious! :) I had to laugh when it was time to bake the dough because I didn’t see baking instructions on there. Veteran cooks know timing. Newbies like me don’t. She was sooo sweet to email them over to me. (FYI – 350 degrees for 10-15 for dough alone. Add toppings and bake until cheese melts.) Someday, I hope to just know things. It was always horrible asking my grandma for a recipe because she’d always say, “I don’t know measurements, my dear. I just do it by touch and look.” Sigh. :)

The pizza turned out great! I did like she suggested and cooked the dough alone until golden and then added the toppings. I actually had enough dough to make 3 pizzas–2-13″ and 1-11″. So I became this adventurous little baker, making pepperoni/olive, taco and BBQ chicken pizzas. I’m not sure who I plan on feeding but Nathan and I had fun!

My Notes:
If you’re new to rolling out dough, you’ll definitely want to know that a little touch of flour on the surface and rolling pin prevents a sticky mess. (This, I did know.) What I found as a surprise on the first pizza was…the dough bubbled high. I did remember someone saying to stab a few fork marks into dough, so I tried it. Worked great! I even rolled up the edges a little to make an actual crust. I had to stop myself from tossing the dough up in the air. (I’m not against fun–I’m just not good at catching things!) :)

While I won’t be opening my own pizzeria any time soon, I did make some tasty pizzas! And the sauce is delish! I had some leftover since I only used it on the one. (I used beans for the taco and BBQ sauce for the chicken.) I’m thinking I can add a little beef and veggies and make a good spaghetti sauce from it. Next time, I think I’ll split the dough into four pieces and freeze two of them. I like the idea of smaller pizzas. By the way, I used the pizza pan HERE. It was inexpensive and worked well.

That was my homemade recipe that I tried for this week. Here’s hoping that you’ve found something new to make from scratch and found that it was Conveniently At Home! Thanks to All Things Frugal For 4-U and Me for sharing a great pizza recipe with me! I’ll add some pics on Thursday w/ my $2 Tater Thursdays posting.

If you made a recipe this week, or have one to share, please leave us a linky! And feel free to email me (or leave to a link to) any of your homemade recipes for me to try out. I’ll add them to my list for future weeks.

Conveniently At Home: Crockpot Applesauce & Food Processor Fun


Welcome to my weekly series called Conveniently At Home. The idea of this series is to slowly transition myself from buying pre-made and/or processed foods and eventually make most of my foods “from scratch.” This will be a slow journey but one worth the wait!

So, this week, I had a little fun with the new Food Processor. I made up two different kinds of bread crumbs, baby food applesauce and sliced up some carrots. (I’ll later make some baby food from the carrots, too!) Now, here’s where the geek in me will show—I am a little intimidated by my food processor! The girl’s got some major power to her! As I was slicing up the carrots, all I kept thinking was, wow, that could have been a finger! (Did I tell you that I named her Ms. Black Beauty? I figure we’ll make beautiful things together and she’s got major horsepower!) Anyway, as bread crumbs, baby food and carrots didn’t sound like a thrilling posting, I also whipped up a batch of some Crockpot Applesauce. Yum!

Yes, I have made this twice before. But it’s been soo long ago. I had some apples left over from making Kaydi’s baby food and I just couldn’t resist the temptation! I’m telling you, it’s really the best air freshner–the sweet smell of baking apples filling the house. I kept thinking I should have called this “Home Sweet-Smelling Home” series. :)

I am looking forward to picking apples from an orchard again this year. If you are planning on doing the same, keep this Crockpot Applesauce recipe handy! You’ll love making it! What I love is that it uses such basic ingredients and is so simple to make.

That was my homemade recipe that I tried for this week. Here’s hoping that you’ve found something new to make from scratch and found that it was Conveniently At Home! Thanks to A Year of Slowcooking for the fabulous recipe!

MY NOTES:
I was completely surprised to find out I didn’t have any brown sugar! Lesson learned to always double-check everything when making recipes! But then I decided, you know, I really don’t need all that sugar anyway! I had doubled the recipe and instead of 2T of brown sugar, I just added a little less than 1T of regular sugar. It still tasted yummy! I also tried something different this time and mixed red and green apples to mix up the sweet and tart flavors! Tasted delicious!!

If you made a recipe this week, or have one to share, please leave us a linky! And feel free to email me any of your homemade recipes for me to try out. I’ll add them to my list for future weeks.

Conveniently At Home: Peach Stuffing

For those of you that are new, this is my “journey” to switch from processed to homemade!

We have a “Dinner Club” with our friends taking turns making meals at our houses for everyone. My friend Cassandra made this delicious Peach Stuffing and immediately I said, “OK, Cass, I need this recipe!” It’s quite a switch from the normal stuffing recipe. So this week’s Conveniently At Home recipe is for Peach Stuffing!

