Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mac and Cheese

Tonight Julie and I aim to perfect a "Southern Classic"...Mac N Cheese. We scoured over many recipes and chose the two below.   I think most can agree...it is hard to mess up mac n cheese.  It depends on your preference and what you are serving at your meal. If we had to choose, I think we would prefer recipe 1. This time we split the recipes in half.  And you can, too.  It might be something we continue to do in the future.


Recipe 1:  Mac and Cheese Edna Lewis Adaption 
2 cups elbow macaroni
Salt
2 1/2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese (cubed)



2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup sour cream
2 eggs - lightly beaten
1/3 cup grated onion
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 1/2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese


It is hard to tell below but the cubed cheese along with the macaroni gives it an extra cheesy goodness.  This sharp cheddar from Cabot (Costco) was the way to go!


Nutmeg.  Labeled "for use in macaroni and cheese and quiche."  Who knew?  Ok, I believe Julie and Lance knew (but not me).

We read some reviews saying it was "soupy."

And though it appears to be...

It really was perfect...

The key is letting it sit for 10 or so minutes.  It congeals.   Does this look amazing or what?  By this time the kitchen smelled fabulous!




Kosher salt
Vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small) - PEELED ;)
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Julie and Lance don't just do bread crumbs.  They made their own bread (the day before) and made crumbs from that.  Things are homemade at the Smith Kitchen.



I do like the presentation of this mac and cheese.  The tomatoes are a great twist.  Due to some tomato plants Julie found at Costo this week, you may be seeing more tomato recipes soon!

Topped with bread crumbs...also another nice touch!

Walla...


Result:
We enjoyed both recipes.  Both were so different.  I personally liked the first one (and I think that was overall consensus) but Julie made a great point.  When put with the right menu, the second one could certainly be ideal.  The first recipe is cheaper due to the Gruyere cheese you have to purchase for the second recipe.   

If you have a recipe particularly dear to your heart, let us know.  We are still open to new recipes.  We may be eating mac and cheese for a few days, however.  Thanks to Julie and her salad I didn't feel TOO bad about eating it for dinner!



Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy π (PI) Day

HAPPY PI DAY!

Today, we celebrate Pi Day.  Yes, it is 3.14 aka March 14th.  My office is special.  We are geeks...and proud of it. 

Shelly was super creative, as usual!
Notice the green for St. Patty's Day thrown in? 
Oh, and that is my quiche in the back...it is spinach so it is green!

Sarah's decorative cookie pie!

In case you were wondering, no, I didn't make a legit pie this year.  I gave up sweets for lent.  I know, might sound crazy but I thought this year would be easier than the rest (been busy and distracted so my appetite disappears).   But this day made it a challenge!

However, I DID participate by baking a quiche.  It was my first attempt and I did not record it.  It was disaster...partly because I was on a 3 way call (trying to remember to mute during parts of it) and partly because I have a broken blender that was gushing raw egg.

I want to try again...so stay tuned!


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Operation O'Carrs

What do you get when you add:

-hours of internet searching
-2 return trips to my house
-one additional trip to the grocery store (thanks Lance!)
-lots and lots of chicken
-"sweetness"
-lots of herb deliberation
-too many pecans
-LOTS of taste testing
and
-delirious singing of Camp Anawanna and reminiscing theme songs and other 90's tunes

.....Operation O'Carrs


I truly believe my mother didn't know of another Birmingham restaurant for years after I moved here.  I don't want to think of how many lbs of their chicken salad I've consumed.  I've had lots of great memories at O'Carrs.  Julie and I went on a quest to recreate the chicken salad. And while I don't think we matched it exactly, we got pretty darn close.  

Our journey started after my MIS class and their parenting class 5:00 Saturday night.  So, needless to say, it had been a long day for us all!

I bought a tub of the chicken salad so we could analyze what was inside.  It was confirmed that dill (dillweed as carol and I call it) is the herb of choice.  



There was no doubt the chicken salad had to be processed in the food processor (not sooo appetizing).  We are not sure how they got to that point so we boiled our chicken in some salt and paprika.  


 It most definitely contains grapes.  That was easy...

 Note: The container to the left is the store purchased and to the right is our creation.

Looking good... 


If we did stumble upon a killer recipe, we could make a killer profit.


Our final guestimation:


Julie and Shelley's Take on O'Carr's Chicken Salad

2 c. boiled chicken, chopped in processor
1tsp dill
1/4 c. grapes
1/8 c. chopped pecans
4 pinches paprika
2 oz cream cheese
3 T mayo
1 tsp honey
2 pinches salt


And while we didn't have fancy fruit, we did have fancy THEMED (aren't I good) crackers?




 Walla...

This is Lance's taste test. HILARIOUS.  The above plate had 2 of our recipes on it, along with the original.  By that time we had eaten SO MUCH of it, we knew.  After what I eat in the frig...I will probably NOT be eating any chicken salad for awhile (and darn if I don't have another O'Carrs Groupon waiting to be used)!

It is ALWAYS a fun time and great adventures cooking/baking at the Smith house!

***Update***
On July 22, 2012, I tried a cheesecake recipe similar to the O'Carr's recipe.  Click here to visit the blogpost.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Switching gears from sweets....

Julie and I are cooking tonight...so stay tuned.  I got a rotisserie chicken from Publix.  I thought I would go ahead and get the meat off to be prepared for tonight.



I have this sitting in front of me and I am telling myself "You are a big girl, Shelley."

If you know me, you know why.