Archive for January, 2011

Mac n’ Cheese… or is it Noodles n’ Cheese??

Down here in the good old South we have what we like to call, large quantities of carbs coated in cheese and sprinkled with more cheese. Here we call it, Macaroni and Cheese not to be confused with noodles and cheese. While Kraft might call their Mac n’ Cheese the cheesiest, we call it a big lie. Here is what we call the misinterpretation of deliciousness & a cheap substitution.

Here’s the difference: Macaroni and cheese = baked & Noodles and cheese = stove top. My baked macaroni and cheese is pretty much my noodles and cheese with a little panko on top, just the way I love it! No egg, no runny behavior, just cheesy!

this is unbaked, but sprinkled with a little more cheese on top.

My recipe: 1 3/4 c uncooked elbows 1/4 c unsalted butter 1 1/2 TSP dry mustard powder 1 TSP sea salt 3 TBSP flour 1/2 TSP crushed pepper 2 1/2 c milk 2 c mixed cheeses

Topping: 1 TSP unsalted butter 2 TBSP Panko crumbs 2 TBSP Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375° & start cooking elbows just as normal. Bring the noodles to a boil and drain at al dente. In a medium size saucepan melt the 1/4 c of butter add the salt, dry mustard, pepper and flour. Whisk the ingredients together and then add the milk in small amounts and continue whisking until completely blended. When brought to a slow bubble, remove from heat and add cheese. Blend and make sure the cheese is melted into the cream. Add the drained noodles, coat and pour into a casserole dish that has been greased. I added a sprinkle of cheddar cheese on top, but not necessary.

Melt the TBSP of butter in the microwave. Add panko & parmesan. Sprinkle on top of the pasta. Bake 20 minutes or until the topping has browned. Remove from the oven and let set 10 minutes on the counter before serving.

Topped with Panko & cheese

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Southern scents and smells

Ringing in the new year with Southern style food.

My housemates and I were talking, only down South can you have vegetables all over the table & none of them vegetarian friendly! So to make sure I’ll have such wealth and good fortune (ha, if it was only true!) I made sure to eat my peas, greens, & cornbread full of ham! There’s a little bit of an interest in why certain foods are good luck; here’s why we all eat these 4 staples every year:

Black Eye Peas: In the Southern United States, it’s traditional to eat black-eyed peas or cowpeas in a dish called hoppin’ john. There are even those who believe in eating one pea for every day in the new year. This all traces back to the legend that during the Civil War, the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, ran out of food while under attack. The residents fortunately discovered black-eyed peas and the legume was thereafter considered lucky.

Greens: It’s no coincidence that this good-luck food is the color of money. Greens, such as kale, collards, and cabbage, are traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day because of their association with wealth and economic prosperity.

Ham: Due to pigs’ dining habits, many countries, including Austria, Cuba, and Spain, view pork as a good-luck food. As pigs root for food, they keep their feet planted and push their snouts forward, signifying progress and future properity.

Cornbread: Cuz’ it ain’t Southern unless you add a nice side of cornbread to the mix!

This year’s challenge was making Hoppin’ John, a Southern twist on inhaling legumes on the day of the new year. I found a recipe version in my country cookbook Dirt Soup to Chocolate Gravy the Celina area heritage cookbook that sounded down right Southern!

1 lb pork sausage browned. Saute 1 c chopped onions & 1 c chopped celery in the pork dregs.

Add 2 c cooked rice ( I used brown rice since I didn’t drain the peas) 2 cans blackeyed peas & 1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes.

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot or crockpot, add salt, pepper, and any herbs. I chose thyme since it pars well with pork. I also didn’t add much salt since just that day I ran across salt pork at the Krogerr & definitely wanted to add that delicious flavor to my Hoppin’ John! If you’re cooking in a large stove pot, simmer 30 minutes. If you’re in a crockpot and eating sooner than later, I put it on high or 4 hours. I liked it with less liquid which the brown rice helped out on. The recipe does suggest that if you need more liquid add water, but if you don’t drain the vegetables, I found that to be enough liquid.

This is all in my crockpot cooked on low

I also made my cornbread with bacon drippings, but that’s just because I don’t have a qualm about serving non-vegetarian vegetables! Greens do well with a little drippings mixed in, but you don’t have too, especially if you have vegetarians eating your vegetables!

Best wishes & Luck this next year, I hope these Lucky foods bring prosperity & wealth to all!

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