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Jambalaya Mac & Cheese with Crawfish & Andouille – Two Ways

Jambalaya Mac & Cheese with Crawfish & Andouille

It’s almost time for Mardi Gras! Like it or lump it, you can’t argue with the fact that for many people, Mardi Gras is simply synonymous with good times, frivolity, and joie de vivre. And without ado, Laissez les bon temps roulez!

While Seattle is known for many things, including many foodie-type things, crawfish and andouille sausage are not among those things. So, I placed an order with my brother from another bayou and through the miracle of FedEx, I had fresh crawfish tails and andouille sausage at my doorstep.

Jambalaya Mac & Cheese with Crawfish & Andouille

The rest of my ingredients were locally sourced from AmazonFresh. Well, their warehouse is local, so it counts, right? (I forgot to include the breadcrumb ingredients in the photo above – it was one of those days. Picture a container of Panko bread crumbs behind the tomatoes and you’re all set.)

The beauty of this recipe is in its versatility. And not just because I give you a stove-top version and a baked version, either! Just like making jambalaya: you throw whatever meat or seafood you have on hand into the pot and call it good. This recipe features crawfish and andouille sausage, but you could easily substitute one or both or these for chicken, turkey, beef, ostrich, pork, gator, hot dogs (okay, that’s a stretch but not unheard of), shrimp, fish…you get the idea. And if you have a health nut in the family (*cough* husband *cough*), you can also throw a couple of handfuls of spinach in the finished product and call it “healthy”. Yeah.

Let’s do this. Start by preheating your oven at 350 degrees, and Pam an oven-safe container. This mac and cheese makes enough to feed everyone and their family, so if you have a large Le Creuset or dutch oven, that should be big enough. I initially made this in a 13×9 Pyrex pan and I had at least four cups of mac and cheese that wouldn’t fit in the pan.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions (keep it on the al dente side). Once the pasta is cooked, drain and set aside.

Jambalaya Mac & Cheese with Crawfish & Andouille

While the pasta is cooking, prep your ingredients: chop your onion and peppers, mince the garlic and parsley, shred the Cheddar cheese.

Jambalaya Mac & Cheese with Crawfish & Andouille

Next, make the breadcrumbs. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, a tablespoon of melted bacon fat and a tablespoon of minced parsley. Stir to combine and set aside. ***NOTE: Do not make the breadcrumbs if you’re going to make the stove-top version of this recipe. Also, go turn off the oven. 

Jambalaya Mac & Cheese with Crawfish & Andouille

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of bacon fat (yes, you are detecting a theme here). While the fat is melting, crumble (or slice, depending on which kind you get) the andouille sausage into the skillet.

Jambalaya Mac & Cheese with Crawfish & Andouille

Brown over medium heat until, well, browned. Add the crawfish tails, fat that they came in and all, and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat until the tails are warmed. Remove the crawfish and sausage from the skillet using a slotted spoon, place in a bowl and set aside.

Jambalaya Mac & Cheese with Crawfish & Andouille

To the same large skillet (don’t wipe out the skillet, you want the nice flavorful fat and meat bits in there!), add the garlic, onion and peppers and cook over low heat until the onions are slightly caramelized and the peppers are softened, about 15 minutes.

Over medium heat, melt one tablespoon bacon fat in the same large pot in which you cooked the pasta. Once melted, add flour and whisk to combine. Continue to whisk as the roux cooks for three minutes. Still whisking, slowly stream in the milk and cook the mixture, whisking frequently, for five minutes or until it begins to thicken.

Jambalaya Mac & Cheese with Crawfish & Andouille

Add the Cheddar to the pot and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the salt, pepper, Creole seasoning and hot sauce and stir to combine. Next, add the sauteed veggies and the tomatoes, then the pasta, and stir until everything’s well-mingled and happy.

Jambalaya Mac & Cheese with Crawfish & Andouille

If you’re wanting a stove-top version, you’re done here. And hopefully you didn’t turn on the oven to preheat previously. Spoon up the delectable gooeyness, top with some parsley, and you’re good to go.

Jambalaya Mac & Cheese with Crawfish & Andouille

If you’re still with me, that means you want the baked version of this recipe. Grab your Pammed pan and spoon the mac and cheese into it. If you run out of room, just grab another pan. Top your mac and cheese with the breadcrumb mixture, then pop it into the oven to bake for twenty minutes.

Jambalaya Mac & Cheese with Crawfish & Andouille

Remove from the oven and allow the pan to cool for five minutes. It is a loooooooooong five minutes. But the house smells amazing.

Jambalaya Mac & Cheese with Crawfish & Andouille

Get out your bowl and spoons and grab your friends. Make sure you have a bunch of them over, because this mac and cheese serves a whole passel of people.

Jambalaya Mac & Cheese with Crawfish & Andouille

It looks luscious, right? It tastes even better. Promise. Between four and five elbows up! I sent it in with my hubs to his office, and there was a standing ovation (or maybe that was just in my mind…). Well, I know at least two people went back for seconds. Even with all that flavor going on, the crawfish and the andouille stand out. And the ever-so-subtle smoky essence from the bacon fat adds another layer of mouthwatering yum. The spicy afterburn just makes it that much better.

