Getting My Mac On

52 macs in 52 weeks

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“Week” 45: Roasted Veggies Mac

What this comes down to is I’m running out of time and I had 2/3 of a bag of Brussels sprouts that needed to be used, a couple of onions on the brink of sprouting, and a whole bunch of tomatoes because I always have tomatoes on hand.

I love roasted veggies, and I love Brussels sprouts and I really love tomatoes. One of the best non-macaroni and cheese treats I’ve ever made is roasted tomatoes and burrata on toasted baguette slices and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. HEAVEN. Caramelized onions are another one of my favorites, but they take forever, so I just threw these on the baking sheet with the rest. They don’t get as fully golden, but they still taste great.

These are my particular favorites, but there’s a lot of room for experimentation here – butternut squash, broccoli, asparagus … go crazy!

Roasted Veggies Mac

INGREDIENTS

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Roma tomatoes
  • White onion
  • Red onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Leftover mac and cheese (see notes)

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 425.
  • Trim the stem end of the Brussels sprouts and slice in half or quarters, depending on size. My pile was a mix of both.
  • Slice the tomatoes in half. With winter grocery store tomatoes, there’s usually no need to scoop out the seeds and core. In the summer, when I’m getting the amazing tomatoes from my dad’s garden, they’re much juicier and need to be scraped out a little, otherwise they end up more steamed in their own juices than roasted.
  • Cut off the root ends of the onions, slice in half and peel.
  • Toss all veggies with olive oil, making sure all pieces are well coated. Add salt and toss again.
  • Arrange the veggies on a baking sheet – they’re going to be in there for different times, so it works best with this particular combination to keep them together rather than mixing them up.
  • Roast for 20-25 minutes, then check Brussels sprouts for desired level of crisp vs. tender. I like mine a little softer, so I gave them 30 minutes. That also allows the leaves that have fallen off to get nice and crispy.
  • Continue cooking the tomatoes and onions, checking every 10 minutes or so. I roast tomatoes a lot, and it can be all over the board how long it takes, based on the size, firmness, how charred you want them, etc. I pulled the onions out around the 45-50 minute mark, and the tomatoes at around an hour (possibly a little longer). Smaller tomatoes, or ones that have been scooped out, will take less time.
  • While the veggies are cooling, make or reheat mac and cheese. I had thawed a package of the Three Cheese Mac from way back last summer. I added a splash of milk and a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan to make sure it was nice and smooth.
  • Chop the tomatoes and onions coarsely, then combine all veggies with the mac and cheese.

RESULTS

The sharpness of the cheese combined with the roasted sweetness of the veggies is really good! One of my favorite recipes in the early days of this project was the asparagus prosciutto … this is very similar. Because of the roasting time, it doesn’t come together quickly – I’d recommend roasting the vegetables a day or two in advance or keeping this recipe in reserve for when you happen to have leftover roasted veggies and/or mac & cheese. But it’s definitely worth going to the effort!

NOTES

  • I realize not everyone makes mac & cheese as frequently as I do and may not HAVE leftover mac & cheese on hand. The Three Cheese Mac I thawed out was a great match, but if you need to make a fresh batch, the Cougar Gold (i.e. sharp white cheddar) recipe from Week 27 would also be a perfect fit.

Posted February 17, 2021

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“Week” 44: Grilled Cheese Mac

This is one I’ve been meaning to try forever, even before the waffle mac – but I was either always out of bread or didn’t have the “right” kind of leftover mac & cheese or whatever.

I’m not exactly sure WHY I wanted to try this. I’ve never even really liked grilled cheese sandwiches – I think mainly because I don’t like American cheese or that cheese imposter known as Velveeta (BLECCHHHH), and those are usually what my mom would use to make them. (But when it’s something like mozzarella with tomatoes and balsamic reduction? Yum-MY!)

Since the microwave mac from the last post was kind of disappointing and I didn’t even finish the small amount in the mug, and since I – for once – had a loaf of bread that DIDN’T look like a forgotten science project, I figured it was time.

Grilled Cheese Mac

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ – 1 cup of leftover mac & cheese
  • 2 slices of bread
  • Butter

DIRECTIONS

  • Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat over low-medium heat. (I buy the butter-flavored spray, so no need to melt butter in the pan, although some recipes recommend that.)
  • Butter both slices of bread.
  • Place one slice, butter side down, in the pan. Top with macaroni & cheese, then place the other slice, butter side up, on top.
  • Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes, checking frequently to make sure it’s not burning. (I destroyed a lovely mozzarella and roasted tomato grilled cheese over the weekend due to the heat being too high and the cover on too long. Only the tomatoes were salvageable, fortunately I had more bread and cheese).
  • Flip and re-cover, cooking 1-3 minutes, keeping a close eye on how quickly it’s getting brown since the pan is now hotter and the cooking spray has been absorbed. Some people like their grilled cheese very well-done/crispy … I prefer a medium brownness with some crunch but still soft.

