Bacon and Kale Mac-n-Cheese

Many of you asked for the recipe, so here it is! Bacon and Kale Mac-n-cheese. I have a basic mac-n-cheese recipe that I change up, probably every time I make it 🙂 Not too long ago I shared my Spinach and Artichoke Mac-n-Cheese recipe with you all. This one is not very different. For every mac-n-cheese, I make a roux (gluten-free flour and butter), add some spices, acid (lemon or vinegar to cut down the richness a little), then the shredded cheese and whatever extras you want to include, if any.

Bacon and Kale Mac-n-Cheese

Ingredients

1-12 to 16 ounce package of your favorite GF pasta (I used Wegman’s GF Fusilli)

1 cup of kale, washed, pulled of stem and chopped finely

½ pound of bacon, chopped

2/3 cup of butter

1/2 cup of Cup4Cup gluten free flour

1 Tablespoon brown spicy mustard

1 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

About 2 cups of 2% milk (you can use whole milk)

1 teaspoon of white balsamic vinegar or juice of ½ a lemon

About 10 ounces of cheese (I used about 6 ounces of Cabot extra sharp cheddar and 4 ounces of an Aged Gouda)

Directions

Prepare pasta according to directions on the box. Place a cast iron skillet on the stove on medium heat. Add bacon to the cold pan and let it heat while the pan heats. Cook bacon for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add kale. Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until the bacon has browned and started to crisp. Save bacon and kale mixture on a plate until ready to mix with pasta and cheese sauce. In the same cast iron skillet, melt butter and whisk in the flour, mustard, salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes and then add the milk. Whisk together until all the lumps are out.  Stir in vinegar or lemon juice then add the cheese. Mix to melt the cheese and take off heat. Add drained pasta, bacon and kale. Mix through and serve!

I am, honestly, not a big fan of kale. Others in my family like it, so I’ll appease them by making it…covered in cheese 🙂

Mac-n-cheese is a great basic recipe to master and then you can play with it, using different vegetables, meats and spices to create new meals.When I don’t have time or the ability to be at the stove cooking for 20 minutes, I make a quick version of mac-n-cheese using mascarpone. Check it out here! It is a great easy meal.

What is your favorite mac-n-cheese topping or mix-in?

Make it Hawaiian

Adding pineapple to a dish can transform it to a tropical delight! My family’s love of “Hawaiian” food has grown over the years. We started with Hawaiian pizza (ham and pineapple). Then came the Hawaiian hot dogs. This is now a barbecue must have! Slice a hot dog down the middle and stuff with crushed pineapple. Wrap each hot dog with bacon and grill until bacon is cooked. Easy and delicious!

I recently rediscovered kielbasa. It is a great protein that makes a quick, easy and cheap meal! Of course, I had to make it Hawaiian 🙂

Hawaiian Kielbasa with Rice

Ingredients

1 ½ cups of rice

3 cups of broth or water

1 teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of pepper

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

5 pieces of bacon, chopped

½ of a sweet onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 ½ bell peppers

1 kielbasa, diced

8 ounces of crushed pineapple

3 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

Directions

Cook the rice with the broth/water, onion powder, salt and pepper and garlic powder in your rice cooker or on the stove top. Add the oil and bacon to the pan. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Add onion, garlic and bell peppers. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the kielbasa and heat through. Add the pineapple, soy sauce and brown sugar, cover and cook for 5 more minutes and it will be ready to serve.

This is a perfect quick weeknight meal or even for entertaining. It would be a great meal for a certain football game on Sunday night 🙂 I’m planning on making  wings and pulled pork on gluten-free pretzel rolls (from one of my favorite sources, Gluten Free on a Shoestring) along with some carrots and hummus and maybe guacamole. What are you making? Making anything “Hawaiian”?

Meatballs, Plain and Simple

These meatballs are a blank canvas. Flavorful on their own but can easily be served with marinara or to make swedish meatballs or even the popular bbq sauce and grape jelly meatball appetizer. They are perfect to bring to a potluck, to bring to family or friends as an act of kindness or just to enjoy at home.

