Happy Valley Chow

gour-mand (noun): one who is excessively fond of eating and drinking

Filtering by Category: "macaroni and cheese"

Cheesesteak Mac n' Cheese

The Super Bowl is right around the corner (Feb. 3rd). Even though my team, the six time super bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, aren't in the mix (and haven't been for some time), that doesn't mean I don't love to celebrate the tradition! This time of year usually means that parties will ensue celebrating America's past time with beer and lots of really unhealthy food. What better way to celebrate a home grown American sport, than with one of the most iconic american foods....Macaroni n' Cheese! But, instead of making it the usual Mac n' Cheese, lets give it a twist and make it a Cheesesteak Mac n' Cheese. Peppers, onions, thinly sliced sirloin mixed in a creamy cheddar and provolone sauce. Heck, why not throw a Mac n' Cheese Super Bowl party and also make Lee's Buffalo Chicken Mac n' Cheese. I based this recipe off the Buffalo Chicken Mac, so you'll notice some similarities in the preparation. Want the Mac n' Cheese to be portable and more like an appetizer?? Well then just follow the directions for the Deep Fried Mac n' Cheese Bites! 

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 lbs sirloin steak, thinly sliced into bite size chunks
  • 1/2 cup onion, medium dice
  • 1/2 cup red pepper, medium dice
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, medium dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt, to season pasta water
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces provolone, shredded
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • Smoked paprika 

Preheat the oven to 350°F

In a large saute pan set over medium high heat, add in the sirloin steak and saute until brown and cooked through, about 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove steak from saute pan and reserve on a plate. Clean out the saute pan and melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add in the onion and peppers and saute until tender, about 5 min. Add in the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season the mixture with salt and pepper then add the steak back into the pan and incorporate. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain the pasta and run under cold water to stop the cooking process, reserve noodles. *Note: if the noodles are going to be sitting for awhile, toss them in some olive oil to prevent sticking* 

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and dry mustard and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the half-and-half and whisk until thick, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the cheddar and provolone cheeses, a little at a time until it is melted. Then whisk in the sour cream until smooth. *Note: if you have a immersion blender, use that instead of whisking. This will help emulsify the cheeses better and make a smoother sauce*

Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread half of the macaroni in the baking dish. Then add the steak, onion and peppers mixture and then spread half of the cheese mixture. Top with the remaining noodles and cheese mixture. 

Put the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Stir in the panko and mix until incorporated. Sprinkle the panko mixture on top of the mac n' cheese, sprinkle some paprika on top and bake for 30-40 minutes, until bubbly. Let rest for 10-20 minutes on a cooling wrack (Unless you like molten cheese sauce coating your mouth). 

One of my favorite Super Bowl moments
Or was it this?? I almost puked and passed out during both...

Modernist Cuisine at Home

Modernist Cuisine at Home (The Cooking Lab, 2012)
Modernist Cuisine at Home is the subsidiary of, what may be, the greatest cooking tome of all time, Modernist Cuisine. Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet--scientists, inventors, and accomplished cooks in their own right--have created a six-volume, 2,400-page set that reveals science-inspired techniques for preparing food that ranges from the otherworldly to the sublime. The authors and their 20-person team at The Cooking Lab have achieved astounding new flavors and textures by using tools such as water baths, homogenizers, centrifuges, and ingredients such as hydrocolloids, emulsifiers, and enzymes. It is a work destined to reinvent cooking. MC digs deep into the historical, scientific, molecular and pretty much every facet of cooking. 

While Modernist Cuisine is a beautiful and inspiring book, it is not for the faint of heart. Most likely the average home cook wouldn't even know where to start with some of the recipes, not to mention not having the equipment needed to pull off the recipes. That's where Modernist Cuisine at Home comes in. Granted you do still need some speciality equipment like an Immersion Circulator and Pressure cooker to really dive deep into this book, but those items are within grasps of most consumers. 

Modernist Cuisine at Home (The Cooking Lab, 2012)
After spending a few days perusing the book and trying out some of the recipes. I have to admit, this might be one of my most favorite cookbooks to date. It's just as beautiful and inspiring as the original MC, it introduces modern techniques to traditional recipes, it's fun to cook out of, it's challenging to cook out of and honestly I feel like I'm becoming a better cook from simply reading it. Again, this isn't for the faint of heart and I would recommend that you have a decent understanding of cooking techniques. But, if you are looking for something new and exciting to spice up your cooking world, than this is it!

