Tag Archives: Mac & Cheese

Decadent Mac & Cheese

14 Jun

Is there anything more decadent than a rich, creamy, cheesy plate of Macaroni and Cheese?  Nope.  It’s perfect for a backyard barbecue, and in the dead of winter by a raging fire.  Little and big kids alike agree it’s the perfect food. 

I grew up making my own from the box or heating up the creamy Stouffers’ version as a side.  When I left for college, I realized I was the boss in my kitchen and upgraded to entree portions.  Here’s my take on this classic dish.  Feel free to have it your way, creamy or baked!

Macaroni and Cheese

  • 2 cups X-tra Sharp New York Cheddar Cheese from Trader Joes (1/2 cup extra for baked version)
  • 1 cup Cheddar and Gruyère Melange Cheese from Trader Joes
  • 2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 6 tbs butter
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • sprinkle of cayenne
  • 4 cups dry macaroni
  • crumbled bacon (optional but strongly encouraged)

Put a large pot of salted water on over medium high heat, and add the macaroni when it comes to a boil.  Cook pasta for 3-4 minutes and drain. 

In a large pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and whisk until combined.  Continuously whisk the butter and flour mixture for about 5 mins, or until your rue becomes a pale brown and starts to bubble up. 

Turn heat to low and gradually whisk in the cream to your rue.  Once combined, turn up the heat to medium low, and whisk your mixture for about 5 more mins.  You should start to see the beginnings of a gorgeous, thick cream sauce.   Add in your ground mustard, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and a sprinkle of cayenne.  Once incorporated, turn up the heat to medium and whisk in a cup of your cheese.  After its combined, add in next cup of cheese.  Repeat with final cup of cheese.  Gradually whisking-in the cheese will give you a smoother sauce without the cheese clumps.

Isn’t that sauce gorgeous!  I love the pale orange color you get when mixing the two kinds of cheese.  This sauce is just dying to envelop those cute little macaroni noodles.  Stir your noodles into the gooey cheese sauce. 

You can choose to stop now if you are a creamy mac fan.  Or if you prefer the baked version, sprinkle a half cup more of the sharp cheddar on top and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 350 degree oven. 

I strongly recommend you make this now…and then top it with crumbled bacon!  For the bacon, cook 3-4 strips over medium high heat.  Then add to the top your macaroni and cheeseEnjoy, I know I did.

Moving Out Bacon Mac & Cheese

6 Feb

Today starts the first day of my moving out meals!  I’m moving apartments this Saturday, and will be writing recipes that help me use up the food in my kitchen (read allow me to procrastinate instead of pack).  

My first recipe of the week also happens to be my favorite meal.  Tonight I made a creamy Mac & Cheese, and topped it with crunchy and salty bacon.  I just ate a plate of it, and already my mouth is watering at the thought of leftovers. 

Moving Out Bacon Mac & Cheese (serves 3-4)

  • 6 tbs butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 tbs flour
  • 1 1/3 cup Mexican blend of cheeses (includes cheddar, Monterrey jack and Colby cheese)
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 1 tbs black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs ground mustard
  • sprinkle of nutmeg
  • 4 cups dry pasta like gemelli or penne
  • 4 strips of bacon

In a large saucepan melt butter over medium low heat.  Add onions and saute for 3 mins.  Whisk in flour and let cook over medium low heat for 2 minutes.  Add a sprinkle of pepper.  Your quick rue should look like the picture below.

Put a pot of water on to boil. 

While the water is coming up to temperature, gradually whisk in the Mexican blend of cheeses to your onion and butter mixture until smooth.  Reduce the heat on your cheese mixture and slowly whisk in a cup of the milk to the mixture.  Add the salt, ground mustard, and the remaining pepper to the cheese mixture and stir.  Now gradually whisk in the mozzarella cheese and remaining milk.  The cheese mixture be will thick and pale in color.  Add a dash of nutmeg to your sauce and turn down the heat to low.  Stir sauce periodically as you prepare the rest of the meal.  

