Alex’s Macaroni and Cheese

maccheeseWhen I’m not in the kitchen I’m busy writing romance novels under the name, Marina Martindale. And, interestingly enough, each novel includes a scene with my characters enjoying a home cooked meal, so I include the recipe in the back of the book.

In my novel, The Deception, Alex, the leading man, is reunited with Carrie, his long-lost childhood best friend. When he comes to her apartment to prepare dinner he makes his mother’s macaroni and cheese; their favorite childhood dish.

They say art imitates life, and macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite childhood dishes too. Problem was, I had no family recipe, and, ding, ding, ding, I’d been buying the prepackaged mac and cheese dinners for years. I confess. It was a bad habit I picked up back when I was a starving college student, and it was time to break it. So I compiled different recipes, did test runs and tweaks, and soon came up with a mac and cheese recipe that was absolutely delicious. No wonder Alex and Carrie loved it. You will too.

Enjoy.

GM

ALEX’S MACARONI & CHEESE

  • 2 cups macaroni, cooked and drained
  • 2 ½  cups milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 ½ cups grated Mexican cheese blend
  • (or 2 ½ cups cheddar)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs.

Preheat oven to 350° and cook pasta in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain. While pasta is cooking whisk milk and sour cream together in a medium-sized mixing bowl and add seasonings. Set aside. Chop two tablespoons of butter into small pieces. Chill in refrigerator until needed. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small mixing bowl. Add breadcrumbs, blend thoroughly and set aside.

Layer half of the cooked and drained macaroni, butter and cheese into an 8 x 8 baking dish. Top with the remaining macaroni, butter and cheese. Pour in the milk mixture and sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Bake for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is crispy and brown.

If desired, ham or sausage may be added. Low-fat milk, sour cream and cheeses may also be used.

Sausage and Pasta Soup

Fall236 is in the air, and there’s nothing quite like a nice bowl of homemade soup to go with a crisp fall day. Here’s a nice, Italian style soup that can go as a side dish to an Italian recipe, or be a meal in itself.

Enjoy,

GM

SAUSAGE AND PASTA SOUP

  • 1 pound Italian sausage, sweet or mild, casings removed
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 2 t0 3 tbsp chopped garlic (if desired)
  • 1 jar tomato based meatless pasta sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz size)
  • 1 package frozen carrots OR
  • 1 or two fresh carrots, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini or yellow squash, chopped
  • 4 cups water or chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp basil
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup uncooked pasta, such as rotelli

Brown sausage, chopped onion and garlic in a skillet until the sausage is thoroughly cooled. Drain and place in a crockpot. Add the pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, vegetables, water, (or chicken broth), and seasonings. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, checking frequently, and add water (or chicken broth), if needed. Stir in the pasta, turn crockpot to high, and cook for an additional 20 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked to desired firmness. Serve with garlic bread.

Baked Ziti Parmesan

So who doesn’t love pasta? It’s cheap, it’s filling, and you can make many wonderful dishes with pasta. Not eating gluten? No problem. There are some wonderful gluten free pastas out there. In fact, I use both wheat and gluten free pastas, and both are yummy.

This is a simple, yet tasty, pasta dish that is easy to prepare and uses ingredients that most of us already have on hand. Best of all, it’s delicious.

Enjoy,

GM

baked-zitiBAKED ZITI PARMESAN

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 jars spaghetti sauce
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups Parmesan cheese
  • dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray an 8 x 8 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Boil pasta in salted water according to the package directions. Drain. While pasta is cooking brown meat in a skillet over medium heat until browned and crumbled. Drain. Place meat back in skillet and add spaghetti sauce, stirring well.

Place half of cooked pasta in the bottom of the baking dish. Cover with half of the pasta sauce. Top with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 1 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, ending with the remaining cheeses on top. Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, or until top cheese layer is browned and sauce is bubbling. Serve with hot garlic bread.