Four Cheese Rice Cooker Mac and Cheese

Me: Is it weird that I don’t really like mac and cheese at restaurants?

Brian: No way. You make awesome mac and cheese at home.

Me: You’re so right.

Brian: Can you say that again?

I love mac and cheese when it’s properly crafted. It should be smooth, creamy, cheesy, and packed with flavor.

But it can be a PITA to make. All that time making the roux and cheese sauce, boiling water, cooking pasta. So much work. And I’m so lazy. So I order mac and cheese at restaurants. And my disappointment is inevitable.

So when Hamilton Beach sent me a rice cooker/steamer, and told me to look at the billions of other things I can make in this puppy, I was like WHAAAAAAT? Mac and cheese in 15ish minutes!? I’m in.

I looked at the recipe, as I tend to do…and then I said, “Okay, now how can I Chrissify this?”

And then I made my own recipe.

I even measured it for you.

Ingredients for rice cooker mac and cheese

This is everything you need for a creamy delicious rice cooker mac and cheese.

  • 16 oz pasta shells
  • 1 container of chicken broth (for future reference, I recommend full sodium; this needed a lot of salt to get the taste I wanted)
  • 4.5 oz Cheddar & Gruyere(shredded) If you don’t have Trader Joe’s, do half cheddar and half gruyere
  • 4.5 oz Havarti (cubed)
  • 1 tbs salted butter
  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • 2/3 cup Pub Cheese
  • Salt to taste (this is the most important part. Also, if you have truffle salt, USE THAT)

Okay, so don’t worry about shredding or xubing the cheese yet. First, pop the broth and noodles into the rice cooker. Cook on the heat simmer setting for 13 minutes.

Cooking pasta in a roce cooker

While the noodles are cooking, shred/cube/measure the cheese/butter/half&half. We’re on a time crunch here. I tried to shred the Havarti, but it wasn’t really working for me because it’s too soft.

Using Havarti in mac and cheese

So I hacked it up with a knife.

While that’s happening, make your husband/boyfriend/kids set the table and pour you a glass of wine. You deserve it.

Super creamy homemade mac and cheese

When the pasta is soft, add the rest of the ingredients to the rice cooker (no need to drain anything!). Add salt (I forgot this part and it was a little bland). Stir. Voila. Serve.

Serving creamy homemade mac and cheese

If you’re like me, you’ll serve it with a Sam’s Club rotisserie chicken, because we’re all abour convenience and class, here.

creamy homemade mac and cheese with rotisserie chicken

And BBQ sauce. Because mac and cheese and BBQ sauce is a flavor match made in I’m-a-12-year-old heaven. And this BBQ sauce is from Canada (my Reddit Secret Santa sent it to me)!

creamy homemade mac and cheese with rotisserie chicken and sliced tomatoes

And tomatoes. Because Brian is obsessed with tomatoes in the way I am obsessed with cheese.

Overall, it wasn’t my best work because of the forgotten salt fiasco, which isn’t quite as bad as the one time I tried to make blueberry pancakes for Brian and Cletus for breakfast and used salt instead of sugar…but the convenience made it totes worth it.

So when you’re  a few weeks out from your wedding or any other stress-inducing event, try this easy dinner on for size. And this rice cooker may just be my new favorite appliance.

Want your very own  4-20 Cup Rice and Hot Cereal Maker to make delicious mac and cheese, among other things? Take a look at some of the recipes from Hamilton Beach and leave a comment telling me what you’d make in this beast. 

This contest is now over. And my random number generator picked…Melissa!

Congrats to Melissa for winning! I’m sending an email your way.

While I was given a Hamilton Beach rice cooker and steamer in order to facilitate this post, all opinions are my own. Hamilton Beach is sponsoring the product giveaway.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Wine-Paired Dinner at Seared Petaluma

I’ve been dreaming of wine and cheese lately. I’m not sure why, since I happen to have a pretty decent stockpile of both wine and cheese in my fridge. But it happens.

#PetalumaMade Wine Paired Dinner

 

Remember back in July when I was all over social media with some of my new blogging buddies telling you how fantastic Petaluma, California is? Well, I absolutely HAD to tell you about the wine-paired dinner that we had at Seared. It definitely hit the level of meal-amazingness that our Disney dinner at Cat Cora’s restaurant had.

After a day of boozing and wining through the Petaluma countryside, we made our way back to Seared, a fine dining establishment in downtown Petaluma for dinner. We were greeted by a lovely collection of Petaluma business owners, wine growers and farmers.

Seared Wine Paired Dinner

While the 5-course dinner itself was exquisite, the experience was what truly made this meal magnificent. Brian couldn’t stop bragging about how awesome it was that the chef came out and described each course in detail, followed by a short description of the wines by the wine owners and growers, and in one case, the farmer who raised the quail. It was the ultimate in dining style.

Grilled stone fruit soup

The first course was a stone fruit soup garnished with baby greens, creme fraiche made of Purple Haze (a lavender and fennel pollen chevre goat cheese from Cypress Grove), preserved lemon and black pepper. The flavors melded together perfectly for a phenomenal soup.

Grilled Stone Fruit Soup with Purple Haze Chevre Creme Fraiche

Paired with the soup was Lelarge-Pugeot Champagne, which was represented by the lovely Clémence Lelarge, whose family vineyard produces this delicious Champagne in France.

Heirloom Tomato and Cucumber Salad

This course was absolutely delightful and refreshing. Have I told you how much I love arugula? The cucumber was sliced thin, the tomatoes were amazing and the burrata complemented the salad perfectly.

Heirloom tomato and cucumber salad with arugula, burrata and basil vinaigrette

This was my favorite course of liquid joy, featuring the Fogline Vineyards 2013 Chardonnay with a lovely introduction presented by winemaker, Evan Pontoriero. This wine was sunshine in a bottle. Brian and I came home with a few bottles of this brightly flavored wine.

Crudo

This delicious raw dish featured a flavorful albacore and a unique combination of accouterments to create a delicate balance of complementary flavors. Brian (who, as you may remember, despises seafood) and the vegetarians all received a similar dish with a trumpet mushroom instead of the albacore. The culinary geniuses in the kitchen made every effort to accommodate our entire group and all their dietary restrictions.

Crudo with albacore, avocado puree, grapefruit, pickled fennel, breakfast radish and Fresno chili

 

This dish was paired with the La Cruz Vineyard Pinot Noir from Keller Estate, as introduced by the delightful Anna Keller, who I had the pleasure of sitting next to during dinner. I love a good pinot, and this wine was decadent and delicious.

Devil’s Gulch Quail

Our main course was this amazing quail, stuffed with a rib eye chorizo boudin surrounded by a smoked tomato broth and topped with spinach, pine nuts, and golden raisins. After the chef discussed the course, we were treated with a short presentation about the quail and Devil’s Gulch Ranch from owner, Mark Pasternak. As I gently tried not to make an ass of myself, eating the quail with a fork and knife, both Anna and Mark were found teasing me for not just picking it up and going to town like everyone else. I was pretty proud of myself and the fact that not once during this meal did I dribble, spill, spit or splash!

quail, stuffed with a rib eye chorizo boudin surrounded by a smoked tomato broth, spinach, pine nuts, and golden raisins

The quail was paired with that tasty Luma-Rouge from Corkscrew Wines that we sampled earlier in the day at Azari Vineyards. A perfect pairing for a fine meal!

Black Pepper Panna Cotta

I had never consumed panna cotta until this event. I didn’t even know what it was. Cake? Pie? Pastry? Jello? Pudding? It was its own magical sweet dish that made me want to pick up the plate and put tongue to remnants. But I refrained. Because I’m respectable.

Black pepper panna cotta with aztec chocolate and red wine-blackberry compote

 

The panna cotta was finished with Enriquez Vineyards Tempranillo, which was the happy ending of an amazing meal. Cecilia Enriquez, wine owner and maker briefly spoke about the wine, which we had the joy of tasting earlier in the day, and she thanked everyone for their participation in this wonderful trip that was her brain child.

