Monday, March 26, 2012

Martha’s Perfect Macaroni and Cheese (Plus Bacon and a Third Cheese!)


By: Jackie

First and foremost, we got another award!!


We were awarded the Versatile Blogger Award by these three awesome bloggers:
- Dara of Gen Y Foodie - Dara has a great food blog that showcases healthy and delicious recipes along with informational links on important health topics!
- Kristina of Whipped Baking - Kristina features sweet treat recipes that are seriously mouth-watering but unbelievably guilt-free!
- Emily of Life on Food - Emily provides a variety of interesting posts, including book reviews, great savory and sweet recipes, and restaurant highlights! I noticed that Emily nominated us at the same time we were planning on nominating her blog, so we decided to keep her blog on the list!

The Versatile Blogger Award is “a great way to introduce different bloggers to each other and to promote quality blogs that awardees and their readers may not have discovered otherwise.

There are a few guidelines for what to do once you receive the award:
1. Thank the person(s) who gave you this award.  
2. Include a link to their blog.
3. Select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
4. Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
5. Tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.  Check out my list below!
6. In the same post, include this set of rules.
7. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

Here are 15 amazing blogs I’d like to nominate for the Versatile Blogger Award! In no particular order…
First, here are wonderful blogs I follow regularly:
1) Just One Cookbook
2) My San Francisco Kitchen
3) The Corner Kitchen
4) Baker Becky
5) Pass the Sushi
6) Tiny Tiny Fork
7) Chocolate Broccoli
8) Life on Food
And here are some blogs I recently discovered!
9) Weeknite Meals
10) Cravings of a Lunatic
11) Malibu Kitchen
12) Me and My Sweets
13) Nish Whips Up A Dish
14) Authentic Suburban Gourmet
15) Dessert for Two

Now 7 things about us:
1. I’ve always had an interest in food, specifically eating, but actually making food is a relatively new interest and hobby for me. And it’s been a fun journey!
2. I recently completed a running program, the Ease into 5K app. Yay!
3. I love, love, love Disneyland.
4. Jon and I try to take at least one summer vacation a year. This year we may skip it to save for a bigger trip in 2013!!
5. Jon’s favorite sashimi is live sea urchin.
6. Jon has recently taken an interest in baking. (Wowza, we’ve reversed roles!)
7. Jon’s favorite Peet’s coffee bean is New Guinea Highlands made in a French press.

Now let’s talk about Martha’s Perfect Mac & Cheese!



Recently, one of my friends underwent surgery. To offer help, another friend set up a meal train online so that our whole group could provide assistance during her recovery. Mealtrain.com is where we all signed up for a specific date and described the type of meal we would make. This ensured no confusion and lots of organization (another win for my Virgo-self!)!


On the meal train page, my friend specified she would like dishes that were great for leftovers. I thought macaroni and cheese would be a super comforting meal as well as perfect for leftovers. I’ve heard so many great things about Martha Stewart’s Perfect Macaroni and Cheese, so I knew I needed to prepare this dish! I added bacon, because it’s bacon. But really, I wanted another texture with the cheese sauce and noodles. And I added parmesan cheese to the top for additional flavor.


Martha’s Perfect Macaroni and Cheese (Plus Bacon and a Third Cheese!)
Adapted from Martha Stewart


Serves: 3 quart casserole dish - 13” x 9”

The Goods:
9 tablespoons (1 stick + 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter; 1 stick for recipe, 1 tablespoon for casserole dish
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
8 ounces (or 1 package) bacon, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere cheese
1 cup (about 4 ounces) grated parmesan cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni

The Steps:
1. Center rack in middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degree F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside.
2. Place bread cubes in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.
3. In a large skillet, sauté bacon until it is almost crisp. Remove bacon to paper towels to soak excess oil. When cool, chop bacon into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.
4. Warm milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add the flour. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
5. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.
6. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, white cheddar cheese, and Gruyere. When combined, set the cheese sauce aside.
7. Fill a large saucepan with water and add salt. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer's directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Return noodles to saucepan. Pour reserved cheese sauce into saucepan with noodles and mix together.
8. Pour half the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Layer chopped bacon. Pour remainder of noodles and cheese sauce on top. Sprinkle parmesan cheese and the breadcrumbs. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack; wait 5 minutes for immediate serving or if you can, wait 25 minutes for a stiffer consistency.


Notes:
- We only used 3/4 of the cheese sauce. It started to look a little too saucy for us, so add according to your preferences.
- This recipe is easily halved or doubled!
- You can also make this dish a day ahead! For day-ahead prep, I partially cooked the dish. I followed each step and stopped short of putting the dish into the oven. I wrapped the whole dish in first, cling wrap, and then, foil and placed it immediately in the freezer. When I delivered the frozen meal to my friend the next day, she cooked it in the oven at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes and said it came out perfect!
- Reheating leftovers in the microwave or the oven creates a meal that is just as delicious as out of the oven!

