Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Macaroni and Cheese That Even Paula Deen Would Envy.

Even though I make a mean Macaroni and Cheese, I'm always trying to improve my own dishes. Most of the time it's to impress my husband, Roy, who is a hard working man and a most excellent husband indeed. To surprise him after a long stint at work, I decided to make one of his all time favorites, Beef Brisket, but what side to go with it was the question. Something that would complement the beef, mix well with the spices of the rub and the barbecue sauce I added onto the meat afterwards, something rich and satisfying; nothing else would do, but homemade macaroni and cheese.

Now I named this version of my mac n' cheese "Heart Attack Mac n' Cheese" for a very good reason; anyone who tried it out said, "Eat this mac n' cheese everyday, and you'll end up having a heart attack!"  Oh they loved it for sure, but once they learned what the ingredients were, out came the statement.  I used a friend as a guinea pig, who shared some with her son; she asked if there was anyway she could get more.  I considered that request a great complement in itself, so of course gave her another container full.  The amount you get from the recipe I'm going to post is enough to share with lots of folks.  By the way, I break a rule on making the Roux by not using equal parts fat with flour, but once you taste this, forgiveness is easily given.  One more thing, as I'm making the sauce I'm also cooking up the elbow macaroni; that way it all comes together piping hot and fresh.

Ready for a heart attack?

Heart Attack Mac n' Cheese

16 Tbsp salted butter
1 cup flour
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp fine sea salt
1 tsp paprika
4 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
2 cups shredded, extra sharp Cheddar cheese
6 cups cooked large elbow macaroni


In a large saucepan, melt the butter on medium-high heat (make sure to watch and not let burn or brown); begin whisking in the flour until well incorporated.  Continue whisking for five minutes as the roux begins to turn a golden color.  Add in the black pepper, sea salt, paprika, heavy cream and milk; bring to a boil. 

Immediately add in the Monterey Jack cheese and begin whisking until smooth; add in the goat cheese, whisk until smooth; repeat with the Cheddar cheese, but one cup at a time.

If you took my advice and cooked the macaroni while making the sauce, drain it, but put it back into the pot it was cooked in.  Once you begin adding the cheese sauce, the heat from the pot will keep it from clotting around the drained pasta.


Mix it all together gently; you don't want to smash or break apart the macaroni.  Now serve it up and enjoy; and we found out that even eaten cold, it was delectable!  Servings?  Good question and I'm going to estimate 12 to 16; while I could only eat a half cup before going into "this is so good!!!" shock, Roy was able to eat a whole cup full and still want more.

I made fried chicken a couple of days later, and you guessed it, this was a perfect side dish.  Enjoy!

Mary Cokenour

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Making a Creamy Soup Creamy Without the Cream.

So I was talking on the phone with my sister/friend from New York, Ellie, when she told me that her daughter (who I consider a niece), Donna, had made Potato Leek Soup; that was funny to me because I'd had a craving for that very soup recently. Donna had decided to go on the Weight Watchers program; to make that soup you did not need the butter or heavy cream. What the heck I thought, might as well try it out and see how good it can be. First I printed out a copy of the Weight Watchers recipe, then I compared it to my Potato Leek Soup recipe; pretty similar in nature.

Anyway, I cooked up a pot of the soup using the Weight Watchers recipe, but added crushed, dried thyme instead of using the chives as they suggested. Wow, I was pretty amazed at how good it came out; not as creamy, but it was still thick and rich tasting; the thyme added a pleasant savory flavor. Serving it to my hubby, he too was amazed at how good this non-dairy version was; he equated the texture to cream of wheat, but still enjoyed it...two bowls worth in one sitting.  Ellie suggested that I mix in a little low fat or fat free sour cream if I missed the dairy; tried it and didn't care for it at all.

So I'm posting the Weight Watchers recipe with a big thumbs up from Roy and myself; two people who thought they couldn't go without their butter and cream in a favorite soup.  Note: I added a couple of preparation steps, such as how to clean and cut up the leeks.

Dairyless Potato Leek Soup

Weight Watchers Potato Leek Soup


64 oz canned chicken broth, reduced-sodium
8 medium uncooked potatoes, peeled 
3 medium uncooked leeks, cleaned 
1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 Tbsp chives, minced (optional)


To clean the leeks, slice them lengthwise and then cut into one inch pieces. 

Put the pieces into a large colander, rinse with cold water until you can no longer see any dirt; separate the pieces as you rinse them.  Let them stand a few minutes to allow excess water to drain out.

Peel the potatoes and cut them one inch in size; they will cook together more uniformly with the leeks.  Yukon Gold potatoes are yellow in coloring and have a buttery taste; perfect for a soup that usually has butter in it, but is now being cooked without it.

Combine the broth, potatoes, leeks, pepper and herb, if using any, in a large stock pot or Dutch oven; bring to a boil on high heat.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the vegetables are very soft, about 30 to 40 minutes. Uncover and let cool slightly.

