December 22, 2010

Double Duty Cooking

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Margaret's Morsels | Green Bean Bundles



Margaret's Morsels | Macaroni and Cheese

When we bought our house, there were two items other than location and school district at the top of my wish list:  a front porch and double ovens.  I didn't get the front porch, but I got double ovens and I love them.  I don't know how I ever cooked without them!


Although I've had double ovens a number of years, I still find myself planning meals that can be cooked at the same temperature, even if not for the same length of time.  This double duty cooking comes in handy, especially during the holidays when there's a lot of cooking to be done all at once.  Since the holidays are upon us, I'm sharing two side dishes that can be cooked simultaneously.


My family expects turkey and all the trimmings at Thanksgiving so I always serve ham at Christmas.  For as long as I can remember, I've always paired ham with macaroni and cheese.  To me, those two foods go together like peanut butter and jelly, fish and chips, bacon and eggs.  In addition to macaroni and cheese, I also serve green bean bundles.  The macaroni and cheese cooks in half the time of the bean bundles so I put the bean bundles in to cook first.


Green bean bundles may sound complicated, but they're nothing more than whole green beans wrapped in bacon, covered with a sauce and baked in the oven.  You can use a whole slice of bacon on each bundle or you can slice the bacon in half.  The bundles are easier to wrap if you put the beans at the end of a piece of bacon and roll everything into a bundle.


                                                 
Margaret's Morsels | Green Bean Bundles

Margaret's Morsels | Green Bean Bundles

To save time, I wrap the bacon around the beans the night before and store them in a covered container in the refrigerator.  The remaining ingredients aren't added until the beans are ready to go in the oven.


The sauce uses a hodgepodge of ingredients, but when combined gives the beans a wonderful flavor.  You don't have to be precise; you can add more or less of an ingredient to suit your taste.  Once the sauce is on the beans, the pan goes in the oven for 45 minutes.  The bacon needs to be thoroughly cooked so you might have to cook the beans a little longer, especially if you use a whole piece of bacon to wrap the beans.  For a nicer presentation, transfer the cooked bean bundles and sauce to a serving dish after you take them out of the oven.


The other side dish, macaroni and cheese, isn't difficult and is tastier than anything you get from a box!  When you cook macaroni -- or any pasta -- you want to add enough salt to the water so it tastes like saltwater.  If the water isn't salty enough, the cooked pasta won't be either.


Most macaroni and cheese recipes use regular or canned milk.  This recipe uses nonfat dry milk instead.  The milk powder is mixed with flour, butter and water to form a sauce.


Margaret's Morsels | Macaroni and Cheese
The sauce before the cheese is added.

Part of the cheese is added to the sauce making it a cheese sauce.  It's ok if all the cheese isn't completely melted.  It will melt when you cook it in the oven.  The macaroni is added to the sauce and the mixture is cooked for 25 minutes.  After the 25 minutes are up, the remaining cheese is sprinkled on top and cooked just long enough to melt, about one minute.  This sprinkling of cheese makes the dish look prettier when it's served.


Margaret's Morsels | Macaroni and Cheese
The remaining cheese before it's melted.

If you want to get out of the kitchen faster, let your oven do double duty and cook two dishes at the same time.  However, before you buy the ingredients and prepare the food, make sure there's enough room in the oven for both pans!

Green Bean Bundles
8 Servings

4 (14.5 oz.) cans whole green beans, drained
bacon (uncooked)
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Gather green beans into bundles.  Wrap one slice bacon around each bundle; lay seam side down in baking dish.  Slice butter on top of bundles. Sprinkle remaining ingredients over bundles.  Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until hot and the bacon is cooked.

Macaroni and Cheese
8 Servings

1 (8 oz.) pkg. elbow macaroni
2 Tbsp. nonfat dry milk
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 1/4 cups boiling water
3 cups grated Cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 tsp. salt

Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix dry milk, flour and butter.  Gradually add boiling water, beating constantly.  Add 1 1/2 cups cheese and continue beating until smooth and creamy.  Stir in macaroni, 1 cup of the remaining cheese and salt.  Transfer to a lightly greased 2-quart baking dish.  Cover with foil. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes.  Remove foil.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.  Continue baking 1 minute or until cheese melts.


© Margaret's Morsels

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