Score with this Mac and Cheese!

Mac and cheese

Touchdown Mac and Cheese

This recipe is a sure crowd-pleaser!!

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for baking pan

6 slices good white bread (I’ve substituted good dinner rolls when I’ve had some left over) – slightly toast and cut or tear into ¼ to ½ inch pieces, same as if you were making fresh bread cubes for stuffing

5 ½ cups milk (use whole or 2%)

½ cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp salt

¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/8- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (your preference depending on spiciness you like)

4 ½ cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese

1 ½ cups grated Gruyère (can substitute Swiss)

½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (we love Liuzzi’s brand – fabulous flavor!)

Note: I also like making this with a blend of cheeses. So sometimes, I just go to my local deli and ask to buy a couple of pounds of their cheese ends. Shred in the food processor until you have 6 cups of cheese. To this, add the ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

1 pound elbow macaroni – I’ve often substituted small or medium shells or Cavatappi

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚. Butter a 9 X 13 baking pan. Place bread chunks/cubes in a medium bowl. In small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 T butter. Pour melted butter over bread chunks and toss to evenly coat. Set aside.
  2. Cover a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of the pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, a little less than al dente. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water and drain well. Set aside.
  3. Warm milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Melt remaining butter in a high sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  4. Using a whisk, add hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until mixture bubbles and thickens, approximately 8-12 minutes.
  5. Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, peppers and all cheeses. Set the cheese sauce aside.
  6. Stir the macaroni into the cheese sauce.
  7. Pour entire mixture into prepared baking dish. If you’d like, you can grate some additional Parmigiano Reggiano over all. Evenly spread buttered bread chunks over the top. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes.

Serves 12. Party idea: This is fabulous with a spiral ham!!!!

Birthday Girl on Broadway!

Mary Ellen at the Met

Mary Ellen loves celebrating her birthday on the Great White Way! What’s her secret to Broadway on a budget? Click the photo for this incredible tip on how to treat yourself to a fabulous meal and a top show without breaking the bank!

Mold – the fungus among us.

Mold

Did you know that wintertime is also prime time for mold growth? Click the photo for Eagle’s several simple Do’s and Don’ts for minimizing mold in your home as well as a tasty cream soup recipe you can make from edible fungi!

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Mushroom soup

Love mushrooms and cream?? This soup is lick the bowl scrumptious!

Mary Ellen’s Cream of Mushroom Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients:

4 T butter

1 T olive oil

2 medium onions, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ lbs fresh white or brown mushrooms, sliced

2 tsp fresh chopped thyme

1 T fresh chopped parsley

½ cup Marsala wine (I prefer Cribari)

6 T all-purpose flour

4 cups low sodium chicken stock

1-2 tsp salt, adjust to taste

½-1 tsp black cracked pepper, adjust to taste

2 beef bouillon cubes, crumbled (I prefer Herb-ox)

1 cup half and half

1 bay leaf

Extra fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions:

Heat butter and oil in large pot over medium-high heat until melted. Sauté onion for 2 to 3 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add mushrooms with thyme and parsley. Cook for 5 minutes. Pour in wine and cook for 3 minutes.

Sprinkle mushrooms with flour, mix well and cook for 2 minutes. Add stock, mix again and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low-medium heat. Add salt, pepper, bay leaf and crumbled bouillon cubes.

Partially cover and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, while occasionally stirring, until thickened.

Reduce heat to low, stir in half and half. Allow to gently simmer – do NOT boil. If needed, adjust salt and pepper to your taste.

Serve warm garnished with a little fresh parsley.

Eagle’s Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint cookies

Eagle’s Thumbprint Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
½ cup softened butter. If using unsalted, add optional salt – see below.
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg, separated
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup flour. Sift first, then measure.
¼ tsp salt (optional)
¾ cup finely chopped walnuts
Seedless raspberry jelly or jam for filling. Apricot is also nice! Use good quality fruit jam or jelly.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly blend butter, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla. Blend flour (and salt, if using) and add gradually to butter mixture. Roll dough into 1 tsp size balls. Beat egg white slightly with fork in a small shallow bowl. Put chopped walnuts into another shallow bowl. Dip balls into egg white and then roll in nuts. Place 1 inch apart on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Press thumb gently into center of each cookie. Jelly/jam can be put in before or after baking.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until set.
If filling after baking, cool before filling with jam or jelly.