Monday, September 14, 2015

Mac & Cheese Smackdown

Well, who doesn't love Mac and Cheese? We eat it every Sunday. Most of the time we enjoy Great Value Thick and Creamy from the box!! Yes, we love it. We have even gone during phases where we have mixins on the table (peas, tuna, extra cheese, sliced hot dogs, chili). Most of the time it is just wonderful plain mac and cheese. Maggie for her birthday dinner wanted mac and cheese and I could not help myself in trying 4 different kinds. 2 boxed and 2 homemade from scratch. Pictured from top to bottom Baked Mac & Cheese, Skillet Mac & Cheese, Kraft Boxed, and Great Value Thick and Creamy Boxed.

The 2 winning recipes in my book are Mel's Skillet Mac and Cheese which was super creamy and Joel's aunts Baked Mac & Cheese. The kids liked the baked mac and cheese and Boxed Thick and Creamy.

Mel's Skillet Mac & Cheese
  • 3 1/2 cups water, plus extra if needed
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 12 ounces (about 3 cups) elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded ( I would use Sharp-it needs more flavor)
  • 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded 
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  1. Bring 3 1/2 cups water, 1 cup of the evaporated milk, the macaroni, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. Cook at a vigorous simmer, stirring often, until the macaroni is tender and the liquid has thickened, 9 to 12 minutes.
  2. Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup evaporated milk, the cornstarch, mustard and hot sauce together in a small bowl, then stir into the skillet. Continue to simmer slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  3. Off the heat, stir in the cheddar and Monterey Jack, one handful at a time, adding water as needed to adjust the consistency of the sauce (I didn’t need any additional water when I made it). Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. 

Baked Mac & Cheese
Aunt Marion's Recipe (North Carolina Robinson's)
  • 2 TB cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • 1/4 tsp pepper 
  • 2 1/2 cups milk  
  • 8oz (1 3/4 cups cooked) elbow macaroni, cooked 6 minutes, drained
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded (about 8 oz.)
  • 1 Tb margarine
  1. In medium saucepan combine first 5 ingredients. Add milk and stir till smooth. Add margarine.
  2. Bring to boil over med heat, stirring constantly and boil 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  3. Reserve 1/4 cup cheese. Stir all other cheese into milk until melted. Add cooked noodles. 
  4. Place in greased 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle with reserved cheese.
  5. Bake uncovered in 375 oven for 25 minutes.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Baked Carrot Cake Oatmeal

This was a fun change and really did taste like carrot cake with an oatmeal texture. This recipe was a pinterest find from FiveheartHOMe. Thanks for sharing such a fun change.
 Baked Carrot Cake Oatmeal

  • ½ cup pecans, chopped (plus additional for garnish, if desired)
  • 1 cup almond milk (OR whole/2% milk), at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup (packed) grated carrots (about 3 medium carrots)
  • 1/2 cup raisins, optional
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease or spray with nonstick cooking spray an 8-inch square baking dish.
  2. Spread chopped pecans on an ungreased baking sheet and toast for 4 to 6 minutes or until fragrant and light golden brown. Cool on baking sheet.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together milk, eggs, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla; beat until smooth. Stir in carrots and raisins (if using). Blend in oats, toasted pecans, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, allspice, and salt; stir until mixture is well-combined.
  4. Spread oatmeal into prepared baking dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until set and light golden brown on top. Allow to cool in the baking dish for at least 5 minutes before slicing. Serve warm with optional garnishes: warm milk drizzled over the top, additional toasted pecans, maple syrup, or fresh fruit.