My Top 10 Favorite Recipes in 2010

I just finished looking over all of the new recipes that I posted in 2010 and I have to say that it made me really hungry! 2010 was certainly filled with a lot of tasty food! As I went through all of the recipes, I tried to choose a few of my favourites and it was not easy but here are a few of the ones that stood out the most:

Happy New Year!

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake - This dessert that combines two already great treats, cheesecake and pumpkin pie to form a dessert that easily takes the number one spot in my favourite recipes of the year!

Caramelized Pear and Gorgonzola Quiche

Caramelized Pear and Gorgonzola Quiche - The sweet pear and savoury gorgonzola cheese flavour combination is a beautiful one and it works wonderfully in a quiche.

Asparagus Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Asparagus Grilled Cheese Sandwich - This is a surprisingly simple sandwich but it is just so good and now I am already looking forward to asparagus season when we are still in the middle of winter.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup - Speaking of cold winter days, this soup is the perfect cure! Although it takes a bit of time to properly caramelize all those onions, it is so worth it!

Thai Spicy Peanut Chicken Enchiladas

Thai Spicy Peanut Chicken Enchiladas - This was another of my fusion experiments that uses Thai flavours in Mexican enchilada form and the results were magical!

Vietnamese Caramel Shrimp Banh Mi

Vietnamese Caramel Shrimp Banh Mi - I had been wanting to try a banh mi sandwich for a while and this year I got the chance to make my own and I was addicted after the first bite!

Baked Goat Cheese Salsa

Baked Goat Cheese Salsa - Warm baked and melted goat cheese goes so well with spicy salsa and this appetizer that combines the two is sure to disappear quickly from your holiday entertaining.

Butternut Squash Carbonara

Butternut Squash Carbonara - Even though there is not much in the way of local produce in the middle of winter you can be sure to find some squash and this squash carbonara is so easy to make and it always hits the spot. The sweet butternut squash works really well with the savoury cheese and bacon in this pasta dish.

Spinach and Feta Quinoa Salad

Spinach and Feta Quinoa Salad - This salad combines my one of my favourite flavour combinations with the spinach, feta and dill with quinoa for a super tasty salad or side that is also pretty healthy!

Pineapple Dak Bulgogi Tacos (Korean Spicy Pineapple BBQ Chicken Tacos)

Pineapple Dak Bulgogi Tacos (Korean Spicy Pineapple BBQ Chicken Tacos) - Inspired by tacos al pastor, I tried adding pineapple to spicy Korean BBQ chicken and the combination was out of this world good!

Similar Posts:
My Top 10 Favorite Recipes in 2011
Top 10 Recipes in 2010
My Top 10 Favorite Recipes in 2009
My Top 10 Favorite Recipes in 2008
My Top 10 Favorite Recipes in 2007

Top 10 Recipes in 2010

With 2010 quickly coming to a close it is that time of year for looking back at the year in review and to post some roundups! Without further ado, here are the top 10 recipes on Closet Cooking based on page views in 2010:

Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pancake)

Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pancake) - Okonomiyaki moves up to take first place in 2010 and it is easy to see why this Japanese style vegetable pancake is ichiban (number 1)! This pancakes truly is "as you like" and I really like how there are near limitless possibilities for different flavours both in the batter and for the toppings.

No Bake Cheesecake

No Bake Cheesecake - I have to agree with readers on this one! This no bake cheesecake is so quick and easy to make that there is no excuse to not make it and when you are addicted to cheesecake like me, you tend to make it all the time.

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Jalapeno Popper Dip - When it comes to party appetizers hot cheesy dips are definitely among my favourites and when you take the winning flavour combination from jalapeno poppers and turn it into such a dip it is nearly impossible to resist!

Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie)

Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie) - This light and flaky phyllo wrapped spinach pie is so amazingly good and it always takes me back to my vacation in Greece.

Pad Thai

Pad Thai - Why is it so hard to find good pad Thai at restaurants? No matter, it is easy enough to make it at home and this recipe produces a winner every time!

Thai Lemon Shrimp

Thai Lemon Shrimp - This Thai lemon shrimp is the perfect combination of sweet, salty, tart and spicy and if you are a fan of lemon then this is certainly the dish for you. The lemon shrimp work well as both an appetizer for parties or for a light meal when served over rice or pasta.

