Updated: Best Macaroni and Cheese Ever

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I know I said this was the best macaroni and cheese recipe, ever, but I was wrong. This one is. I promise. It’s delicious no matter the season and equally good in the dead winter as it is on a hot summer day.

Ingredients:
1 box Elbow macaroni uncooked
1/2 cup Butter (1-stick)
1/4 cup All-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper (if you’re feeling adventurous, use white pepper)
1/4 teaspoon Dry mustard (we occasionally add a bit more up to a 1/2 teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne pepper (we occasionally add a bit more up to a 1/2 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups Milk (we use skim)
2 cups Sharp cheddar cheese (8-oz), grated (you can use more, we occasionally use up to 10 ounces, it just becomes cheesier and more delicious)
About 1 cup panko crumbs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large pot of boiling water cook the pasta to al dente. While macaroni is cooking, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour, salt, pepper, mustard, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly (this is important or it bubbles over). Boil for about one minute, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Stir in cheese and cook, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted. Drain macaroni and gently stir into cheese sauce. (Or pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni (whichever pot is bigger). Just make sure to mix it all together. Pour the entire mixture into ungreased 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle panko on top. Bake uncovered until bubbly, about 25 to 30 minutes. Set broiler to low (or high if you’re adventurous!) and broil until the top is a nice golden brown. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

My opinion:
While this looks complicated, it really isn’t and is easy to make for a weeknight meal. We make the whole batch at once and then usually freeze half. It is deceptively filling. If eating for a hot summer (or later summer dinner) let it come to at least room temperature before eating. Winter, eat it hot. Enjoy!

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San Francisco Shrimp

San Francisco Shrimp

We’ve been on a shrimp kick again. Only this time, we’re eating more than just the sriracha shrimp. J bookmarked this recipe on a wonderful recipe finding site, Big Oven. So far almost every thing we’ve made from the site has been delicious. While at first glance this dish may seem time and labor intensive, it isn’t. The key to making it a weeknight meal is to have the ingredients ready to go.

Ingredients:
2 pounds jumbo shrimp shelled
5 stalks scallions finely chopped (more works too!)
8 cloves garlic, minced
5 slices ginger root finely chopped (we grated it, it was easier)
2-3 pods dried red chile peppers crushed (in a pinch you can use red pepper flakes)
Sauce
1/2 cup Ketchup
1 Tbsp cooking sherry (this is a bit salty in my opinion, we usually use regular sherry)
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt (if using cooking sherry, omit this!)
4 tablespoons cooking oil (you might need more or less depending on the oil you use. We found with sesame oil, it absorbs fast, but tastes the best!)
cornstarch about 2/3 of a cup should be enough

Directions:
Put the cornstarch in a zip top gallon sized bag. Dry the shrimp with paper towels and put into the cornstarch bag. Shake. Pour about an inch of cooking oil in the bottom of a wok. Deep fry shrimp in batches until pink and slightly golden. Remove shrimp to a separate plate covered in paper towels. Ladle a bit of oil from the wok to a non-stick skillet. Heat and add scallions, garlic, ginger, and chile pepper mix in the oil until fragrant, about one minute. Pour sauce ingredients into the skillet, stir until bubbly. Return shrimp into the skillet, mix well. Serve over a bed of rice.

My Opinion:
This dish is perfect for a hot summer night. It’s delicious and sweet and spicy and a touch sour. We’ve added a diced onion into the scallion mixture and it was wonderful. We’ve added broccoli into the sauce and it was fantastic. This might just be in my top five favorite meals. So good!

Chinese Pepper Steak

Our culinary tour through Asia continues with this dish. Easy enough for a weeknight meal, there was more than enough left for lunch the next day.

Ingredients:
1 lb Flank steak diagonally cut (we used flat iron steak because the local grocery was out of flank)
For the marinade:
1/4 cup Soy sauce
2 tablespoons Dry sherry
1 teaspoon Sugar
2 teaspoon Cornstarch
1/4 cup Water
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
4 Garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons Ginger root peeled, grated (we used a little more)
2 Scallions chopped
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
1 large Onion, cut into squares
2 Green peppers, cut into squares (we used a red one we had on hand and needed to eat)

Directions:
Marinate steak for at least 15 minutes, longer is better.  Add oil to hot wok. Stir  fry garlic, ginger and scallions for 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon to reserve the marinade, remove half of the meat and stir fry for 3 minutes.  Remove and set aside. Repeat with remaining steak. In the same wok, add oil and stir fry the onion and green peppers for 2 minutes.  Push vegetables to sides of wok.  Add marinade to center of wok and stir until thickened and bubbly. Blend in  vegetables, add steak and heat thoroughly (about 5 minutes).

My opinion:
The right blend of savory and sweet, this dish is lovely with a side of jasmine rice.

Modified from this recipe on Big Oven.