Easy Cheesy Rice Pie

easy-cheesy-rice-pie-wmMEATLESS FAMILY MEAL

 

I know cheesy rice pie sounds a bit odd but trust me when I say it’s delicious and easy to make and great when you want to wow your family at dinner time.

We love our meat dishes in this house but we also enjoy our vegetables too and my kids gobble up this cheesy rice pie every time I make it.

Thankfully I don’t have picky eaters and the kids eat almost everything I put in front of them.

I know this is not the case in every family but trying something new like my rice pie might become a hit and a new family tradition for you.

Many times families stick to the same old recipes and that might put your family in a food rut so don’t be scared to whip something new up to see what they think.

Everyone loves cheese and you can use whatever cheese you like in this rice pie dish although I opt for a strong cheese from Black Diamond so you don’t have to use as much and it cuts the fat content of the dish as well.

This is also one rice dish that is not only colourful but it is healthy too (5 grams of fat) and a  rainbow of colours that will get everybody eating it time and time again.

Vegetables are one of the things that often go on the reduced rack at the superstore. I am never afraid to buy reduced items at the grocery store as there is typically only one bad apple or carrot in the actual bag.

On this occasion the reduced rack was filled with egg-plants which I will use instead of the zucchini I would typically use if the reduced rack has nothing I fancy.

If there is nothing on the cheap rack and you want to use the traditional zucchini I normally use then by all means go ahead.

They were still firm but slightly bruised but from what I could see there was nothing wrong with them. I picked one up and in the grocery basket it went.

You don’t always have to use coupons to cut your grocery bill and I’m a firm believer that if you take your time while shopping you won’t miss any of the hidden deals and savings that lurk around the grocery store.

Weekly sale items are a great way to save too and another way I plan our weekly meals.

Now I know everybody goes on a health kick during some part of the year so this easy cheesy rice pie is also an ideal recipe to include into the meal plan, maybe as a Meatless Monday Meal!

EASY-CHEESY-RICE-PIE-INGREDIENTS-wm

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Easy Cheesy Rice Pie
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This easy cheesy rice pie is a great alternative for a meatless meal or if you want to introduce something new at the dinner table for your family.
Author:
Recipe type: entrée
Cuisine: Canadian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup brown rice (white rice can be used)
  • 11/2 cups water
  • 150g grated strong cheese (low fat)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint
  • ½ cup spring onions sliced
  • 1 red pepper seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 2 or 3 zucchini’s grated (I used egg-plant instead)
  • 1 can drained corn kernels
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cups low-fat yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven 210oC/410oF
  2. Brush pie dish lightly with oil.
  3. Place rice in a pan and rinse thoroughly before cooking.
  4. Combine rice and water in a large pan and bring to boil, cover lower heat and simmer for 25 minutes, or until all water is absorbed.
  5. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and then transfer rice to a bowl.
  6. Add remaining ingredients, except paprika, to rice.
  7. Press into prepared dish and sprinkle paprika over the top.
  8. Bake for 50 minutes
  9. Remove and leave for 5 minutes before serving, or cool and refrigerate if serving cold.

 

This cheesy rice pie dish can be eaten hot or cold and is ideally served with steaming vegetables, a side of crisp cold vegetables or with a colourful garden or tomato salad topped with you choice of dressing.

When it comes to using rice I always use basmati as it comes out light and fluffy but when I need a boost brown rice is a must. For this particular rice pie I used basmati rice.

Any leftover rice you might have can be frozen as it is great for making a quick and easy fried rice dish when you are in a pinch for time and everyone is waiting on dinner.

So enjoy “Bon Appetite” Nicky!

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Free Trade Agreement: Planning for a stronger Canada

Canadian-and-EU-Free-Trade-AgreementWHO CUT THE CHEESE PRICE?

 

The Free Trade agreement in principle was recently signed between Canada and the European Union. 

It was hailed as a significant step to boosting the economy of Canada while having minimal negative impact for Canadians.

Free trade

 

So what is a Free Trade Agreement? 

Essentially it eliminates tariffs or taxes on cross border imports/exports making it easier for companies to trade products and/or services with neighbouring countries.