Spinach and Feta Quesadillas

Spinach and Feta Quesadillas - This year I had fun mixing flavours and cooking techniques from different cuisines and this fusion of Greek spanakopita flavours done in Mexican quesadilla style was one of my favourites.

Spinach Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Spinach Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich - In case you had not noticed, I am really into the spinach, feta, mint and dill flavour combination and I am glad to see so many recipes with it showing up in the top 10 list. I particularly enjoy this take on that flavour combination that wraps it all up in perfectly grilled buttery bread.

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip - This is a classic hot cheesy dip and with good reason! It is always the first to disappear at parties so make a double batch and save some for yourself for later.


Baklava - Light and flaky phyllo dough also works well in desserts and baklava is a perfect example. It may take a bit more effort to make than some desserts but it is definitely worth the effort!

Similar Posts:
Top 10 Recipes in 2009
Top 10 Recipes in 2008
Top 10 Recipes in 2007

Vietnamese BBQ Pulled Pork Banh Mi

Vietnamese BBQ Pulled Pork Banh Mi

Ever since I picked up a slow cooker, I have been addicted to pulled pork! The slow cooker turns out perfectly cooked pulled pork every time that is nice and juicy and tender. What's more is that it is dead easy to make pulled pork given that you can simply put the pork into the slow cooker in the morning and let it work its magic while you are at work. Recently I have been trying new flavours with BBQ pulled pork and while I was enjoying some Vietnamese caramel shrimp banh mi recently, I got the crazy idea to try a Vietnamese pulled pork banh mi.

The first step in creating the Vietnamese pulled pork banh mi was coming up with the 'BBQ' sauce. I particularly enjoy the Vietnamese savoury caramel sauce like the one used in Vietnamese caramel shrimp and I wanted to use that as the base of the BBQ sauce. From there I added some typical Vietnamese flavours including some salty fish sauce, some tart lime juice and some birds eye chilies for a kick of spicy heat. Once I had the BBQ sauce made it was a simple matter of throwing the pork into the slow cooker along with some of the BBQ sauce to cook while I went off to work.

Armed with my Vietnamese pulled pork it was a simple matter of making the banh mi sandwiches. Of course the next step was to make some quick Vietnamese carrot and radish pickles. From there I assembled the sandwiches with the pulled pork in a baguette with lots of fresh ingredients and a touch of mayonnaise. The Vietnamese pulled pork was amazingly tasty with an excellent balance of sweet, salty, tart, and spicy hot. The juicy cucumbers and pickles worked really well with the tasty BBQ pulled pork cleansing the palette leaving you ready to enjoy more of the BBQ pulled pork in the next bite.

Vietnamese BBQ Pulled Pork Banh Mi

(makes 4 servings)
Printable Recipe

1 baguette (cut into 4 sandwich sized lengths and sliced in half)
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 pound Vietnamese BBQ Pulled Pork (see below)
1/4 cup pickled daikon radish
1/4 cup pickled carrots
1/2 cup cucumber (thinly sliced)
1/2 cup cilantro (loosely packed)
2 birds eye chilies (sliced, optional)

1. Assemble sandwiches and enjoy.

Vietnamese BBQ Pulled Pork

(makes 4+ servings)

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 lime (juice)
2 birds eye chilies (sliced)
1 (3 pound) pork butt

1. Heat the sugar in a pan on medium-high heat until it melts, caramelizes and turns a light golden brown.
2. Carefully add the water and heat until the caramel dissolves.
3. Add the fish sauce, lime juice and chilies and simmer to reduce by half, about 6-10 minutes.
4. Put the pork in the slow cooker, pour 1/2 of the 'bbq' sauce over it and cook on low heat for 8 hours.
5. Remove the pork from the slow cooker, let cool and then shred with a pair of forks.
6. Skim the fat from the juices, place them in a sauce pan along with the remaining 'bbq' sauce, simmer to reduce to 1 cup and mix into the shredded pork.

