Gourmet Mac & Cheese and Multi-Grain Carrot Muffins

Today was a good day. We got ventured out of our house (instead of watching college basketball again for 12 hours), ate some Gates BBQ, visited our friends Josh and Rachel (and baby Brayden), and went grocery shopping. We're trying to go grocery shopping on weekends and plan meals for the entire week. Genius idea, huh? I was pretty excited because I printed some new recipes from the Internet yesterday and was looking forward to trying them. First up, gourmet mac & cheese. We had it for dinner tonight. Delish! And pretty easy, too!

Here's the recipe!

Gourmet Mac & Cheese

1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
7 1/2 Tbsp margarine, divided
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp flour
3 cups milk
2 1/4 cups gruyere cheese, shredded
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (I found both of the cheeses in the deli/gourmet cheese section at Hy-Vee)
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Salt & pepper

1) Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil and add the elbow macaroni. Cook until al dente, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.

2) While the macaroni is boiling, slowly melt 5 1/2 Tbsp butter over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan.

3) Add flour, stirring. Cook for a minute or so. Do not brown the mixture.

4) Add the milk, whisking to avoid lumps. Bring mixture to a boil and continue whisking. Lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes until it thickens.

5) While the milk is simmering, combine 2 Tbsp butter and bread crumbs, and melt together in a separate pan.

6) Add Parmesan cheese.

7) When the milk is ready, add the mascarpone cheese. Then add the gruyere cheese and whisk it in. As soon as it's melted, remove from heat. (This will happen quickly.)

8) Season with salt and pepper. Add the macaroni to the cheese sauce, mix it well, and spoon into a casserole dish.

9) Sprinkle bread crumbs on top and cook for about 35 - 40 minutes at 350 degrees, or until golden brown and bubbly. (We were impatient so I only cooked for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees.)

New Recipe #2: Multi-Grain Carrot Muffins

Craig loves carrot cake, and I found this recipe online so I thought I'd give it a try.  Definitely a keeper!

Lots of ingredients

3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup reserved for topping
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats, 1/4 cup reserved for topping
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup reserved for topping
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus 1 Tbsp for topping
3/4 cup applesauce
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups shredded carrots (I didn't measure but shredded about 6 medium-sized carrots)
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1/3 cup chopped pecans (you could probably use any kind of nut)

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Lightly grease muffin tins.

2) Mix the flour, whole-wheat flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

3) Make a well in the center of mixture; add honey, brown sugar, vege oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla.  Mix just until evenly moist.  Fold in carrots, pineapple, and pecans.

I made the hubs grate the carrots.  It made my arms hurt too bad.

Looks pretty gross right now.

4) Make topping: mix reserve flour, brown sugar, oats, and vege oil.
There I am, slaving away.

5) Fill each muffin cup for 3/4 full.  Sprinkle topping mixture over the top of each muffin.

6) Reduce heat to 400 degrees and bake for 15 - 20 minutes.  (I'd recommend closer to 15.  I did 20 and they are just a tad too done.)

7) Makes about 24 muffins.

Finished product!

I'm not even a carrot cake fan, and I thought these were amazing!

More pics from our day today...
Gates BBQ for lunch - mmmmmmmmmmm!

Next door to Gates.  It's my old last name.  Had to pose for a pic.

Have a great week everyone!  Only 5 days til Spring Break and 7 til we leave for San Fran!

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