Add pasta to your boiling water and cook for about 6-8 minutes.  While the pasta is cooking, spray some non-stick spray on a pan and throw on your bacon over medium high heat.  The bacon should take about 4-5 minutes to crisp up.  Transfer bacon to a paper towel-covered plate.

Drain the cooked pasta and add it directly into the cheese sauce.  Stir until combined, then crumble crisp bacon over top.

This was the ideal dinner.  The onions and nutmeg gave the mac & cheese a hint of sweetness, the cheese and ground mustard added a nice tang, the pepper gave it a hint of heat, and the bacon some salty crunch.  Tonight my procrastination was rewarded.  Remind me of that tomorrow, when I’m buried in boxes!

Ted’s Bulletin

26 Mar

There are few things I love more than a good brunch.  I’m a huge breakfast food fan, but my stomach doesn’t generally wake up until 11:30 am or later.  Brunch is the perfect solution. 

I recently went with my sister, RB, Nancy and Dan to Ted’s Bulletin for brunch.  I’d been hearing rave reviews about the place, and decided a trip to Eastern Market was in order because of the Spring-like  weather that day.   

All I have to say is thank goodness my sis a) got there early to put in our name and b) that the company and people-watching were stellar.  We had to wait forever for our table.  I mean forever in The Sandlot sense, FORE EV VER!  During the wait we chatted, watched a parade of unique fashion choices, and drooled over the homemade pastries in the window.

After about an hour, we started to narrow down our brunch entrees.  Ted’s has one of those menus where everything sounds outrageously delicious and it becomes more difficult to decide the longer you stare at the menu.

By the time we actually sat down (almost 2 hours later), I had mentally ordered 75% of the menu.  The only thing I knew was that I needed to sample one of their famed Milkshakes.  There are two varieties of shakes, traditional and grown up shakes.  All adult shakes include liquor of some sort to compliment the flavors of the shakes and the hangovers of the diners.  I went with the S’mores Shake and it was divine.  Feast your eyes on this!  Pure fluff heaven.

All five of us foolishly decided to order our own shakes, because frankly we were famished.  All of them were fantastic and huge!  We vowed to share them next time to leave room for our food.  At that point in the day, I opted for lunch brunch and the Short Rib Sandwich.  The tender sandwich was served on white bread with white cheddar, arugula, red wine mayo and massive onion rings.  I’m going through a major short rib phase and each bite was mouth-watering bliss!  The onion rings were thick and had a nice crusty bite to them. 

We started the meal with our dessert, so had to end it with creamy, gooey, golden-crumb topped Mac & Cheese.  Bless you Nancy!  She was kind enough to share it with the whole table.  The rest of us wanted to try it as soon as it came to the table.  We started off asking politely “do you mind if I try some of your mac & cheese?”  By the end of the meal we were all fighting over the goodness with our forks.

Ted’s Bulletin did not disappoint!  The food and milkshakes were wonderful.  The restaurant decor and theme is fun.  Also, props to our waiter for knowing how we needed to order our dishes, even when we didn’t.  My only complaint was the wait, but it seems silly to penalize a great place because it’s too popular.  Just remember to make a reservation and do not go hungry.  Overall Rating A. 

I Heart Screwtop

11 Feb

Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching, and it’s only fitting that my first restaurant review should be a place I love.  ♥

Screwtop is a charming neighborhood wine bar in Clarendon, VA.  I’ve been there several times and have yet to be disappointed.  The staff is knowledgable and friendly, and the food is creative and whimsical.  The wine…lets just say I’d be happy to celebrate or drown my sorrows anytime with their selection!  In fact, the place is just perfect for book club; provided that book club is really an excuse to drink and nosh, instead of actually discussing a book. 

Moving on!  My most recent trip to Screwtop was with my best friend RB.  She had recently returned from a trip to South America and was really pleased the featured flights that evening were from Argentina and Chile. 

