Sunday, September 30, 2012

Homemade Pizza Dough....And maybe a couple calzones....

I am a fan of the easy way out.  I have no shame whatsoever in admitting that I often buy pizza dough at the supermarket when I make pizza, spinach pie, or some kind of "calzone."  However, I do love making my own dough every once in a while.  My Aunt Annette does it all the time (it really is easy) and so yesterday, I decided to make some dough of my own.  

We're going to family party today, and I decided to bring some Sausage Loaf and some Spinach Pie (for you people out there who don't know what sausage loaf and spinach pie are, just assume that it's a sausage calzone and a spinach calzone....Other blog entries to come later this week).  I did make both of these once before for a previous family party, and while no one even touched the sausage loaf, some of the spinach pie did go (there were some store-bought calzones on the table, and I guess people felt safer going with those....).  Since I know Scott loves the sausage loaf, he and I ended up eating quite a bit of it for dinner last night, so only the spinach pie will make an appearance at today's party (and whatever doesn't get eaten, I'm taking home!!!).  

So on to the pizza dough.  
Home Made Pizza Dough - Rising in the bowl, ready to be spread and used!!!

You only need four things to make pizza dough at home.  

1)  Flour.  2)  Water.  3)  Yeast.  4)  Time.  


In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together 1 Tablespoon of instant yeast and 1 cup of warm water (you can also add up to 1 teaspoon of sugar, if you so desire.  This will help the yeast bubble up).  Let the yeast mixture proof.  Once it has proofed nicely, add 4-5 cups of flour and start mixing everything together with a dough hook.  Gradually add up to another 1 cup of water.  You need to use your judgement here.  You don't want the dough to be too liquidy, but you also don't want it hard as a brick.  Once the machine has kneaded the dough for about 10 minutes or so and the mixture is nice and smooth, you can dump the mixture onto the counter, knead it a bit by hand to make sure it's the consistency that you want, and then transfer it to an OILED bowl.  Cover and leave in a warm location (I left it on top of the stove with the light on).  
"The Yeast Makes the Dough Rise" - the yeast, sugar and water are all mixed together!!

Proofing the yeast - the most important part!!

Letting the mixer do the work!!!  Using the dough hook helps to knead the dough, and you don't have to do it all by hand!

The dough is ready to sit and rise!

The dough is covered in a bit of oil, and is sitting in an oiled bowl!  Getting ready to sit for about an hour to rise

Let the dough sit in a warm area for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in bulk.  Punch the dough down, and then let it double again (this only takes about 30 minutes).

After the first rise, the dough is ready to be punched down!

Yes, I literally punched the dough!!  Ready to rise again!

The dough is re-risen, and ready to be used!!!

Now, you've got beautifully risen dough, ready for whatever you decide to make!  (Note, I divided the dough in 4 and made smaller loaves....)

Look for some more entries this week to make Sausage Loaf and Spinach Pie!!!

Sausage Loaf!!!

Spinach Pie!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Easy Zucchini Frittata

Sometimes you need a super simple dinner that won't take too long to prepare or cook.  Last night was one of those nights.  To me, frittata is an any-meal dish that can be put together of just about anything.  It's basically like a quiche but the key difference between them is that a quiche has a crust.  This makes a frittata super easy because all you have to do is cook everything up in a fry pan, add some beaten eggs, and stick it in the oven to finish cooking.  Really.  It's just that simple.

Last night, I wanted a way to get protein into my meal without having chicken or beef, and I wanted a decent amount of vegetables without just having a huge salad.  Well, I did it.  And you can too!!

Easy Zucchini Frittata with pepperoni and cheese
The Ingredients
  • Zucchini (as many as you want - I used 4 small zucchini), quartered longways and chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • Red Hot Pepper Flakes
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 10-12 large eggs, beaten
  • Chopped pepperoni
  • Shredded cheese
Chopped Zucchini and Onion

The Method

  • Chop up your zucchini and onion, as small or as large as you want.  I chose to chop my zucchini by slicing them the long ways (in quarters) and then chopping them.  This will ensure that you don't get massive pieces of zucchini in each bite.
  • Chop up your onion
  • Saute the zucchini and onion in some olive oil with the red hot pepper flakes.
  • Add some salt and black pepper to taste
  • Once the vegetables have softened, add the beaten eggs into the pan, and mix it just so that there is egg completely on all sides of the vegetables
  • Sprinkle the pepperoni and cheese on top (you're more than welcome to mix them into the egg, but I chose to leave them on top)
  • Transfer the entire frying pan to a 350* oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the eggs are completely cooked
And that's it!!!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Matters

  1. I am currently covered in some kind of Poison (either Ivy or Oak) and I am in a constant state of itch. It's awful.  Big splotches on one arm, random spots on the other arm, both sides of my abdomen, and my neck.  Doctor gave me Prednisone and Benadryl and it has only been helping a little bit.  This is awful.

