Jeb’s Macaroni and Cheese

click here In my experience, mac and cheese from a box tends to beat most of the recipes for homemade you’ll find on the Internet.  This version starts with a standard Bechamel sauce, then adds some spices and three different kinds of cheese to give it a little more flavor and color.  The addition of a few toppings give the dish some texture make it an acceptable meal for grown-ups.  The kids and the guests alike will love it.

Base:

  • 1 pound cavatappi, macaroni, or rotini pasta, cooked al dente
  • 6 TBS butter
  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 4 C milk, warmed
  • 3 oz Colby Jack cheese
  • 6 oz Medium or Sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 6 oz Muenster cheese

Spices:

  • 2 tsp kosher salt (1 tsp if using iodized)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp Tabasco (optional)

Toppings:

  • 1 C crushed Ruffles potato chips
  • 1 C ham, petite diced (or cut into 1/8 ” cubes) (optional)
  • 1/2 C grated Parmesan (don’t use the canned stuff, but pre-grated is fine)

Preparation:

  • Heat oven to 350 F.
  • Cook pasta al dente, per package directions, and set aside.
  • Warm 4C milk (the microwave works great for this)
  • Melt 6 TBS butter in a large saucepan or pot (3+ quarts) over medium heat. Add flour and stir constantly with a whisk for 2-3 minutes until you get some tawny color, but stop short of tan or brown.
  • Slowly whisk in the warm milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly for the next 2 to 4 minutes.  The mixture mixture will continue to thicken as the heat increases.
  • While stirring, add in spices: salt, pepper, paprika, turmeric, mustard, nutmeg, Worcestershire sauce, and (optionally) cayenne and Tabasco. (Note that with all the cheese, the cayenne and Tabasco won’t make the dish too spicy even for the kids, but then again, cayenne isn’t for everyone.)
  • Stir in the Colby Jack, Cheddar, and Muenster cheeses until melted.
  • Pour as much of the cheese sauce as you want (but probably not all of it) over the cooked noodles. Add mixture to a casserole dish.
  • Sprinkle the chips, bacon, and Parmesan on top and bake for 35 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes and serve.

Green chile cornbread muffins

Great cornbread recipe from my mother-in-law.  I made a couple of changes… namely, the addition of canned green chiles and going with muffins instead of one big pan.  This recipe is fantastic: the cornbread muffins are crispy and buttery on the outside, moist (and buttery) on the inside.  Continue reading “Green chile cornbread muffins”

Black-eyed peas Bercy aux crevettes

I got Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Christmas, and I’m totally inspired.  New Year’s Day traditionally requires at least one meal with black-eyed peas, so I put two and two together: black-eyed peas with some 16-bean mix for color, shrimp for flair, and a bercy sauce to push it completely over the top. Continue reading “Black-eyed peas Bercy aux crevettes”

Winter weekend mushroom and cheese risotto

Risotto is one of those dishes that takes a lot of time if you’re making it at home.  It’s totally worth it.  This recipe makes a huge batch — enough to last the family through a winter weekend — making the time investment even more worthwhile. Continue reading “Winter weekend mushroom and cheese risotto”

Sunday Morning Biscuits

If you work with spreadsheets and text editors and web apps all day, using your hands to make something tangible can help you feel like you’ve actually done something real.  This is my favorite recipe for homemade biscuits… I make them with my daughter on Sunday mornings.  She gets flour all over the kitchen and loves to taste every ingredient by itself.  Continue reading “Sunday Morning Biscuits”

Jeb’s Better-Than-Yours Waffles

For years, no waffle recipe out there seemed to have the perfect combination of textures and flavors I wanted: Crispy and brown on the outside.  Tender on the inside.  Cooks in a typical consumer waffle iron. Has enough flavor to compliment a topping besides your typically overpowering American syrup.

And I tried them all:  Alton Brown’s waffles are too doughy. Emeril’s waffles are too soft and cakey. Paula Deen’s waffles are dry and nothing to write home about. Top-rated waffles on AllRecipes.com aren’t crispy or particularly flavorful. Our family recipes were hardly better than Bisquick.  The last recipe I found online, a Joy of Cooking waffle recipe, was so cakey and flavorless that I finally decided to stand up and do something about it. Continue reading “Jeb’s Better-Than-Yours Waffles”