Monday, November 28, 2011

For Unto Us, Another Macaroni and Cheese Recipe is Born!

I hope that wasn't borderline blasphemous...

The Thanksgiving holidays approached, and this Collegiate Contessa escaped away to a magical land of clean kitchens, useful (and not broken) gadgets, and a spice rack that was alphabetized and organized by name and spice genre.  So unto the blog, another macaroni and cheese recipe was created; this time with a different sauce. This recipe is a little more complicated, and takes more preparation and focus than the last.  So hang on, watch closely, and get your grating hands ready because this one calls for a lot of cheese.

What  You'll Need:

3 Cups of freshly grated sharp cheddar
1 Cup of  freshly grated Gouda Cheese (NOT smoked)
1 Cup of  freshly grated Pepper Jack cheese
2-3 Cups of milk
4 Tablespoons of butter
1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1 Box of elbow macaroni
1 Tablespoon of garlic powder
2 Teaspoons of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

The Preparation:

Go ahead and get the pasta started at a rolling boil, olive oil and salt thrown in the water.  Put a lid on it.  Walk away.  Let it go crazy.


Caution...This is gonna be messy.
Get out your cheese grater, and get ready.  This is long, laborious, and messy, but totally worth having freshly grated cheese.  It helps if you put the device right over the measuring cup, that way you don't have to estimate the entire time you're doing it.  Measure out at least three cups of sharp cheddar to start with.  Honestly, you'll probably need closer to 4 or 4.5 cups of the cheddar, but use your best judgement as you go along. Layer the next two cups of cheese on top until your measuring cup is bursting with cheesy goodness.  Once you have the cheese prepared, measure out the rest of your ingredients and have them ready in the following sequence:

Butter, Flour, Milk, Cheese, Spices.

(Now is a great time to check your pasta to make sure it isn't doing anything shady.)

In another pot over medium heat, start melting the butter until it is fully liquid.  I usually let it start to kind of boil before adding in the flour, but if you're not comfortable with this, then just get it to a liquid state.  Add in the flour, and start stirring like crazy.  The butter is going to mix in with the flour and create a sort of slurry in the bottom of your pot.  This is totally normal, so don't fret.  While stirring, slowly add in the milk and continue stirring.  It is crucial that you do not stop stirring during this process.  Milk can easily scald if you aren't diligent about watching and continually stirring, which will mean scrapping and starting over if you aren't careful.  As you stir, the milk will start to thicken up until it is at a very smooth and dense consistency.  Turn the heat down to between low and medium heat, still stirring, and slowly add the cheese until it is fully melted and smooth into the milk and butter mixture.  Add cheese as you see fit.  (Word of advice: Extra cheese is always a crowd pleaser!) Add in the spices next and stir once more.  Add more spices as you see fit; again, this is a taste-as-you-go type recipe.

Oh...Oh, man.  
Drain your pasta until all of the water is gone, and add it directly into the pot of cheese, stirring slowly.  Fold the macaroni into the mixture until all of the leetle elbows are fully drenched in the cheesy goodness you've created.  Place in a dish that has been sprayed lightly with a little cooking spray, and sprinkle about a quarter cup of your favorite cheese on top for garnish.  Dish out or eat it directly from the pan, and enjoy!

Delicious, right?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

From Disaster, Success is Born

So after the pumpkin massacre when I successfully mutilated an innocent pumpkin (all he wanted from life was to be a beautiful jack-o-lantern)…after that, and through that came something beautiful. Yes. You’re peeking ahead at the pictures aren’t you? I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist. Its pumpkin seeds time.

Cinnamon-Sugared Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Seeds (cleaned)
Chai Spice (optional)

Place wax paper on baking sheet. Spread out seeds on sheet and toast pumpkin seeds in oven at 30 F for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and toss seeds in olive oil, just to coat very lightly, cinnamon, and sugar. Return to oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden and delicious.

Place in a precious little glass jar and share with your friends (and residents)!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Once Upon A Pumpkin...

     Once upon a power weekend there was a young pumpkin. He was specially chosen by hand. Selected with the utmost care by a young ambitious college girl, with culinary dreams of journeying with him into the wonderful land of baking.

     This would be a new experience for the both of them. She was anxious but eager, a light growing brigeter in her eyes at the mere mention of his name and their future together. She knew he was the one and she was ready to take the next step in their relationship. One Saturday, they took the plunge.
 Despite warnings from her wiser friends that he was not the right kind of pumpkin, she pushed all advice away and begn to carve the pumpkin.

… it was a disaster

So my lovely friend Evan went to the store and got me a big o can of pumpkin. And all the world was right again.

And thus pumpkin cream cheese spread was born.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread
1 big o can of pumpkin
2 8oz packages of cream cheese (softened)
Vanilla Extract

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir. Add honey, cinnamon and vanilla for taste as desired.