Mama's Macaroni and Cheese

Mama’s Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Truth: My kids will choke each other for the bigger bowl of Annie’s Mac and Cheese.
Truth: My Macaroni and Many Cheeses recipe is one of the top Food and Wine results for Mac and Cheese.
Truth: I founded a now-defunct cheese club and have deep, intimate knowledge of these here caverns.
Truth: I’m now mostly dairy-intolerant, this means if I’m going to suffer the digestive indignities, this mac and cheese better be good.
Truth: Despite the choking, the intolerance and the other fancy mac and cheese recipe, this is our family’s favorite.


Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

16 ounces pasta shells (I like shells, some like the elbows, you do you!)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I like 2 cups sharp cheddar mixed with 2 cups medium cheddar)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup reserved pasta water

2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup shredded cheese (I like just the sharp cheddar for this part)

Boil water for the pasta.

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Shred the 5 (total [4+1]) cups of cheese, set the one cup of shredded cheese aside.
Make or find bread crumbs.

In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, melt the butter, add the flour.
Stir with a whisk.

The mixture will be a strange lumpy wad of a thing.
This is the base for the roux.
Keep stirring it for 3 minutes.

In a thin stream, add the two and three quarter cups whole milk and the red pepper flakes, whisking all the while until the mix makes a thinnish sauce. Cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in the 1 teaspoon mustard, 4 cups shredded cheese and 3/4 cup heavy cream. Turn off the heat.

If the water’s boiling, cook the pasta according to package directions.
(I cook it for 1 minute under the recommended range.)

Save 1 cup of pasta water before you drain the pasta.

Add the pasta to the cheese sauce — stir through until all of the cheese sauce is mixed through. Add 1/4 cup of pasta water and stir through again— the whole thing should be a little loose. Add more water if the mixture seems too firm.

In a small bowl, put bread crumbs, melted butter, and stir through the final cup of cheese.

Add the cheesy pasta to the baking dish. Sprinkle the buttery, cheesy breadcrumbs atop the macaroni and cheese.

Throw the whole dish into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, turning the dish around front to back (side to side?) at least once to ensure even baking.

Mama's Macaroni and Cheese
I like to make double and freeze it for James to toss in the oven when I’m working late in the oven. The kids go nuts for it and he gets super-supper bragging rights.

Now go grab YOUR super supper bragging rights!

No Frodo!

Frodo Risotto Recipe for a Hobbit [Solstice] Dinner

I published this recipe in 2014.

Since then, my family started celebrating the Solstice.
It’s tomorrow, Thursday, December 21.
We celebrate the sun’s return with a little fire-lighting ritual.
We say a few poems to welcome the sun.
We light lots of candles.
And we serve Frodo Risotto.
(Baked butternut squash and sage risotto risotto recipe.)

No Frodo!

We made a hobbit dinner the other night.
James and I love Frodo. Bilbo too. We are Hobbits at heart.

Secure in our snuggly Shire home, we welcome any old man with fireworks to entertain the children.
The barefoot, mildly wild children.

And they all eat Frodo Risotto.

This is Frodo Risotto. It's a baked risotto.

We served Frodo Risotto with local Shire greens.
And some roast game (chicken).

This risotto bakes in the oven while you catch up with cousin Frieda Baggins about what’s causing the rabbit shortage.

Recipe: Frodo Risotto

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and diced about 1/2″ (Probably about 2 cups diced squash)
3 cups arborio rice
7 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup white wine (For cooking, I still like Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter, chopped
1 small onion, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Additional Salt and Pepper to taste

Oil for frying the sage
10 sage leaves

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cate Blanchette, Lady Galadriel of Lothlorien, will try to scarysexy you into giving her your ring but don’t you let her. To avoid all risk, you probably should skin her and chop half of her into tiny bits.

Peeled Elvin (Elvish?) Butternut Squash.

You can mince Samwise Gamgee into tiny bits while you’re at it too.

Nooooooo Frodoooooo

Mix the first seven ingredients in a 9″ x 12″ baking dish.
Combine, being careful not to slosh.

Something lives beneath the surface of that salty lake.\

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and put in oven for 1 hour.

30 minutes into the baking time, take off the foil and stir it. You will be disappointed by the lack of progress. But hold tight, little hobbit, your dinner is right on plan.

Now fry up the sage.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, frizzle the sage in there until crispy, only a minute or two. Remove and drain on paper towels

After an hour, remove the baking dish from the oven.
Stir through the two tablespoons of butter and the cup of Parmesan cheese.
Stir through 7 leaves worth of crumbled fried sage.

