Citrus Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese – Updated!

Citrus zest and rosemary were made to be included in the cheesy goodness of macaroni and cheese.Citrus Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese | A Nerd Cooks

I was somewhat skeptical of this recipe when I first saw it, but was intrigued nonetheless.  I mean, I think that rosemary makes enough sense, but citrus flavors in mac and cheese?

It totally works.  Trust.  You can also mix it up based on the citrus that you have on hand.  I just happened to have lemons and oranges in the house, but grapefruit zest would probably be pretty great too.Citrus Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese | A Nerd Cooks

I blogged about this this mac and cheese before, and my original post can be found here.

You’ll need:

  • 1 lb short cut pasta (I used whole wheat mini shells here)
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 cups milk
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz shredded cheese*
  • 2.5 oz shredded parmesan cheese

*I’ve used a mix of cheddar and gruyere, and also all cheddar. It’s all good.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Cook your pasta according to the directions on the package, but undercook it by just a couple of minutes.  Drain and set aside.

In the same pot that was used to cook the pasta, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the flour and whisk together.  Cook the roux for about 30 seconds.

While whisking constantly, slowly pour the milk in.  Whisk occasionally until the white sauce starts to thicken up.  Add the citrus zest, rosemary, salt, and pepper.  Whisk to combine.  Add the cheese (not the parmesan) and whisk until it is melted into the sauce.  Taste and adjust your seasonings as needed.

Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to coat everything.  Pour it into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the top with the shredded parmesan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until everything is bubbly and lightly browned.  Let it cool for a few minutes before digging in.

Citrus Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese | A Nerd CooksCitrus Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese | A Nerd Cooks

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Citrus Rosemary Mac and Cheese

I got it into my head that I just had to make macaroni and cheese a couple of weekends ago.  Not sure why.  It just happened.

I started looking around at recipes on Foodgawker, and came across this one.  I was a little hesitant at first.  I mean, citrus zest in mac and cheese?  Trust me.  It works.

Citrus Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese | A Nerd Cooks

I found this recipe on Local Kitchen Blog, and modified it ever so slightly.

You’ll need:

  • 1 box short cut pasta (I used small shells)
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 3/4 cup milk
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 fat stems of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 4 oz. Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2.5 oz. parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Take a 9×13-inch casserole dish, grease it, and set it aside.

Cook your pasta according to the directions on the box.  Undercook by a couple of minutes.  Your pasta will finish cooking while in the oven.  Drain and set aside.

While the pasta cooks, in a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter.  Whisk in the flour to make a roux.  Cook for a minute or two, whisking almost constantly.  Slowly pour the milk into the roux, whisking constantly to avoid lumps of flour.  Add the zest, rosemary, salt, and pepper to the béchamel.  Whisk occasionally, and allow the béchamel to warm and thicken (5-8 minutes).

Once the white sauce has thickened, add the Gruyère and cheddar and stir until it is all melted.  Add the pasta to the cheese, and stir to coat.

Pour the macaroni and cheese into the prepared casserole dish and top with the parmesan cheese.  Bake 30-35 minutes, or until the top is bubbly and browned.  Cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Guys, seriously.  This combination works.  Amazing.

Pumpkin and Kale Lasagna Roll Ups

This is easier than making a full-blown lasagna (at least in my opinion), and just as delicious.  The pumpkin-kale combination is fantastic (see my other, related, butternut squash-kale combo recipes here and here), and seasonally appropriate without being really in your face with it’s pumpkin flavor.

Pumpkin and Kale Lasagna Roll Ups | A Nerd Cooks

Pumpkin and Kale Lasagna Roll Ups | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe was found on Healthy Aperture via MJ and Hungryman.

You’ll need:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ~3 cups kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or white wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups favorite tomato sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent.  Add the kale and stir, allowing it to cook down a bit.  Add the chicken broth or wine and cover the skillet, allowing the kale to wilt further, for about 5 minutes.  Remove the lid and let the broth/wine reduce.  Stir in the salt, pepper, and oregano.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the pumpkin, egg, ricotta, and 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese.  Add the kale and mix well.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions.  Drain and lay the noodles in a single layer on a flat surface to cool.

Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Put 1/2 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of the dish, spreading it around.

Take 1/3 cup of the kale/cheese mixture and spread it evenly over one of the lasagna noodles.  Carefully roll it up and place it seam-side down in the baking dish.  Repeat with the remaining 11 noodles.

Top all of the rolled up noodles with the remaining pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Creamy Baked Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage

Let me just start this off by saying that after taking his first bite, Sean stopped and said “Baby, this is ballin’.”  So… yeah.  I’d say we have a winner here.

Oh, yeah.  And sorry I’m not sorry that this contains pumpkin ;).

Creamy Baked Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe is adapted from Leave a Happy Plate.

You’ll need:

  • 1 box short cut pasta (I used rigatoni)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, halved and sliced thinly into half moons
  • 1-2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 lb ground sausage
  • 1/2 cup plain Chobani Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus a little more for topping

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, minus 1 minute.  Drain and set the cooked pasta aside.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a large oven-safe skillet/pan/dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage and cook until browned, crumbling as you go.  Remove the sausage from the pan and allow it to drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Add the olive oil to the pan.  When the oil is nice and hot, add the sliced onions and fennel seeds.  Sauté the onions until they are softened.

While the onions are cooking, combine the yogurt, pumpkin, heavy cream, chili powder, and cheese in a mixing bowl.

Mix the pasta, onions, and sausage in the pan.  Pour the yogurt/pumpkin mixture over the top and stir until everything is nicely coated.