Similar Recipes:
Banh Mi Burgers with Vietnamese Caramel BBQ Sauce
Vietnamese Caramel Shrimp Banh Mi
BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Slaw
Korean BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich
Shrimp Po’ Boy
Spicy Pork Bulgogi Banh Mi
Vietnamese Caramel Salmon Banh Mi
Banh Mi Chicken Salad
BBQ Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese
Apple BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Apple Slaw

Apple and Cheddar Quiche

Apple and Cheddar Quiche

I am back in the kitchen and I hope that everyone had a great Christmas filled with tasty food!

The week in between Christmas and New Years can be a bit hectic and I wanted to try to simplify things by making some meals ahead of time. I like to have quiches for breakfast and one of the reasons is that there is generally a lot of leftovers and they reheat well for quick and easy breakfasts during the week. This recipe will make enough for a few breakfasts for one or two people and it can be doubled for larger families. Another thing that I like about quiches is the near limitless possibilities for different flavour combinations. This apple and cheddar quiche was inspired by the flavours in the apple and cheddar tart that I recently made and enjoyed!

I started out by simmering chunks of apple in cider until they just turned tender and I did this because I knew that apple would not cook enough in the quiche to get tender and nobody wants to bite into a hard piece of apple when eating a quiche. Next I added a strong cheddar to finish off the primary flavours in the quiche. Since the rosemary went well in the tart I added some to the quiche as well and I figured that a bit of salty bacon would also be a hit. To keep things simple, I went with a pre-made frozen phyllo dough crust.

I have to say that the apple and cheddar flavour combination with rosemary works very well in quiche form! I was particularly happy with the way that the phyllo dough crust worked out. Even though it was full of an egg mixture, the phyllo still got crispy and it allowed for a 'deep dish' style of quiche that was really nice. I served the apple and cheddar quiche along with an arugula salad with walnuts, feta and a simple lemon and oil vinaigrette.

Apple and Cheddar Quiche

Apple and Cheddar Quiche

(makes 6+ servings)
Printable Recipe

2 large apples (cored and cut into bite sized chunks)
1 cup apple cider
4 strips bacon (cut into 1 inch pieces)
6 sheets phyllo (thawed as directed on package)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon rosemary (chopped)
1 cup strong cheddar (grated)
4 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 cup half and half

1. Simmer the apple slices in the cider until they just start to turn tender, about 3-5 minutes, remove and set them aside.
2. Simmer the remaining cider to reduce to about 2 tablespoons.
3. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a pan and set aside.
4. Brush a sheet of phyllo pastry with the olive oil and fit it into the bottom of a greased 9 inch pie dish or springform pan with the ends hanging over the side of the pan and repeat with the remaining sheets placing them on top.
5. Toss the apple slices in the reduced cider and spread them out over the bottom of the pan.
6. Sprinkle the bacon, rosemary and cheddar cheese on top of the apples.
7. Mix the eggs and half and half, pour into the pan and fold the edges of the phyllo dough that is hanging over the sides.
8. Bake in a preheated 375F oven until golden brown and set in the center, about 25-45 minutes.

Similar Recipes:
Apple and Cheddar Tart
Caramelized Apple and Cheddar Omelette with Bacon and Candied Walnuts
Caramelized Apple Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Caramelized Pear and Gorgonzola Quiche
Apple Cinnamon Swirl Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Roasted Pumpkin Quiche with Caramelized Onions, Gorgonzola and Sage
Reuben Quiche
Caramel Apple Grilled Cheese Sandwich (with Bacon)
Apple, Cheddar and Bacon Fritters in Caramel Sauce

Use leftover phyllo dough in:
Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie)
Mushroom and Feta Phyllo Pie
Kolokithopita (Greek Zucchini Pie)
Agginaropita (Greek Artichoke Pie)
Mushroom and Goat Cheese Strudel with Balsamic Syrup
Tomato Tart
Galaktoboureko (Greek Custard Pie)
Chicken and Date Pastilla
Asparagus and Walnut Phyllo Pie (aka Asparagus Baklava) with Avgolemono Sauce
Roasted Pumpkin Quiche with Caramelized Onions, Gorgonzola and Sage
Strawberry Goat Cheese Banitsa
Lamb Exohiko (Lamb, Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Phyllo Parcels)
Fiddlehead and Gruyere Tart

On Vacation

I am heading out to spend some time with family over the holidays. I have packed up my cookies and they are ready to go so I thought that I would leave you with a few more ideas in the side bar along with some ideas for appetizers for entertaining and for parties. I will be back in the kitchen before the new year.

