Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Party in the Kitchen

We are having one of the best weekends in a long time! The kids are between theatre productions and it's spring break, so no soccer or gymnastics.

No kid obligations = perfect weekend for our good friends Connie and Andy and their daughter Erin to drive over from Atlanta for a visit.

We spent Friday night reminiscing about high school and college (omg, that big 1980's hair!) and comparing notes about parenting (agreed that too many parents we know get too wrapped up in their kids lives).

You know how all the best parties eventually end up in the kitchen? Well, of course we spent some time there, too.

Andy and Connie are foodies. She is the master at whipping up impromptu meals with whatever's on hand (you should see what she can do with ramen noodles!). And he wields a knife like a pro and approaches cooking like most other things in life: 100%.

Erin, though, doesn't spend much time cooking. So Hannah (on the right below) was pretty excited to teach her how to cook Homemade Mac 'n Cheese.


  • 8 ounces Mueller's Elbow Macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons margarine or butter
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded American or Cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cook pasta 6 minutes. Drain.

In medium saucepan, combine cornstarch, salt, dry mustard & pepper in medium saucepan. Stir in milk until smooth. Add margarine, stirring constantly.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 1 minute.

Remove from heat. Stir in 1-3/4 cups cheese until melted. Add cooked pasta. Pour into greased 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake uncovered 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

While the Mac 'n Cheese cooked, Jason and Andy whipped up Emeril Lagasse's 5 Bean Chili.


Chef Hannah -- I really like this recipe. It's my speciality.

Chef Erin -- It was pretty fun and I like the mac 'n cheese.

Olivia -- I don't like mac 'n cheese. I like the chili okay. I like the sliced avocados the best.

Miranda -- (had a lunch date, so missed the food)

Andy -- The chili was yum. It was good. No chips necessary. I'm not a huge mac 'n cheese fan to begin with, but it was pretty good.

Connie -- (munch... munch) (we didn't get an actual review out of her, but she ate a full bowl of chili, topped with a spoon or two of mac 'n cheese... so I'm guessing she liked it!)

Jason -- I didn't try the mac 'n cheese. It was fun watching Hannah and Erin problem solve to try to make the recipe. The chili was fine. It's always pretty good. It's a very serviceable recipe. It doesn't take a whole lot of time, isn't very difficult to make, it takes good and feeds a lot of people for really not a whole heck of a lot of work (especially when you do it in the crockpot!)

Tanya -- The chili was good, though I think we could have kicked it up a bit with some hot sauce. I made guacamole to go with it, but the avocado wasn't soft enough so the guac was a little too chunky for my taste.

No matter how good the lunch was, the best part of the day came in the afternoon:

1. attending the SEC gymnastics championships for the Dads and younger girls

2. shopping and pedicures for the Moms and Miranda.

Like I said, one of the best weekends in a long time!


  1. The recipes look divine and the time spent as a family looks even better! I think cooking (or baking) is one of the best ways to connect as a family. You do it so well, Tanya!

  2. Thanks, HandsFreeMama... we had a great time!

  3. Yeah we did.... it was AWESOME!!!

  4. How nice it is to spend time with family and the kitchen doing something fun