The Best Homemade Mac and Cheese

The Best Homemade Mac and Cheese

Cheesy, Creamy and Delicious Homemade Mac and Cheese

Thanksgiving is coming up and I wanted to share a great mac and cheese recipe to complement that delicious turkey you are going to make. Homemade macaroni and cheese is the perfect dish to serve at your dinner. This recipe is simple and quick to prepare. The results are infinitely better than any boxed mac and cheese you can buy. Mac and Cheese must be cheesy and creamy with just the right amount of crunchy buttery bread crumbs on top. This is a decadent dish and needs have the right ratio of sauce to macaroni. You don’t want it to be too soggy. I like to use sharp cheddar cheese in my macaroni and cheese but you can feel free to experiment with other cheese that you like. Try mixing in gruyere or mozzarella for an added layer of flavor. You can also mix in some crumbled crisp bacon into the macaroni right after adding the cheese sauce. This will give the dish a little smoky flavor. My recipe calls for a bit of evaporated milk. I think that the evaporated milk really helps make the sauce creamy and delicious. Mac and cheese can be baked and eaten right out of the oven but is also great reheated the next day. I recommend making a big dish so you can enjoy it now and later. Try serving leftover mac and cheese with a big salad the next day. In many of my recipes I pair arugula salad when I am serving a dish that is creamy. The peppery bite of the arugula helps to cut the creaminess of any dish. The two compliment each other. I think that this is the best mac and cheese recipe. It’s a great pot luck dish and perfect if you are feeding a larger group and want to be able to make something ahead of time.

Best Mac and Cheese
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5 from 2 votes

The Best Mac and Cheese Recipe

macaroni and cheese recipe
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: macaroni and cheese, mac and cheese
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 506kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Topping

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup grated fresh parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • preheat oven to 350
  • grease a 3 or 4 qt baking dish
  • cook macaroni a minute less than directed on box
  • melt butter in large sauce pan and whisk in flour
  • slowly whisk in milk and evaporated milk
  • keep whisking slowly until it starts to thicken – about 5 minutes
  • add dry mustard, salt and pepper
  • mix in shredded cheddar cheese
  • pour mixture over macaroni and gently mix
  • pour macaroni into baking dish
  • mix panko bread crumbs with melted butter and grated parmesan. Blend until crumbs are all covered with melted butter
  • spinkle over macaroni and bake in oven for 30 minutes until bubbly and golden

Notes

Mac and cheese is all about the cheese. Do not buy pre shredded cheddar or grated parmesan. Take the time to grate the cheese yourself. This will result in a creamier , meltier mac and cheese

Nutrition

Serving: 1person | Calories: 506kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 503mg | Potassium: 331mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 775IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 497mg | Iron: 1mg

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The Grown-Up Chocolate Cupcake

The Grown-Up Chocolate Cupcake

Ah, the cupcake. A perfectly sized single serving dessert usually eaten as a child. Why should kids have all the fun? I have added coffee, a little spice and some brandy to these cupcakes which make them ideal to serve at your next grown-up dinner or holiday. These cupcakes also work well served bite sized. Just use a 24 cup cupcake tin and reduce baking time in half. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top before serving or some edible gold stars.

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5 from 1 vote

Spiked Pumpkin Spiced Chocolate Cupcake

Chocolate Cupcake with Brandy Vanilla Frosting
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cupcakes, Spiked Cupcakes, boozy desserts
Servings: 12 cupcakes
Calories: 249kcal

Equipment

  • cupcake pan
  • paper cucake inserts

Ingredients

cupcakes

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 tsp Starbucks instant pumpkin latte OR instant coffee

Frosting

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tsp Brandy or B&B

Instructions

cupcakes

  • preheat oven to 350
  • Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl
  • add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes
  • mix coffee or latte and boiling water
  • add to batter and mix with spoon for 3 minutes – batter will be watery
  • fill paper lined cupcake tins half way
  • bake for 20-25 minutes
  • let cool before frosting

Frosting

  • cream butter, vanilla and brandy together
  • add sugar a little at a time
  • if too dry add a tablespoon or two of milk

