Getting My Mac On

52 macs in 52 weeks

June 25, 2021
MaryAnne

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Butterfly shoes

In high school, I had a friend who collected things that had rainbows on them. I decided I needed a “thing” (other than books, LOL) and decided on butterflies.

I mean, it wasn’t totally random, it’s not like I would have gone for roosters or roses* JUST to have a thing, I already really liked butterflies.

Good thing, because ….

It TOOK OFF. 

I got SO MUCH butterfly-themed stuff. For years. 

I think sometimes people are grateful to have a hook like that to grab onto when selecting gifts – not that I consider myself particularly hard to buy for, but there were lots of lovely and unique things I received that I would never have known to put on a list. (My family lives & dies by birthday and Christmas lists.)

It’s tapered off quite a bit but I’m still known as the one who likes butterflies.

And I do. Especially when I saw these shoes on the DIY Designer YouTube channel.

Side note – I am OBSESSED with this woman’s channel. I have the supplies for at least half a dozen of her projects that I will get to one of these days. Her name is Orly Shani and she’s awesome and funny, go check her out.

She has two versions of the tutorial – she’s a contributor on a cable talk show (Hallmark Channel, I think?), so the full segment from that is posted, plus a “short.” I really loved the look of her gold high heels (wasn’t as big a fan of the black flats), but my 52-year-old feet can not do 4” spikes anymore, so I had to search out an alternate shoe.

I got these – I liked the lower height that still looks dressy and that the blocky heel is more stable but it’s still shiny. The butterfly stickers are these but there are other versions with different wing patterns.

It’s super simple! There are 3 sizes of butterflies, and you’ll need one of each size for each shoe. Bend the wings up on each – most on the smallest, least on the biggest – then use a SMALL DAB of hot glue or E6000 (seriously, a little goes a long way) to attach them to each other along the bodies, leaving the wings free.

Attach to the clear vinyl shoe strap with hot glue or double-sided tape. (I used the E6000 and it got me through the wedding I wore them to, but they got jostled on the trip home and came loose, so I re-did them with double-sided tape. They’re not something that packs well, they’re more of a “close to home” shoe. I wore them again a week later to a graduation party, but they did NOT make it into my VERY tightly packed suitcase for Las Vegas.)

They turned out so pretty and it was fun to tell people that I “made” my shoes. One warning – in bright sunlight, these things can blind you, they are VERY reflective.

I took some pictures while wearing them, but the perspective is weird and unattractive when it’s your own feet.

Posted June 22, 2021

*I like tulips if anyone’s looking to send me flowers

April 29, 2021
MaryAnne

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Took a break, back with cake!

I can’t believe it’s already been TWO MONTHS since post #52 wrapped up my year of 52 macs in 52 weeks on my 52nd birthday. It was a race to get it done on schedule, but I squeaked it out at the end.

I had all kinds of ideas for continuing this project in Year 2, including shifting to a pizza a week, but that felt too similar; or multiple posts per week with different themes (“Thirsty Thursdays” featuring cocktails & mocktails; “Meal Prep Mondays”, etc.) but I quickly realized that as challenging as it was to do something each week, there was no way I was going to do MORE.

Instead, I decided to continue in a more relaxed mode – when I make something that seems worth sharing, I will – but not based on a set schedule. I’ve also recently found myself wanting to do some sewing & DIY projects (I’m a year late to the pandemic, just as everybody else is emerging, I’m ready to huddle in) so I’ll share projects – successes for sure, and probably the inevitable epic failures.

So the “mac” in Getting My Mac On now means what is Mac (me, those are my initials) up to?

First up is the dessert I made earlier this month for Easter, and then again a week later for a work lunch. It’s a cake made out of crepes, featuring homemade chocolate whipped cream filling and raspberries, two of my favorite flavors together. Plus, it’s gluten free!

Crepe Cake

Inspired by From Scratch Fast

There’s three parts to putting this together and each segment is fairly quick and easy. There’s no actual baking and the great part is that some of it can be done in advance. And if you want a tutorial on the crepe making technique, definitely click on the link above.

CREPES: 1 cup gluten free flour, 4 eggs, 1.5 cups whole milk, 1-2 tablespoons sugar, .25 teaspoons fine sea salt, 3 tablespoons butter, melted.

