Comfort Food Definition: A food that gives emotional comfort to the one eating it, these tend to be favorite foods of childhood, or linked to a person, place or time with which the food has a positive association.
I have eaten lots of comfort foods in my lifetime (mainly because I’m old and need to be comforted). To name a few….creamy mashed potatoes, chicken pot pie, buttermilk biscuits, apple pie, meatloaf and of course classic macaroni and cheese.
Nothing is better than good ol’ down home cooking.
In fact, I’ve always envisioned myself as Laura from Little House on the Prairie, cooking up “vittles” in a small wooden barn house…….I just don’t look great in braids.
I’ve used my “mac n cheese” recipes in various ways but the easiest and cutest thing I have done to date are these little muffins. They are great for parties or just for fun when you want to serve them as an appetizer, main or even a side dish.
The trick to a perfect mac muffin is a good combo of “binders”…….eggs and cheese are your best bets. I have tweeked my recipe to add a little punch for the adult crowd by making them sharp and spicy but you can absolutely use any cheddar cheese you desire.
Here’s how you make em’ ….
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 extra large egg, beaten
1 cup whole milk (if you are watching your diet you can use 1 % milk but it really makes a difference using the full fat one)
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese or shredded jalapeno cheddar for an extra kick
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin (or a 24 mini tin) with nonstick spray. In a small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, olive oil and salt; set aside.
2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook for about 8 – 10 minutes, it should still be a little bit firm or al dente. Remove from the heat, drain and return to the pan; stir in the butter and egg until pasta is evenly coated. Reserve 1/2 cup of cheese and stir the remaining Cheddar, milk and mozzarella cheese into the pasta. Spoon into the prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle the reserved cheese and the bread crumb mixture over the tops.
3. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the topping is nicely browned. Allow the muffins to cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan. This will allow the cheese to set and they will hold their muffin shape. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve warm.
See ya next week!
Growing up, my mom always made a dish using “bow” shaped pasta and a whole grain Kasha. Kasha is buckwheat groats and can be eaten as a soft cereal. It is considered to be a Jewish comfort food and is often served with little bow ties. This dish is referred to as “Kasha Varnishkes”. You can also use Kasha as a filling for Knishes and my mother throws some into her famous chicken soup. I have no idea why I have started this blog with a complete description of Kasha because it has nothing to do with the recipe I’m sharing with you below. I think I just got side-tracked because of the stupid bows.
So, let’s talk about pasta shapes for a second. The past few months I’ve been walking down the specialty aisle at a local market eyeing the colored pasta. This is something that you probably may want to know. Colored pasta is made from natural food coloring and is only different from your regular pasta IN PRICE. I have a rule at my home which most of my kids know to a keep secret. They actually have been paid handsomely to keep some information under wraps. If I buy a package of pasta to use in a photo shoot and it costs 11 bucks ….I don’t tell my husband Steve. We slip it in on the grocery bill and let him think it’s laundry detergent. Steve probably won’t have time to read this blog so I think my secret shopping list is safe. Today I’m using my beautiful striped bow shaped pricey pasta in a very easy recipe that I’ve been using for years. It’s a pink sauce that can be used on just about anything and I think you will love it so much you may want to schmear it all over yourself… it’s that delish.
THE GOE PINK ONE:
Here’s what you need:
2 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbls butter
1 Vidalia onion (for some reason this is the only onion I can eat, it’s sweet and doesn’t repeat)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans of tomato sauce (15 oz. each) or I sometimes like to use plain old Ragu (large size jar)
1 tsp brown sugar
1 cup of heavy cream or if you want a skinny version use 1 cup of 2% milk
¼ cup grated grana padano cheese, parmesan or romano is fine too
½ cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
How to put it together:
Heat butter and oil in a skillet, medium high heat. Saute garlic & onions for about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce, season with salt and pepper. Add brown sugar and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally just to make sure you don’t scorch the sauce. Remove from heat and add your milk or cream. Sprinkle in cheese and then taste your sauce. You may have to add a little more salt, pepper or maybe brown sugar. Add half of your chopped basil and then your pasta. Stir gently and garnish with remaining basil and a few shakes of grated cheese. Bon Appetito !!!
See ya next week!
I want to first say HAPPY EASTER to everyone! Hope the warm weather here on the East Coast made everyone’s weekend extra special. I am happy to announce our winner for the Fatty Sundays Giveaway … Mayuri Amuluru! Congratulations! Email me here to claim your prize!
