Sunday, October 31, 2010

Delicious Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese

There's something about the change in seasons that automatically has me thinking about comfort food.

In the spring and summer, it's all about what's fresh and local, but come Autumn, as the promise of hibernation begins to set in, my body and soul begins to crave the old classics.

The kinds of dishes my grandmother used to make when the winds blew cold and the promise of snow was just around the corner.

Like shepherd's pie, meat loaf, or wonderfully creamy and comforting macaroni and cheese.

My recipe for macaroni and cheese has been one created over much trial and error.

I wanted something that would not be too dry and have lots of flavour but would not be overloaded with cream and butter.

The end result is a mac and cheese the PB and I just love.

I hope you will too!

Delicious Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese
For printable recipe click HERE

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 250 g Velveeta Cheese, (half a package) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 cups elbow macaroni, cooked just to al dente (about five minutes) drained
  • 2 cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tbsp melted butter
  • a few dashes cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
  1. HEAT oven to 350°F. Melt butter in medium saucepan on medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook 2 min., stirring constantly. Gradually stir in milk and chicken stock; cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Add Velveeta; cook 3 min. or until melted, stirring frequently. Stir in cheese. Stir in pepper. Stir in macaroni.
  2. SPOON into a buttered 2-L casserole.

3. Meanwhile, melt 1/2 tbsp butter and mix with 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs. Add cayenne pepper if desired.

4, Sprinkle with buttered panko crumbs. Cover. (Is also really good sprinkled with unbuttered Ritz cracker crumbs)

5. BAKE 20 - 30 min. or until heated through.

Serves 2-3 adults with leftovers.

For a larger crew, double the recipe.

Makes wonderfully creamy and flavourful macaroni and cheese everytime.




Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

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Two Week Menu Planner November 1-14

I've been so busy with work lately that my inspiration to cook a nice dinner has been somewhat subdued.

It's not that I don't want to enjoy a great meal after a long day at work, it's just that most days I'm too tired to come up with what to make.

Also, with TH away at school, its time to tighten the budget.

I know from long experience that a two week menu plan reduces trips to the grocery store and eating out.

So this week, I've pre-planned and have already gone shopping for everything I need.

Warm corn chowder and corn bread muffins

That way all my ingredients for the evening's recipe are out and ready to go when I get home from work.

The cooking, for me, is a meditation.

I put some music on, pour a glass of wine, set a nice table, and get lost in the process of creating - a practice I enjoy because it helps me unwind, forget work, and reflect on other aspects of my life.

And I'm looking forward to this week's menu because it's a nice blend of old fashioned comfort food - so wonderful during these rainy days of Autumn - and the bright fresh flavours of three new recipes I'm trying from Giada's Kitchen.

I hope you enjoy.

The blogs and recipes to come will coorespond with each day of the week.

On the menu

Week One

Tasty Enchilada Casserole

Monday - Old Fashioned Baked Macaroni and Cheese with salad.
Tuesday - Leftover Macaroni and Cheese dressed up with ham, red peppers, and broccoli
Wednesday - Roasted Halibut with Grapefruit Fennel Salsa
Thursday - Chicken Breasts Bordelaise
Friday - Enchilada Casserole (I will bake half and freeze half - this recipe freezes well)
Saturday - Salmon in Lemon Brodetto with Pea Puree
Sunday - Beef Stew

Week Two

Ham and Brocolli Quiche

Monday - Left over stew
Tuesday - Spicy Corn Chowder with Crab and Prawns
Wednesday - Leftover Chowder
Thursday - Creole Pork Chops with Grilled Corn and Twice Baked Potatoes
Friday - Old fashioned Spaghetti and Meatballs
Saturday - Beef Roast with Spicy Parsley Tomato Sauce
Sunday - Ham and Brocolli Quiche with Salad
Join me over the next two weeks for all the recipes!

Until then - BOO!


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Chipotle Beef Tortilla Soup

One of the things I've noticed as I've gotten into food blogging is that individual cooks have flavour profiles, ingredients, and cooking techniques that they turn to again and again.

And I am no different.

But one of the things I want to do with this blog is stretch myself past my own boundaries to experience new techniques and flavours.

As such, it has become important to try the recipes of other food bloggers while I integrate new uses of flavours and ingredients.

I am, however, on the perfectionist side, and if taking the time to cook a beautiful meal, the recipes of any old blogger will not do.

