Whitney’s Baked Mac & Cheese

This recipe should probably be called My Grandmother’s or My Mom’s Baked Mac & Cheese…. but I’m going to steal the thunder momentarily. My two favorite things in life are probably cheese and any type of carb so it makes sense that my all time favorite dinner/lunch/breakfast/snack is mac & cheese. I’m not talking about that gooey Kraft kind made from a box, but baked mac & cheese. The kind with the super crisp top & melted cheese throughout all the macaroni. My grandmother would make this every holiday…. like every single holiday and every single holiday I would load my plate full of this holy food. My mother then acquired the recipe and made it even better. How? I have no idea. She literally makes it the same way, but oh my goodness. Maybe she leaves it in the oven longer, maybe she throws in a dash of motherly love. WHO KNOWS? It’s delicious. That’s all I cared about. Finally, I became an adult and my mother taught me how to make this dish. It is probably the easiest dish to make and definitely the most delicious. I’ve added my only little spin to it (hello, garlic) and it’s always a hit with my friends. So today I decided to let you all in on our little family recipe. I hope you all enjoy this dish as much as I do (which is A LOT!)

eyes

What you need:

  • 9 x 13 deep baking dish
  • 1 box of macaroni (usually equivalent to 1lb)
  • 16 oz of sharp cheddar cheese
  • Parmesan cheese or bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • salt & pepper
  • chopped up garlic (like a pinch)

What you do:

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What you do in way more detail:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 °F
  2. Boil the macaroni as it says on the box. While that is cooking, go ahead & grease your pan with butter (or olive oil)
  3. Once the macaroni is cooked, drain all the water and set aside to cool for a little bit.
  4. Chop up your garlic and set to the side.
  5. Divide your macaroni in half and place one half into the greased dish.
  6. Add your garlic to the dish & mix it into the macaroni to distribute the flavor.
  7. Load on 8oz of cheese. I usually purchase 2 bags of shredded cheese (whatever is on sale) and use 1 bag for each layer. If you buy in bulk, then this is equivalent to about 2 cups.
  8. Throw in some salt & pepper before adding the other half of your macaroni. Make sure everything is evenly distributed throughout the dish.
  9. Add the rest of your cheese on top.
  10. Pour the 1/2 cup of milk evenly throughout the dish.
  11. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese or bread crumbs (or both!!) on top.
  12. By now your oven should be preheated so pop the dish in the oven & cook for about 45 minutes or until the top is a crispy golden brown.

ENJOY!

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Miso Soup… It’s Good for the Soul and Body

tumblr_inline_n0946wEMKP1qid2nwI was basically raised eating at sushi restaurants for every major celebration. Birthdays, report cards, new jobs, new accomplishments, and so on. My sister could say “maguro” before most other food names. When you eat sushi as much as we did, you also consume miso soup endlessly. Fast-forward to age 16 when I get my first job at a Japanese restaurant. I remember it was the year of many sinus infections, swine flu, and bronchitis. My boss sent me home one night with a big container of miso soup and said to me “miso soup is better for you when you’re sick than chicken noodle soup.” I have carried this with me from now on in life.

One of the best parts of college is learning how to personalize and experiment in the kitchen as much as you like. With a lot of encouragement from my older sister, I started an experiment of throwing ingredients in my soup and seeing if it tasted good. Spoiler alert: everything tasted good.

Here is my most recent, and probably my most favorite, miso soup I have made for dinner. I’m going to include two versions, one is vegetarian friendly, and one is the traditional fish based version that I always make!

Soup

What you need:

  • Bonito soup stock (I’ll post a photo of which one I use at the end) or vegetable soup broth
  • White Miso paste (you can find this at any Asian market)
  • Green onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Kale
  • Dried wakame (you can find this at any Asian market)
  • Extra firm tofu
  • Udon noodles (I found these at Fresh Market)
  • Egg (I did mine a midway between soft boiled and hard boiled)
  • Large bowl
  • Saucepan

 

Step 1:

Boil your egg. This is the most time consuming, which is why I recommend doing it first. At my house I usually have about three hard boiled eggs in my fridge at any given point just incase I want it for a snack or to put in miso soup or ramen. However, let’s work with the theory of not having them in the fridge. Bring the water to a boil while the egg is in the water. If you want it less hard then leave it in for no more than 4-7 minutes of active boiling time and remove it from the water transferring it to an ice water bath immediately. If you want a fully hard boiled egg then leave it in the water with the burner turned off and the lid to the saucepan on it for about 10 minutes after the 4-7 minutes of active boiling time. Set aside for step 8.

