Entrees

Dear Dairy, Mac ‘n Cheeeese

After many trials and tribulations, I think I have created the most sinfully perfect, macaroni and cheese. So sinful in fact, that I had to write about it in my diary first (thank you, Sarah Jean).

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I think the saying is. . . ” Sex is like mac and cheese, even when its bad its pretty good”.  However, THIS mac and cheese may even be better than sex, I went there. Here picture evidence.

Here is how you can make it, right now.

5 cups elbow macaroni

1/2 cup smoked Gouda with bacon ( if you can find it with bacon)

1/2 cup mozzarella

1/2 cup Parmesan

5 slices of American

2 cups of sharp cheddar

3 cups milk

1 cup cream

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

8 dashes of cayenne based hot sauce

1 beaten egg

Topping:

6 Ritz crackers (crushed)

1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

First preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once your water is boiling add the elbow macaroni and under cook it by about 3-4 minutes, you want your pasta extra al dente because it will continue to cook in the oven.

Next, shred your mozzarella, sharp cheddar, and Parmesan. Then, cube your american and smoked Gouda.  Put all of your cheeses in a large mixing bowl. Then  combine cheese with milk, cream, dijon mustard, hot sauce, beaten egg, salt and pepper.

Take the drained, but not rinsed pasta, add it to your cheese mixture, and mix until the macaroni is completely coated.  Then, pour into a buttered baking dish and finish it with the Ritz cracker topping. Bake at 475 for 35-40 minutes.

It is pipping hot, but you will not be able to resist.  I encourage you to dig and and risk burning your mouth.

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Ahh…. and now you are at a loss of words.

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Grab a bowl, put on your sweats, and be prepared to fall in love with your food….. and keep your sweats on because you’ll want to hit the gym tomorrow.

Or, nahhhhhhh.

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French Onion Soup Burgers

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French onion soup burgers…kind of like Panera and Five Guys had the perfect child. This recipe marries two of my favorite foods in holy matrimony: the cheese burger and French onion soup. Take one bite into this juicy burger and a burst of French onion soup will make you close your eyes to savor the moment as the melty, ooey, gooey cheese makes you tear up a little bit.

What you will need: The Burger

  • 3 vidalia onions
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 beef bouillon cubes
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Sliced Swiss cheese
  • 4 ground beef patties
  • Pretzel buns

Take out your meat to let it rest and come to room temperature before you are ready to handle it [ground beef patties 85% lean – 15% fat]. Now onto the onions, begin to melt 4 tbsp of butter over medium heat in a sauté pan. Slice up your onions, about 1/2 inch thick, then add them to the pan. Let them work their magical powers while giving them a stir every now and then.

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At this phase add your bouillon, water, and garlic powder. Then let them keep working. All of their sugars will continue to release until they’re gloriously caramelized and deeply brown.  This is my version of an extremely concentrated bowl of French onion soup minus the croutons and Swiss cheese… But the cheese will come later! Onto the burger!

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Take your patties that have come up to room temperature and shape them so they have a slight indentation in the center. Because burgers always shrink up and this a perfect seat for the cheese ‘n onions. Then, season them liberally with salt and pepper, that is all a beef patty ever needs. Have your grill pan hot and ready. Throw on the burger and let is pop and sizzle for about 3-4 minutes

Then, give it a flip. Blanket it with a layer of Swiss cheese ( Gruyere if you have the cash for that..) , followed by a generous spoonful of the French onion soup concentrate, and finished with another layer of cheese. Let it cook for another minute then prepare to use your cat like senses!

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Here’s a trick. Splash some water on the scorching grill pan then quickly cover it with whatever you can grab! I had this skillet handy. The steam will immediately melt the cheese in god like ways.

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Grab your pretzel buns, slice them, and butter them up! I like to make the bottom half just slightly thicker than the top for that extra support.  Do what you will with the butter, melt it an lather it on the insides.. the outside.. the inside again… the outside again.  Ok, now just throw it on the hot grill to soften it up, making it all warm and happy.  Then just take your stunning burger, slide a spatula beneath it, and watch the cheese string from grill to bun. [ mouth begins to water].

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Now take a moment, and prepare yourself for this one.  The buttery bun. The juicy, greasy, tender goodness of a simple beef patty. The caramelized,rich, golden jewels. The meltly, ooey, gooey cheese. There, I tried to spit it out. Now go on, you need to experience this for yourself.

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Simply add different cheeses to the classic american grilled cheese sandwich. Here, I used some Gouda and Havarti. Then, bring your can of tomato soup to life by adding a swig of heavy cream and some fresh basil… even add in some Parmesan or mascarpone  if your that cheesy.

Simplicity at its finest. 

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 Stuffed Pork Chops

We all know the classics of our households and culture; the roast chicken, meatloaf, spaghetti and meatballs, pizza, tacos so on and so fourth. All though they can be perfectly delicious they can also be repetitive and boring.