"Modernist Cuisine at Home offers useful techniques and solutions that expand our abilities  and it provides us with a practiced and thorough understanding of why things happen the way they do. Most importantly, it ignites a curiosity within and compels us to ask ourselves not 'What should we make for dinner?' but rather, 'What can we make for dinner?' Modernist Cuisine at HOme will provide another quantum leap in our understanding and in our relationship with the food we like to cook" ~Thomas Keller

"Modernist Cuisine at Home is destined to change the way we cook-and the way we use recipes. For all of us who cook regularly, this book opens up a whole new world of possibilites. It is full of insights that encourage us to try something new, and that teach us something on every single page." ~Martha Stewart

I went ahead and started on the easier side with this book. Instead of jumping in for the hardest recipes, I figured I'd test the water with the Chicken Wings and Macaroni and Cheese. 

The chicken wings were definitely some of the best I have ever had. I never really thought to brine chicken wings just cause there isn't that much meat, but it is definitely worth taking the time to brine them. Then after cooking them sous vide at 149℉, you have one heck of a juicy and tender chicken wing (Cooking chicken sous vide at 140℉ for at least 30 min. pasteurizes the meat making it completely safe and extremely moist, unlike the traditional 165℉). 

The macaroni and cheese was also very good. But, I think next time I will use cheeses other than Cheddar and Swiss because they really don't need the Sodium Citrate to emulsify them together. The cheese sauce is quite thick, velvety and delicious...it has the consistency of store bought mac n' cheese, but just a lot better flavor because of the better quality cheese. 

A big thank you to the Modernist Cuisine at Home crew for allowing me access to their book and share with all of you their Macaroni and Cheese Recipe. Enjoy!

Modernist Cuisine at Home (The Cooking Lab, 2012)
I think the recipe layout is pretty self explanatory, but it is a laid out a little different than your traditional recipe. Each part of the recipe is broken up by the red lines. You have your ingredients, the amount you need of each ingredient and then what to do with each ingredient. Just follow the procedures, add in all the ingredients in each step, then move onto the next line. In my case I substituted 3 cups of shredded sharp cheddar and 1 cup of shredded swiss for the white cheddar. I also folded in a whole roasted red pepper. 

In addition to having the opportunity to use this book, I also have been given the opportunity to use a GoPro camera to start making cooking videos! I figured since I just got the camera, I might as well kill two birds with one stone and use it for this review. I am using the GoPro Hero3 White edition, with the Chest Mount Harness. There will be many more videos in the future!

Twisted Mac n' Cheese

Lee and I got on the topic of Hard Rock Cafe the other day and she said she loves the Twisted Mac n' Cheese there. So, after doing some looking around, I came across a few recipes for it and we decided to make it one night. It turned out delicious! The roasted red pepper in there really gives it a nice flavor and I may never eat mac n' cheese again without roasted red pepper. It also made me realize, why buy the kraft mac n' cheese, when you can make the same exact thing, in the same amount of time for less money. The recipe is not labor intensive at all and I think we'll probably never buy another box of craft mac n' cheese again. Enjoy!

  • 4 cups cavatappi pasta
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 8 ounces velveeta
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 teaspoon grounded cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon grounded black pepper
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, roasted and diced
  • 4 teaspoons seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 4 teaspoons parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley, minced
  • Sauteed Chicken Breast Recipe
Set the rack in your oven to the highest position, set the oven to broil. Cut the top off the red pepper, seed and then cut the pepper in half. Put the red pepper halves, skin side up, on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Drizzle some olive oil on top of the pepper and season with salt and pepper. Broil on high, until skins are scorched and black. Remove from oven and place in either a brown paper bag or a resealable plastic bag and let cool completely. Once cooled, remove the scorched skin, it should peel right off and then dice. 

Use a large saucepan to cook pasta following directions on packaging. Don't forget to properly salt the water!! 

While the pasta is cooking, combine the milk, velveeta, cheddar cheese, jack cheese, cayenne pepper, and black pepper in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat until the cheese is melted and you have a smooth cheese sauce. Once pasta is al dente, drain and return to pan, add in the cheese sauce and red pepper, mix to incorporate.

This step is optional, as you can see I didn't do it in the picture. Combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan and parsley in a small bowl. Sprinkle mixture on-top of the mac n' cheese. Serve the mac n' cheese by it self or with my sauteed chicken breast recipe that you can find in the Chicken Club recipe!

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