  2. Buffalo.  Chicken.  Pizza.  Currently the love of my life.  We bought some (yes, that's right, bought - not made) on Saturday and I have been enjoying it all weekend.  Put some Blue Cheese Dressing on top, and you're in heaven!  At least I am!!!
  3. Buffalo Chicken Pizza from Tomaselli's in Cranston, RI
  4. Saturday night, my mom taught Scott and me how to play Mah Jong.  Not the Internet Matching Tiles game - the real game.  It was a ton of fun!  She's having the girls over tonight for Mah Jong (they get together quite often to play) and I might even sit in!  

  5. As you know, last week was my birthday.  I had a great day and as I mentioned before, Scott surprised me with an amazing dinner at my favorite restaurant.  My family went out of their way on the previous weekend to have a cake for me, and I really enjoyed celebrating my 29th birthday.  The only flaw with the entire thing was the realization that two people in particular - who I considered my closest friends back in the day - did not so much as whisper a Happy Birthday to me.  I feel like I'm very good at wishing my friends a Happy Birthday on their big day (how can you not with Facebook reminding you all the time) and I was just really surprised by the neglect.  I know things aren't the same as they used to be, but it's just hurtful.  End Rant.

  6. My Aunt Annette has an amazingly simple recipe for Focaccia Bread that I plan on trying within the not-too distant future.  I can't wait to try it!!!

  7. My friends and I have started up another round of the Healthy Challenge.  So far, I'm doing alright.  I have do admit, though, lately the sweets have been killing me.  I need to get myself away from them!!!

  8. Yesterday we went over to My Aunt Annette's house where she and my cousin Carolyn put together a delicious Sunday dinner of Sausage and Peppers, Salad, and Roasted Chicken with stuffing, potatoes, and carrots.  We all had a lot of fun - and even got quite a few laughs in, most of which were at the expense of my grandmother.  She and my cousin Carolyn spent the previous evening making Wine Biscuits, where Nonni quipped the phrase, "If we do it correctly, we'll be here all night" - meaning that if they made the wine biscuits small, they'll be baking all night....She also gave herself a healthy portion of chicken and stuffing at dinner, which created lots of laughs!!
  9. Wine Biscuits, made by Nonni (left) and Carolyn (right)....

    Seriously, that's all the chicken and stuffing that Nonni took for herself yesterday at dinner
  10. The painting at the house seems to finally be coming to a head - there's not a ton left to do.  I feel like it's take FOREVER to get to this point.  The new contractor should be calling me within the next couple of days to give us the price for the plumber (who has to completely REDO everything that the first plumber did), and then we can have the hardwood floors refinished, and move in!!!  I'm aiming for moving in before Halloween, but as long as we're in before Thanksgiving, I'll be happy!!!

  11. We head down to Florida on Monday (October 1) for some vacation time, and a wedding on October 7!!  I cannot wait.  

  12. So Football Season is in full swing, and these replacement refs are really getting under my skin.  I like football, but it's not my favorite sport (Hockey is my first love), but I understand the game, and I also understand that these refs don't know football.  Some of the calls are completely outrageous!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Happy Birthday to ME!!!

Tuesday, September 18.  The first day of the last year of my 20's.  That's right.  29.  It's official.  It really doesn't bother me.  I still feel the same as I did at 25, which is all that matters, right?
Even my watch/heart rate monitor remembered my birthday!!!

Well, my day was good.  In all honestly, the time I spent at work kind of stunk (which work day doesn't?) but it was full of annoying phone calls and a workout at the gym that really wasn't too exciting.  The night was much better.  

Scott had an awesome surprise for me - dinner at my very best favorite restaurant on Federal Hill - Camille's.  We had an awesome dinner, consisting of a meat and cheese board appetizer, filet mignon for me and veal marsala for Scott, and an AMAZING birthday surprise.