It’s not just as simple as that though, there has to be limits or quotas set where each trading partner agrees to a set level.

Depending on what the country exports or imports the most can determine what is set in the quotas.

So for instance Canada has a lot of trees and the US needs to build a lot of houses, it would be in both of their interests to eliminate the tariffs on trees for, let’s say the first 100,000 tonnes.

Anything past the 100,000 tonnes then tariffs will be applied so companies would have to budget their exports in order to keep with-in the quota.

That’s great for Canada, they’re selling trees like they’re going out of fashion, but what’s the US getting out of the deal?

They put forward something like domestic car imports as there are no Canadian Car Manufacturers. You could call it an agreement to cut through red tape.

Trading partners

 

Does this trade agreement make sense for Canada? Well since 1989 Canada has benefited very well from the CUSFTA which later became the NAFTA when Mexico joined.

Surely setting up another trade agreement with the EU is going to be just as beneficial? After all the European Market is enormous compared to the Canadian market.

I watched a good proportion of the speech from Brussels because it affects an awful lot of people. Some of it I’ll admit I was a little lost on when it comes to details. I’m not an Economist, I’m just a regular guy who likes to stay informed.
 
According to the government “it’s an excellent deal”, but the government does not always have the interests of the common man in mind.

Economy changes 

 

Sure, there were talks of reduced prices for Canadians at the cheese counter because the imported European cheese would be duty-free.

Sounds great for me because I’m a bit of a cheese monster and there’s nothing better than good cheese from the old country. Saying that, I’m not employed in the cheese industry so maybe my selfish wants are vastly out weighing the Canadian cheese producers needs.

After all, I’ve previously written about how supporting nearby producers can stimulate the local economy.

But this trade agreement is not about the local economy, it’s about Canada’s economy. Tax or Tariff free exports to the European Union will boost the national income as Canadian made products will be cheaper to buy in Europe.

A strong economy is good for Canadians, it should promote wealth in the forms of higher income, more employment and less reliance on welfare, better competition, less taxes and more able to look after an aging population.

I hadn’t realized that the Canadian economy in the early 1980′s was in such bad shape until I started doing a little homework for this post. I wasn’t here so I won’t remember it and I won’t try to fool you into thinking I would, so if any of you do remember that period maybe you can confirm or deny.

This is good news to generation “Y” who are currently suffering from an employment drought. Not only do we need to look after Canada’s economy now but for the future too. It needs to be sustainable though.

Export and Import benefits

 

Canada has a lot of good products, highly skilled people and natural resources. Being able to export larger amounts at cheaper prices increases cash flow. The increased exports are varied and cover:

  • Beef, Bison and Pork products (fresh and frozen)

A large industry especially west of Ontario. Beef export quotas would go up to 65,000 tonnes inclusive of high quality beef. Pork quotas would increase from there current 6,000 tonnes to 80,000 tonnes per year.

  • Metals and Minerals.

This would lead to an increase in demands for ore processing, transportation, equipment production, labour etc.

  • Wood and Wood products

After the credit crunch of 2008/2009 wood exports to the US under the NAFTA or North American Free Trade Agreement have fallen significantly. Increasing exports to Europe would be beneficial to the forestry industry.

  • Domestic Car maker

Car makers gain an increase in exports from 10,000 units per year to 100,000. Plus European import cars will get progressively cheaper over the next 7 years due to the phasing out of the 10% tariff. It makes that ludicrously expensive Ferrari just that little bit less ludicrous.

  • Wheat and plant-based oils.

Canada is already one of the largest producer of grain in the world. Expanded export room will only increase the income potential.

There are drawbacks, there always is in a deal. Pharmaceuticals would be set to increase, but apparently not until 8 years time with talk of possible government subsidizing. Seafood exports to the EU after three years will supposedly have the minimum processing requirements removed.

That’s probably not good for places like Newfoundland but export tariffs will be removed so it’s a little of a mixed bag. The problem with all the facts and figures developed from these negotiations is, they are still yet to be confirmed. The agreement won’t take effect either until 2015 once implemented.

All 10 Canadian provinces and all 28 EU members have to agree, so we will have to wait and see what this agreement develops into.

