Baked Mac n' Cheese, Revisited

A little less than a year ago, I posted this recipe for Mac n’ Cheese. The technique of cooking the pasta in the béchamel sauce was new to me and so appealing for cutting down on dishes. It reliably gave the baked Mac n’ Cheese a wonderful texture too, something that had eluded me with other recipes. Now my Mac n’ Cheese comes out the same every time and just the way I like it. I found this recipe, and I’ve stuck with it very happily.

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Beef in Chipotle Sour Cream

I came up with the idea for this recipe after making chipotle sour cream to go along with baked bean & cheese burritos. The sauce was so good, I just wanted more of it. Then I remembered beef stroganoff, which is essentially beef coated with sour cream. If I just added chipotle to the sour cream, I’d have exactly what I was hankering after, right?

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Roasted garlic fennel and white bean soup

I think most of the country has a few more weeks until warm weather, so I’m offering this deep hearty soup as a small comfort in the long lingering winter. This soup was everything I wanted it to be on the cold and rainy day I made it: warm and comforting, creamy smooth, flavorful and filling. The roasted garlic and fennel give it depth and the beans give it substance so that with a slice of bread and a hearty salad you’ve got a very satisfying meal. I served it with salty crisped salami which highlighted the mellow sweetness of the fennel and garlic. I don’t think kids should always be a standard of a successful dish but when they gobble down a bowl of soup and ask for leftovers the next day I think it’s safe to say it’s a keeper.

roasted garlic fennel and white bean soup

Ingredients:

  • 12 cloves garlic

  • 2 bulbs fennel, sliced 1/2 inch think, fronds cut off and reserved

  • olive oil and butter

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped

  • 1 stalk celery, chopped

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 cans (about 3.5 cups) white beans (either cannellini or Great Northern)

  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • optional garnish: crisped pancetta, bacon, or salami and fennel fronds

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400. Coat the fennel slices and unpeeled garlic cloves in a couple glugs of olive oil. Lay out on a sheet pan and roast for 30 minutes, or until soft and just beginning to brown on the edges. Remove from oven and set aside. When cool enough to handle, roughly chop up the fennel and peel the garlic cloves (you can basically just squeeze the cloves right out of the skin.)

  2. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5-8 minutes. Add the chopped fennel and garlic and cook for a minute or two more. Add the broth, beans, and bay leaf and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and blitz the soup with an immersion blender, or in batches in a standing blender. Return to the pot and stir in the cream. Salt and pepper to taste. If desired, serve with a swirl of cream, a sprinkle of crisped bacon, pancetta, or salami and the reserved fennel fronds.

Rice Casserole

Like any casserole, this is one of those meals that doesn’t look that impressive. I wouldn’t necessarily serve it for company. But, it is easy to whip up, works with what you have, and goes over well with both children and adults. So in my books, a weekday win.

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Indonesian Peanut Butter Chicken

I don’t know how authentic “Indonesian” this recipe is—I don’t even know where we got this recipe—but in our family it has gone by the name “Indonesian Chicken,” sometimes “Peanut Butter Chicken,” for years.

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Recipe Technique Revelation: Half Baked Harvest's Mac N' Cheese

I love mac n’ cheese. (Who doesn’t?) My one quibble, though, is that my favorite recipe always seems a tad fussy to make on a weekly basis. Not sure what it is. Just one too many steps? The sense that if I didn’t follow the method, I wouldn’t end up with as tasty a dish?

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