Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kiss My Cheek and Call Me Betty Crocker!

When I forget to defrost the chicken in the freezer, I go to the pantry for a can of salmon and make salmon patties. With a side of baked macaroni and cheese, this is an inexpensive, filling meal that my family loves. Here's the salmon patty recipe. Keep in mind that the patties are very loose because you don't drain the salmon. Handle gently as you bread them and place them in the pan, they will be fine and won't break, and even if they do, it's not a big deal. The pictured patties are ginormous; if you're serving lots of kids, make smaller patties.

Now for the mac and cheese, a subject that I've written about many times. It seems to be the universal kid-pleaser. Creamy mac and cheese has been my standard for years, but to be honest, my kids seem to like the stuff in the box better. My friend Julie makes a baked macaroni and cheese with eggs that my kids love, so I tried yet another mac variation. You can be honest about the picture: the dish didn't look great to begin with, and my photography skills didn't enhance it much. But, you know, like with some kids and old men, this dish is so ugly it's cute. And it was delicious.

Yet Another Macaroni and Cheese... Buy the "mouse cheese" block at the supermarket and shred it yourself, with a food processor or box grater. My girls, ages 11 and 4, can each use a box grater. They watch their fingers, and no tragedies have been recorded to date. By the way, don't use pre-shredded cheese for this; it contains a non-caking agent to keep it from clumping and it will affect the taste and outcome of this dish.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

1 small box elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions

8 ounces medium Cheddar cheese, shredded

2 cups whole milk

2 eggs

Butter for the casserole

salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter a casserole dish. (It's always best to overestimate the size you'll need for a casserole. And buy some insurance by placing the oven-ready dish on a foil-covered sheet pan, just in case. )Pour in cooked and drained macaroni.

2. In a bowl, stir together milk, shredded cheese, eggs, salt and pepper. Pour over macaroni in casserole.

3. Place in oven and bake until golden and cheesy, about 30 minutes. You can cover it with foil if it needs to stay in the oven longer (while you fry the salmon patties, for instance.)

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