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a pound to your arse

Recipe: martha’s mac and cheese

the ski whore report
Can I say w00t?! I went ski whoring this morning. I just love being a local. There were some decent freshies with a few inches of the sweet stuff, but the groomers were nice too. I hit the blacks in the back and caught up with some of my tele betties. Oh! Babes who tele are hot! Okay, but seriously – men who tele well make me swoon. Our local hill has a huge number of ski patrol on teles and I get my jollies when I see the tall ones ski, strut, or just stand around. Oh my. *fanning a blushing face* And today while I was contemplating more moguls on a favorite run, a gentlemanly hottie in his late 20s paused next to me and said, “after you” except I was still catching my breath so I told him he could go ahead. We exchanged polite greetings and he was off in the most graceful yet athletic tele turns – like silk. I had to catch my breath again.

south arapaho peak in the distance – a great climb

in the post
My MIL is a quilting genius. She cranks out quilts in her sleep and they are all gorgeous. She belongs to several quilting groups and two of her groups back in New Mexico conspired to make a quilt for me. I have been getting so many wonderful packages in the mail since my diagnosis. My friends and family have been remarkable and supportive sending hilarious DVDs, food stuffs, handmade gifts, food mags, snuggy socks and jammies, hats, kitchen cutlery, books, yarn. We have a large room downstairs that is filled with piles of cardboard boxes! So imagine my surprise when I opened this box and unpacked this delightful quilt from 20 women I have never met (except for MIL). They pieced the blocks and MIL did all the rest.

the signature block

I am not a pink girl, but I love the quilt and especially the ice cream cone motif! How Effingham cool is that?!

cooking and more cooking
I spent my afternoon cooking and shooting a lot of dishes (and making a fabulous mess in the kitchen). I have about a dozen recipes in queue for the blog since tomorrow is my next chemo and I’ll be down for the count soon. I want to avoid long silences since I dislike discontinuities. Something I made over the weekend was a recipe I had been eying for years. I heard about it in grad school from my good friend and workout buddy, Sande – a kick ass paleontologist. It’s Martha. I mean, it’s Martha’s mac and cheese recipe. Yes, a recipe that strikes fear and an alarming desire into your heart.


The first time I read the ingredients I thought the woman was trying to kill me. Then I realized that she was actually trying to kill us all.

start with a roux – that’s butter and flour

mix in hot milk and add some spices

I digress: Like my Peugeot automatic pepper grinder? I push a button and it grinds the pepper for me. It was a gift from my MIL for my birthday last year and it costs about as much as its automotive counterpart. I’m kidding… sort of. I got hooked on automatic pepper grinders in grad school because the stress of a friggin’ PhD caused the skin on my hands to peel and bleed so badly that I couldn’t grind pepper manually without getting blood everywhere. Gross, I know. Now chemo seems to result in the same problem, so it’s a good thing I have this handy dandy contraption. And just for the record, grad school is worse than chemo.

adding gruyère and friggin’ orange cheddar

and then the cooked macaroni

Some rant: Yup, same grocery run and so we have… friggin’ orange cheddar. Now I caught some flak for calling orange cheddar, friggin’ orange cheddar in my last post. See here, if it’s not adding any flavor to the cheese, then why the frak would we need to add it at all? But really, it boils down to choice. I am a huge fan of choice. HUGE. If I can purchase cheddar that is not orange, but rather the natural color of the cheese, then I will and that is my choice.

my own added debauchery: sliced pancetta – ooooh!

pour into a giant baking dish and top with more fat cheese

The recipe I followed says this serves 6 people. My question is this: 6 people for how many days? That’s a lot of mac and cheese, not to mention a ton of calories (straight to your ass). It’s pretty good as mac and cheese goes, but… it didn’t rock my world as I so hoped it would have. I think it’s too creamy for me and I would prefer it to be more gooey or cheesy. A local restaurant on the flats serves up my favorite mac and cheese – I wonder if they’d ever part with the recipe? Anyway, I was genuinely frightened to have this enormous dish of “increase your pant size by 2” in my kitchen, so I sent Jeremy to the neighbors’ house with half of it (and half of that matcha Earl Grey chocolate cake). Phew! They are my licensed official taste testers, and I got the thumbs up on both.