Meatballs  (bulk recipe – you can 1/2 this recipe)

Ingredients

about 3 pounds of pork (boneless sirloin) (or 3 lbs of ground pork)

about 3 pounds of beef (bottom round) (or 3 pounds of ground beef)

8 slices of bacon

2 eggs

1/4 cup gluten-free bread crumbs

1/2 cup of milk

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon oregano

1 Tablespoon shredded Parmesan

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together. Grind the meat and bacon together if you are not using store bought ground meat. If you are using store bought ground meat, finely chop the bacon or put it in your food processor. Form each meatball and place onto cooling rack placed over baking sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes. Serve with your favorite sauce or freeze in batches to use another time.

You can brown these first for a deeper flavor, but they are just as delicious just baking them. Keep them warm in your crockpot with your favorite marinara. This works well for entertaining. You can cook some gluten-free pasta and toast up some gluten-free garlic bread or make zoodles (zucchini noodles) for a pretty (and healthy!) red and green Christmas themed spaghetti and meatballs.

My kids love to take the leftover meatballs for lunch! Add some yogurt and carrots with hummus and we have a school lunch or a meal my child with celiac disease can bring with him if we are visiting family or friends.

You will find a great new meatball recipe here every Thursday for the next month! Check out these past blogs too for ideas on what to bring to your next potluck or what to serve at your next holiday gathering.

Italian Stuffed Meatballs

Good Food that happens to be Gluten Free

Pasta, Quinoa and Barley, oh my!

Whether you celebrate Passover or Easter or are planning a spring escape it is time to empty out your fridge! Here are a couple of quick and easy meals I have made over the last couple of weeks that were big hits in my family.

Carrot and Squash Pasta with Turkey Bacon, Spinach and Peas

 The Piccolini line from Barilla was on sale at the grocery store last week, so I decided to try a couple of them out. This one is carrot and squash. It was good. My husband even liked it. I wanted to use up some things in my fridge since we were having friends over and I needed the space.

Ingredients:
1 Box of Carrot and Squash pasta (use whatever you have), 1/4 package of turkey bacon, diced, 1 clove of garlic, 1/2 bag of frozen peas, 1/2 bag of fresh spinach, 1/4 cup of yogurt, 1/4 of a jar of tomato sauce, 1/4 of a bag of shredded cheddar cheese.

Prepare pasta according to package instructions. Saute bacon in pan. Add garlic once bacon starts to crisp. If using turkey bacon you may need to add some olive oil in the pan. Add tomato sauce, spinach and peas until warmed through and spinach is wilted. Add yogurt and cheese. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. If your pan is large enough just add drained pasta to it and mix. If you are using a serving bowl, pour in sauce and vegetables and then add pasta. You can add any vegetables, meat, pasta that you have leftover. Cream cheese works just as well as yogurt. A couple of tomatoes that are about to go bad are just as good (if not better!) than the jarred sauce. You can make this with whatever you have on hand.
Lemon Chicken with Quinoa and Barley risotto-like-side dish, and peas.

Ingredients:
Chicken
salt
lemon pepper
1/4 large onion (white or yellow), sliced thin
olive oil
garlic
1 lemon (zested and juiced)
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar (white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar will work too)
1 3/4 cup water
2 cloves of garlic
1 sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup barley
2 cups of chicken stock
2 cups of water
2 Tbsp butter
1/8 cup shredded parmesan
1/2 bag of frozen peas
 

Saute onions in olive  Salt and pepper the chicken and brown each side in the same pan, pushing the onions off the side. While chicken is browning mix the lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, water, garlic and rosemary in a separate bowl. When chicken is brown move onions around and pour in lemon mixture. Place in 375 degree oven for about an hour. Check temperature of chicken. It should read 180 degrees when done.

White chicken is cooking, add quinoa and barley to the rice cooker with 2 the chicken stock and water. If you have any lemon zest or rosemary still on your cutting board add it in for some more flavor. Cook until rice cooker says its ready! Taste. If still too al dente for you, add a little more water and cook again until its the right consistency for you. Add a couple of tablespoons of butter and shredded parmesan and mix together.

Defrost the peas in the microwave and you have dinner!