I have to precede the story by telling you that the last time I went to Camille's they made a big deal about me being there (since we have the same name, you know) and I walked out with a pen, some matches, and a few napkins from the bathroom.  Well, this time, not only did they give me a stack of napkins and some more matches, they also gave me a stack of post cards!  At one time, they used to have glasses on the table with "Camille's" on them (they used to sell them, too)...Well, we didn't see any on Tuesday night, so Scott went to the front to ask if they had any (he also used this time to tell them that it was my birthday - a hint that the maitre'd unfortunately gave away when he was yelling after the water that it was my birthday).  While they didn't have any, I was still happy with my collection of goodies.

About half-way through our meal, the maitre'd came over to ask how everything was - and surprised me with a wine glass that he dug up from the depths of who-knows-where!!  How exciting!  A birthday gift for me!!!
Napkins, Postcards, Matches and a wine glass!!!

Then, after dinner, the waiter brought us dessert menus, and while I was salivating over the description of a Snickers Pie, he cam out with a plate of Tiramisu, with "Happy Birthday Camille" written on the plate in chocolate, and a candle stuck to the plate!  It was A-Mazing!!!  I think it was my best birthday surprise ever!!!!

'Happy Birthday Camille' Tiramisu with a "Camilles" chocolate mold on top!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Matters

  1. My mom put on an awesome (very last minute) party on Saturday for my birthday (which is tomorrow)!!!  She made my favorite foods for dinner, and even made TWO cakes!
  2. Birthday Bunt Cakes!!!  Yellow Cake with Chocolate Creamcheese frosting and Coconut Cake!!!  
    1. Dinner consisted of Chicken Marsala (it's not really chicken marsala....Because we don't use Marsala wine....So it's really just chicken marinated and cooked in wine with onions and mushrooms - my very best favorite meal as a kid), Spanish Rice, and Salad

    2. Cake?  How about TWO cakes!  I asked my mom if I could request yellow cake with chocolate frosting....Her reply?  That Nonni (my grandmother) had requested Coconut Cake....But since it was my birthday, she insisted on making what I wanted!  So I got two cakes!  SO YUMMY!!!

  3. We did a TON of work at the house this weekend.  We starting trimming down the front bed which has 15 years worth of untrimmed Juniper Bushes (yes, seriously, the neighbor told us of the non-ambitious previous owner, and how he never trimmed the bushes down).  I'm pretty sure all of the neighbors are excited that they'll soon be able to see around the corner without bushes being in the way.  The only problem?  There is too much yard waste to bring to the landfill ourselves.  I called public works - they won't make a special trip to pick it up....So we're on to devising a Plan B....
  4. It's hard to see in the picture, but there is a totally overgrown area in the corner (with a dead tree, as well)....It's cleanup time!!!
  5. In more house news, my Aunt Regina (who is selling her amazing house) is selling us her dining room set.  This set is the most amazing thing I've ever seen in my entire life.  Dining room table with two leafs and covers, eight chairs, full hutch (with a light inside!), and a butler station.  It's amazing.  I can't wait until my house is DONE!

  6. The new contractor came over to my house on Friday with his plumber.  They're starting to finish everything this week (hopefully).  Everything that the previous plumber did is wrong, and they have to redo almost everything.  Oh lovely.

  7. My friend Victoria at Mission-Food made a Mexican Fiesta yesterday and it looks A-MAZING and I can't wait to try the Gronk-Amole.  That's right.  You heard what you heard.  GRONK!!!!!

  8. I made Chili for dinner on Friday and it was really good.  However, I'm starting to think that there were just too many beans (it was fine on Friday at dinner....Leftovers for lunch - not so much).  Don't get me wrong, I love anything with beans, but I feel like it's too much beany texture.  I might need to revise.

  9. I've read a lot about the Will and Kate photo scandals on Perezhilton lately.  I feel really bad for them.  Talk about an invasion of privacy.  I don't understand how people can think it's okay to stalk people while they're on a PRIVATE estate and then publish pictures of their private rendezvous.  I hope those people get in some serious trouble.

  10. So speaking of Perezhilton.....I love reading celebrity gossip and wondering WHAT ON EARTH is going on in their heads when they make decisions, and then have to live with the results.  Maybe it's the fame that makes people think that they're invincible....and able to get away with anything (like stealing jewelry, hit and run accidents, or smoking pot while driving).  At the same time, I feel bad for these people when they are so heavily publicly scrutinized for every single one of their actions (see point 7), even stupid people like Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart....For goodness sake - let them sort out their relationship problems in PRIVATE!!!

