Thursday, January 26, 2012

More Mac

The second most popular recipe on my blog is my Golden Baked Mac and Cheese. It was fairly popular when I first blogged it in 2008 and has always garnered a fair amount of attention over the years.

But with the onset of the Pinterest craze, that delicious dish has experienced a resurgence. Comments and emails are flowing in about the yummy dish on a daily basis and I couldn't be happier. It deserves to be one of the stars of this blog because it is an insanely delicious classic that is super easy to make and I don't know a person who isn't in love with cheesy, gooey baked pasta. I make my Mac and Cheese a lot! I always bring it to family holiday gatherings, I make it a few times a year with a pot of chili, I make it when the weather first turns cold and I am craving comfort food and I make it anytime that I am searching for that famous familiarity of the dish. But even though I probably make it 8-10 times a year, I have never thought of it as much as I have been lately. With all the recent comments, I decided to visit the Analytic tracker for my blog and I was blown away at the number of hits that dish received.

So realizing more than ever that Macaroni and Cheese is something that people can not get enough of, I decided to search for some other interesting takes on the classic. This Crab Mac recipe was so appealing to me because it seemed to be a grown-up, decadent spin on the very famous classic and what sold me was the incorporation of fontina cheese - a favorite of mine! This "Gratin" was a truly indulgent treat and a great way to participate in the Mac and Cheese craze I have been a part of lately.

Crab, Pasta and Cheese Gratin
Adapted from William Sonoma

  • 3/4 lb. rigatoni pasta
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed
  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk, heated
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, heated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • Ground nutmeg, to taste
  • 1 lb. lump crabmeat, picked over for shell pieces
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded fontina
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbs. grated Parmigiano-
    Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbs. finely shredded white
    cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.

Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni, stir well and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water to halt the cooking and drain again. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the olive oil. Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 4 Tbs. of the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until fully incorporated, about 3 minutes; do not allow to brown.

Slowly add the milk and cream, whisking constantly.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until smooth and thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Add the sauce to the macaroni and mix well.

Fold in the crabmeat,

chives, peas,

and 1/2 cup each of the fontina, Parmigiano-Reggiano and cheddar cheeses.

Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

Top with the 3 Tbs. each Parmigiano-Reggiano and cheddar, sprinkling evenly over the surface. Then sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Finally, cut the remaining 2 Tbs. butter into bits and use to dot the top of the gratin.

Bake until bubbly and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Click Here for My Adapted Recipe

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bogus Beignets

I made this recipe a REALLY long time ago - like over six months long time ago. These pretty pictures have been sitting in my "To Blog" folder for quite a while staring me in the face every time I open it up. I just couldn't bring myself to blog it, I don't even know why I made it in the first place. If I remember correctly, I think it was a desire to rid myself of some soon to expire ricotta. Don't get me wrong, it isn't that this tart/sweet treat isn't insanely delicious or even that it was hard to make. In fact, it was a simple recipe with only a few ingredients that turned out to be extremely delectable.

My hang up was that the recipe is named after one of my all-time favorite New Orleans desserts that has no rival or substitutes. A dessert so amazing, so unique and so identifying in its own right that it should never have to share its name. Blame it on my upbringing in this amazing food city, call me biased, argue its validity - but in my mind nothing should be labeled as a beignet unless it looks like this:

Now, to the untrained eye these two may look similar. But trust me, they aren't - not even in the slightest. One is round and the right one is square. One is bite-sized and the right one is at least a 6-biter. One is lightly dusted with powdered sugar and the right one is covered massively. I could go on and on. Instead, I will leave you with this suggestion - if you are craving beignets then come to New Orleans and if you are wanting to make a tasty at home "doughnut-hole-type" concoction then follow my recipe below!

Lemon Ricotta "Beignets"
Adapted from All You October 2010


  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Confectioners' sugar
  1. Heat 2 inches vegetable oil in a large deep cast iron pot over medium-high heat until it reaches 350ºF on a candy thermometer. (As oil is heating, watch thermometer carefully and adjust heat to keep oil from getting too hot.) Line a large plate with paper towels.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together egg, sugar, ricotta, lemon zest, vanilla, flour and salt until smooth.
  3. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of batter into hot oil and fry,
turning once with tongs or a slotted spoon, until beignets are golden, 2 to 3 minutes total.

Remove beignets with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate briefly to drain. Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired,

and serve immediately.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Monday, January 9, 2012

Better Butter

Happy New Year, Everyone! I hope you all had an amazing Holiday season. This year was great for my little family. Rex is at a fabulous age where he is old enough to enjoy carols, family gathering and new gifts yet still young enough to have some of the perils of the season escape him. Christmas and New Years were packed with fun gatherings, lots of cooking and good cheer. Immediately on the heels of that fun was my 30th birthday celebration, which my husband so kindly managed to stretch out into a full weekend of good times (more details on that excitement later).

I realized while preparing this super easy, exceptionally delicious appetizer for our New Year's Day get together that I have never shared it with my readers. I have been making this recipe for a while. It is a great one to add to the party table as it can be prepared up to 2 days ahead or even immediately before due to its simplicity. I also really enjoy serving it during parties because it is unique and not your typical holiday appetizer. This shrimp butter, regardless of what I spread it on always flies off of the platter.

Shrimp Butter

Adapted from Southern Living 2004 Annual Recipes


  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 pound peeled cooked shrimp, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons grated onion
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • chopped chives for garnish


Beat cream cheese and butter

at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Stir in chipped shrimp and next 5 ingredients;

spread mixture evenly

on toasted bread, crackers or fresh veggies. Garnish with chopped chives.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe