Thank you to all of my blogging friends who left kind, warm comments after my last post on sticky buns and the people who have stuck by me. I was moved the effusive, heartfelt words of each of you. To those of you who shared personal stories with me, thank you. I think we all have two choices in life: to become stronger in the face of adversity or to let it crush us. To eat more cake or to die feeling unsatisfied. Seriously.
We can look at our experiences and feel pity or we can choose to make our life our own: the best it can be and meaningful. I see so much strength is many of my family and loved ones, and certainly blogging friends. This strength and perseverance to live fully and well inspires me…
Along with copious amounts of cheese and chocolate. The cheese and chocolate food groups (oops, I mean recipes!) are both covered in today’s superbly scrumptious blog post.
One of the best things in life is enjoying a birthday. What is better than celebrating the life of a loved one and chowing down on treats, prepared especially for the birthday boy/girl. For my husband’s birthday, he will most certainly request a medium-rare steak or rack of lamb and crispy potatoes. My preference would be a creamy inside, crisp outside, gourmet macaroni and cheese. A great salad with either meal is a must.
Of course, there must be a grandiose, show-stopping cake.
As far as birthday cake goes, we have a new winner everyone can agree upon. It’s a rich, two layer chocolate hazelnut cake with dulce de le leche, hazelnut brittle and sea salt (recipe here). The cake is covered in a rich, traditional Southern chocolate sour cream icing (recipe here).
For the four cake components, I decide not to invent the wheel…
I dare not tamper with precise baking measurements!
Still, the addition of extra dark chocolate and hazelnuts to the cake, along with handfuls of chocolate shavings over the tower of brown beauty, is no problem at all.
I also fail to properly measure the dulce de leche drizzle, a welcome and intended “mistake.” The cake is served with luscious hazelnut gelato.
Unlike the healthy, hearty mac and cheese recipe below, this cake is pure indulgence. It’s a complete small-wasitline-buster that is worth each, euphoric bite. Curls and Carrots is filled with healthy recipes – as well as indulgent ones for special occasions.
The cake has emerged as ever dark chocolate, dulce de leche and hazelnut brittle lover’s dream. The creamy frosting, salted dulce de leche, crunchy nuts and moist chocolate cake combined satisfy every every part of the palate. It’s a true sensory experience to devour – and a cake-making endeavour completely worth the effort and time.
Macaroni and cheese is one of our family’s most cherished meals. Lately, I have been in less of a meat or fish mood and more in a carbohydrate state-of-mind. Every pregnancy is different, and this one seems to have its food craving origins in Italy (though the baby is 100% New Mexico conceived!).
This version of macaroni and cheese is lactose-free, light and whole grain. It is brimming with tasty cow’s milk alternatives, such as flavorful, mature goat and sheep cheeses – and even creamy, rich goat butter! I am a lover of all fine cheeses. Generally, the stinkier and more expensive, the better. I basically have my own “cheese account” specifically dedicated to fromage expenditure – and whole drawer filled with various cheeses. Feel free to mix and match any favorite, fine cheeses you have on hand into this recipe.
This dish reflects everything wonderful about good cheese. It is rich and boasts myriad layers of flavor – without becoming a fat-laden, calorie dense, high-cholesterol nightmare.
Food should taste good while nourishing your body and palate. If you eat and enjoy mac and cheese as much as our clan of 4 point three persons, this recipe is for you.
This mac and cheese if flat-out fabulous served with a bright, colorful and refreshing salad and a your favorite, whole grain artisan bread. Our families prefered, crusty loaves are Sage kalamata farm loaf, Whole Foods rosemary sourdough and La Brea multigrain.
You don’t have to wait for a birthday to make this recipe, nor should you. I found the original recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, My Lilikoi Kitchen. My adaptation is similar, with the addition of some extra vegetables, a crispy topping and a few “new” cheeses. The mild flavor of small amounts of truffle oil is a must when paired with juicy, bright red tomatoes.
There is a bit of whisking and sautéeing involved in the preparation. But, once the macaroni and cheese is assembled, you can refrigerate it until it’s time for dinner. Don’t you love a great make-ahead meal? Just allow the oven-proof casserole to come to room temperature before baking it off.
Billy Goat Light Mac and Cheese (Lactose-Free)
Serves four as a main course or six as a side dish
1 ounce semi-aged goat gouda or extra-sharp goat cheddar
2 ounces goat’s milk blue cheese, such as Billy Blue by Carr Valley
2 ounces grated País Basco or any semi-aged sheep’s milk cheese (such as six month Manchego)
3 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano, divided
1 tablespoon goat butter or Earth Balance
2 Tablespoons black truffle oil, divided
4 thick-cut slices of turkey bacon, chopped (Optional. Omit for a vegetarian meal)
1 small onion, chopped
8 ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
1 pound organic, frozen broccoli florets, defrosted and thoroughly drained*
3 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
3 cups low-fat, organic lactose-free cow or goat milk
1 1/2 tablespoon good quality Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon minced, fresh rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces organic, Italian pasta, such as 100% whole wheat semolina
two small slices of multi-grain bread, processed in food processor to create breadcrumbs
1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced
- Mix the cheeses in a small bowl, except for once ounce of the parmesan. Set aside.
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Set aside.
- Preheat a pan over medium heat. Add one tablespoon of truffle oil to the hot skillet.
- Sauté the bacon, mushrooms and onions until mushrooms release their liquid, the bacon is crisp and the onion is translucent. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan. Over low-heat, stir in the flour to create a roux. Slowly whisk in the milk. Whisk until no lumps remain. Stir in the mustard, rosemary, salt and pepper.
- Continue whisking until the mixture starts to bubble and the liquid thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the cheeses set aside earlier.
- In a large bowl, combine the cheese sauce, cooked pasta, broccoli, mushrooms and onion. Transfer to a 9×13 pan sprayed with cooking spray.
- Combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan, thyme and oregano; sprinkle evenly over the macaroni and cheese.
- Evenly distribute the tomatoes on top. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of truffle oil and a bit of salt and cracked black pepper.
- Preheat oven to 375•F. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until heated through to the middle of the dish, bubbling and light gold on top. Allow to set for about then minutes, then serve.
*You may add four cups fully cooked, sautéed kale or collard greens in place of the broccoli, if desired.