Friday, January 22, 2010

Mex Mac n' Cheese

Orange powder = super powers. Or so we thought growing up!

All we wanted was to get our grubby little hands on some florescent mac n' cheese...instead, our Mom insisted on spending TIME and MONEY on making us the HOMEMADE stuff, and we complained all the way through dinner.

Mom persevered and it took a few years until we eventually came around. Now we understand my mother's form of torture. Scratch mac n' cheese is soooo yummy...gooey...and cheesy. It really is the ultimate comfort food (next to mashed potatoes & lasagna). How could we ever crave that nasty processed stuff again!?! (OK - I make it once in a while and enjoy every bite...shhhhh.)

This is probably not too far off from the Master Chef's (see sidebar) recipe. I made this version "Mex" by using queso blanco and oaxaca cheese, in addition to cheddar.

Mangia ~ Lora

One medium onion, chopped
Drizzle of olive oil
Until soft

4 tbs. unsalted butter
4 tbs. flour
Cook a few minutes

Whisk in:
an eyeball amount of milk - 3-4 cups maybe?
Just until a thick cream sauce forms
Sprinkle of chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper (taste - if you like it then move on)

Turn off heat and add:
1 tbs spicy mustard
Shredded/crumbled cheese - enough that the sauce is still thick and gooey, but not gloppy. Does that make sense? I probably used a total of around 3 cups of cheese.

Stir in:
3/4 lb of our favorite cooked pasta (mine is Barilla's campanelle - sooooo good)
Chopped Cilantro

BTW - I was in a purist mood when I made this, but you could certainly spice it up a bit (and boost the nutritional power) if you like. Here are some things I might have thrown in on a different day: minced red pepper, roasted peppers, black beans, chopped fresh tomatoes, canned diced tomatoes - drained, green chilies, and sometimes I do the whole top-it-with-breadcrumbs-and/or-cheese-and-bake-it thing. I use panko, some melted butter and some dry, crumbly cheese like parm.

P.S. - I was lucky to be visiting Tracey and Scott when they made the salmon below. If you want to convert a salmon nay-sayer...this recipe will do it. I stole a chunk off Tracey's plate when she wasn't looking.

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