I hope you had a great weekend. The weather has calmed down here a little. At 17C it's still hot by West of Scotland's standards, it's rained for the past three days (now that's a Scottish Summer :) and we've had a few thunderstorms with some pretty impressive lightning displays but at least that horrible, drags every breathe from your chest humidity has eased. I'm Scottish! I'm not made for sunny, warm Summers! We're more built for rain macs & brollies around here :)
It was a really busy, but really good, weekend at work too. I only work part time but I do work odd shifts. This has its own problems and one of those is managing to make a nice dinner for Hubby getting home from work before I dash past him to my own job. I know, I heard it too. So much for feminism, why am I cooking for Hubby on days when I work too I hear liberated sisters say.
OK, I hate to be a traitor to the sisterhood but what can I say, I still consider being a housewife to be my "real" job. I love everything about it, I love doing laundry (yes, really!) and I love planning lovely dinners for Hubby to come home to after a long day at work. He works so hard to provide for us, and making sure there's a delicious meal waiting when he gets home gives me such joy. Which brings me to the point of this post :)
I'm always on the lookout for "easy" dinner ideas. Now this is not laziness honeys, I swear. As I've said I work late shifts two nights a week and on these nights I pass Hubby at the door, so I need dinner ideas that are not only quick to make, yummy to eat but that don't take a lot of work to prepare. I have a very finite stock of energy available to me, and on some days it takes all I have just to get through my shift at work, so I can't use too much of my supply before I'm even out the door.
Do you remember a pasta sauce dinner I tried a while ago? Around a week or so ago I discovered a new (to me anyway) Macaroni & Cheese version of it and finally got around to trying it. I thought I'd share my results :)
I make really lovely homemade macaroni & cheese. There I said it. I know you're not supposed to toot your own horn, it's not polite to boast but I've spent a lot of years (a really lot) perfecting my macaroni cheese. I like to think my sauce, with a hint of garlic, is perfect and Hubby seems to agree :) So you can imagine, curious as I was because of wanting to save time and all, I really wasn't expecting much from a jar of store bought sauce in comparison.
First pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F or (180C/360F for fan oven) and fetch your favourite lasagne dish. Then measure out 200g of macaroni or elbow pasta. I love that term :) I read it a while ago in a recipe online and it took me a few minutes to figure out the writer meant macaroni :) Love it :)
Sit your pasta to one side for a minute. Fetch the jar of sauce and empty it into your lasagne dish. Don't worry about trying to scoop out the last of it, you'll see why in a minute. Off to the fridge and fetch some cold milk. Fill the jar with the cold milk to the level of the top of the label on the jar. Now put the lid back on securely. If you're anything like me you won't trust the lid to stay on :) so you'll hold both the jar and the lid tightly together before shaking the jar so that the milk "collects" what's left of the sauce.
Remove the lid carefully and add the milk & sauce mix to the lasagne dish and gently stir until the sauce and milk are completely combined. Add the uncooked pasta to the sauce and stir through until all of the pasta is mixed through, and coated with the sauce. Then add a few small knobs of butter to the top.
Place the lasagne dish into the oven, on the middle shelf and cook for 35 minutes. After that time, carefully remove the dish and stir the macaroni cheese thoroughly to give it another mix. Sprinkle the top with lots of lovely grated cheese and pop it back into the oven again for another 12-15 minutes. It did say on the label to cook for another 20 minutes but if I'd done that it would have burned so use your judgement on this honeys. Remove from the oven carefully and enjoy :)
This was really delicious! I was surprised by how seriously creamy the sauce was. I did use full fat milk, although I have no idea if that makes any difference to the sauce. We had the whole milk discussion a long time ago, Hubby & I. While we have swapped so many things for healthier replacements, we only use olive oil now where we had always used vegetable oil before for example, Hubby's line in the sand is his milk. He says that semi skimmed or even worse the dreaded fully skimmed milk tastes like water and I have to admit I agree. So, whole milk it is.
Hubby really liked this macaroni cheese, which if I'm honest irked me a bit. I know, I'm making no sense, nothing new there then :) What I mean is I've spent years tweaking my macaroni cheese recipe until I get it exactly how I (and Hubby) like it and now along comes some store bought sauce in a jar and he's just as happy. I can't help but feel a wee bit slighted.
Which is utterly ridiculous really because I bought it hoping it might be a quicker, easier stand in for my takes far longer to prepare and tastes wonderful (if I say so myself) home made version on busy nights. It fits the bill to a tee, so I should be happy and I am but still.... :)
I would definitely buy this again honeys. It's a great staple to have in the pantry for busy days. When I next make it I'm going to add some sliced tomato to the top before adding the grated cheese or I might just add a little garlic, just to add a wee Rosie touch to it.
A success then, and definitely something I'll buy again. Over to you then honeys, do you have any favourite recipes to use when time is short on busy nights and you have to get dinner on the table? If so, do share in the comments section below, or if you've blogged any successes why not share a link to your post? Till next time dear ones, have a fabulous day, hugs always xx
Note: The directions on the jar actually say to place the pasta into the dish first, then pour over the sauce, add the milk to the jar (to measure) and then stir them all together at once but having already used the other sauce in the range I knew that it's so much easier to combine the sauce elements first before adding the pasta. Just sharing my experience x