I can’t believe I don’t have a mac and cheese recipe on the site. My go-to recipe is Martha Stewart’s “Macaroni and Cheese 101” from her 1999 magazine issue. I should have either the magazine or the recipe cut out somewhere. I can’t do better than her combination of white cheddar and nutty Gruyere, but today I’m doing a yellow cheddar and adding some ricotta for the second cheese just for a change. It should be a milder cheese flavor, but still have a nice creamy texture.
I see a lot of mac and cheese recipes that use the no-boil method, but I don’t like the fuss of the long cooking under foil and then the second cooking without it. Plus, some of the photos of those dishes show that the whole thing has bubbled up over the sides, because of all the extra liquid needed to cook the macaroni. I’m just going to stick with a cheese sauce made from a traditional white sauce, and boil the macaroni first. The one extra step today is pulsing the ricotta in a food processor, so it’s creamy and not gritty. I also do that when I want to add it to an Italian tomato sauce.
I’m halving my traditional recipe that uses a whole pound of macaroni, because there are just two of us, and while big dishes are lovely to look at, they are hard to consume. We’ll eat it again tomorrow or the next day, but that’s enough.
Shredded cheddar and creamy ricotta
Nice browned casserole
Bacon on the side
Cheddar-Ricotta Mac and Cheese
Preheat oven to 375°; butter a 2 1/2 quart baking dish, one with plenty of room to hold any bubbling sauce. You can see that mine came right up to the top.
8 oz elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions
1 1/2 cups ricotta, whole or part skim, pulsed in food processor until creamy
8 oz (about 1 1/2 cups) cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups white sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups milk
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
2-3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- Prepare the macaroni and the cheeses; set aside.
- Make white sauce: melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat until bubbling. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until the flour is completely incorporated with no lumps. Stir in milk, stirring or whisking often until sauce is thickened.
- Stir cheeses into white sauce, stirring until melted.
- Pour cheese sauce over cooked macaroni in buttered dish. Stir to cover all the macaroni.
- Make crumb topping: combine all three ingredients in a large bowl, stirring/tossing quickly with a fork, to coat all with the butter. Crumble over the casserole.
- Bake the casserole for about 30 minutes until the topping is browned.
Macaroni and cheese is a great meal by itself, but we had bacon on the side and a frozen vegetable mix.
I was going to make my Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Cake for the department get-together, but my husband didn’t like the look of the blueberries I picked up, so I whipped up my Sparkling Molasses Ginger Cookies. That left me with lemons and ricotta. So I merged the following two recipes into one that resulted in a muffin with a fluffy texture and a rich lemony taste:
Giada’s Lemon Ricotta Muffins
Lemon Ricotta Muffins Full of Sunshine
Heavenly Lemon Ricotta Muffins
Preheat oven to 350°; line a muffin pan with paper liners.
1 cup sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
lemon zest from 3 lemons
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 large egg
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup almond milk (or cow’s milk or water)
- Beat sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.
- Add zest, lemon juice, and ricotta and beat until combined.
- Beat in egg.
- Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until combined.
- Slowly pour in milk until batter thins but still remains a thick batter. I used the entire 1/3 cup of milk.
- Scoop batter into liners in muffin pan. Sprinkle with decorating sugar.
- Bake for 18 minutes. Cool in pan on rack for at least 15 minutes before removing to completely cool. Did you ever try to pick a hot muffin out of the tin and pull the top right off? Better to wait.
Cheesy, creamy, loaded with mushrooms, Mushroom-Leek Lasagna is a nice alternative to lasagna with meat sauce and a great casserole for a cold winter’s night. My husband can only take so many mushrooms—go figure—so I’m freezing half of it, instead of insisting on a week’s worth of leftovers. I did use a ton of mushrooms, and only some of them were his favorite shiitake, so I understand his apprehension, but he did eat one and a half servings. We both agreed that this white lasagna was less filling than the traditional red lasagna, which can seem heavy. It was very good, says this mushroom lover.
Four mushroom varieties
Ricotta filling ingredients
Ricotta over pasta
First layer before béchamel
Cheesy and bubbly
Preheat oven to 350°; grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish or two 8 inch square dishes if you want to freeze one.
Substitute your favorite mushrooms, and keep in mind that they cook down, so you need a lot.
- Mushroom-leek filling:
- 16 oz shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and sliced
- 24 oz baby portobella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 8 oz white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 3 oz maitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced in strips
- 3 leeks, white portion only, cleaned and thinly sliced
- 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil for sautéing mushrooms
- Salt & pepper to taste (I seasoned each batch of leeks and mushrooms)
- Ricotta filling:
- 2 lbs whole milk ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried or 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 1 lb fontina cheese, grated
- 4 cups medium white sauce (béchamel, if you want to use your French). See recipe below.
- Whole wheat no-boil lasagna noodles (my package was 9 oz)
- Mix ingredients for ricotta filling and set aside or refrigerate until assembly.
- Sauté leeks in olive oil over medium heat until softened. Remove to large mixing bowl.
- Sauté mushrooms in batches in olive oil over medium-high heat until slightly browned. I cooked the shiitake first, because they are more delicate than the others. I cooked the baby bella and white mushrooms together until all the liquid they exude evaporates and the mushrooms brown a little. I cooked the maitake last in very high heat to brown well. Remove each batch of cooked mushrooms to the bowl with the leeks. Mix the leeks and mushrooms to combine. I would say you need about 6-8 cups of cooked mushrooms to make full layers.
- Lay one layer of noodles in the bottom of the baking dish.
- Cover with half the the ricotta filling.
- Cover the ricotta with half the mushroom-leek mixture.
- Cover the mushroom-leek mixture with 1/3 of the fontina cheese.
- Cover the layer with 1/3 of the white sauce.
- Repeat steps 4-8 to make a second layer.
- Place a third layer of lasagna noodles over the second layer, pressing slightly to compact the lasagna. Pour remaining white sauce over the noodles and sprinkle the remaining fontina chees on top.
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 30 minutes or until top is browned and the noodles are tender.
- Cut the lasagna into 8 large squares.
Medium White Sauce
Increase ingredients to make 4 cups:
For every 1 cup of sauce, use
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup of milk—you may scald the milk first in a saucepan or microwave
- dash of ground nutmeg
Melt the butter over medium low heat. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper until all the flour is incorporated. It will be a very thick mixture. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring continuously. You shouldn’t get any lumps, but I notice that current recipes suggest whisking. I never had to use a whisk to avoid lumps, but I think the slow addition of the milk is key. Continue to stir, lowering the heat to a simmer if your stove cooks hot, until thickened.