mozzarella pesto mac and cheese

I prepped my Mother’s Day brunch months in advance, I prepped my birthday cake months in advance (coming next week!), so obviously I also prepped my birthday dinner months in advance. I promise this isn’t a statement about my faith in Eggboy’s cooking skills so much as it is an example of my obsession with meal prep. I don’t know if it was obvious but I started planning my baby meal prep the moment the little pee stick flashed the word “pregnant” on it. Sorry, I’ll never talk about pee in a recipe post again. So back in like August when I was planning all of this, I thought what will I want to eat on my birthday in May? It was so far in the future but macaroni and cheese always has and always will be my number one favorite food, so I figured that was the most reliable choice.

So here is a version of mac and cheese that I have been really loving these days. It’s not as cheesy as the casseroles that I grew up eating on every special occasion, it’s more saucy and milky, and pretty mild, flavor-wise. I knew I’d be prepping giant batches of it to have on hand for my whole maternity leave, so I went with something that was on the lighter end of the spectrum, at least for mac and cheese. It’s got a pretty green dollop of springy pesto (I used store-bought but would have used homemade if I had basil back in March!), and these individual servings make it really easy to heat quickly. They’re perfect to pair with salad or, my go-to sides as a 7-year-old, apple slices and cold baby carrots. 

If you’ve never made mac and cheese before or are looking to create your own version of mac and cheese with all of your favorite cheeses and mix-ins, this is a great basic recipe to start with. It’s pretty barebones, which means that it lends itself nicely to switching up or adding more cheeses (any cheese should work! less melty ones, like feta, won’t yield a smooth sauce but they’ll still be tasty), adding different flavors (paprika, nutmeg, sriracha, harissa, a little mustard, etc.), veggies (peas! onions! broccoli!) or meats (hot dogsssss!!!!). You can really go wild here. 

And of course, you don’t have to make individual servings or make this to freeze ahead. Bake this in a big casserole dish! Immediately! Or do what I do and just stand over the pot and take a million test bites, just to make sure it’s good, before it gets dumped in the casserole and browned in the oven for other people to eat since you’ve just filled up on “test bites.”

I’ve used Our Family cheese and noodles here, which I always have on hand in case of mac and cheese emergencies! 


Mozzarella Pesto Mac and Cheese (Freezer Friendly)

makes 10 servings

Ingredients

1 lb (16oz) Our Family mini shells or macaroni noodles

1/2 c (113g) unsalted butter

1/2 c (65g) all-purpose flour

6 c (1.44kg) 2% or whole milk

1 1/2 c (6oz) shredded Our Family mozzarella

1 c (4oz) shredded Our Family swiss

3/4 c (3oz) shredded Our Family parmesan, divided

Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

5 tb prepared pesto

10 tb (32g) panko breadcrumbs 

Directions

If baking immediately, preheat the oven to 375ºf. If prepping for the freezer, see directions below.

Cook the noodles to al dente per the directions on the box. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium high heat. Stir in the flour and cook for about a minute. Add the milk, one cup at a time, whisking or stirring with a wooden spoon after each until thickened. Add the mozzarella, swiss, and 1/2 cup of the parmesan and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add this point if you want to add fun mix-ins like cut up hot dogs or crispy bacon or peas or hot sauce, now’s the time to do so. Stir in the noodles. It may seem overly saucy at this point but once it bakes up, it’ll be perfect!

To bake immediately, pour into a 9” x 13” casserole dish, dollop all over with the pesto and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and remaining 1/4 cup of parmesan and bake for 25 minutes, or until browned and bubbly. Enjoy!

To prepare for the freezer, divide into 10 individual containers (I like these because they are safe for the oven, microwave, and freezer). Add a heaping teaspoon of pesto to the tops of each and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and remaining 1/4 cup of parmesan. Let cool slightly, wrap well in plastic wrap, label, and freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat in the oven at 375º for 25 minutes covered with foil plus 20 minutes uncovered, or until browned and heated through. Or reheat in the microwave by heating for 4 minutes, stirring halfway through. Enjoy!


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

this recipe was created in partnership with our family!

Here is a PDF of the freezer labels that I made! They are for Avery labels #6570.

pizza bourekas

It’s been a while since we discussed pizza night recipes! Pizza night is obviously really exciting during the summer because the tomatoes and basil from the garden make every Friday a home run. In July, I got into such a great groove of sticking a pizza in the oven, running outside to the garden (or, more likely, sending Eggboy out), and yanking a few basil leaves to tear over a steamy hot margarita. Our basil did so well this year in its sunny spot in front of the house. When fall came, we transitioned to apple pizzas with apples from our trees and squash pizzas with some of the gajillion butternut squash that we grew, but my problem with those types of flavors that straddle the line between savory and sweet is that I love them sooooo much for about two days and then I immediately get sick of them and I can’t think about them for another year. 

