Updated: Best Macaroni and Cheese Ever

IMG_6185

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!

Advertisements

Carnegie Deli Matzo Ball Soup (and chicken stock!) Recipe

Matzo Ball Soup Recipe

My mom makes the best matzo ball soup. Ever. Part of the reason it’s probably the best is because she only makes it once a year at Passover. I think the recipe is a combination of one from Cooking Light and several family recipes from friends. It’s amazing. Since the first Passover J attended, he’s tried to recreate my mom’s recipe. We use the same ingredients and follow her directions, but it never turns out the same. After our trip to New York this summer, J decided to find the Carnegie Deli recipe. He finally succeeded with a few modifications of this recipe.

Stock Ingredients:
1 pound chicken necks, backs, and wings (we just used wings since that’s what we had in the freezer)
1/2 ounce chicken base, such as Better Than Bouillon
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 small white onion, quartered
Salt and pepper, to taste

For matzo balls :
8 large eggs
1 cup liquid shortening or olive oil plus more for rolling matzo balls ( I think my mom uses vegetable oil)
about 1 cup water
4 cups matzo meal
1/4 teaspoon Maggi Seasoning
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

Optional: top with fresh dill.

Directions:
Make stock : Combine first four ingredients with 6 cups water. Add Maggi seasoning (we found it in the Asian isle, it’s made by Nestle) and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for at least an 1 hour.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, oil, water, matzo meal, Maggi, salt, and pepper until just incorporated. Oil hands, then, working as gently as possible, form round balls about the size of a golf ball (but try to keep them loose or the middles won’t cook). Boil matzo balls in stock until cooked through and soft, at least 45 minutes. Divide matzo balls evenly between four bowls, allotting two matzo balls and two cups stock per serving. Sprinkle with fresh dill and enjoy.

My opinion:
It’s really close. The only part that wasn’t was J rolled the matzo balls too tight, so the middles didn’t cook quite through.

Avocado Deviled eggs


Recently, I was lucky enough to be the recipient of a House Party Avocados from Mexico party. Instead of going the traditional route, we opted to use the party for one of Mizzou’s away games. One of the most popular recipes of the day came from a dear friend, S, Avocado Deviled eggs. She got the original recipe from, All Recipes.

Ingredients:
6 eggs
1 ripe avocado
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh, dill
salt to taste
ground white pepper to taste (this really made a difference!)

Directions:
Place the eggs into a saucepan in a single layer and fill with water to cover the eggs by 1 inch. Cover the saucepan and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and let the eggs stand in the hot water for 15 minutes. Drain. Cool the eggs under cold running water. (Or feel free to use your favorite hard boiled egg technique!) Peel once cold. Halve the eggs lengthwise and scoop the yolks into a bowl.Add the avocado and sour cream to the egg yolks and mash into a smooth, creamy mixture. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, dill, salt, and white pepper until the mixture is very well blended; spoon into the egg white halves (This is easier using a icing pipping bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off!) and garnish with chopped green onion (if you’d like).

My Opinion:
While S left off the green onions, we could have easily added them, but they were delicious without. These are really good and hard to eat just one. Perfect for something a little different than the traditional deviled eggs.

Sticky Coconut Chicken

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have recently noticed, I’ve given in to Pinterest. I’ve loved finding new recipes and recently tried the Sticky Coconut Chicken (originally from this blog). The rave reviews were an understatement! This dish was amazingly flavorful, the chicken super tender and just a hint of sweet enhanced the entire dish. I’ll only make two small changes when we have this dish again.

Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (the original recipe suggest thighs, but we didn’t have any).
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper (we used white)
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (we’ll use more next time)

Marinade chicken in coconut milk, ginger, pepper and red pepper flakes at least one hour (the longer the better! We let it marinade for about two hours, but it only gets better the longer you let it marinate). Grill (since it’s winter here, we used the George Foreman).

Glaze:
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar (we actually used a bit less)
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (will need to add more next time!)

Directions:
While the chicken is grilling, bring above ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until mixture is reduced and thickened, about 8-10 minutes (actually took us about 20, but I kept it on medium heat so the mixture didn’t burn). Once the mixture starts getting really thick, immediately take it off the heat! Glaze both sides of chicken the last few minutes of grilling and serve chicken over rice. We used the remaining glaze to dip the chicken and added it over the rice.

My Opinion:
Amazing! With a little extra spice (red pepper flakes and maybe some more garlic) and a longer marinating time, this will become a regular dish in our house!

Homemade Pasta Sauce

Last week J and I challenged ourselves to not go grocery shopping and use up the items in our pantry, freezer and fridge. That experiment led to some pretty creative meals. One of the best was our homemade pasta sauce.

Ingredients:
small can pasta sauce (plain, no seasoning)
tomato paste
can whole or crushed tomatoes (you can also use fresh! 2 cups of fresh equals about 14.5 ounces chopped tomatoes. When we use fresh we don’t peel, but you may want to!)
Italian seasoning (we used oregano, basil, marjoram, sage and white pepper. You can use whatever you like!)
Burgundy wine
garlic

Directions:
Combine everything in one saucepan. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat to medium low or low. Let simmer for about an hour. This will cook down.

My opinion:
This was wonderful! Easy and filling. We actually originally used too much Italian seasoning, but by adding the wine and a can of tomato sauce, everything blended very well. In the future, we’ll add onions and maybe some green peppers to add variety as well as some red pepper flakes.

This week’s food posts are brought to you by #cookchat. My co-moderator, Matt LaCasse and I are announcing #cookchat’s triumphant return on Thursday January 20, a noon. CST. Join us for an hour of food filled conversation.