mac and cheese

bungalow to go: mac ‘n cheese ‘n collards

Mac and Cheese 6This week’s Bungalow To Go at Ocmulgee Traders is TOTALLY not Whole30 (see previous post for details), but lucky for me, I made it last week and enjoyed all the cheese and pasta I could.

While this dish is easily recognizable as one of the most popular comfort foods around, it also featured a local beauty: collard greens from Babe and Sage Farm. Collards are high in nutritional value, giving some much-needed vitamins and minerals to this decadent dish. Don’t worry, though: you’ve still got plenty of gruyere and white cheddar to satisfy your cheesy, ooey gooey needs.

I’m so proud of this dish, and I hope you’ll try it yourself by picking up the recipe card and ingredient box at Ocmulgee Traders this week.

Mac ‘n Cheese ‘n Collards
Serves 4, generously

Ingredients:
8 oz. collard greens (Babe and Sage Farm)
1 stem of green garlic (Babe and Sage Farm)
8 oz. sharp cheddar
4 oz. gruyere
2.5 cups whole milk
4 Tbsp. butter
3 pieces of bread (rolls or slices)
8 oz. elbow macaroni
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

What You Need at Home:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
box grater
1 medium pot
1 small pan
1 large, deep pan
8×8 baking dish
tongs
1 knife

STEP 1: Assemble Ingredients
Read over each step to familiarize yourself with the process of the meal. Heat oven to 375 F. Fill the medium pot with water halfway and bring to a boil. Add 1/2 tsp. salt and the macaroni, cook for five minutes (to al dente), then drain the pasta, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

STEP 2: Shred the Cheese
Using a box grater, shred the blocks of cheese on the large shred side.

STEP 3: Prep and Cook the Garlic and Greens
Cut the stem and bottom off the garlic, peel it, then mince it. Slice each collard leaf into 1/2 inch ribbons, removing the stems as you slice. Heat olive oil, garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper over medium-high heat in a small pan. After about 1 minute, add the collard ribbons in batches, about 1/4 at a time, tossing with tongs. Once the last batch is added, toss for about 1 more minute, then remove from the heat and set aside. Collards should be slightly wilted, but should still retain some structure.

STEP 4: Prep Breadcrumbs
Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a small bowl in the microwave (about 40 seconds on high). Using your hands, tear the bread into small pieces, then mix with the butter, adding 1/4 tsp. salt, until all of the butter is absorbed in the bread.

STEP 5: Create the Sauce, Assemble the Dish, and Bake
In the medium pot you used for the macaroni, add the milk and heat over medium heat. Heat 3 Tbsp. butter in the large pan at medium heat. When it begins to bubble, slowly whisk in the flour; this creates the roux for the sauce. When the flour and butter are combined into a paste, slowly whisk in the warmed milk, taking care that the roux gets absorbed into the milk. Keep whisking until the thickened liquid begins to bubble slightly, then add in the nutmeg, cayenne, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Whisk, then add in the macaroni and sauteed greens. Whisk until fully combined, then pour contents into the 8×8 baking dish. Top evenly with the buttered breadcrumbs, then bake for 20 minutes.

STEP 6: Cool and Serve
When the dish has baked for 20 minutes, the edges should bubble and the breadcrumbs should turn golden brown. Take the dish out of the oven and let rest on the counter for about 5 minutes. This dish serves 4-6 comfortably as a main dish, so dip up as much as you like and keep the rest for lunch tomorrow.

wildcard wednesday: cheesy quinoa with power greens

Image

Greetings from the ice storm, or something like it!  Alex and I have both had the day off because of the threat that the roads could be icy, so other than a jaunt to Pure Barre, I’ve been reacquainting myself with our sofa, blankets, cats, and the almighty Netflix.  Luckily I had already purchased the ingredients for this week’s Wildcard Wednesday, so I knew that despite the icy rain, we’d be in for a treat with this week’s nutrient-rich comfort food.  Instead of good ol’ mac and cheese, we had cheesy quinoa with power greens.

I’ve cooked with quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) for the blog before, but let me just remind you of its nutrient-rich benefits.  One cup of quinoa has 24 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber–MUCH more nutrient-dense than elbow macaroni.  I’ve also thrown in some power greens, more specifically the petite varieties of kale, swiss chard, and spinach.  These young greens fold in so smoothly and do not alter the smooth and creamy flavor that you crave with traditional mac and cheese.  I also used 2% milk and reduced fat cheese to cut down on the richness, but I promise you that this dish is plenty rich and will satisfy the masses.  I don’t pretend to know anything about child-rearing, but I even think that picky eaters would like this dish (yes, even with the greens).

You’ll notice from the photo that I topped this dish with a dash of crumbled bacon–yeah, I know, not too healthy sounding, right?  It’s certainly optional, but I cooked up a couple of slices to add a little bit of crunch and flavor.  A tiny bit of bacon never hurt anyone, can I get an amen?