So today, I'm going to start with Jinx at "Stuff We Eat A Lot" a recipe blog she created for her son after he left home so he would have access to the foods he grew up with.

It goes without saying that I love that.

I have tried many of her recipes over the years and they have all been amazing.

So it came as no surprise that, tonight, when I made her Chipotle Tortilla Soup, the PB and I were over the moon!

I don't say this lightly when I tell you this is one of the top five best soups I've ever made.

My recipe differed slightly because I had no tomato sauce on hand. Instead, I added a can of diced tomatoes.

I also had to add tortilla rounds as, sadly, I could not find any strips. The rounds, however, with the cheese were D to the Licious!

In the tradition of Jinx's blog, my son will be coming home for Christmas and this particular meal will be on the menu!

Happy cooking all!


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Oprah's Moscow Mule Recipe

This blog is in honour of Oprah and Gayle's camping trip.


All her shows this last season have been fabulous but I especially enjoyed this one!

Gayle and Oprah had me cracking up the whole way through - and when they made the Moscow Mules for their fellow campers, I knew I had to try one.

Especially since all the other drinks Oprah has endorsed over the years have been amazing.

Electric Lemonade is still a mainstay in our house, and this delicious recipe is sure to join its ranks.

This is a fabulously refreshing drink for anyone who enjoys a mojito.

Oprah's Moscow Mule

* 1 ounce vodka
* 1 tsp. sugar syrup
* Fresh lime juice
* 1/2 cup ginger beer
* 1 sprig fresh mint
* 1 slice of lime

In a large cocktail glass, pour vodka over ice. Add sugar syrup and lime juice. Top with ginger beer and stir. Garnish with mint sprig and lime slice.


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Friday, October 29, 2010

Braised Chicken with Apples and Sage

Hey everyone, how's every little thing going?

I've been keeping pretty busy with work lately but have to admit, I've been doing a good job at keeping things in balance.

Enjoying the little things like reading a good book, hiking and swimming, or savouring the cooking of a good meal and a nice glass of wine.

And tonight I felt especially good.

I went for a really long walk with the dog to the farmer's market, and while I walked, I remembered a recipe I saw in Gourmet Magazine for braised chicken and apples. The farmer's market had beautiful apples featured and I still have swiss chard and spinach in my garden.

So I picked up a bunch of apples, hit my garden, and came home to create a comfort meal for fall: Braised Chicken with Apples and Sage, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Sauteed Swiss Chard with Spinach.

It turned out to be a wonderfully rustic, comforting, and delicious meal with the flavours all going together perfectly.

The Poolboy and I shared a nice bottle of Shiraz, enjoying the warmth of candlelight in the living room after we finished eating.

All in all, it was exactly what my soul needed.

I hope you enjoy!

Braised Chicken with Apples and Sage
Adapted from a recipe in Gourmet magazine

4 chicken breasts (you can use boneless skinless or bone in skin on - whatever you prefer)
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp packed brown sugar
2 granny smith apples, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup chopped shallots (2 to 3)
2/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp chopped fresh sage (rosemary would work well too)

Pat chicken dry and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chicken well, turning over once, 10 to 12 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Add butter, brown sugar, apples, walnuts and shallots to fat in skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until apples are browned, about 5 minutes.

Add broth, vinegar, and sage and deglaze skillet by boiling, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, 1 minute. Return chicken to skillet skin side down along with any juices accumulated on plate. Reduce heat and simmer, loosely covered, until chicken is cooked through and sauce is slightly reduced, 30-35 minutes.

Serve with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed swiss chard.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

1 medium head garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
2-3 tablespoons butter, softened
3-4 tbsp sour cream
1/2 cup milk
kosher salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Drizzle garlic with olive oil, then wrap in aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool and chop. Stir in butter, milk, sour cream, salt and pepper.

Remove the garlic from the oven, and cut in half. Squeeze the softened cloves into the potatoes. Blend potatoes with an electric mixer until desired consistency is achieved.

Sauteed Swiss Chard and Spinach

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 10 oz. bag baby spinach leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp white vinegar to taste
Toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Wash and dry the chard, then remove the stems from the leaves.

Chop the stems into 1/2-inch lengths and set them aside.

Roll the leaves together into a big log, as if you were making a chiffonade of basil, and slice thin strips by cutting perpendicular to the log.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan, and when it is hot, add the garlic and the chard stems. Sauté, stirring often, until the garlic just starts to brown and the stems are softening up.