I started my dinner with the Obscurely Delicioso flight of red wines.  How could I pass them up with a name like that?  Total consumer.  I really enjoyed the Familia Mayor Bonadara and Yale Cabernet Carmenere wines.  I wasn’t a fan of the Alma de Chile Carmenere, and thought it tasted too much like the Chili Dog wine from the VA Wine Festival.  RB ordered the Chilaxing in the Andes white wine flight.  All three of her wines were light and refreshing.  

The two of us also decided order the Baked Camembert cheese with fig compote, walnuts and crusty bread.  It warmed me up from horrible cold, and was incredibly comforting.  I felt transported to a ski lodge somewhere sitting by the fire.  Heaven knows I strongly prefer the great indoors to snow.

After the cheese we decided to order… more cheese.  RB ordered the Mac’s Mac & Cheese Trio.  This included three adorable portions of pasta.  The flavors were blue cheese, traditional and truffle.  She let me sample (another plus to being best friends) and I LOVED the truffle.  The blue cheese was surprisingly good and tangy.  The traditional was fine.  I liked it, but I’d rather save room for the other two flavors and eat the truffle oil popcorn.

I ordered Wendel’s Low Country Lasagna served with a side of their yummy tomato soup.  The soup was thick and had chunks of tomato that made it seem more like a bisque.  I’ve ordered it before and it’s a real winner.  The lasagna was made with beer-braised beef and a good amount of tomato sauce.  I thought it was a nice twist on a very traditional receipe.  

All and all, I thought this was a great meal.  I love this funky little place and would order most of the items we ate/drink again.  I also thought the truffle oil popcorn was a nice touch with the wine.  Overall Rating B+ 

After a filling and rich dinner our thoughts turned immediately to a nice brisk walk.  We were so full we were busting at the seams!  Somehow (these things just happen) we decided after a few minutes that we needed to finish the night on a sweet note.  We ended up outside of Crumbs and this happened.  

My excuse-I overdid it on the cheese and simply blacked out.  That happens to people right?! 

Top 5’s

13 Jan

Top 5 Foods (and my favorite local places to find them)

Anyone who has ever met me knows my all time favorite food is mac & cheeseHands down, no contest.  In fact, I feel compelled to order it every time I see it on a menu.  The best mac and cheese is at Equinox.  The dish is creamy, cheesy goodness with crunchy crust.  Best of all, it includes truffle oil.  Period.  Chef Gray is the master.

I’m from Maryland, the home of Old Bay and the crab cake, so it’s no surprise that this item is on my must-have list.  Restaurants all over Maryland, Virginia and the District claim to have the best crab cakes.  The truth is the best crab cakes outside of my Mom’s kitchen can be found at OceanaireTheir crab cakes are huge mounds of jumbo lump crab meat and are simply served with a delicious mustard sauce and a wedge of lemon.  Nothing else is needed.

 

Cupcakes were HUGE in the DC area in 2009 and 2010.  It seemed like every metro stop opened a new cupcakery, and the Washington Post even had its own cupcake wars to pick the best.  I did my part and tried out as many places as possible.  Anything for research right?  My favorites are still from Georgetown Cupcake and Sweetbites.  I love all of the seasonal flavors and light frosting from Georgetown Cupcake.  Sweetbites stole my heart with their pina colada cupcake and their cupcake shortcake.  Oh and did I mention that they run the whole operation out of a truck, which is often located around Farragut Square?!

I love breakfast foods and could eat them all day, which leads me to the next item on my list, cinnamon rolls.  I have yet to find a good place to get these besides Cinnabon, and have been forced to make my own imperfect version (see upcoming post).  Please write me in the comments if you have suggestions of where to find them.  Pillsbury’s version just doesn’t cut it.

 The last but certainly not least item on my list is the Avgolemono Soup from Greek Deli.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of the soup, but trust me you need to try this. Don’t be intimidated by the long line or Kostas barking at everyone in the long line.  The soup is worth it.  It’s the best lemony, chicken and orzo soup ever.  If I’m sick, I want this soup.  If it’s cold, I want this  soup.  If it’s Wednesday, I want this soup.  I even order this soup during hot and humid DC summers, which pretty much says it all.

What’s in your top 5 list and where can I find it?