RESULTS

This may seem like a weird combination – LOTS of carbs – but if you eat breadsticks before your pasta when you go to Italian restaurants, don’t judge me. 😉 Anyway, it was pretty good – I kinda sorta did it as a joke, but I ended up eating the whole thing and enjoying it very much.

Posted on February 12, 2021

(For those completely lost by the erratic numbering – makeup recipes posted Monday-Saturday will be out of order as I frantically attempt to get in all 52 by the deadline. Sunday recipes posted on schedule will be the actual week # it’s supposed to be.)

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Week 43*: Microwave Mac

Alternate title: Mug Mac

I don’t know why it’s never occurred to me to make homemade mac and cheese in the microwave, especially since I used to buy packaged Kraft cups all the time to keep in my drawer at work. Recently I was watching one of those Facebook click-bait videos (titled “Foods when you’re feeling lazy” … right up my alley!) and the first demo was a microwave macaroni and cheese. It looked very simple (many of the things in the video were absolutely not simple, they involved WAYYYY more work than someone who’s “feeling lazy” would be interested in), so even though a whole bunch of comments on the post were negative, I decided to give it a try.

Microwave Mac

Adapted from Tasty

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup water
  • “Splash” of milk (see notes)
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (see notes)
  • Salt

DIRECTIONS

  • Place the macaroni in a microwave-safe mug and add the water and salt and give it a stir.
  • Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes
  • Remove from microwave and stir in the milk, then add the cheeses and stir together.
  • Microwave on high for 30 seconds.

RESULTS

This just didn’t really work. The water apparently boiled over – when I took it out to add the cheese, there was more water on the microwave tray than in the mug – and the noodles didn’t get cooked enough. Maybe it would be better to put it in for longer but at a lower setting?

I forged on, adding the milk and cheese, and the texture was slightly better, but still VERY firm. I “splashed” in some more milk and kept stirring. It was technically edible – and tasted fine – but it was not great.

A big-time food blogger type would probably make this over and over to get it right and then only post when it worked out – but if you remember, I made no promises of perfection. Once a week is the most I can handle (and sometimes not even that).

NOTES

  • Ugh, I hate things like “a splash” – just tell me how much to use!
  • The video said ¼ cup of cheese, but it certainly didn’t make it worse by having extra.

Posted on February 11, 2021

*For those completely lost by the erratic numbering – makeup recipes posted Monday-Saturday will be out of order as I frantically attempt to get in all 52 by the deadline. Sunday recipes posted on schedule will be the actual week # it’s supposed to be.

February 2, 2021
MaryAnne

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Week 48: Sour Cream & Onion Mac

11 months ago today, I started this blog – I can’t believe it’s in the final weeks! (Although I have enough “make-up” posts to do, that it’s kind of like there’s a couple of months!)

Sour cream and onion is one of my most favorite flavor combinations. In fact, this was almost a part of the “Mac Bar” post featuring many of my favorite snacks as toppings. But I used a cheddar-based mac for that, and I thought this would work better with white cheeses along with a couple of other tweaks, so I decided to wait.

But then every time I bought a bag of Ruffles, I’d eat them before I got around to making the mac, or the green onions would dry out, or I’d use the sour cream & chive topping on something else. Finally, the planets have aligned and I have all the right ingredients on hand to give this a try!

Sour cream & onion mac

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces penne pasta
  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 Tbsp. flour
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • ½ cup sour cream with chives (see notes)
  • 1½ cups shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese (see notes)
  • ½ – 1 tsp. onion salt (see notes)
  • 1 cup sour cream & onion Ruffles (see notes)
  • Green onions, chopped (just the green parts)

DIRECTIONS

  • Bring a pan of water to a boil, add ½ teaspoon of salt, then add pasta and cook 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Melt the butter over medium heat, then stir in flour and cook 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly.
  • Slowly add the milk and whisk until sauce is smooth and slightly thickened; then remove from heat and add sour cream. Stir to combine.
  • Add cheeses and stir until completely melted.
  • Add onion salt to taste.
  • Combine pasta and cheese sauce and stir until thoroughly coated.
  • Top with chopped onions or chives and serve!

RESULTS

Very good! It’s pretty mild, but very creamy. I hadn’t initially planned to use onion salt in the sauce, but it really made a difference. I had added a small amount of kosher salt as usual, but after tasting it, I thought it still needed a little something.  Adding the onion salt at the last minute gave it just the flavor boost I was looking for.

