Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ono Hawaiian Mac

While in Hawaii this past week I was inspired to include the local culinary delicacies in my mac.  With help from my trusty side kick Jenai (who you may remember from here, here and here) and Leighton,
I set out to prepare a savory Hawaiian mac.  Hawaii's culinary environment stems from early plantation workers and a strong military influence creating a wonderful blend of Asian, Polynesian, Portuguese and American flavors.  And because I am such an eclectic culinary creator, I added anything and everything interesting that happened to be within eyesight.

 We diced the spam (yum, spam),
Added some Velveeta cheese, chili garlic sauce (aka rooster hot sauce), mustard, chilli powder and seasoned with salt and pepper.
 Stir in the prepared elbow macaroni.
At the very end we added some fish cake.  It is important to add this at the very end because it can become soggy if added too early.  The fish cake adds a punch of color along with a wonderfully sweet flavor to the mac.
Mix well.
Serve as a fantastic side dish to grilled sausage and asparagus,
Steak and grilled onions.
Next time you want a taste of the islands, prepare a savory and oh so ono local mac and cheese.

Monday, June 13, 2011

EATT More Mac

In Chicago this past weekend I was thrilled to try some mid-western mac.  My expectations were quite high.  I mean honestly, isn't this the cheese capital of the world?   At EATT in Chicago, I ordered a side of the mac and cheese and was pleasantly surprised at the size.  It was a bit larger than a typical side order and quantity always makes me happy.  I was also pleased with the crispy burnt sections on the top.  I love a slight burnt cheese flavor. 

I really should have stopped at this point.  Sadly, I took a bite.  Much to my cheese loving dismay, this mac was really bland and watery. 

My advise, when in Chicago, stick to the pizza.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Richy Rich Lobster Mac

I love lobster. And, I love mac. Together, this can be a magical experience. While in Palm Desert this past weekend, I visited Ristorante Mamma Gina. I don't even know if they have anything else on their menu because as soon as I saw the lobby mac, my mind was made up. Done and done.

 The noodles were cooked perfectly and the sauce was rich and creamy.  I called and asked for the types of cheese used because I wasn't certain but the less than kind person who answered the tele refused to "give recipes over the phone."  Interesting.  Velveeta perhaps?  Kidding. Overall, this mac was pretty good.  It was not to die for and lets be honest, life is short so lets try to only eat those meals that reach the level of perfection.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Country Living

Today's recipe comes from Country Living magazine.

When my mom and I spotted the recipe in the magazine last weekend we knew we wanted to try it!

I usually reserve making macaroni and cheese recipes for Sundays because they usually take awhile, but this one was SO easy and simple! The recipe was really yummy. I thought it might be bland because of how few ingredients are in the recipe, but the gruyere was complex tasting and perfectly gooey.

I also made a DELICIOUS and simple dessert inspired by a menu item from one of my favorite Phoenix restaurants, Gallo Blanco.

To make this dessert, simply layer chocolate pudding and marshmallow fluff, then stick some graham crackers on top! It's like a s'more in a bowl.

Try these easy recipes this weekend!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Delightfully Rich Brie Mac

Thinking of making a light mac with a bold flavor? Check out the recipe for this delicious brie and mushroom mac at Simply Guzel.

Monday, May 2, 2011

BBQ'd Banger Mac

I literally grew up eating mac and cheese. I ate it so often that my mom would get creative with the ingredients to make sure I had a well balanced meal.  My favorite as a little munchkin was mac and cheese with hot dogs. So tasty! Now that I am grown and much more mature (no giggling) I have moved on to delicious bbq'd sausage in my mac. 

Hubby hubbs was bbq'ing chicken for dinner so I offered to create a smashing side dish. Obviously I meant delicious mac.  I used orecchiette noodles.  They are perfect for mac because they cup your ingredients nicely so you get an array of flavors in each bite. Success.

I sauteed some onions and jalapenos,
Don't you love my new bowls?
Added some horseradish mustard and a dash of chili oil for spice, and
 Included a very large handful of Mexican cheese which includes Monterey Jack, Cheddar, and Asadero cheeses.  This is an exact measurement.

Finally, I added the spicy chipotle bangers.  Perfectly bbq'd bangers to be exact. 

 Mix it all together, bake it at 400 degrees until bubbling to perfection, and then consume immediately!

 Even little Lola was pleased by this mac.

