Thursday, August 26, 2010

Recipe: Ina's Grown Up Mac and Cheese (altered)

Before Breadcrumbs and Baking
Right out of the oven

To me Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food. I grew up eating Kraft Mac and cheese out of the box (my mother never made it from scratch). As my culinary tastes have evolved, I now prefer a heartier Mac with a variety of cheeses and plenty of it.

As I was leaving work last night, I did a mental image of my cupboards and fridge. I knew there wasn't much, and felt pure euphoria when I figured I had enough to make some homemade mac. I found a simply recipe on (my favorite recipe source) by the Barefoot Contessa and wha-lah! The original recipe called for at least a cup of some fancy cheeses, but I used a variety of cheddars that I already had.   The sauce was really thick and creamy, and  very very delicious. A super easy recipe!

**M Disclaimer: while this mac and cheese is very very good, it is not as good as M's. I don't think that there is a recipe in the world that can surpass it!**

Ina's Grown Up Mac and Cheese recipe is below, with my changes in red).
  • 4 ounces thick-sliced bacon (I used some pancetta that I had frozen already)
  • Vegetable oil (oil used in pasta, so you just need a dab)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi (Penne)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (Sharp Cheddar)
  • 3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (Mild Cheddar)
  • 2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled (Mexican Cheese Blend)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg (none)
  • 2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed (Store bought Bread Crumbs)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves (Parsley)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.
Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes. (I used an 8 x 8 glass baking dish, and there was enough to fill it. Definitely enough for more than 2 servings.)

Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Review: Five Guys - Albuquerque, New Mexico

We had already eaten half

So, it seems as though there is a Five Guys phenomenon going on in the US right now. Albuquerque is lucky enough to have one! I've eaten there a few times now, and the more I eat there the more I love it! Me and M ate there for lunch on Sunday, usually an iffy time to go because generally there is a line out the door. It was our lucky day because we walked right up to the counter.

What makes this place so special? Maybe it's that they offer two size of burgers (the regular size has 2 patties)? Maybe it's because for one price you can get any of the toppings that are offered? Maybe it's because the meat is fresh and never frozen? or maybe it's the fresh cut Idaho potato fries?

I think its the fries. They are SO delicious and made using peanut oil, which I think is what makes them the hot, crispy fried goodness that they are. They offer Original fries and Cajun. I love the Original ones so much, that I'm terrified to try the Cajun. I'm afraid they might be too salty or that the seasoning will make the fries get soggy. Maybe I'm mistaken, but I don't want to take the risk. They also give you so many! M and I usually split a small, and we can't finish it. They have a wipe board near the registers that tell you where the potatoes they are using are from; I think that's cool.

I always get a little bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, extra pickles, tomatoes, and mustard (my mouth is watering right now). M actually gotta little one cute! Oh, and their pickles. X-tra thick, crinkled cut dills. Nice.

If you haven't been there yet, Five Guys is definitely worth a trip! Every time I've been there it's been packed, so I can't recommend a good time to go, but I can say that the wait is never long and there is plenty of seating. I think the prices are ok, but I usually hear someone complaining about how expensive they are. I posted the menu, so you can see for yourself.

Five Guys Burgers And Fries on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: Village Pizza - Corrales, New Mexico

Wow, what an experience!

This past Friday I had dinner and movie plans with a a dear friend Sacha, and she suggested that we try Village Pizza in Corrales. Actually, she gave me a few choices and I chose Village Pizza from the list because we both had never been there. I also found a coupon to get 2 free Chocolate Mouses if we ordered a small pizza. Score!

We arrived at the restaurant around 6:45, and circled the parking lot 4 times and just as we were about to bail we found a spot. Needless to say, the place was packed (always a good sign). When we walked in we were greeted by a kid, who couldn't of been more than 15, who asked if we wanted to eat inside or outside. I thought that we were going to have to wait awhile so I said "First Available, Please" which automatically confused the guy and he looked at me blankly for a few minutes before he shrugged his shoulders, and repeated the question. Sacha suggested that we eat inside since it was hot out, and the kid took us right away to a seating area in the very back of the restaurant.

I knew it would be trouble when I spotted 3 little little kids running around and climbing on the fireplace (that was NOT on). I knew we were in for more trouble when 2 different baby girls at 2 different tables let out loud blood curling screams that echoed throughout the joint at about 5 million decibels. Even though we could barely hold a conversation, we decided to stay and we ordered a small Greg's Albuquerque Magazine Combo (Pepperoni, smoked ham, hot or mild green chili, mushrooms, red onions, minced garlic, mild or hot sausage, red bell peppers, and artichokes). Of course we chose hot green chile, and hot sausage. Since we were starving and more than mildly irritated we each ordered a side salad, and were delighted to learn that we got to have one trip to the salad bar. Unfortunately the pickins' were slim, it seemed as though it had not been replenished in awhile. At least we had something to eat though, so I wasn't going to complain.

So far nothing about this place seemed magical, which was quite disappointing since I have heard nothing but great reviews. Just as I thought nothing could possibly save this place, our pizza came out! The crust wasn't too thick and it wasn't to thin, the toppings were piled on high, and the price was right. My mouth was salivating while I snapped the photos above. Taking a bite out of this pie was truly a magical experience... I loved the artichokes on it. Oh, and the chile. SO hot, and fresh! Loved it. Luckily there was enough left over to take home and we both got 2 slices; it was even delicious heated up the next day for lunch.

