Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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Spinach and Corn Mac and Cheese

spinach mac and cheeseCreamy, jam packed with flavor and wonderfully versatile, this loose interpretation on mac and cheese has been on my mind for a really long time. Kishore loves his mac and cheese and he would eat only one version- Ina Garten’s. Although I made it exactly as she does a couple of times, I quickly realized that it was not an everyday mac and cheese. For one, it is full of cheese (always looks good on paper but not sensible to eat twice a month) and all purpose flour. To top that, Ina’s recipe calls for one whole stick of butter! I shudder at that thought.
spinach mac and cheese3Hence, I have been playing with ingredients for a really long time. Although I shaped it into a healthy version, one thing I did not want to play with was the flavor. So I kept jalapeño, broccoli and artichoke out of the dish. But last week, I wanted to change it up because I was not a huge fan of mac and cheese. As I mentioned before, I have been making this dish up for a very long time. A quick search on the internet proved that it does really exist. But I decided not to peep into any of those and do what I decided to. Hence, I combined my favorite dip, Warm Spinach and Corn (sometimes Artichoke) Dip and Macaroni and Cheese!

spinach mac and cheese2Spinach and Corn Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:
One pound macaroni elbows or any medium/small size pasta (I used Penne)

Four Tbsp all purpose flour

Four Tbs whole wheat flour

One and a half cups 2% milk

Half cup water

Eight Oz Container of low-fat cream cheese

Four to Five cups fresh spinach, washed and chopped

One cup cooked sweet corn kernels

Half tsp nutmeg

Four oz reduced fat Colby Jack cheese shredded

Four pods garlic, finely chopped

One Tbsp butter

Two Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain the water and keep aside.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add spinach and let it wilt. Add the sweet corn and cream cheese. Mix it well until the cheese melts. Add enough pepper and salt. Grease an 8″ baking dish. Pour the spinach mixture and bake it for ten minutes. Meanwhile, make the white sauce:

Heat the olive oil in the same pan you made the dip. Add garlic and saute on low heat until slightly cooked. Sprinkle both the flours and saute for a few minutes. This will take the raw smell off the flour. While that happens, mildly heat the milk in the microwave. With a whisk in one hand, slowly pour the milk as you whisk it into the mixture. All through this process, it is important that you leave the heat at low. Sprinkle in some salt, pepper and nutmeg. Slowly mix the sauce until it starts thickening. When it reaches a very thick consistency, pour in the water. Let it boil some more. When the sauce reaches a pouring consistency and passes the ladle streak test (dip the ladle in the sauce and draw a line with you finger on the back. If it leaves a clear line, it has reached the desired consistency), add the cheese.

Mix in the pasta. Pour the mac and cheese into the baked spinach dip and give it a mix. Return to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until it is bubbling and gooey.

Cook’s notes: I know that water is frowned upon while making mac and cheese. However, I find it a delightful substitution for milk. If you’d rather, replace water with milk.

My 8″ pan was occupied, hence I had to make it in two (cake and loaf) pans. This helped with portion control.

Add red pepper flakes if you like spice. I did.

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Remembering Brunch and Looking Back

breakfast textIt was the most successful brunch I’ve ever made. A non-descriptive Sunday, fall time and I decided to make brunch to pick things up around the house. I have to admit that the cream cheese-Vanilla danish was not the best. I tried to imitate the creamy danish we buy sometimes from Costco. But my end product was slightly dry and lacked the shiny top. I was slightly disappointed but decided to store it up as an opportunity to perfect in the future.  Vanilla-chocolate parfait, a bowl of yummy fresh strawberries (the last of the bounty for the season I snatched off the grocer’s shelf) and the star of the show, breakfast pizza with an egg on top and seasoned with green onions, corn and Sriracha.

This is certainly my happy place, a morning I would like to remember especially on a cold cold day like today was. With Aarabhi’s three-month old feet tapping the floor, Amma’s ever helpful hands rearranging the table for me and K patiently indulging my requests for closing and opening the patio door, I would call this one of my best shoots for the year!

So we are nearly there, the Christmas season and the end of the year. While brimming with excitement about the holiday season, I also feel a touch of melancholy brought on by the end of the year. But I am tuning all that away by making blog plans for next year. A lot is going to happen on here, beginning with a domain address change. Yes, my renewal is up and I am bidding ladlesandhighheels a final good-bye and migrating to the all new chefette spicy! I am also working on a new banner and other exciting stuff. The reveal will happen in 2014 so stay with me.

And finally, about the 100 likes on the facebook page. To keep up with the spirit of Christmas, I did a free cookie promo yesterday and invited a bunch of friends to like the page. We are 104 strong and counting! We have a winner she has picked a friend to send the cookies to. Overall, not a bad end of the year for Chefette Spicy!
christmas treeThe tree is decked up, the gifts are packed. I will certainly do a post before the year ends but if mid-December is here, it is never too early to wish y’all a Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays, people! Let there be peace on Earth.

 


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Birthday Means Cake

Yep, it is that time of the year when I make chocolate cake with shameless abandon- the hub’s birthday. If you have been keeping up with this blog since 2011, you would see the pattern here. I am a sucker for chocolate cake. I also feel that no other flavor of cake is worth making so I generally refrain from it. This time, I decided to make Kishore’s favorite cookie ever in cake form, the Oreo. When I say favorite, I am probably understating his love for Oreos because not only does he have the capacity to empty a whole carton of Oreos in one sitting but he also orders milkshakes and ice creams in the flavor. At the make your own froyo bar, he will replicate the Oreo with freaky precision and a madcap glee in his eyes.

So to make sure he really did have a wonderful birthday, I decided that this was it. The bottom is a devil’s food cake that was made from scratch at home and it has two kinds of frosting: the cream cheese OD’d on crumbled Oreo cookies that was used as the filler and the frosting, and the chocolate ganache slathered on the sides. We cut the cake last evening and I can tell you that he will be in serious Oreo heaven for a long time to come. The recipe is from Kraft’s website which I modified a little and it has five star reviews from around 700 people. Do I need to say more?!

Happy Birthday, honey, and for your sanity’s sake (and mine), may the world never run out of Oreos!
Oreo cake


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A Picture Post for an Old Recipe

Today will not be about word counts or getting my recipe right. It will not be a story about family, memories or life as I know it. Instead, this post will be about a recipe I’ve already made but with a prettier picture that I snapped with with a better camera. If you like the update, drop me a line. You will make me happy!

cookie sandwich revampAnd so I log off before my computer’s battery runs out…


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Red Velvet Holiday

Here is a quick post before the holidays officially set in. After giving it a lot of thought, I decided on baking a Red Velvet cake with cream cheese frosting to take with us tomorrow when we visit family in New Jersey for Christmas. I’m not going to reveal the actual two-layer cake now. There is time for that later. But before I leave, I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas in LH style.

So when I was aligning the cake before frosting, I had to cut a thin layer off the top of the lower part of the cake (wow, that was a confusing sentence!) Instead of throwing it away like a fancy chef would, I made a couple of mini Napoleons with it that the Mister and I can munch on this evening.

So a Napoleon is basically made of layers of puff pastry and pastry cream but this is my spin-off the classic French dessert. I alternated between a layer of the cake and a layer of the cream cheese. Yum, what a dream it was!

On this note, I say good-bye until we meet after the holidays. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, bloggers. If not for you, I would have very few reasons to celebrate.