Easy Mac and Cheese

It’s not what you think. I know that it looks like I’ve got a plate full of Velveeta Shells and Cheese, but it’s not! What’s really on the plate is the easiest and maybe creamiest homemade mac and cheese I’ve ever made. I consider myself to be somewhat of a mac and cheese connoisseur, I’ve made countless recipes, some that were amazing and some that were big fat flops. I was worried that this was going to be one of those flops. It just seemed way too easy, like 1-step up from the box kind easy. But this was no flop. It is the great, easy, weeknight answer to your “How can I make mac and cheese for a side dish without it taking longer than the main course” question.

Of course I upped the cheese to milk ratio a little bit because I’m cheese crazy and I’m so glad I did. I used a Medium Cheddar, but the possibilities are endless. Half Medium Cheddar half Vermont White. Half Colby Jack half Pepper Jack. Half Cheddar half Jack. See where I’m going with this? The more significant the cheese is on it’s own the more significant the taste will be in the mac and cheese. The Medium Cheddar resulted in a mild, smooth, and creamy mac.

Easy Mac and Cheese

(Adapted from Evil Shenanigans, originally from Cooks Illustrated)

Ingredients
16 oz box pasta, I used small shells
2 Tbsp butter
12 oz can evaporated milk
2 egg, beaten
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1/4 tsp red pepper optional
1/8-1/4 tsp Black Pepper
2 cups freshly grated cheddar cheese*
Salt to taste

*Sorry kids, I just don’t think the packaged pre-grated cheese will work for this. It’s coated in stuff to keep it from sticking together and therefore, won’t melt well.

Directions

Boil pasta shells 1-2 minutes short of the suggested time on the box (No one wants mushy watery mac and cheese). In the meantime, combine the evaporated milk, eggs, mustard powder, and pepper in a large measuring cup and whisk together.

Drain the pasta in a colander and then return it right back to the hot pan. Reduce heat to low. Add the butter and stir until melted.

Carefully add the milk egg combination to the pan, stirring constantly to avoid making scrambled eggs. Stir for 3-4 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Add the cheese in 4-5 increments, making sure that each addition is completely melted before adding the next.

Serve immediately. We had ours with grilled steak and small salad and it was the perfect meal.

Lemon Greek Chicken

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I am a jet-lag fighter. I like to think that I can go from one time zone to another with out missing a wink. I fully expected to come back from China and need about a day or two to adjust and then be fine. HA! I think the fact that I fell asleep on the couch by 8 pm 4 out of 5 nights this week proves otherwise.

I was exhausted this week, which was a huge bummer because I had a lot of plans to jump right back into my kitchen and make dinner every night. The night I made lasagna was a huge personal accomplishment and utterly wore me out. To the point that the next night we just had sushi. By Thursday I needed something simple. This one-dish meal (well one dish and a measuring cup) was just what the doctor ordered.

Besides being fast and easy to throw together, this meal is light but filling at the same time. The lemon really brightens the potatoes and chicken. Jesse liked to take each bite and rub it into his lemon slice. Flavor wise this is the perfect summer meal and in San Diego, where there is a breeze and the temperature is in the mid-70’s, I don’t mind turning my oven to 400 degrees. But, if you’re in the part of the country that is over 100 degrees you may want to wait until it cools down a little!

Lemon Greek Chicken
(Adapted from The Pampered Chef Stoneware Inspirations)

Ingredients
2 lemons, divided
1/4 olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 lbs chicken breast (I used boneless, but it originally called for bone-in split breast)
8 small potatoes cut into fourths *
1 medium onion, cut into 1 inch wedges
1 medium bell pepper, cut into strips **
8 ounces whole mushrooms **

*I found a package of red, yukon gold, and purple potatoes at Trader Joes
**Your eyes are not playing tricks on you, there are no peppers or mushrooms in the picture. 15 minutes into roasting I realized I had forgotten to add these, but I’m including them in the ingredients because I know they will be great.

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Zest then juice one lemon into a 2 cup measuring cup. Add oil, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper to the cup and mix well. Slice the second lemon into thin slices

In a large oval baking dish, or a bar pan with at least 1 inch tall sides, lay out the onions, potatoes, peppers, mushrooms. Pour 1/2 of the lemon juice over the vegetables and use (clean) hands to evenly coat. Add the chicken and lemon slices to the dish and arrange so the vegetables are surrounding the chicken. Pour the remaining lemon juice mixture over the chicken and use a pastry brush to evenly coat. Cover the dish tightly with a lid or aluminum foil.

Bake for 30 minutes then remove the cover and bake for an additional 15-30 minutes, or until the juices of the chicken run clear and the potatoes are fork tender. Occasionally baste the chicken and vegetables with the pan juices.

Uh Oh, I’m in Trouble

>Attention: If you do not have any self control when it comes to chocolate then stop. Stop right there. Don’t read on, this is dangerous.

What’s so dangerous about that coffee mug? Just a pretty blue coffee mug.

Oh yeah, is that all it is? How about now?


Oh, big deal coffee and little bite of cake. What’s so dangerous about that?


What’s so dangerous you ask? Chocolate brownie cake in a mug in less than 5 minutes. That’s what.

Sometimes I just crave chocolate. But I don’t always have the time to bake an entire cake or batch of brownies. Not to mention the dishes, oh the dishes. It’s times like that, that this recipe is going to be dangerous. It’s not going to replace the recipe you use for a party or a birthday cake, but when you’re watching a movie and can’t shake a chocolate craving, this’ll do it.

Coffee Mug Brownie Cake

4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp sugar (if you like things sweeter you can increase this to 4)
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Dash of salt
2 Tbsp vegetable oil (I haven’t tried it with applesauce but I think it would work and cut out the fat)
2 Tbsp milk (or water, but I’ve tried both and like the texture better with milk)
Optional 1 tbsp chocolate chips

In a coffee mug stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and a dash of salt. If you’re using chocolate chips, add them now. Add the vegetable oil and milk and stir well with a fork. Make sure to break up all the clumps. Microwave for 1 minute. It should still look a little moist on top.

Drizzle with a little chocolate syrup if you like or just take a seat on the kitchen floor and eat it with the same fork you mixed it with…. Not that I’ve ever done that.

Adapted from Instructables