I hope that you all of your holidays are amazing and filled with tons of tasty food!

Orange Cookies Dipped in Chocolate

Orange Cookies Dipped in Chocolate

While I was enjoying a lime meltaway I was vaguely reminded of another cookie that was similar but it was an orange cookies. After diligently searching through my many bookmarked cookie recipes I finally found this recipe for orange cookies dipped in chocolate on use real butter. These cookies get their orange flavour from no less than three different sources including orange zest, orange juice and candied orange peel. When you take these already great sounding cookies and you dip them in chocolate they get even better and I could not resist adding them to this years holiday cookie platter. The recipe for these cookies is pretty similar to many other recipes for short bread where you mix the ingredients, chill the dough and then slice and bake it. Despite that fact that they take a bit of time with bringing the butter to room temperature and then chilling the dough, these cookies are really easy to make. The orange flavour certainly comes though well in these cookies and the bits of candied orange peel add a particularly nice texture. There is just something magical about the orange and chocolate flavour combination and it certainly works well with there cookies!

Orange Cookies Dipped in Chocolate

(make 24+ cookies)
Printable Recipe

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup candied orange peel (chopped)
1 orange (zest)
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
8 ounces dark chocolate (chopped)

1. Cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Mix the flour and the salt.
3. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until it starts forming larger clumps.
4. Mix in the candied orange, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla extract.
5. Form the dough into the shape that you want, wrap it in plastic and let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour. (I did a rectangular log but you could also do a circular log.)
6. Cut the log into 1/4 inch thick slices and place on a parchment lines baking pan with one inch of space between them.
7. Bake in a preheated 325F oven until they just start to turn lightly golden brown on top, about 15-20 minutes.
8. Let cool completely.
9. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
10. Dip the cookies into the chocolate and place on a sheet of parchment paper and let cool until the chocolate sets. (Feel free to chill them in the fridge to help it set quicker.)

Similar Recipes:
Chocolate and Maraschino Cherry Shortbread Cookies
Lime Meltaways
Meyer Lemon Bars
Mayan Orange Brownies
Orange Chocolate Cream Cheese Mousse
Almond Crescent Cookies
Maraschino Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies
Bacon Maple Shortbread

Baked Brie Topped with Caramelized Mushrooms

Baked Brie Topped with Mushrooms

Although I can sometimes go all out with the holiday cookie baking, I try to not to forget about savoury treats which are always a welcome change. A couple of years ago I discovered a savoury baked brie with cranberry sauce that was so amazingly good and I have been hooked ever since. When I came across a recipe for baked brie topped with mushrooms on Mushooms Canada there was no question as to what savoury appetizer I was going be making this year.

The idea is pretty simple; you saute and caramelize some mushrooms and onions, toss them on some brie and bake it until the cheese belts. To make things even easier on a busy day, you could cook the mushrooms the day before and then just bring them to room temperature before putting them on the brie and baking.

The baked brie topped with caramelized mushrooms was everything that I had been hoping for and then some! When I cut into the brie it came pouring out under the weight of the heaping pile of mushrooms on top of it. I served the baked brie and mushrooms with toasted baguette slices and scooped the mushrooms covered in melted gooey brie on top of them.

Baked Brie Topped with Mushrooms

Baked Brie Topped with Caramelized Mushrooms

(makes 4 servings)
Printable Recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion (finely diced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
8 ounces mushrooms (cleaned and quartered)
1 teaspoon thyme (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup white wine (or madeira or broth or 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar)
1 (8 ounce) wheel of brie
1 tablespoon parsley (chopped)
1 baguette (sliced)

1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Add the onion and cook until it starts to caramelize, about 20-30 minutes.
3. Add the mushrooms and saute until they start to caramelize, about 20-30 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
5. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Add the wine, deglaze the pan and cook until it has evaporated.
7. Place the brie on an oven proof serving platter, top with the mushrooms and bake in a preheated 350F oven until the cheese melts, about 8-10 minutes. (Optional: Cut the top off of the brie and let the mushrooms melt right into the brie.)

