Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cook Off: Round 1

Good evening everyone and welcome to the opening day of the Out Of The Culinary cook off! We've covered the rules, we've talked about our premise and we've even shared our ingredients and expenses - all that's left is to actually get started cooking.

Maggie took to the kitchen tonight with a few recipes up her sleeve and a new experience to be had. She mentioned to me this morning that she had never made macaroni and cheese before (outside of the just add water Easy-Mac cups). Needless to say, I was surprised not only is mac and cheese a staple of the American diet (for better or worse) but I think nearly everyone makes the dish at some point in the lifetime. Heck, I've made variations of the dish on the blog. Maggie, however, had never tackled the paste confection until tonight. I'll turn the keyboard over to Maggie so she can share her first take on mac and cheese, along with her experiences with all of the recipes.

The Recipe: Macaroni 'N' Cheese Pizza
Original Recipe Found In: Taste Of Home magazine, August / September 2010 Issue

What You'll Need:

1 Package Macaroni And Cheese Dinner Mix
2 Eggs (Beaten)
1/2 Pound Ground Beef
3/4 Cup Chopped Onion
1 1/4 Cups Pizza Sauce
1 Can (4 Ounces) Mushrooms (Optional)
28 Pepperoni Slices
1 Cup (4 Ounces) Mexican Cheese Blend (Shredded)

The Recipe: Chocolate Mint Apple Fondue
Original Recipe Found In: Taste Of Home magazine, August/September 2010 Issue

What You'll Need:

1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
10 Chopped Peppermint Patties
(Alternatively, 1 Cup of peanut butter can be substituted for the peppermint patties)
2 - 3 Red (Sweet) Apples

Good evening everyone!  Yes, I am actually quite ashamed to admit that in my 24 years of existence that I have never made a stove top version of mac'n'cheese.  I always thought it was something kinda complicated (as I think back to it now, mac and cheese has nothing on some of the recipes we've created.)  Also, I would mostly "cook", in a very loose term of the word cook, for myself in college and having mac and cheese, and my favorite add in: tuna, for four days after I made the initial recipe didn't sound appetizing.  Alas, tonight I conquered the mac and cheese beast and went beyond the call of duty.

I started by heating the oven to 375 degrees and made the mac and cheese according to the box directions, followed by slowly stirring in the beaten eggs.  Grease a 12 inch pizza pan and spread the mac and cheese on the pan.  Pop the pan in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.

That's the most interesting pizza crust I've ever seen 

Meanwhile, brown the beef and drain.  Add the chopped onion and return to heat.  Cook for three minutes, until the onions start to become fragrant.  Add and stir the pizza sauce in.  By this time, the mac and cheese base should be done - remove from oven.  Top the "crust" with the meat/onion/pizza sauce combination.  Also top with the pepperoni slices and cheese.  Pop entire pizza back into the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the crust reads 160 degrees with a food thermometer.

While the pizza is cooking, begin to heat the chocolate chips, condensed milk, and, in our case, peanut butter over low heat.  Keep an eye on it - it might have a tendency to harden if not stirred frequently.  Heat and stir until well combined.  Pour into small ramekins.  Slice two or more apples and place on a plate.  

Chocolate sauce...stage one

Remove the pizza out of the oven, slice, and serve!

The End Result:

I always find myself surprised at the end of every successful recipe.  Not because it worked - but because it worked so well!  The pizza was like every meat lovers pizza I've tasted, except it had a slightly cheesy crust.  And honestly, you couldn't even taste the mac and cheese, but it added a nice, almost spongey feel and it made the pizza more complete.  The flavors worked really well too - from the cheese on the top and bottom to the meat/onion innards, everything was very cohesive.

The fondue was pretty tasty as well.  Tyler and I are HUGE fans of chocolate and peanut butter and when the two are melted together, it's pretty much heaven.  The apples we used had a slight tartness to them, but they were soft so it made dipping pretty easy.  The combination of the chocolate, peanut butter, and apple was divine; it's easy to see what we'll be using for entertaining guests.

That's all we have for you this evening! Tomorrow night, it's my turn to take to the kitchen, so be sure to stop by and see what I'm brining to the table to match Maggie's dish from this evening. One site note worth mentioning before we go - according to Google, they will be doing maintenance on the blogger interface tomorrow evening. This may or may not interfere with posting the blog. If it does, I will post the blog on our OTHER blog (yes, there is another site where this blog exists - it is a work in progress and we hope to eventually move to this 'other' site permanently, however, there is some 'building' to be done and it's not ready for show - so we haven't shared it yet). There will be a specific note on our Facebook page ('Like' us if you haven't yet) with the link. Just an FYI in case things don't go well with Google tomorrow night. Until then,


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