Since I quit my job to stay home with Teddy, we have had to cut way back on dining out. This is a big sacrifice for us. We love dining out. That’s one of the perks of living in a trendy condo in downtown DC: We are walking distance from a lot of good restaurants. While we were DINKs (double-income, no kids), we would eat out several times per week. We would get home from work, and Mike would casually mention that Korean or Thai or Indian or BBQ or any number of other options sounded good, and I, having zero plan for what to make for dinner that night (Beth, one of these days, I will take your advice) and agreeing that one of those options did in fact sound delicious, would usually not take much convincing.
That of course adds up. Fast.
So I have been doing my best to make dining in sound more appealing–and therefore dining out less tempting. This means trying new recipes (which doesn’t necessarily involve planning terribly far ahead; as a SAHM, I now have extra time for last-minute trips to the grocery store).
One recipe is for vegan lasagna. I love allrecipes.com, particularly because of the user comments. Those comments are important to take into account for this recipe. But if you do, it’s delicious. (I used no-boil lasagna sheets.)
The other recipe is for plain ol’ mac ‘n’ cheese, which I’ve actually never liked that much. But that’s because I was eating the boxed version (and that not since college). The version I made twice in two weeks is from scratch. Who knew how easy mac ‘n’ cheese is to make from scratch?
This recipe comes from an amazing cookbook I got for Christmas 2010 (and have used approximately twice): The Geometry of Pasta. This book contains delicious recipes for specific types of pasta and is organized alphabetically by type of pasta. (Evidently there are hundreds; but not all are covered in the book.)
Macaroni and Cheese
Serves two as a main dish
1/2 pound macaroni
3 1/2 Tbsp butter
4 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 bay leaf
A few gratings nutmeg
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk (I actually used almond milk and it turned out great)
1 3/4 cups grated Parmesan, divided
3 1/2 oz cheddar or fontina (I used fontina), diced
4 1/2 Tbsp fresh bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 465 degrees.
Butter a ceramic baking dish (about 8×5). Boil the pasta for half the time stated on the package, in salted water. Drain, and don’t worry that it’s still crunchy. (It really does finish cooking in the cheese as it bakes.)
Next make a roux. Melt the butter, adding the flour, bay leaf, nutmeg, and a little salt and pepper. Fry for a few moments (don’t let the flour brown), then gradually add the milk, stirring manically with a wooden spoon. A judicious addition of milk will result in a smoother sauce. Stir in two-thirds of the Parmesan, then the pasta. When the pasta is well-coated, add the fontina (or cheddar), stir to just mix, and transfer to baking dish. Flatten with the back of a spoon, and top with the remaining Parmesan mixed with bread crumbs.
Bake for 20 min until well browned and piping hot.
This recipe is even more amazing with a half pound of fried bacon; but then most things are better with bacon.