There’s an age-old saying that’s quite true here;

You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time
Abraham Lincoln.

Do you have any concerns as a Canadian with this free trade agreement?

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Photo Credit: Janoon028/Freedigitalphotos.net

Cherry ricotta cheese turnovers with marshmallow cream

cherry-ricotta-cheese-turnovers-with-marshmallow-cream-1

Organic Cherries Fresh From The Tree

These cherry ricotta cheese turnovers are so good you will wonder what took you so long to swap out the cream cheese for ricotta cheese. The flavoured ricotta cheese in this recipe makes the filling so creamy and the texture blends well with the sweetness of the organic cherries. I created an easy cherry pie filling with the abundance of cherries we had in our house fresh from the tree. I’m sure there are many turnover recipes out there but nothing like this cherry turnover that is stuffed full of ricotta goodness.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make with the cherry pie filling but I wanted to make something more spectacular than a cherry pie or a cherry tart recipe. If you have cherries in your house and you want to make easy turnovers, this is the recipe for you. Don’t be boring, be fun in the kitchen and experiment. Even if it fails, oh well that’s the way we learn, or at least I learn.

The longest part of the entire recipe was making the marshmallow cream (which I had from making Twinkies) and pitting the cherries. If you don’t want to use a homemade marshmallow cream you can easily drizzle with a homemade vanilla icing. If you don’t fancy ricotta (which I highly recommend you use) you can make cream cheese turnovers by substituting the products.

What kinds of cherries are there? 

cherries-on-tree

cherries-on-tree

Apparently there are over 1000 varieties of cherries out there, who knew. The cherry is a stone fruit which means you will find a pit in the centre. That means if you don’t fancy one there is bound to be one cherry that you just can’t get enough of. The top producing country as of 2009 for cherries was Turkey with the USA coming in second place and Canada in twenty-third spot. There are two species of cherries, sweet (Prunus avium) and sour/tart (Prunus cerasus)

It’s July now and the cherries in Ontario are red, juicy and crying to be picked and eaten from the tree. The picture above is from the tree that we picked our cherries from. Although I prefer the black cherry for even more sweetness the red cherries that I used in this recipe work just as equal although I had to add some sugar to the pie filling.

The cherry like I mentioned is a fruit that can either be sweet or sour and has many uses from making pies to jellies, jams, sauces and a variety of baked goods. Most people tend to use the sour cherry for baking, cooking and preserves although both work just as well in my opinion.

Cherries

Note: This is not a full list of cherries but many common names.

  • Rainier Cherries
  • Van cherry
  • Chelen
  • Lapin
  • Sweetheart
  • Skeena
  • Staccato
  • Christalina
  • Bing
  • Maraschino
  • Tieton
  • Spanish Cherry
  • Morello
  • Napoleon
  • Choke Cherry
  • North Star
  • Black Cherry
  • Surefire
  • Balaton
  • Montmorency

You can read more about these cherries here from the Okanagan in British Columbia along with picking instructions and how to store cherries.

What do you make with your cherries?

Picking cherries

organic-cherries-in-bowl

organic-cherries-in-bowl

While at the relatives for Canada Day we were lucky to pick organic cherries from the trees on their property. It took me a while but I finally stopped Mrs. CBB long enough to actually put cherries in the bowl rather in her mouth. Although they are organic you have to be very careful when eating anything organic because the worms love to get inside and enjoy all the goodness of the fruit.

It took me about one hour to pit and go through every cherry to make sure they were worm-free and I cleaned them under cold water. I’ll admit I found a few so make sure you are thorough when cleaning unless you don’t mind a bit of extra protein. Just think of all the fun flavours you get when you buy it straight from the manufacturer, lol.

Making cherry pie filling

homemade-cherry-pie-filling

homemade-cherry-pie-filling

How to make homemade cherry pie filling?

I then added the cleaned cherries to a pot with the sugar, lime peel and lime juice and cooked the cherries down for about 5-10 minutes. You will see that the cherry juices will release fairly quickly and the cherries will soften. At that point I mixed my cornstarch and water and then mixed it in the pot. With-in a few minutes you will find that the cherry pie filling will thicken in the pot. You can then just turn off your stove and let the mixture cool as you need it to be cold for this recipe. It’s a fairly easy process which would be similar to thickening many soups and sauces.

