Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Carrot macaroni and cheese recipe

Carrot macaroni and cheese
I've been in denial for the last few weeks, but I'm finally starting to accept the fact that I'm moving across the country in less than a week.  Don't get me wrong, I'm beyond excited, but I always turn into a mess before I move.  When I left for college, I cried for the entire 5 hour drive, and as I was moving out after college, I broke down in the food court on campus and cried like a baby (luckily this was the food court right next to the hospital, so crying was a common occurrence).  Of course I'll miss my friends more than anything, but it's also hard to say goodbye to all of my food-related loves in Michigan (particularly my farmers' market, my CSA farm, and Zingerman's).  And I'll miss the kitchen where I really fell in love with cooking.  I packed up the kitchen yesterday (how did I have so much stuff in there??), and it's weird seeing it so empty.  I still have a few things that I'm taking in my car because I can't survive without the ability to at least cook the basics while the rest of my belongings are in limbo on a moving truck, but it's not the same.  I'm excited to create new food memories in my new kitchen, but I'll always have fond memories of this one.  So, it's only fitting that I share one of the last things I made in Michigan, carrot mac and cheese.

It should be no surprise to you that I crammed vegetables into mac and cheese, and this worked wonderfully.  I really liked the way that the carrot blended with the cheese to make a hearty sauce that wasn't too heavy.  It was sweeter than your typical version, but it wasn't too much, and I thought it was a nice change.  However, unlike normal mac and cheese, I didn't enjoy the leftovers cold (I know I'm weird...), so make sure you warm it up.

Carrot macaroni and cheese (adapted from Food & Wine)
(Printable version)

12 oz. carrots, sliced thinly
1 large orange, zested and juiced
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. chunky brown rice pasta (penne, fusilli, etc.)
3 oz. sharp cheddar cheese

Combine carrots, orange zest and juice, and water in a small saucepan, cover, and let simmer over medium heat until carrots are tender (about 30 min).  Let the carrots cool for a few minutes, and then puree them in a blender with salt and pepper (you may need a little bit more water to make a thick puree).

Cook the pasta according to package directions (make sure to stop when it's al dente), and reserve about a cup of the water before draining the pasta.  Add the pasta back to it's cooking pot, stir in the carrot and reserved pasta water, and let cook over medium heat for 5 min.  Then add 2/3 of the cheese and stir well.  Spread pasta out in a 8x8" baking pan and top with remaining cheese.  Bake at 350 for 20 min.  Serves 4.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Hello again!

Wow, it's been a while.  Between finishing up things in the lab, packing, and trying to see everyone before I move next week, I've been quite busy.  Plus, last weekend I went to Florida to throw Mom a surprise birthday party.  I think I cooked more for the party than I have at home in the past month (I've been living off of the cooked grains and beans from my freezer).  I made two cakes: a flourless chocolate cake that was rich and delicious, and an Italian cream cake (apparently it was so good that Mom asked me to make another one while I was home, and I've been informed that I'm making it for a family reunion).  For the last few years almost everything I've baked has been gluten-free with very minimal sugar, so it was incredibly easy not worrying about either (the chocolate cake was gluten-free, though).  The other favorites at the party were the stuffed mushrooms and bacon-wrapped jalapenos, both from The Pioneer Woman.

 She didn't have a heart attack or spill her wine!!

I have a couple of recipes that I'll hopefully get around to sharing in the next week or so, but I doubt I'll be cooking much in the next couple of weeks because I'm planning to pack my kitchen this weekend, and I have no idea how long my belongings will be stuck on a moving truck somewhere between Michigan and Georgia.  After that, hopefully I'll be able to share all kinds of concoctions (likely involving peaches and tomatoes... probably not together, but who knows!).