So after the garden had truly died, we fell into kind of a janky pizza phase: a few weeks ago I was dead set on trying that place in town that college kids go to exclusively after 2am, at one point I got a frozen cauliflower pizza, and two weeks ago there was the five course dive bar pizza tasting experience. They were all awesome. But like awesome in the way that spray can cheese is awesome…????

I figured that all of this pre-made pizza could have meant that I was in a pizza making rut, so rather than continuing to mourn the loss of my basil plant, I decided to shake things up and make pizza bourekas. Bourekas!! I love bourekas. Bourekas are pastry pockets that can be filled with pretty much anything, the most common of which have potatoes or cheese. I first fell in love with them at the Levinsky market in Tel Aviv, and they’re originally from the Balkans (they’re related to this Borek). With store-bought puff pastry, they’re not too difficult to make, and with pizza fillings they are just plain addictive. Cheesy sauciness in a buttery flaky pastry? Oh yes yes yes. They’re just as great hot out of the oven as they are cold out of the fridge the next morning for breakfast, which is the sign of a solid pizza situation. You can add any of your favorite pizza toppings, these days I’m into mini pepperoni, which I am hereby calling “meat sprinkles.”

…Slowly backs away…

And I’m using ingredients from one of my favorite grocery brands, Our Family! If you’re from North Dakota or Michigan, you know (and love) Our Family from seeing them in almost every section of the grocery store. I use their ingredients all the time because they’re reliable and the name just makes me smile. The culinary team for Girl Meets Farm also loves Our Family because their label is really easy to greek, but my North Dakota friends still recognized it! Which made me really happy. Thanks so much for sponsoring this post, Our Family


Pizza Bourekas

Makes 6

Ingredients

4 oz Our Family shredded mozzarella

6 oz Our Family whole milk or part skim ricotta

2 large eggs

2 tb all purpose flour, plus more for dusting

A good pinch of Kosher salt

Black pepper

A pinch of dried oregano

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

6 tb (94g) pizza sauce, plus more for serving

Additional toppings as desired: chopped peppers, onions, mini pepperoni, sausage, etc.

Crushed red pepper, for topping

Clues

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the mozzarella, ricotta, 1 of the eggs, flour, salt, a few turns of pepper, and oregano.

On a work surface lightly dusted with flour, roll the puff pastry out to 10” x 15”. If it gets sticky, you can dust with more flour as needed. Cut the pastry into 6 squares and transfer to the baking sheet. Place a dollop of the cheese mixture into one of the corners of each square, leaving a 3/4” border (see photo above for reference). Create a well in the center of the cheese mixture and add a spoonful of sauce. Sprinkle with additional desired toppings. Beat the remaining egg with a splash of water to make an egg wash and brush the edges of the pastry with it. Fold the pastry over and press to seal well, using a fork to pinch the edges. Repeat with remaining pastry squares. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with crushed red pepper. 

Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375ºf. 

Bake until golden brown; begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes. (It’s alright if some of them break open at the seams while baking, it’s part of their rustic charm.) Let cool slightly and then serve warm with additional pizza sauce for dunking. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator and are great cold the next morning for breakfast! You can also prepare a whole batch a day or two in advance, store them in the fridge, and reheat them for a few minutes in a 325ºf oven before serving. 

-yeh!

Thank you, Our Family, for sponsoring this post

Photos by Chantell and Brett Quernemoen

gigantic party breakfast sandwich

~*~*~ how to win brunch in six easy steps! ~*~*~

1. pick stuff from the garden that looks good! herbs, peppers, tomatoes, onions, and zucchini are all great choices. and don't forget to swing by the coop eggs!

2. make a sheet pan of focaccia and use your biggest serrated knife to cut it in half horizontally, almost like you're leveling a cake.

3. make a big baked egg situation that's the same size as your focaccia and flop it onto the bottom of the focaccia.

4. top it with cheese, herbs, tomatoes, bacon, any other toppings you'd like.

5. top it with the top of the focaccia and bake until the cheese is melty. now you have a hot sheet cake of breakfast sandwich!

6. cut it into squares! yay!

yeahhhh baby!

