Recipe Corner

Perfect Macaroni and Cheese How-To

The recipe below is as written. Frank did not do the white bread crumbs and used plain panko bread crumbs coated in vegetable oil and salt instead. He halfed the amount of cayenne pepper and used shells instead of elbow macaroni. And for his last “modification”, he used the suggested pecorino Romano instead of Gruyere.

Serves 12

  • 6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
  • 5 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
  • 2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated pecorino Romano
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread pieces in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

2. Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

3. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup pecorino Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.

4. Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer’s directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup pecorino Romano; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.

Source: Martha Stewart Comfort Foods

De-Constructed Chicken Pot Pie

A new favorite recipe!! Make this delicious pot-pie filling and serve with your favorite biscuits! As written below, this recipe serves 6.


  • 1 pound of cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts or mixed chicken (about 2-1/2 cups cubed)*
  • 3 medium red potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1/2 cup of frozen carrots
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 6 tablespoons of salted butter
  • 6 tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • 2 cups of chicken broth or stock*
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • About 8 turns of the pepper grinder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme, crushed
  • 1-1/2 cups of half and half

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Chop the potatoes into small cubes and place into a microwave safe dish. Cook on high for about 2-1/2 minutes or until tender.* Set aside. In another microwave safe dish, add the carrots and peas; microwave on high for about 2 minutes, or until tender. Add to the potatoes.

In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium heat; add the flour in a tablespoon at a time, stirring in before adding the next. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture is bubbly and there are no remaining lumps, about 5 minutes. Slowly begin to incorporate the chicken stock, stirring vigorously until fully incorporated. Add in the seasonings and stir in well. Remove from the heat, add the salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme. Stir in the half and half until smooth.

Stir the chicken into the cream mixture, then add the potatoes, the carrots and peas; mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Heat until hot and serve with biscuits.

*Please Note: We used a rotisserie chicken and low-sodium chicken broth. Also, Frank cooked the potatoes first in boiling water til they were just about done. He didn’t trust the microwave method that the recipe mentions.

Source: Deep South Dish

Pasta with Chicken, Broccoli, and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Be sure to use low-sodium chicken broth in this recipe; regular chicken broth will make the dish extremely salty. The broccoli is blanched in the same water that is later used to cook the pasta. Remove the broccoli when it is tender at the edges but still crisp at the core-it will continue to cook with residual heat. If you can’t find Asiago cheese, Parmesan is an acceptable alternative. As written below: Serves 4


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (Frank used salted butter)
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts , trimmed of fat and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 small onion , chopped fine (about 2/3 cup)
  • Table salt
  • 6 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (Frank didn’t put these in)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves (Frank used dried instead)
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine (Frank used our favorite Sauvingon Blanc)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bunch broccoli (about 1 1/2 pounds), florets trimmed into 1-inch pieces (about 6 cups), stems discarded
  • 1/2 pound penne, ziti, cavatappi, or campanelle
  • 2 ounces grated Asiago cheese (1 cup), plus extra for serving (Frank didn’t use any cheese and I forgot it at home for serving)
  • 1 jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (7 to 8 1/2 ounces), rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 1/4-inch strips (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves (Frank did not add this)
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon , cut into wedges (optional) (Frank did not add this)


  1. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil, covered, in stockpot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Add chicken in single layer; cook for 1 minute without stirring, then stir chicken and continue to cook until most, but not all, of pink color has disappeared and chicken is lightly browned around the edges, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to clean bowl; set aside.
  3. Return skillet to high heat and add 1 tablespoon butter; add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned about edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme, and flour; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and chicken broth; bring to simmer, then reduce heat to medium and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened slightly and reduced to 1 1/4 cups, about 15 minutes.
  4. While sauce simmers, add 1 tablespoon salt and broccoli to boiling water; cook until broccoli is tender but still crisp at center, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer broccoli to large paper towel-lined plate. Return water to boil; stir in pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water; return pasta to pot.
  5. Stir remaining 2 tablespoons butter, Asiago, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, and chicken into sauce in skillet; cook until chicken is hot and cooked through, about 1 minute. Off heat, season to taste with pepper. Pour chicken/sauce mixture over pasta and add broccoli; toss gently to combine, adding pasta cooking water as needed to adjust sauce consistency. Serve immediately, passing additional Asiago and the lemon wedges (if using) separately.

Source: Cooks Illustrated Published January 1, 2005

Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate Oatmeal Bars


  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 10 oz. jars of Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce (or an 18 oz tub of the caramel dip typically found in produce sections with a pinch of your own salt/sea salt added)
  • 1 cup semi- or bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips (I’m a bit generous with the chocolate – usually put in an extra 1/2 cup or so)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Coat a 9″x 13″ baking pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, leaving about a 2-inch overhang on the short ends.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix in butter, using a fork or pastry cutter/blender (or even your fingers), until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Press half of mixture evenly onto the bottom of prepared pan. Store rest of mixture in the fridge until ready to use.
  4. Bake until just set and starting to brown around the edges (about 20 minutes). Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle partially baked crust with chocolate chips/chunks. Drizzle caramel sauce over chips and crust – make sure both are distributed as evenly as possible across the crust. Top with remaining crumb mixture.
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until pale golden. Cool completely in pan before cutting into bars, (overnight is great!) otherwise caramel will ooze out of the bars. These do keep (wrap in foil and do not refrigerate) and seem to even be more tasty days after baking, as they become less sticky and the flavors come together.

Sources: Adapted from Bake or Break and further adapted by Pam Bybell (a Late Night Croppers Regular)

Frank’s BBQ Pulled Chicken

As written serves 6 at least

  • 1 cup barbecue sauce – we used part Sweet Baby Rays and part Kraft Honey Barbecue Sauce
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo  we omitted this
  • 6 to 8 boneless chicken breasts or a mix of white and dark meat (approximately 2 pounds)
  1. In a large heavy pot, combine barbecue sauce, cider vinegar, onion, garlic, bay leaf and chipotle.
  2. Add chicken and enough water to cover (about 2 cups), stirring a few times.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Remove the chicken from the pot and shred.
  5. Bring the sauce to a boil until it thickens and reduces, another 10 minutes. Stir in chicken.
  6. Serve on rolls with cole slaw or pickled vegetables.

Sources: Adapted from The Wednesday Chef