Blend flour, eggs, cream, sugar, and salt for a couple of minutes. Scrape sides of blender and add the melted butter; blend briefly, then chill in the fridge for half an hour.

Stir the chilled batter and heat some oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat, then wipe the pan to remove excess. Swirl about 1/3 cup of batter into the hot pan and rotate to distribute evenly. It’s much easier than it might seem. Seriously, just go watch the video! Cook approximately 1 minute, then flip and cook the other side 30-45 seconds. Remove and repeat, stacking the finished crepes as you go. Let cool (or refrigerate and finish the cake another day).

CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM: 2 cups well-chilled heavy cream, 1/3 cup powdered sugar, 13 cup unsweetened cocoa, 1.5 teaspoons vanilla, pinch of fine sea salt.

Add all the ingredients into the bowl of stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks develop.

ASSEMBLY: Place a crepe on a cake stand or plate and spread 1/2 cup of chocolate whipped cream on top. Repeat until you have a stack of 8 crepes, leaving the top one bare for now. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

TOPPINGS: Here’s where I cheated the first time I made this – I used Cool Whip 🙂 Spread whipped cream on the top layer, then top with raspberries and drizzle with melted chocolate. I could not get my chocolate chips runny enough so the chocolate did not drizzle well. The second time I made this, I made homemade whipped cream, both chocolate and “regular” but skipped the drizzled chocolate.

RESULTS: 5 noodles, haha!

My family was suitably impressed (my 2-year-old nephew’s eyes got huge and he let out a gasp when he saw it) and I personally thought it tasted amazing! Other than the lack of drizzliness in my chocolate, it came together really well and fairly easily. The second time, the chocolate whipped cream didn’t set up as well, and the layers were sliding in different directions, even after a few hours in the freezer. It was still very tasty, just not quite as pretty, so I didn’t take pictures. Definitely a keeper and I’ve already promised my mom & dad I’ll make it again with lemon whipped cream.

March 1, 2021
MaryAnne

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WEEK 52!!! Birthday Cake Mac

I made it!

I turned 52 years old today and I have made 52 macs in the past 52 weeks!

I have had this particular post planned since before I even launched the blog. When I was working out the concept, I found the post that inspired this one and have had it saved for more than a year. I can’t believe it’s been a year!

I don’t know yet where I’m going with the blog over the next 52 weeks, but I’ve enjoyed the process and expect I will continue cooking & posting, but probably not a single type of thing and I plan to relax the schedule some. I found that the self-imposed expectation to post every week created some stress when life got in the way.

So happy birthday to me and happy birthday to Getting My Mac On!

Birthday Cake Mac

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Concept inspired by Sarah’s Stands

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 slices of white bread, crusts trimmed; cut into small cubes
  • 12 tablespoons of butter, divided (see notes)
  • 5 ½ cups of milk (see notes)
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg (see notes)
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 18 ounces extra sharp white cheddar, shredded
  • 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 4 more tablespoons butter
  • 4 more tablespoons flour
  • 8 ounces shredded Colby Jack cheese

DIRECTIONS

  • Melt 4-6 tablespoons butter over medium heat, then pour over bread cubes and stir to coat (see notes).
  • Heat the milk over medium heat, but do not bring to a boil.
  • Melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat, then add ½ cup flour and whisk for 1-2 minutes.
  • Stir in the warm milk and whisk frequently until it thickens slightly.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the nutmeg, salt, and cayenne pepper.
  • Add both cheeses and stir until melted, set aside.
  • Bring a pan of salted water to a boil, then cook the pasta for 8 minutes; drain and rinse with cold water, then combine with the cheese sauce.
  • Spray 3 graduated size springform pans with non-stick spray, then scoop 2 cups into the small pan, 3 cups into the medium pan, and 4 scoops into the large pan. If any remains divide it equally among the pans.
  • Make a ring of bread cubes around the outside edges of the two larger pans, and cover the top of the smallest pan. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes.
  • Cool thoroughly.
  • Melt an additional 4 tablespoons of butter, then stir in 4 tablespoons of flour and whisk to form a roux. Let it cool.
  • “Frost” the sides of the layers with the roux, then add shredded Colby Jack.

RESULTS

It’s so cute! And it tastes good too.