Now, in the past, I’ve been a Stovetop Stuffing girl. I mean, seriously, boil water/butter, dump in stuffing and five minutes later you have a “side dish.” Talk about convenient. But at the same time, there’s nothing that tastes even close to homemade!

This is one of those recipes that I feel is best the second day. It gives everything a day to just marinate together. The peaches and raisins make a nice sweet mixture to the rest of the ingredients.

What You’ll Need:

1-1/2 Cups of Water
1 Cup of Butter/Margarine (Divide into 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup parts)
1 (15 Ounce) Bag of Seasoned Bread Cubes (How-To Make Your Own HERE)
1 Cup Chopped Celery
2 Medium Onions, Chopped
1 (16 Ounce) Can of Sliced Peaches, Chopped (Keep liquid!)
1/2 Cup of Seedless Raisins

On To The Recipe:

1) Heat water and 3/4 cup margarine in a large heavy pot and bring to a boil. Remove from Heat. Add bread cubes and toss lightly with a fork. Set aside.

2) Cook and stir celery and onions in remaining margarine (1/4 cup) in a large skillet over medium-high heat until tender, about 5 minutes or so.

3) Add celery/onion mixture, chopped peaches w/ their liquid and raisins to bread cube mixture. Toss lightly to mix well.

Transfer to an over-safe pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

You can make this ahead of time and pop it in the over to cook/re-heat. If you use real peaches, as opposed to canned, don’t worry about “liquid.” I just used the peaches and it was fine. It took about 6-7 peaches but it all depends on how much you need to cut off. (as in bruised areas) Since I was nervous about not having the liquid, I did stir it twice w/i the 45 minutes that I cooked it. It seemed to help keep the juices in the stuffing.

MY NOTES:
Can you all believe that I actually not only made my own bread cubes but I also used fresh peaches?! I know, right?! It was a lot of fun. I had made the bread cubes a few days before but didn’t have enough. So I had to whip some up last minute. I think I should have waited a little longer for them to dry out because it was a tad bit mushy…at first. But as everything sat, the recipe turned out great! For those of you with less time, canned peaches and pre-made bread cubes works just fine! :) How did it turn out? Yummy, but here’s a picture:

That was my homemade recipe for this week. Here’s hoping that you’ve found something new to make from scratch and found that it was Conveniently At Home!

If you made a recipe this week, or have one to share, please leave us a linky! I’ve been checking these and what you’ve all emailed over and I’ll be making some of these up for future postings. Thanks for sharing!

Conveniently At Home: Beef Vegetable Soup


Welcome to my new weekly series called Conveniently At Home. The idea of this series is to slowly transition myself from buying pre-made and/or processed foods and eventually make most of my foods “from scratch.” This will be a slow journey but one worth the wait!

This week, I made a Beef Vegetable Soup. Now, since I haven’t got to the whole making my own broth lesson yet, (as in, I don’t have any made-up/stored yet.) I did use canned broth. But this is definitely many steps above dumping a can of Campbell’s or Progresso in a pan. :)

The recipe comes from The Freezer Cooking Manual from 30 Day Gourmet: A Month of Meals Made Easy:

What You’ll Need (This is for 8 Servings):

1 Cup Onion
1 Cup Celery
28 oz. Can of Tomatoes, canned, chopped, undrained
5 Cups of Ground Beef, cooked and drained (This is about 2 lbs of hamburger pre-cooked.)
15 oz. can of Tomato Sauce (with bits, optional)
2 teaspoons of Salt
1 teaspoon of Pepper
1/4 cup of butter
1/4 cup of flour
48 oz. of Beef Broth (I use reduced/low sodium)
10 oz. of Mixed Vegetables, Frozen

How to Make It:

In a skillet, mix the onion, celery and canned, chopped tomatoes and their liquid. Simmer until the celery and onion are tender. Stir in the ground beef, tomato sauce, salt and pepper.

At this point, you can freeze the mix after it cools. To continue on here are the next steps: (if you freeze the mixture, just follow these steps after defrosting the mix)

In a large pot, melt butter over medium low heat. Stir in flour and continue to cook and stir until a bubbly paste forms. Then pour in the beef broth and bring to a boil. Be sure to constantly stir the mixture. Add thawed vegetables and beef/tomato mixture. Return to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender.

My Notes:
I found the recipe to be very easy and tasty! I’m not sure I’ll ever buy canned b/v soup again unless to donate! One thing I noticed is that after I eat canned soups, I tend to get a headache. I think it’s the high sodium content of most of them. That’s what I like about making it myself. I can adjust those levels to what suits me best!

I haven’t tried this with fresh vegetables yet, but I’m sure it would be even better! A great recipe to make in the summer when your garden is overflowing with an abundance of veggies!

That was my homemade recipe for this week. Here’s hoping that you’ve found something new to make from scratch and found that it was Conveniently At Home!