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Ahhh, love…and a Minirecipe for mac and cheese!

August 12, 2009

So the occasion of my most recent trip to the Lone Star State was the marriage of my college roommate Laura to my college friend (and her college boyfriend) Blair. I’ve known both of these crazy kids for years, and so you can imagine the joy that was their wedding. 🙂

Reserved for the Wedding Party

The wedding was held at the First United Methodist Church in Dallas, with the MOST beautiful reception at the Dallas Arts Center Ballroom.

Laura had asked me to be a member of her house party, which is sortof like ushers for girls, so I found myself invited to the rehearsal dinner and bridesmaid’s brunch too! This afforded the opportunity to taste some really awesome Dallas food, including the particularly delicious (and Texas-themed) food at the YO Ranch Steakhouse! It. Was. Awesome. For starters they had bacon-wrapped venison (AMAZING) and crabcakes. Then, once we adjourned to the dining room, they served a nice 3 course meal (salad then steak for me, of course) followed by dessert.

Chocolate cake.

and…my favorite…or at least my favorite from that night…

PECAN PIE!!!

And another shot:

PECAN PIE 2!!!

The desserts were fanTASTic. After dinner, we went out dancing, enjoying ourselves immensely in the process.

The next morning, bright and early (oh so very early) we woke up for the bridesmaid’s brunch (shrimp and grits for me – yum!), then went to Laura’s house to get ready.

The Veil

Once we finished at the house, we went to the church and finished everything off.

Flowers

Then, after a most beautiful ceremony with many tears (happy ones), we adjourned to the Dallas Arts Center Ballroom.

The Reception VenueTablescape

The reception was perfect, rounded out by the most awesome Father/Daughter dance ever – the Hokey Pokey! Ever since Laura was a little girl, taking her dad to those father-daughter dances for girl scouts and the like, she’s said she wanted her Father of the Bride dance to be the Hokey Pokey. So they found a jazzed-out version, danced normally for the first part, then went crazy for the “Put your whole self in! Put your whole self out!” part! It was precious and adorable and made us all laugh.

In all, this was one of the best weddings I’ve ever been to, and I had an absolutely fantastic time. My parents even danced themselves! It was awesome.

And now…Minirecipe #2: Mac and Cheese, for 1.

While I was at home I made some macaroni and cheese for the family.

IMG_9138

I make this for myself all the time, so I thought I would share the recipe I use. Ironically, in this instance, I had to scale up the recipe for the family so much it actually ruined it (ha! the singletons win!) so this is one of those which is actually better when made for smaller numbers of folk.

Ingredients:

3/4 c. macaroni (elbows)

2 T butter

2 T flour

1/8 c. milk

1/2 c. half and half

1 1/4 c. grated sharp cheddar

Salt, paprika, pepper, mustard and nutmeg, to taste.

1/2 c. buttered bread crumbs (an estimation – enough to cover the top of the pan)

OK – the recipe I just listed will make enough for a loaf pan’s worth of mac and cheese. Want more? Double the recipe. Very simple.

This recipe has come about after much online research, and to the best of my knowledge, it’s a melange of many different ones. If I’m plagiarizing, however, call me out on it – I don’t intend to.

Method:

Before starting anything else, butter the pan you’re going to put the mac and cheese into. Make sure you get the corners and sides really well (prevents massive sticky mess). I like to use a nonstick or glass pan, put the cold butter from the fridge into a paper towel, and rub.

Next: preheat the oven to 350°. Prepare the macaronis per the box instructions. Drain the mac into a collander in the sink, and jostle them around a bit (to keep them from sticking). While the mac is cooking, prepare your buttered breadcrumbs. Take a few tablespoons of butter in a microwave-safe dish, heat it up to melted, and then add the 1/2 c. of breadcrumbs to it. Stir with a fork until crumbly, then set aside for topping.

Once your mac is prepared, start the sauce. Put the butter in a large heavy saucepan (big enough to hold all the ingredients, including the macaroni), let it melt, then whisk in the flour. Quickly whisk at medium to medium high heat (watch it – you want the flour and butter mixture to get bubbly but not brown) until butter mixture is definitely bubbly. Then gradually add the liquids – milk and half and half. Many recipes diverge on this point, but I like the majority half-and-half recipe, it’s creamier but not sticky.

Stir rapidly as you add the milk. Once all the milk is incorporated, add the spices and cook until the mixture thickens. A word on the spices: my favorite mix is a hefty pinch of salt, about 5 decent shakes of the pepper box, around 3 hard shakes of the paprika tube, 5 shakes of the mustard tin, and the tiniest smidgeon of nutmeg EVER. This is 100% about personal taste. So experiment – sniff it, as you’re adding the spices, until it smells good to you.

When the mixture begins to thicken (and it should be fairly thick – not like pudding, but headed that direction), take it off the heat and add the grated cheddar. Whisk it all together until creamy and until the cheese is totally melted. Then take the macaroni, dump it into the saucepan with the cheese sauce, and stir it together til coated. Pour the macaroni and cheese mix into the pan, then sprinkle the buttered bread crumbs over the top. Optional: sprinkle a little handful of grated cheese over the top (makes a nice crunchy layer on the top).

Pop the mac and cheese in the oven, and bake until the cheese bubbles through. Once it’s bubbly, remove from the oven and let stand a couple of minutes (so it doesn’t burn your mouth).

Comin' out of the oven.

I like to serve mine with a green veggie (green beans, salad, something like that) and chicken. Variation: for an entree, add sliced cooked meat or mushrooms to the mac and cheese before you put the crumbs on.

A note about feeding this to children: this recipe was taste-tested by my nephew Connor and niece Hannah:

Connor eating mac and cheese

Connor, who is 5, indicated that he preferred “just the pasta part. I didn’t like the bread.”

Hannah, who is 2, doesn’t really like it:

Hannah's opinion

So the bottom line? This recipe is intended for grown-ups.  🙂 Play around with it, add some flavors like cayenne pepper, truffle oil, whatever suits your fancy, and enjoy!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 12, 2009 12:24 pm

    ohmigosh I’m so excited. You brought this macinsheese for our after-Vegas-wedding barbecue, and it was awesome! I’ll have to try this sometime. Thanks!

    • lisam permalink
      August 12, 2009 12:28 pm

      Indeed this is true! I’m glad you’re excited! 🙂 The garden’s looking good – you should take a look at ze blog tomorrow or Friday – I’m going to have a post of my mom’s Bucket Garden in Brenham!

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