  11. I made waffles for breakfast yesterday.  Nothing fancy, just plain waffles.  Flour, Baking Powder, Milk, Egg, Oil, and a little vanilla.  Scrumptious.

  12. I think I have a problem with stealing napkins and plastic-ware at work...
  13. Need a napkin?  I have a few to spare....And some spoons....
  14. Wouldn't seeing Gronk on your way to work make you happy, too???
  15. GRONK!!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Matters

  1. On Thursday night, I got to bake not one thing....But TWO things!!!  How exciting is that???  I've been itching to bake for SO long, and while I made the Apple Crisp last weekend, I still felt unfulfilled in the baking department.

    1. The first thing I baked was my Trippy Dippy Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Chocolate cookie, white chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and almonds.  DELICIOUS.

    2. The second thing I baked was my Call Me Maybe Blondies.  Basically, a chocolate chip cookie in brownie form.  With three different kinds of chocolate chips.  Why the title, you ask? Well, Blondie sang "Call Me" and they were maybe like a Blondie (really like a cookie bar).  So Call me Maybe.  Blondies.  Either way, delicious.

  2. I baked said goodies for a Bachelorette party this weekend, which was a lot of fun!  A jam packed weekend of Wine Tastings, Boat Rides, Dancing, and lots of drinking.

  3. Hanging out with the Bride Katie (left) and her soon-to-be-sister-in-law Tina (right)
  4. My husband and I drove into work together this morning and it took us an hour and twenty minutes.  Seriously.  I should have taken 50 minutes.  It was like torture.  All I kept thinking was "When is my house going to be ready???"

  5. Speaking of my house, the painter started putting color up on the walls this weekend!!!  How exciting is that????  I haven't seen it for myself yet, but I'm thinking a ride by after work today will be delightful.

  6. Today I experienced the glory of "Mobile Deposits."  My grandmother gave us a check as a housewarming, to help us pay for the new bulkhead that we bought.  Instead of having to go to the bank to deposit it, I'm now able to do it FROM MY PHONE!!!  Take a picture of the front, take a picture of the back, enter the amount, and I've got a pending deposit.  Amazing!

  7. When I got into work this morning, I remembered that they are officially starting their "United Way Campaign."  While I'm all about donating money to people in need, I absolutely dread the thought of sitting through a Month of people screaming at me to donate money, to buy raffle tickets, to donate to a silent auction, to BUY from the silent auction, to buy at the live auction, to pay to take a picture with a CPR doll, etc etc etc.  It just gets  to be too much.  Today when I walked in, they were setting up little golf tees all around the place....It's called "Putt and Pledge..."  What is it about?  I HAVE NO CLUE.  I deleted the email.  All I know, is that the campaign starts today, and if I donate in the first 8 hours, I get a free half day of vacation.  DONE.

  8. It took a long time, but I think I finally figured out how to get my blog posts to post onto Facebook (and on the Blogger feed) with the picture I want.  It's all about the first picture you add into your post.  I used to be able to picture a picture for Facebook, but that doesn't happen anymore so I now have to be super careful about the first picture I choose!!!  I'm trying!! :o)

  9. I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday's WEEK 1 PATRIOTS GAME!!!  We got to hang out with friends, eat yummy food, and watch the game.  Oh, and see our favorite players - like Gronk - try to spike the ball, and not realize that it had already dropped out of his hand.  Priceless!

  10. My birthday is officially in 8 days (September 18, people!) Last birthday in my twenties. Any good ideas for celebrating??

Trippy Dippy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Trippy Dippy Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Do I have your attention??

I thought so!

Imagine a chocolate chip cookie that is as far from ordinary as humanly possible.  Well, I have something crazier!  The only thing trippy about it is the three different kinds of chocolate, but you'll definitely be super happy with the final product (and they're not horrible for you....Nutrition Information below!!).

Trippy Dippy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I saw an episode of Barefoot Contessa earlier in the week, and she and a friend made a cookie recipe that looked so delicious.  I made a couple little modifications, and the end result was so delicious...And and Ina would say, "How easy is that?"

