Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Four Five Cheese Macaroni

This week's recipe of Four Cheese Macaroni was chosen by Mrs. Bethorama at Supplicious. I must admit, I was pretty darn excited about macaroni and cheese - especially a mac and cheese with so much cheese. Although the addition of the squash was somewhat bizarre, I figured that the extra liquid would help keep the mac and cheese all ooey and goey.

My verson of the CEIMB weekly selection is sponsored by Publix.
And thank goodness for Publix because that was the ONLY frozen pureed squash that I could find in the grocery store. While I was pacing up and down the frozen food isle in search for the lovely frozen pureed squash - for the briefest moment I contemplated making my own fresh pureed squash. Then I snapped back to reality and realized that a gal who works 60 hours a week doesn't have time to puree squash. So the hunt continued. And finally I located the treasured Publix cooked squash! I have no idea whether it was pureed winter squash, but it was pureed. Success. Granted, in the time it took me to locate said box of winter squash, I probably could have pureed my own - but really that's neither here nor there.

So, I started cooking but was briefly interrupted by the floor guy coming to measure my kitchen for new flooring. YAY! Stay tuned on that saga. Good thing boiling water and defrosting squash are much more patient than I am!
Now, on to the cheese. I must admit while I was excited by the four cheeses already in the recipe, I just couldn't resist adding more cheese. I had some gruyere cheese in the fridge, so I added about one ounce of it to the mix. After some elbow grease, I finally had all the cheese grated! However, I think something is wrong with my rationale on this one....

After the squash was defrosted, I added the milk, simmered as per the recipe, and then added the spices and the cheese. I didn't have any dry mustard on hand, so I used some of the Dijon I purchased for last week's oven-fried chicken. I probably added about 2-3 teaspoons of the Dijon. Oh, and I am so excited about my new jar of Cayenne Pepper. This jar is much much smaller than the old one. I wonder how long it will take me to finish off this puppy???

Well I finally got everything mixed together and added the sauce to the cooked macaroni that was patiently waiting in the baking dish.

Note-this is only HALF of the recipe!!! I decided against making a full recipe and freezing half of it for next week. However, I should have frozen half of the half that I made because this is still A LOT of mac and cheese. I added the topping and baked the mac and cheese for about 35 minutes in a 375ish degree oven. It still wasn't bubbling around the edges, but the rest of dinner was ready, so in the broiler it went. My oven is somewhat temperamental (ok, very temperamental), and its gas (which isn't properly calabrated), so using the broiler (or the oven for that matter) is always a bit tricky. Santa, if you are reading this...I would love a new convection oven for Christmas - Kenmore Elite, stainless steel, 30", gas, 5 burners. I put the mac and cheese under the broiler for less than a minute - probably more like 40 seconds - but the breadcrumbs came out of the oven looking more like burnt toast than breadcrumbs and cheese. Note to self, breadcrumbs and direct flames are not a good mix. (The result wasn't very pretty , hence no finished picture of the entire dish!)
Well after all this effort , I must say I was a little disappointed by the mac and cheese. I thought the squash overpowered the entire dish. And despite all the cheese I added, I could barely taste it. I also was not a very big fan of the texture. Perhaps I added to much ricotta cheese. I put about 3 heaping tablespoons of it in the cheese mixture. Maybe the addition of this much ricotta dried the mac and cheese out. Even the cats were not a fan of the mac and cheese. The decided to hide/ sleep as opposed to partaking in the fruits of my labor.

To accompany the mac and cheese I made a variation of the pork recipe on page 194 of the Food You Crave. The fresh sage and garlic on a thin cut pork chop was fabulous. I deglazed the pan with some chicken stock and made a sauce to go over the pork. Served with a salad, this was a well balanced dinner.

Thanks Supplicious for choosing mac and cheese. It definitely was not my favorite mac and cheese, but I am glad I stepped out and tried something different. Is it sad that my favorite mac and cheese is made by Kraft? Don't judge.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My first CEiMB Post!!!

Thanks to Lonely Sidecar for picking Oven-Fried Chicken this week! I must say, I was very skeptical about "fried chicken" in the oven. Afterall, I am a true southern gal and the only fried chicken I know is soaked in buttermilk, floured and spiced and then DEEP FRIED! Healthy, no - tasty - you betcha! But, I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the finished product. Even the peanut gallery (the cats) were licking their chops after a bite of the moist and delicious chicken (hopefully the cayenne didn't give them too much heartburn!)

Well I am all about easy when it comes to cooking so I skipped getting out the food chopper to chop the crackers and cereal. Instead, I just loaded up a ziplock bag and went to town getting out some frustration. The chucky mix of crackers and cereal made for a nice cruchy coating on the chicken. I included the garlic, seasame seeds and cayenne in the breading. However, I emptied the jar of cayenne pepper, but there still wasn't as much as the recipe called for (as if I was measuring anyways!!!) On that note - I must say it took me about 10 years to get through an entire jar of cayenne pepper!!!

On to the wet ingredients - I only used one egg white since I was only making two pieces of chicken and I used coarse ground dijon mustard. I butterflied the chicken breast and then they went for a swim in the wet ingridients.

Well against my better judgment, I thought a salad plate would be appropriate for breading the chicken. Boy was I wrong! A broiler pan would have been much more appropriate given the mess I made trying to get the chicken coated. I'm sure the cats will be eating corn flakes/ crackers off the floor for days!

I baked the chicken on a cookie sheet and thought it came out great! I probably overcooked the chicken a bit - I got a little sidetracked watching the Biggest Loser on dvr!!! Is it just me or is anyone else shocked that Amy voted Colleen off instead of Vicki????? Big mistake on Amy's part!

But thats neither here nor there!

Thanks Lonely Sidecar for picking a great recipe. I guess fried chicken can come out of the oven! I will definitely be making this recipe again.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Some things just are not meant to be... making Oven Fried Chicken on a Tuesday night! After three failed attempts at locating The Food You Crave (for those who are curious or who are looking for this book, BAM at Brookwood, Jonathan Benton in MB Village and the Bookworm in Homewood are all sans cookbook). And I really haven't given up on making this chicken since I found the recipe online. Said chicken just won't be made tonight. As I say at the office, there's always tomorrow!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jumping on the Bandwagon...

Well after much proding and persuasion, I have finally decided to join a little cooking club. My friend Peggy of Pantry Revisited finally convinced me today to join Craving Ellie In My Belly (CEIMB). Two of my other co-workers, Cathy and Amanda have been trying to convince me for months that food blogging is better than sliced bread. So, we shall see.

So I un-officially named my blog today... Yes, I'll try to carveout some time for cooking each week. At least until I come up with a more exciting name for this blog. Any suggestions?

Now, for the real challenge of trying to actually follow a recipe --something that I rarely do. Why do I not follow recipes you ask? Well its not that I don't think that the recipe will be good, or that I get bored with such simple tasks as following a recipe (well maybe I do). For one, I am more of a dash of this, some of that type of person. I never measure anything unless I am actually baking, and even then its rare. Mostly though, I just get to cooking and my mind starts racing, and I start thinking of all the other things I could add to a recipe. Where is this kind of motivation when I am sitting at my desk trying to solve some bankruptcy crisis...drafting objections to confirmation...rejecting executory contracts...working towards world peace. Maybe I missed my true calling in life??? Bueller, Bueller.

So, here's to a fun food journey! Now, ya'll will just have to bear with me while I try to remember to photo my food before eating it!