I wish I had thought to create a graphic representing 5.2 noodles

NOTES

  • The Martha Steward recipe said 2 tablespoons of butter for the bread cubes – it was not even close to enough, I just kept adding more.
  • This seemed like too much milk, the sauce was very soupy. That’s not a bad thing with a baked mac, but it still seemed like too much, the bread cube topping was starting to get to dark before the mac was really baked all the way through.
  • OBVIOUSLY, the Martha Stewart recipe called for “freshly grated nutmeg.” Yeah, no. I have never claimed to be at Martha Stewart’s level (I’ve been called Betty Crocker before, but I think it was sarcasm) and the stuff in the jar is as far as I’m willing to go for nutmeg.

Posted February 28, 2021

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Week 51: Deep Fried Mac

With bonus Air Fried Mac

Mostly I like the community where I live – despite the wind we’ve experience the past week, we have better weather than other parts of the state and I could never handle the rain (or the TRAFFIC) on the west side year-round. But it’s close enough for quick weekend getaways to hit up IKEA or take in a Mariners game, and now that we have Sephora, DSW, and Ulta, we have ALMOST everything I need. If Trader Joe’s and the Cheesecake Factory ever came to town I might not ever have to leave again. (That’s not true, I would still need my fix of Broadway shows, assuming those are ever allowed to start touring again.)

And we still don’t have quite all the chain restaurants that people want. We spent YEARS hearing rumors that Olive Garden was coming and everyone would get so excited. They finally did open a location here, and it is consistently busy, even after a solid decade. (Or maybe two? I can’t remember now when it stopped being a rumor and became a reality.) People in the Tri-Cities love their chain restaurants! (I say this with all the love in the world, I’m no Olive Garden hater.) Personally, I like The Cheesecake Factory more, but maybe that’s because we DON’T have one? I usually stick to the appetizer menu, because their avocado egg rolls are just SO GOOD, and of course, the fried macaroni and cheese is smack in the middle of my personal dream-come-true food. I couldn’t let this year-long experiment end (TOMORROW!!!) without attempting to re-create them.

Deep Fried Mac

Inspired by The Cheesecake Factory

INGREDIENTS

  • A batch of mac & cheese (see notes)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs and/or Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (in this case, use the stuff in the jar)
  • 1-2 eggs
  • A few tablespoons of milk
  • Oil for frying – I used canola
  • Optional: marinara sauce for dipping (see notes for super easy recipe)

DIRECTIONS

  • Whatever kind of mac & cheese you choose to use, whether fresh or leftover, chill in the refrigerator for several hours.
  • Form the chilled macaroni into golf-ball sized balls and place on a baking sheet. I used a cookie scoop to get the approximate size, but still had to do some forming by hand.
  • Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 1-2 hours.
  • Combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese in a shallow container
  • Beat the egg and milk together and pour into another shallow container
  • Roll the macaroni balls in the egg mixture, making sure it’s thoroughly coated; then roll in breadcrumbs, again making sure the entire surface is covered.
  • Heat the oil until shimmering, then gently add the breaded macaroni balls. Depending on how deep the oil is, you may need to turn them once.
  • Fry to the desired state of golden brown, probably no more than 2-3 minutes. Remove carefully and let cool slightly.
  • Alternate option: preheat an air fryer to 400. Mine is a behemoth called The Big Boss and I almost never use it – this effort reminded me why, and I think I’m going to sell it or donate it. Place the breaded macaroni balls in the basket, mist with oil, and fry until crisp. Mine took several minutes, I actually don’t know how long the new generations of air fryers take.

RESULTS

Let’s put it this way – I’m not going to be a threat to The Cheesecake Factory anytime soon. These were fine, but it’s a lot of prep, a lot of wait time while they are chilling, and there’s more mess to cleanup when you’re done. And they’re not really something you can prepare ahead – once they’re fried, they’re best when eaten right then. Again, they’re good, but they’re not going to be in frequent rotation.

The air fryer ones were disappointing. They never really crisped up, one of them sort of fell apart in the basket, and obviously they just don’t have that deep-fried goodness. Anyone want a Big Boss oil-less cooker?

