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Thursday, 11 April 2013

Easy, Delicious Mac n' Cheese and Quick Lasagna

I don't just make desserts. ;)

Here are a couple easy peasy dinner ideas that I've played around with this week.  
They can be made in advance and re-heated, too. Everyone has enjoyed both very much.

Start by:
Cooking up brown rice noodles. I'd say make 2 boxes/bags worth if you are using boxes/bags. Use a BIG pot.  I find brown rice noodles all need between 7-11 minutes to cook. Make sure to taste before you drain!  Drain and rinse in cold water.   Mix in a bit of olive oil to keep them from sticking to each other. You can pop them in the refrigerator until you're ready to use them (for 2-3 days)
Quick n' Easy Lasagna!

Use half the noodles to make each recipe below:

Cheesy Broccoli Bake OR Plain Mac n' Cheese  It just depends if you're in the mood for broccoli in the dish or on the side. ;)

Rinse and chop off heads of ~2 broccoli bunches. Don't use the stems. Set broccoli aside.
Have 2 cups grated cheese ready to go. A cheddar or cheddar mix is nice. (I keep bags of this in the freezer for easy meals)

Over medium heat in a large/wide saucepan melt:
1/4 cup butter

Cook until tender:
1/2 onion, diced

2 cups milk & 1 tsp chicken boullion (for flavor)
salt & pepper (you can adjust flavor later, but I just grind fresh over the top of the pan)

While this is heating up (you want nice rolling boil bubbles to start before you add the next ingredient), mix in a small bowl: 1/4 cup cold milk and 1 heaping Tbsp cornstarch.

Once your food is boiling, add in this milk/cornstarch mix and mix well. This thickens your sauce. Stir/cook until you see your sauce bubble gently.

Remove sauce from heat and mix in cheese until fully melted. Taste to see if you want to add a bit more pepper or salt.
Mix in the broccoli (optional). Pour the whole thing into an 8x8 baking pan.

Optional before baking:
Sprinkle on top EITHER 1/2 cup cheese OR 1/2 cup cheese mixed with 1/4 cup cornflake crumbs or GF bread crumbs.

Bake ~25min at 375F.

NOTE: if you don't want the broccoli - you'll just have a nice macaroni and cheese bake. :)

With the remaining cooked noodles, do the following (not necessarily on the same day. I made this the next day for our family).

Easy Lasagna Bake:
An option to start: Cook up a bag of spinach in a saucepan with a bit of water. Season with some salt and pepper. Squeeze to drain out . Chop into smaller pieces using a cutting board.

Mix in a bowl: 
1/2 container of ricotta
1 cup grated mozzarella (I keep bags of this in the freezer for easy meals)
1/4 cup grated parmesan or romano
spinach from above, if using
salt and pepper to season

Add noodles and mix with cheesy mixture.

Add 1/2 - 1 jar spaghetti sauce (I like Classico for best flavor) into noodles, mix gently. it doesn't have to be thoroughly mixed!

Pour into 8x8 pan

Optional toppings: sprinkle top with mozzarella and parmesan.
Bake ~25-30 min at 375F.
*Alternatively, you can layer sauce, noodles, ricotta mix, sauce, noodles (continue), ending with some parmesan on top, like a normal lasagna - but with fun noodle shapes!
While lasagna is baking, put foil on a cookie sheet. Lay out some slices of gluten-free bread. Spread with butter and sprinkle lightly with garlic powder.

Pop this into the oven as soon as you take the lasagna out. Let cook ~5 min, at which point the lasagna is cool enough to eat.

A quick and easy lasagna made with shell noodles and only parmesan on top

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