Add the sliced chard leaves and the spinach a few handfuls at a time, stirring the mixture until what you’ve put in is cooked down enough to make room for the next handfuls. Once all the chard and spinach is in the pan, put a lid on it and wait for about a minute or two.

Remove the lid, stir, add vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.


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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

In the spirit of this week's freezer cooking theme, last Sunday I had the presence of mind to do a little advance cooking and it was well worth the effort.

I've already posted my recipe for crockpot beef stroganoff - but what I didn't tell you is that I used a trick from a dear friend - Ruby Slippers, and prepared the whole thing in the crockpot Sunday night so that Monday morning all I had to do was plug it in and leave for work.

Oh for the heaven of coming home after a hard day to the smells of stroganoff.

I cooked some peas and carrots to go with and enjoyed a stress free family dinner with minimal clean up.

And then it was Tuesday.

Imagine how good it felt to arrive home Tuesday evening with nothing to do but preheat the oven and pop in the Chicken Spaghetti Casserole I made Sunday.

If you like to cook, you're going to want to bookmark this one.

I got the recipe from The Pioneer Woman and loved it!

PW recipe HERE

Here's how our dinner turned out:

There's something incredibly comforting about a casserole - somewhat like the friend who can always be relied upon - slow, steady and sure. Not necessarly the leader of the pack, but always there, dependable, and true.

In this fast paced, eclectically cuisined world, we lose sight of the casseroles sometimes, forgetting the depth of flavour and soul satisfying comfort they have to offer.


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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Green Tomato Chutney

With the cold snap we've been hit with this week, I realized the last of my summer tomatoes weren't going to make it.

Poor little things, freezing on the vine.

But then I remembered buying a jar of green tomato chutney from a farmer's market last summer and decided to make some of my own.

If you've never had chutney before, it's wonderful with chicken or pork. The PB, TH, and I all love it and I make several different types with green tomato being the latest.

This particular recipe is easy to make and turns out delicious chutney.

Here's what you do...

First you'll need about four pounds of green tomatoes. To me, this is a great way to use the end of season fruits and vegetables.

Coarsely chop the green tomatoes, 2 medium onions, 2 green apples (peeled and cored) and then add 1 cup raisins, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground red pepper-may add more if you want it hotter, 1 tsp allspice, 1 tsp curry-may increase to taste, 1 cup brown sugar, 2 cups cider vinegar.

In a saucepan, add chopped tomatoes, apples and onion. Add all other ingredients, stir to mix well.

Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour until chutney is thick, stirring to avoid burning.

Ladle into jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace, process 40 minutes in boiling water bath, let set for 1 month minimum for flavor to develop.

My dream of being self sufficient while living on a remote compound somewhere in the Canadian North comes closer and closer to reality...


Green Tomato Chutney

4 lbs green tomatoes
2 medium onions
2 cups green apples, peeled and cored
1 cup raisins
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground red pepper-may add more if you want it hotter
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp curry-may increase to taste
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups cider vinegar

Coarsely chop first three ingredients
In a saucepan, add chopped tomatoes, apples and onion. Add all other ingredients, stir to mix
Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour until chutney is thick, stirring to avoid burning

Ladle into jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace
Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath
Let set for 1 month minimum for flavor to develop

Happy Saturday all!


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Crispy Fried Basa with Orange Ginger Dipping Sauce

Today's recipe is an adaptation of the dish I created a few weeks ago for Crispy Chicken with Orange Ginger Sauce.

I used a fish I have never prepared before called Basa - a type of catfish that originated in Viet Nam. But don't let the whole catfish thing scare you (I know, they're not the prettiest) - because Basa, I have discovered, is very, very good.

In texture it really didn't resemble catfish at all - in fact, it reminded me of the halibut we have here on the west coast - beautiful mild and white with no bones.

But what to do with it?

As I drove home from the fish market, I let my palette do the talking and realized I was craving something crispy with some kind of a sauce. Something fruity and maybe asian inspired.

And then I began to wonder how my chicken dish might be reinterpreted with the basa - perhaps with a crispy panko crust intermingling with the sweet orange and ginger flavours?

I decided to give it a go!

I mean, what was the worst that could happen?

So I started by making the sauce.

To make sauce:
  • Gently heat 2 cloves minced garlic and 1 tbsp minced ginger in one tbsp butter
  • Add 1 tbsp brown sugar and stir well to incorporate.
To that add
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (use less if you like your sauce less spicy)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • pinch of salt to taste
Bring to a boil and then stir well over medium low heat for app ten minutes until it reduces slightly. Mix one additional tbsp orange juice with one tbsp cornstarch in a seperate dish. Add to the pot. Heat and stir until thickened.