Garnish with the remaining 3 leaves.

And watch out for fireworks.

Welcome all old men carrying fireworks

This is how we make Hearn Family Granola

Helen Jane’s Granola Recipe

Most years we make granola for our friends and family.
This is our recipe.

It fits into 6 medium Bell jars. Double it and have enough for everyone.

4 cups oatmeal
1 cup almonds
2 tablespoons salt
1/2 cup large coconut flakes
1/2 cup light olive oil
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dried peaches

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Cover a baking sheet in parchment paper and set aside.

Put the almonds in a plastic bag and smash them with a hammer or mallet. Smash them until the almonds are smaller than pea sized, but not quite dust.

Slice dried peaches into short sticks, about 1/4″ wide x 1″ long. I like to use an oil-sprayed kitchen shears for this.

In a large bowl, add oatmeal, almonds, salt and coconut flakes. Mix together.

In a saucepan over low heat, mix light olive oil, honey and vanilla. Do this until the mixture is well-blended and warmed through.

Carefully add the oil/honey/vanilla mixture to the oatmeal mixture in the large bowl. Stir until oats and nuts are covered with goodness.

Spread the oat mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Stir in your cup of dried peaches.
Stir a little more.
Let cool completely on the pan.

Then squinch up the granola from big nuggets to small nuggets before adding to jars.

  • I cut large sheets of Avery 8.5″x11″ label paper to the right size.
  • I outline the labels with a Sharpie, and use a brush pen to write the label.
  • Tie it up with a canvas or twill ribbon and voila! You’ll find yourself with a relatively cheap, super homemade and usually appreciated holiday gift.

Happy granola-ing!

Helen Jane's white turkey chili recipe

Helen Jane’s White Turkey Chili Recipe

Until I took my site down, I forgot how much I relied on it for my own recipe reference. I’ll continue to repair and replace some of these recipes over the next few months.

Finding my old favorite slow cooker recipes has been enlightening. I can’t believer I was ever so comfortable being well… myself online. Over the past few years, I’ve become so guarded, so practiced, I’ve been afraid to post anything that didn’t live up to very specific requirements.

That said, I want to make this next week for dinner My family absolutely loves it. It fits all the low-carb requirements and if that’s not enough, over a few months back in the day, I lost 20 pounds eating this every day for lunch. So there’s that.

Helen Jane's white turkey chili recipe

Recipe: Helen Jane’s White Turkey Chili

1 lb Northern beans
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (we use light olive oil)
1 large onion
3 celery ribs
2 overfilled tablespoons oregano
4 garlic cloves
1 lb ground turkey
1 lb pork sausage
4 cups of chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 overfilled tablespoon cumin
1 overfilled tablespoon coriander
1 can chopped jalepeno peppers
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste (for us it’s usually around 2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cayenne)

Sour cream
Hot sauce (we like Cholula for this one)
Chopped cilantro
Chopped green onions
Grated Monterey Jack cheese.

The night before:
Rinse the beans, place them in a large bowl and then cover them with about 2 inches of water.

The day of:
Chop onion small, chop celery small, mince garlic.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium high and add the onions, celery and oregano. Saute and stir for about 4 minutes or until the onions are transparent.

Add the turkey and the sausage. Brown meat mixture for about 6 or 7 minutes until it’s cooked through. Man, sauteed ground turkey and pork sausage becomes a really specific sad color in the pan. Ignore that, it’s going to taste amazing.

Add garlic and saute for a minute more.

Set the slow cooker on low for anywhere between 6 and 10 hours.

Turn off the heat and carefully empty the saute pan into the slow cooker.

Drain the white northern beans. Add them to the slow cooker.

Add the jalapeno peppers. Add the chicken stock too. Add cumin, coriander, cayenne and bay leaves. Stir it all together.

Now get to work!
Good job, you.

When you come home, stir up the chili, taste and add salt and cayenne until it’s all balanced.
Remove the bay leaves while you’re at it.

Stir 1 cup of the shredded Monterey Jack cheese into the chili just before serving.

Serve with all the fixins. This is a highly personalizable dish, perfect for picky eaters and spice lovers as they can have their chili and eat it too.

slow cooker short ribs with a bright and lively gremolata

Slow Cooker Short Ribs with Gremolata Recipe

Remember me?

In the swirl of this year of hard stuff, I realized I missed this hobby of mine.
This web log life.

I am slowly adding back some recipes, essays and images from the archives.
Thanks for playing along.

