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.

 

12 Days of Cocktails – Day 3 Hot Toddy

Here’s a recipe for a drink that will warm up the coldest days and make your holiday cheery and bright! I love the cocktail itself, but I also love the name; it rolls right off the tongue. I always imagine myself drinking hot toddies by a warm fire after spending the day skiing on a beautiful mountain and instead of horrible- ski- hat-head, my hair looks amazing as a laugh hysterically at my handsome-husband seated next to me, also drinking a hot toddy. How do you imagine drinking your hot toddy?

I bet the cast of White Christmas drank hot toddies (who else loves that movie?):

Ok, back to the drink. The hot toddy is made up mostly of whiskey (it can also be made with bourbon), but when you combine that with hot water, lemon,  sugar and nutmeg, well it’s delicious! You can even add some star anise to make it look pretty or cinnamon sticks, depending on what you prefer.

Pinned Image

Here’s the recipe:

12 Days of Cocktails – Day 3 Hot Toddy
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Author: Food Network
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 35 mins
Serves: 13
Ingredients
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup Demerara sugar
  • 1 quart water
  • 2 1/2 cups Scotch whiskey
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
Instructions
  1. Combine the lemon, sugar, and water in a small, 2 to 3-quart slow cooker set to high.
  2. Cover and heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves completely, 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Add the Scotch whiskey and stir to combine.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and serve warm with lemon slices and freshly grated nutmeg.

 

Pumpkin Cookies

In the spirit of the season and the spirit of all things pumpkin, I’m about to give you the best cookie recipe on the planet. I’m not kidding, these are seriously the best cookies I’ve ever eaten. Most people hear pumpkin cookies and don’t think much of them but one bite into these and your mouth is filled with the soft sweetness of pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon and icing packed into a soft and delicious cookie. Every time I make them for people I get asked for the recipe.

These cookies were a special treat that my mom made around the Fall and Christmas time each year growing up. As soon as we felt the first chilly winds of Fall, we would start asking for pumpkin cookies. My favorite pumpkin cookie story happened a few years ago. Eric had been working at his company for just over a year and I decided to make a batch of cookies around Christmas time for him to share at the office. As you will see, this recipe makes ALOT of cookies. I think it may be triple the original recipe but that’s just a hunch. I sent almost a whole batch with Eric to work because his office isn’t small. Mid morning I received an email from him that all of the cookies were gone within the first hour of work and he was getting emails thanking him for the cookies and saying how good they were. I was surprised how quickly they were eaten, but happy that so many could enjoy them (including the CEO who stopped by Eric’s desk personally to thank him for the cookies, yep, I’ll do my part for his next promotion!). About two weeks later, his company held their annual holiday party. As Eric introduced me to some of his coworkers a common theme emerged, the cookies. Wives were asking me for the recipe and husbands were talking about how great the cookies were. Some of the wives even seemed a bit annoyed because their husbands would not stop talking about the cookies! I had no idea cookies could have such an effect. Needless to say, I now make an entire batch of pumpkin cookies each December for Eric to take to work.

The recipe is simple and starts with Crisco, alot of Crisco. Sidenote: do you buy Crisco in a tub or in sticks? My mom always bought the tub so I remember scooping it out of measuring cups as a kid, when I helped her bake, but I have since discovered the sticks. They’re just like butter and you can cut exactly the amount you need. I love them and I’m never going back to the tub. Plus the sticks take up much less room in the pantry, but I digress. Mix the Crisco and sugar in an electric stand mixer until light and fluffy.

Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Add in the vanilla and lastly the pumpkin puree. I choose to use my homemade pumpkin puree for this recipe, in the end I didn’t have quite enough of the puree for the recipe so I added about 1/4 of a can of the organic pumpkin puree. I can’t say I can taste a difference in the puree but I do know that the cookies tasted great, like always. I’d say the organic pumpkin is just the same as Libby’s, just more expensive because its organic. I’d use it again if I needed to.

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Drop the cookies onto parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 12-14 minutes at 350 degrees.

While the cookies are cooling, mix up the glaze. It’s simply powdered sugar, a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg and add milk until its the right consistency. Add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time and if you add too much and the glaze is too thin, simply add some more powdered sugar to thicken it.

Dip the cookies into the glaze, allow excess to drip off and then let the glaze set for an hour or so before putting the cookies in their container.

My favorite snack combination is pumpkin cookies and cold apple cider. Nothing says Fall like that!

 

Here’s the recipe:

Pumpkin Cookies
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Author: Red Velvet
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 can solid pumpkin
  • 5 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Cookie Recipe:
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy, with an electric mixer.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well.
  5. Add vanilla and mix well.
  6. Add in 1 can of pumpkin puree, mix well.
  7. In a medium size bowl mix together all dry ingredients. With the mixer on low, slowly add the entire flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl.
  8. Drop cookies onto baking sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes until just beginning to brown.
  9. Icing Recipe:
  10. Mix 2 cups of powdered sugar a dash of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg.
  11. Add enough milk until desired thickness.
  12. Once cool, dip the top of the cookies into the icing and allow to set.