Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fast and Easy Ranch Macaroni and Cheese

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Macaroni and Cheese... Not the blue box, but real fresh made cheesy mixture of pasta Ooozing with cheese.

Deliciously EASY. just cook the pasta, meanwhile heat, mix and finally eat...

Amazingly fast... It only takes minutes to cook the pasta and the same minutes to mix up the cheese sauce.  Start to finish, less than 15 minutes.

This has a wonderful tangy special secret ingredient that will make your dish shine.  Everyone loves the taste of ranch dressing.  Now you get that same hint of flavor in this side dish.  Creamy, cheesy, fast, easy and delicious!  A perfect side dish.

And while I like this served warm, it is also just as good served as a cold pasta side.  Make this up the day before, allow all those flavors to mix and mingle and the dish is even better.  What more can you ask from a side dish???

OK... Here's what I did...

Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 Package (16 Oz) Campanelle Shaped Pasta (Elbow macaroni works fine, this shape holds more cheesey goodness)
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Butter, diced
  • 1 Envelope Hidden Valley Ranch brand  Ranch Salad Dressing seasoning mix
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Fresh ground pepper
  • Zest of 1 Medium Lemon
  • 1 Cup Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 1 Cup Shredded Colby Cheese
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream
  • 1/2 Cup "Cheese-Its" type snack crackers, crushed for garnish
  • 1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Several Pinches of Chopped Chives for Garnish
Cooking Directions
  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, combine the milk, butter, dressing mix and seasonings; heat through.
  3. Stir in Monterey Jack and Colby cheeses until melted. Stir in sour cream. Continue to heat until smooth.
  4. Drain macaroni; stir into cheese sauce. Top with the Cheeze-Its. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and Chives
  5. Serve Warm (or works as a cold pasta salad as well) and ENJOY!!!


My good Blogging buddy Larry has been RVing around the country and stopped by our little corner of the Universe.  I used the occasion of his visit to throw a Bobby Flay style BBQ Addiction Whoop de Doo with...

Fish, Fowl, Hoof, Larry, Snout and Fish!  

First up, the Fowl, that's a BBQ Turkey, brined and injected with Cajun Butter and Glazed with that Jack Daniel's Whiskey BBQ Sauce.
Second is the Hoof, a 30 Garlic Peppercorn Beef Roast.
Third is Larry hisself!
These Sweet Cherry Baby Back ribs are second from the right 
And last but not least... the Fish is an absolutely amazing Cranberry Walnut sauce Sugar Cured Whole Salmon Filet.

But even Larry does not travel 4,000 miles in a rolling Studio Apartment on Meat alone... Come back all this next week for my side dishes, desserts to go along with all that meat.

I started with a spectacular presentation of a simple Jell-o salad (Dessert???).  Just a little extra effort and I had Stained Glass Jell-O, worthy of any Church PotLuck.

And then I whipped up a quick and easy faux Succotash (no Lima Beans) of corn and tomato relish (salsa, or... well, why not go ahead and call  it a Succotash!) that added bright colors and a unique combination of tastes (and only takes about 10 minutes to make)!

I did serve two kinds of potatoes, not only these, but I also WHIPPED up what I consider the world's BEST Garlic Mashed Potatoes.  These have it all... BACON, Garlic, A secret ingredient that leaves them with a hint of natural sweetness.  They are creamy yet still have a little bit of texture lumps.  I like a few  skin on potatoes so there are bits of red potato skins for color, texture and health. Making mashed potatoes for any group is always tough as people like what they like and question why anyone would make something new.  But for me at least... BEST EVER GARLIC MASHED POTATOES!

For that second potato dish ( Mostly I like the look of the presentation of a big beef roast resting on a bed of)...
Garlic Green Beans, Red Potato warm Potato Salad!  Makes a beautiful presentation and loaded with flvors (and adds another vegetable to the table.

Now we are into the side dishes (and haven't even started the pies yet)... 10 Dishes and still rolling along.  See you tomorrow!


This recipe has been added to my growing list of "52 Church PotLuck Dishes"!

A list of something NEW worthy of being shown off at a neighborhood BYODish (Bring Your Own Dish) Party, a Family special occasion dinner, Any Big Holiday Gathering or of course that glorious day when you bring a dish to share with your Church family...

Ages ago, literally almost a half century ago I was listening to our pastor talking about a PotLuck Dinner. It happened to be scheduled around a church work day when we were expected to weed, polish and do general cleaning and maintenance around the church (you know, back in the day when there were no no-wax floors and church pews smelled of Old English furniture polish). I am of course paraphrasing, but as I recall the pastor said,

"A potluck, like a church requires work. At a potluck everyone is expected to contribute.. At a church no one should come empty handed and no one should leave unfed".
I will confess that in my youth I brought more store bought plastic spoons and forks than I ever brought covered dishes and crock pots of fresh made love and caring delights. But now that I have become a hobbyist cook, I occasionally am reminded of those days and people from my youth. I reminded and I do wish that I could drop a dish of some new creation on those old tables at my fondly remembered Liberty Baptist Church.  Tables covered with newspapers and loaded with God's bounty prepared with love and caring... Enjoy


So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Specialty Salad Recipes"!!!

Sometimes they are the main course, sometimes a lunch and sometimes they are the side dish... And if you count Jell-o salad you can even make a dessert of a salad.  Here are a few of my favorite salads that get far more Ooohs and Aaahs than that simple chopped head of lettuce.

Links include Potato Salads, Cole Slaws, and Plenty of greens and fixins' Salads... And more than a few matching FRESH MADE Jam Jar make it yourself Salad Dressings!


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