Jambalaya Mac & Cheese with Crawfish & Andouille

A direct quote: “Tell the wife…THIS IS SCREAMING!!!!!!!!!!

And I would have to agree.

Here is my recipe.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Jambalaya Mac & Cheese with Crawfish & Andouille - Two Ways
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mac & Cheese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10+ as a side
 
Jambalaya Mac & Cheese with Crawfish & Andouille - Two Ways
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni or other dried pasta
  • 3 tablespoons bacon fat, divided (butter works in a pinch)
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 pound cooked crawfish tail meat
  • 1 pound pork andouille sausage
  • 1 white onion, minced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and crushed
  • 1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
  • 3 cups fat-free milk
  • 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned pepper
  • ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and Pam a large oven-safe pan. (for baked version only)
  2. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add pasta and cook per package directions. Drain and set aside.
  3. Make breadcrumbs. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, one tablespoon melted bacon fat and minced parsley. Stir to combine and set aside. ***NOTE: Do not make breadcrumbs for the stove-top version of this recipe.
  4. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of bacon fat. Crumble andouille sausage into skillet. Brown over medium heat. Add crawfish tails and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat until tails are warmed, about two minutes. Remove mixture from skillet using a slotted spoon, place in a bowl and set aside.
  5. To the same large skillet, add garlic, onion and peppers and cook over low heat until softened, about 15 minutes.
  6. Over medium heat, melt one tablespoon bacon fat in the same large pot in which you cooked the pasta. Once melted, add flour and whisk to combine. Continue to whisk and cook for three minutes. Slowly add milk and cook, whisking frequently, for five minutes.
  7. Add Cheddar to the pot and stir until cheese is melted. Add salt, pepper, Creole seasoning and hot sauce and stir to combine. Add sauteed veggies and tomatoes, then pasta, and stir.
  8. Stove-top version: plate and enjoy!
  9. Baked version, continue the recipe here. Spoon mac and cheese into Pammed pan. Top with breadcrumb mixture, then bake for twenty minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and allow the pan to cool for five minutes.
  11. Serve and scarf down immediately!

Laissez les bon temps roulez! Oh, and pork fat rules.

Jambalaya Mac & Cheese with Crawfish & Andouille

 

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Gluten-Free Hardcore Blue-Cheese Lovers Mac & Cheese

I’m serious. If you don’t loveloveLOVE blue cheese, you should try one of my other blue-cheese mac recipes – this is not for you. If, however, you revel in the sharp, tangy cheese-funk that is powerful blue cheese, then this recipe is, indeed, for you. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Gluten-Free Hardcore Blue-Cheese Lovers Mac & Cheese

True story: when I was developing a blue mac and cheese recipe, my initial attempt was this very recipe. It was shot down my my husband. It was shot down by his entire office staff. And even for me, a blue-cheese loving freak, it was a bit too strong. So, knowing this, consider yourself warned.

Did I mention it’s a gluten-free recipe? Indeed. And if you can tolerate gluten, you can absolutely adjust the recipe to make it with plain old white flour instead of gluten-free flour and with a wheat-based pasta rather than a rice-based pasta. Even cooler? The Tillamook and Maytag cheeses I used in this recipe are gluten-free.

Gluten-Free Hardcore Blue-Cheese Lovers Mac & Cheese

Heat some water in a nice large pot over high heat. Once the water is boiling, drop your gluten-free pasta in and prepare according to the package directions.

Gluten-Free Hardcore Blue-Cheese Lovers Mac & Cheese

Shred your Cheddar and crumble your blue cheese while the pasta is cooking. Once cooked, drain the pasta and set aside.

Gluten-Free Hardcore Blue-Cheese Lovers Mac & Cheese

In the same large pot, melt the butter and once melted, whisk in the gluten-free flour. Whisk over medium heat for two minutes. Add the milk, streaming slowly into the pot while you continue to whisk (sensing a theme here? Whisk. Always whisk.) Cook the mixture over medium heat for four minutes, whisking frequently, or until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove your pot from the heat source.

Gluten-Free Hardcore Blue-Cheese Lovers Mac & Cheese

Stir in the salt, pepper and one tablespoon of your minced chives. Next, add the two cheeses and stir until the cheeses are melted and everything’s happy. Add the cooked pasta and stir to combine.

Gluten-Free Hardcore Blue-Cheese Lovers Mac & Cheese

Divvy that pungent mac and cheese up into individual bowls and top with the remaining chives. And you’d better be sure all your friends like stinky cheese as much as you do!

Gluten-Free Hardcore Blue-Cheese Lovers Mac & Cheese

The verdict? Well, you got a good inkling in my intro above. Piquant, pungent, powerful…all encompass this particular mac and cheese recipe. I give this recipe two elbows up because it is simply too strong – heck, it could probably put hair on your chest! Or maybe you could use it to break up congestion in lieu of Vicks VapoRub. I’ll leave that up to you. And if you do try this recipe, please let me know what you think in the comments!