Puree at least 2 cups or up to all of the potatoes and leeks (depending on the texture you want), with 1–2 cups of the broth in a food processor, blender or with an immersion blender; pour the mixture back into the remaining soup, stir, and reheat. Serve hot, or cover and refrigerate to serve cold; hot or cold, garnish with the minced chives, if using.

Yields 1 and 1/2 cups per serving.

This soup can be completely or partially pureed and served hot or cold. It can be refrigerated for up to three days, but not frozen.

Try both recipes and see which one you prefer, or perhaps you'll enjoy both.  I find the Weight Watchers recipe more convenient, since heavy cream is not a staple in my home.  Judge for yourself.

Mary Cokenour

Monday, September 16, 2013

No Rehab for Brownie Brittle Addiction.

Sheila G's Brownie Brittle


Hello, my name is Mary and I am addicted to Brownie Brittle.  It all started when I saw an advertisement on Facebook; yes, that evil Facebook drew me to this villainous snack.  I tried finding it at the local City Market locations, even at Walmart, but no luck.  Then I happened to be at Sam's Club in Farmington, New Mexico and there is was in the snack aisle; large bags of Brownie Brittle (Chocolate Chip) and I purchased two.  I am a sad case, as I was going to give the second bag to someone else to try, but I kept it; yes, I kept it and ate it all myself.

Brownie Brittle, how can I describe this delectable snack?  Imagine a rich, deep chocolate brownie, sliced into 1/8 inch thickness.   Then baked to a light, airy crispness that can be enjoyed by crunching onto it, or letting it just melt into chocolaty goodness.  The crispy squares are 4 inch by 4 inch; 6 of them are only 21 grams of carbohydrate and 4 grams of fat.  No, I wouldn't push these as nutritious, but they are so wonderfully good, who cares!  As to the amount to eat, I have to admit, as addicted as I am, that two goes a long way in satisfaction.  Brownie Brittle is very delicate, so can break apart, or crumble easily; makes a great topping for pudding or ice cream.  I don't know who Sheila G. Mains is, but I would hug her till she popped for creating Brownie Brittle.

Just yesterday I stopped at Safeway in Cortez, Colorado and in their baked goods aisle I found....Brownie Brittle!  Smaller sized bags than the ones at Sam's Club, but in different flavors such as Salted Caramel and Toffee Crunch.  I love this addiction!!!

Redemption; I purchased extra to give to that friend.  I may be a Brownie Brittle addict, but I still have a conscience.  Become addicted too, it's so good.

Mary Cokenour

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Gotta have Fry Bread at Goulding's.

Goulding’s Stagecoach Dining Room

1000 Main St
Oljato-Monument Valley, UT 84536

(435) 727-3231


Recently I was in Monument Valley, on a group tour, and it included Goulding's (dining room, lodge, museum, supermarket, RV park, campgrounds, and much, much more); I'm going to concentrate on the Dining Room.  The guide explained that the building first started out as a movie prop when John Ford began making movies down in Monument Valley.  It then became the mess hall for the movie crews; the cook would prepare the food, ring the bell (still displayed out front) and everyone would come in and eat family style.  When tourists began staying at the Lodge, they would eat there; but the Health Department visited one day and stated it was unsafe.  The Gouldings tore down the old building and rebuilt a more modern structure with windows that look out upon Monument Valley.  Current management of the Dining Room is Scott and Alexa Laws who have years of restaurant experience under their belts; no wonder the place is clean, the servers and greeters polite and knowledgeable, and the food is great.

After being seated at a booth or table, you'll notice that each table includes a beautiful Native American jug for the water.  There are menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner; we were there to enjoy lunch and, most especially, fry bread.  Fry Bread is an unleavened bread that is slightly crispy on the outside and pillow soft on the inside.  Alone, as a side, or with toppings, it is a "cannot miss out on this" item when visiting the Southwest.

My husband had the Patty Melt which he stated was almost...almost, as good as mine.  The marbled bread was toasted nicely, the burger was thick and perfectly cooked, melted cheese and onions.  The only difference is that it had less cheese and onions than I put on, and he could live with that.  The fries were crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside with the usual Utah fry sauce served on the side.

Now Goulding's best seller is the Navajo Taco and I could see why from the platters served to other nearby diners. However, when I spied the Rez Bah' on the menu, I knew I had to try it out; it is huge by the way.  A choice of roast beef, ham, grilled chicken breast or 2 hamburger patties on fry bread with roasted green chilies, tomato, lettuce and onion; extra fry sauce for a condiment.  This had to be one of the best sandwiches I've ever experienced; the fry bread was perfect, absolutely perfect (it's still on my mind!).  The heat of the chilies, sweet of the tomato and crunch of the lettuce enhanced the flavor of the chicken.  The fry sauce was unnecessary, and I took out the raw onion as it detracted from the other flavors.  My hubby though enjoyed the onion on it; he ate the other half of it later on and hid the empty box, so I wouldn't know...I knew.

Whether you're staying at the Goulding's Lodge, touring Monument Valley or just passing through; when you're hungry, satisfy that hunger at the Stagecoach Dining Room.

Mary Cokenour

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