Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Summer tomatoes and Grown up Mac y Queso

My padres have an abundance of tomatoes in their garden right now. Oh, the taste of a fresh, home-grown summer tomato!! Be still my beating heart! It took many years for my fondness to grow but it cannot be dampened now! Mom gave me SEVERAL tomatoes last week and I was trying to think of how to use such a wonderful thing. I came across Mary Ann's (she goes to church with my parents) stuffed tomatoes and thought it would pair perfectly with her adapted "Grown up Macaroni and Cheese" (or Rotini and cheese as senor pointed out). All of my notes are in red.

I whipped them up last night. It was delicious. The tomatoes were divine and the macaroni (I'm not a cheese fan) was quite delicious and easy. Try it some evening! And remember to use the George to fix your bacon!

Grown Up Mac and Cheese with Turkey Bacon and Broccoli adapted from the Barefoot Contessa
4 ounces turkey bacon, chopped and cooked until crisp (I use regular bacon, center cut--4 slices)
2 cups whole wheat rotini
1 1/2 cups 2% milk (whatever milk you've got is fine. we used 1%)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gouda cheese, grated
3 ounces Italian blend shredded cheese
2 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 cups broccoli crowns, cut up
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves
(I sub'd the bread/basil for italian bread crumbs, it was fine. we don't keep white sandwich bread at our house, it's dangerous)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rotini and broccoli--cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes (I went 8 min and it was perfect). Drain well into a large mixing bowl, add in bacon pieces.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. (I simply heated it up in the microwave for 1.5 min til it was steaming but not bubbling). Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk til smooth. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gouda, Italian blend, Cheddar, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Pour cheese mixture over pasta, broccoli and bacon mixture and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes or smaller ramekins if you want to get more servings, and reduce the baking time accordingly (I used 6 little dishes and only kept them in the oven for 15 minutes).
Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
Feta-Stuffed Tomatoes from Southern Living
Prep: 15 min., Bake: 15 min.
4 large tomatoes
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese (I used 2 oz and then sub'd 2 oz shredded parmesan/mozarella)
1/4 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs (I used Italian blend)
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil (I used 1 Tbls)
Cut 4 large tomatoes in half horizontally. Scoop out pulp from each tomato half, leaving shells intact; discard seeds and coarsely chop pulp.
Stir together pulp; 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese; 1/4 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs; 2 tablespoons chopped green onions; 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley; and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium bowl.
Spoon mixture evenly into tomato shells, and place in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. I baked mine in little muffin tins in the muffin pan so they'd maintain their shape--they got a little juicy/soggy but were still good. Just baked them at 400F with the macaroni for 12-15 min. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Garnish with Italian parsley sprigs, if desired.

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