Here are a few more photos and the almighty recipe:

Image

Cheesy Quinoa with Power Greens

3 Tbsp. butter

3 Tbsp. flour

1 1/2 cups 2% milk

7 oz. reduced fat sharp cheddar (get a block and shred it yourself–the pre-shredded stuff doesn’t melt as well)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 large shallot, minced

3 cups cooked quinoa (cook according to package directions–I cooked mine with chicken broth instead of water for added flavor)

4 oz. baby power greens (just use spinach if you can’t find a mix)

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

4 Tbsp. butter, melted

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

2 pieces of cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)

2 Tbsp. picked parsley leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Melt 3 Tbsp. butter over medium heat in a large pan.  When butter is melted, whisk in flour to create a roux.  Slowly add the milk and increase the heat to medium-high.  Next, add the cheese, salt, nutmeg, and shallots.  Whisk until smooth, then turn off the heat.  In a large mixing bowl, mix the cooked quinoa, power greens, and cheese sauce together.  Pour into a casserole dish, dutch oven, or cast iron skillet (I used an 8-inch dutch oven, but didn’t use the lid).  Add the parmesan cheese evenly as a top layer.  Mix the melted butter with the panko breadcrumbs, then add this mixture evenly over the parmesan.  Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly, then serve.

wild card wednesday: mushroom and caramelized onion stuffed cheeseburgers, beer cheese and mac with blackened shrimp, parmesan sauteed spinach

We're getting wild

We’re getting wild

If you can’t tell this time the challenge is CHEESE. Eleta made the challenge this time, and I am not sure she knew what she was getting.

I decided to take it to the limit with something I have seen on TV several time, so I had to make it for myself- Stuffed cheeseburgers. It really works to hold flavors together, taste the meat, and to experience good gooey cheese. MMMMM.

Stuffed Cheeseburgers with mushrooms and caramelized onions:

1 lb ground sirloin
2 slices swiss cheese
1/2 vidalia onion, sliced into strips (pinch of sugar)
4 oz portabellas, sliced
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 TBSP Worchestershire sauce
4 cloves garlic
Salt, Black Pepper, Paprika, Red Pepper Flake to taste.
2 buns

Mix the spices, garlic, Worchestershire and crumbs into the sirloin until just mixed and crumbs disappear, set aside.

Heat a saucepan with olive oil and add the sliced onions and the pinch of sugar. The sugar will help the onions color well. Cook over medium high heat until they sweat and lower and cover. Stir occasionally until they have begun to brown. Add the mushrooms to the pan and stir. Cook until mushrooms are softened, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan.

Divide the burger meat into 4 equal quarters and mash until thin. Place one half of a slice of cheese on each patty. Add enough of the onion shroom mixture to satisfy on two on the patties and cover with the other two. Press to seal the mixture in.

Heat a griddle to medium-high. Once hot, grease the griddle and toss the burger on. Cook about 4 minutes on one side, flip and reduce heat and cover with a pan lid. Cook another 6-8 minutes, until done to taste. This added up to medium for me.

Place, with no further adornments, on a bun.

How could I avoid making a delicious mac and cheese for challenge cheese? Exactly, I couldn’t. But, I also had to ad beer because it is delicious.

Beer Mac and Cheese with Blackened Shrimp

1/2 lb rotini
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP flour
8oz Pale Ale
8oz evaporated milk
12 oz sharp cheddar
3 TBSP white cheddar Boursin
Grilled green onions, chopped
8oz Shrimp, chopped into bite size pieces
Blackening spice (or paprika, chili powder, black pepper, red pepper)

In a large stock pot, boil about 2 quarts water and cook pasta. Season the shrimp with spices.  In a fry pan, heat a little bit of olive oil and cook shrimp, about 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Set aside.

In a sauce pan, melt butter and add flour. Whisk into a roux and cook for about 3 minutes. Whisk in beer and milk and cook 2 minutes. Add the the cheese and whisk until fully melted. Lower heat to low and stir occasionally add green onions (to grill green onions, take the whole bulb and stock and cook on a grill pan for about 4 minutes per side). Once pasta is ready, drain and return to pot. Add shrimp and pour in cheese mix. Stir, devour.

—-

Sauteed Spinach

1 lb spinach
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup of parmesan
Olive oil

In fry pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for about a minute. Add the spinach and stir until coated. Once the spinach begins to wilt, add cheese and continue to cook until all leaves have wilted down. It is ready to eat.

All told, it was great, hearty, and enough to induce a coma. I highly recommend this dish and exploring flavors you like with the burgers and the mac and cheese. Let me know what you come up with!

Juicy, gooey, sweet. No drool in picture.

Juicy, gooey, sweet. No drool in picture.