Thank you to my blog friend Laura in Japan for requesting two recipes. Here they are!
Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- 2 cups dried elbow macaroni (8 ounces)
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup) **
- 1 15-oz. can pumpkin
- 1 Tbsp. snipped fresh sage or 1/2 tsp. dried leaf sage, crushed
- 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs **
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts **
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- Sage leaves (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook pasta in a large pot following package directions. Drain cooked pasta, then return to pot.
2. For cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Add whipping cream and milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in cheese, pumpkin, and sage until cheese is melted. Stir cheese sauce into pasta to coat. Transfer macaroni and cheese to an ungreased 2-quart rectangular baking dish.
3. In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, walnuts, and oil; sprinkle over pasta. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with sage leaves.
** I will omit the nuts and breadcrumbs. In place of Fontina cheese, I will use Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar.
Kung Pao Chicken
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast or chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch chunks (or use a mixture of both cuts of chicken)
2 T. white wine
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. sesame oil, divided
2 T. cornstarch, dissolved into 2 T. water
1 oz. hot chili garlic paste
1 t. rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
2 t. brown sugar
4 green onions, minced fine
1 T. garlic
1 8 oz. can water chesnuts, drained and rough chopped
4 oz. dry roasted peanuts.
5-6 whole, dry red chilies
Marinate chicken in 1 T. soy sauce, 1 T. oil, 1 T. cornstarch mix. Marinate 30 minutes or longer.
Meanwhile make sauce of~ 1 T. wine, 1 T. soy sauce, 1 T. oil 1 T. cornstarch mix, chili paste, vinegar and sugar. Mix and set aside.
In small dry skillet heat peanuts and chilies until chilies are dark red, almost burnt looking and peanuts take on a toasted look. Keep a sharp eye on this at it will burn quickly. Stir frequently. When toasted, set aside.
In hot wok or large fry pan, heat 1 T. vegetable oil. Add chicken. Cook until dark golden brown and juice runs clear. Add garlic, waterchesnuts chestnuts, roasted peanuts, chili’s and green onions. Heat through. Add sauce stir until thick. Serve with hot, cooked white or brown rice.
** Beth’s Version of Kung Pao Chicken
We LOVE it spicy! For my marinade I used chili oil in place of straight oil and added ¼ t. white pepper and 1t. crushed red pepper flakes. I also added ¼ t. minced ginger and 1 T. minced garlic to my marinade. After marinating I drain the chicken then place it on a bed of paper towels. I blot excess moisture, with more paper towels, from the chicken. I cooked the chicken in a bit of olive oil mixed with sesame oil on very hot heat until the chicken was a dark caramel color.
I also substituted the chili oil for regular oil in the sauce recipe and added more white pepper and crushed red chili flakes to my sauce.
I also add as many vegetables as I like. I’ve loved adding matchstick carrots, chopped onion, snow peas, and bamboo shoots. This last time I added matchstick carrots, chopped onion, broccoli, mushrooms, and shredded cabbage. But all the vegetables need to be cooked stir fry fashion, just a bit crispy but tender.
Cashews may be substituted for peanuts.