It's been cooler here in the far southwest the past several evenings and it's a perfect excuse to enjoy some old fashioned hearty comfort food.
For example Monday night I whipped up a caldron of Cabbage Roll Soup just like the one we had back in August when we were really craving some cold weather. Months of triple digit temperatures can do that for ya', kinda' like months of minus temperatures, snow, rain and cold can make you crave sea, sun and sand. Funny isn't it?
Anyway to get back to the point as you can see this pot of warm kitchen love is filled with meatballs constructed from ground beef, rice, and onion cooked up in a cabbage laden beefed up tomato broth studded with sweet golden raisins and spiced with red pepper flakes. It is absolutely awesome and worth a spot on your regular good grub rotation.
Last night's comfort quotient took the shape of a large casserole of ooey gooey cheesey old fashioned Mac and Cheese. A recipe from a very old and treasured Purity Cookbook, this particular version's been made so many times the page is practically illegible but thankfully I have the darn thing memorized.
Simply cooked elbow macaroni folded into a simple white sauce loaded with cheese (I used 3 different kinds) and seasoned with Dijon mustard, I topped the casserole with buttered panko crumbs and let it rip in the oven for a good hour resulting in an absolute vision of loveliness - at least for a couple of very hungry, tired and rather stressed out individuals.
Incidentally, there's several recipes for macaroni and cheese on this site, some more involved than others and all of them fabulous in their own right but without a doubt this simple version is every bit as good as any so called "gourmet" versions. Take it from the most frugal of frugalists, it's a great way to use up the drips, drabs and mini chunks of cheese hiding in the snack drawer of your refrigerator.
Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese (from JBug’s Kitchen adapted from Purity Cookbook)
1-1/2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked per package directions
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
2-3/4 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
8 – 9 ounces assorted cheese (I used white cheddar, Swiss & Velveeta)
2/3 cup panko crumbs
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon each coarse salt, pepper and garlic powder
Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is softened. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes, then slowly whisk in milk. Cook, whisking constantly until mixture is thickened. Stir in salt, Dijon mustard and grated cheese (I left the Velveeta in half inch cubes). Cook until cheese has melted. Stir in cooked macaroni and transfer mixture to a buttered casserole dish. Mix panko crumbs with melted butter and seasonings. Sprinkle crumbs on top of casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until top is browned and filling is bubbling. Serves 6.
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