Sunday, January 23, 2011

Homemade Mac 'n Cheese

So, the traditional gift for the 1st anniversary is paper. The 5th is wood. And the 10th is tin (tin?!?).

But what do you give a blog that's celebrating its one week anniversary? I know, how about giving Tanya the day off from cooking!

Why thank you very much...

Jason for cooking up a wonderful breakfast of scrambled eggs and homemade hashbrowns (in the new cast iron skillet - Thanks Mom!)

and Hannah for taking charge of dinner and dessert.

(okay, Olivia's in the photo too... but she was just lurking to help out with bowl licking duties. She's in charge of dinner on Wednesday night.)

For her menu, Hannah chose Homemade Mac 'n Cheese with a side of fruit (diner's choice), topped off with a Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese frosting. Because we still haven't mastered baking, we're working from the box...

with regionally-produced organic eggs from Latta's Egg Ranch

Here's the play-by-play:

and the action shot:

(yup, Olivia's working hard!)

While the cake baked, Hannah prepped the main course. Now a word about Mac 'n Cheese. For many, many years the only mac 'n cheese that made it to our table was

But two years ago when the girls started taking over some cooking duties (Hannah was 8, Olivia was 9 and Miranda was 14) we told Hannah that Easy Mac wasn't going to cut it for family dinner. So she found this recipe and it's been a mainstay ever since.

We use whole wheat macaroni (it's healthier -- but seriously, it's drenched in cheese so this recipe isn't going to win any health awards!) and top it with croutons. You can also use crushed up potato chips ... or if you want to pretend this is a healthy dish (2 cups of cheese, folks!) you might use crushed, baked pita bread. Anything to add a little crunch.

25 minutes in the oven and voila!

Followed by

We didn't get an "after" picture of the cake because we were too anxious to dig in. Sorry! But it was pretty (red and green sprinkles) and yummy. Trust us!

Reviews on the dinner:

Chef Hannah -- I liked the dinner, but it kind of tasted funny (not like normal). That may be because we let the butter boil too much (Mom got a phone call and I was left on my own). The cake was too short because he made it into two cakes like the box said but there really wasn't enough batter. That was a downer!!!!!!

Olivia -- I'm not a big fan of Mac 'n Cheese, but this one is okay. The cake was good, but not as good as Buddy's cake. I like buddy's cakes because they're decorative and they taste good and they're baked right. One that I really liked is the one that he made for Dylan's Candy Bar. The figurines were exquisite and even though it fell apart in the car, he remade it and everything was okay in the end. Did you know you can see and rate Buddy's cakes online???

(full disclosure: Olivia is a huge Cake Boss fan. I don't think anyone could make a cake that would come close to Buddy's in her eyes. For her 13th birthday she's already asked for a trip to Hoboken, New Jersey, to buy a cupcake from Carlos Bakery.)

Tanya - The Mac 'n Cheese is good, but I'd love to experiment a bit. Perhaps adding some veggies or a different kind of grain (Peruvian Baked Quinoa and Cheese sound intriguing). But seriously, what am I doing suggesting changes when my 10 year old gets really jazzed about the chance to cook for the family?


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