Sunday, November 21, 2010


Every once in a while, I get the feeling that I need to put things back into perspective. Some people take a walk, some people let out some aggression, and I... go back to really basic and simple things in the kitchen. Allow me to explain. 

A few weeks ago, I had come home from a really crazy day at work and I just wanted to forget that the day ever happened. It was one of those days where I just felt like nothing I'd done was productive or actually made a difference. So naturally, I came home... and whipped cream by hand.  

Now, while you may not think this is a big deal, may I suggest that you go and whip a cup of 35% cream with a whisk. Let me explain why this act is an excellent way to put your life back into perspective. The cream, while you whisk it, shows you that your efforts of adding air into the cream are actually doing something to change it's state. While your arms with throb, words cannot describe the wave of satisfaction that comes over you when that cream starts to look fluffy and delicious. Before you know it, your mind is so focused on the cream that nothing else matters and you know your world is back on track!!!!! There is something so humbling and wonderful about seeing your actions having a direct reaction. I'm telling you, I swear by this... 

Photo courtesy of Info Barrel
I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and I promise to have a new recipe post up soon :) 

Happy soon-to-be Monday! 


Friday, November 12, 2010

I have died and gone to mac n' cheese heaven!

A few months ago, while visiting my darling friend, Jessica, I had the absolute pleasure of eating some of the BEST macaroni & cheese that I have ever tasted! What made it better was that it was baked and had plenty of crunchy cheese and breadcrumb bits and needless to say, it was divine! So, naturally, I begged for the recipe as I was told that it had a slightly non-traditional ingredient and I was highly intrigued!

I must admit that I have had the recipe for about 2 months now but didn't get around to actually testing the recipe myself until recently. Jess' Mom was kind enough to e-mail me the recipe as best as she can remember (Thanks, Mrs. K!) so I hope that I am doing her recipe justice! I warn you, this recipe makes a lot of mac n' cheese!

Mrs. K's Mac n' Cheese:
  • 1 box of elbow macaroni (I used Catelli Smart Macaroni)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I tried this with whole wheat flour and it definitely left a slightly grainy texture to the sauce, so I would recommend skipping the whole wheat flour)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard - or in my recipe, garlic powder
  • 4 cups milk - I use 1%
  • 2 oz cream cheese (half of a brick), cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 cups grated old cheddar cheese, plus some more for topping the casserole
  • 1/4 Italian (seasoned) breadcrumbs
Start by cooking a box of macaroni as per the package instructions, though I would recommend to only cook the noodles to al dente because they will cook more in the oven. Once the macaroni is cooked, drain and reserve them in a large pot until the sauce is ready. 

In a medium sauce pan on medium high heat, melt butter. Once melted, stir in flour, salt & pepper and mustard (or garlic powder... or both!) and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring continuously, until smooth. You don't want any lumpy bits left from the flour. Slowly pour in the milk and continue to stir constantly until the sauce thickens. 

Add the cream cheese to the sauce and the grated cheddar cheese. 

Stir until completely melted. You may need some extra elbow grease here since the cream cheese can sometimes take a little longer to melt.

Once melted, add your cooked macaroni and mix until combined. 

Transfer the mac n' cheese to a casserole dish (I used a 9in x 9in x 3in dish but use whatever you have on hand, just make sure it's deep enough to give you a nice slice of mac n' cheese goodness). Top with a little more grated cheese and breadcrumbs.

Bake at 375F for 35-45 minutes or until the top is nice and browned and crunchy and just amazing! It should look something like this:

May I also suggest baking it on a cookie sheet just in case things get so excited and spill over the edge of your casserole dish (as mine did)... Enjoy the heavenly bliss that is this DIVINE mac n' cheese!

NOW for the exciting part!!!!! On my second attempt at making this, it was suggested to me by my darling friend, Julian, that we try making a Mac N' Cheese Lasagna... Allow me to explain. Envision a lasagna but substitute a layer of the above mac n' cheese goodness for the lasagna noodles. You would still layer in sauce and cheese over the macaroni mixture and I promise you, it's AMAZING! This was our dinner on Wednesday night! Gotta love cheese! 

I hope you have enjoyed the cheesiness of my last few weeks! 

Happy Friday and Happy Cooking! 


Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Return to the Blog

I have been trying to figure out how to word this post or how to get back into the groove of blogging after the last few weeks' events. While I promise I haven't stopped cooking (really, I haven't), I just haven't quite been able to find the words to say what I wanted to say in this post. So this is my attempt to find the right words and try to get back into the groove. 

My family has always been a vital part of my life and I have been very lucky to have the majority of my family still around and still playing an active part of my life. Unfortunately, this took a turn a few weeks ago when my Dido (the Ukrainian word for grandpa) was admitted to the hospital. He has been ill for a while but I, at first, just thought this was a little hiccup on our family's path. However, things didn't quite work out that way and on October 20, 2010, he passed away after 5 days surrounded by my Baba, all of his kids and the majority of his grandchildren. While it was hard, it was also a slight relief to no longer watch him suffer as he had been in the hospital.

Baba, Dido & I at Ukrainian Christmas in 2005.
Anyway, as I said, I have definitely been cooking along through these last few weeks but I haven't had the chance to blog. As anyone who knows me well enough (and maybe even those who don't know me well), the kitchen is my haven. It's where I go to relax and to forget about the 500000 other things going on in my life. As corny as it sounds, it's the one place where I can just go and be. And as such, without further delay, here is what I have been up to.

A couple of weeks ago I tried red velvet cupcakes for the first time and thought they were a little strange. I think my sentiments were that they didn't really taste like anything; not chocolate, not vanilla, not really anything and I was disappointed. My disappointment went even further because it was a Martha Stewart recipe and they're usually pretty flawless. However, I decided to try them again just to give Martha a second shot. Well... They were pretty awesome and the only thing that heightened that awesomeness to the next level was the cream cheese frosting that went on top of these beauties!

You must check out the recipe for these delicious little bundles of chocolately love but I have a few suggestions... Firstly, here is the recipe (click here)

My few suggestions would be that you use a higher quality red food colouring than one can typically buy at the grocery store. I find that the colouring that you can get at the grocery store either means that you're going to have to use the entire bottle of colour and it has a tendency to make things taste funny when you're using such quantities. For this batch, I used AmeriColor dye in Red Red. It's a soft gel paste food colour and it's wonderful. Secondly, when the recipe tells you to add the vinegar and baking soda mixture, let it fizzle and calm down a little bit before you mix it in the batter... I PROMISE this is a vital step that my darling Martha doesn't really mention. When I added my mixture, it still had some bubbles but it wasn't like I was pouring club soda in to my batter. 

Speaking of Martha, I also had the chance to make her Meyer Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Curd filling. I couldn't find a direct link to Martha's website, so I found iVillage's posting of the recipe here.  I'm not sure if I want to use this lemon curd recipe again, or maybe if I do, I will need to let it set more first because it was hell on wheels to pipe it into the cupcakes. Regardless, I did top them with the same cream cheese frosting that the red velvet cupcakes used and it just made them that much better... How can you resist these?!?!?!

While I do have a few more things to share, I think I will hold on to them for a few days so that I can share that with you as well. I apologize for the silence over the last few weeks and hope that some of you are still following along on this fun little journey despite our little hiatus! 

Happy cooking!