Here, sigh, is my recipe.

Gluten-Free Hardcore Blue-Cheese Lovers Mac & Cheese - Proceed at your own risk!
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mac & Cheese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 25
 
Gluten-Free Hardcore Blue-Cheese Lovers Mac & Cheese
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons gluten-free flour
  • 2¼ cups fat-free milk
  • 16 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups) - Tillamook is gluten-free
  • 14 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (about 2 cups) - Maytag is gluten-free
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced and divided
  • 16 ounces brown rice or other gluten-free pasta
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta in a large pot per package directions. Drain, then set aside.
  2. In the same large pot over low heat, melt butter. Add gluten-free flour and whisk for two minutes over medium heat.
  3. Slowly add milk, whisking continuously. Cook, whisking frequently, over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken, about three minutes.
  4. Remove pot from heat and add salt, pepper, one tablespoon chives. Stir to combine. Add cheeses and stir until melted. Add pasta and stir to combine.
  5. Top each serving with some of the remaining chives.
  6. Serve and scarf down immediately!

Now eat some and go breathe on your nearest frenemy.

Gluten-Free Hardcore Blue-Cheese Lovers Mac & Cheese

 

 

 

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Gluten-Free Maytag Blue Mac & Cheese with Snipped Chives

Gluten-Free Maytag Blue Mac & Cheese with Snipped Chives

The Seahawks are going to the Superbowl for the second time in two years! I’m so excited, I can barely hold onto my whisk. The Mac & Cheesehawk is back!

Since I’m guessing you want nothing to do with a green mac and cheese (I won’t subject you to a kale mac and cheese – some things just don’t translate very well and after trying a few versions of mac and cheese with kale in them, I have to say I am not a raving fan), we’re going with a blue mac and cheese in honor of the Seahawks! Actually, now that I think of it, this mac and cheese has both blue (cheese) and green (chives) – perfect!

Gluten-Free Maytag Blue Mac & Cheese with Snipped Chives

I must come clean here. I tried an initial version of this mac and it was SO incredibly blue-cheese-laden powerful, I couldn’t eat it. Well, more than three bites. I couldn’t eat more than three bites. I send it in to the hubs’ office, and the staff concurred…you’d have to be an absolute stark-raving stinky-blue-cheese nut in order to enjoy this one. BUT, because I know some of you will still want to try it (you crazy kids, you), here’s the recipe.

Gluten-Free Maytag Blue Mac & Cheese with Snipped Chives

This time around, I toned down the blue and amped up the creamy factor with some lovely Neufchatel cheese. I also made this one gluten free, although if you’re not celiac or gluten-intolerant, you could always just use ordinary pasta and flour in place of the brown rice pasta and gluten-free flour. And one thing I learned while developing this recipe: the TillamookMaytag, and Philly Neufchatel cheeses I used in this recipe are gluten-free. I considered using a quinoa pasta, but ended up with one of my standards instead: Tinkyada’s brown rice fusilli.

Gluten-Free Maytag Blue Mac & Cheese with Snipped Chives

Start by cooking your pasta in a large pot per package directions. Drain, then set aside. While the pasta is cooking, shred/crumble/chunk your cheeses and mince your snipped chives.

Gluten-Free Maytag Blue Mac & Cheese with Snipped Chives

In the same large pot, add the butter and allow it to melt over low heat. Add the gluten-free flour and whisk briskly for about two minutes over medium heat. Slowly add your milk, still whisking madly. Once the milk is incorporated, cook the mixture, whisking frequently, over medium heat until it begins to thicken, about three minutes.

Gluten-Free Maytag Blue Mac & Cheese with Snipped Chives

Remove your pot from the heat source, and add the salt, pepper, one tablespoon of your chives, and stir to combine. Next, add your cheeses and stir until the cheeses are melted and you have a lovely, thick-yet-smooth sauce.

Gluten-Free Maytag Blue Mac & Cheese with Snipped Chives

Now you’re ready to plate your creation, and top each bowl with a bit of the remaining tablespoon of snipped chives.

Gluten-Free Maytag Blue Mac & Cheese with Snipped Chives

How was it? A solid four elbows up! I’m a discerning pasta freak, and the gluten-free brown rice pasta tastes just like an ordinary gluten-filled pasta. The toothiness and texture are the same, and the pasta picks up the sauce beautifully.

Gluten-Free Maytag Blue Mac & Cheese with Snipped Chives

Did I mention that mac and cheese is a perfect food for the Super Bowl? Especially for my Seahawks fans out there – this is the recipe you’ll want to serve on February 1st. And on that note, here is my recipe.