this will tide you over for a week

here’s to you, martha

Martha Stewart’s Macaroni and Cheese
[print recipe]
with some slight modifications

8 tbsps unsalted butter
1 cup bread crumbs
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsps salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
18 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
8 oz. Gruyère cheese, grated or 5 oz Pecorino Romano, grated
1 lb. elbow macaroni
3 oz. pancetta, sliced into strips

Heat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. In a medium saucepan set milk over medium heat. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour and whisk to make a roux. While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick. Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère or 1 cup Pecorino Romano; set cheese sauce aside.

Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer’s directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce. Stir in the pancetta. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, and bread crumbs over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes; serve hot.

31 nibbles at “a pound to your arse”

  1. linda says:

    The quilt is the cutest I’ve seen! You have a wonderful MIL.
    The mac & cheese looks delicious, I just had breakfast but I’m feeling hungry already…

  2. manggy says:

    Humph. If there was any justice in the world that tall, handsome ski-dude would fumble like a wrestler in stilettos. (I YAM BITTUR)
    Beautiful quilt! Your MIL is fantastic!
    Sorry that you hit an enormous speedbump on your ARP. This is why I measure by weight and divide everything by 3, hahaha! :) I don’t eat mac and cheese a lot (just not a popular thing in my country), but I like mine on the cusp of saucy. Regardless, I would excuse a little more butt padding by eating your gorgeous pancetta-spiked version!

  3. kathryn says:

    Oh my goodness…I LOVE macaroni and cheese. I actually tried to come up with a diabetic version a few months ago. Yours looks MUCH better.
    Sweet little icecream quilt…
    You are in my thoughts as you go for treatment today…
    Hugs from Norway.

  4. Amanda says:

    lovely quilt! :D those pics are wonderfully delicious! makes me wanna make some of those mac and cheese NOW! :P thanks for the recipe~

  5. Sarah says:

    Mmm, that mac and cheese looks so wondorously luscious and rich. A pound worth adding!

  6. amanda says:

    It’s official- Martha is out to kill us. I can see her now, sitting in her office laughing evily as she concocts heart-clogging recipes. Then she straightens up, walks to her garden and plants some oak trees or whatever she it is that tickles her pickle.

  7. Bridget says:

    Hey, I went skiing yesterday! Just downhill. It was awesome.

    I love mac and chz. Maybe check out smitten kitchen’s recipe? It’s less creamy and more cheesy. Pretty intensely cheesy actually.

    Yeah, grad school sucked. So glad that’s over. Now I just need a job.

  8. peabody says:

    LOL- we are having mac and cheese tonight too. Little different than yours but it has bacon in it. Mmmm, cheese and bacon.
    Loving the quilt, what a special gift for you.

  9. Christine says:

    haha – yes, Martha indeed has a way of striking fear and an alarming desire in one’s heart. I love adding bacon or pancetta to mac ‘n cheese because it’s excessive yet necessary :) How cool is that quilt?

  10. Francesco says:

    Mmm … we do this kind of pasta (varying the veggie, cheese, bacon or salami, etc) very very often.
    Since my (Belgian) wife discovered it … she makes it every time we have veggi left overs. So nice, so simple, so caloric :-(

    PS: I will for sure use your previous recipe to play a prank on my friends … if not on my parents!

  11. Barb says:

    There must have been a reason for adding the orange colour to cheddar cheese, way back when (lobbyists, maybe?). I just can’t trust the stuff.

    I’ll be thinking of you.

  12. cookworm says:

    That mac ‘n cheese looks pretty good to me…but if it didn’t rock your world, may I suggest trying Patti LaBelle’s Over The Rainbow mac ‘n cheese recipe, which totally rocks mine (you do have to get over the fact that it contains, yep, Velveeta. But trust me that is is amazing). You can find it here:

    What a lovely gift of the quilt, also. The ice-cream cones are really adorable.