34 comments:

  1. I can personally attest to how delicious this was! YUM!

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    1. This makes the hours of cooking and baking worth it :)

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  2. So this post TOTALLY rocks for 2 reasons: First, Mac and Cheese is probably my all time favorite meal (the addition of bacon to ANYTHING is good). Second, Thanks for including me in your top 15!! I'm so honored and happy you guys follow me :) Congrats on the award!

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    1. You are very welcome! We love connecting with Bay Area bloggers, so how could we not give you some love! Plus, I love all the places you eat at. And yes, bacon makes everything better!

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  3. I am so honored to be nominated for your award! Everytime I visit your blog, all the memories of good food we tasted while on vacation at San Francisco come flushing back! The mac and cheese looks wonderful, too bad my family and I are lactose sensitive, so this is one of those recipes where I can only admire and imagine how it tastes, have an extra serving for us please!

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    1. Your dishes inspire us to try to cook more Asian foods, so thank you!! I am lactose sensitive as well, but for me, a delicious bowl of mac n cheese is worth the suffering :)

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  4. WOW - I am so honored to be nominated by you for your award! So nice to meet another SF food blogger! I look forward to looking through your beautiful blog. Hope that you have a great week ahead and thanks again for the nice honor!!!

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    1. You're welcome, Lisa!! Thanks for all the delicious recipes you post!

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  5. Thank you so much Jackie! That mac 'n cheese looks great, I wish I had a big bowl in front of me right now!!

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    1. You're welcome, Kristi!! You inspire us to cook more often! If you can cook with your crazy busy schedule, then we can cook, too!

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  6. You are so sweet. Thanks so much, I feel very honoured. We just went to Disney for the first time. I cannot believe it took me so long to go. It's a total blast, like a whole different world.

    I have never tried making mac n cheese from scratch. Must try this out.

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    1. You're welcome, Kim Bee! Glad to have found you! Disney is it's own world! You can get totally lost in it! Glad you had a good time!

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  7. Congrats on your award : ) Love the Mac and Cheese!

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    1. Thanks, Jenn! Mac n Cheese is so delicious!

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  8. How awesome...I just saw that you nominated Malibu Kitchen!! Thank you so much! Love your photos and again, congrats on your award. You truly deserved it!

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    1. And we love your California cuisine on your blog! You totally deserve this award, too!!

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  9. Thanks so much for nominating me for this award, I'm honored!! It's so great to be recognized by other bloggers you admire. Thanks again, and keep up the amazing work.

    P.S. This mac & cheese looks out of this world!!

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    1. We aspire to cook as well as you, Kelli! Thanks for your inspiration!

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  10. Oh, I love your blog! Its so cute and honestly sweet))) I love recipes and pictures) Congratulations on these rewards, you deserved it!!

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  11. Congrats on the award. That mac and cheese looks delish. Thanks for coming by my blog. I am now following and looking forward to checking out your recipes.

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    1. Thank you, Andrea! We knew the mac n cheese would be as good as every other food blogger said it was!

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  12. Wow, this mac n'cheese is to die for! Everything is better with bacon isn't it? Congratulations on the award and wanted to let you know that I just nominated you for the Liebster Blog award. You can check out the details on my site :)

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    1. Wow! Thanks for the great start to the day, Amanda! And yes, everything is better with bacon!!

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  13. An ultimate comfort food! Mouthwatering photos.

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  14. Hi Jackie and Jon! This mac n cheese does look like PERFECT one! Looks so yummy and comforting. The picture tells it all! Congratulations on the award and thank you for passing it to me. I'm really honored to receive it. :-) I'm so glad you guys have been blogging more frequently! Keep up good work, and we want to see Jon's baked goods soon! =)

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    1. Yes, you will definitely be seeing more of Jon's baking efforts! I love being the taster of the baked goods ;)

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  15. Omy-GOODNESS. I was almost drooling looking at the mac and cheese picture, it looks sooo good! And congrats again on all of your awards!! You so deserve it :) Have a great week!!

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    1. Your blog is an inspiration to us! Thanks again for giving us the award! :)

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  16. Oooh man! I was linking back to this for tomorrows post and realized I never actually commented. I am so sorry! In my head I commented I swear. I feel like such an ass.

    Buuut. This macaroni and cheese does look perfect - perfect plus bacon. Serious win in my book. Congratulations on your award and thank you for keeping Pass the Sushi in mind when you were sharing it.

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    1. Oh, no worries, Kita!! Of course we would pass this award along to you! Your food recipes and photography always have me drooling :)

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  17. I love macaroni cheese, especially with bacon! Yours looks great.

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    1. We could not forget the bacon! Thanks for the sweet words!

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