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupcake | Calories: 249kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 211mg | Potassium: 97mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 45IU | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 1mg

Handmade Orecchiette

Handmade Orecchiette

With Sausage, Spinach, Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella

The orecchiette shape literally translates to ‘little ear’ and originated in Southern Italy . This pasta is perfect for catching sauce in its cup-like shape . Making the pasta fresh, by hand, is a fun activity to do alone or with friends and family. The dough is mixed together in a matter of minutes and only requires a half hour of rest time before you can start making the pasta. The result is also infinitely better than boxed pasta. The recipe listed below was one of the most popular pasta dishes at my restaurant. There was a time when I tried to remove it from the menu in order to make room for a new dish and I had to put it right back on due to popular demand. I mix hot and sweet Italian sausage together but you can absolutely use one or the other depending on how spicy you like your food. This pasta shape will also work well with my Simple Tomato Sauce.

Simple Tomato Sauce
Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce
Check out this recipe
Tomato Sauce
Hand-Made Orecchiette
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5 from 1 vote

Handmade Orecchiette

Easy Handmade Pasta
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Resting Time30 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish, pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: pasta
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 265kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • extra flour for surface

Instructions

  • mix flours and salt together
  • add water
  • mix together then remove from bowl and knead until dough is elastic (about 5 min)
  • Place dough in a bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap
  • allow to rest for 30 minutes

Make the shape

  • flour a working space on counter
    Pasta dough
  • cut dough into 8 pieces
  • roll each piece with your hand into a ½ inch rod
  • cut each log into ½ inch pieces
  • use your thumb to press and swirl dough into small cup shape
  • place pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil
    Pasta

Cooking method

  • add ½ tbsp of salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil
  • drop orecchiette in pot
  • when orrecchiette rises to top allow to cook for another minute
  • Total cooking time should be around 5 minutes

Notes

Please don’t worry about every piece of orecchiette looking exactly the same. This is homemade pasta. You will get the hang of it as you go along. Some people like to use a measuring spoon to help push the pasta into a cup shape.

Nutrition

Serving: 4people | Calories: 265kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 582mg | Potassium: 112mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 3mg
Pasta with Sausage
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5 from 1 vote

Orecchiette with Sausage, Spinach, Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella

Sausage, Spinach, Chopped Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course, Sauces and Dips, lunch
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Pasta Sauce, sausage
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 575kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ½ pound Sweet Italian Sausage – casing removed
  • ½ pound Hot Italian Sausage – casing removed
  • 4 cups Baby Spinach
  • 1 pint Yellow and Red Grape Tomatoes – cut in half
  • cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • ½ cup Pasta cooking water – from cooking orecchiette
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • ½ cup Parmesan Cheese- grated
  • 6 oz Fresh Mozzarella Cheese – chopped
  • 1 lb Orecchiette – cooked al dente (firm)

Instructions

  • Add 1 tbsp of oil to pan
  • Mix hot and sweet sausage together and add to pan
  • Use a spoon to break up the meat while it begins to brown – around 5 min.
  • Remove sausage from pan and set aside
  • Add the remaining tbsp of oil to pan
  • Add sliced garlic and cook until light brown on both sides
    Garlic
  • Return sausage to pan
  • Add tomatoes and cook for 5 min.
  • Add spinach, chicken broth and pasta water
  • When spinach is wilted add cooked orecchiette and butter allow to simmer in broth for a few minutes
  • Add grated parmesan
  • Turn off stove and toss in chopped fresh mozzarella

Notes

Serve with extra grated parmesan on the side and some crusty Italian bread.

Nutrition

Serving: 1person | Calories: 575kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 88mg | Sodium: 901mg | Potassium: 612mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2796IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 290mg | Iron: 3mg

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Life can be difficult, cooking doesn’t have to be…

Life can be difficult, cooking doesn’t have to be…

Chicken Milanese topped with Arugula, Tomatoes and Shaved Parmesan

So last night I was feeling tired. It had been a long rainy day training my puppy and waiting on line to vote. Let me rephrase this…Waiting on a very LONG line to vote in the rain. So when I got home I wanted to make something for dinner that would be delicious, easy and quick.