  13. banana says:

    I think I gained 2 pounds just looking at that mac’n’cheese! Curse you, Martha!
    (P.S. I’m incredibly envious of your taste-tester neighbors! That cake you made looked delectable. I’m glad you got a shot of the “crumb layer” frosting, because I wasn’t entirely sure what you meant when you mentioned it on the carrot cake post)

  14. White On Rice Couple says:

    Your cooking just makes us feel so good and warm inside! The mac and the enchiladas are the perfect comfort food ! We’re the type of people that would mix the two together in a big bowl and just pig out. No class.
    You snow pictures make us jealous, yup, jealous. Can’t wait till your snow melts !!!!

  15. zoe / puku says:

    wow, love the quilt – 20 women sitting and concentrating energy and love into fabric and stitches, just for you. how affirming! that macaroni and cheese, on the other hand, looks decidedly dangerous indeed!

    and my bike-obsessed-by-proxy eye caught the peugeot logo – rad grinder, would go very nicely in the picnic basket of the latest peugeot folding bike gracing my kitchen (don’t ask!). :)

  16. sharona may says:

    Wow! now that is some serious Mac and Cheese. Looks so thick and good!!!

    Sharona May

  17. Graeme says:

    Aah, Macaroni. If you’re ever offered the opportunity to hear a Geordie (Newcastle native) say “Macaroni”, then do it.

    It’ll be the greatest thing you ever hear.

  18. Kevin says:

    Now that is some cheesy mac n cheese! It looks great! I like the use of the pancetta.

  19. Lori says:

    Dang it all, I’m sitting here STARVING but it’s 10:00 at night and you know EVERYTHING goes to your ass after 8 p.m. That mac & cheese looks so good . . . So I’m in the flats, will you tell me where to get your favorite mac & cheese? As long as its not in Boulder?

  20. Tori says:

    That mac looks delicious. I’m slightly confused. You said pancetta but that is clearly prosciutto falling from your hands. Pancetta is so much thicker and uncooked like bacon.

    Am I mistaken?

  21. Lynn says:

    Amazing mac and cheese and your MIL is the greatest! I love that quilt.

  22. jenyu says:

    Linda – thanks!

    Mark – oh you… don’t be bitter :) I didn’t hit that speedbump too badly, just a small slice was enough for me. I really enjoy cooking some of this stuff more than eating it – exploration of new recipes. It would have been dangerous if it had turned out to be the saucy kind, because I think I prefer that much more!!

    Kathryn – wow, what is a diabetic version like? I’m curious!! thanks for the hugs and thoughts, sweetie :)

    Amanda – you can thank me if you don’t have to buy new pants!!

    Sarah – ha ha!

    Amanda – don’t you know it! :)

    Bridget – it’s a great thing to get outside and woosh the slopes. Yeah, I took a look and I think that’s more along the lines of what I want.

    Peabody – bacon is the way to go – EVERYTHING is good with bacon!

    Christine – I think Martha explores our deepest darkest food desires and makes them OKAY because she pulls it off with such class and… cost!

    Francesco – mmmm, I doubt I could do this too often or I’d never fit out my front door ;) Oh, I hope your friends/parents like the enchiladas!

    Barb – ha ha ha! Color lobbyists – that’s it! :) I think it’s my aussie friends who just can’t get their brains around orange cheese the most. Thanks for the thoughts, love.

    Cookworm – yeah, Velveeta scares the hell out of me, but it’s actually really good in this crayfish fettuccine recipe my friend gave me. Thanks for the link!

    banana – sure thing! The crumb coat is just a really thin layer of frosting to suspend the little bits of cake crumbs floating around. So when you frost coat the second time, they usually stay put and don’t surface to spoil the look of the finished cake!

    WoRC – hey, I am admittedly a huge fan of chili cheese fries :) Big bowl, yes. Pig out, yes! That’s why the Ass Reduction Plan is critical *snort*

    Zoe/puku – it’s a great gesture, no? really lovely and special. and yes, the mac and cheese is very dangerous. not to be left in the hands of small children or evil genuises ;)

    Sharona May – thanks!

