Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fall Monday Football Nights

Is it really October?  I love the autumn and the changing of the trees...Halloween and Thanksgiving...I'm just not a fan of the cooler weather.  I don't want to have to put on a jacket (but I'm OK with a heavy sweater) and I certainly don't want to start thinking about the possibility of snow.  Eh.  A completely four letter word people.

I was forced to admit this morning that Fall has fallen - I’ve actually started today wearing socks and closed-toed shoes.  

Well, tonight is Monday Night Football and the JETS are playing...

on top of a cool, gray, damp day...and the memory of the horrific game last week…Well now lets add to that Dave is working. I don't think I can hold off and not watch the game until he gets home...but I also know it won’t be any fun yelling at the TV alone tonight … Yes - it's a bit gloomy over here!

It's time to break out the comfort food!

Comfort food brings so many dishes to mind from my childhood… German Eggs, Poor Man's Chicken, Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese...OH! Welsh Rabbit! (OK, that one will take explaining, but that is for another time!); but the one that stands out as one of my favorites is ‘Hamburgler Helper’ as my sister Kris called it for years…(I’d bet she still does!)

Hamburger Helper … Specifically – Cheeseburger Macaroni. 

I mean, please – who didn’t like Hamburger Helper as a kid?  And please note: I did say ‘as a kid’. 

Dave and I took a walk down memory lane a few months ago and bought a box to make for dinner…I was so excited!  I hadn’t had it in…oh, say 25 years and my mouth could just remember the flavors that I enjoyed so much as a child.

Well folks, apparently as I grew up, so did my taste buds – it wasn’t the same at all.  Or maybe it’s just that Mom needs to make it…Who knows. All I know is that I was so disappointed!  And then Dave said that “we (he really means me) can make this from scratch and it will be way better”. 

Well Dave, Yes… I can.  And I did.

In the EmilyVerse, it’s Monday Night JETS football and my version of Cheeseburger Macaroni and Cheese…if only Dave were home and the JETS win – it would be a perfect night!
(Ok - so obviously this was written Monday Night and posted Tuesday morning...and I got one out of my two wishes...Dave got home early so we could watch the game together...but the JETS lost.  Again. Sigh.)

So, two things:
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
Put on a large pot of boiling, well salted water for the pasta.

Elbows or Shells are the norm, but we all that I don't do norm well.  Use what ever pasta you have in the house! You'll cook the pasta per the box instructions (just shy of al dente please!).

While that is going, you're going to brown your meat.  In a skillet, put some olive oil, and then throw in:
1/2 of a medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (or run it through a micro plane)

Let that cook until just fragrant (about a minute or two) and then add in 1 lb Ground Turkey (yes, you can use beef here...I just choose turkey!). 
I'll also season at this point with some salt, Pepper, Worcestershire sauce (a few dashes) and some dried Italian seasoning.

Let this go, breaking up the meat and cook until brown. 
The sauce...We're going to make a basic rue so melt in a sauce pan
8 tablespoons of butter
one quart of milk.
When that is warm and just barely at a simmer, whisk in 1/2 cup of flour to thicken the sauce.
(I suppose I should add that this would be the perfect time to make a slurry so that the sauce doesn't get lumpy...meaning put some of the hot liquid in the flour, combine well and then put it in the rest of your milk - Dave would tell me to do this.  I don't...I just dump it in and whisk away...haven't had any lumps yet!) 

I also add at this time about 2 heaping tablespoons of dried mustard as well as about 1/2 a teaspoon of fresh nutmeg - little flavors that will make you say...hum..what IS that?
When its all combine (and no lumps! :) add in your cheeses...Be flexible here - use what you like!  I'm putting in about 8 oz of Gruyere, 12 oz of a sharp yellow cheddar...(and this is very conservative for me...but it's all I have in the house at the moment! I usually overload with the cheeses, so feel free to do so!)

Mix until the sauce is all gooey, cheesy goodness. 
You'll put this on top of your drained pasta and add the meat...

mix well and put in a casserole pan. Sprinkle a mixture of the cheeses on top and cover generously with some seasoned panko bread crumbs (yes, you can make your own, but why? when you can just get a good panko?) and a drizzle of Olive Oil.
 Bake for about 45 minutes until golden and bubbly.  
In my world...any Mac and Cheese is served with the choice of putting Ketchup on it.  Yes, I know most of the world just read that sentence and said..."what?" But that is how I was raised, so that is how I eat it.  Please feel free to try it - or just eat it plain...But do try this recipe and make it...and eat it! It's yummy, trust me!

Until Next Time...

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