Do yourself a favor and…

Want to know a secret? Sometimes at the end of a run I like to sprint down my neighbors’ street so that they think I run really fast. The best case scenario for this situation is that they are sitting out on their deck drinking beer so that they get to see me run really fast and then offer me a beer to replace my fluids. Once in awhile I lace up my running shoes just to sprint past their house a few times and try to get offered a free beer. No, that last part isn’t true.

On to the mac-n-cheese. The official title for this log entry is “Do yourself a favor and make this recipe for skillet macaroni and cheese immediately if not sooner.” It is soooooooooo crazy delicious!!!!!!! I found it on a New York Times website featuring vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes. It’s made with whole wheat pasta, broccoli and mushrooms and you can use skim or low-fat milk (I used 1% and it was super creamy) so it has some redeeming qualities in terms of health. Oh! And you use real butter so you can avoid that poisonous stuff that comes in the tub. So, there you go! It’s health food! I omitted the tarragon because a) I gave up looking for any on the sticky spice shelf above my stove after about 2 1/2 seconds and b) I know that I have heard of tarragon, but I don’t really know what tarragon is (Is that terrible? Am I missing out?). I figured that red chili pepper flakes would be the perfect substitution for the tarragon and I was right.

This photo does not give justice to how good this tastes

The amazing thing about this recipe is that I usually have to double or triple the sauce part of recipes in order to make dishes saucy enough for my taste. I love sauce. But this recipe actually satisfied my desire for sauciness (that is a strange-looking word) as it is written. I didn’t even add all of the milk because it seemed like it was going to be too much, but, in retrospect, I could have added it all. It says that this recipe provides 6 side-dish servings. All I can tell you is that Dan and I polished it all off in one sitting but I had been sprinting back and forth in front of my neighbors’ house in hopes that they would give me a beer. I accompanied the dish with a salad of delicious spinach greens (with olive oil and lemon juice) that I risked my sanity in obtaining at the indoor farmer’s market this past Saturday. Enjoy.

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This is a recipe from the Health section of the New York Times website.

Skillet Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli and Mushrooms

This skillet-supper version of the classic is quicker and easier to make. This hearty comfort food easily functions as the main dish for vegetarians.

Ingredients

4 ounces grated Cheddar2 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or other hard cheese1 tablespoon unsalted butter1 small yellow onion, chopped

6 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms, sliced

3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

3 cups low-fat or fat-free milk

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon minced tarragon leaves or 2 teaspoons dried tarragon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces dried whole-wheat pasta shells (not the large ones for stuffing), cooked and drained according to the package instructions

4 cups small broccoli florets, cooked in boiling water for 1 minute (broccoli can be added to the pasta during the last minute of cooking, then drained with the pasta in a colander)

Preparation

1. Mix the Cheddar and Parmigiano-Reggiano in a medium bowl. Set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a large, high-sided, oven-safe skillet. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.

 3. Add the mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid and it comes to a simmer, and then reduces by about two-thirds, about 5 minutes.

 4. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables in the skillet. Stir well to coat.

 5. Whisk in the milk in a steady, thin stream until creamy. Then whisk in the mustard, tarragon, salt and pepper. Continue whisking until the mixture starts to bubble and the liquid thickens, about 3 minutes.

 6. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in three-quarters of the mixed cheeses until smooth. Then stir in the cooked pasta and broccoli.

 7. Preheat the broiler after setting the rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source. Meanwhile, sprinkle the remaining cheese over the ingredients in the skillet. Set the skillet on the rack and broil until light browned and bubbling, about 5 minutes. (If your skillet has a plastic or wooden handle, make sure it sticks outside the oven, out from under the broiler, so the handle doesn’t melt.) Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before dishing up.

 Yield: Makes six side-dish servings.

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Two signs today that a Wisconsin winter is on its way: I ran all the gas out of the mower this afternoon and alternate-side parking starts tonight. This means that I get to annoy my neighbors (not the ones with the beer) when their side of the street doesn’t get plowed because of my car. Oh joy. At least we have macaroni and cheese. Here are a few photos from last winter.

Snow Day, December 2009
Lake Wingra, December 2009
Snowman on our way to snow day beers at the Laurel, December 2009

Tonight I am cooking up a stir-fry with bok choy, broccoli, kale (it’s delicious), and garnishing with some parsley that I discovered going strong in the garden today as I ripped out the straw-like tomato and pepper plants from this summer. While wandering around Willy Street Co-op today I decided to make up a sauce with coconut milk, lime juice and probably some pepper flakes. I’m winging it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Author: erica banks krug

I live in Wisconsin. I love cooking, eating kale, taking photographs, road trips and the Packers. I used to ride a ski lift to work. Now I work as a substitute teacher. But I dream of being able to call myself a "writer." You have to start somewhere....

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