Monday, September 19, 2011

Buh Bye Blogger

While I've enjoyed the ease of use at, for a variety of reasons Vermont Foodie has now moved to I hope to see you there!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Returned (with a Side of Macaroni and Cheese)

I originally started this blog in 2009 as part of a CSA group sharing tips and recipes through blogging. I loved that summer. The fresh produce weekly (not to mention the local Vermont breads, cheeses and maple creams among other goodies), always a bag bursting with surprises, challenging me to make the most of what I had received, was truly a bright spot in every week. For a variety of reasons, I only participated in the CSA for one summer. But my appetite and thirst (ha! food words) for cooking have never diminished, but are ruled by the time I have available and my energy reserves (yes, I have kids. Two of them. Highly energized. Really energetic. A lot.). But I've been missing the blog lately. I've been missing the process of finding and trying new recipes, seeking out ingredients that aren't my 'normal' shopping list and trying to find wholesome dishes that my kids will actually eat and my husband and I will enjoy.

Moscow, Vermont 8/11
Fall does this to me, too. One sniff of a pumpkin spice latte (hm, I think I may need one tomorrow morning, actually), apple cake or mulled cider, and I melt like chocolate. I've always had a special place in my heart for Fall (I even got married in late September).  Autumn is all about the senses. The vision of foliage, glowing maroon, gold (go Eagles), amber and sienna in the weakening sunlight.  The rustle of leaves underfoot on a crisp day.  The aroma of wood burning fires, cinnamon wafting from warmed ovens.  Being only early September, we are just starting to get hints of early Autumn in Vermont. But - it's just enough for me to get the oven warmed up and start hunting for comfort dishes that help make my house a home. Here's one of the first of the season from my house.

Crusty Macaroni and Cheese
From the New York Times

Honestly, crusty is not my favorite word. But it is appropriate for this dish. My grandmother used to fry neat little piles of shredded cheese in a frying pan as a snack. The topping on this dish is directly reminiscent of that treat.  I'm partial to Cabot cheddar, particularly the seriously sharp kind, because Cabot is not only a great Vermont company but also because it, well, tastes delicious (try a simple grilled sharp cheddar and bacon on homemade bread and you'll see what I mean).  This dish isn't your creamy, processed cheese variety of mac and cheese, but it is rich with a satisfying chew to the top layer.

My picky three-year-old gobbled this up (my six-year-old will require a few more tries). As you will see, you don't even need to make a bechamel sauce for this mac and cheese, which was originally what attracted my over-extended self to the recipe.  To up the nutritional content (is it even worth trying when there are 24 ounces of cheese?), I use Ronzoni SmartTaste pasta, higher in fiber and lower in calories. This choice is leftover from my days on Weight Watchers where fiber is king. Tomorrow might actually be a Weight Watchers day.  The recipe calls for whole milk, which I'm not in the habit of stocking on a regular basis. I'm willing to make an exception, though, for a cool, rainy early September day.

3 tablespoons butter
12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
12 ounces American or cheddar cheese (I used cheddar, because I LOVE cheddar), coarsely grated
1 pound elbow pasta, boiled in salted water until just tender, drained, and rinsed under cold water
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
2/3 cup whole milk

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Use one tablespoon butter to thickly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Combine grated cheeses and set aside two heaping cups for topping.

In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, cheeses, cayenne (if using) and salt to taste. Place in prepared pan and evenly pour milk over surface.  Sprinkle reserved cheese on top, dot with remaining butter and bake, uncovered, 45 minutes.  Raise heat to 400 degrees and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, until crusty on top and bottom.

8 to 12 servings.
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