Gluten-Free Maytag Blue Mac & Cheese with Snipped Chives
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mac & Cheese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 as a side
 
Gluten-Free Maytag Blue Mac & Cheese with Snipped Chives
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons gluten-free flour
  • 2 cups fat-free milk
  • 16 ounces extra-sharp white Cheddar (about 2 cups) - Tillamook is gluten-free
  • 8 ounces Neufchatel cheese - Philadelphia brand is gluten-free
  • 5 ounces blue cheese (about 1 cup crumbled) - Maytag is gluten-free
  • 2 tablespoons chives, minced and divided
  • 16 ounces brown rice or other gluten-free pasta
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta in a large pot per package directions. Drain, then set aside.
  2. In the same large pot over low heat, melt butter. Add gluten-free flour and whisk for two minutes over medium heat.
  3. Slowly add milk, whisking continuously. Cook, whisking frequently, over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken, about three minutes.
  4. Remove pot from heat and add salt, pepper, one tablespoon chives. Stir to combine. Add cheeses and stir until melted. Add pasta and stir to combine.
  5. Top each serving with some of the remaining chives.
  6. Serve and scarf down immediately!

Go Hawks!

Gluten-Free Maytag Blue Mac & Cheese with Snipped Chives

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My Amazing Chance Encounter with Delivery Service Caviar and Bitterroot BBQ in Ballard - Mac & Cheese Chick

Okay, not so much chance as Jessica at Caviar contacting me to see if I’d be willing to give their delivery service a whirl. There was mac and cheese involved, so (hello, you all know me…) of course I said I’d love to!

I’ve tried several other Seattle-area delivery services and have never really been all that enthusiastic. Especially after that incident with the crushed containers due to them riding in the front basket of a delivery person’s bicycle. Yuck. But back to Caviar, and their ever-so-enticing offer of delivery mac and cheese.

Prior to Caviar, my best experience with delivery was back when I discovered one of my favorite sushi places offered delivery. I was sold. They still haven’t, however, gotten onto the online order-placing gravy train (really, must I pick up a phone to order? Oy.) – which is sad because I, like many folks, will take the path of least resistance when it comes to delivery and thus, I end up finding somewhere else online from which to order my delivery. Our favorite pizza delivery place made it to that coveted spot because they were one of the first to offer online ordering. And I’m a loyal customer, so they continue to get our business.

My Amazing Chance Encounter with Delivery Service Caviar and Bitterroot BBQ in Ballard - Mac & Cheese Chick

Back to Caviar. I hopped online and perused the site. The first thing that stood out for me was the fact that your first delivery is free! And I loved the fact that you could see delivery times right below the restaurant information.

My Amazing Chance Encounter with Delivery Service Caviar and Bitterroot BBQ in Ballard - Mac & Cheese Chick

And since I knew from my conversation with Jessica that Bitterroot BBQ in Ballard offered mac and cheese on their menu, that was where I headed. See where is says “Choose any 2 ingredients” up there? That means you can add bacon. Bacon, at no extra charge. Bitterroot BBQ was making me feel very special.

My Amazing Chance Encounter with Delivery Service Caviar and Bitterroot BBQ in Ballard - Mac & Cheese Chick

I ended up choosing several items for the hubs and I to try for lunch (yes, it was a big lunch). Hey, the alternative was ordering two mac & cheeses – and that just seemed a bit over the top, even for me.

My Amazing Chance Encounter with Delivery Service Caviar and Bitterroot BBQ in Ballard - Mac & Cheese Chick

The minute I placed my order, I received a text message letting me know that my order was in the works. Then, I received a second one telling me that my order was on it’s way and included a tracking link – awesome! The last text came after the order was delivered – these guys are phenomenal at follow-through, which is of utmost importance for any service-based business.

My Amazing Chance Encounter with Delivery Service Caviar and Bitterroot BBQ in Ballard - Mac & Cheese Chick

I don’t think I’ve been that excited to see a delivery person in quite a long while. And you notice the two bigger boxes? One of those contained the mac and cheese – oh yes. And since I am a saucy person, I was happy to see the sauces lovingly packed in their own little box.

My Amazing Chance Encounter with Delivery Service Caviar and Bitterroot BBQ in Ballard

We opened the smoked chicken Caesar salad first and popped it onto a plate.

My Amazing Chance Encounter with Delivery Service Caviar and Bitterroot BBQ in Ballard

Next was the pulled pork sandwich and the sauces. Look at those amazing pickled carrots!

My Amazing Chance Encounter with Delivery Service Caviar and Bitterroot BBQ in Ballard

Not that I have a flair for the dramatic or anything, but because anticipation is a beautiful thing I waited and opened the mac and cheese last. Do you see the portion size? That’s a dinner plate.

My Amazing Chance Encounter with Delivery Service Caviar and Bitterroot BBQ in Ballard

A. Dinner. Plate.

My Amazing Chance Encounter with Delivery Service Caviar and Bitterroot BBQ in Ballard

And the mac and cheese almost spills over the edge. Yowza! And check out those crispy bacon nuggets nestled into that cheesy, saucy, gooey goodness.

Let’s all just take a moment and appreciate this beautiful plate of macaroni and cheese.