I’m sure one day when we look to buy a second property with more land I’ll be planting apple trees, pear trees, black cherry trees, peach trees, fig trees and so on. You can only begin to imagine how much we love to garden and why organic is important to us bit only if we are the farmers behind the wheel.

The cost in the grocery store for organic produce far exceeds our grocery budget although when the price is right we waste no time at all to stock up on our favourite fruits and veg. In the summer we make full use of our property space to grow our own organic vegetables so we can store them for winter use as well in our freezer.

homemade-cherry-pie-filling-ricotta-cheese-filling

homemade-cherry-pie-filling-ricotta-cheese-filling

The ricotta cheese filling is fairly straight-forward to make. I made this in advance while the cherry pie filling was cooking so I can chill it in the refrigerator. This is a sweet ricotta filling but not too sweet since the cherries are sweet enough. I put the ricotta in a bowl and then added in pure vanilla, powdered sugar, egg, milk, almond extract, honey, cinnamon and Greek yogurt then mixed it until smooth.

turnover-pastry

How to make pastry?

I didn’t make this cherry turnover recipe with a puff pastry recipe but rather used a simple pie pastry because I didn’t want to complicate the recipe too much. Keeping it simple and using what most people have in their pantry was where I was aiming with this recipe.

I love a cherry cheese Danish and although I can’t call this a Danish I’ve turned it into a cherry ricotta cheese turnover that you will never forget. It’s an easy turnover recipe that you can whip up when you plan a dinner party and can make it a day in advance. You can eat these cherry turnovers cold or hot.

For this recipe I simply used the same pastry that I created when I made my coconut custard tarts. It’s an easy pastry recipe that I find works just as well for any basic pastry recipe I need. All the information for the pastry is in the link above.

Once the pastry was ready I sprinkled some flour on my surface and rolled out the pastry into a circle but my goal was to make a square. I’m not a creative pastry chef so I just went ahead and did the best I could to square the pastry. I then ran a knife through it to create the triangle shape I needed for the turnover.

Filling the pastry

filled-cherry-cheese-turnover-pastry

filled-cherry-cheese-turnover-pastry

This was a tricky part I have to admit. Once I had the dough cut into the triangle I proceeded to put a bit of the ricotta cheese in the centre and then topped it with cherry pie filling. Now, be careful and don’t do what I did and over-fill the pastry or it will ooze out everywhere. The above was just enough. You can easily eye-ball how much you need depending on how big you roll our and cut your pastry.

cherry-ricotta-cheese-turnover-ready-for-oven

cherry-ricotta-cheese-turnover-ready-for-oven

I then took one point of the pastry and connected it with the other. I used a fork to seal around the edges to make sure none of the filling would come out during baking. I suggest making slits with a knife through the top so the steam has somewhere to go while cooking otherwise your turnover might burst. I then used an egg yolk to brush the tops of the turnovers before putting them on a silpat and into a 350 degree pre-heated oven for about 10 minutes or golden brown.

How to make marshmallow cream?

Once they came out from the oven I let them cool on the baking sheet before I moved on to the next step, putting the marshmallow cream on top.

I drizzled the top of the pastry with the same homemade marshmallow cream I used to fill my Twinkies which makes it even easier since I had extras in the freezer. The Twinkie cream lasts a long time in the freezer and when you take it out it’s not solid it’s still fairly easy to get a spoon into. I scooped up a few tablespoons and put them in a bowl so I could microwave the marshmallow cream topping until it was soft and easy to decorate with.

The marshmallow cream takes a bit of time but is worth the effort. All the ingredients and directions are available in my Twinkie recipe.  <<<<Click the link. 

cherry-ricotta-cheese-turnovers-with-marshmallow-cream-1

cherry-ricotta-cheese-turnovers-with-marshmallow-cream

Pre-heat oven 350 degrees

Note: Pastry recipe and marshmallow cream recipe are linked above.

