Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Comfort Food

Everyone has one type of food that comforts them. Many may say Macaroni and Cheese is their comfort food yet there are so many different recipes. I cringe when I hear someone say they only eat the brand in the blue box....(yuck- I guess I O.D.ed on them while in college). I have tried many recipes of Mac and Cheese. Some schools of thought say....add cheese to a white sauce, mix pasta and bake. Others don't use a roux-based sauce but just eggs, shredded cheese, evaporated milk and pasta. I guess it's the North vs the South. I grew up eating southern foods but I prefer the creamy versions not the congealed ones.

SO, not only do I love Mac and Cheese but I also love the store inside the restaurant Cracker Barrel. The food there is southern based (ham, biscuits and gravy, mashed taters etc.) It's pretty good when you are traveling along the highway and are starving!! So when I found this recipe on Recipezaar, thought it be fun to try their copycat. Click on the link if you'd like the recipe.

There are many things I don't use a recipe for....I know the framework of certain recipes and use recipes like these for my 'tweaking'. Of course I tweaked it along the way.
I did my roux of butter and flour. The cut the fat I used my favorite chicken base in a 1-1/2 of skim milk rather the broth and cream. I added a 1/4 tsp dry mustard. Lastly, again to cut the fat I used 3/4 cup regular cheddar cheese and 3/4 fat free cheddar cheese. Of course....I gotta have my Durkee Onions on top!!!

I give this recipe a B- because I've realized that since I used cheddar cheese....I really don't like it this way. K-man said it rocked but I don't think the cheese melts as well and that TANG. I should have used the colby...(but it's what I had in stock) The recipe my 8th graders use is:

Macaroni and Cheese Lab
(from my school website)

1. Bring 3 cups of water to boil. Add a drop of oil. (I only use salt when I cook pasta now)
2. When water is boiling add 1 cup of macaroni and cook for 7 minutes.
3. Drain noodles in a colander.
4. Add macaroni to cheese saucer when it is ready.


1. Over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp. of butter/margarine.
2. Remove pan from heat:

Stir in: 2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
dash pepper

3. Turn on heat. Gradually add 1 c. of milk. (warming it in the microwave is much better)
4. Bring to a boil, THEN REMOVE FROM HEAT.
5. Stir in 3/4 c. cheese and add cooked pasta.
6. Pour into shallow casserole dish (we always use the disposable 8X8 pan from the grocery) and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 c. cheese.

*Bake @ 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until slightly brown and crusty around edges. YUMMY!!

*Keep in mind for class use, we have to prepare the recipe, cover it and store it in the fridge. Two days later, I put them in the oven before class starts, they set their tables and eat their hard work. I find their projects having been in the fridge for 1-2 days produce better product (that whole marrying of flavors thing!)


This other copycat from Cracker Barrel, I have made before and I DON'T tweak it cuz it ROCKS as is!

Cracker Barrel Copycat Hash Browns Casserole (also from Recipezaar)

* 1 (2 lb) package frozen hash browns
* 16 ounces sour cream
* 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
* 1/2 cup butter
* 1/2 cup chopped onion
* 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place potatoes in a greased 9x13 baking dish.
3. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Melt butter.
5. In a bowl stir together soup, butter, sour cream, and onion.
6. Pour soup mixture evenly over hashbrowns.
7. Sprinkle with cheese.
8. Bake in 350 degree preheated oven for about 45 minutes.

There are some recipes.... you just don't mess with perfection....

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