Friday, October 31, 2008
Easy Peasey Mac and Cheesy
Do you have funny names for everyday things? Perhaps you mispronounced something, and then henceforth and forever the item was known by the mispronounced version? For example, when I was a wee newborn baby myself, my mom called me “dumpling” a time or two, and my late sister, a mere two years older than myself thus making her only two years old, mispronounced my nickname as “dumpy”. Can you see where I’m going with this? You guessed it, that LOVELY moniker stuck with me forever. I picked up a couple more along the way, but “dumpy” was the leader of the pack. Yep, I can just hear my witty sister laughing her head off in Heaven. Somehow, even though she was only two when she branded me with it, I suspect she had a plan all along ... little stinker.
Now a days with my own kids, I’m quite careful that their nicknames are something they wouldn’t mind me calling out through the neighborhood or from the sidelines during a game. We do, though, have some quirky names for food that we eat. For example, Macaroni and Cheese is never called, well, macaroni and cheese. Instead, it’s usually called “Easy Peasey Mac and Cheesy”. That catchy phrase is something special shared between my oldest daughter and myself, as she’s the mac and cheesy lover in the family.
Just check out this gorgeous version of mac and cheesy. I’m on a comfort food kick lately. Surprisingly, my daughter absolutely LOVES this. I say surprisingly because it has “stuff” in it. She is a serious food separatist, except for a couple things ... mac and cheesy being one of them.
Look at how creeeeaaaammmy this is! Ooooh, I want to snatch that big bacon piece right off of there and eat it! This version is based on a dish we had ordered eons ago at Red Robin Restaurants. They no longer have this on the menu, but it was a hit with my daughter and sooooo easy to recreate at home. Basically, just make your favorite homemade mac and cheese, and jazz it up with a couple of ingredients: Cooked diced chicken, crisp smoky bacon, creamy luscious goat cheese, and savory crunchy bread crumbs. C.O.M.F.O.R.T. Yum!
Couple things before we begin ... When making this, feel free to substitute your favorite basic mac and cheese recipe. Be sure, though, to make ample cheese sauce. Elbow shaped macaroni, as well as other shapes such as rotini, really need a LOT of sauce. Don’t skimp on the sauce quantity. Next, since my daughter’s palate has yet to fully appreciate highly seasoned foods, this dish is really quiet in the spice department. It could take more heat if you like spice. I’d stick to adding spices though, and not actually add chopped onions or green peppers, etc. This dish already has a lot going on in the three c texture department ... creamy, chewy, and crunchy. Adding more texture might actually take away from the dish. Of course, though, that’s just my humble opinion ... if you crave more stuff inside, by all means please your palate! There's that bacon piece again. I want it! To experience this comfort food for yourself, here’s what you do:
Easy Peasey Mac and Cheesy
½ lb Cooked Macaroni (or your favorite shape)
1 T olive oil
2 T flour
2 ¼ cups 2% milk
1 cup cream
3 cups shredded co-jack cheese
Couple shakes of garlic salt and onion powder
Quick small shake of red pepper and white pepper
½ cup diced cooked chicken (I used left over roasted chicken)
5 slices bacon – cooked crisp and crumbed
2 Tablespoons goat cheese – crumbled in large chunks
2 sliced white bread, crumbed
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Additional Tablespoons goat cheese for garnish
Additional bacon for garnish
Start off by buttering a 2 quart casserole dish. Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with olive oil. Keep warm. While pasta is cooking, in a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over med high heat. Wisk in flour and cook for a couple of minutes to get rid of the flour taste. Gradually wisk in the milk and cream, a little at a time. Cook for a couple minutes, then wisk in the cheese. The mixture should thicken up, but remain very creamy. Season with the garlic salt, onion salt, and peppers. Combine with the cooked macaroni. Stir in the chicken and bacon. Gently fold in the goat cheese. Pour into prepared casserole. In a skillet, melt the remaining butter on med high heat. Add the breadcrumbs and season salt, and toast the breadcrumbs until golden and crispy. Sprinkle on top of the casserole. Put the casserole into the oven, and bake for about 15 minutes. Let sit for just a couple more minutes, then serve. Sprinkle each serving with additional goat cheese crumbles, crispy bacon, and snipped parsley.
At last, the bacon piece is mine! Take a bite. Sigh. Make yummy noises. Henceforth and forever, refer to mac and cheese as Easy Peasey Mac and Cheesy.