special guest post from kate, baking and crossword puzzle partner in crime
Baked Mac ‘n Cheese
Or . . . the remedy for a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!
So, today (Tuesday) pretty much sucked a big one. Normally I feel like Monday or Wednesday is the “bad” day of the week, but this week Tuesday decided to surprise me. I won’t go into details, except to say that I got no sleep last night, had an awful morning at work, went to class, had to leave class early to go back to work because remote access decided not to work, and then had prescription insurance issues (which should have been resolved a month ago) to boot. Anyway, all I wanted was gooey mac ‘n cheese. I don’t have celiac disease - thank God - but wheat definitely does a number on my tummy if I have too much of it, so I do try to eat rice or quinoa pasta and the like. Today? Didn’t care one bit about that! After finally making it somewhat back home I stopped at the grocery store, picked up some stuff, and walked the rest of the way home to start making yummy baked mac ‘n cheese, something I’ve never made before. We also have fillet mignons wrapped in bacon (an Omaha Steaks present for when we moved into our house) that I learned to cook on the grill - also a feat, since I’ve never grilled before! Oh, oh, oh - another note . . .we live in a duplex and the neighbors we share a wall with aren’t the most upstanding citizens; well, some of them aren’t, there are like a million people living in that house - do NOT even want to know what the bathroom situation is like in the morning. Anyway, I digress... so, while baking this Mac I had the pleasure of watching an “undercover” cop walk “his” dog down the street while stopping for verrryyyy long pauses in front of the house next door. Oh dear!
O-M-G → go throw a party or something and requireevery single person attending to bring the Omaha Steaks Fillets wrapped in bacon. Seriously, while the mac was delish, those fillets wrapped in bacon MADE MY DAY!
I would work to make the Mac more rich next time - maybe add more cheese, or maybe use parmigiana or Prima Donna Gouda (soooo yummy). The husb even suggested adding a bit of the velveeta that I love and mixing that in. Just some thoughts for y'all
I like the crunchy of the smashed chips on top, but next time would probably just use the extra cheese and maybe breadcrumbs . . . or smash the chips more!
Recipes, as they were actually made tonight, are below
mac 'n cheese
3 cups pasta (uncooked) - I used fun shapes like shells and penne because, secretly, velveeta shells are my fave. Ok, maybe not so secretly
3.5 - 4 cups shredded cheese. I was lazy, because it was a bad day, and used the pre-shredded stuff from the store, but you could definitely just buy a hunk o’ cheese and shred it yourself. I used “fancy sharp cheddar” - aka a mix of 3 different kinds of cheddar
salt and pepper - maybe about 1 tsp each?
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup of milk, plus an extra splash or two
2 tsp red pepper flakes - you can leave these out if you don’t want the heat
1. Make your pasta! While that pasta is going, pre-heat the oven to 350 and start to melt the butter in a sauce pan on the stove
2. Add the flour to the butter and mix to make a nice roux. Add half of the milk and stir, throwing in about 1 C cheese
3. STIR - like you mean it!
4. Add the other half of milk, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes. Add the rest of the cheese. Add an extra splash (or two) of milk if you need it
5. Again - STIR like you mean it . . . it’ll take some time, but be patient (I know, I know, really hard after a horrible day. Maybe some wine or beer will help with that. I think it probably will - at least it did for me)
6. Butter/Cooking Spray/whatever a baking dish. I used a round Corningware, but an 8x8 baking dish (like the kind for brownies) would probably be just fine
7. Add the pasta and cheese and mix it all up. I topped it with extra cheese and some smashed up (ya know, to get out that anger and frustration from the day) blue tortilla chips
8. Into the oven for about 30 minutes
1. Umm - the husb started the grill (I watched and now know how - woohoo!)
2. Salt the fillets, plop on grill salt side down and salt the side that’s now facing up
3. Cook for a few minutes on each side.
Do you know the hand trick to tell when your steaks are to the temperature you want? It’s pretty awesome! Medium-rare was the name of the game tonight (hold your non-dominant hand out, palm facing you, and lower your pointer finger towards your palm - the feel of the “squishy” part of your palm near your thumb is what medium-rare feels like. want medium? lower your middle finger down. crazy and like your steaks well-done (umm, who ARE you?!) lower your pinky down - make sense?)
4. Take off grill and top with butter
5. Let sit for a few minutes (5ish?) before cutting
6. Wear bug-spray! I add this only because in the 10 minutes we were outside I got 3 bug bites on my right foot and 2 on my left - what the heck mosquitos?!?!