We had to get out mousses to go, in order to make our movie on time (which, by the way, was "Eat, Pray, Love"). Not such a good idea for a movie time treat, it turned into a big soupy mess!

So here's what I have to say about Village Pizza. Great, delicious, spectacular Pizza, but get it to go!

Village Pizza on Urbanspoon

Fried Catfish Month!!!!


Did you know that August is National Fried Catfish Month? Lucky me, because I LOVE Catfish! I love filets, nuggets, sandwiches, blackened, fried, smoked, smothered....whatever, I love it! In honor of this joyous occasion my boyfriend and I whipped up a batch, with only a few minor setbacks.

When we went fish shopping, the meat market man convinced M (my boyfriend) not to get the traditional catfish I had my eye on, but instead get the Basa that was on sale. Hmm....I was more than skeptical because it did not look like catfish and I had never heard of it before. When I got home I googled it, and found that Basa is the Vietnamese cousin of the American catfish. Let's just say that there's a lot of controversy surrounding the fishing practices in Vietnam.

With no backup plan (and having just spent 12 bucks on this stuff), I put my skepticism behind and fried forward. The fish itself didn't have the skin that I like, and it was a lot less dense. The cornmeal "fish fry" that I used battered it just fine. I ran out of Crisco, so I had to use vegetable oil for frying. I think that Crisco is the best fry grease out there. In the end it came out alright. It was pretty hearty, and tasted pretty good.

I made cornbread muffins, a small salad, and M made his famous mac and cheese (he'll get his own post on that) to round out the meal. We had a nice dinner together and watched "Death at a Funeral."

The next day I made myself a fish sandwich with some of the leftovers, and let me tell you - the fish was way better the next day!!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Recipe: Tequila Lime Chicken

Don't you just want to lick those limes?

This is what I've been eating ALL week. While it is certainly delicious, I've just about had enough. I can only take about 2 days of leftovers, and preferably only once a day. I've been dining on this dish for every meal since Sunday. But as of today, there will no more of this!

My boyfriend lives about 3 hours away from me, and on the weekends we will grill up an extra large batch of whatever we're making for him to carry back with with him. As he generally does the grilling and I do the marinading, I asked if the usual Italian dressing would do (while Italian dressing is a perfectly fine marinade, I prefer to live on the edge and create my own). I was surprised when he said that he'd preferred "the one I made the last time." I think that my heart did a little flip.
Here's how we made it (remember we used a lot of chicken, so I'm trying to cut the recipe)(Also, I've never written my own recipe before, so if you try and it sucks, I am SO SO sorry!)...

1 Pound of  Chicken breast
1 C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbs. of Tequila
1 heaping teaspoon of crushed garlic
Juice from 1 fresh lime
1/2 bunch of green onions diced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

dash of salt
dash of pepper

Combine ingredients in large Ziploc bag, add chicken, securely close bag, and shake chicken around until it is well coated. Grill immediately, or refrigerate until needed.

1. Cut chicken in half and pound out until each piece is about 1/4 in thick (cuts down on grilling time and chicken gets cooked evenly)
2. Grill Chicken on top rack if possible on Medium heat (keeps in moisture)
3. Be sure to cook chicken thoroughly to avoid food borne illness. The recommended internal temp should be approx. 160 degrees.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Recipe: Hoe Cakes

I found this recipe on CNN Eatocracy Blog today. I can't wait to try it out!

My dad used to make these for use when we were kids. He's from the backhiills of Tennessee, and when we were little (not so much now), he used to whip up some of his old southern favorites. Poor guy, he's still on a quest to find the perfect biscuit and cornbread recipes.

Hoe Cakes
Makes about 30 cakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, lightly whipped
1 egg yolk, whipped with the whole eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons lard (or bacon fat), melted
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup roasted corn kernels
4 tablespoons red onion, minced
salt and black pepper, to taste
Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, lard and butter until fully combined. Stir dry ingredients into the wet ones until fully combined. Blend in corn and onion and combine well. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Cook cakes two tablespoons at a time in melted butter in a cast iron skillet. Brown on one side and flip to finish - like pancakes.

*Photo from Vegan Crunk (so I doubt there is lard or bacon fat in these ones). I will post my pictures once I actually make them!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

30 days? Yeah right!

I couldn't finish my 30 day quest to document all that I ate! Soon after I started, I realized that day after day I usually ate the same thing, which in my opinion is SO boring. I figured if I was getting bored so was the reader, even though I don't think any one is reading this.

I don't want to stop blogging, and to you non-existent reader I make the following declarations:
  • I will carry my camera with me (in my purse)
  • I will be recognized by CNN's Eatocracy
  • I will steer away from the easy complacent foods that I depend on
  • I will blog regularly - 3 times a week (ok, maybe twice) (who am I kidding, at least once)
There, I said it and so it shall be!

I do have some pretty yummy photos that I snapped while on my quest that I didn't post, as in the one above. My boyfriend makes the BEST pancakes ever! From scratch, with Bisquick! Who does that anymore? I certainly don't...

By the way, do you like my new header?
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