Mmmac ‘n cheese is the ultimate comfort food. This recipe is creamy, cheesy, tomato-y and bacon-y. Right? Let me break it down: macaroni pasta drenched in cheese sauce, mixed with bacon and tomatoes, sprinkled with spices and a hint of a tang with Worcestershire sauce and hot English mustard, and topped with a crunchy breadcrumb layer… Phew, what a mouthful! This gooey meal will leave you wholly satisfied and completely replete, yet still eyeing out the leftovers (if there is any!).
Marvellous Macaroni Cheese
200g bacon, cut and fried
500g plum tomatoes, 2 set aside, chopped and fried
300g white Cheddar, grated
1 cup cream
1 cup 2% milk
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon English mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup breadcrumbs
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
4 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons, set aside
2 tablespoons Canola/sunflower oil
Making it happen:
1. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the chopped bacon until just cooked. Remove from the pan and fry the chopped tomatoes, bar two, in the bacon juices until soft. Add the bacon to the tomatoes.
2. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Cook the macaroni per the package instructions and get started on your cheese sauce: heat the butter in a saucepan on medium. Once melted, add the flour and whisk into a roux. Add the mustard, milk, nutmeg and paprika, whisk and allow to thicken for about 5 minutes, then splash in the Worcester sauce. Add the grated cheese, stirring until it’s melted.
3. Your mac should be cooked now – drain it and toss it into a large casserole dish. Add the bacon and tomatoes, pan juices included, and pour in the sauce, stirring well to spread it evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Thinly slice the remaining tomatoes and place it on top of the mac.
4. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top and drizzle 2 tablespoons of butter over the top. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.
5. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Tip: undo jeans!
Homemade marinara sauce is incomparable to store-bought sauce. The ingredients are perfectly blended to give you a herby, tomato-y sauce packed with flavour, and all of the ingredients are easy to come by. You can add a cup of cream if you like, and I tend to alternate. With ravioli, I add cream. With meatballs and spaghetti, I leave it out. It’s entirely up to you. I use both tinned whole tomatoes and fresh baby tomatoes. When the baby tomatoes burst, they release a wonderful flavour that’s tastier than large tomatoes.
Marinara sauce is versatile and doesn’t have to be limited to pasta. You can use it in casseroles if you want a tomato-based flavour and it makes a wonderful tomato soup. I’ve used it on meatloaf many times, or blitz it in the food processor and serve with a ciabatta as a soup. Once you’ve made this sauce, you will realise its potential to be used in many different dishes and it’s easy! Like, super mission-free and takes a total of half an hour.
500g baby tomatoes
1 tin whole peeled tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
7 garlic cloves, crushed and sliced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon oregano
Fresh parsley for garnishing
Mozzarella for sprinkling (optional)
1 cup cream (optional)
Olive oil – 3 tablespoons
Salt and pepper
Making it happen:
1. Heat the olive oil on medium. Add the garlic, onion and oregano and fry for 5 minutes.
2. Add the baby tomatoes, tinned tomatoes and tomato paste. Turn down the heat, add the basil leaves, salt and pepper and simmer for 25 minutes, with the lid on for the first 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
OPTIONAL: Stir in the cream. Top the dish with mozzarella and fresh parsley.
3. The sauce boils down, with the baby tomatoes bursting and releasing their flavour.
Serve with a variety of food – in this case meatballs and spaghetti.
This recipe sounds shmancy and a mission. It’s not. While it will impress the crap out of your guests, or just you, it’s not difficult at all. This is the gist: fry stuff. Add cream. Mix stuff. Bake. Drool.
In this house, we are obsessed with gnocchi. And cheese. I blame myself for getting The Husband into it. We all have our crosses to bear. A few weeks ago we went out for dinner and The Husband had penne alfredo and mentioned, in passing, that I should try to recreate it, but with gnocchi. What’s that? A challenge? A pasta challenge? I’m in. I was extremely disappointed when a lot of recipes used pre-bought alfredo sauce. Really? Do you have any idea how easy it it? Don’t tell your guests, because as far as they’re concerned, based on the taste, you slaved for several hours. But really folks, it’s one of the least complicated and most yummiest recipes you’ll ever make. You’re welcome.