I am knee deep in development mode for recipes to make at Unglued Camp and have been testing this as a way of making breakfast sandwiches for a huge group of people! I'm so excited about it. It's my take on this thing that I discovered on the internet, the breakfast sandwich casserole. Google it, it's wild.

I am digging this recipe for these reasons:

-Most of the prep can be done in advance. You can bake the focaccia and egg a day before serving, and then the day of all you need to do is assemble and heat.

-It's endlessly improvisable based on what you've got in your garden or what looked good at the market! Think of the egg layer as one giant quiche: cram in as many or as few veggies as you'd like, change up the cheeses, fux with the seasonings, you know the drill. 

-You get geometrically pleasing sandwiches where the filling lines up exactly with the bread.

-It's vaguely reminiscent of those really long Subway party subs, which were the most underrated birthday party food.


party breakfast sandwich

makes 12 sandwiches

part 1: focaccia

ingredients 

1 1/2 c (354ml) warm water
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tb sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 c + 2 tb (175g) olive oil, divided
5 c (650g) all-purpose flour, or sub 2 c (260g) for whole wheat flour
Leaves from 1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped (thyme would also work!)
1/2 purple onion thinly sliced
Flaky salt
 

clues

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together the water, yeast, and sugar. Let it sit for 5 minutes, or until foamy. With the mixer running on low speed, add the salt and 1/2 cup olive oil, and then gradually add the flour. Add the rosemary. Increase the speed to medium high and mix for 7-10 minutes, adding just enough additional flour so that the dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Do not add too much flour. The dough should be smooth and slightly sticky. Lightly coat a clean large bowl with oil or cooking spray and then place the dough in the bowl and turn it once or twice to coat it in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

[This is a good time to make the eggs!]

Coat the bottom and sides of a 9” x 13” rimmed sheet pan with 1/4 cup olive oil. Pat out the dough all the way to the edges, but keep it slightly thinner around the edges (it will seem like there’s a lot of oil in the bottom of the pan but that will make it good). Brush the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and distribute the purple onion slices all over. Sprinkle with flaky salt. Let rise uncovered another 40 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Bake for 25 minutes, until lightly browned on top. (While it’s baking the dough might start to creep over the edges of the pan but that’s ok, some overhang will actually make it easier to cut it when the time comes.) Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan. If making this the day before, turn onto a wire rack, let cool completely, wrap in plastic wrap, and store at room temp. If you’re wanting to serve asap, let the focaccia cool until it’s just cool enough to handle and zip down to the assembly steps.
 

part 2: eggs

ingredients

2 tb olive oil
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
Other optional veggies: 1 small zucchini thinly sliced, 1 jalapeño seeded and thinly sliced, a handful or 2 of leafy greens like spinach, kale, or chard
Kosher salt
Black pepper
3 oz (85g) shredded cheddar (swiss or mozzarella would also work!)
8 large eggs
1/2 c (120ml) Heavy cream
3/4 c (180ml) whole milk
1 tsp sweet paprika
Hot sauce, to taste
 

clues

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Grease and line a 9” x 13” rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper, leaving 1” wings on two of the sides. 

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the pepper, onion, and other veggies and cook until soft, about 7-10 minutes. Transfer to the sheet pan, spread them out evenly and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the cheese over the top. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, whole milk, paprika, hot sauce, 1 tsp salt, and a few turns of pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the veggies and bake until set and lightly browned on top; begin checking for doneness at 25 minutes.

If making the day before, let this cool in the pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. If not, go straight to assembly, below.
 

part 3: assembly

ingredients

About 8 oz (226g) shredded or sliced cheese
Optional toppings: sliced tomatoes, chopped fresh basil or other tender herbs, cooked bacon, cooked sausage
 

clues

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Place the focaccia back in the sheet pan if you took it out to cool. Use the largest serrated knife you have to cut the focaccia loaf in half horizontally, using the rim as a guide. I like to rotate the pan with one hand as I saw off the top with the other (it’s just like leveling a huge cake). Flip the egg onto the bottom piece of focaccia. Top with cheese and other toppings as desired. Top with the top of the focaccia. Bake until the cheese is melted, the edges of the focaccia are crispy, and the egg is warmed through; begin checking for doneness at about 20 minutes. If the focaccia begins to get too browned for your liking but the middle still needs some time, then tent with foil. Slide onto a cutting board, slice into squares and enjoy!
 

everything bagel mac and cheese

Ok, as long as no one we know gets surprised engaged and decides to surprise go to Hawaii and get married at the last minute, we are done going to weddings for a few good months, which I’m kind of sad about because the Rent the Runway dresses I’ve been finding have been off the hook. And I love a good dance party. And the far off destinations that we get to go to. This past weekend we were right on the Idaho/Wyoming border for an Eggcousin wedding at a ranch that made me want to go back and watch Hey Dude reruns. (Was that a good show? Or just an obstacle on the way to Bug Juice and Double Dare? Will we ever know?)