Top with some more parmesan cheese, and bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa “Mac” and Cheese

Happy Friday, everyone!  I thought I’d break up the ensuing pumpkin-based-food monotony with something a little different.  I’m a semi-recent convert to the mindset that everything-buffalo-style-is-better.  But, really.  It is.  I can’t wait to make this again.

  Buffalo Chicken Quinoa "Mac" and Cheese | A Nerd Cooks

I found this recipe on Tracy’s Culinary Adventures.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth (or water or vegetable broth)
  • 1 medium chicken breast, roasted and shredded
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (Frank’s, please)
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a small casserole dish with cooking spray.  Set this aside.

Cook the quinoa in the chicken broth according to directions on the package.

While the quinoa is cooking, melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.  Once the butter melts, add the flour and whisk.  Whisk constantly for about 2 minutes, allowing the roux to cook.  Gradually add the milk, continuing to whisk.  Cook until the sauce thickens, whisking frequently.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the cheese and hot sauce.  Stir/whisk until the cheese is completely melted and the sauce is smooth.  Add the cooked quinoa and chicken and stir until everything is coated with the cheese sauce.

Transfer to the casserole dish, top with feta, and bake, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes.

Mexican Pierogi Lasagna

This is another one of those recipes were I say “HOW HAVE I NOT BLOGGED ABOUT THIS YET?!?”  I’ve been enjoying Mexican Pierogi Lasagna since college, when our dear friends Matt and Adrienne introduced us to it.
Mexican Pierogi Lasagna | A Nerd Cooks Mexican Pierogi Lasagna | A Nerd Cooks
If I had to describe it in just a few words, I’d go with “fatty’s delight” or “epic drunk food”.  Of course, it’s good even if you aren’t a fat kid (at heart or in reality) or a drunk college student.
When Matt and Adrienne came to visit us over Memorial Day Weekend (known as Epic Birthday Weekend, to those who know what’s up), they brought an enormous pan of Mexican Pierogi Lasagna with them.  It was an excellent decision.
You’ll need:
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion (yellow or white), chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 lb ground meat
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (and accompanying water)
  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 14.5 oz. can EACH black beans and kidney beans
  • salsa, to taste
  • 1 large-ish bag frozen pierogis, thawed (personally, I like Mrs. T’s … whatever flavor you’re into)
  • tortilla chips
  • shredded cheese (cheddar, Mexican blend, etc.)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Add the olive oil to a large pan and turn the heat up to medium/medium-high.  Add the onions, garlic, and bell pepper.  Sauté until the onions are translucent.  If you have any other peppers lying around (cubano, other bell peppers, etc.) that you’d like to add, go for it.  Next, add the ground meat and cook until browned, breaking the meat up as you cook it.
Add the packet of taco seasoning and however much water the packet instructs you to.  Feel free to drain some grease/extra liquid off if you’d like.  Add the can of diced tomatoes, beans, and salsa.  Mix to combine and let everything warm through.
To assemble this casserole, you’ll want to take a 9×13-inch baking dish and spread some salsa in the bottom to prevent everything from sticking.  I’ve found that dishes with higher sides work better.  In fact, if you want to minimize cleanup, just buy one of the disposable aluminum (?) baking pans from the grocery store.
Cover the bottom of the pan, in a single layer, with thawed pierogis.  Try to minimize the space between pierogis as much as possible.  Then add a layer of the meat mixture.  Top this with another layer of pierogis, same as before (minimizing space between).  Top this layer with a thin layer of the meat mixture, and then cover everything with cheese.  Top the cheese with crushed tortilla chips, and a bit more cheese over the tortilla chips.
Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 15.  To test for doneness, insert a knife into the middle of the “lasagna” and feel to see if the knife is warm/hot.
Dig on in and enjoy!  This is great heated up as leftovers, and can be made ahead of time, too.  Just stop short of baking it, cover with foil, and stash in the fridge.  Make sure to increase the cooking time if you go that route.

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

Greetings from Cocoa Beach, FL!  I’m currently blogging on my grandparents’ screened in porch that overlooks a canal, complete with docked sailboats, palm trees, and various interesting birds and other wildlife.  I’ll share some photos from the trip soon.

This recipe comes from the blog Prevention RD.  I made it when we were in West Virginia last week.  Well, I made it ahead of time and then just baked it there.  That’s one of the nice things about this dish: it can be made a day or two ahead of time, refrigerated, and then popped in the oven when you’re ready to go.  This lasagna was really good, and went over well with everyone.

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna | A Nerd Cooks

Now, as usual, my photos aren’t so great.  But check out the pictures here, and you won’t be disappointed.

You’ll need:

  • 1 lb white meat chicken, cooked and shredded (rotisserie chicken will work)
  • 3 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup buffalo sauce
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 15 oz. low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 16 lasagna noodles
  • 6-9 slices pepperjack cheese

Boil a large pot of water.  Add the lasagna noodles.  Stir to make sure that none are sticking together.  Cook according to package directions.

Combine the chicken, marinara sauce, buffalo sauce, and water.  In a small bowl, combine the ricotta and eggs.

Grease a 9×13 inch pan.  Spread some sauce in the bottom.  Arrange 4 noodles side by side over the sauce.  Spread a little more sauce over the noodles, then a layer of the ricotta mixture.  Add another layer of noodles and repeat the process until you end up with a layer of sauce.

Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees F (or cover and refrigerate it for a day or two).  Uncover and top with the cheese slices.  Bake for 10 more minutes uncovered.  Let it stand for 10-15 minutes before slicing in.