Doesn't she look like an owl here?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pete's Has the Perfect Fry

Pete's Cafe and Bar in Los Angeles has been my long time favorite spot for french fries, chipotle fries to be exact.  I could eat them every day.  That is how magical they are.

 When I saw mac and cheese on the menu, I thought I should most certainly indulge.  Their mac is made of sharp white cheddar, asiago, goat cheese (yuck), and tarragon.  I loathe goat cheese so I was a bit hesitant to order this mac.  But, surprisingly, I couldn't taste any remnants of goat at all. Thankfully.  Even though I ate all of it, I did not love it.  Probably because I was fixated on the chipotle fries. Did I mention how glorious the fries are?

This is seriously a lunch made for champs.

 My recommendation: Go to Pete's immediately and order the chipotle french fries.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Whole Foods To Go

I was browsing my local Whole Foods and came across some delicious looking Macaroni and Cheese in the pre-made section.

I thought it would be perfect to enjoy on one of those days that feels like it's never going to end. The perfect treat for myself on a night that I'm too tired to cool. Also, it looks SO good, right? 


Although it looked delicious, it was not. I dig Whole Foods because most of their items are freshly prepared on site. I was bummed to discover that this was made somewhere else and shipped in from Vernon, CA. 

It also had WAY too much nutmeg. 

I took two bites and threw it away. 

Macaroni and Cheese Fail! 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter mac

 Looking for a fabulous addition to your Easter brunch menu? Look no further, Williams Sonoma offers a mac and cheese frittata! What could be better than delicious mac, cheese, ham and eggs?

Photo: Williams Sonoma
Get the recipe here.

Have a wonderful Easter!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Beachwood BBQ Should Stick with the BBQ

One of hubbs' fav dining spots is Beachwood BBQ. He mostly likes it because it has a terrific variety of delicious micro brews.

After a quick bike ride down to Beachwood BBQ, we ordered a couple of beers, our usual fried pickles (magestic), a pulled pork sandwich and contemplated trying something new. That is when we noticed mac and cheese.  Not sure if this is new to the menu or if I have simply indulged in too much beer on all of my prior visits because I don't remember seeing it on the menu before.

Beachwood BBQ's Baked M&C boasts ingredients including green onion, bacon, chilies, beer, and Gruyere.

Sounds majestic. Well, sadly, it is not. The first bite was bland.  I added some salt. Better, but not brilliant.  Next, I made a concoction of Beachwood BBQ's sauces: hot sauce, sweet sauce and mustard.  It was pretty tasty when doused in random sauces.  But, I am a purist and prefer my mac non-doused.

My advise: stick to the beer.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Trio Tops Them All

Today's review comes from my new favorite restaurant in Palm Springs, Trio. 

I decided to try this place after reading stellar Yelp reviews about their macaroni and cheese. 

The place did NOT disappoint. It is one of the BEST macaroni and cheese dishes I have ever had. It is totally worth the (expensive) price tag of $17. The portion is also HUGE, so you will definitely have some leftovers to enjoy the next day or two. 

They start with five different kinds of cheese; Fontina, Goat, Bleu, Cheddar and Romano. The dish also has loads of bacon, green onions, tomato and bread crumbs. 

I got a to-go order and the smell was so delicious I couldn't even wait to get home before I had to rip open the container and try a bite (or five). 

Well done Trio! A+

Monday, April 4, 2011

And the winner goes to ......

Today was the first annual Firm Mac and Cheese Cook-Off.  We had three very unique entries and six hungry judges.

How do you choose between flavorful, decadent, and zesty?
Our fabulous entries

 Drum roll please ....

 Best Presentation goes to Grace's fabulous ham filled ramekin surprise! 
Clockwise from bottom: Grace's ramekin delight, Kelly's gourmet goodness, and Kimi's cheesy masterpiece

This mac was especially unique because Grace used wide egg noodles, which I have never had in m&c before.  She mixed fontina, mozzarella, and parm in with heavy cream, milk, cayenne and nutmeg until it thickened.  Then she mixed in smoked turkey ham and parsley.  She filled the ramekins, topped with panko bread crumbs and extra cheese for good luck, she baked it and voila - a creamy, cheesy, flavorful mac dish is made! This mac would be perfect for a family meal including kids and would make a nice entree as it is pretty filling with the ham.

Next, Kimi made us a wonderful six cheese delight that won the coveted "Cheesiest" prize!  And, to be clear, by prize I mean the praise and affection of the judges. No money in this competition!

