Monday, April 23, 2007

They can't all be winners

Most of the time, my food comes out pretty well. It's pretty darn delicious. But sometimes recipes fail. Maybe it's just not my taste, maybe I misinterpreted the directions, or maybe the recipe was just plain bad.

Last night I was craving comfort food, so I made the DBF and I some homemade stove top macaroni and cheese. I found a recipe for the lightened version in Cook's Illustrated's Best Light Recipe. It failed miserably. First of all, I burned the milk mixture, so it did taste a little charred (even though I strained out the burnt pieces). But I think it was more than that. I didn't care for the cheese I used, which was Cabot's 50 percent light. It was actually nasty. Even though it got such good reviews. Maybe the block I had was a bit old, or maybe I'm just so conditioned to like the fake yellow stuff that I wouldn't know good cheddar if I had it? Who knows. But the dinner stunk. I could barely finish it. Even DBF could barely choke it down, and he'll eat just about anything. Except beans and raisins. He really hates those, but have been known to eat both in my presence so as not to make me feel bad.

The macaroni looks good at least... (maybe?)

Macaroni and Cheese
3/8 pound elbow macaroni (about 2 cups)
1 (12-ounce) can 2 percent reduced-fat evaporated milk
2/3 cup low-fat milk (2 percent)
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or celery salt (optional)
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons cornstarch
8 ounces 50 percent light cheddar cheese , grated (about 2 cups)

Bring 2 1/2 quarts water to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt and the macaroni; cook until the pasta is completely cooked and tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and leave it in the colander; set aside.

Add the evaporated milk, 1/2 cup of the 2 percent milk, mustard, garlic powder (if using), cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the now-empty saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Whisk the cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup milk together, then whisk it into the simmering mixture. Continue to simmer, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickened and is smooth, about 2 minutes.

Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cheddar until melted and smooth. Stir in the macaroni, and let the macaroni and cheese sit off the heat until the sauce has thickened slightly, 2 to 5 minutes, before serving.

PER SERVING: 360 calories; 10 grams fat; 1 gram fiber

The salad in the background was a version of Cooking Light's Caesar Salad with Bagel Croutons. That was delicious as always. I love making that salad.

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