Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Macaroni and Cheese

One of my favorite dishes to make and eat is Mac and Cheese.  You can make it different every time and still know that it will be good.  I like to add many different ingredients, so this recipe might show up a few times.  A comfort food to the max, it holds a special place in my heart.
In this version here I wanna say takes about 45-60 minutes.   Really though, the prep is super easy, and a good chunk of the time is spent baking in the oven.

16oz of noodles (I prefer Hodgson Mill noodles) any shape really
1/4 cup of butter
1 medium white onion chopped
1/2 container of baby bella mushrooms chopped
3 small fist fulls of flour (approx 1/4 cup I'm guessing)
about 1.5-2 cups milk
2 cups of cheese
variety of spices including powdered mustard seed, pepper, salt, and cumin

Cook your noodles as package recommends or to desired firmness.  The Hodgson Mill noodles are 100% whole wheat durum flour and need to be watched as they cook, over cooking them can make them gummy and fall apart.  As your water is being boiled, in a medium sized sauce pan melt the butter, add the onions and allow to cook 4-5 minutes or until translucent.

Add the flour to the butter and onions slowly.  I like to measure with my hands so I can add flour slowly as needed.  You want the flour to absorb into the butter with no clumps.  The butter should become thick, but not pasty.  If you accidentally add too much flour, just add more butter.

Put together your blend of spices.  Powdered mustard seed is like the MSG of the spice world, it enhances many flavors, with out adding a mustard flavor (trust me I hate mustard), but this is very good stuff.  Season to taste.  If you like your mac real peppery (like I do) then add more, other things to add could be basil, oregano, or go sweet with cinnamon and nutmeg.  Its all about being adventurous.

After the butter/flour stuff and spices have simmered for about a minute, remove from heat for a few minutes.  Add the milk.  Place back on the heat and slowly bring back up to boil.

By this point your noodles should be finished (or about so give or take a few minutes).   Drain and if you'd like rinse.  I don't because I'm lazy.

When the sauce you are making begins to boil, it will thicken and needs to be stirred often.  This sauce is often referred to a white sauce or bechamel sauce.  Allow to boil for about 1-2 minutes or until desired thickness.   If adding mushrooms, allow to really thicken, because the mushrooms leak water and will make your sauce kinda runny.  Then again if you are into it...

Here's the fun.  Add any kind of veggie you want at this point.  My favs are broccoli, red bell pepper, zucchini, jalapenos, tomatoes, mushrooms, string beans, you name it.  Add what you have on hand, or make it a show stopper.   Last but not least, add the cheese.  Chedder, gouda, swiss, whatev.  I prefer hard sharp cheeses, but you can make it light too with swiss.

Mix it all up, place in a casserole dish.  Ceramic or pyrex clean up easily.  Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees.  I placed the little bit of extra cheese left over on top with some onion slices.  You know when its done when the casserole is bubbling, and the top is a nice golden color.  Remove from oven and let cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy and happy eating.

PS I garnished mine with some spinach for color.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sweet Potato Fries

I've never been too keen on sweet potatoes, especially the pie.  I've avoided this root since I was a child.  A few years ago at a vegetarian Thai restaurant I had my first encounter with these bad boys and have been slowly coming around to eating them more and more.  The farmers at the State Market have a several varieties of sweet potatoes and at ridiculously competitive prices (2-3 bucks for like 2 big potatoes).  Beyond being way better for you than white potato varieties, they taste better too.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries
2-3 Sweet Potatoes (any variety)
1/4 cup Veggie Oil
1-2 tablespoons of Salt and Pepper -to taste
Dash of Paprika -to taste
Dash of Cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 425-450 degrees
Cut the sweet potatoes in 1/2 or so strips.  They are difficult to cut raw so please be careful. Toss strips with the oil and season with spices.  Handy tip:  Place strips in zip lock baggy with oil and spices for easy coating. 
Place on baking sheet and bake for approx 30 minutes, flip every 10-15 minutes, until crispy or desired doneness.
Serve hot.  I like mine with ketchup and/or ranch.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Foodie

I guess I'm what they call a foodie.


–noun Slang . a person keenly interested in food, esp. in eating or cooking

I cook almost all my food from scratch, and purchase as much as I can locally.  I haven't bought much boxed food (minus noodles because I can't afford a noodle maker right now) in almost a year.  I will try to share all of my recipes with you.  Cooking and eating your cooking is rewarding and oh so satisfying.  Plus you know what you are eating, which in turn leads to better health.

Lets eat.  Bon Appetit.