NOTES

  • Did anybody else’s family use CHIVO? It was made by the same company as IMO, which was a sour cream substitute, but CHIVO was soooo much better! So of course, they discontinued it. Kroger/Fred Meyer has a version that is fine (it’s what I used here, I’ve never seen anything similar anywhere else) but it’s really not the same. Bring back the CHIVO!
  • Go for a block of Parmesan here, rather than the pre-grated stuff in a jar.
  • I mean, I guess you COULD use pretty much any brand of sour cream and onion potato chips, even the non-ridged type, but why would you settle for less than the best?
  • If you don’t keep onion salt on hand and wouldn’t use it for anything else, I don’t know that I’d recommend going out and buying it JUST for this recipe (unless you plan to make it FREQUENTLY) but I tend to use garlic salt and onion salt instead of regular salt (not for baking of course), so It’s something that’s always in my pantry.  I actually don’t have any “regular” (i.e. table salt) right now – I’ve shifted to kosher salt for almost everything.

Posted February 1, 2021

January 27, 2021
MaryAnne

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Weeks 41-42*: Waffle Mac & Breaded Waffle Mac

*There’s no definable logic to the numbering pattern anymore. Just know that it makes sense in my head.

Killing two birds with one stone – or perhaps it’s two macs with one waffle iron. Except I used two waffle irons. And actually only one mac. This metaphor is falling apart quickly.

ANNNYWAYYY … I still had a good-sized bowl of last week’s smoked cheddar mac in the fridge, so rather than make a new one, I decided to see what I could do with the leftovers. I’ve been toying with a few ideas for some time, including giving waffling a try, and having a well-chilled bowl of already-prepared pasta seemed like a sign.

I’ve only had a waffle iron for a couple of years, maybe three, and I’ve never actually made traditional waffles on it. (I’m a French toast gal.) Up to now, it’s only been used to turn frozen tater tots into hash browns. (They’re so good that way, and soooo much faster than peeling and boiling and grating and frying a bunch of potatoes.) Then last year, I succumbed to the “chaffle” craze on social media and bought a mini-Dash iron. It’s so cute and fun to use!

Initially my plan was just to drop some mac and cheese onto the hot iron and see what happened, but then I remembered a cookbook I have called “Will It Waffle?” Let me clear up the mystery of that title – it’s all about what kinds of foods can be cooked on the waffle iron. (Spoiler alert – more than you’d think. I also have the companion “Will It Skillet?” I have a little bit of a cookbook addiction.) The version there recommended breading it to make sure it holds together, so since I was already hauling both appliances out of the cupboard, I went for the comparison approach.

Waffle Mac & Breaded Waffle Mac

INGREDIENTS

Waffle Mac: leftover mac and cheese, well-chilled in a relatively deep container (see notes)

Breaded Waffle Mac: same as above; plus 1 egg (see notes), ½ cup flour, ½ cup breadcrumbs, and ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese.

DIRECTIONS

Waffle Mac

  • Cut the macaroni and cheese into ½” thick slices.
  • Spray your waffle iron with non-stick spray and preheat on medium setting.
  • Place one of the mac “steaks” in the iron and press firmly to distribute.
  • Cook 3-4 minutes until brown and crispy on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside.

Breaded Waffle Mac

  • Cut some more mac slices.
  • Beat the egg and pour it into a shallow tray or bowl.
  • Mix the breadcrumbs and cheese and place in a second shallow container.
  • Put the flour in a third container.
  • Dredge a slice in flour, then coat with egg followed by the breadcrumb mixture.
  • Spray iron with more nonstick coating and repeat the cooking process.

I did one of each type in each appliance.

RESULTS

I didn’t notice any difference in taste between the coated and uncoated pieces, but the coated ones may have been slightly easier to get off the iron. Slightly. Not necessarily “worth the extra work and messiness and having to wash three additional trays” easier. Especially since it may have been because I did the coated ones second in both, so each waffle iron was a little hotter, creating a crispier macaroni waffle (would that be a maffle?). Also, the mac patties fell apart more the more I handled them, so they need to be really cold for the coating process.  

The last one I cooked was the best one – again, this may because I got to taste it fresh off the iron, so it was hot and crispy and melty and gooey. I took the leftovers in my lunch the next day – they still taste good reheated in a microwave, but they do not retain the crispiness. I prefer the texture when they’re fresh off the griddle, so to speak, so I don’t recommend making a bunch as part of any meal prep. Overall, tasty, and if you go the low-effort route with no coating, not too time-intensive.

NOTES

  • I had, fortunately, put the leftovers in a tall, sort of square bowl. The “Will It Waffle?” cookbook recommended a loaf pan, which would definitely help with uniformity of the slices.
  • Two eggs would have been better, the coating was kind of skimpy. But I only had one on hand since I had spaced on picking up dog food over the weekend and had to make scrambled eggs for Murphy for dinner Sunday night AND breakfast Monday morning.
Unbreaded on the left, breaded on the right.
Can’t tell the difference

Posted January 26, 2021