Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese

I made this last night in an effort to put dinner on the table FAST. I've used various mac-n-cheese recipes over the years, but thought I would try something different and I knew I had pinned a few recipes on Pinterest. They all, however, called for cream cheese or cream, of which I had neither. I also wanted to avoid the lengthy second step of many recipes that call for baking in the oven. I needed FAST. After spending too much time looking for a recipe, I turned to good ol' reliable google.

"best stove top mac and cheese"

This recipe popped up on top of the list, so I glanced through the ingredients. Hmmmm... interesting. It called for eggs. No flour roux, no cream, no cream cheese. I figured I might as well give it try.

I used this pasta
and doubled the recipe, planning for summer-day-lunch leftovers.

Bill's comment: "I think this is the best mac-n-cheese you have ever made."

Shilo's comment: "I need this recipe for college. This is so good."

Mauri's comment: "I ate more than I thought I would." (She had just had a pancake an hour before dinner - go figure.)

I didn't snap a pic of my final product, and figured a pic of the refrigerated leftovers might not do it justice. Imagine cheesy, creamy deliciousness. Next time I make it I'll try to remember to memorialize it.

The Best Mac-n-Cheese I Have Ever Made (a la Alton Brown)

1/2 lb. elbow macaroni (I used Cellentani, and doubled the recipe)
4 Tbs. butter
2 eggs
6 oz evaporated milk
1/2 tsp. hot sauce (I used Cholula)
1 tsp. kosher salt (I used slightly less)
Fresh black pepper
3/4 tsp. dry mustard
10 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded (I used medium cheddar, since that's what I had on hand)

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta al dente, then drain. Return to the pot and melt in butter (I pre-melted the butter in the microwave to speed things along). Toss pasta to coat.

Whisk together eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Stir over low heat until cheese is melted and sauce is creamy and smooth, at least 3 minutes.

Note: This was super creamy and rich, which my family {loved}. My personal preference (from growing up on milkier/runnier mac-n-cheese) is a slightly "looser" texture. In my double batch next time I'm going to try eliminating one egg, and slightly increasing the milk quantity. I'll post the update.


Happy family.

Gotta love that.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Best S'mores Bars EVER

I work with a fabulous baker in the Young Women organization at my church. She seriously makes the best treats EVER. A few months back she made these for one of our Priest/Laurel activities and I couldn't get enough of them (not good for my not-really-a-diet-but-I-need-to-lose-weight regime). I had texted her for the recipe, then asked her in person a week or two later, and finally sent a text a week or two later that I wanted it NOW, if possible (obviously my first two attempts were too gentle).

It was a Sunday evening, and I was craving something sweet, and Bill wanted to take some treats to a couple of families in our ward. My friend Kristen responded in a very timely manner (so sweet of her to take time out to do it for me), and I started to whip up a double batch. Since she has an iphone and I have an android, the texts came in all jumbled (could somebody fix that, please?), so I was trying to decipher the recipe while using what I had on hand.

They still turned out seriously so good!
These went a little long under the broiler, but my family thought they were more "s'mores-y" with some dark brown anyway (thankfully no BLACK). YUM!

I told Kristen I was posting the recipe so I could share it with my family and friends (and, selfishly, so I can access it wherever I may be at any given moment without having to figure out the text puzzle).

Here it is:

Kristen Jorgensen's S'mores Bars

1 cup unsalted butter, softened (I used salted)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (I used regular brown)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (very close to 1 full sleeve of graham crackers)
1 bag of mini marshmallows (I only had large, so cut them in fourths)
3 to 4 full-size Hershey chocolate bars broken into pieces (I used Guittard milk chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add the egg and mix until incorporated. Add the vanilla, salt and baking soda; mix well. Mix in the flour and graham cracker crumbs until the dough comes together.

In a 9x13 pan, press the dough evenly on the bottom of the pan. Bake for 13 minutes. Take pan out of the oven and spread enough mini marshmallows to cover the top of the dough. Stick small pieces of the Hershey chocolate bar all over the top in between the marshmallows. Bake for an additional 3 minutes. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before attempting to cut into bars.

Kristen's notes:  It is better to let it cool before cutting into bars. (My note: if you are serving out of the pan, they are divine served warm!!) I also put mine under the broiler for just 30 to 60 seconds for a little browning of the marshmallow. If they don't start browning quickly, pull them out before they start getting melted completely. Also, when you pull the bars out after 13 minutes (before putting the toppings on), it will look jiggly in the middle but set up around the edges - that's how it should be.

I only had these cake pans to make the bars in that we were giving away, so I divided the dough in half and baked everything at the same time. I think they worked out perfectly. Obviously I didn't broil at the same time, and didn't intend to get our pan so dark, but they were still delicious either way.

If you like s'mores, I promise you will LOVE these!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Parker House Rolls a la Bobby Flay

I love these rolls.

Thank you, Bobby Flay.


1-1/2 cups milk
1 stick butter, cut into pieces, plus more for brushing
1/2 cup sugar
1 pkg. active dry yeast (I used 1 Tbs.)
1/2 cup warm water
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 tsp. salt
6 cups all-purpose flour

Place milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, then stir in the butter and sugar and let cool. (I placed the milk and butter in the microwave until the butter was melted, then stirred in the sugar and let cool.) Dissolve yeast in warm water and let sit until foamy. Combine milk mixture, eggs, yeast, salt, and 1/2 of the flour in a mixer with the dough attachment (I used my KitchenAid) and mix until smooth. Add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and stir until a smooth ball forms.

