A Mississippi native...Louisiana hybrid

Category: Sides

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Baked sweet potatoes are so easy to make, making them an incredibly healthy side dish ready to be served with absolutely anything. One of the easiest and most useful ways to cook sweet potatoes is to roast them. The one question I get most often […]

Crusted Top Macaroni and Cheese

Crusted Top Macaroni and Cheese

Crusted Top Mac and Cheese is a family favorite in my household. We absolutely love it! As I began to prepare for our cookout yesterday, I opted to cook dishes that were a lot less time consuming than usual so I could just live in the moment and spend that extra quality time with my family. Of course, no one was having it, especially my boys. So after the third request to make “my macaroni and cheese,” I realized that no cookout is complete without it. This generously buttered casserole with the crusted top is the thing that dreams are made of. Well… my dreams at least but we’ll save that for a later discussion.

Growing up, homemade Mac and Cheese was always prepared the traditional way. It was delicious, but the same ‘ol boring Mac and Cheese finally needed an overhaul. It was always made from scratch, never the boxed stuff. I remember times when my boys wanted to go to Red Lobster just to eat the Mac and Cheese. I would say, “I can buy you 5 boxes of this from the supermarket for the same price as one.” As they have gotten older, they no longer make those kind of requests. I’ve actually been experimenting over the years with different cheeses, creams and milk and I have finally created a masterpiece. The most flavorful combination, in my opinion is Chardonnay, sharp cheese and toasted Ritz cracker crumbs. However, I’ve been mixing it with a couple of other ingredients to make it taste homemade. I must say, no one has objected! They like this Mac and Cheese recipe so much that they ask for it often. Who can blame them, because nothing pairs better with barbecue ribs and baked beans. This recipe requires a little more time and effort than boxed Mac and cheese but you will be oh so glad you did. If you’re not a fan of cooking with wine, then substitute it with sour cream. This is the closest ingredient to adding more flavor, with a similar taste in place of dry white wine. I guarantee you, the whole family will definitely approve!

Crusted Top Macaroni and Cheese

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 16 ounce box of elbow macaroni pasta
  • 4 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups sharp cheese
  • sticks of butter
  • ½ cup minced onions
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups half and half
  • 1 cup crushed ritz crackers topping
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Instructions

  1. Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil and cook the macaroni until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Melt ½ stick of butter and stir in the crushed Ritz crackers and toast until lightly browned.
  3. Remove breadcrumbs from the pan and set aside. Wipe pan clean with a paper towel and re-use for next step.
  4. Melt remaining butter, add onions and stir over low heat until onions are translucent. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and paprika.
  5. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add wine, then gradually stir in the half and half.
  6. Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly until the sauce is thickened and smooth. Add cheese and stir continuously until cheese melts.
  7. Combine the macaroni with the cheese sauce and mix well until it turns into a buttered casserole. Sprinkle extra grated cheese on the top along with the toasted bread crumbs.
  8. Bake in a pre-heated 350 oven for approximately 20 minutes or until heated all the way through and golden brown on the top and serve.

Fried Yellow Squash and Mushrooms

Fried Yellow Squash and Mushrooms

Summer Squash cooked in a butter and canola oil, lots of onion and sprinkled with rosemary. This combination gives the Squash the most most delicious, sweet, buttery and herb flavor. Summer is here so you can count on getting the best in season, tender, slightly […]

Buttermilk Cornbread

Buttermilk Cornbread

That is some fine-looking cornbread. The inside is moist, the top nicely browned. It smells heavenly baking in the oven. Where I come from, many folks considered it a crime to put sugar in cornbread. They’re drop dead serious about it. They think if you […]

Herb and Garlic Roasted Mushrooms

Herb and Garlic Roasted Mushrooms

Mushrooms add a hearty, meaty texture to any dish, and this recipe combines two delicious varieties sautéed with garlic for maximum flavor! Combining mushrooms in a single dish also amps up the nutritional value considerably. Shiitake mushrooms are rich in vitamin D, and baby portobellos (also known as cremini mushrooms) are full of powerful B-vitamins that support cognitive functioning. You can also use white button mushrooms or experiment with more exotic varieties your local market has to offer. Either way.. you can’t go wrong. 

Herb and Garlic Roasted Mushrooms

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds button mushrooms washed, trimmed, and quartered
  • 10 sprigs thyme
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives and tarragon for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Toss mushrooms with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place mushrooms on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and spread evenly.
  4. Place thyme sprigs on top of mushrooms and transfer to oven and roast until mushrooms release liquid, approximately 15 minutes.
  5. Drain liquid into a separate container and reserve for drizzling or as a dipping sauce.
  6. Coat mushrooms with garlic and return to oven and continue roasting until browned but still tender, about more 30 minutes.
  7. Discard thyme and transfer to a bowl and toss with chives and tarragon for garnish. Serve while hot.
Honey Roasted Balsamic Bacon Brussels Sprouts

Honey Roasted Balsamic Bacon Brussels Sprouts

We all can remember a time when we didn’t like Brussels sprouts and were forced to eat them. These Honey Balsamic Bacon Brussels Sprouts are not only easy to prepare, but they are good for you. If you’re having company, be sure to make extra’s […]

Southern Style Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey

Southern Style Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey

Although grown year round, collards’ peak season is the first quarter of the year, so the time is now. Although uniquely tolerant of both cold and hot climates, collards (and kale) actually benefit from frost, which causes them to produce sweeter leaves. Here are just […]

Mac and Cheese Muffins

Mac and Cheese Muffins

  • Traditional mac and cheese has always been my favorite but ever since I experimented with these unique little muffins, I may have developed a slight case of amnesia to the old way of doing things. Hey now.. don’t judge me. One of my favorite things about these creamy and flavorful mac and cheese muffins is the inclusion of the rich delicious flavors from the the combination of cheeses. The flavor gets a warm depth to it that will have you coming back for more again.. and again… and again. 

Mac & Cheese Muffins

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

Panko Mix

  • * 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • * 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon shredded gruyere cheese
  • * 1/4 cup olive oil
  • * 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

Mac and Cheese

  • * 1 pound small elbow macaroni
  • * 1/2 cup 1 stick butter
  • * 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • * 1 1/2 cups half & half
  • * 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • * Salt and pepper to taste
  • * 4 cups packed shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • * 1 cup sharp shredded cheese
  • * 2 tablespoons white wine
  • * Nonstick cooking spray for spraying muffin pans

Instructions

  1. You will need two 12 cup muffin pans
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  3. For the panko mix: Mix the panko, gruyere, olive oil and garlic together and set aside.
  4. For the mac and cheese: Cook the macaroni according to the package directions.
  5. Drain and set aside.
  6. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, white wine and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Add the half and half and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens. Reduce the heat to low, add Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Slowly fold in the mild cheddar and sharp cheddar cheese and heat throughout until all the cheese is melted, about 10-15 minutes. Fold the cooked macaroni into the cheese mixture.
  9. Spray muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray and dust with the panko mix.
  10. Put the muffin pans in the oven and bake until the panko is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove the pans and lower the temperature to 350 degrees.
  11. Carefully fill the cups the rest of the way with the mac and cheese, packing tightly. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  12. Sprinkle the tops with the panko mix and continue baking until the tops are golden brown, about 5 minutes more.
  13. Let the muffins cool before removing them from the pan. Repeat with the remaining macaroni and cheese and panko