January 19, 2012

I want to be a part of it, NY NY!

This past weekend we visited my family in South Orange, NJ.  My uncle, aunt and two cousins live there and they live a convenient distance from NYC.  It's about a 30 minute train ride.  We went into the city on Saturday and had a great time.  It was chilly!  Whew!  We saw 911 memorial and the building of the new Freedom Tower, it was crazy to see a building going up over the skyline of the buildings downtown again.  Surreal.

Here are some pics of our trip:

Here is the Freedom Tower, going up as the new WTC - it's going to be awesome!

Here are Dave & Ashley in front of one of the two memorial (North and South) pools of the 911 Memorial.

Here we are at S'MAC in the village.  This place was awesome!  It's a Mac & Cheese bar and they serve the M&C in little cast iron skillets, all different flavors!  We loved it so much I actually re-created a batch at home...read on for that recipe - YUM!

Dave got an Italian flavor one with basil, tomato and Italian cheeses.  Ashley got the American one, just cheddar and American cheeses with bread crumbs.  I got the buffalo chicken one, yummy but SO spicy!!  It's a small store front, and crowded, but worth the fight to get a table, trust me.

I can't seem to stay away from Disney, here I am in the princess portion of Disney Store Times Square.

Dave & I posing in busy Time Square!  My hat is way too big for my head, but hey, it kept me warm and it's really cute;)

Me at 30 Rock!

This is a pic of Rue57, my family's FAVE restaurant in NYC.  So yummy, soooo expensive, and so worth it!  It's the quintessential NYC restaurant with the ambiance and decor and food...and prices;)  If you go, get the Steak au Poivre or the Filet or the sushi or anything - its all delicious!

A moment for a smooch on the town;)

Here is a pic of my Mac & Cheese from S'Mac.  I was determined to make M&C this way...so here we go..

This version is a copy of their Alpine M&C which is Gruyere cheese and bacon. For their other flavors, check out their website & menu here

Alpine Mac & Cheese:

1 pound of elbows mac
16 oz of Gruyere cheese (I use applewood smoked, yummy!)
8-10 slices of bacon
4 tablespoons of butter
4 tablespoons of flour
2-3 cups of milk
bread crumbs (I used Panko for more crunch)
parm cheese

Ok, directions:

Cook your elbows according the package:

Cook your bacon in your cast iron skillet.  After you are done, keep the skillet with the bacon juices.  Drain it so that there is just a thin layer of the juice leftover, enough to coat the bottom.  Bacon juice = everything is more yummy;)

Chop your bacon up.  Shred your cheese.  I actually didnt have enough cheese, I just used 8 oz.  It was still good but the M&C didnt come out as creamy as it should...I had to tweek the milk and roux ratio - but if you use 16oz use my suggested amounts listed above.  It'll be a lot yummier!

Get your milk and crumbs ready:)

In another saucepan, make a roux,  This ends up making a great base for your cheese sauce, trust me!
Melt your butter and then add the flour, mix together and frequently until it turns golden.  This will take about 5 minutes.

Add your cheese and stir until is fully melted.

Drain your mac and return the pasta pot.  Once your cheese sauce is all melty and gooey, add it to the pasta.

Then, add your lovely bacon.  Bacon does make everything better.  Just don't put it in everything, or you will gain 500 pounds!

Stir that up all together and then add this to the cast iron skillet that you cooked the bacon in.  You could also divide this up into little cast irons like S'MAC if you have them, for individual servings.  Or you make different cheese sauces and do different flavors in each - that would be really fun, but messy and lots of work.  But worth it.  Hmmmmm....anyways!  Add this to the skillet...

Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and Parm cheese - I just eyeballed this.  I covered the whole thing with both!  Bake it at 400 degrees until the top turns golden.  When it's done it'll look like this, and it will taste AMAZING!!

And that, folks, is how you make Mac & Cheese in a cast iron skillet.  Best M&C ever.  I can't wait to try this again with different flavors, and more cheese! 

Ok I am off to Lowes to pick out paint for the kitchen and learn how to finish the floors in there with our leftover Pergo flooring!  I love that when we bought our house, the sellers left TONS of Pergo floor tiles - our kitchen floor is so yucky, its that old gross tile, and Dave & I want to finish it to look like the rest of the first floor and we have more than enough Pergo to do that.  I just need to learn how:)  I can't wait to get his project under way!