Thursday, June 17, 2010

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Rosemary

I enjoyed Kraft Macaroni and Cheese as a kid, and still do today. There's something so comforting about those skinny, stunted elbows, the garishly colorful cheese powder. Mmmmm ... so orange. During my pregnancy, I couldn't get enough of the stuff. And when I went into labor but was told by the hospital staff to wait at home until the contractions got closer together, I spent hours lying in bed, watching The King of Queens reruns, and eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese prepared by my husband. 

At first, it may seem that an instant food involving bright orange cheese dust simply cannot be dressed up. As the saying goes, it'd be like putting lipstick on a pig. And yet ... enter sun-dried tomatoes. Is it me, or can you add sun-dried tomatoes to just about any dish to make it exponentially fancier? They have a certain cachet, kind of like artichokes.

So, first I prepared the mac 'n' cheese according to Kraft's directions, with a couple of minor alterations--I added more milk than suggested and substituted the butter with olive oil, which made the resulting sauce richer and creamier. Then I threw in some chopped steamed broccoli and those magical sun-dried tomatoes. 

Here's a shot of the whole thing in the pot, before getting mixed into a steaming pot of gooey deliciousness:

Add some dried rosemary, freshly ground black pepper, and Parmesan cheese, and there you have it. A meal fit for enjoying under the Tuscan sun. Almost.

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Rosemary

1 box Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
Whole milk
Extra-virgin olive oil
6 broccoli florets, steamed until tender
6 pieces sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary 
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan
1 sprig fresh parsley

1. In a medium pot, boil the macaroni according to package instructions. While the pasta is cooking, finely chop the broccoli, and slice the sun-dried tomatoes into short, thin pieces. 

2. When the pasta is done, drain, and add the contents of the cheese packet. Add the milk according to the instructions, but add 1 additional tablespoon than suggested. Instead of using butter as suggested, substitute with an equal amount of extra-virgin olive oil. Add the broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, and the rosemary, and mix well.

3. Divide the macaroni and cheese between two plates, and top with the black pepper and Parmesan. Garnish with a sprig of parsley. Serve immediately. Serves two.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chicken Nuggets Francaise

I don't know why chicken nuggets are reserved for kids. I think they should appear on adult menus, too. They're so perfectly sized and delicious. I'm just glad I now have a toddler so there's an excuse for me to eat the stuff again.

That got me thinking about ways to dress up chicken nuggets. I finally decided to combine my favorite lemon chicken recipe with some Tyson chicken tenders, to create Chicken Nuggets Francaise.

(I'm sure this blog is a big hit in France.)

The sauce is very easy to make. Just throw together some lemon juice, sugar, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and parsley.

Cook over medium heat with a pinch of flour, and slather it over the chicken. No need to add salt because I'm sure the chicken-nugget people have that department covered.

Chicken Nuggets Francaise

4 pieces chicken nuggets
2 lemons, juiced
1 teaspoon granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
3 sprigs fresh parsley, minced
A pinch of flour

1. Prepare the chicken nuggets according to the instructions found on the packaging.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the lemon juice, sugar, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and parsley. Transfer the mixture to a small pot set over medium heat. Cook until simmering.

3. Throw in the pinch of flour, mixing well, to thicken the sauce. When the desired texture is reached, remove from heat, and pour over the chicken nuggets. Garnish with some lemon slices and fresh parsley. Serve immediately. Serves one.