Step 2:

Hydrate your wakame, use the amount you feel you will like. I am a huge fan of wakame so I use a bout as much that can fit in my palm while dried. You hydrate this by simply placing the dried wakame in warm water four about 5 minutes and then place in colander to strain. Set aside for step 8.

Step 3:

While you wakame is straining, blanch your kale. Honestly, because water takes too long to boil on my stovetop, I just microwave a measuring cup of water until its boiling and pour it into the saucepan while it’s on my warming zone. I like my kale lightly blanched so I only kept it in the hot water for about five minutes, not even. Then strain. Set aside for step 8. During this you can work on step 4!

Step 4:

Cut up your tofu into small cubes; slice your green onions (I use 2, but this is your choice) white parts and green parts into thin, even, slices; slice mushrooms into thin slices (I typically use 1 medium large white mushroom, just the cap). Set aside for step 8.

Step 5:

Boil your udon noodles based on the directions on the package for the brand you purchased! Then strain them from the water and set aside for step 8.

Step 6 (TRADITIONAL FISH BASED):

In your saucepan, put two cups of water and bring it to a simmer. Once simmering, add about two tablespoons of bonito stock base. Once stirred, taste it, it should taste light and refreshing but still a full flavor. If it is salty, add a little bit more water to balance it out.

Step 6 (VEGETARIAN FRIENDLY):

In your saucepan, put two cups of vegetable stock and bring it to a simmer so you know it is warm. Do not boil.

Step 7:

Using a fork, scoop in a heaping amount of miso paste. About 1 tablespoon approximately. Slowly stir the paste into the broth (this is why the broth shouldn’t be boiling, boiling liquid + miso paste = sad miso soup). Just keep stirring the paste in, if it falls off the fork, simply press the fork into the paste to return to stirring. This should only take a few moments. Lower the temperature of your soup so it just stays warm while you assemble your bowl.

Step 8:

Place all ingredients in bowl assembling how you like. You can shell the egg and cut it however you like for your soup. I sometimes get lazy and just cut the egg (in shell) in half and then scoop the contents out of the egg into my bowl. My favorite method is to put the ingredients in a circular arrangement as pictured here:

Ingredients

Step 9:

Give the soup a stir again because miso soup separates and then slowly pour it into you bowl.

Step 10:

Enjoy your soup and be healthy!!!!

Dashi
this is the Bonito soup stock I buy!

Comment below with any personal twists you take on your miso soup. I love new ideas of what to put in my soup!

alex

 

 

 

Sugar Cookie Recipe

I’m always craving cookies. Seriously, all the time. Usually I have some hidden away in my pantry, but often times (like this afternoon) I didn’t have any. So what’s a girl to do? Why, bake her own darn cookies. I dug up a delicious sugar cookie recipe I had hidden away in my piles of recipes and decided to twist it a little bit. I added a dash of cinnamon & brewed coffee for a delicious warm taste! These cookies are a perfect companion for your afternoon coffee! I’ve eaten about 5 already…. I wish Joe wasn’t in Florida right now so he could eat the rest of these……

Sugar Cookies

(yields about 20 cookies)

What you need:mail.google.com (3)

  • 2 sticks of softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of organic sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp of cinnamon
  • a splash of room temperature brewed coffee (I used about 2 tbs)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp of baking soda

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F & grease your cookie sheets
  2. Mix the butter, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, coffee, & egg together very well
  3. Add the flour & baking soda to your sugar mixture & mix mix mix!
  4. Spoon out the dough onto your cookie sheet. Make sure they are an inch or more apart (they like to grow!)
  5. Bake cookies in the oven for about 8-10 minutes! (If you’re like me & enjoy crunchy cookies, keep them in there until they are golden brown)

Enjoy!      tumblr_lk4vfuWL8v1qijadwo1_100

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