Friday, December 30, 2011

Between Christmas and New Years

August has new teeth!!! His bottom two teeth broke through sometime before Monday evening. Even though they showed up a day late, I couldn't help but start singing, "all I want for Christmas are my two front teeth, my two front teeth, my two front teeth." He thought that was hilarious, as did Charlie who started singing with me, which made Auggie laugh even harder. Now that he has the two bottom teeth, the upper teeth should show up in a few weeks. Not only will he be that much cuter, he will also start using them, which means that his food choices will soon become much more interesting--this is very exciting for Mom.

I love Christmas and I am so excited that Auggie's teeth arrived on, if not just after, Christmas. Once turkey day is over I am quick to put our Christmas tree buying day on the calendar and start planning the decorating, present and food frenzy. Our Christmas celebration actually begins on Christmas Eve, which has always been the big night for my side of the family. Our Eve dinner has historically revolved around a fondue feast and then gift exchange. Our dinner always begins with a cheese fondue appetizer, followed by savory fondue with various meats and seafood and assorted sides.

As the primary food planner and chef on my side of the family (historically I've been my mother's sous chef, but I've graduated to more of a collaborative role with her and my brother in law) I am responsible for a few of the dishes on Christmas Eve; the G-Free cheese fondue, blanched veggies for dipping in the cheese fondue, G-Free mac-n-cheese, and a veggie side to go with the meat fondue. We used to serve this a cheesy potato dish that could just about kill you, of course, it tasted so, so, so good. The dish is basically shredded potatoes mixed with onions, sour cream, various cheeses, spread out in a casserole pan, topped with butter coated smashed corn flakes and then baked until molten and bubbly.  Super.  Yummy. 

I can't remember exactly how it happened, but a few years ago I offered to make my triple cheese mac-n-cheese, instead of the potato dish, and it has stuck (perhaps the grand kids liked the idea of mac-n-cheese more than potatoes). So, now I make two giant pans of my mac-n-cheese: one for the kids, which is made without a bread crumb topping, and another for the rest of us who love the crunchy topping. My mac-n-cheese didn't start out G-Free, but it is now and I think everyone loves it, but really, who wouldn't love three types of cheese melted together, mixed with noodles and topped with butter coated breadcrumbs? Did I mention that it is G-Free?

Usually it is a rough, pinch here and handful there type of recipe and definitely not low-cal. But I tried to measure it out this time. I used four 12 oz packages of Bionaturae G-Free Penne pasta, but I will divide everything by two so that the recipe is more manageable and will fit into a single 9x13 pan.

2 12 oz bags of Bionaturae G-Free Penne Pasta (or Macaroni Pasta)
1 stick of butter
3/4 cup brown rice flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 cups milk
10 ounces Sharp Cheddar cheese shredded
10 ounces Monterey Jack cheese shredded
10 ounces Gruyere cheese shredded

1 loaf G-Free bread of choice (I have been using Udi's G-Free Millet-Chia sliced bread and I don't use the end pieces.) torn into pieces.
1/2 stick of cold butter cut into 6-8 pieces

For the bread crumb topping:
Pulse the bread and butter in the Cuisinart (or other food processor) for about 20 - 30 seconds.

For the pasta:
Boil the pasta according to the directions on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, grate the cheeses and measure out the milk, flour, and butter, setting everything aside.

Drain the pasta and put the pot back on the stove, adding the butter to the pot.

When the butter has melted, add the flour, salt and cayenne pepper into the melted butter, whisking until the mixture has lightened a bit and is fragrant.

Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly which will prevent the milk from burning.

While constantly whisking, make sure that the milk comes a low boil to ensure that it thickens properly.

When the milk mixture thickens after a few minutes, and resembles heavy cream, turn off the heat and stir in the shredded cheeses.

When all the cheese has melted, add the pasta to the cheese mixture.

Spoon the mac-n-cheese into a 9x13 inch baking dish and cover with the bread crumbs.

Bake in a 400 degree oven until top is golden brown, about 15 - 20 min.

I always make this a day or two before I actually need it, saving the baking step for when I want to serve it. As it will have been in the refrigerator, it will be cold and will need to bake longer (about 45 min). I start it in the oven covered with foil, so that the top doesn't burn, and then remove the foil for the last 20 min

This mac-n-cheese freezes amazingly well, either before it is baked or after, if you want to save the leftovers.

This can be made with the same amount of traditional wheat pasta and wheat flours.


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