Similar Recipes:
Baked Brie with Cranberry Sauce
Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes topped with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms
Hot Cheesy Mushroom Dip
Shiitake Mushroom and Blue Cheese Crostini
Creamy Roasted Mushroom and Brie Soup

Maple Pecan Shortbread

Maple Pecan Shortbread

While I was searching for shortbread recipes I came across this one for maple pecan shortbread that sounded so good that it immediately made it to this years holiday cookie platter. Maple and pecan are among my favourite flavours and the combination of the two is simply amazing! It is a flavour combination that I really enjoy and frequently use. These cookies are essentially a shortbread with chopped pecans and maple flavouring in the form of maple syrup. To get even more mapley goodness I also replaced some of the sugar in the cookies with maple sugar. The cookies are then finished with a topping of a pecan half and some coarse grained sugar. Although these cookies are pretty easy to make, the dough requires some chilling time in the fridge so plan appropriately. You really cannot go wrong with buttery shortbread cookies and these maple pecan short bread cookies did not disappoint! The maple and pecan flavours came through really well and the cookies seemed to literally melt in your mouth. I can see that these cookies will definitely have a place on my holiday cookie platter for years to come!

Maple Pecan Shortbread

(makes 30+ cookies)
Printable Recipe

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pecans (toasted and finely chopped)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup maple sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 large egg yolk
1 large egg white (lightly beaten)
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup turbinado sugar

1. Mix the flours, salt and pecans in a large bowl.
2. Cream the butter and sugars in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
3. Beat in the maple syrup followed by the egg yolk.
4. Mix in the flour until it forms a dough.
5. Form the dough into a 1 1/2 inch thick log, wrap it in plastic and let it chill out in the fridge for 2 hours to over night.
6. Slice the log into 1/4 inch thick slices.
7. Place the cookies on a baking sheet 1 inch apart from each other, brush with the egg white and top with the pecan laves and the turbinado sugar.
8. Bake the cookies in a 350F preheated oven until lightly golden brown on the edges, about 10-12 minutes, turning the baking sheet around half way through.

Similar Recipes:
Maple Pecan Pie
Maple Pecan Ice Cream
Maple Pecan Granola
Lime Meltaways
Almond Crescent Cookies
Bacon Maple Shortbread

Tuna and Caper Tomato Pasta

Tuna and Caper Tomato Pasta

With the holidays quickly approaching I have been pretty busy and because of that I have been looking for some relatively quick and easy meals that do not compromise in flavour. Pastas work really well in these situations and not only is this pasta is absolutely packed with flavour but the recipe is straight forward and it only takes about a half an hour to make. Another plus is that I very often have all of the ingredients on hand, either in the fridge or in the pantry so it really is one of those 'go to' meals. The sauce for this pasta dish is pretty similar to a puttanesca sauce with the addition of tuna to make it a bit heartier. The capers and olives are responsible for a lot of the flavour in this dish and they really carry the day. If you want to simplify things even more you can easily skip the wine or replace it with some chicken broth. You can also omit the anchovies, though they also add a lot of flavour and you won't even see them in finished product. You could easily top this pasta off with some grated cheese but it hardly needs it.

Now that dinner is made, its time to get back to baking! :)

Tuna and Caper Tomato Pasta

(makes 4 servings)
Printable Recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
1 (28 ounce) can plum tomatoes (crushed)
2 tablespoons capers (drained)
1/4 cup kalamata olives (pitted and diced)
2 anchovies (minced, optional)
1 can tuna (drained)
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound spaghetti
1 handful parsley (chopped)

1. Heat the oil in the pan at medium heat.
2. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and chili pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
4. Add the white wine, deglaze the pan and then simmer until it has almost all evaporated, about 5 minutes.
5. Add the tomatoes and capers and simmer until the sauce just starts to thicken, about 10 minutes.
6. Add the olives, anchovies and tuna and simmer for 10 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, cook the pasta as directed
8. Season the tomato sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
9. Remove the tomato sauce from the heat and mix in the parsley.
10. Toss the pasta in the sauce and serve.

Similar Recipes:
Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
Spaghetti alla Marinara
Maccheroni Calabresei alla Arrabiata
Tilapia Piccata

Take a look at the Presto Pasta Nights roundup on From Kirsten's Kitchen to Yours.

