Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Baby It's COLD Outside!

The past few weeks have been really cold here in Utah, along with lots of snow. It's this time of the year that is the hardest for me - mentally and emotionally. There's not much sun and I don't usually go outside except to scurry to and from my car and to get the mail.

Since we live on the lake, there is lots of fog in the morning, which can be dangerous, but usually by the time I have to take Jack to pre-school the sun is out and the fog leaves the trees looking beautiful. The other day as I was on my way into town, I couldn't resist and pulled over to the side of the road to take this picture at the park near our house.

But as I mentioned before, the doldrums of winter can get even the best of us down. Do you ever feel like my yard rooster? Up to your neck in "blah"?

Here is another picture of the yard rooster to give you some perspective. . .

Sometimes the only thing that will make you feel good is some good old fashioned comfort food. I have found just the perfect thing - gourmet macaroni and cheese. I know what you are thinking - GOURMET Mac-n-Cheese? That's an oxymoron! Well, just wait until you try it. I'm not claiming that it is low-fat, but hey it's the third week of January and it's about this time I fall off the "eat only healthy things" wagon anyway.

Try it you might like it!

Ultimate Mac-n-Cheese

1 box elbow macaroni (16 oz)
1 lb. bacon
1 medium onion, diced
5 tbsp. butter
6 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 1/2 c. whole milk
2 c. heavy cream
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. grated Fontina cheese*
1/2 c. crumbled blue cheese
1 1/2 c. grated chedder jack cheese
3/4 c. grated Parmesean cheese
3 tbsp. chopped parseley
1/4 c. bread crumbs

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees, grease a 9x13x2 baking dish

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package and drain.

3. Saute bacon until crisp. Remove, crumble when cool and reserve. Add onion to bacon drippings; saute until soft. Add butter to pot and melt, stirring.

4. Whisk in flour, stirring constantly until smooth and light brown in color. Whisk in mustard. Gradually add milk and cream, whisking.

5. Stir in thyme, bay leave and salt. Bring to a simmer. Stir frequently, simmering, for 15 minutes.

6. Quickly mix in blue cheese, 1 c. Fontina cheese, 1 c. cheddar jack cheese, 1/2 c. parmesean cheese. Stir until all cheeses are melted.

7. Add pasta to cheese and stir until coated. Pour in baking dish. In a small bowl mix remaining cheese and bread crumbs. Sprinkle over pasta.

8. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

* I couldn't find Fontina cheese at my local grocery store (something I plan to take up with Joe Albertson) so I just increased the cheddar jack cheese to 3 cups. The original recipe also called for 3/4 c. Gruyere cheese, but when I did find it, it was $17 for about 1/4 lb. - not really in my budget for just one meal, so I decided to just increase the cheddar jack and parmesean to compensate.

Despite the modifications it turned out great and my family loved it. Well, everyone except for Jack - the word picky eater doesn't even BEGIN to describe him.

If you make it, let me know what you think.


Moto X Mama said...

That is way over my calorie limit...maybe next year..but the bacon part makes me SO hungry! Most of our snow is gone so it's just a boring cold blah.

iamwonderwoman said...

What a pretty picture except for when you live in it. I know how you feel I'm ready for the snow to go away and the warmth to come back. I'm glad you liked my hat picture, I love hats too. Imagine trying to bring that sucker back on the plane. LOL (the mac n cheese sounds great)

My World said...

Hey lady...my daughter has the same winter blues you seem to describe. She was diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) but we seem to have gotten on top of things. When it gets gray outside she goes to the tanning bed in the morning and afternoon for 5-8 min (unlimited tanning pass) and takes 5,000 units of Vitamin D3 every day! The D3 is the key I think! Try it. Loved the Maco & Cheese too :)

norma-no-blog said...

Love the pics! I also feel like that rooster in your yard!! up-to-my-neck!! Can you just make this mac and cheese FOR me?? Yummy - but it looks alot like work...