1 package gnocchi (500g)
500g chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 pack shoulder bacon, sliced
400g chopped mushrooms
4 crushed and sliced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons flour for dredging
Fresh parsley + more for garnishing
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
300g cheddar, grated
300g mozzarella, grated
Salt and pepper
Making it happen:
1. In a large pan, heat the olive oil on medium. Fry the bacon, mushrooms and garlic for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
2. Cut the chicken breasts into chunks, toss them in the flour and coat thoroughly. Heat the butter on medium and fry the chicken pieces for 5 minutes until golden brown.
3. Return the bacon and mushrooms to the pan, add the cream and 2 stalks parsley and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Heat your oven to 190°C (375°F). In the meantime, cook the gnocchi per package instructions.
Place the chicken, bacon and mushroom mixture in a large dish and toss with cheddar. Sprinkle mozzarella on top and bake for 20 minutes.
Did you just say “creamy bacon”? Oh, how I love it when you talk dirty! Hold on… creamy bacon with chicken and buttery mushrooms in a garlic-infused sauce? Will you marry me?
Most fettuccine alfredo recipes use either bacon or chicken. I use both because I can and because they work so well together in this dish. I don’t often make pasta but when I do, I’m all in. And it’s quick!
Servings: 4 Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 20 – 30 minutes
4 tablespoons butter
500g chicken cut into one-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 pack bacon cut into strips
400g mushrooms, sliced
250 ml cream
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Parmesan for serving
Cut the chicken into one-inch pieces and slice the garlic cloves thinly. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pan on medium-high. Add the chicken and garlic to the pan once the butter has melted and fry for 3 – 4 minutes per side, turning halfway through until the chicken is white on the outside but still pink in the centre. Remove the ingredients from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
Heat another 2 tablespoons of butter, still on medium-high, and fry the bacon for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and fry for another 2 – 3 minutes until lightly browned.
Pour the cream into the pan then re-add the chicken and garlic. Cover and turn down to medium-low, simmering for 7 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to simmer for a further 5 minutes.
In the meantime, cook the fettuccine according to the instructions, drain and add it to the other ingredients. Sprinkle with grated parmesan; serve aaaand enjoy!
With winter fast approaching, one of my favourite comfort foods is Chicken Noodle Soup. It’s pretty easy to make and it tastes amazing! Also, because there is five hundred grams of noodles in the soup, it’s really filling too! Perfect for a chilly night in!
Chicken Noodle Soup
Servings: 8 Prep time: 5 minutes Chicken baking time: 15 minutes Soup boiling time: 45 minutes
- 4 skinless, de-boned chicken breasts (weighing approx 400 – 500g), par baked and shredded
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large chopped onion
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 3 cups water
- 125g sliced button mushrooms (optional)
- 3 potatoes, thinly sliced
- 3 carrots, thinly sliced
- 2tsp cracked black pepper
- fresh parsley
- 2 packets instant noodles
Preheat your oven to 170°C. Bake the chicken breasts for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion for 4 – 5 minutes.
Shred the chicken and add it to the pot with all the remaining ingredients except egg noodles. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the carrots are soft.
Add the noodles and simmer for another 5 – 15 minutes or until the noodles are tender.
“Hmmm… yummy!” is what comes to mind when I make this meal. This is such a crowd pleaser – crispy bacon, creamy, cheesy veggies added to gnocchi and baked to golden brown perfection! Yummers! Do it! Do it now!
Creamy Baked Gnocchi with Bacon, Mushrooms and Broccoli
Stuff dreams are made of:
- 200g bacon, chopped
- 250g white button mushrooms, washed and cut into thirds
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, or 1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 500g broccoli, broken into florets and cooked in boiling water for 4 minutes (parboiled but firm)
- Gnocchi, cooked per package instructions
For the cheese sauce:
- 50g butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon hot English mustard
- 250ml cream
- 250ml milk
- 1 teaspoon fine black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 300g grated Cheddar cheese
Making it happen:
1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat and add the garlic, bacon and mushrooms. Fry for five minutes until the mushrooms have browned (or let the bacon fry for a little longer to get it crispy). While this is cooking, parboil the broccoli.
2. For the cheese sauce: Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the flour and mustard to make a roux paste. Slowly add the milk and cream while constantly stirring with a whisk. Once the sauce has thickened, add the salt and pepper and mix well. Take the pot off the heat and stir in half the cheese.
3. Place the broccoli and gnocchi in a large ovenproof dish and add the mushrooms and bacon. Mix well. Pour the sauce over the veggies and again, mix well. Sprinkle the remaining half of the cheese on top and place the dish uncovered in the oven for 30 minutes until the cheese is golden brown. Take the dish out and allow it to stand for a few minutes before serving.