It was my first time in Wyoming and I gasped when I saw the scenery. Mountains are so good. On our first night we stayed at the adorable Anvil Hotel in Jackson and had a delicious and inspiring crispy honey chicken with creamed corn at Glorietta. I pretty much never order chicken at a restaurant unless it’s schnitzeled but our server said get the chicken so we got the chicken and it was one of the best decisions we’ve made at a restaurant all year. The next morning we hiked up Snow King mountain, ate an apple and peanut butter at the top, and then came down and drove across a Teton to the ranch in Idaho for the wedding. Wowee zowee, it was beautiful. We rode horses, saw a bunch of wildflowers, sat around a campfire, and Eggboy played music for the ceremony!! It was the best. 

Now we’re back, just in time for National Macaroni and Cheese Day!!!! Which is the only food holiday besides donut day that I take seriously for now. It’s on Saturday. And I know, it’s kind of dumb to have it fall in the middle of summer when we should be taking advantage of fresh summer vegetables, but I don’t make the rules. So here is a recipe that I’ve been making in my low key mission to everything bagel (v.) all of the things. It was partly inspired by Alex and Sonja’s Everything Bagel Pasta, which looks sooo good. And the things that make this mac bagel-y are: 

-Cream cheese in the cheese sauce, which adds a delicious tang 

-Chives, because chive cream cheese is the best cream cheese

-Just a tiny bit of barley malt syrup, a sweet sticky substance that’s a key ingredient in making bagels taste bagel-y 

-Tons of everything bagel seasoning on top. It seems like a lot when you’re making it but it gets all crunchy in the oven and adds perfect texture. (I’ve included measurements below to make your own seasoning but you can certainly use store bought. If you use storebought: sprinkle it on to taste because some of them, like the one from Trader Joe’s, are extreeeeemely salty.)

 

-And if you’re feeling extra, sub out the panko breadcrumbs for bagel crumbs!

-And for bonus points: add hot dogs or veggie dogs and then it’s bagel dog mac and cheese.

…And there is no bagel-driven reason for the ketchup. I just like it.


Everything Bagel Mac and Cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients

1/2 lb (226g) pasta, I prefer rigatoni
Olive oil
1/4 c (68g) unsalted butter
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt
1/4 c (33g) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 c (590g) whole milk
4 oz (113g) cream cheese
4 oz (113g) white cheddar or gruyere or a mix of both, shredded
1 oz (28g) parmesan, shredded
1 1/2 tsp barley malt syrup, optional
Crushed red
Black pepper
1/2 c chopped chives or scallions
Bonus points: 2 cut up cooked hot dogs or veggie dogs

Topping

3/4 c (75g) panko breadcrumbs
1 tb unsalted butter, melted
1 tb each: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried minced garlic, dried minced onion
A few pinches of Kosher salt

Ketchup, for serving
 

Clues

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Prepare the pasta according to the directions on the box, cooking for one minute less than directed. Drain, toss with a drizzle of olive oil, and set aside. 

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium high. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until soft, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the milk and cook, whisking continuously, until thickened, and then repeat with another cup, and then the remaining 1/2 cup. Add the cheese and stir until melted, and then add the barley malt syrup (if using), a few pinches of crushed red pepper, a few turns of black pepper, and salt to taste. Stir in the pasta, chives, and hot dogs, if using. Transfer to an 8” baking dish or a dish that’s a similar size. In a medium bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs and melted butter and then distribute it over the top of the mac and cheese. Combine the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried minced onion, dried minced garlic, and salt in that same medium bowl and sprinkle it liberally over the top.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let cool slightly and then serve with ketchup.
 


-yeh!

mac and cheese photo by chantell and brett


P.S. I have a few fun appearances on Food Network this weekend!! 

On Saturday at 11am eastern I will be making peanut butter cake on one of my favorite shows, The Kitchen!!!!

👆🏼👆🏼Feeling very at home in the presence of Jeff Mauro and his great Chicago accent.

And on Sunday at 9pm eastern I will be a guest judge on Food Network Star!

Bobby and Giada were soo nice!!!! 

And on Sunday at 11am eastern on Girl Meets Farm, we will be celebrating Eggsister's baby shower!!! There will be donuts!! And ~walking tacos~!