The Ingredients

2 1/3 cups All Purpose Flour
3/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 tsps Baking Soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 sticks Unsalted Butter, softened
1 cup Sugar
1 cup packed Light Brown Sugar
1 Egg, beaten
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 cup White Chocolate Chips
1 1/2 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup Almonds, chopped

(NOTE:  If you happen to have Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder, but all means, use it.  Just decrease the Baking Soda to just 1 tsp.  I didn't have the Dutch Processed, and wasn't about to go out and buy it when I had 2 opened containers of the regular unsweetened.  The only difference is the Dutch Processed will make the cookies a little darker)

The Method
  • Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside (Note:  I usually dump all the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, but I felt like mixing the cocoa powder and the flour was somewhat important, so I actually combined the dry ingredients ahead of time)

  • Cream together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until well combined.

  • Add the egg and vanilla (I beat these two together before mixing into the sugar/butter mixture, but it's totally not necessary)

  • Mix until well combined

  • Add the dry mixture into the wet mixture and mix well (I literally dumped the entire contents of the dry ingredients in....Just don't go putting the mixer on full speed unless you want a flour shower.  Pulse the mixer until some of the flour is mixed in first)

  • Add the chocolate chips and almonds and mix until well combined.

  • Drop scoopfuls of cookie dough onto an ungreased cookies sheet (I use a small ice cream scoop - or a "cookie scoop"
  • Bake at 350* for 15-17 minutes (they will seem very soft when you take them out of the oven, but they will harden as they cool - so don't over-bake them!!)

  • Move to wire racks to continue cooling after a few minutes

Note:  Each recipe makes ~108 cookies:
Per Serving:  76 Calories * 9 Carbs * 4 Fats * 1 Protein * 0 Fiber * 37 Sodium


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Call Me Maybe Blondies

I love the term Blondies.  I don't know why.  Technically, they're a cross between a cookie that's baked like a brownie....Right?

In any case, you can call this a Blondie.  Maybe. 

I am obsessed with the idea of baking a cookie like a brownie.  I tried, once, a long time ago, to make chocolate chip cookies with the creamcheese filling in brownie style.  I failed.  Miserably.  So this time, I decided to take a step back and just make the brownie.  Or in this case, the Blondie.

Call Me Maybe Blondies
The original recipe that I found was complicated, with beating butter for 8 minutes, and adding tons of air into the batter in order to make the mixture nice and fluffy and I honestly did not have the patience.  Plus, I wanted a delicious, decadent, dense brownie.  So I made it my own.  And here we go!!!

The Ingredients
1 cup Unsalted Butter, softened
1 cup Light Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
2 1/3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
2 large Eggs
2 tsps Vanilla Extract
2 1/2 - 3 cups chocolate chips (I used a mixture of white chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and milk chocolate chips....Because that's what I had left...And it happen to all amount to 2 1/2 cups.  You can put whatever you want here)
Chopped Walnuts - OPTIONAL (I did not put in any nuts)

The Method
  • Beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy

  • Add the Eggs and Vanilla Extract and mix well

  • Add in all of the dry ingredients and once again, mix well (you are more than welcome to mix all of the dry ingredients separately and add them into the wet ingredients, but as I've mentioned before, I have no patience for that.  Just dump it all in together - just be mindful of not giving yourself a flour shower!!)

  • Mix in the chocolate chips (and nuts, if you've decided to add them in)

  • Spread the mixture into a GREASED 9x13 pan
  • Bake at 375* for 30-35 minutes (insert a toothpick in the middle to ensure it is cooked all the way through - the top center should not jiggle when you move the pan).

  • Allow the pan to cool on the stove.

  • Once the Blondies had sat in the pan for a good 30-45 minutes, I inverted the pan onto a cooling rack, and then transfered onto a cutting board so they were sitting right-side up again.
  • Cut into 24 bars 
  • Allow to cool completely before plating/stacking

Note:  24 Servings
Per Serving:  28 Calories * 36 Carbs * 15 Fat * 3 Protein * 0 Fiber * 119 Sodium


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Apple Crisp

My mom is a teacher in Providence, and it's a requirement that they teachers administer breakfast to the students (the food is provided by the school system, but my mom actually has to hand it out to the students). A few days this week, she was given apples to hand out to the class, and she ended up bringing all of the leftovers home.  That meant baking for me!!!