One of the most amazing aspects of this meal was the introductions from the winemakers and owners (and the rancher who supplied the quail!) describing their wines and their stories. This was an experience that could not have been matched, and I can’t wait to visit my friends in Petaluma again soon.

Blog Friends, what’s the best meal you’ve ever had? Have you experienced a wine paired meal? Tell me about it!

 

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Our Silly Valentine’s Day Tradition

V-day isn’t a big deal for me. Not really. The best part about Valentine’s Day is the anniversary of my godson’s birth. But having a boyfriend who’s awesome makes me kind of want to enjoy a day that Hallmark created about love and romance. So I will.

The Valentine for all of my lady friends

The Valentine for all of my lady friends

Every year, Brian and I go out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. We enjoy a meal that usually involves dark and devious beer (for me), cider (for him), cheese and other tasty food.

Then we head home and watch a Disney princess movie. Yes. My boyfriend loves me that disgustingly much. He sucks it up and watches ONE princess movie a year. Unless there’s one out in the theater…and then he’ll go watch with me, like he did for Frozen.

So far, we’ve watched Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Sleeping Beauty.

With a week until our Valentine’s Day tradition, my question for you guys:

What Disney movie should I make my boyfriend watch this year?

Also, what are your Valentine’s Day traditions? With friends, family, or your significant other?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Tasty Tuesday: Charcuterie and Cheese

Short and sweet, because Wednesday won’t be wordless.

This was dinner on Sunday night. I had to brag because OMG. YUM! What’s your favorite meal?

image

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Monday Memories: Because That Holiday is TOTALLY Stupid Anyway

So this is the only peep you’re going to hear from me on the subject of that Hallmark holiday couples everywhere waste money on and singletons everywhere cry into their beer. As the theme for this morning’s Monday Memories is LOOOOOOOOVE, I thought I’d tell you about the one time before Brian that I had a “Valentine.”

I was in college and dating the Ethiopian. (We had already broken up and gotten back together once, as I spent 2 weeks in London and he missed me and blah blah blah). So we had been back together for a couple of weeks when the VD rolled into town. Neither of us had really ever done anything for it…so I planned some stupid shmoopy crap and cooked dinner. I won’t tell you about the shmoopy crap (because I’m totally embarrassed for myself that it involved a scavenger hunt…), but I will tell you that dinner involved a bottle of champagne. That I drank. By myself. The Ethiopian enjoyed a bottle of PBR, and I enjoyed a bottle of Korbel.

After dinner, his single buddy called to say he was at the bar. I told the Ethiopian to head over there, I wanted to clean the kitchen first, and I would meet him there.

He left, and I immediately went down to the bedroom for a “nap.” An hour later, I saw that he was calling my cell, but I was groggy (read: drunk on champagne and passed the fuck out) and opted not to answer. I fell back asleep and woke up at 4 AM to discover that he had called me like 5 times, leaving messages as to which bar to find him at each time. And that he was home. Whoops! Guess I slept through the evening’s festivities. And I didn’t really feel all that bad. And neither did he. So I guess when we broke up (again) a few weeks later, it shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise.

Join me and my pals as we write memories to make you laugh. If you’d like to get involved, next week’s theme is FOOD!

Monday Memories

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The Most Amazing Meal I Have Ever Consumed

Just when you thought the Disney posts were over…

While in Disney, Brian and I decided to take a day off from the hustle and bustle of park-hopping. I had discovered that there was a dance club (yes, ladies and gentleman, my boyfriend likes to dance!) and so I suggested taking a trip to Disney’s Boardwalk Resort to go dancing.

After a lovely rainy afternoon at Port Orleans with Penny and her hubs, we made our way back to the Caribbean Beach Resort with a plan. Talk to concierge about making us dinner reservations, and then go dancing. I had previously Yelped to find restaurants in the general area, and discovered a cool looking Greek restaurant. Our resort concierge also recommended it, so we went with it. She booked us reservations, and we went back to the room to relax and get ready.

Our plan was to allot about an hour for transit, as we needed to jump on a bus to MGM erm Hollywood Studios and then grab another bus to the Boardwalk (I can’t help but think about Monopoly every time I see, hear, or say this). So we headed out dressed to the vacay 9’s.