Yesterday, my husband and I hosted 18 people for Easter. This was my first major Holiday post baby and all I can say is WOW was that exhausting! So incredibly fun, but the prep work/clean up was enough to make me sleep for 2 days — which everyone knows is impossible with a baby. Obviously, in my craziness I forgot/was too busy to take a lot of really good pictures, so please forgive my very rushed iPhone pics! Hey – not everything can be professionally shot :)
I always start every holiday/dinner party by setting my table. It helps me to feel super organized and also sets the tone for the event. For more than 10 people, I start with my solid white porcelain dishes from Target. I absolutely LOVE these dishes bc they are so chic and clean, they are super affordable so if one breaks it’s no biggie, and they pack away in convenient cardboard boxes with handles for easy storage in my basement. For a larger group, they really are a no brainer!
I wanted to use a palette of coral and green, so I started with these Nicole Miller napkins from HomeGoods that I found a few months back and have been dying for a reason to use them! To keep it simple, I used bright green pitchers that are part of the Oh Joy! for Target collection as vases. We love repurposing at LMP! Tulips are classic Easter flowers and I chose bright orange and yellow since you can never have too much color after a winter like we had.
I prepared a pretty huge feast for Easter so I went with a small number of appetizers for people to nibble on when they arrived. Can you guess what my first app was? A cheese plate? Wow – how did you guess? Ha! I am pretty predictable in that department. What can I say…I love cheese! That and I am also addicted to using this fabulous Williams-Sonoma cheese board. It’s so gorgeous and always the star of the show. I set out a few cheeses, a few cured meats, some olives and dried apricots. In separate square bowls I had spring baby veggies with a fresh dill dip.
I milked mother’s day for all it was worth this weekend both professionally and personally. Let’s see…where do I even begin?
Let’s start with lunch at Barney’s. One of our sweet clients who loves to give us only a few days notice whenever she needs us to come in and “cute-sy” up her table asked if we could help out with her Mom’s 65th birthday party. Pretty hard to say no. The lunch was for 6 gals at Fred’s in Barney’s New York. We kept it simple, classy and pretty. Just like the guest of honor. With a color palette of coral, grey and white we had some fun spray painting some glass vases to funk up the floral arrangements and found some adorable chevron printed pails at Target which made our spring tulips pop on the table. For a simple favor at each place setting we wrapped a mug filled with tea accessories and included a recipe for Challah since the event took place on a Friday – Shabbat Shalom!
Moving on…later that night we styled an event that was sponsored by Urban Sitter and hosted by our friend Ilana of Mommy Shorts. This was one of my favorite events to date…partially because Michelle and I got to stay and participate. Was so fun!! A small party of 10 moms got together to have cheese and wine at Murray’s Cheese Bar on Bleecker, gab and celebrate a much deserved night out away from the kiddies. From what I understand the Friday night before Mother’s day is now called “Mom’s Night Out”. Who knew? But it Sounds good to me!
Whether you live in a city or in a suburb, chances are you like convenience. Especially delivery. NYers can and will have just about anything delivered. And there is nothing more convenient than delivery groceries…just look at the success of companies like Fresh Direct or Max Delivery. I have to admit, when I moved from NYC to the suburbs of Long Island last month, I thought my days of convenience were gone. Boy was I wrong! Within a few days I had found a dry-cleaner that picked up AND delivered (thanks Tricia!) and a fabulous new concept in grocery delivery called Blue Apron. You may remember Seri’s blog post about Blue Apron from a few weeks ago…well she told me it was too good to be true, and well, she was right ! It’s AMAZING. and here is why…right now I am cooking for 2. Well 2.5. And when I go to the grocery store to buy ingredients, 9 times out of 10 we don’t use up everything I buy and the remaining ingredients go bad in our fridge. This happens to me every week. Here is the genius part about Blue Apron; in their once-a-week subscription service they deliver all the fresh ingredients you need to make 3 meals, in exactly the right proportions. They’ve designed their service to teach you fun new recipes, save prep time and also reduce unnecessary waste. It is a dream come true for working wives and moms. I literally sat in traffic today for 1.5 hours coming home from working in the city, and was SO pleasantly surprised to find a nice box waiting for me on my doorstep! Inside was everything I need for this weeks meals, all individually wrapped and surrounded by ice packs to keep cool. The only thing I had to do was pick which delicious meal I was going to make first. Genius.
For tonight’s meal I chose the Sesame Chicken with soba noodles. Prep time took me less than 15 minutes, all I had to do was chop garlic, ginger, carrots, cilantro and the chicken.