Ingredients for cherry pie filling
  • 2 cups of pitted, cleaned, sweet cherries
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Rind of one lime
  • 2 teaspoons of lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon cold water mixed
Directions
  • In a pot add your cherries, lime rind, lime juice, sugar and honey and let reduce on med-high until the cherries are soft.
  • In a small bowl add your water and cornstarch and mix together to combine
  • Add in the cornstarch mixture to the cherry filling in your pot and continue stirring until the mixture is thick
  • Remove from stove and cool before use.
Ingredients for ricotta cheese filling
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 tablespoons Greek Yogurt (plain)
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Directions
  • Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until chilled and ready for use.

Follow all the instructions above to put this cherry ricotta cheese turnover recipe together and enjoy!!

What are your favourite cherry recipes?

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Mr.CBB’s Creamy Ham And Cheese Macaroni Bake

 Creamy Ham and Cheese Macaroni Bake

If you are looking for some ooey, gooey comfort food this creamy ham and cheese macaroni bake is the ultimate easy meal for you. One of the things I enjoy about this mac and cheese is it’s loaded with baked ham pieces but it also has a few different types of cheeses inside.

I finished this recipe off with buttered cheese seasoned breadcrumbs for that extra crunchy texture on top. Don’t tuck in right away though when it comes out of the oven. If you give it some time to rest and come together like you would a lasagna or shepherd’s pie it will be easier to serve.

I’m sure there is no difference, but if you want to think of this as a macaroni and cheese with ham casserole then this is what it is.  It’s something I’ve created with leftover baked ham and a recipe you should tuck away for when the time comes that you have ham you want to use up.

I’ve officially made a “Casa-Roll-Eh” and my fans know that I always joke about how many casseroles I say I’ve come across since moving to Canada.

Light or Low-Fat Mac And Cheese 

Mac and Cheese in my opinion is meant to be a naughty meal that you enjoy once in a while. Although, if you want to enjoy it a bit more than once in a while than you can lighten the fat content by using just milk and low-fat cheeses or less cheese.

I find using a higher quality cheese with lots of flavour even if it does cost a bit more goes a long way for flavouring a meal. If you use a less quality cheese you will have to add more for flavour which means potentially more fat. As much as I’d like to have expensive cheeses around though it’s not always part of my grocery budget so use what you have on hand. You can also eliminate the topping or add less topping.

What is A Roux?

I’ve been making cheese sauces for years now as It’s another one of those recipes that I learned in our family kitchen when I was younger. Making this macaroni and cheese is pretty simple, starting with a roux and then carefully adding in your egg, spices , cheese and mixing until you have a cheesy sauce. I added the egg for a deep richness but if you want to cut that out it would work just as well and again cut down on some of the fat.

The history of sauces is quite fascinating although I have yet to try them all it’s certainly something I aim to put on my cooking bucket list. A roux, also known as a rue or panada is simply a flour and a fat and when combined becomes a thickening agent for sauces. You can also use it to thicken up soups, stews and gravies and really is so easy to make so don’t be afraid of the fancy names.

A classic cheese sauce uses a roux as would a béchamel sauce which is a white sauce I sometimes substitute or add to a lasagna instead of the classic red pasta sauce. There are also many Classic French sauces as well as espagnole sauce and veloute sauces that start with a roux and have graced family meals and restaurant menus across the nation.

Creamy Ham and Cheese Macaroni Bake In Baking Dish

What Makes The Macaroni and Cheese So Creamy?

Good question, I added a few good quality cheeses such as provolone, old cheddar and a Mexican Cheddar to this recipe mainly because I didn’t want this to be the classic macaroni and cheese. I wanted it to be a mac and cheese that your guests would say, “wow, that has some flavour”, or “that’s a different type of macaroni and cheese bake than I’m used to”.

I also added cream and milk which gives it that extra creamy texture. If you don’t fancy onions or you have a picky eater although I love the flavour it creates you can leave it out or cut it up very small so the kids or guests won’t notice it.

Better yet, I would love to hear your guests say, no more Kraft Dinner for me, this is my new go to, comfort food for a quick meal any day of the week. I also added a mix of cream and milk to this recipe to give it that extra creaminess that any mac and cheese should have. Make sure not to overcook your pasta al dente is the way to go, just cooked but not mushy otherwise you will have mushy mac and cheese.