Here’s a recipe my meat-eaters love for winter dinner. It cooks while you toil. And sister, I know you’re toiling.

slow cooker short ribs with a bright and lively gremolata

Recipe: Slow Cooker Short Ribs with a Bright & Lively Gremolata

Short Rib Ingredients
6 medium beef short ribs
1 onion, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Gremolata Ingredients
3 tablespoons parsley
Lemon zest from 1 lemon
3 cloves of minced garlic

Salt and pepper short ribs. Add to slow cooker.
Add the onion and garlic to your slow cooker.

Cook on low for eight hours — or work backwards from the time you’d like to serve your short ribs. Aim for no less than 4 hours, no more than 9.
(Slow cookers are forgiving like that.)

Chop the parsley and lemon zest fine. Add the minced garlic  Stir the gremolata ingredients together in a small bowl.

You can either serve the gremolata on top of the short ribs or s put it out in a small bowl for guests to serve themselves. My kids demand the latter. Gremolata haters, I’ll win them over yet.

Serve these short ribs in a large shallow bowl atop whipped potatoes or creamy polenta and some sauteed bitter greens. Don’t forget the good red wine. If you’d like a rec, I’d serve it with Apriori Red Wine or Silver Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon. Perfect for holiday busy weeknights.

Crocked Shrimp Dip Recipe

This recipe, from Ann Hodgeman’s Beat That cookbook, wins raves and recipe requests from all over the land.

The cucumber slices and water crackers didn’t make anyone’s fingers greasy, and the shrimp dip topping was light, whippy and exactly the most non-offensivest of fishy that you want in a dip. We make this dip in two parts, The first, the shrimping. The second, the blending and the third, the melding. The melding is my favorite part, because I have to do nothing.

This recipe only serves to reinforce my belief that a food processor makes nearly any food better. I think it has something to do with hoisting it out of its storage space and back and forth again.

Recipe: Crocked Shrimp Dip

First Day Ingredients
2 cups water
1 cup dry white wine (I use Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc)
2 lemons, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 1/2 pounds raw medium shrimp, unpeeled

Second Day Ingredients
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 small scallions, minced (including a good 3 inches of green)
Salt and ground pepper to taste

Water crackers and cucumber slices for serving

First Day Directions
Mix the water, wine, lemon slices, chopped garlic cloves, peppercorns and mustard seeds (basically, everything except the shrimp) in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring the mix to a boil and let it boil for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low — and add the shrimp (still in their shells). Simmer for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the shrimp cool in the liquid for about 20 minutes. Put the whole mixture in the fridge overnight.

Second Day Directions
Drain and peel the shrimp. Take out that food processor, and add the cream cheese, anchovies, butter, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Process the mix utnil smooth. Drop in the peeled shrimp and pulse to chop it finely, you want some shrimpy texture in that dip.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, stir in the scallions and season with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill it overnight.

Third Day Directions
Let the shrimp sit for an hour at room temperature before serving it with water crackers and those thinly sliced cucumbers.

Grandma Yeager's German Potato Salad

Grandma Yeager’s German Potato Salad Recipe

Grandma Yeager's German Potato Salad

Recipe: Grandma Yeager’s German Potato Salad Recipe

8 red potatoes
8 bacon strips
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 onion
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 bunch parsley leaves, washed, dried and chopped fine

Wash and boil potatoes until cooked through. While the potatoes boil, chop the onion. Cut the raw bacon into tiny pieces about 1/2″.

When the potatoes can be poked easily with a sharp point, remove the cooked potatoes from the water, cool.

Peel the potatoes and cut into a little bigger than a half inch dice (little smaller than 1 inch). Set aside.

Heat up in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the bacon. After about 4-5 minutes, when the bacon is cooked through, remove the bacon pieces from the pan leaving the bacon grease in the pan. Set the bacon aside.

With the burner at medium heat, add the flour and the onions to the bacon fat. Do this all the while stirring and cooking and smiling until it’s all incorporated. Add some black pepper. Keep the heat on medium.

Gently stir in the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, pepper and mustard. Stir until totally cooked through and the consistency of loose gravy.

Set aside 2 tablespoons of bacon bits.

Add the potatoes, bacon bits (minus the aforementioned 2 tablespoons) and half the parsley to the potato mixture. Toss very gently until the potatoes are covered with the sauce. Put the finished potato salad into a bowl for serving. Sprinkle the rest of the bacon and parsley over the top of the potato salad.

I like serving this at room temperature — for this I blame nostalgia.

Grandma Yeager’s German Potato Salad is absolutely levitating when it’s fried up as a potato patty the following morning. Don’t blame me if you get addicted.

Lasst uns essen!