Cook of the Week: Melinda Ford recipes

Lauren Wood | Buy at Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Lauren Wood | Buy at
Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies.


1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground pork

3 medium onions, chopped

1⁄2 bell pepper, chopped

8 ribs celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 to 3 tablespoons oil

3 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon sugar

1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 medium can sliced mushrooms

1 medium jar pimientos

8 ounces shellaroni pasta, cooked and drained

8 ounces grated Cheddar cheese

Brown meats, onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic in oil. Drain off fat. Add spices and let them meld with meat mixture. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, mushrooms, pimientos and cooked pasta. Fold in cheese. Pour mixture into a large baking dish (top with more cheese, if desired) and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

New York Cheesecake

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1⁄4 cup sugar

1⁄2 stick butter, melted

4 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, room temperature, divided

12⁄3 cups sugar, divided

1⁄4 cup cornstarch

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 extra large eggs

3⁄4 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan, then put a round of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan. Wrap the outside with heavy duty foil, covering the bottom and extending all the way up the sides.

Combine cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter and press in bottom of prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes. Cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 1 block cream cheese, 1⁄3 cup sugar and cornstarch and mix on low until creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times. Blend in remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down bowl after each one. Increase speed to medium and beat in remaining sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Beat in cream just until completely blended. Be careful not to overmix. Gently pour batter over prepared crust. Smooth the top before putting in oven.

Place the cake in a large roasting pan, and pour in hot water to a depth of about 1 inch up the sides of springform pan. You might need to add more hot water as the cheesecake bakes. Bake until edges are light golden brown and the top is slightly golden tan, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove cheesecake from water bath and remove foil from pan. Transfer cake to a wire rack and after 10 minutes, run a sharp knife or offset spatula around the edge of the cheesecake and let it cool for 2 hours. Leave cake in pan and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until completely cold, preferably overnight.

To serve, release and remove sides of springform pan. If you want to remove the bottom, run a long knife under the parchment paper and move it onto a plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Variations: For strawberry cheesecake, add 1 package frozen sweetened strawberries, thawed and completely drained, to cheesecake batter and beat until completely combined. For chocolate cheesecake, melt 10 ounces semisweet chocolate and cool. Add to batter before you add cream.

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks butter, room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

1⁄2 cup original malted milk powder*

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

8 ounces toffee bits

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1⁄2 to 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine butter, sugars, vanilla and salt in a mixing bowl and cream together for about 5 minutes. Add eggs and mix until combined. Sift together flour, milk powder, baking soda and cream of tartar and add to butter mixture, mixing until combined. Fold in toffee bits, chocolate chips and pecans. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet a couple of minutes before removing to a rack to finish cooling.

Makes 6 dozen.

Note: Original malted milk powder is found on the aisle near the hot chocolate mixes.


2 cups packed fresh basil

4 large garlic cloves, chopped

1⁄4 cup pine nuts or walnuts

1⁄4 cup olive oil

1⁄2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine basil, garlic and nuts in a food processor and chop. With the motor running, add oil in a slow, steady stream. Shut off motor and add cheese, salt and pepper. Turn machine back on and blend. Serve over fresh hot pasta.

Squash Casserole

2 pounds squash

1⁄2 to 3⁄4 medium onion, chopped

6 tablespoons butter

2 eggs, beaten

1⁄2 cup milk

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

30 Ritz crackers, crushed, divided

11⁄2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Butter for dotting

Cook squash in a small amount of water until tender. Drain well and mash lightly. Sauté onions in butter. Add squash, eggs, milk, brown sugar and salt to onions and mix well. In a buttered 2-quart casserole, put 1 layer of 10 crushed crackers, a layer of squash and a layer of cheese. Repeat layers. Top with 10 crushed crackers and dot with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

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