Kids Love Macaroni and Cheese

This is also a meal that you can involve your kids with or teach your child to create memories so they too can go on to share this ham and cheese macaroni bake with their family. Teaching your children how to cook and showing them how you can take leftover ham from Easter, Christmas or any other meal to re-create something new rather than letting it waste is a smart lesson to teach.

If you have kids who are off to College or University who will be eating on a budget (most are) take some time out to teach them how to make this go-to recipe for the student menu plan. Showing your children the basics about creating a student budget to manage their money right up to creating a meal plans and how to grocery shop will help lessen the fear when moving out on their own. They can impress their friends when they show off their culinary skills in the dorm or student housing kitchen when it’s their turn to cook a fast dinner that hits the spot.

It really is that simple to make and similar to my easy cauliflower cheese bake popular back home in the UK with my family and which I made last year to share on the blog. Buying convenience foods in the box are what we are trying to get away from when cooking at home is not as hard as people think it is.

As long as you meal plan and you know all the ingredients you need, get them ready and set aside some time to make the meal, trust me you won’t want to be wasting your money on mac and cheese in the box when your family will rave about this signature dish at every meal.

Mac And Cheese Please!

When party planning on a budget this is also a frugal pot-luck meal that you can bring to a dinner party, work party, backyard barbeque party, baby shower, wedding shower, birthdays (the kids would love this). All you would need to do is warm the macaroni and cheese with ham in an oven for 15-20 minutes if it’s had time to cool just so you can heat it through.

There are so many reasons to make this recipe and no reasons not to unless you don’t like cheese but then why would you be reading this recipe in the first place.

Get ready for a cheesy recipe stuffed with ham and topped with fresh breadcrumbs that’s going to knock your apron off. Get all your ingredients ready on the counter for this recipe as it happens fast and you don’t want to be running around your kitchen measuring and doing prep work at the same time.

Ham and Cheese Macaroni Bake

Ham and Cheese Macaroni Bake
  • Yield: Lots … Should feed at least 6-8 hungry people
  • Cook Time- 30-35 minutes
  • Prep Time- 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of cubed ham (bite size pieces)
  • 1 egg in a bowl mixed
  • 2 cups of 2% Milk
  • 2 cups of Half and Half Cream
  • 2 tablespoons of Dry Mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 450 g or 1lb elbow macaroni (or small pasta of your choice)
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 white onion minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dry chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup of grated Mexican Cheddar
  • 1.5  cups of old cheddar
  • 1  cup of grated provolone

Topping

  • 4-5 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1 cup of seasoned dry or homemade bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella (optional)

Homemade Cheese Sauce

Preparation

  • Get all your ingredients out ready as this recipe will happen fast
  • In a large post of salted boiling water add your elbow pasta and cook 5-7 minutes or until cooked al dente.
  • Pour macaroni into your strainer and then rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. You don’t want the pasta to be hot when you mix it later on.
  • Mince up your onion and set aside in a bowl
  • Chop up your baked ham into bite size pieces and set aside in a bowl
  • Mix your egg slightly and set aside in a bowl
  • In a medium sauce pan melt 4 tablespoons of butter then add in your flour to make a roux, mix this continuously for about 4 minutes until combined with no lumps  on medium heat. Do not let it burn
  • Add in your cream slowly and mix to combine, then add in your milk, paprika, dry chives, dry mustard, nutmeg, stir and let simmer for about 7-10 minutes.
  • In the bowl with your egg, temper the egg with a bit of the sauce and mix it fast, I keep adding a little bit of the hot sauce into the egg until the egg is up to temperature then I pour the entire egg mix into the pot and mix. If you add the egg straight into the pot it will just cook your egg and ruin the sauce, so temper it first.
  • Add in all your cheeses one by one and mix to combine each cheese until the sauce is creamy
  • Add salt and pepper to taste while you keep stirring
  • The sauce is ready when it is thick and the taste is good for you.
  • Add in your 3 cups of baked ham and mix
  • Pour your pasta into the baking dish then slowly fold in the cheese and ham sauce
  • You can also pour the pasta into your cheese sauce in the pot (whatever is easiest for you)
  • Once it’s all combined in the baking dish it’s time to put a topping on it
  • Melt 4 tablespoons of butter then mix in your breadcrumbs and grated cheese. They will be wet and that is what you want. Spoon bits of the breadcrumbs around the top of the ham and cheese bake so it’s covered in most spots.
  • Top this with any leftover cheese bits and the optional mozzarella for an extra gooey topping!
  • Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30-35 minutes or until cooked through and the topping is browned.
  • Enjoy!