Lime Meltaways

Lime Meltaways

It just wouldn't be the holidays without some form of shortbread and one of the things that I like so much about shortbread, other than its buttery melt in your mouth goodness, is that it is easy to change things up by adding different flavours. I found this recipe for lime 'meltaway' shortbread cookies on use real butter a while ago and I had been itching to make them. With the dull and dreary winter weather setting in, it seemed like the perfect time to pull out some limes to ward off the gloominess, even if just for a few moments. There is just something magical about dusting shortbread in powdered sugar from its reminder of and hope for a white Christmas to the way that it quickly melts in you mouth delivering its sweetness. Although these cookies can be a bit messy, I recommend using a plate and napkins, they are certainly worth it! The initial hit of sweetness gives way to the buttery shortbread and then lime flavour comes through finishing off everything nicely.

Lime Meltaways

(makes 24+ cookies)
Printable Recipe

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 limes (zest)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup powdered sugar

1. Cream the butter with the powdered sugar.
2. Beat in the lime zest, lime juice and vanilla.
3. Mix the flour, cornstarch and salt in a large bowl.
4. Beat the dry ingredients into the wet.
5. Roll the dough out into a 1 1/4 inch log.
6. Wrap in plastic and let chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
7. Slice the dough into 1/4 in thick slices and place them on a baking sheet, 1 inch apart from each other.
8. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until just lightly golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.
9. Let cool on a wire rack for 4 minutes.
10. Dredge cookies in powdered sugar to coat.

Similar Recipes:
Meyer Lemon Bars
Key Lime Pie
Maple Pecan Shortbread
Orange Cookies Dipped in Chocolate
Almond Crescent Cookies
Chocolate and Maraschino Cherry Shortbread Cookies

Crab Mac and Cheese

Crab Mac and Cheese

When I was in university, I practically lived off of macaroni and cheese and by the time that I was done I was so sick of it that I have not really touched it since. I recently came across the description of a crab mac and cheese in a menu that sounded so good that it convinced me that it was finally time to make macaroni and cheese. While I was contemplating the crab mac and cheese recipe, I kept thinking about crab cakes and eventually I decided to go with the idea and thus this crab cake mac and cheese was born.

One of the first questions that needs to be answered when making mac and cheese is: 'What kind of a sauce do you want?' and I decided to keep things simple and went with a bechamel sauce and in addition to the milk I added some cream to make it a bit richer. The next question that you have to ask is: 'What kind of cheese do you want?'. When choosing a cheese you want to choose a cheese that is tasty and a cheese that melts well. I was thinking that I wanted to keep this mac and cheese white and that I did not want a cheese that was too strong in flavour that it would completely overwhelm the crab so I went with a gruyere and to that I added a bit of fontina which melts well. Continuing with the crab cakes concept, I seasoned the sauce with old bay seasoning, mayonnaise and a generous hit of grainy mustard. Crab cakes are generally made with bread crumbs and so I decided to top the mac and cheese off with a crunchy layer of panko bread crumbs.

The crab cake mac and cheese came together easily and it exceeded even my wildest expectations! It was nice and creamy and cheesy and just packed with flavour. The gooey melted cheese was amazing and the flavour of the crab came through well. This mac and cheese may be a bit decadent but it is so worth it! I particularly liked the way that the grainy mustard worked in it adding a bit of crunchiness. My aversion to mac and cheese is officially cured and I already have a few more ideas for some different recipes.

Crab Mac and Cheese

(makes 4-6 servings)
Printable Recipe

1 pound pasta
2 tablspoons butter
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon old bay seasoning
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces gruyere (grated)
4 ounces fontina (diced)
1/2 pound crab meat (cooked)
4 green onions (sliced)
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano (grated)

1. Start cooking the pasta as directed on the package. (When it is done, drain it and set it aside.)
2. Melt the butter in a pan.
3. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
4. Mix in the flour and cook until it turns a light golden brown in colour.
5. Add the milk and cream and cook until it thickens, about 3-5 minutes.
6. Add the old bay seasoning, mayonnaise, mustard and season with salt and pepper.
7. Mix in the gruyere and fontina and cook until it melts.
8. Mix in the pasta, crab and green onions and remove from heat.
9. Melt the butter in a pan.
10. Add the breadcrumbs and toss to coat, remove from heat and mix in the parmigiano reggiano.
11. Pour the mac and cheese into a baking dish and top with the breadcrumbs.
12. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until golden brown on top and bubbling on the sides, about 20-30 minutes.