There is nothing worse then coming home to a dried up pork chop with a side of some jarred apple sauce and lumpy mashed potatoes. So here’s the spin:  Cinnamon peppered chops with an apple and onion stuffing accompanied by sweet and yellow scalloped potatoes with rosemary. 

Lets start with the scalloped potatoes. This dish can be made in advance and popped into the oven at 350 for 45 minutes when you are preparing the rest of the meal.

What you will need:

  • 3 medium yellow potatoes
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 onion
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • Dash of nutmeg, pepper, salt

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Peel your sweet potato, and do what you want with the others. I have left the skins on my yellow potatoes because peeling is one of the most mundane tasks in the kitchen ( my mom finds it therapeutic with her 100 year old, overused peeler) . Take yellow potatoes, sweet potato and onions and slice them all thinly.

Butter a pie dish liberally then begin to layer the potatoes and onions in uniform design. Then scatter small pads of butter over the top, because butter makes everything better. Season with salt and pepper.

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Onto the creamy bechamel that will bring the dish all together. Begin to melt butter in sauce pan over medium low heat, add flour and stir ( this will and should look extremely unappetizing ) but will serve as your thickening agent. Stir constantly for about a minute or so to cook out the flour taste.

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Now, slowly add in milk while whisking the butter and flour vigorously, this will prevent lumps. Stir over low heat and season with salt and pepper then add a dash of nutmeg.  Not much will happen at first but then it will become instantly thick and creamy. Dip in a wooden spoon and swipe it with your finger, it it is ready it should look like this:

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Now take take dried rosemary (you can use fresh of course in which case you would want to add more because dried rosemary is more potent) and scatter it over your potato art. Then, lather the dish with your delicious bechamel. The heat from the sauce will instantly invigorate the dried rosemary and fill the kitchen with an earthy aroma ( I love this stuff).

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Pop it into your 350 degree oven and let it cook for 45 minutes or until bubbly and browned like so:

IMG_7722Your root vegetables will be tender as they soak in the rich bechamel while the exterior crisps up to perfection.  The onions will become savory and sweet as they release their natural sugars while the rosemary subtly dances throughout the entire dish.  Just a few simple ingredients baked to rich and crispy perfection.

So, from now on, don’t let your potatoes sit in the dark and turn into ugly sprouted monsters.  Instead, slice ’em up and let them soak in a creamy bechamel bubble bath… almost makes you want one yourself, huh?

Onto the chops and stuffing!

What you will need:

  • Boneless pork chops
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsb cracked black pepper
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • Canola Oil

For the stuffing:

  • Box of stove top pork stuffing
  • Pad of butter
  • Half a diced medium onion
  • One diced apple ( anything sweet and red)

First and foremost, take your meat out and let it come to room temperature, you do not want to shock your meat when your throw it onto the heat. It will be come tough and unpleasant.  Imagine the way you felt when your were out building snowmen all day then came inside to take off your gloves stuffed with snow, then proceeded to run our hands under boiling hot water, Ouch!

As for your stuffing, take the box and  read the instructions.  In the same pot you will cook the stuffing let your apples, onions, and pad of butter do their thing over medium heat.  You want the onions to be translucent and maybe even let them brown up at bit. Then, all you have to do it add the the box, follow instructions,  and there you have it: apple and onion stuffing! ( of course you can make this homemade, which is also very simple… but lets save that for Thanksgiving).

Now, to stuff or not to stuff, that is thy question. Well, here I have boneless pork chops, because that’s what was in the fridge. Therefore, they will not be as tender and flavorful as bone in would be. So, I would say… leave the stuffing for a side. But, if you want to stuff them anyway, here is how you do it.

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Press your palm into the chop and hold it firmly to your cutting board.  Take an extremely sharp knife and insert it into the center of your meat and move it horizontal. Be slow and careful, you don’t want to go  make any unwanted holes in the top or bottom.  Then, there should be a little pocket for your stuffing!

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ALWAYS pat your meat dry before using it. Any moisture will cause steaming or braising… you do not want this! You want direct high heat to create gorgeously brown grill marks!

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Take your salt, pepper, and cinnamon dry rub and season those chops up! Dust your meat liberally then give it a massage.  Then to give your pork chops a little extra courage before taking on the heat, drizzle them with canola oil… just in case they freak out and begin to stick!

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Make sure your grill pan is nice and hot and let the magic begin! Throw your chops on and let them cook on either side for 4-6 minutes. DO NOT TOUCH UNTIL THEY ARE READY TO RELEASE FROM THE GRILL. And when they are ready, they should look something like this. Ahh, perfection! Let your meat stand after they are done on your grill pan. This will allow for your chops to collect their succulent juices and be perfectly juicy when you cut into them.

And here it is, my spin on the classic.

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The warm cinnamon on your chops will pair perfectly wit the apples in the stuffing.  You will be delighted at how creamy and heartwarming the potatoes are.  This is an exciting dish that will make you wonder why you ever baked dry, boring pork and thought it was ok to spoon jarred, cold apple sauce aside them. As if the the sad, lumpy mashed potatoes made it any better. Give this spin a try! You will be invigorated to think up some of your own spins on classics!

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