Thursday, November 15, 2007

I am channeling the Pioneer Woman

Look out! I'm cooking! Yesterday was K's birthday and a special birthday dinner was in order. A home cooked, made from scratch sort of meal. Since I had recently seen Stie's post about sharing recipes, and since I am obsessed with the Pioneer Woman and the Pioneer Woman Cooks!, I thought I'd share my recipe for homemade macaroni and cheese with you. It's really pretty good. And I don't make many things that turn out pretty good. This mac-n-cheese is a meal in it's own, it's very filling. It makes a great side dish too, but you will probably have quite a bit left over. No worries, it reheats very well in the microwave.
So here we go, my step by step recipe for homemade macaroni and cheese, passed on to me by a dear neighbor, as told Pioneer Woman style.
(I realize that the PW does not need this linky love, since she probably has about 101,000 hits a day, but I do believe in bloggy etiquette.)
(And even though I am fairly, or 110%, confident that the PW will never read this blog, if she ever did, why then I would sure want her to see what a respectful fellow blogger I was.)
(And if by some chance she did ever see this, I just would want her to know that I call her P Dub like I actually know her. And think she's my friend. It's just a healthy little obsession I've developed over this world wide web. No biggie.)
So here's the basic ingredients. It's pretty simple stuff, but when it all comes melts in your mouth. You'll need a box of pasta shells, half and half, vegetable oil, sharp cheddar, mild cheddar, muenster and monterey jack cheeses, plus a small box of Velveeta. (That's right, five cheese varieties. Use them all, it's not called macaroni with a little bit of cheese. It's Macaroni and Cheese. The cheese being just as important as the macaroni. Or shells, in this case.) 2 sticks of butter, 2 eggs, and some salt and pepper.
Now get a pot of water on the stove and turn on the heat. Salt the water and add a tablespoon of the vegetable oil.
While the pot of water is coming to a boil, get the cheese ready. You'll need 2 oz. of sharp cheddar. Carefully and precisely weighed out, of course. You wouldn't want any extra cheese to creep in.

Throw the 2 oz. of sharp cheddar into a bowl where you already have 4 oz. of mild cheddar. Or live dangerously, switch it around. It all melts the same.

Now that the convenient, pre-shredded cheese is set aside it's time to get busy. We must shred our own cheese. It adds to the whole 'homemade' quality of this recipe. That, and I can't find shredded muenster and monterey jack at the store. But if you can, totally use it. Yours just won't be quite as made from scratch as mine.

Shred 2 oz. of monterey jack and 2 oz. of muenster cheese and then throw it in the bowl with the cheddars.

Then I toss it up with my hand and Look! All the cheese looks so pretty together. Let them sit for a while and let those cheddary, muenstery, jacky flavors combine. (And yes, my hands are clean.)

Now your water should be boiling.

So dump those pasta shells in and let them cook. But don't overcook. Mushy noodles are never a good thing.

Now that is what I call a professional rolling boil. I have some mad cooking skillz, I tell ya.

Now, since I am all about multi-tasking, while the pasta is boiling melt a stick of butter. Real, unsalted butter. Do not use margarine. Or Imperial. Because that would be gross.

Now drain the noodles well. And return them to the pan.

Now the melted real butter is ready.

So pour the butter over the noodles. And they won't be sticky, because that is why we put the vegetable oil in the water when the noodles were cooking. Mad skillz, I say again.

Measure 2 cups of half and half and pour it on in.

Then go ahead and throw all but about a 1/2 cup of the co-mingling cheeses in. The time has come to let this macaroni meet its cheese. Just be sure to hold a little back for later.

Cube up that 8 oz. box of Velveeta, and introduce it to the rest of its friends.

You are all done with the cheese now, so feel free to let your child, or even yourself, go ahead and just take a bite right from the block of monterey jack. And make sure they leave purple stains on the cheese because they have purple crayola marker fingers.

This is what I call an action shot. Lightly beat the two eggs together.

And add the eggs to the buttery, cheesy, shelly mix.

Add a little salt and pepper and stir it up. Which I forgot to do. So if you forget the salt and pepper because you're too busy blogging while you cook and taking pictures with one hand while handling hot pots in another, it'll be fine.

And then pour it into a lightly buttered baking dish. Not a sprayed with Pam type of buttered dish. Use the real stuff. You've come this far, why cut calories now?

Now sprinkle the shredded cheese mixture you saved from earlier and sprinkle it on top. Cut up a tablespoon of butter, or just a little more, and dot the top with it.

Now cover it, and put it in the oven for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

And this is what it will look like when it's done.

And like I said, it's pretty good. And yes, I believe that the tableware should always match the food you are eating. Is there any other way?

After we had our fill of the birthday dinner homemade macaroni and cheese, it was time for cake. But don't worry, I won't give you the play by play on the cake. Because it wasn't made from scratch.

It was made from this.

I may grate my own cheese, but let's not get carried away with the whole
'made from scratch' thing.
(Here's the recipe, real recipe style. Not Pioneer Woman style. In case maybe you prefer one over the other. Or not. I was really just trying to make this post a little longer.)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni
8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Muenster cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mild Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup (8 ounces) Velveeta, cut into small cubes
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a deep 2 1/2-quart casserole. Bring the large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the oil, then the elbow macaroni, and cook until the macaroni is just tender, about 7 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain well. Return to the cooking pot. In a small saucepan, melt eight tablespoons of the butter. Stir into the macaroni. In a large bowl, mix the Muenster, mild and sharp Cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheeses. To the macaroni, add the half-and-half, 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese, the cubed Velveeta, and the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the buttered casserole. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and dot with the remaining one tablespoon of butter. Bake until it's bubbling around the edges, about 35 minutes. Serve hot.


ValleyGirl said...

Mmmmmm, and low-fat too, I see! Looks great! You're a good P-Dub disciple. I think she'd be proud!!

Melanie said...

Yummy! If my kids don't like this I'll question their bloodline! Thanks for the recipe and the unique way of telling the mac & cheese story.

Jul said...

You are the next Food Network Star! A natural :)

I really want Mac and Cheese- RIGHT NOW!

Kellan said...

Yuuuuuuummmmmm!!!! Anything with that much cheese is #1 in my book - Yuuuuuuummmmm! Take care.

Mary@notbefore7 said...

OK...I think I gained 10 lbs just looking at the fabulous recipe. YUM! Oh, I would totally make that if I all :)

I so love the Pioneer Woman too - I tried her olive cheese bread once - YUM!

Thinking that cake recipe is more my style.

SnapHappyInkyMomma said...

I think you might need to add some cheese to that recipe . . .


Family Adventure said...

I am totally impressed you had time to cook in between taking all those pictures!!

My baby B boy would love this. Love it.


missbecky75 said...

Ok, my first thought is that it took you an awful long time to upload those pictures! Thanks! Loved the ones where you have one hand in the photo and I can imagine you standing there with the camera in the other while holding back a kid with a foot and balancing on the other! LOL! Just kidding!

If we didn't have to go dairy free, I would be going out for all that cheese and make me some serious mac-n-cheese! I thought mine was good, but, wow, that looks *spectacular*! And when you eat it, I'm sure it's not even worth thinking about the calories because it is THAT GOOD!

Why couldn't you have posted this a month ago?! Back when I didn't know the little guy was allergic to milk?! It's all your fault! haha!

PLO said...

I can attest that this is the best mac and cheese EVER!