Entries Tagged as 'asparagus'

Extreme Rotini and Cheese and a Gaw-jis Meatloaf

rotini and cheese

“So what in the Sam Hill is Nikki doing making meatloaf and mac and cheese in the summer for?” you ask? Well. Even though the temps are soaring, and the sun is blazing, I braved the house heating oven. For One Reason. Michelle, at Thursday Night Smackdown posted her oh so decadent creamy cheesy rotini. Did you see that stuff?! I may have slobbered all over myself. And cried with envy at that dish. She is such a fabulously funny writer, making *thee* most amazing of foods. I mean, this gal makes $55 sticks of butter for recipes, folks. Michelle is also the poached egg Master (Madame? Mistress?).  I bow down to her talents, people.  Seriously. 

So back to the Cheeeese….the Rotini and Cheese…I followed Michelle’s recipe pretty closely, though I did make a few changes, which I’ll note here:


1 1/2 pounds (750 grams) rotini
1/2 cup butter
a few saffron threads
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 quarts (1 1/2 liters) milk
2 cups grated white Cheddar
1 cup grated Gouda
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Regiano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
plenty of freshly cracked black pepper
a spoonful of sweet Spanish paprika
a generous grate of nutmeg
2 chicken bouillon cubes, crumbled
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs


First, preheat your oven to about 350ºF/175ºC and get your pasta water boiling.
While this is getting started, get your sauce going.
Heat butter over medium heat.
Remove from heat and add saffron threads.
Stir this around a little bit so the saffron releases it’s color and aroma.
Add flour and whisk until creamy.Add the bouillon (be sure it’s pretty powdery, and whisk it through)
Add a bit of milk and whisk until thoroughly combined.
Add remaining milk and return to heat.
You’re going to have to whisk this pertnear (that’s a Minnesotan word, guys…it means “almost.”) constantly until it heats through and begins to thicken.
This will happen after about 10 minutes or so.
When the sauce is just beginning to thicken, add the remaining seasonings and stir through.
Now it should really start to thicken up.
Remove from heat and add the cheeses.
Taste a spoonful (or 5) to make sure the seasonings are right.
You might need to taste some more spoonfuls to be sure.
Once you’ve gotten the sauce right, cover and set it aside.
Your noodles should be about done by now, right?
Drain them and add them to the sauce.
Stir it all up.
Pour this into an oven proof dish.
Now, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in the mic quick.
Add the melted butter to the bread crumbs and mix it up really well with a fork, until it has a sandy texture and appearance (yum! let’s eat sand!).
Sprinkle this all over the top of the noodles and cheese.
Bake about 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
See that?

rotini and cheese

“So what about this so called ‘gaw-jis’ meatloaf?” you ask…”And anyway, who the hell has ever seen a beautiful meatloaf?”  No one has.  It just isn’t possible, because meatloaf is ugly assed food.  But I don’t care, because it is really, REALLY good.  Meatloaf may not be beautiful on the *outside,* but it sure is gorgeous when you take that first tender bite, seasoned just so, with a kick of Sweet Baby Ray’s slathered over the top for good measure. 

gawjis meatloaf

Now that’s good eatin’.


2 pounds (1 kilo) ground beef
1 egg
2/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup milk
garlic powder…lots, at least a tablespoon
1/2 envelope of Knorr Onion soup mix
a bunch of cracked black pepper
a good splash of Worcestershire sauce
a good splash of HP Sauce (or Heinz 57, or A1)
Sweet Baby Ray’s bbq sauce to cover the top


Preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºC.
In a large bowl, mix everything except bbq sauce really well.
You may need to use your hands for this, it’s just easier.
Spread the meat mixture into a loaf pan, or make a free form loaf on a lipped baking sheet or jelly roll pan.
Cover with bbq sauce.
Bake for about an hour, until cooked through.
Drain off excess liquid and allow to rest, covered for about 15 minutes.
Slice and serve.

I decided to serve this with some steamed asparagus, bathed in butter and lightly seasoned with sea salt and cracked pepper.


Man. This is living. So THAT, my friends, is why I made rotini and cheese and meatloaf in the summer. I bet you anything you want to do the same right about now. LOL ;)

Proximamente…las recetas en español. :)

Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto

Asparagus is at it’s peak here in canaryland, it’s crisp and fresh, and can be attained at an excellent price….not so common round these parts!  We can generally get white asparagus, especially canned (though that’s not really the same food now, is it?), since it’s grown extensively in Navarra….but the green variety, the thin stalks of deliciousness are somewhat evasive here…well, the fresh kind anyway.  The soft, bendy shrively kind is readily available most of the time.  But who the heck wants that? :P lol  I adore asparagus season…it is easily one of my favorite vegetables, and even the simplest of preparations gets my heart beating in excitement…but this dish, my friends…risotto…with asparagus tossed in near the end so that it still has that hint of crunch, and combined with big white mushrooms?  Well, that’s just taking it to a whole ‘nother level, now isn’t it?  :D



2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, minced
a bunch of mushrooms (to taste), cleaned and sliced
1/4 cup butter
2 cups arborio (or other short, round grained rice)
3 cups broth of choice (maybe a little more depending)
1 1/2-2 cups dry white wine
a bunch of asparagus (to taste, washed and stemmed–hold asparagus and bend until it breaks. Use the end with the tip and discard the woody edged stem–or alternately, peel end with a vegetable peeler)
1/2 cup freshly grated grana padano or parmeggiano-reggiano
salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste


Heat oil in sautee pan over medium heat.
First sautee garlic until golden and toasty, but not burned.
Toss in onion and continue to sautee until translucent.
Add mushrooms and stir around, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Cover and cook over low heat until cooked through, stirring occasionally.
In another deep sautee pan, melt butter over medium heat.
Add rice, season, and stir around until color changes (about 2 minutes or so).
Add in mushroom mixture, and stir through.
Add broth alternating with wine, half cup at a time, stirring constantly until absorbed.
Near the end of this process, add in asparagus, chopped into managable pieces.
Finish adding broth and wine until mostly absorbed.
Remove from heat and stir in cheese.
Adjust seasonings.


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