As I mentioned a while ago, I've had the itch to bake,  I didn't really care what it was, but I wanted to bake SOMETHING.  Well, here was my opportunity.  I have an amazing apple crisp recipe that I always use (it's from the King Arthur Flour cookbook), but seeing as all of my cookbooks are stored away in a storage location, we needed to improvise.  I looked online, and found an extremely simple recipe that I decided to go with.  I improvised a big, so here's what we did:

The Ingredients
2 1/2 cups oatmeal (I don't think it matters if it's quick oats or old fashioned, but I used old fashioned)
2 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar
2 sticks melted butter
6 cups apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
3/4 cup white sugar

The Method

  • Mix together the oatmeal, flour and brown sugar with a fork.
  • Add in the melted butter, mix initially with the fork, and then get your hands in there and mix it until it is crumbly
  • Put half of the crumble mixture into a greased 9x13 pan
  • Spread the apples on top of the crumble mixture
  • Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon on top of the apples (I just eyeballed the cinnamon.  The original recipe called for about 4 teaspoons, but I didn't measure it).
  • Put the other half of the crumble mixture on the top
  • Bake in a pre-heated 350* oven for about 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown

Note:  Assuming 20 servings (which is a VERY generous portion)
Per Serving:  296 Calories * 50 Carbs * 10 Fats * 3 Protein * 2 Fiber * 10 Sodium
Serve with ice cream, and ENJOY!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mac and cheese

Macaroni and Cheese.  I know some people hear that and they just see a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese. When my family hears Mac and Cheese - they see a huge pan hot out of the oven.  That's right.  It may be made with the plainest of all the cheeses, but it makes the most decadent of all Mac and Cheese.

My mom and aunt found a recipe for Macaroni and Cheese years ago in a Betty Crocker Book.  If I remember correctly, the recipe had a number of steps, including layering the cheese sauce with the macaroni.  Instead, they decided that mixing the the sauce and the macaroni was sufficient.  And trust me, it really is sufficient.

So this is not a Mac and Cheese that you'll want to make for dinner.  This is a party mac and cheese and two lbs goes a LONG way (I mentioned in Monday Matters that we made it this weekend for a little Labor Day get together and it made so much that we sent everyone home with leftovers)....So here goes!

The Ingredients
2 lbs Cellentani or Cavatappi macaroni
1 stick butter
1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup flour
1/2 gallon milk (I usually use 2%)
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 pounds Land o Lakes American Cheese, shredded (Yes - 3 lbs.  And it HAS to be Land o Lakes...We've tried it with other cheeses, and it just isn't the same)

For the topping:
3-4 Tbsp melted butter
1 sleeve ritz crackers, crushed

All of the shredded cheese - you can use either a box grater or the attachments on the food processor - and the ritz and macaroni

The Method

  • Set a big pot of water to boil for the macaroni.  While the water is heating up, do the following:

  • Melt the butter in a large pot and add in the onions to saute
  • When the onion is softened, add in the flour and stir continuously.
  • When the flour mixture starts to bubble, slowly stir in the milk, salt, and pepper
  • Stir continuously on medium-high heat, and once the milk has warmed up a bit (it should be warm to the touch but not anywhere close to boiling), add in the shredded American Cheese

  • Stir until creamy.  You shouldn't see any strings of cheese left in the mixture.  Lower the heat and continue stirring until the water has come to a boil, and the macaroni has been cooked until al dente (You need to stir the mixture the entire time, otherwise it will stick to the bottom of the pan.  Also, you do NOT want the macaroni cooked all the way here, because it needs to bake and it will be too mushy if overcooked).   When you're ready to strain the macaroni, just take the cheese mixture completely off the heat.

Add the drained macaroni to a baking pan (I use the throw-away foil pans) and pour the cheese mixture on top.  Mix everything together  (You can put the drained macaroni back in the pot, and add all of the cheese sauce there, and then transfer everything into the foil pan....Do whatever is easiest for you!!)

Top the Mac and Cheese with crushed ritz cracker crumbs (about 1 sleeve) that have been mixed with melted butter (about 3-4 Tablespoons)

Bake covered for 45 minutes at 375*.  Unover, then bake an additional 15 minutes until the crumb topping is golden brown.

Let the Mac and Cheese set for at least 15-30 minutes before serving.

A delicious serving of Macaroni and Cheese, just waiting to be eaten!!!
Note:  Assuming 20 servings (which is a VERY generous portion):
Per Serving:  500Calories * 44 Carbs * 28 Fat * 21 Protein * 2 Fiber * 1133 Sodium

Now that's what I call a cookout!!!