I love a hidden jolt in my mac and Kimi really made that happen nicely.  The first bite has a nice all-American flavor but moments later this goodness is met with a powerful kick of chili.  Kimi's international cheesy concoction was made up of Spanish onion, cream cheese, heavy cream, sharp cheddar, parm, swiss, jack, mozzarella, and get ready for this - Chinese chili paste! Brilliant.

 The 1st Place Winner of the 1st Annual Firm Mac and Cheese Cook-Off goes to ... Kelly!

It is no surprise that this mac consists of:
·         Onion
·         Shallot
·         Garlic
·         Butter
·         Dry white wine, Pinot Gris will work
·         Whole milk
·         Flour
·         Fresh herbs such as oregano
·         Short pasta like Cavatappi
·         Gruyere
·         Ementhal (God bless the Swiss)
·         Sharp chedder
·         French baguette
·         White truffle oil

Kelly's mac tasted like it was the showcase item in this month's Food and Wine Magazine. The texture was excellent as it had a nice creaminess to it. It was wonderfully flavorful; the garlic, herbs, wine, cheese combo and white truffle oil combined to create a decadent flavor.  I noticed several judges go back for second helpings of this mac. It is a good thing I loaded my plate up early.

Thank you to our lovely contestants for brightening my Monday and making my pants fit just a tad more snug today.

From left: Grace proudly displaying her ramekin delight (please notice that there are none left to display since we ate them all), Kelly is grinning from ear to ear after winning 1st place, and Kimi gladly embracing her much deserved cheesiest title!
If you want the full recipe for any of these macs, please comment below and I'd be happy to send it to you.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Momma Said to Eat Your Broccoli

My dear pal Zoe bought me a fabulous book entitled Macaroni & Cheese by Marlena Spieler.  I love gifts, don't you?!  The book has the most creative m&c recipes with really nice photos.  I have been dying to create something special ever since receiving it.  If you are in the market for a book exclusively detailing mac and cheese, I highly recommend this one.

Because I was feeling the need to be healthy, I decided on Marlena Spieler's Macaroni and Cheese "Broccolissimo" as a side dish to the yummy meal Hubbs was preparing.

First, blanch the broccoli and set aside.

Broccoli: the healthy part

Next, melt butter (the more the merrier), sprinkle in some flour and add milk.  Season with salt, cayenne and nutmeg.  I love the idea of nutmeg in this recipe - it is so festive.  Add a bunch (this is the exact measurement) of cheese.  The recipe calls for Sprinz or Asiago or a combo of Appenzeller, Jack or Parmesan.  My suggestion: use whatever type you have.  I used Mexican cheese, some smokey Gruyere, Cheddar, Mozza, and Parm.

Are you wondering what the little white marshmallow looking chunks are? Chopped string cheese. Uber classy.

Stir in the pasta noodles to the melted cheese.  Spoon into a shallow baking dish. Top with the broccoli and a bunch (again, please remember to use this exact measurement) of extra cheese.

Bake just until the top is bubbling and hot.

Bubbling and Oh So Hot
Enjoy with some deliciously bbq'ed asparagus.  Try squeezing some lemon onto the asparagus and topping with some fancy salt. Oh so delicious.

Does life get any better than this? Seriously.
Would you like a bite?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Oh So Tasty Mac and Cheese Balls

I heart Trader Joe's. I really do. When I lived in Hawaii, I would come back to Cali to visit family and friends and would always go grocery shopping at TJ's before returning. You heard me. I would literally pack a bunch of TJ's food in my luggage for a tasty indulgence while on the rock.

TJ's rarely fails me. This is simply another example. As I am sure you can imagine, much to my savory delight, I stumbled across TJ's version of fried mac and cheese balls.  As we have already established, I love fried food and also love mac - if you are doubting my loyalty to the mac, you really haven't read enough of this blog.

Sorry, I don't have a pic of the box. Hubbs thought it would be a brilliant idea to delete half of my photos... So busted.

After a failed attempt to enjoy the balls at Fred62 (remember that blog entry?), I have to admit my standards were not very high when hubbs decided to make this treat. 

Four words sum up this experience:


LOVE that there are really macaronis stuffed inside the fried goodness. No false advertising here.

My mouth is watering. Seriously.

Obviously we added some hot sauce to spice it up. Try a nice Louisiana style hot sauce. Yum.