Similar Recipes:
Goat Cheese, Roasted Red Pepper and Kalamata Olive Mac n Cheese
Maryland Crab Cakes
Seafood Lasagna
Crab Quesadillas
Crab Summer Rolls with Cashew Butter Dipping Sauce

Take a look at the Presto Pasta Nights roundup on The Crispy Cook.

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons

Enough with reminiscing about holiday cookies past, it is time to kick off this years holiday cookie baking! First up on the list was a classic, coconut macaroons; not to be confused with macarons. Coconut macaroons are really simple containing just shredded coconut, sugar and egg whites to hold it all together. You bake them in the oven until they turn a nice light golden brown on the outside and after they cool they have an amazing slightly crisp outer layer but the inside is nice and moist and tender and oh so good! If you are a fan of coconut then these macaroons are definitely for you! For a lighter and fluffier version you can beat the egg whites and sugar until they form stiff peaks before folding in the coconut. Speaking of coconut, one of the best things to pair coconut with is chocolate and I could not resist drizzling some melted dark chocolate over my coconut macaroons!

Coconut Macaroons

(makes 18-25 cookies)
Printable Recipe

3 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup of sugar
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
2 ounces dark chocolate (shaved)

1. Mix the egg whites, vanilla, sugar and coconut in a bowl.
2. Spoon the batter onto a parchment paper lined baking pan with 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons of batter per cookie.
3. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until lightly golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.
4. Let cool for 20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double boiler and dip the macaroons in the chocolate or drizzle the chocolate on the macaroons.

Similar Recipes:
Green Tea Macarons

Use the leftover egg yolks in:
Guinness Chocolate Pudding
Hollandaise Sauce
Avgolemono Sauce
Azuki (Red Bean) Ice Cream
Black Sesame Ice Cream

Mushroom and Zucchini Enchiladas

Mushroom and Zucchini Enchiladas

This recipe has been on my mind for a while now. It originally sprung from me thinking about new ways to enjoy mushrooms using the flavours and/or cooking styles of some of my favourite cuisines. Mexican cuisine is definitely one of my favourite cuisines so it naturally came up and I was quickly thinking about enchiladas. Although I wanted the mushrooms to be the star of the show, I did not want the entire filling to be made up of mushrooms so I added some zucchini to fill things out. I am absolutely hooked on salsa verde and thus, I decided to finish the filling off with some of the tasty stuff. It is easy enough to make your own salsa verde if you froze some tomatillos from the summer like I did, but store bought can be really good as well. I often go for the completely wet enchilada but this time I went with drier ones and I just coated the bottom of the pan with some salsa to prevent them from sticking and then topped them with a little salsa along with the cheese. For aesthetics, I finally topped each enchilada off with a sliced mushroom.

Mushroom and Zucchini Enchiladas

Mushroom and Zucchini Enchiladas

(make 4 servings)
Printable Recipe

2 tablespoon oil
1 large onion (sliced)
1 pound mushrooms, I used cremini and portobello (diced)
1 pound zucchini (diced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 teaspoon cumin (toasted and ground)
1 teaspoon oregano
3 cups salsa verde
12 small corn tortillas
1 cup jack and cheddar cheese (shredded)

1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes at medium-high heat.
3. Add the mushrooms and cook until they release their moisture and it has evaporated, about 10-15 minutes.
4. Add the zucchini and cook until just tendder, about 4-5 minutes.
5. Add the garlic, cumin and oregano and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
5. Remove from heat and mix in a cup of the salsa verde.
6. Spread 1/4 cup of the salsa verde over the bottom of your baking dish.
7. Fill the corn tortillas with filling, roll them up and place them in the baking dish with the seam on the bottom.
8. Pour the remaining salsa verde over the tortillas and sprinkle on the cheese.
9. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the cheese is nice and bubbling and starts to brown, about 20 minutes.

Similar Recipes:
Mushroom Quesadillas
Turkey and Zucchini Green Chili
Salsa Verde Lasagna
Thai Spicy Peanut Chicken Enchiladas
Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini
Chicken and Avocado Enchiladas in Creamy Avocado Sauce