Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mac & Cheese, Kentucky Brown, and Biscotti

    Omg, where to start?  I guess I should explain my abscence, although most of you already know that I was spending my Thanksgiving holiday in the happiest place on earth.  That's right; the hubby and I took our little Monkey to Disney World!  It was so much fun!  She got to meet all her favorite princesses.  I got to eat all the food I wanted, and J got to experience Epcot and Hollywood Studios for the first time ever.  It was an all-around good trip for all. :-)

    Since I've been home, I've been on a sort-of mental vacation.  I guess I just needed to regroup and go from vacation-mode to real-life-mode.  My mind's still dragging though.  The cold weather and the early nights aren't helping much.  Although, the cold weather has gotten me excited about a few of my favorite things.  One of them is....drumroll please...Christmas!  (Of course.)

     I can't wait until Saturday, because we're going to pick our tree, and for the first time ever I'm going to a live tree farm and cutting down the tree :-)  I'm excited about that.  I'm sure I'll have pictures later.  I also can't wait for Ryleigh to see Santa and the lighted boat parade they do here in town.  I've been in such a holly jolly frame of mind that I've even gotten most of my wrapping accomplished!  The guys at work are a little sick of my Christmas music already, and I did have one tell me that he hopes my "holly-jolly" gets stolen, but whatever!

    I think the thing I'm looking forward to most is being in our own home this year.  As much as I'm going to miss my family and the traditions we've shared it'll be nice to finally be able to start a few of our own.  I can't wait to see Monkey's face we she comes downstairs to see what Santa has left for her.  I am also looking forward to cooking the entire Christmas dinner myself :-)  I'll be sure to post plenty of pictures and recipes too.  That is, if I don't burn the house down in the process.

     In the meantime, here are the recipes I owe y'all from my week-long absence.

The Lady's Cheesy Mac

Once again, I'm using the Paula Deen Southern Cooking Bible, and although this is a goo recipe, I've discovered that I don't like homemade mac and cheese.  I've tried just about every version of this, either making it myself or someone else's, and although this is the best I've tasted, I just don't like it.  I guess it's from all those years growing up eating the quick, Kraft version.  J LOVED it though, so it looks like I'll be making it again.

You'll need:
2 cups elbow macaroni
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, plus extra for topping (I ended up using about 3 cups)
4 TBS ( 1/2 stick) butter, cut into pieces
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk or evaporated milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease a 13x9" baking dish.  In a large pot of boiling salt water, cook the macaroni according to the package directions.  Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.  Add the 2 cups Cheddar and the butter, stirring until the pasta is coated.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sour cream and salt.  Add the egg mixture to the pasta and stir well to combine.  Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Bake until golden, 35-40 minutes.  Take the dish out of the oven and top with extra cheese, the return it to the oven until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.  Serve hot.

   Next, I made something I've never had before, and let me just say: it was amazing!

Kentucky Hot Brown

8 TBS (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (6 oz)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
4 slices white bread, toasted
3/4 lb sliced roast turkey
4 tomato slices
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 slices bacon, cooked until crisp

In medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high hear.  Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring with the whisk, for 1 minute.  Add the milk, bring to boil, and cook, stirring with the whisk, until thickened, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the Jack cheese until melted.  Stir in the salt and cayenne pepper.  Preheat the broiler.  Place the toast in a baking dish large enough to fit the 4 slices in one layer.  Divide the turkey and tomato among the bread slices.  Pour the cheese sauce over the toasts and top with Parmesan.  Broil until brown and bubbling, about 5 minutes.  Place 2 slices of bacon (like and X) on top of each cheesy toast and serve.

   Okay, so I realize that none of these recipes are really all that healthy.  Who am I kidding?  Their not good for you at all, but that last one was well worth the 2 mile run I had to do to get rid of it ;-)

   Like I said earlier, those recipes came from the Southern Cooking Bible, but this next one came from my favorite Paula Deen magazine issue.  It's the Holiday 2010 issue, and it's packed with goodies and gift ideas. I'm going to share one more recipe, and then I'm headed to bed.

Chocolate-Pistachio Biscotti

Here's my disclaimer for anyone who is a bit like my husband:  A biscotti is just like a hard cookie that you can soak in coffee or hot cocoa or just enjoy plain.  It's an Italian treat that's amazing, so stop asking questions and just try it already :-P

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup chopped pistachios
3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  In large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed with a mixer until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until combined.  Beat in pistachios and chocolate morsels.  On prepared baking sheets, shape dough into 2 (12x2") logs.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes.  Using a serrated knife, cut logs into 3/4"-thick slices.  Return slices, cut side down, to baking sheets.  Bake for 10 minutes or until biscotti are crisp.  Let cool on pans for 2 minutes.  Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.  Store cookies in airtight containers.

  And with that, I'm out.  Nighty-night folks :-)