Dang Good Mac & Cheese

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Dang Good Mac & Cheese! I just cranked up this all-time favorite dish a notch, maybe two. Cheddar cheesy? It’s in there. Mozzarella madness? Oh, yeah. Palatable parmesan? Absolutely. Sooo, what’s the big deal, you wonder. Well…I kinda switched out the macaroni pasta noodles for gnocchi’s pillow-like tender dumplings that swaddle themselves in a blanket of creamy cheese sauce. Hold on. Then I topped it all with a buttery crunch topping of panko and Italian bread crumbs. Mmmwah! Life doesn’t get any better that this.

DANG GOOD MAC & CHEESE

Ingredients:

1-pound package gnocchi

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 cup milk, warmed

3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup panko and Italian bread crumbs

1 tablespoon butter, melted

Parsley, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Spray a casserole dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. Cook the gnocchi, according to package directions. Drain, transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Whisk together cornstarch and chicken broth in a measuring cup until completely dissolved. Set aside. Warm olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic. Sauté 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Slowly add cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly to make a light brown roux. Add warm milk, stirring until smooth as the mixture reaches a low boil. Remove pan from heat; stir in mozzarella, cheddar, and parmesan cheeses until melted and smooth. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Pour the cheese sauce over the gnocchi until evenly coated. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Combine panko and Italian seasoned breadcrumbs with the melted butter. Sprinkle over the cheesy gnocchi. Bake 15 minutes to brown the topping. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

Elbow Macaroni Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Elbow Macaroni Salad! I owe freshness to the farmer’s market. And so should you. After all, they are a great resource for locally grown produce, herbs, eggs, and meats. Without a doubt, they are popping up everywhere. However, it’s okay to ask a few questions when you’re chatting with the growers. An important one might be if there are pesticides used. “Organic” does not always mean pesticide-free. Soil quality may be another concern. GMO seeds, animal treatment, and ideas for food preparation are also topics of discussion. Once I am familiar with a grower, I glean ideas for ways to store and cook the products. Some days I even walk away with recipes. The bottom line is, support your community. We’re all in this together.

ELBOW MACARONI SALAD

Ingredients:

2 cups elbow macaroni, cook according to package directions, then cool

2 tablespoons sweet onion, sliced

1/2 cup baby carrots, julienned

1/2 cup snow peas, sliced horizontally

4 radishes, thinly sliced

1/4 cup garlic vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon water

1 envelope Italian salad dressing dry mix

1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine cooked macaroni and sweet onion slices. Add julienned carrots, sliced snow peas, and radish discs. Gently toss. In a measuring cup, combine garlic vinegar, lemon juice, water, Italian seasoning packet, and olive oil. Whisk together until completely blended. Drizzle dressing over the macaroni salad. Gently toss to coat ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Instant Mac ‘n Cheese

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Instant Mac ‘n Cheese! Face it. Every once in awhile the craving hits us to settle into a comfy chair with a warm bowl of Mac ‘n Cheese. Most pantries have all the ingredients you need to make it at home in a flash. Pasta, butter, milk, cheese, and seasonings. If you don’t have elbow macaroni, substitute ziti. If you’re low on cheddar cheese, use a couple slices of Velveeta instead. It’s all good. Sprinkle the gooey Mac ‘n Cheese with Cajun seasoning for extra zest. Oh, yeah!

INSTANT MAC ‘N CHEESE

Ingredients:

4 ounces pasta

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup milk

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Dash of Cajun seasoning

Instructions:

Cook pasta according to package directions. In medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add flour and sea salt. Stir until smooth. Raise heat to medium. Slowly add milk, stirring occasionally. Cook until bubbly. Add cheese and stir well until melted. Drain pasta. Blend with cheese sauce stirring to coat. Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning.

Lively Calypso Mac ‘n Cheese

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Lively Calypso Mac ‘n Cheese! When I needed a quick side dish to serve with the Xtreme Sloppy Joes, I turned to my pantry for a flavorful inspiration from Pappardelle’s*. The multicolored shapes alone are conversation starters. Picture this: Lime gnocchi shells, mango-peach sea shells, and red southwestern chile lumache. The natural flavors explode when cooked and mixed with cheese, butter, and milk. It’s macaroni and cheese with a Caribbean twist. Well done!

LIVELY CALYPSO MAC ‘N CHEESE

Ingredients:

8 ounces Pappardelle’s Calypso Blend pasta

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup butter

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup milk

Crushed croutons for garnish

Instructions:

Bring a 2-quart pan of salted water to a rolling boil on high heat. Add 8 ounces of Pappardelle’s Calypso Blend pasta. Stir for the first 15 seconds. As the water returns to a slow simmer, reduce heat to medium and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Drain pasta. Melt butter in pan on low heat. Add cheddar cheese and milk. Stir to blend until cheese is melted. Return pasta to pan and stir to coat evenly. Do not burn. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with crushed croutons.

*I receive no recompense for promoting this product.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter C

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Crockpot Mac ‘n Cheese! I find this is seriously the best way to make macaroni and cheese for a crowd without all the fuss. It is so kid-friendly, in fact, you may discover you have an extra pair of helping hands without even asking. When using a slow cooker, the pasta softens as the sauce thickens into a hot, creamy, extra-cheesy youthful delight. Top it off with crushed potato chips for a heart-warming side dish.

CROCKPOT MAC ‘N CHEESE

Ingredients:

1 pound cellentani pasta, also known as cavatappi, uncooked

4 tablespoons butter, cut into tablespoon pieces

4 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

1 cup potato chips, crushed

Instructions:

Spray the crockpot with nonstick oil. Pour the uncooked pasta into the bottom of the slow cooker. Layer the butter and cream cheese chunks over the pasta. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, milk, and cream. Mix well. Pour over pasta. Stir to blend. Spread pasta into an even layer, being sure to coat everything in sauce. Cover and cook on LOW for 1-2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Be sure to spread macaroni into one layer after stirring to keep pasta coated with sauce. When pasta is done, sprinkle shredded cheddar and pepper jack over all. Stir to combine. Replace cover and cook 10 minutes until cheese is creamy and melted. Sprinkle with crushed potato chips before serving.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter L

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Lively Calypso Mac ‘n Cheese! When I needed a quick side dish to serve with the Xtreme Sloppy Joes, I turned to my pantry for a flavorful inspiration from Pappardelle’s*. The multicolored shapes alone are conversation starters. Picture this: Lime gnocchi shells, mango-peach sea shells, and red southwestern chile lumache. The natural flavors explode when cooked and mixed with cheese, butter, and milk. It’s macaroni and cheese with a Caribbean twist. Well done!
LIVELY CALYPSO MAC ‘N CHEESE
Ingredients:

8 ounces Pappardelle’s Calypso Blend pasta

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup butter

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup milk

Crushed croutons for garnish
Instructions:

Bring a 2-quart pan of salted water to a rolling boil on high heat. Add 8 ounces of Pappardelle’s Calypso Blend pasta. Stir for the first 15 seconds. As the water returns to a slow simmer, reduce heat to medium and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Drain pasta. Melt butter in pan on low heat. Add cheddar cheese and milk. Stir to blend until cheese is melted. Return pasta to pan and stir to coat evenly. Do not burn. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with crushed croutons. 
*I receive no recompense for promoting their product.