NOTES

  • There are 50 previous recipes to choose from on this site, as well as hundreds if not thousands on the internet. In my catch-up attempts the past couple of weeks, I have A LOT of mac & cheese on hand, all of it too “specialized” for this, but I also didn’t want to add to the stockpile if I didn’t end up frying all of it. And I have an ambitious finale planned for tomorrow (TOMORROW! Where has a year gone? (rhetorical question)) so I took the easy way out for this and used boxed mac.
  • The Marcella Hazan 3-ingredient tomato sauce is so easy and so good! In a heavy saucepan, combine a 29 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes (and the juice) with 5 tablespoons of butter and an onion that’s been peeled and cut in half. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes, occasionally pressing with a spoon to break up the tomatoes. Remove the onion and enjoy. It can be left chunky, but I prefer to give it a spin with my immersion blender.
  • The paper plate with a hole in it lets me blend it right in the pan, eliminating the need to pour very hot tomato sauce into the mixing container and also preventing very hot tomato sauce from going EVERYWHERE.

Tune in TOMORROW for the grand finale – #52 of 52 macs in 52 weeks!

Posted February 27, 2021

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Week 50: Parmesan Truffle Mac

I actually got this idea from one of my favorite items in the frozen food aisle! I haven’t bought it in a year – with alllll the mac & cheese I’ve made over the past 51+ weeks, I couldn’t quite bring myself to PAY for a frozen single-serving, but I’ve been missing the taste. When I decided to try a copycat version, I looked up the ingredients online. I was surprised to see that it has more cheddar than Parmesan – I flipped that in my version. The truffle oil and heavy cream make it a little bit richer and more luxurious than some of the more traditional macs. It would make a nice treat for a special meal. (I had originally planned this post for Valentine’s Day but I was at my 12-year-old nephew’s birthday party.)

Parmesan Truffle Mac

Inspired by Evol Truffle Parmesan Mac & Cheese

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces penne pasta
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (see notes)
  • 6 ounces VERY finely shredded Parmesan cheese (see notes)
  • 2 ounces coarsely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1-2 tablespoons truffle oil, divided

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 350 and coat a baking dish (or two) with non-stick spray.
  • Combine the breadcrumbs with 1-1/12 tablespoons truffle oil.
  • Bring a pan of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Heat the milk and cream over low heat but do not let it boil. Remove from heat.
  • Melt the butter over low-medium heat, then stir in the flour and whisk continually for 2-3 minutes.
  • Slowly add the warmed milk, stirring continually. Continue to cook over low-medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5-6 minutes. (It will still be fairly runny.)
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Add the cheddar cheese and the finely shredded Parmesan and stir until fully melted.
  • Drizzle in ½-1 tablespoons of truffle oil and stir.
  • Add the cooked pasta and stir to combine.
  • Pour into your prepared baking dish. It looks pretty soupy before it goes in the oven, but you want extra sauce in baked mac so it doesn’t dry out. I even had some sauce left over, which will come in handy when re-heating.
  • Top with the breadcrumb mixture and/or the remaining (coarsely shredded) Parmesan. I did one pan with breadcrumbs and one pan with cheese. I think it would also be great with both.
  • Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, then switch your broiler to low and broil for another 2-3 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs (or cheese) are golden brown. The breadcrumb pan was ready after a couple of minutes, the cheese topping pan took closer to 5 minutes. (Watch closely though, I’ve learned the hard way my broiler can take things from not quite done to scorched very quickly.)

RESULTS

Soooooo good! The breadcrumb topping only pan is lighter and somehow delicate, while also being very tasty. The pan topped with shredded cheese, has – not surprisingly – a stronger cheese flavor and is also really tasty. This is one of the best ones in quite a while.

NOTES

  • I almost always use extra-sharp cheddar, but I wanted a softer note here to let the Parmesan stand out, so I dialed it back a step to just “sharp.” Medium or mild would probably be fine here as well – I find them too bland for most macs, but it’s really just a supporting player here so there’s more flexibility.
  • Parmesan isn’t a great melting cheese – I’ve learned in my frequent attempts at Alfredo sauce that the more finely shredded it is, the better. I use a super-fine microplane and the cheese is so light it seems like it could float … and it melts much more smoothly. Because it’s so fluffy, it’s more important to go by the weight before it’s grated than by a measurement like “2 cups.”

Posted February 24, 2021