Tuesday, December 19, 2006

if it takes THAT long to cook, it ought to taste good!

Macaroni and Cheese happens to be one of my favorite foods…my mac of choice is usually the stuff in the blue box. I think its Shea that named it Radioactive Orange. Nonetheless, it’s pretty tasty and I CAN whip up a batch of that without any problems at all. BUT…the blue box stuff is not homemade and since I am now adventuring into the land of all things culinary, I thought Mac & Cheese would be a good choice for my next recipe. It's a favorite of mine. Other would enjoy it if I cooked it for an event. It's Quick, easy and delicious. HA! HA! And HA! It was none of the three. I’m beginning to think I ain’t meant for this domestic stuff!

So anyway, I was actually excited to try the mac and cheese recipe(if that doesn't prove I'm a dork, nothing does) and things were pretty swell with until I began to make the white sauce. The pasta was boiling away, my milk/butter mixture looking good and I had all the ingredients lined up and ready to go. Once I added the flour/dry mustard/salt mixture I started to get lumps. Lots of little lumpy dumpling like thingies floating around in what was to become cheese sauce. I whisked and whisked to no avail…I couldn’t seem to get them to dissolve so I did the only thing I knew to do. I called Mom. I’m sure my parents get a huge kick out of me calling everytime I try to cook something…either that or they just shake their heads and wonder how and where they possibly went wrong with me. My siblings are so normal… Anyhow, Mom tells me to keep on whisking and gives me several other options to try and eventually most of lumps do dissolve, I add the cheese and things look as if they are getting back on track. Once the cheese sauce is done, I slosh in the mac, stir it up and then decide to get REALLY fancy and top it with an additional layer of Italian cheese and cracker crumbs. Then I put my creation in the oven and wait…a really long time. From start to finish it took almost 2 hours…TWO hours to make a dadgum macaroni and cheese. I know that can’t be right. Had to be of all the fuss over the sauce.

So after the really really long time in the oven, I take the dish out and, well, if I do say so myself it was the prettiest dish of macaroni and cheese I’ve ever seen! They say looks can be deceiving and now I know why. It was not nearly as tasty as it looked. To look so yummy and taste so blah was a huge letdown. At first taste, I couldn’t quite figure it out…is it the sharp cheddar? is it not enough seasoning? are the cracker crumbs throwing it off? what gives? Today I warmed up a bowl in the microwave at school and realized that it was just bland. Maybe I should have salted the pasta a LOT more. I had my buddy Pam try it and she said; "it needs SOMETHING". Recipe is below WITHOUT my addition of lawry's or the cracker crumb/italian cheese topping. I’m sending some to Mom and Dad to sample. Hopefully they will be able to tell me what to do to make it TASTE as good as it looked before Christmas. Yes, that’s right, Christmas dinner is at MY house this year! My family…they are brave people.

I am not making this up...the recipe is actually titled:
Marvelicious Mac and Cheese
2cups uncooked elbow macaroni
21/2c. milk
1tbs. butter
3 tbs. all purpose flour
3/4tsp. salt
1/2tsp. dry mustard
2c sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup. sharp cheddar (optional for topping)

Preheat oven to 375. Cook macaroni according to package.

Meanwhileheat milk and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Gradually whisk in flour, salt and dry mustard and simmer one minute, whisking occasionally.

Remove from heat; stir in 2c. shredded cheddar until melted. Add drained macaroni to saucepan and toss with cheese sauce.

Transfer mixture to a greased 8 or 9 inch square baking dish. Sprinkle 1/2 c. cheddar on top(optional) .

Bake uncovered until hot and bubbly (about 20min.) Let stand 5 min. before serving.


J. Shea Stanley said...

OK, so I've never fixed homeade Mac & Cheese ever , so this is like the blind leading the blind. I sampled a bit at mom and dad's house. It wasn't bad, but it was missing something OR, actually this was more the deal for me than anything, it didn't taste like good ol Radoactive Orange. I have that problem with just about ALL real, non blue box mac & cheese. Don't forget, we were RAISED on that mac & cheese. So by virtue of doing the homeade thing, you introduce several variables. ONE: PAsta size. Big big big issue. With RO M&C, you can slide one noodle on to each prong of the fork and they stay, which makes it "fun to eat". Homeade Mac & Cheese, just won't work. Plus, bigger noodles seem to always make for a less-than spackle like consistency that we're used to from RO, and lead to a more traditionally appetizing "creamy" M&C experience.
B: Color. You can look at the special color of RO and KNOW EXACTLY to the taste bud what it will taste like, every time. Radioactive Orange means "tastes GREAT" in any language.
THIRD: Mom thought it was probably the sharp cheddar cheese and I thought so to. I'm not sure, but i think the RO uses a "cheddar" cheese flavored power, not sure about the sharpness of it. But mom always does, and thus I do too, tosses in a couple of slices of American cheese per serving. I have NO idea if this would make a difference or not, but on the cheap and easy stuff for rubes like me, it DOES make a difference. If I don't have 3 slices of American Cheese Singles to mix in, I ain't making it, cause it just don't taste right. So I don't know if a multiple cheese mix would do ny good or not. I'll let you work out the logistics on this dish, and you can pass the findings on to me.
Not sure if any of this is even remotely useful, but I'm not able to get to sleep, and I'm blathering on.

Kellie Cotton said...

I think that was what i didn't like about it, I just didn't realize it at the time, it DOESN'T taste like the RO mac and cheese. But I've had "real" mac and cheese before and it's always pretty tasty. Although, you're right, I don't remember evering eating macarnoi and cheese at home that WASN'T out of the blue box. But now that I've started, I'm still going to try it again, this time with mild cheddar instead of the sharp...Mom said the sharp gave it a grainy taste...and I think I'll throw in a couple of slices of american to boot. That may be what makes the difference. We'll see. Speaking of blathering, I'm going to hunt those cds for you. Maybe listening to a stranger blather on in a mildly soothing voice about eating healthy foods will help put you to sleep.