Category Archives: Cooking/Recipes

comfort food: macaroni and cheese

one of my favorite comfort foods

Macaroni and cheese: one of my favorite comfort foods

What with the events of the week, when I chose a menu for this week’s Wednesday night Chalice Night dinner at church I wanted to serve comfort food. I decided on tomato-basil soup, macaroni and cheese, tossed salad, and chocolate-chip cake, all made from scratch (well, except the croutons in the salad).

Although the past couple of weeks I’ve had leftovers (summer attendance is light), this week I ran out. A few people told me they came specifically because of the menu. This kind of home cooking speaks to people. It’s “like mom used to make.”

The next time you want something incredibly delicious, warm, and satisfying, make the following macaroni and cheese. It isn’t difficult, and although it takes longer than mac ‘n’ cheese out of a box, the results are so overwhelmingly superior that it’s worth every minute. Because I ran out last night, I made more this evening, so I could have some. It’s in the oven as I write this.

Macaroni and cheese

6 oz elbow macaroni
2 cups small-curd cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream
8 oz American cheese (I use generic Velveeta)
1 egg

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Boil the macaroni according to package directions. Don’t overcook it; you don’t want it to be squishy.

While the macaroni is cooking, grease a 2-quart baking dish. Place in it the cottage cheese, sour cream, and egg, and mix well.

After trying to find an alternative to saying “Cut the cheese,” I find there is no suitable variation. Cut it into chunks an inch or two across — you don’t have to be exact — and mix them into the cottage cheese mixture. (My friend and co-Wednesday-night-conspirator Jack tells me that this mixture in general, and the cottage cheese in particular, looks disgusting. You may think so too. Don’t worry; everything will turn out fine after a little time in the oven.)

When the macaroni is done, drain it, and then pour it into the baking dish. Mix well. No, the cheese isn’t going to melt now — the ingredients are all too cold from the refrigerator. It’s OK.

Put the dish in the oven and bake 15 minutes. Remove the pan and stir carefully but thoroughly, so all the melted cheese is mixed in.

Return the pan to the oven and bake another 15 (if you want it set but not brown) to 30 (if you want it brown and a little crunchy on top) minutes.

Yummmm. Time for me to eat.

meat muffins

(How’s that for a subject line?)

I remain firm in my belief that cooking is therapeutic. Just ask my friend and sous chef, Jack.

I’ve had a long and stressful week, and yesterday I went to cook my weekly meal at church hopeful that making and serving the meal would, as it usually does, soothe my nerves and my soul.

It did.

But this week, I owed much of my enjoyment to the accident of not having sufficient loaf pans to hold all the meatloaf (10 loaves’ worth, to be exact, which can also be expressed as “two huge bowls full of more meatloaf than the average person cares to imagine”). What should we do? We began to make loaf shapes and put them in larger pans; but then inspiration struck. We would make meat muffins! We rounded up 5 pans, to hold 5 dozen muffins, and filled them to overflowing.

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The results were fabulous: The meat muffins finished cooking in less time than a loaf; they were beautifully brown; and they looked, well, cute, like little meaty muppets. We wished we had a way to put little googly eyes on them. (They tasted really good, too.)

https://i0.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/215/465097591_645157e492_m.jpg

The next time you’re making meatloaf (or vegetable loaf, or whatever variety of entree foodstuff you might normally make in a loaf pan), I recommend the muffin approach. It isn’t just food: It’s fun! 😀

aprons, football, and birthday cake

One of the definite benefits of loving to cook and always having a houseful of ingredients is that when my daughter’s best friend comes to visit, and I find out that tomorrow is her 16th birthday, I can immediately bake her a from-scratch chocolate cake with fudge frosting. (The cake recipe is here. The fudge frosting is just what it sounds like: chocolate fudge, poured between the layers and over the cake before it has a chance to set. Mmmm.) My son helped me decorate the cake with the friend’s name and “Happy Birthday” candles; then we carried the cake next door to my mom’s house and ate it while it was still warm (mmmmmm!).

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vegging out

OK, think fast: What is this thing?

  1. A space alien, recently discovered hidden at Area 51
  2. A new species of squid, washed ashore in Australia
  3. A parsnip

parsnip

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olives in Dr. Pepper aspic, anyone?

aspic

If you’d like to add some tasty (or maybe not) humor to your day, I highly recommend visiting James Lileks’ Gallery of Regrettable Food.

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golden sponge cake and cream filling

I was just reminded of a recent episode that proves Today’s Kids Just Don’t Understand What’s Good. Or something.

After going to the Kentucky State Fair and witnessing first-hand the deep frying deep-friedof Twinkies, I realized that my kids had never eaten a Twinkie, period.

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vegan cooking 101

On Sunday, my daughter turns 15. Tomorrow she’s bringing home five friends to hang out and spend the night. Of the five, two are vegetarian and one is vegan. We don’t eat much meat, but I do cook with a lot of butter, milk, and cheese; so although the vegetarian aspect isn’t difficult, it’s been a little tough for me to plan vegan-friendly foods. However, my daughter and I together have worked out the menu, and I think everyone will be happy.

vegan

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