Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cozy Comfort Food

Today marks the first day of comfort food season, a.k.a. autumn. What better time to share one my favorite comfort food recipes, mac and cheese!
Surely you’ve heard it said that a cooking recipe is just a guideline. That statement lends itself perfectly to macaroni and cheese. The goodness of this classic is as unique and creative as the cook who prepares it.

Feel free to use the recipe below exactly as is or mix it up a little and substitute all your favorite ingredients (or whatever ingredients you happen to have in the pantry) to make it uniquely and expressly your own. Go ahead, play with your food! ~~Joy Bell

Need some help getting those creative juices flowing? Here are some suggested opportunities for personalizing:

Cheese-You don’t have to use the cheeses listed in my recipe, I find it’s best to stick with the cheeses you normally buy.
Pasta-Any pasta that will grab the gooey goodness of the cheese is fair game.
Seasoning-Add your favorite spices and seasonings. If spicy is your thing, add some cayenne!
Topping-While the buttered fresh breadcrumbs are a deal breaker in my household (almost more important than the cheese), you don’t have to follow my lead, I’ve seen folks crumble potato chips on top of their macaroni and cheese and it’s really quite tasty!
Add-Ins-This is a great place to get creative with your recipe. Throw in some stewed tomatoes, ham, chicken or veggies.

Basic Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 pound campanelle pasta shells, cooked according to package directions
  • 3 cups milk, warmed (not boiled)
  • 8 tablespoons butter, separated
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces light havarti cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1-tablespoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in large pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. While stirring, add warm milk and cook for a couple minutes longer (until thick and smooth).
  • Remove mixture from heat and add cheeses, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add cooked pasta and stir well. Pour into a baking dish.
  • Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and combine with fresh breadcrumbs. Once breadcrumbs are thoroughly coated with butter, sprinkle on top of macaroni and cheese and bake in oven for approximately 30 minutes (until browned and bubbly).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In A Pickle

As the days get shorter and the nights longer I find myself clinging to the dwindling days of summer. Tomato plants are ready for their last harvest and squash of every variety pour out of baskets at the farmer's market.

As much as I look forward to the crisp air and deep hues of autumn, I feel compelled to enjoy the few days of summer that West Virginia has left to offer.

We'd like to help you enjoy them too! In the true spirit of summer, here is a quick and delicious recipe that will serve up perfectly along side whatever it is you’re cooking on the grill tonight.

One bite of these crisp, sweet and tart pickles will remind you that it is, in fact, still summer. ~Joy Bell

It’s Still Summer Refrigerator Pickles

  • 1 cup vinegar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon pickling spices
  • 6-7 Kirby Cukes, sliced
  • Place vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic and 1 tablespoon pickling spices in a saucepan and cook on medium-low heat until sugar and salt dissolves.
  • Place cucumbers in a jar, pour vinegar mixture over top of cucumbers and place lid on jar.
  • Store in refrigerator at least 4 hours before enjoying.
Cooks Note: Can be stored in the refrigerator up to 48 hours. A variety of seedless cucumbers can be substituted if you cannot find Kirby cucumbers.