So, down to brass tacks. How was it? Luscious. An edgy tang to the mac and cheese that made my taste buds wish they could actually sing. There’s a reason Bitterroot’s mac and cheese made Thrillist’s Best Mac & Cheese in Seattle list. And the rest? The smoked chicken Caesar was great – a little sparse on the chicken, but delicious smoky flavor, and perfectly dressed (not dry, not goopy). The pulled pork sammie was divine, and I could not decide which sauce I enjoyed most. I was dunking the damn thing like a donut. The pork spilling over the substantial pretzel roll definitely made up for the smaller portion of chicken on the salad.

I give both Bitterroot and Caviar five enthusiastic elbows up – and it’s only a matter of time before the siren song of that mac and cheese calls me again. The great news? When it does, I know Caviar will get my delivery to me as soon as humanly possible…and give me updates all along the way.

My Amazing Chance Encounter with Delivery Service Caviar and Bitterroot BBQ in Ballard - Mac & Cheese Chick

 

DISCLAIMER: TryCaviar was kind enough to contact me and offer a $25 credit (essentially, a free lunch) for trying their service and providing an honest review. I was so impressed with the service and their food offerings, I’ll be trying sushi delivery next. Did I mention there are TWO restaurants to choose from? Woo hoo!

 

 

 

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Smoky Four-Cheese Tortellini Mac & Cheese

Smoky Four-Cheese Tortellini Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

Autumn is upon us, and you know what that means? It’s Mac & Cheese weather again! After doing the dance of joy in my kitchen, I decided to go big. Like Dr. Frankenstein, cobble-many-ingredients-together-and-see-what-happens, big.

Smoky Four-Cheese Tortellini Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

Not just pasta, but a filled pasta! And one filled with four cheeses, no less. And not just cheese, but silky, nutty, so-deep-it-must-be-a-Philosophy-major, smoky Beecher’s Smoked Flagship cheese. Over the top, yes. And yet, it hits just the right note – like pairing leopard print with hot pink and somehow pulling the whole outfit off. Pull it off, we did. Sublimely so.

Smoky Four-Cheese Tortellini Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

Since I was hitting Pike Place Market for some luscious Beecher’s cheese (regular Flagship and Smoked Flagship) I decided to grab my tortellini (cucina fresca Four Cheese Tortellini) there as well. So if you really wanted to, I guess you could call this Pike Place Mac & Cheese.

Smoky Four-Cheese Tortellini Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

I based this recipe on my favorite macaroni & cheese recipe, Beecher’s “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese. It seemed appropriate seeing as how I was using Beecher’s cheeses for this recipe. First thing, gather your ingredients. This recipe is a pretty simple one and allows the subtle flavors to shine through.

Smoky Four-Cheese Tortellini Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

Start by cooking your pasta in a large pot according to package directions. Since I used a fresh tortellini, it was done in four minutes. Drain, then set aside.

Smoky Four-Cheese Tortellini Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

While the pasta is cooking, shred your cheeses. If you don’t have Flagship in your store, you can either order it online direct from Beecher’s or substitute a nice sharp Cheddar and another smoked cheese. If you can, take the time to order the Smoked Flagship & Flagship from Beecher’s – the flavor is just outstanding.

In the same pot in which you cooked the tortellini, melt the butter. Once the butter is melted and just turning toasty, add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat, whisking often, for about two minutes. Add the milk, and continue whisking often until the sauce begins to thicken, about ten minutes.

Smoky Four-Cheese Tortellini Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

Once the sauce is thickened, add the chipotle powder, garlic powder, seasoned salt and seasoned pepper. Whisk to combine, then add both cheeses. Remove the pot from heat and stir everything together until the cheeses are melted. Add the tortellini back to the saucy pot, and give everything a good stir.

Smoky Four-Cheese Tortellini Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

Done! Now pop that amazing tortellini mac & cheese into a bowl, garnish if you feel like it, and enjoy! Simple, right?

Smoky Four-Cheese Tortellini Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

How was it? Luscious. Subtly smoky. Everything I’d hoped it would be. Four elbows up, and I’ll be adding it to my regular mac & cheese repertoire. Delicious, and perfect for your Autumn table.

Here is my recipe, loosely based on Beecher’s famous mac & cheese recipe.

Smoky Four-Cheese Tortellini Mac & Cheese
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish, Side
Cuisine: Mac & Cheese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 as a side
 
Smoky Four-Cheese Tortellini Mac & Cheese
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1½ cups fat-free milk
  • 8 ounces Beecher's Flagship cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces Beecher's Smoked Flagship cheese, grated
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon seasoned salt
  • ½ teaspoon seasoned pepper
  • 10 ounces fresh tortellini
  • parsley for garnish, if desired
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, cook tortellini per package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. In the same large pot, melt butter. Add flour and whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat, whisking often, for two minutes. Add milk and continue whisking often until sauce begins to thicken (about ten minutes).
  3. Add chipotle powder, garlic powder, seasoned salt and seasoned pepper. Whisk to combine, then add both cheeses. Remove pot from heat and stir until cheeses are melted.
  4. Add tortellini back to the pot and stir to combine.
  5. Serve and scarf down immediately!