I realized that I hadn’t shared my Chicken Milanese recipe yet. This is my go-to prep for chicken any time of year. Meaning, it works just as good on a cold winter night as it does in the heat of summer. Learning to properly bread chicken, fish and vegetables is the foundation for anyone learning to cook. You can build many delicious recipes off of the classic breading method.

I chose to serve my thin sliced chicken breast Milanese with a simple arugula salad on top. I like the way the peppery arugula freshens the lightly fried chicken. I toss the arugula with Balsamic Vinegar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper and a touch of Dry Mustard.

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5 from 2 votes

Chicken Milanese

Panko Breaded Chicken Breast
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time12 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, American
Keyword: chicken, Breaded Chicken
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs thin sliced chicken breast
  • 1 cup flour-for dredging
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 cups Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried onion flakes
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  • Mix Panko with onion flakes, salt, pepper, oregano
  • dredge each chicken breast into flour first, then egg, then panko mix
  • Fill frying pan with 1/2 inch vegetable oil and heat over medium heat
  • When oil is warm add chicken and cook until golden brown on each side
  • Place on paper towel to absorb the extra oil

Notes

This recipe is a base for many dishes. Serve the chicken with a salad on top or top with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese to make delicious chicken parmigiana. You do not need to deep fry the chicken, you need enough oil to wet the breadcrumbs. I like to place the chicken on a paper towel after frying to remove extra oil.
This recipe can be made in advance and reheated in the oven.
arugula salad
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0 from 0 votes

Arugula Salad with Shaved Parmesan Cheese

Arugula, Tomatoes, Parmesan and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Prep Time10 mins
Course: Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine: Italian, American
Keyword: Salad
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 6 cups baby arugula
  • 1 pint yellow and red tomatoes cut in half
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ tsp dry mustard
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • tsp pepper
  • pinch sugar
  • shaved Parmigiana Reggiano for topping

Instructions

  • Place arugula and tomatoes in a bowl
  • In another bowl whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper and sugar
  • Pour dressing over salad and top with shaved Parmigiana

Surf Fishing

It is incredible to walk on the beach and watch people surf fish. It requires a lot of patience and skill to catch and reel in a fish while standing in the ocean surf. My daughter Olivia and I took a long walk on the beach yesterday and we were delighted to find some of our familiar friends fishing for bass. When fish is freshly caught a simple recipe works best because it lets the flavor of the the fish shine through. I prefer a whole roasted fish but my family prefers it to be filleted first because they really do not like any bones. I suggest using a good olive oil, mediterranean oregano, fresh lemon, capers and some salt and pepper. Put the fish in a baking dish, add the ingredients and put it in a 375 oven for 8-10 minutes. Thats it! Serve with a simple salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese tossed with some olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper and you have a delicious, healthy meal.

Even Chefs need a night out

and oh what a night….

Dinner at Daniel with my dear friend Kara @secrets_and_sauces and our amazing husbands.

Daniel, owned by the incredible Chef Daniel Boulud on East 65th street, is one of my most favorite restaurants in the world. I have celebrated many wonderful occasions here including many birthdays. The food, service and atmosphere never disappoint. I was so impressed with how beautiful the dining room looked even at 25% capacity mandated by NY. Walking into the restaurant was like walking into a botanical garden. We couldn’t wait to try the new ‘Boulud Sur Mer’ menu

To start, I ordered the Octopus which was fantastic. For the entree, Kara and I had the Pompano Fish encrusted in salt for two. The server displayed the beautiful fish before expertly filleting it table side. A light sauce accompanied the fish. To compliment the fresh fish we chose an elegant Daou chardonnay which is produced by my friend in Pasa Robles, California. For dessert, we opted for a cheese assortment with a glass of Sauternes that paired perfectly. Oh, and you mustn’t forget the warm madeleines that they spoil you with after dessert.

Thank you Daniel and your amazing staff for transporting us to the South of France, even if it was for just an evening. You brought back many wonderful memories so I had to also post the pic of us from my birthday in 2019. I can’t wait to return to celebrate more occasions.

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