Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mmmmmmmmac n' Cheese n' Dogs!

I grew up with the kind of mother who made sure dinner was homemade and delicious every night and the kind of father who worked hard to make sure there was sufficient funds for food. My sister and I never worried about if there would be enough of the traditional comforts at home, and were grateful that we were occasionally afforded a few luxuries. As a middle school teacher and student myself, I don't have an abundance of time, but I do enjoy making a some favorite comfort foods when the opportunity arises. Enter, Pioneer Woman's Baked Mac and Cheese, the kind of dish that would please my parents: homemade, delicious, cost-effective, and comforting.

I was sifting through the recipes over at Annie's Eats when I stumbled across this fantastic recipe. Now, I love Pioneer Woman immensely, but I've never tried any of her recipes! There's a first time for everything, right?! So, with the husband in class, an empty house, and a grocery cart full of the necessary ingredients, I set off on this cheesy adventure. I loved making this dish; it was relatively simple but did require my full attention. For me, too, it was educational: I have NEVER tempered an egg--EVER! And this recipe required that successfully temper one! It also asked me to use whole milk and lots of it too boot...I hate whole milk...but it was delicious, though not the kind of dish I can make every night seeing as though my ever-expanding waistline cannot afford much more! Finally, it allowed me to make some adaptions to my own tastes, which I think is the mark of any good recipe. Here's the recipe below--with my own addition: 5 sliced hot dogs!

Pioneer Woman’s Baked Mac and Cheese with Hot Dogs!

5 hot dogs, sliced
4 cups uncooked macaroni (I like small elbow macaroni, but curly pasta or bow ties would be fun!)
4 tbsp. butter--not margarine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tsp. dry mustard
1 egg, beaten
1 lb. cheese, grated (I used all cheddar, but I’m sure a combination would be great too)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2-1 tsp. ground black pepper
Dashes of cayenne, paprika, and/or thyme (optional) – (I only used cayenne!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Slice hot dogs and boil them and the macaroni according to package directions until slightly firm. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot (perhaps the same pot in which you boiled the pasta so as to save time on dishes later?!), melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook the mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly and being careful not to burn. Add the milk to the pot, stir in the dry mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook the mixture for five minutes until very thick. Reduce the heat to low.

Add the beaten egg to a small bowl. Take 1/4 cup of the warm sauce and slowly pour it into the beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the egg. Whisk until smooth. Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth. Mix in the cheese, reserving a handful for topping, and stir until completely melted. Add in salt and other seasonings. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. Add the drained cooked macaroni to the pot and mix well.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9x13 baking dish, top with reserved cheese, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and bubbly on top.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats and The Pioneer Woman.

Mmmmm...shredded cheese...

Macaroni and hot dogs getting delicious and creamy!

Voila! A perfectly scrumdidlyumptious bowl of mac n' cheese n' dogs!

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