 

Smoky Four-Cheese Tortellini Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

Try it, you’ll like it!

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KINGBestofWesternWashington-VoteForMac&CheeseChick

Guys, I have amazing news – we’ve been nominated for King 5’s Best of Western Washington in the Best Food Blog category! You don’t have to live in Seattle or anywhere near it to vote, so I’d love some cross-country and international love. The contest runs through October 24, 2014.

I am so excited, and would love your support! If you’re so inclined, please vote for us here – we’re hovering around 9th place & would love to win this!

And, more importantly, THANK YOU for your love, comments and support of this little blog. It started off then I decided to follow my unlikely passion for mac & cheese and it’s developed into an amazing and supportive community – YOU! I am so very thankful for each and every one of my readers.

Vote here to make Mac & Cheese Chick the Best Food Blog in King 5’s Best of Western Washington!

Mac&CheeseChick

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Field Trip! Station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn - Mac & Cheese Chick

We’re in New York City at least twice a year, and in the past few years we’ve been branching out from Manhattan itself. Which is how we ended up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn recently. And conveniently located just outside the subway is Station.

Field Trip! Station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn - Mac & Cheese Chick

Kismet, no? I think so.

Since we arrived at around 11:00am on a Sunday with no prior brunch reservation (amateurs, we are…), they were booked solid. But, we could grab a seat at the little bar if we wanted.

Field Trip! Station's Black Truffle Mac & Cheese Gnocchi in Williamsburg, Brooklyn - Mac & Cheese Chick

Four seats total, butts facing every other diner in the place…oh, what the hell. Why not, I wore clean underwear. So we sit. And our waiter comes over looking harried but competent. He hands us menus, but we already know what we want.

Field Trip! Station's Black Truffle Mac & Cheese Gnocchi in Williamsburg, Brooklyn - Mac & Cheese Chick

The special up there? The holy-crap-on-a-cracker special that says “Black Truffle Mac N Cheese Gnocchi”? Yeah, we want one of those. And if it’s good enough, we just might order another one.

The harried pace continues around us but interestingly enough, since we are facing the wall (and a giant mirror) we feel like we are a million miles away from the hubbub going on in the dining area directly behind us. Sitting at the little bar, it is as if we have the best seats in the house to the show that is Sunday Brunch in a popular restaurant. Fascinating.

Field Trip! Station's Black Truffle Mac & Cheese Gnocchi in Williamsburg, Brooklyn - Mac & Cheese Chick

The Black Truffle Mac N Cheese Gnocchi (it SO deserves the capitals at the beginning of each word) is gently placed in front of us, as if we were supposed to bow to it. And perhaps that is exactly what is necessary. For it is THAT good. Luscious, decadent, amazing, my-thighs-would-never-recover-if-I-lived-in-Williamsburg good. Black pepper bite that breaks up the fight between creamy and creamy. I’m honestly lucky I didn’t swoon right off my bar stool. Because that would have been embarrassing.

In the name of all things holy, this dish must still be on the menu when I return to Williamsburg. If not, there will be a serious reckoning. Five elbows *woop-woop!* enthusiastically up for this one – go there now. No, really. NOW.

Field Trip! Station's Black Truffle Mac & Cheese Gnocchi in Williamsburg, Brooklyn - Mac & Cheese Chick

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Product Review: Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese Aged White Cheddar

Product Review: Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese Aged White Cheddar - Mac & Cheese Chick

If you follow my blog, you already know that the folks at Pirate’s Booty were kind enough to send me four boxes of their new Mac & Cheese to try.

Product Review: Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese Aged White Cheddar - Mac & Cheese Chick

This is the third box I’ve tried – three down, one to go! All four varieties of their new mac & cheese line are made with organic pasta (certified organic by Oregon Tilth) and ingredients you can actually pronounce. Good deal!

Product Review: Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese Aged White Cheddar - Mac & Cheese Chick

Here’s what you’ll need to prepare this mac & cheese.

Box, butter, and milk. Easy! As with the other varieties I’ve tried, Pirate’s Booty recommends 1/2 tablespoon of butter but I like my mac and cheese rich, so I went with a full tablespoon. And to rationalize counteract balance the additional butter, I used fat-free milk.

Product Review: Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese Aged White Cheddar - Mac & Cheese Chick

Following the directions on the box, I added the pasta to six cups of boiling water and cooked it for seven minutes. After draining the pasta, I added it back to the pot and threw in the butter, milk and cheese powder.

Product Review: Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese Aged White Cheddar - Mac & Cheese Chick

I gave the mixture a good long stir, as I have learned that it can take a bit of stirring to remove all cheese clumps and ensure a nice, velvety sauce. Once mixed, I let the pot and its contents sit for about three minutes before plating, as this time allows the mac & cheese to thicken just a bit.

