Cook's Corner: Comfort found in food

Published 12:43 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2006

By By Lisa Tindell
Ask anyone who knows me well and they'll tell you I'm a Food Network-aholoic. I'm so bad, in fact, that sometimes I'm not even aware of world events because they don't interrupt Rachel Ray to tell me that some big news thing has happened. The only way I'd know about something big happening is if Paula, Bobby or Emeril tell me about it.
At any rate, I have seen a few shows on the channel that said a lot about comfort foods lately. Seems that dishes like macaroni and cheese, dumplings and the like are considered comfort foods. I agree without question. I also include just about any dish cooked with pasta or rice in that category as well.
If you like macaroni and cheese dishes, you'll enjoy this week's column. My son could live off macaroni and cheese. However, being a busy mom, I have a hard time making it from scratch or even from the box. I am certainly thankful that a national food distributor came up with single serving cups of the creamy good side dish.
If you have a little time on your hands and have some macraroni lovers in your family, you may want to give some of these recipes a try.
Easy Baked Mac and Cheese
1 pound uncooked macaroni
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1 pound shredded American cheese
2 (12 fluid ounce) cans evaporated milk
2 cups water
4 eggs
2 tsps. mustard powder
1 tsp. salt
One-half tsp. white pepper
One-fourth tsp. cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a shallow three-quart baking dish, toss uncooked macaroni and melted butter together, to coat the macaroni and the inside of the dish. Add cheese, and stir lightly to distribute. In a medium bowl, whisk together the evaporated milk, water, eggs, mustard powder, salt, white pepper and cayenne pepper. Pour into the baking dish with the macaroni. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, or until the center is set. Remove from the oven, and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
If you like things a little on the spicy side, you may want to give this recipe a try. When I saw that one of the ingredients was hot sauce, my interest grew. If you give this one a chance I believe you may like.
Kicked Up Mac and Cheese
1 and one-half cups rotelle pasta
4 tbsp. butter, divided
One-fourth cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1 tsp. dry mustard
Three-fourths tsp. salt
One-half tsp. ground white pepper
3 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1 cup shredded pepperjack cheese
1 and one-half cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
One-half cup grated Parmesan cheese
One-third cup dry bread crumbs
2 tsp. chili powder
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. A little at a time, whisk in milk, mustard, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute, then remove from heat and whisk in pepperjack, Cheddar and Parmesan until smooth. Stir in cooked pasta and pour into shallow 2 quart baking dish. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in bread crumbs and chili powder. Sprinkle over macaroni mixture. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
And finally, if you're looking for something that combines a few different aspects of comfort food, this one may be the ticket. A muffin made of macaroni and cheese sounds like a great brunch item to me. If you bake these, I'm sure you'll have comfortable people in your house.
I hope that you have a comfortable time of cooking and eating at your house.
Don't forget, if you have a recipe you'd like to share with our readers, I'll be happy to pass it along. Also, if you're searching for a particular recipe, I'm happy to play detective on your behalf. Drop me a line at or give me a call here at the office.
Until next week, Happy Cooking!