Monday, August 31, 2009

Man, I love kitchen gadgets...

...especially clever and useful ones that really do what they claim to do.

I was at Bed Bath and Beyond last night and came across these nifty little things. They claimed that you could turn any bag into a container. Well there were three different colors so I bought three (at $ 4.95 each) and I tell you they do work!

I put this one on my fresh bag of coffee beans I bought today at Starbucks then popped it into the fridge when I was done grinding. This thing is ingenious! How many times do you open up a bag of something and you don't use it all or you need to find a container to store it in? I know I do it loads of times. Chocolate chips, coffee, candy, frozen peas...really whatever that is small and "pourable." The lid is only about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter. You can't use this for potato chips, but there are a hell of a lot of other things you can use it for. I'm getting some more soon. I just don't have that many things in bags right now. Hmmm...maybe I should run out get more? Ha!

Gotta Love Fried Mac & Cheese!

I'm glad I like leftovers. In fact I love leftovers. Some things just seem to taste better the second (or third and even fourth) time around. Mac & Cheese is wonderful fried. You can either cut it up like I did this one or mix it with an egg and some crumbs (crackers or bread or whatever you have on hand) and throw in some onion or spices and then fry it up in a big non-stick skillet with some butter or oil. Butter is best. Flip it over like a frittata. Be careful not to flip it onto the floor!

I cut a nice healthy (the size of the portion, not the ingredients) piece and then continued to slice that up. Then I heated up some butter in a nice hot skillet and carefully slipped in the sliced mac & cheese.

Let the slices get nice and brown and crunchy (this may take about 3-4 minutes, but be careful not to burn it) and then carefully flip over. You can see the middle piece kind of fell apart, but did that stop me from devouring it? I think not. After all it is what is in the inside that counts and not the outside right?

I served my fried mac & cheese with a veggie burger on white potato bread no less. Go figure! Good thing I went to the gym this morning! Try this out and you will soon find that you will love leftovers too! Mac & cheese leftovers anyway!

The the white things in the little bowl are some super thin sliced onions that I pickled in a little cider vinegar (water and sugar) and left in the fridge overnight. That's a very Minnesotan thing...only minus the cucumbers. Ew. As for the rest of the leftover mac & cheese? I cut them into four remaining squares and froze them. I tell you it is a damned good thing that I love leftovers!

Egg-static For Eggs

What can I say? I love egg sandwiches for breakfast. I actually made it to the gym this morning and feeling pretty good. Went to Starbucks with my new re-usable "paper" coffee cup and bought a pound of beans. Can you believe that I went through all 15 pounds of coffee that my friend, Melissa gave me while we were deployed in 2006? Anyhoo, that's the not the purpose of this post!

Let me introduce you to my little nifty pan that my sister, Darcie gave me. There is this whole line of these little kitchen accessories. Darcie gave me an egg separator too. I need to invest in the tiny egg turner as none of my huge utensils fit in this pan.

Today I made a yummy sandwich with bacon, sun-dried tomatoes and onions. Then I sprinkled a little cheese on it and threw it on my sandwich thin bread. It was divine and now I'm ready for the day!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

This Is Not Your Childhood Mac & Cheese

I love the NPR show "The Splendid Table" with Lynn Rossetto Casper and listen to her live and on podcasts. Well, one episode someone called in about making fried chicken and then they added that they were going to serve it with macaroni and cheese. Lynn immediately told them about this recipe. I was practically drooling in the car!

Today is a little chilly and I thought what's better to have on a chilly Sunday after noon? Mac and cheese! This is a very easy recipe and very adult with three types of cheeses (cheddar, Gruyere and cream cheese) and garlic and onions.

21st Century Mac & Cheese

Serves 4 and doubles easily.

1/2 pound (2 cups ) raw penne pasta, slightly under cooked and drained (I used curly tube pasta)

1 large egg

1 cup milk

1 small clove garlic

3/4 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 generous cup (5 ounces) shredded good quality, extra-sharp cheddar cheese

5 ounces cream cheese, crumbled

2/3 cup (3 ounces) shredded Gruyere cheese

Generous 1/8 teaspoon each hot red pepper flakes, salt, and freshly ground black pepper

Generous 1/4 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

12 saltines, coarsely crumbled (I used whole wheat crackers that I happen to have in my pantry)

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a shallow 1 1/2 quart baking dish, and add cooked macaroni.

In a blender or food processor combine egg, milk, and garlic, and process 3 seconds. Add onion, cheeses, peppers, salt, and paprika, and blend 10 seconds. Turn into dish, folding into macaroni. Casserole could be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 24 hours at this point.

To bake, bring casserole close to room temperature. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Coat crackers with butter and spread over top of casserole.

Bake about 20 to 30 minutes, or until thick yet creamy. If top is not golden, slip under broiler for a minute. Remove from oven, let stand about 5 minutes, and serve.

Wow, this was satisfying and very rich. This definately beats anything that comes out of a box and would be a very good side for any occasion!