Beer Mac n Cheese

Last week, while perusing Pinterest, I spotted this picture:

It had the description: beer mac n cheese. I clicked and it took me to the blog, How Sweet it Is with the full recipe. The author compared the taste of it to beer and cheese soup and it looked nice and easy to make.

Now, I don’t love the typical mac n cheese. Cheese itself has never been one of my favorite foods, on its own. I like it on pizza and used in recipes, but eating it straight or a dish like mac n cheese has never really been my thing. But add in some beer and this is now a dish I could get along with!

I did adapt the recipe according to my tastes. Start the dish by cooking the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside. You can use whole wheat pasta in this recipe, it holds up to the cheese sauce well and makes the dish a bit healthier. While the pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.

Once melted, add the diced onion and cook for about 5-7 minutes until translucent but not brown.

Add the flour and stir. Cook, stirring, until the mixture gets a nice golden color, about 2 minutes.

Add the milk, beer and cheeses, while stirring. Stir until the cheese is melted and the mixture thickens slightly. Add the paprika, nutmeg and pepper.

Pour the cheese over the noodles in a stir slightly.

Top with bread crumbs and some parmesan cheese and small pieces of butter.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until the cheese is bubbling. Top with sliced fresh basil.

Serve with a side of arugula tossed with vinaigrette.

The mac n cheese tasted good. The consistency was great with the whole wheat pasta and I enjoyed the fresh basil however I think next time I will add Gruyere cheese instead of parmesan and use a darker beer. I only had Yeungling in on hand so that’s what I used this time and I would like liked more of a beer taste. The whole thing was good, I just found myself wanting stronger flavors. I can’t wait to make it again!

Here is the recipe:

Beer Mac n Cheese
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Author: adapted from How Sweet It Is
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked whole wheat elbow noodles
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 8 ounces milk
  • 8 ounces beer
  • 8 ounces freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces freshly grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 10 large basil leaves, chopped for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Prepare water for pasta and boil according to directions, shaving 1-2 minutes off of cooking time since pasta will continue to cook in the oven.
  3. Heat a saucepan over medium high heat and add butter. Once melted and sizzling, cook the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Whisk in flour to create a roux and cook until bubbly and golden in color, about 2 minutes. Add milk and beer into saucepan whisking constantly, then add cheeses and stir until melted. Turn heat down to medium and continue to stir, cooking for 5-6 minutes while mixture thickens. It will most likely NOT thicken like regular mac and cheese because of the beer, but you want it to thicken a little bit. Stir in pepper, paprika and nutmeg.
  4. Add noodles (once cooked and drained) to a casserole dish, then pour cheese over top, mixing gently to combine. Top with panko bread crumbs and an additional sprinkle of cheese if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then top with fresh basil.

 

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Have you been invited to Thanksgiving or just to a gathering of friends and asked to bring an appetizer? Are you completely blank on what to make? I feel your pain. Appetizers are not something that I make often, I enjoy ordering them in restaurants, but when it comes to making them in my own home, I typically move right on to the main meal, skipping appetizers all together.

A few years ago, I was asked to bring an appetizer to Thanksgiving and had no clue what to make. I needed to feed a lot of people and I wanted something that wasn’t very complicated. I came upon a recipe for spinach artichoke dip and immediately knew I needed to make it. Everyone loved it and it became one of my go-to appetizer recipes.

I made some last week to take to a party and was able to make most of it the night before and finish it off when we arrived at the party. It’s a perfect take-along dish!

Start the recipe by thawing your spinach and wringing it out between paper towels. Then chop up the onions and drain and chop the canned artichoke hearts. Mince the garlic and grate the lemon peel.

Melt  the butter in a saute pan over medium heat and then add the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Add in the thyme and lemon peel and stir. Add the flour and whisk well and cook for 1 minute.

Add the chicken stock, whisking the whole time and salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high whisking often and cook until it gets thick 8-10 minutes.

Stir in the artichokes and spinach and half of each of the cheeses.

Transfer the mixture to a casserole.

At this point, I put my dip in the refrigerator overnight. When you are ready to re-heat the dish, put it in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes until its heated through.

Sprinkle the top of the dip with the rest of both cheeses and put under the broiler for 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and begins to brown.

Serve with French bread slices, Melba toasts, crackers or corn chips.

Here’s the recipe:

Spinach Artichoke Dip
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Author: Red Velvet
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • Two 10-ounce boxes chopped frozen spinach
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Half of a small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • One 13.75-ounce can artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 cup freshly shredded mozzarella
  • 1 loaf whole grain baguette, cut into bite-size cubes
Instructions
  1. In a microwaveable bowl, defrost the spinach in the microwave for 6 to 8 minutes. Drain the spinach in a kitchen towel and wring dry. Tear the spinach into small pieces and set aside.
  2. In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme and lemon peel. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth and season with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high and cook, whisking often, until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the spinach, artichokes and half each of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the mozzarella. Transfer the mixture to a casserole.
  3. Refrigerate overnight if making ahead. Re-heat dish at 350 degrees for 10 minutes until heated through, when ready to serve.
  4. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  5. Preheat the broiler. Broil the dip until bubbly and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Serve with the bread cubes.