It’s been a bit of a pasta week around here, so let’s end it with a favorite.
I was asked a to contribute to Wisconsin Cheese’s 30 Days 30 Ways with Macaroni and Cheese, and oh man am I glad that I did. Mainly because I was introduced to this trove of recipes created by some amazing food bloggers. And I got to dress up some tasty elbow macaroni.
I gussied up large elbow macaroni with creamy fontina and a little salty parm to mix up a classic casserole in our family, Chicken Divan—or as some call Broccoli and Chicken—to create my Smudge’s new favorite Chicken Divan Macaroni and Cheese.
Since big Daddy—my husband—was out of town and it was just me and my gal, I had ssseeeeveral servings left over. So I packed it up and took it to one of her friend’s houses—ya know, scoring points with the mom’s because you never know when you’ll need a favor—a house of five who I hoped would give it the passing grade. You never know with kids.
So did it pass? Oh yes. With flying colors. In fact it just may have been dubbed the best mac and cheese they’d eaten and put me in the ranks of Spongebob and iCarly. Watch out Hollywood here I come.
Chicken Divan Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 5 tablespoons butter divided
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 4 cups cold whole milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 4 cups 16 ounces Wisconsin Fontina Cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup 2 ounces Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese, grated
- 2 cups boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and diced
- 1 pound frozen broccoli spears thawed
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain noodles and set aside.
In large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add flour and curry powder, whisk well, cooking for 1 minute or until fragrant and flour starts to smell nutty.
Add cold milk and whisk well to combine. Bring mixture to boil and continue to whisk occasionally as mixture thickens, about 4-5 minutes. Whisk in salt and pepper, add cheeses and stir until melted.
Add chicken, broccoli and cooked macaroni to cheese mixture, fold to coat and cook on stovetop over medium heat 5 minutes or until heated through. Pour mixture into buttered 9 X 13-inch baking dish.
Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter; add bread crumbs and mix. Top macaroni mixture with buttered bread crumbs and bake 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from oven, let rest 5 minutes before serving.
Speaking of Hollywood, after last year’s Academy Awards post honoring my beloved Brad Pitt who was nominated for Moneyball, I wanted to continue the theme with a fresh take on this year’s award nominees, including the object of my new celebrity crush, ie: Bradley Cooper who is the one actor who has finally stolen Brad’s crown in my book.
Brad for Brad. A good trade after watching Brad take himself far too seriously as spoofed on SNL.
So to continue the Academy Award glitz, here are a few tips to make you feel a little more glammed up.
Trade out your yoga pants and pony tail for a special outfit to add some bling to light up the night.
Gussy up your table with some glitterazzi.
And for keeping score of the winners and the ahem, losers, give this free Academy Award nominees printable a run through the laserjet and put all that time you spend watching E! Entertainment to work for you.
And now it’s time to get to the guts of every party: the food. Thanks to my great interning contributor sweet Hayley, we have a new Academy Awards recipe round-up for you to enjoy. Feel free to take a page from her ‘Silver Lining Playbook’ and come up with your own list of must eats while watching the must sees.
Break a leg Hayley.
Ever since I was little, I’ve been fascinated by the movies. My earliest and most vivid memories of them are when I went to see The Little Mermaid in theaters and the first time I saw The Wizard of Oz. I recall getting hysterical every time I watched that scene where the lion runs into the mirror after encountering the great and powerful Oz.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been watching The Academy Awards—the only awards show I ever deemed worth watching. I loved seeing my idols and crushes gliding across the red carpet, pausing for photo ops and interviews and of course I enjoyed critiquing their fashion triumphs and faux-pas. When I was younger, I was never able to make it through the entire ceremony because often it fell on a school night and ran long past my bedtime. Finding out the winner for best picture the next morning was like waking up to see if it snowed over night and discovering school was canceled.
About six years ago, my family inadvertently started what has now become one of my favorite traditions. We began Oscar dinners, where we devised a menu centered around puns of the nominated films—“Brokeback ribs” and “Crash”ed potatoes, “Into the Wild”-salmon and “the Wrestler’s” mussels. We’d start scheming months in advance, testing rhymes and challenging our inner nerd. Over the years, we’ve added our very own “red carpet,” ballot contests and Hollywood trivia to the mix and as Oscar grows, so does our guest list. It’s something I look forward to every year. It’s my Superbowl.
If you’re thinking of hosting your own Academy Awards party, here are a few ideas to add some glimmer and bright lights to your party.
So in the spirit of that little gold man, here’s a menu inspired by all nine of this year’s nominees:
Red Carpet Cocktail Hour
Dark and Stormy cocktail from The Clever Carrot in honor of Zero Dark Thirty. This movie was dark. And stormy.
A Good Old Apple cocktail by Cook the Story for Lincoln, who was very fond of apples.
An Aged Cheese Plate by In the Little Red House for my love, Amour
Silver-Lined Crabby Snacks by Eatori for cute Bradley Cooper’s Silver Linings Playbook
Mini Lamb Curry Meat Pies by The Cuisinerd for….wait for it….wait for it….Life of Pi Supporting Cast
Hushpuppies from A Spicy Perspective for Beasts of the Southern Wild
Peasant Bread from Honey & Jam with a whole lot of singing en honour of Les Miserables
Feature Presentation/Main Feature
Coq au Vin from The Year in Food with a little more singing, or a lot more singing in Les Miserables
White Cake from Willow Bird Baking to unchain the sweetness you know is somewhere within Django Unchained
Nanaimo Bars, a classic Canadian dessert, from Cooking Classy for Ben Affleck’s Argo
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