September 13, 2016

Easy Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

This recipe for creamy macaroni and cheese impressed me so very much, I could not wait to share it here on the blog! This was the second time I made this dish and it came out 100% perfect both times.  

Before initially making it back in July, I had never made macaroni and cheese that started with a B├ęchamel sauce.  My go-to macaroni and cheese is simply mixed and baked – which comes out perfectly well but let me tell you! This creamy macaroni and cheese may just be the BEST macaroni and cheese I have ever eaten. YES. You heard that right.  The flavors are unbelievable.  The texture is amazing. This can be made in whatever portion size you would like - a small batch for two people or a HUGE batch for a dinner event.


1 Box Pasta, Cooked  {you can use traditional macaroni noodles but I decided to use Cavatappi and I LOVED the texture they gave this dish. It was so hearty I found that it yielded more portions}
6 Tablespoons Stick Butter 
1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 12 Ounce Can Evaporated Milk
2 Cups Half and Half
1 Heaping Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
3 8 Ounce Blocks Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Divided {it is IMPERETIVE that you use fresh cheese and grate it yourself.  The pre-grated / shredded bagged stuff just won't cut it in this recipe. In a pinch, you probably could use it but I would never compromise the flavor of this dish by taking that shortcut. :)


{In a heavy bottomed large pot, melt your butter over medium-low heat.}

{Once the butter is melted, add in your flour.}

{Begin whisking immediately to work out any lumps.  Continue to whisk this until it starts to brown, about 4 minutes. You want to slightly cook the flour/butter mixture.}

{Slowly add the evaporated and continue to mix, working any visible lumps.}

{Keep whisking those lumps out! The key to making a good B├ęchamel is getting it as smooth and creamy as possible.}

{Slowly add in your half and half. Continue whisking.}

{Season the sauce with the Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. The Dijon is an essential ingredient.  It REALLY brings out the cheese flavor in this dish.  It provides just the right amount of characteristic savor that it needs.}

{Once you mix the salt, pepper and Dijon in, reduce the heat a bit let it slightly simmer for a minute or two.}

{Add 2 {of the 3} 8 ounce cubes of your {FRESHLY GRATED!!} cheese and mix it in well to melt down into the sauce.}

{Keep whisking this it until the cheese has melted down and the sauce is thick and creamy.  Taste it for seasoning, I added a pinch more of salt and pepper.}

{Add your pasta and mix it until you have coated every single piece. Try very hard not to devour the entire pot and I am warning you – it WILL BE HARD! LOL! You could serve this now and it would be absolutely delicious but I think the next steps kick this dish up a bit.}

{Spread the macaroni and cheese mixture into a 9"x13" baking dish.}

{Sprinkle the last 8 ounce block of grated cheese over it along with a bit of paprika.  This helps give the dish a nice tan while in the oven. :)}

{Bake for about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or until it is bubbly and golden brown.}

{The creaminess is out of this WORLD! I man BEYOND. This is the most perfect pan of macaroni and cheese that will ever come out of your kitchen. And that's a promise.}

Serve it up and bask in your accomplishment while everyone who tastes it raves and raves. LOL! There really isn't much more to say. I hope you give this one a try! :)

xoxo, thanks for reading!  

September 12, 2016

Grilled Corn, Black Bean and Avocado Salsa

This recipe post has been a long time coming.  I think I enjoyed this grilled corn and avocado salsa over a dozen time this summer!  It's completely addicting and so easy to make.  I am so excited to have a few more warmer weeks left until the weather completely changes because that means I can still grill fresh ears of corn to enjoy this salsa.  The good news is that this will be equally as delicious using fresh steamed corn too so even after grilling season is officially over, this is a wonderful recipe to have in your back pocket for entertaining, lunch or a tasty snack for Sunday football. 


4 Ears Grilled Fresh Corn on the Cob, Kernels Removed
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 Can Black Beans, Rinsed
2 Avocados, Diced
3 Green Onions, Chopped
2 Tablespoons Fresh Cilantro
1 Large Lime, Juiced
1 Teaspoon Granulated Garlic
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

{To grill the corn on the cob, shuck your corn on the cob, rinse it well and pat to dry.  Rub vegetable oil on the ears and grill for about 5 minutes, rotating the corn to evenly char.  Cut the kernels off the grilled corn cobs and set aside.  Like I mentioned above, you could also steam the corn to cook the kernels and then remove.  An indoor stovetop grill would also work just fine.}

{In a large bowl, add your corn kernels and the can of rinsed black beans.}

{Add your diced ripened avocado.}

{Next comes the chopped green onion and freshly chopped cilantro. The green onion adds the perfect onion bite without being too overpowering and the cilantro. Well, I am obsessed with cilantro so any excuse to add it in, makes sense to me.:)}

{Add in your freshly squeezed lime juice.  I had a really big juicy lime and it worked perfectly.  If you have smaller, tighter limes, you may need to use a few of them to produce enough juice.  You will probably need a third cup or so for this recipe.}

{Finally, add your spices and season well.  Granulated garlic, ground cumin, salt and pepper. }

{Mix really well to combine and taste for flavor.  Add in more of whatever you think it needs.  I've also added in crushed red pepper flakes a few times and it was spicy and delicious.  Need more lime juice? Add it in.  This can be served immediately or after chilling in the fridge for a few hours.  This salsa will keep well in the fridge for about 24 hours, though mine never lasted that long. LOL.  If its sits for more than a few hours, you may need to add a bit more lime juice to replenish the moisture :)}

Plate it up and serve with tortilla chips! I've been loving blue corn chips lately and they taste really great with this particular salsa. 

I hope you give this one a try - let me know if you do! 

xoxo, thanks for reading!