Gruyere and white cheddar macaroni and cheese

mac-n-cheese2Fall officially made its presence known this weekend. From a sleety, windy, freezing Halloween to being forced to pull out my winter jacket, everything screamed “hibernate”. I was up for the challenge – it’s been a while since the weather forced me inside for an entire weekend, so I decided I’d make this a practice run for the imminent, months-long winter isolation.

The first thing one must do when faced with such a challenge is to watch egregious amounts of TV, read and sleep. This doesn’t leave much time for an elaborate dinner, but that is fine because the only thing suitable to prepare in such a scenario is bubbly, warm, comfort foody macaroni and cheese.

If you have an hour, you can get this pulled together and get right back to binge watching/reading/sleeping in no time.

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Easy, homemade croutons

When faced with leftover bread that’s gone stale and no longer good enough to eat on its own, one must not worry! The easiest thing you can do is turn it into croutons which no doubt will be better than anything you can buy at the store.

You can customize your own flavor and season as much or as little as you like to get the exact flavor you want. If you have 20 minutes, you can make these in time to serve with your dinner salad. Easy peasy, done and done. Use to garnish your salad or soup of choice!

Ingredients

  • Bread (leftover baguettes work fantastic)
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • Seasoning of choice (herbs de provence, garlic, rosemary, thyme, etc.)
  • Salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350
  • Slice the bread into ½ inch cubes
  • Toss in a bowl with the olive oil until the bread is well coated
  • Sprinkle in your seasoning and a few pinches of salt, continue to mix until the bread is well coated
  • Spread the croutons on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, ensuring to mix and turn at least twice so the croutons get an even color on all sides.

croutons

Tomato Salad 2 ways

tomato_stackHello, summer. Hello, summer heirloom tomatoes and your delicious, beautifully colored, lumpy shaped form. Is there any better fruit (yeah, fruit) than the fresh, summer tomato? I think not.

I just finished reading Tomatoland and learned way more than I ever intended about the tomato industry. Tomato agriculture actually has quite a sad and shocking history. Ever had a bright, red tomato in the dead of winter? Chances are that tomato was harvested by a slave. Modern-day slavery is alive and well in many produce industries, but none more than what was depicted in this book in the Florida tomato agriculture. Thankfully, steps have been taken to abolish slave labor and provide better wages and housing for farm workers, and that story is well documented in the book. But there’s still a long way to go.

Also well-documented in the book is the stringent checklist of attributes a tomato must possess to be deemed worthy by the Florida Tomato Committee, none of which is taste. Is the fruit the right shape? Check. Is it the right size? Check. Is the fruit the right color? Check. (By the way, nearly all tomatoes are picked when they’re green and then stored in a warehouse where they’re treated with ethylene gas to give them the red color we’ve come to cherish. Exception being organic tomatoes.) Has optimal taste been ensured? Um…uhhh…. No. The answer is no. Taste is almost never a factor in the cultivation of tomatoes. Ever had a mealy, bland tomato? I bet it looked beautiful because it passed all the other points on the checklist.

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Baked onion rings

These were so easy to make and made a great side dish to our sweet potato burgers!

Baked Onion Rings (Recipe from Martha Stewart)

  • 1 1/2 cups cornflakes (I used panko crumbs)
  • 1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk (I used light cream since that was what I had)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia, quartered crosswise and broken into rings (discard small center rings)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a food processor, pulse cornflakes and breadcrumbs until fine crumbs form, then transfer to a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, flour, and cayenne and season with salt and pepper.

Dip onion rings in egg mixture (letting excess drip off) and dredge in cornflake mixture; place on a large plate. Pour oil onto a rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven and heat 2 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and tilt to coat evenly with oil. Arrange onion rings on sheet. Bake, turning once, until onion rings are golden brown, about 16 minutes. Season with salt.

onionring1

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