A cooking and baking journal

Thinking Outside the Box -- Macaroni and Cheese with a Secret Ingredient

1/10/10: Macaroni and Four Cheeses with Classic Lyonnaise Potatoes

Meal details: For the main course I made a baked macaroni and cheese casserole that contains a surprising secret ingredient. And for a side I made a baked potato dish that has butter and lots of onions.

Defining moments: I've done casseroles before, so nothing was new for me this week.

Recipe sources: Both recipes came from the Food Network website. The mac 'n cheese recipe is a recipe created by Ellie Krieger, the host of Healthy Appetite and the potato dish was created by Emeril Lagasse, the host of Emeril Live and the Essence of Emeril. I specifically chose these two recipes because I am a member of the Food Network Chef Cooking Challenge that is being hosted by the writer of the I Blame My Mother blog. I've been a bit behind in the challenge for awhile, especially now since I've been testing some recipes from my new cookbook, but I'm still chugging along!

What I learned: OK, now to tell you the secret ingredient in the mac 'n cheese. Hope you're sitting down! Ready? The ingredient is. . . Butternut squash. You weren't ready for that, were you? If you're hovering the mouse cursor over the "back" button, hold on! Just scroll down to the "How it tasted?" section of the post; you might be surprised.
Besides learning how to pick out a recipe that scared the pants off my sister, I didn't gather any new techniques or tips from these two recipes. They both are very straightforward recipes and do not require a whole lot of ingredients, so that is probably the reason for it! But I think it is extremely good that I try some easy recipes every so often; if I don't I would go out of my mind. It is like what Ina Garten said on her show, Barefoot Contessa a couple of weeks ago: "I love to cook, but I don't like to spend the whole day cooking." I'm like her.

Any modifications? Yes, I made some changes to the mac 'n cheese recipe. I omitted the ricotta cheese (because some people on the website said that the ricotta made a grainy texture), I just used sharp cheddar cheese, and I used Ritz cracker crumbs instead of bread crumbs (because didn't have plain bread crumbs in the house).
Another modification I made, and this time to both recipes, was the oven time. I left both dishes in the oven for an hour--a whole lot longer than what the recipes say. We like our casseroles and potatoes to be a bit crispy on the edges.

How it tasted? What was more surprising than using our frozen butternut squash in the recipe was that every single member of my family (eight in all) liked the macaroni and cheese! Even some who don't care much for squash in the first place! A lot of them, including me, couldn't really detect the squash flavor. The squash, however, did add something to the dish and that was: texture. It made for a really creamy casserole.
The Lyonnaise Potatoes were alright. I think I should have cooked the onions for a longer time so they would have been sweeter. I don't think it is the best way to prepare potatoes.

How about a 2nd time? I would pull out Ellie's recipe again but I think Emeril's potato recipe will be in my recipe binder for awhile.

1 comment:

  1. I think butternut squash sounds like it would be amazing in mac & cheese! Thanks for the review =D