Cover and keep on low until ready to serve.

Now for the fish!

I began by making a dredge with:
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp good quality salt
  • 1/2 tsp salt free lemon pepper
  • 1/2 tsp five spice powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
In another dish I had one beaten egg, and in yet another I had 2 cups of panko breadcrumbs.

Assembly line style, I placed the filets into the dredge of flour, lightly dusted them off, and then dipped each in one beaten egg, followed by the panko bread crumbs until they were well coated on both sides.

Next, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in large, heavy saucepan over medium heat until a fresh bread cube placed in oil browns in 45 seconds (about 365 degrees Fahrenheit). Place fish a few pieces at a time into the pan and fry until golden brown on each side (about 4-5 minutes per side)

    Because my filets were quite thick, I finished them on a baking rack in a 350 oven for fifteen minutes.

    Serve warm with orange ginger dipping sauce on the side and enjoy!

    This recipe has been Poolboy approved.

    For printable recipe click HERE


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    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    Autumn Inspired Make Ahead Dinner Party Planner

    Fall is certainly in the air around my place!

    Whether it be pulling out vintage books, lighting candles, or adding richly sumptuous throw cushions...

    Autumn makes me feel like getting closer to my roots.

    And what better way to celebrate Metamorphisis Monday on Between Naps on the Porch than by cooking an incredibly warm and comforting Autumn inspired meal for friends?

    As many of you know, I belong to a book club that is as much about food and cooking as it is about the things we read.

    Every month for the last fourteen years we have gathered together to share our love of food, books, wine, and friendship and this month it was my turn to host.

    As is my usual practice, I set the table the night before using a mixture of Italian pottery and clear glass salad dishes. I cut and placed tiger lilies in vintage juice glasses, and continued the theme with apples, pinecones, and candles - all designed to complement the colours of my pottery plates.

    From there I chose the menu which was inspired by the theme I created with the tablescape. Rich, juicy apples, toasty almonds, fresh rosemary, garlic, onions and sage, grain fed organic chicken, cider, mushrooms, wild rice, and sweet roasted beets would make up the flavour profile for this "Love for the dearest of friends" Autumnal feast.

    Better still, it could be mostly prepped a day ahead.

    “A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.”

    On the Menu:
    Hot Mushroom Turnovers

    Autumn Salad

    Roast Chicken with Apples and Rosemary

    Wild Rice Casserole

    Roasted Beets in a Balsamic Orange Reduction

    And Easy Pumpkin Cheesecake for dessert

    Now for the plan...
    For printable version click HERE

    Start your preparations the day before by making the cheesecake, wild rice casserole, and mushroom turnovers.

    The casserole and cheesecake should be cooled, covered and refrigerated.

    Stuff and fold your turnovers but do not bake. Place on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper or paper towel, seal with Saran Wrap and refrigerate.

    Toast and store extra almonds for your salad and remove and store the pomegranite seeds in an airtight container. Refrigerate.

    On the day of your party...

    Roast and prepare your beets in the morning. They are served at room temperature so can sit covered until ready to serve.

    Prep the chicken and roast it for 2 hours in a 325 oven. ( I put my chicken on at 2:00 pm)

    Remove wild rice casserole from fridge and set on counter to bring to room temperature.

    4 pm - Remove chicken from oven and let rest a half hour. During this time, prepare your apple pan sauce. Remove it to a saucepan and leave it covered on your stove.

    Clean your roasting pan.

    4:15 pm - Pre-heat oven to 350. Place wild rice casserole in oven to warm for 40 minutes.

    4:30 pm - Carve chicken and remove all meat. Transfer to serving dish and cover with foil.

    5:00 pm - Remove wild rice casserole from oven, cover with foil. Increase oven temp to 400 and put in the mushroom turnovers. Bake in oven app ten minutes until golden.

    Pour cocktails for your guests, pass around a tray of the turnovers and prep your salad.

    Serve on individual plates.

    Heat your apple pan gravy stirring constantly until just boiling and then pour over chicken. Mix it all up and garnish with fresh parsley.

    Serve buffet style with wild rice casserole and beets.

    And, most of all, enjoy your precious friends!

    This blog is linked to: The Tuesday Night Supper Club


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