Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Simple but complete meal - Salad and Mac and Cheese

 Lots of things I cook don't really require a recipe - it's more just an idea that shapes up based on what's in the fridge and what's in season at the market. This week I got some little heads of lettuce and had some avocado and lemon cucumbers so I made an all green salad with just a little dash of my dressing and salt and pepper. Next - I had been making pimento cheese so I still had a big block of cheddar around so I decided to make mac and cheese to accompany my salad. If that's not comforting - I don't know what is.
My mom's original with saltines on top
Simple golden dressing

1 small glass jar of dijon with about a tablespoon of mustard left
couple teaspoons champagne vinegar
about 1/3 cup olive oil (or if I have a walnut oil around I substitute a couple tablespoonsful)
about a pinky dip of honey
salt and pepper

Add all to the jar and shake it up! I keep this in the fridge and add more to refresh - it's the perfect container. Sometimes I use balsamic instead and skip the honey - but for today's green salad I wanted it without color.
Total meal - salad and bacon topped mac and cheese

Macaroni and Cheese serves 4

1/2 pound macaroni (or tonight I used fusilli)
2 cups whole milk, warmed
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)
1/4 cup flour
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese 
dash cayenne pepper
1 cup fresh bread crumbs 
melted tablespoon butter

Cook pasta according to package directions, except reduce the time by a couple min - you want it slightly undercooked, then drain. In a sauce pan melt the butter and add the flour and cook for a few min - you don't want a brown roux, but you don't want raw flour - golden would be perfect. Then carefully add the warm milk, whisking to combine - it will thicken up quickly - cook for just a few min. Stir in the grated cheese until melted and salt and pepper and dash cayenne to taste. Pour in the pasta and then into a a buttered baking dish. Mix bread crumbs with butter and top the casserole. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30-40 min or until bubbly and browned. 

A mix of sharp cheddar 1/2 with gruyere or 1/4 of parmesan or use up what leftover cubes of cheese you have on hand. 
Add a peeled chopped tomato to the pasta before baking (I did this as I have such nice tomatoes right now)
Crumble cooked bacon on top (I just put a slice)
Chop smoked ham and add to the pasta to bake. 
Instead of bread crumbs use crumbled saltines - that was how my mom did it. 

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