Question: How do you like your mac and cheese?

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Mr.CBB’s Spinach and Ricotta Fettuccine

Ricotta and Spinach Pasta

Spinach and Ricotta pasta is our take of the stuffed spinach and ricotta cannelloni but using pasta instead and no sauce. We thought there has to be a quicker way to make a baked pasta dish then having to stuff tubes and baking them in the oven.

This recipe is so creamy you literally can’t stop stuffing it in your mouth. The ricotta when heated melts just that little bit and when mixed with the pasta, garlic, spinach and Parmigiano creates a magical combination that is hard to resist.

This meal is one of those quick meals that should only take about 15- 20 minutes to make especially if you want a good meal during the week-night when you are pressed for time or just tired from a long day.

What is Ricotta? 

Nothing goes to waste when making cheese and that’s how the birth of ricotta came to be a cheese by-product. Ricotta is an Italian whey cheese which is made from a sheep, cow, goat or buffalo milk with the cow’s milk often used in America and Canada.

Ricotta is also low in fat. Ricotta means “re-cooked”  which uses whey the liquid that is left over when straining the curds from making cheese. If you buy ricotta you may also find it in 3 other variations, salted ricotta, baked ricotta and smoked ricotta to keep shelf life.

I have never tasted the other variations but maybe one day when we take our next trip. If you are handy in the kitchen and want to try and make homemade ricotta all you will need is pasteurized milk, distilled vinegar and salt 3 ingredients.

I have yet to make it at home although my mate Beth informed me how easy it was to make. I think this will go on my to-do list for 2013. Ricotta can run you about $4.79 for 500 grams unless you can find it on sale or make it at home because sometimes homemade is better than store bought.

What Culinary uses are there for Ricotta?

Ricotta is used in cuisines all over the world most notably in desserts such as cheesecake, puddings, sweet canoli and many types of ricotta cookies such as a lemon ricotta cookie which I will make for you soon.

You can also use ricotta in your favourite lasagne, meatballs, manicotti, pasta frittata, fritters, calzones, ravioli, pasta, cannelloni, pizza, stuffed shells, soups (ricotta balls), Easter pies, cakes (like my Orange Ricotta Pound Cake) and many other recipes.

In the Indian cuisine they use paneer (you can find this at many local supermarkets) although in an Indian dessert called Ras Malai which my mates mum would make for us when we were younger but she would use homemade ricotta.

It’s just one of those foods you don’t get every day and another reason I like to travel and hang out with the locals to explore their culture rather than going to an all-inclusive resort. The knowledge I’ve gained in my travels is priceless.

Ricotta Spinach Pasta Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg fettuccine pasta (reserve 1/4 cup cooking water)
  • 3 cups of spinach (washed)
  • 500 grams of fresh Ricotta cheese
  • salt for pasta water
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • fresh Parmigiano cheese
  • 3  tablespoons of butter

Preparation:

  • In a large pot of boiling salted water add your pasta and cook until al dente, drain (but keep back 1/4 cup of pasta water in a cup)

fettuccine in pot cooking

  • In the empty pot add one tablespoon of butter and the minced garlic and sauté

pasta with ricotta

  • Put the pasta back in the pot, add the reserved pasta water and the ricotta and stir

pasta with spinach

  • Once the ricotta is combined add in the spinach and 2 tablespoons of butter and cover on low to let the heat wilt the spinach for a couple of minutes then stir. If you want to add more salt to flavour taste it now but you can top with cheese as well.
  • Serve topped with fresh grated Parmigiano, fresh cracked pepper if you desire

This is a simple meal that anyone can make. If you love pasta then try this spinach and ricotta fettuccine pasta any night of the week.

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