Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Baked Mac and Cheese

Two days ago, my favorite designer, Teresa Wentzler, announced she was closing up shop. This has brought on a lot of nostalgia and reflection of my craftier days. Back somewhere around 2001/2002 I was seriously in to cross stitching. I could spend the whole evening stitching at a project. Of course this was back when Mrblocko worked 18 hour days, and long before Blockette came around. My biggest distraction was the cats. They actually liked to sit on my lap while I stitched. They knew I'd be sitting there for a while so they could really settle in. I still love cross stitching but I find it difficult to find the uninterrupted time I need to stitch the complicated designs I love.

Anyhow, in the height of my cross stitching frenzy I used to frequent the message board for TW Designworks. At the time, there was a huge membership, but there was some sort of fight and the board fractured into several separate message boards. I was never able to figure out exactly what happened, but I felt a bit lost after the message board changed. There was no longer one place to chat with all the stitchers I felt were my online friends. I just couldn't keep up with all the different message boards so I gradually stopped reading all of them.

I think my passion for stitching has slowly morphed to a love of cooking. I don't get the same kind of long term satisfaction that I would get when I finished a huge stitching project when I cook. It's different, but in a good way. Cooking is something I can do with and for my family. Even though the food is gone after we finish our meal, the togetherness we experienced brings us closer together. That to me is the best kind of long term satisfaction.

This recipe for Baked macaroni really brings back memories of my marathon stitching days. I got this recipe from a posting on the TWBB message board. I think it's a nice collision of my old and new hobbies.Baked Mac-n-cheese from Annette414 and WizGidget (screen names from the TWBB)
8 oz mac or similar short cut pasta
1/4 c butter
1/4 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 c milk
1 c sour cream
1 c extra sharp cheddar
1 c Colby jack
about 1/4 c breadcrumbs

preheat the oven to 375. In a medium pan, melt the butter. Add flour, salt and pepper. Stir one minute. Slowly add milk and sour cream. Stir constantly. Bring just to a boil, stirring constantly. Simmer 5 minutes, still stirring constantly until sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat, add 1 1/2 c cheese. Stir. Pour sauce over noodles. Stir. Pour noodle mixture into 1.5 qt baking dish. Sprinkle top with remaining cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake 30-35 minutes until top is bubbly and brown.

I generally like to use this as a basic recipe. Something else always seems to get added in. This time it was some diced ham, 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, and a can of fire roasted tomatoes, drained. You could add just about anything to this dish. Chicken, bacon, paprika, dried mustard, roasted veggies, whatever floats your boat. Feel free to experiment with the cheeses as well. Mozzarella and Gruyere are a tasty combo.

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