Diary of a Foodie

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Southern Mac and Cheese

There a few distinct differences between how most mac and cheese is made and Southern mac and cheese. Most notably is that eggs are added to the Southern version as a thickener, instead of a regular butter and flour roux.

As my husband is from the South, he never really loved my original recipe with a flour and butter base because it is not what he grew up with. I've been trying for several years to get a Southern version right, and this one is just cheesy deliciousness.

Southern Mac and Cheese

1 lb box elbow macaroni
2 c milk
1/4 c diced yellow onion
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (reserve 3/4 cup of this for topping)
1/2 c monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/2 c muenster cheese, shredded
1 TSBP Frank's hot sauce
1 TSBP Kosher salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring 10 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add 2 TSBP salt to water and add macaroni. Cook according to package directions, about 8 minutes. While pasta is boiling, in a separate bowl, whisk together milk, onion, salt, pepper, hot sauce, and eggs. Whisk until everything is well incorporated. Drain pasta once it is done cooking, and run it under cold water until pasta is cooled completely. This is a very important step, otherwise you will have scrambled eggs, not creamy mac and cheese. Once pasta has been cooled completely, add it to a greased 9X13 inch pan. Mix the cheeses into the pasta, (except for reserved 3/4 c cheddar for the topping). Pour the egg milk mixture over the pasta and stir. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar over the top of the pasta. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until top is bubbling and browned. Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Chicken CousCous Soup

It's been rainy and cold the last few days. Perfect Fall weather! Which in turn, means perfect soup weather. This recipe is just a take off of classic chicken noodle soup. I made the stock from scratch, as I had roasted a chicken the night before. I pulled off the leftover chicken off the bones before making the stock and reserved it for the soup. If you have not roasted a chicken to use the bones for the stock, either buy a whole chicken and make stock from that, or feel free to substitute canned chicken stock. Although, homemade always tastes way better.

Chicken CousCous Soup

To make Chicken Stock:
One whole chicken (or the bones and skin leftover from roasting a chicken)
12 cups water
3 stalks celery, cut in half
one yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
3 carrots, cut in half
1 TBSP salt
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano

Put all ingredients in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover with lid, and allow to simmer away for 3 hours. After three hours, turn off heat, and allow stock to cool slightly. Using kitchen tongs or large spoons, remove the whole chicken and the vegetables. Throw the vegetables away, BUT reserve the chicken. Remove the skin and pull chicken off the bones, shredding it into bite size pieces. Save the pulled chicken for the soup. Using a spoon, remove any impurities off the top of the chicken stock.

To make soup:

12 cups chicken stock (homemade or canned)
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
3 stalks of celery, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
4 green onions, chopped
1 cup plain couscous
salt and pepper to taste (this will vary based on tastes and how salty the stock is)
**If you use canned chicken stock, add 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp  dried oregano, and 1 tsp dried sage at the same time you add the vegetables**

Bring stock and vegetables to a boil, allowing them to soften softly, about 10 minutes. Add cooked chicken and couscous. Cover pot with lid and cook for 5 minutes, allowing couscous to cook. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve warm.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Salted Caramel Popcorn

It's safe to say that we love popcorn around this house. We love to get together as a family on Sunday nights, curl up in a snuggly blanket, pop in a movie and watch it, all while munching on a side of popcorn. Same old buttery, salty popcorn gets boring. In this recipe, I took my mom's basic caramel corn recipe and added a whole lot of Kosher salt.

Salted Caramel Popcorn

1 cup popcorn kernels
1/3 c vegetable oil

In a large, 8-10 qt size pot with a lid (very important), heat oil and kernels over medium high heat. Place lid on pot and cook kernels until most are popped; about 3 seconds between kernels popping means that you are done. I shake the pan every 20 seconds to make sure the heavier kernels stay at the bottom of the pan to keep popping.

Pour popped kernals into a large serving bowl. Take a dry paper towel and wipe out the inside of the pot you cooked the popcorn in, to now use it to make the caramel sauce.

Salted Cararmel

2 sticks butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 c light corn syrup (Karo)
1 TSBP Kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

Melt the butter in the pot over medium high heat. Once it has melted, add the corn syrup, brown sugar, and salt. Stir until the sugar is melted, about 2-3 minutes. After the sugar has melted, do not stir it again. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Once large, tight bubbles form, remove from heat, add vanilla and baking soda. Be careful as it will bubble violently at this point. Take a new, clean spoon and stir until baking soda and vanilla are incorporated. Pour immediately over the popped corn. Stir with a spoon until all popcorn is coated. Let set for 5 minutes before eating.

Peaches and Cream Topped Cinnamon Sugar French Toast

Another long name to a fantastic dinner (or brinner, if you will), but I promise you it is something you need to try today! Peaches are in peak season and this is one of the most delicious ways to use them.

My family requests breakfast for dinner almost weekly. We all love French toast, waffles, pancakes. You know, all the carby goodness. This was son #3's request for dinner this past week, and I may have given him extra treats that night as a, "thank you, you genius boy".

Peaches and Cream Topped Cinnamon Sugar French Toast

1 loaf Texas toast, or one loaf sliced Brioche bread
5 eggs
3 cups milk
1 TBSP cinnamon
1/4 c sugar
1 TBSP vanilla
1/2 tsp salt



1 TBSP sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Stir til well mixed. Set aside for assembly.

In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Heat up griddle or nonstick skillet to medium low heat (about 250 degrees on a griddle).  Once griddle is warmed up, take 1 TSBP of butter and melt it over the surface. Take sliced bread and dip it in the custard mixture on both sides. Immediately place on hot griddle and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until browned. My griddle can cook 8 slices of bread at time, your griddle may vary, but do no overcrowd the pan/griddle, or bread will steam instead of browning. When French toast is cooked through on both sides. remove from griddle, and sprinkle both sides with cinnamon sugar mixture. Top with fresh peaches and fresh whipped cream.

Peaches and Cream

3-4 peaches, sliced, and sprinkled with Stay Fresh Fruit preserver, or lemon juice
(this will keep fruit from browning)

1 cup fresh heavy cream
1/4 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Whip together cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla, until stiff peaks form.

Top fresh toast with 4-5 slices of peaches and a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
Serve warm.