Remove from the bowl and knead by hand on a floured surface for about 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. On a floured surface, punch down the dough and shape as desired. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet; cover again and let rise until doubled, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter before serving.

I tried shaping the rolls (pictured above) using a technique by Alex Guarnaschelli I saw in a Food Network magazine. I like it! Here is a link if you're interested (slide 11-17).

(If you go to the Bobby Flay link there is a video of him making rolls, and after watching I have concluded that he has no idea how to shape rolls.)

Italian Sodas

We served these for Shilo & Cheyenne's graduation party and they were a huge hit.

You can buy the syrup online direct from Torani, and if you order over $59, the shipping is free. World Market may have them also, you are just limited to the flavors they carry. We like to use the syrup for slushies and shaved ice all summer long.


In a 16oz glass or plastic cup:

Pour 1/4 c. flavored syrup (if you are mixing flavors, you want them to total 1/4 cup) in bottom, then
Fill glass or cup 3/4 full of ice
Add 2/3 cup sparkling mineral water (or club soda)
Pour in 2 to 4 Tbs. heavy cream

Stir with a straw.
And then enjoy another flavor.
Seriously, you may not be able to stop.

Lucky us, I slightly overbought for the party, so we have a stash that will last us (and our company) for a long, long time. Come see us and we'll serve you up.

Iced Hot Chocolate

I had to search for this recipe today on my family blog, so I thought I would quickly transfer it here where it is more easily found and accessible. I still have quite a few of these containers of Swiss Miss, so I think I'll share them with friends this summer along with this great recipe. YUM!


Put in blender (my old $20 basic Oster does a great job - no need for a VitaMix):

2 cups cold milk
6 Tbs. hot cocoa mix (more if you like)
approx. 2 cups ice

Pour into glasses.

Starbucks fancy style (unnecessary unless you are blending to impress):
top with whipped cream and drizzle with chocolaty syrup.

Drink with a straw.
Makes 3 servings.

Note: I have tried making this with another hot cocoa mix and didn't like it nearly as well as the Swiss Miss. I'm not saying you can't make it with another mix, I just can't guarantee you will get the same results ;-) If you get BETTER results with another mix, please, feel free to share!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Best Jello Salad

Here's my current favorite Jello Salad, recipe courtesy of my friend Jeanne (who saved me on the 4th of July when I was trying to make it from memory - not a good idea  - for the whole gang and needed clarification.  She was in Hawaii - I had forgotten the time difference - and returned my call, apologizing for the delay in her response, but it was only 7am there.  She's a gem).

(I usually double the recipe when I am making it for a group.)

Jeanne Leak's Jello Salad

1 small pkg. cook-style vanilla pudding (can use sugar-free)
1 small pkg. cook-style tapioca pudding (can use fat free)
1 small pkg. Jello (can use sugar-free, any flavor)
3 cups water

Mix all together and bring to a boil.  Let cool 2 to 3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Mix cooled Jello, making sure to blend well (no chunks - I use a big whisk).

Fold in fruit of your choice (mandarin oranges, strawberries, or my favorite, raspberries)
and 1 (8oz) Cool Whip (can use light - NOT fat free).

You can serve immediately, or refrigerate for later.

It's a little reminiscent of the Jello salad that has cottage cheese, WITHOUT the cottage cheese.  The tapioca pudding absorbs the jello, and you end up with brightly colored tiny soft balls of tapioca.


Chocolate Raspberry Crash Cake

I usually try to make German Chocolate Cake for Bill's Birthday, but was a little pinched for time yesterday. I quickly perused Pinterest for a quick, easy and YUMMY alternative (with ingredients I already had on hand), and found this recipe and decided to give it a try (making a few adjustments). I had invited our neighbors over for cake and candles, so I hoped it would be good!

It was yummy. And pretty to look at. Definitely a keeper.

I didn't get any great pictures of the cake (focused on the Birthday part of things), so these will have to do:

Chocolate Raspberry Crash Cake

1 Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mix, prepared per package directions; baked in a 9x13 pan; cooled
2 sm. boxes instant chocolate pudding
3-1/2 cups milk
2-1/2 cups whipping cream
3 Tbs. confectioners sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 pkg. frozen raspberries, thawed (fresh raspberries would be awesome if you have them!)

While the cake is baking, prepare instant pudding using 3-1/2 cups milk (I like the pudding just a tad thicker - you could use the 4 cups milk per package directions if you would like).  Put in refrigerator to set.

Whip the cream with the confectioners sugar until stiff peaks are just about to form. Add vanilla and whip a few seconds more (I like fairly stiff whipped cream, too). Refrigerate until ready to assemble cake.

When ready to assemble, cut cake into small squares. Using approx. 1/3 of the cake, pull out and break up cake pieces to cover the bottom of a trifle bowl.

Using 1/2 of the prepared pudding, spoon onto cake layer and smooth out with back of spoon.

Spoon approx. 1/3 (or slightly more) of the whipped cream on top of the pudding, carefully spreading to edges.

Sprinkle on 1/3 of the raspberries.

Repeat layers starting with cake pieces.

Add one more layer of cake pieces, and top with remaining whipped cream and berries.
(Since my frozen berries didn't look that awesome, I didn't put any on top).

Keep in freezer for about 15 minutes before serving.

I think this cake would be best assembled within 30 minutes of serving. All the components can be prepared well ahead of time, and assembly takes 5-10 minutes, depending on how meticulous you are.