    Graeme – where do I get one? Do I just squeeze them and they’ll pop out “macaroni”?!? :)

    Kevin – the pancetta adds a nice touch… and just a few more calories to boot ;)

    Lori – dang, it’s in Boulder. In Gunbarrel, really. Cafe Blue. They serve it as a side and it’s just really cheesy and good. I don’t know any other dining establishments outside of Boulder. By the time I drive down there, I’m not interested in driving anywhere else (unless it’s to go skiing!)

    Tori – nope, that’s pancetta. I know this because I bought it with my own hands and eyes and brains. It’s thinly sliced and then I sliced it up some more. The prosciutto I get is stiffer than the pancetta and darker. And I don’t think prosciutto is cooked, it’s just cured, right? My husband’s advisor grew up in Parma and I heard more about the curing of prosciutto than I can recall in those grad year ;)

    Lynn – yeah, I love the quilt too – it’s so sweet.

  23. Tartelette says:

    You should have seen my face the first time I saw Velveeta :) My husband calls my mac and cheese the million dollar dish since he wants “orange cheese” and I refuse to buy processed orange crap so I go get aged Mimolette and of course it costs an arm and a leg…but the way I see it is that if I am going to add a pound to my house, might as well make it wholesome and leave nothing to fate!!
    The quilts is absolutely gorgeous and perfect for you!
    I’ll be thinking of you on the next chemo round.
    I need to see snow otherwise I will start thinking “it ain’t fittin’, just ain’t fittin'”!!

  24. Judy says:

    The nice things about mac & cheese is its versatility. Any kind of cheese will do. One of my favorites has blue cheese in it along with 3 other kinds of cheese. Very rich. But very comforting. Love the quilt, too. I left my NM quilt group when I moved to California, but found a great one out here. Quilts are made for hugging. :)

  25. kellypea says:

    I’ve got a couple of good recipes I tried out — very cheesy. I’m loving the pancetta in this. Good wishes to you with your treatment…

  26. jenyu says:

    Tartelette – ha ha! You must make one mean mac and cheese :) I agree, if you aren’t going to do it right, then why bother? Thanks for your thoughts, love. I’m bouncing back now and getting ready to see what lovely things you’ve made in the meantime! xxoo

    Judy – you are so right about quilts! I have to admit that I haven’t acquired the proper appreciation for blue cheese, but I know the people who love blue cheese rave about it in mac and cheese!

    Kellypea – thanks so much :)

  27. Dee says:

    This stuff is really good. I have done this recipe before but I add just one more ingredient which is the cream of chicken/mushroom whichever I have on hand and it does add a bit more flavour.


  28. jenyu says:

    Dee – I don’t use those cream of “fill in the blank” soups in general, but I imagine it would certainly add a new dimension to the dish.

  29. Steph says:

    I can’t get over how amazing this recipe is! I have made this mac-n-cheese several times and can never get over it. The addition of pancetta makes my heart flutter.

  30. Didi says:

    I thought I’d add my “orange cheese” story. I stay away from American cheese and used to have an issue with Cheddar and its orange color, couldn’t understand why anybody would purposefully dye their cheese orange!!! I’m not sure if the American Cheddar was initially dyed to distinguish it from the English Cheddar, but maybe… American cheese is orange, is it orange to make it American?

    So, it turns out that any decent orange Cheddar is dyed with anatto seeds (as opposed to artificial coloring), which is an all natural dye and actually has a flavor of its own. Anatto seed or achiote is used in Latin food instead of the saffron used in Spain to make yellow rice and various rice dishes (as saffron was too expensive and hard to come by your average latin family at the time). From my experience, I have cooked with achiote before and quite fancy it, and have enjoyed both orange Cheddar and normal one. I would like to say I could notice the flavor of the achiote in the orange cheese and the lack of it in the other one. Now, I haven’t had Cheddar in a while, and would love to do a little test myself and find out whether I’m full of it or not. I hope my rambling helped clarify a bit the mystery of “orange cheese” and that you frown on it a little less :)


  31. jenyu says:

    Didi – thanks for the input. I have since learned about anatto coloring, but I still prefer the white cheddar ;) The fewer the ingredients, the better, in my opinion :)

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