Product Review: Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese Aged White Cheddar - Mac & Cheese Chick

 

So how was it? Three and a half elbows up. The mac & cheese had a creamy, mellow flavor with no powdery aftertaste – delicious!

Product Review: Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese Aged White Cheddar - Mac & Cheese Chick

 

DISCLAIMER: Pirate’s Booty sent this product to me for review. This not a compensated review, but they were kind enough to send the product to me gratis.

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Field Trip! The Blind Rabbit in the Anaheim Packing DistrictField Trip! The Blind Rabbit in the Anaheim Packing District

Every year, we are down in Orange County (I grew up there – if you call it “The OC” I will upchuck upon you) for an annual conference. And each year, I love getting together with childhood friends and reconnecting.

Field Trip! The Blind Rabbit in the Anaheim Packing District - Mac & Cheese Chick

This year, there was a big buzz about the opening of the Anaheim Packing District – so of course, I needed to go check it out myself. I met up with a friend of mine on a Saturday around 11:30am. We agreed to meet up a little early as we’d heard that parking could be difficult and we didn’t want to be surrounded by a hungry mob. My friend mentioned that she’s heard there was a hidden speakeasy within the space, and so that made it to the top of list of spots to find while there.

Field Trip! The Blind Rabbit in the Anaheim Packing District

Once we met up (it’s been so many years!), we set out finding the speakeasy. Along the way, we sampled some delicious meats and cheeses from Wheat & Sons (my friend completely confounded the gentleman helping us at the counter, to the point that both I and the rest of the staff were giggling at the ongoing exchange) and ended up grabbing some to-go as we looked for the speakeasy.

As it turned out, the speakeasy, The Blind Rabbit, was almost across from Wheat & Sons. And, we were just a little early as they didn’t open until noon. That didn’t stop my friend from popping in the open door and striking up a conversation with the staff. We ended up grabbing two overstuffed chairs around a nice low table (it felt as though we were in our living room, in a good way) rather than bellying up to the bar.

Field Trip! The Blind Rabbit in the Anaheim Packing District - Mac & Cheese Chick

Since we knew we were “home” and here for the duration, we got cozy and after asking if it was okay, unwrapped our Wheat & Sons parcel to nibble. And the entire staff, by the way, was amazing, knowledgeable, and friendly. Aces, every one. You see that libation above? The one with the big ole ice cube and a hunk of bacon perched atop?

Field Trip! The Blind Rabbit in the Anaheim Packing District - Mac & Cheese Chick

That’s a Bacon Old Fashioned (bacon-infused bourbon, Grade-B maple syrup & Angostura bitters) and it is waaaaaay better than you could ever imagine. So much so that I had three of them. Hey – I was there for over five hours. And I am now trying to find out to make bacon-infused bourbon; if you have a recipe, I’d love to try it!

Field Trip! The Blind Rabbit in the Anaheim Packing District - Mac & Cheese Chick

But amazing drinks aside, around the middle of my second Bacon Old Fashioned we realized that we were both ready to grab something more substantial for lunch.

After perusing the Blind Rabbit menu, we decided to split the Duck Confit Mac N’ Cheese (truffle oil, topped w/Panko crust + micro fine herbs). Of course we did.

Field Trip! The Blind Rabbit in the Anaheim Packing District - Mac & Cheese Chick

How was it? Weeeeeellllllllll, I want to tell you that it was amazing. Unfortunately, the parts appeared better than the sum. It had a nice afterburn from a little cayenne pepper and it had a nice overall mellow, creamy flavor. Unfortunately, it was on the dry side and that exponentially worsened after it sat for more than two minutes. I’m giving it three elbows, but there is definitely room for improvement here. I was a bit sad, as I really wanted to love it (it sounds amazing!!!), but a third Bacon Old Fashioned helped ease the pain a bit.

Me? I’ll probably be back next time we’re in town for the drinks and the staff – and hopefully, the next mac & cheese I try there will knock my socks off.

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Lavender Macaroni & Cheese with Buttered Thyme Breadcrumbs

Lavender Macaroni & Cheese with Buttered Thyme Breadcrumbs - Mac & Cheese Chick

To make a short story long, my parents are moving up to my area soon. That means parental-unit visits on a regular basis, which I LOVE. That also means field trips around the Pacific Northwest, one of which brought us to Garden Treasures, a lovely farm stand operation in Arlington, WA recently.

Actually, we’d been by several times – always zooming back & forth along State Route 530 and never taking the time to stop, but pining to do so each and every time we passed. So finally, we made the time. And lost about an hour…but it was a wonderful hour! We explored the whole place, wanting to take home much more than we actually ended up with. But one of these items was a verrry interesting block of lavender cheddar cheese.

Lavender Macaroni & Cheese with Buttered Thyme Breadcrumbs - Mac & Cheese Chick

The small bin containing the Golden Glen Creamery cheeses is just off to your right as you first enter the big red barn. And if you’re not local or just not inclined to head to Arlington, you can purchase their artisan cheeses online. There were several varieties available, but I wanted something a little different so I went for the lavender cheddar.