Dressed for an amazing dinner

Dressed up for dinner

We got on the bus, and made sure that we would be able to connect to our final destination. The driver assured us that all would be well. Upon departure from the resort, Brian and I were the only guests on the bus…and I noticed that our driver seemed to going in the wrong direction…

We landed on the Boardwalk a whole hour earlier than our reservations thanks to the rockstar bus driver who gets mad props from me! He informs us that to get back, we won’t have a direct route, but we weren’t worried. Our plan was to cab it back for a few bucks and no hassle.

So we watched the sun set over Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club…and it was as Disney is known for…magical.

Sunset at the Boardwalk

Sunset

After touring the Boardwalk, we arrived at our destination. Celebrity chef, Cat Cora’s restaurant, Kouzzina.

Cat Cora Celebrity Chef

Cat Cora!

Kouzzina Restaurant

YUM!

So, in addition to a fun, blunt, awesome sauce sort of server, I was fed the most amazing meal of my entire life. Think I’m joking? Check this shit out.

Goat Cheese Sto Fourno

The Appetizer: Goat Cheese Sto Fourno -Greek Olive Oil drizzled over Baked Goat Cheese, topped with fresh Pequillo Peppers, pitted Kalamata Olives, & Artichoke Hearts (served with bread and arugula) God I love arugula.

Then, when we thought, oh God, we’re out of bread…how will we ever eat the rest of this goat cheese? (I know, you’re probably thinking what  I was actually thinking– Duh, Chrissy, with a spoon).

This was delivered to the table:

Olive Oil Tasting

Yep, an olive oil tasting. With two types of olive oil and marinated olives. And a whole basket of delicious warm bread! YUM.

Then it was dinner time. Like I wasn’t alright full on apps and olives and bread…Oh GAWD.

Pork Tenderloin

Oak-fired Pork Tenderloin (with a molasses and brown sugar crust) with Feta Gremolata, Zucchini Cornbread, and Fresh Broccolini. I think I may have had several foodgasms during this event.

Ribeye

Brian’s Dinner: Wood-grilled Rib-Eye Steak with fresh Herb Salsa, Broccolini, and Kouzzina Potatoes (garlic and rosemary anyone?) This was also delightful.

Brussels Sprouts

Around here, we like our veggies, so we ordered a side of these babies: Sautéed Brussels Sprouts cooked in a Brown Butter Vinaigrette, Capers, and Parmesan Cheese

By this point, I was stuffed. Like Crazy. Freaking. Stuffed. I had had so many foodgasms, I couldn’t even count. To top it all off, Brian almost insisted that we have dessert. I mean, I guess the most amazing meal of ones’ life should have dessert, right? I thought so, too.

So did our server. She came up with this little pose for my gratuitous photo shoot…

Mouse Ears

Browsing the Dessert Menu–like a Boss! Like the Boss. The Disney Boss. 😉

Dessert
Baklava– A Pastry rolled with Pistachios, Honey, and Cinnamon served with Vanilla Praline Gelato. Oh yeah. That was it right there.

So there you have it folks. The most amazing meal in the history of ever. The meats were cooked to perfection. The flavors were outstanding. The service was top-notch. The experience? Magical. That is what Disney is know for, you know…

I could just leave you with that…but then the following pictures would have been for naught. And I just couldn’t have that…

IGPS (Insert Gratuitous Photo Shoot): If I ever do food reviews, I’m giving pictures instead of stars.

Empty Plate

1 Picture: Empty Plate = I Was Satisfied

Empty Table

2 Pictures: Empty Table = This Was Pretty Good. I’d Eat Here Again

Empty Plate 1

3 pictures Happy Chrissy = tasty meal. I’d do it again.

Happy Chrissy

4 Pictures Really Happy Chrissy = Oh Man, That Was Really Freakin’ Delicious.

Foodgasm

5 Pictures: Multiple Foodgasms = Oh God! Oh God! Oh God! Inappropriate? Maybe…But you’re laughing aren’t you? You dirty devil, you.

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!