We headed home after our visit, giddily happy with our purchases and me already dreaming up lavender cheddar mac & cheese possibilities. After several variations, I settled on a simple preparation which adds a touch of fresh thyme flavor to offset the flavorful lavender.

Lavender Macaroni & Cheese with Buttered Thyme Breadcrumbs - Mac & Cheese Chick

Time to gather my ingredients. Since I went local with the cheese, I also went local with the pasta (Casarecce from Lagana pasta, one of my local favorites for fresh pasta), the lavender and the thyme (both from my garden). And if you want, we can call the Tillamook butter close enough to local, as well (it’s just over in the next state, after all…).

Lavender Macaroni & Cheese with Buttered Thyme Breadcrumbs - Mac & Cheese Chick

To begin, I melted a tablespoon of butter in the microwave and once melted, added the Panko breadcrumbs and fresh thyme and gave it a good stir. Once everything was well-mixed, I set the mixture aside.

Pop the oven on to 350 degrees, Pam an 8×8 oven-safe pan, then prepare the pasta according to the directions on the package. Once cooked, drain and set aside. By the way, the fresh Lagana pasta gave off the most intoxicating yeasty scent as it cooked – I wanted to scoop up the scent and bottle it!

Lavender Macaroni & Cheese with Buttered Thyme Breadcrumbs - Mac & Cheese Chick

 

While the pasta is cooking, shred your cheese. In the same large pot over medium heat, melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter and once melted, add flour and whisk to combine. Continue cooking and whisking for about three minutes, or until the roux turns toasty-colored.

Lavender Macaroni & Cheese with Buttered Thyme Breadcrumbs - Mac & Cheese Chick

Slowly whisk in the milk and continue to cook until the mixture begins to thicken (about five minutes). Reduce the heat to low.

Lavender Macaroni & Cheese with Buttered Thyme Breadcrumbs - Mac & Cheese Chick

Add seasoned salt and seasoned pepper and whisk to combine, then add the lavender cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and everything in the pot is happily mixed. Add the cooked pasta and stir once again.

Lavender Macaroni & Cheese with Buttered Thyme Breadcrumbs - Mac & Cheese Chick

Grab your Pammed pan and scoop the macaroni and cheese into it, topping it with the buttery thyme breadcrumb mixture. Let it bake for thirty minutes, then remove from the oven and allow it to sit for at least five minutes.

Lavender Macaroni & Cheese with Buttered Thyme Breadcrumbs - Mac & Cheese Chick

Yes, I know it’s tedious to have to wait five minutes, but just do it. It allows the mac & cheese to firm up just slightly and believe me, you’ll be happier for it. Feel free to sprinkle some additional fresh lavender and/or thyme over the dish just prior to serving.

Lavender Macaroni & Cheese with Buttered Thyme Breadcrumbs - Mac & Cheese Chick

The casarecce had a nice firmness and the cheese sauce took to it perfectly. The lavender imparted a delicate, not overpowering, flavor (I know lavender can be a polarizing herb, just like cilantro) and blended beautifully with the buttery thyme breadcrumbs. The medium cheddar provided a solid flavor as well – all in all, each flavor balanced the next and nothing overwhelmed anything else. So what did I think? I give it 3.5 elbows. The lavender gave the dish such a wonderful light and summery feel!

Lavender Macaroni & Cheese with Buttered Thyme Breadcrumbs - Mac & Cheese Chick

Here is my recipe.

Lavender Macaroni & Cheese with Buttered Thyme Breadcrumbs
Author: 
Recipe type: Side Dish, Main Course
Cuisine: Mac & Cheese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 as a side
 
Lavender Macaroni & Cheese with Buttered Thyme Breadcrumbs
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces fresh casarecce pasta (or other short pasta)
  • 1 pound lavender-infused medium white cheddar, shredded (or, 1 pound medium white cheddar plus 1 tablespoon culinary lavender)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups fat-free milk
  • ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, melt 1 tablespoon butter in microwave. Add Panko breadcrumbs and fresh thyme and stir to combine. Set the bowl aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pam an 8x8 oven-safe pan and set aside.
  3. Prepare the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain, then set aside.
  4. In same large pot over medium heat, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add flour and whisk to combine. Continue cooking and whisking for 3 minutes or until roux turns toasty-colored.
  5. Slowly whisk in milk and continue to cook until mixture begins to thicken (about 5 minutes). Reduce heat to low.
  6. Add seasoned salt and seasoned pepper and whisk to combine, then add lavender cheese and stir until melted. Add cooked pasta and stir to combine.
  7. Scoop macaroni and cheese into Pammed pan, topping with breadcrumb mixture. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove from oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. Feel free to sprinkle fresh lavender and/or thyme over the dish just prior to serving.
  8. Serve and scarf down immediately!

 

Lavender Macaroni & Cheese with Buttered Thyme Breadcrumbs - Mac & Cheese Chick

 

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