Blue Cheese Crackers

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After my debacle with the weevils, I was able to make the Bon Appetit recipe I wanted to replicate. I actually have made many variations of the Roquefort Crackers I read about, as I used to like to make cheese straws and cheese crackers for gifts around the holidays. What I love about the recipe is that it is a 1-1-1 ratio of ingredients: 1 cup flour, 1 stick butter, 1 cup cheese. You can then play around with everything else to essentially create a savory, cheese blasted shortbread.

For the blue cheese crackers, I did just that – 1 cup flour, 1 stick butter, and 1 cup blue cheese crumbles. I let the butter and blue cheese come to room temperature, and I mixed it all together with my hands, similar to kneading dough. I added some cracked pepper and Worcestershire sauce to enhance the flavors, instead of cayenne. I prefer cayenne with cheddar or Parmesan when making these. I then rolled the dough out into a log shape, similar to store-bought cookie dough, and wrapped it in plastic. The Bon Appetit recipe says to leave it in the fridge for 12 hours, but I only did for about 4. I do not see how 12 is necessary unless you want to make the dough ahead of time and let it sit overnight. When I was ready, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees, sliced the log into 1/4″ thick discs, and pressed them into a ramekin of sesame seeds to garnish and add a extra element of flavor and crunch. img_0976

Late Night Snack – Pretzels and Cheese Sauce

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While I work on my on-hand food inventory and cost, I’m also doing the fun part of this project, which is getting creative with what I have to make some yummy food!

The latest experiment was making Auntie Anne’s Pretzels from a kit I bought at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. For years, an Auntie Anne’s pretzel has been my favorite mall fare – a quick snack to refuel on shopping excursions. Plus with cheese being my favorite food, I would also get a packet of cheese sauce to go with the pretzel. Granted, that cheese sauce was more of a chemically processed cheese food that could survive nuclear holocaust and will probably be sitting in my system years after I am dead, but it really was a satisfying snack.

On my own, I make a good cheese sauce because I love Bechamel, cheese, mac and cheese, etc. Depending on my needs I am not as diligent in the classic mother sauce preparation as I was in my youth. I still love the whole pomp and circumstance of an onion cloute and straining the milk mixture before blending it with the roux. But tonight was about snack time and pantry depletion, so shortcuts happened and the results (in my opinion) were still quite scrumptious.

I followed the instructions that came with the baking mix. It was pretty easy to follow, but the process was definitely time consuming, as is any sort of bread baking. From when I started to when I was snacking was probably about an hour and a half to two hours, and it yields a hefty number of pretzels. Much of that time is active time, too. Other than the half hour you allow the dough to rest so the yeast can do its thing, you are working a lot and quickly. I made the mistake of wanting to make my cheese sauce while the pretzels were baking, but the baking time was short and active, and I do not have the counter space to work around that.

Overall lesson learned – making the pretzels at home was fun and cost saving, but DEFINITELY not convenient and time saving.

Here’s my adventure, followed by the cheese sauce recipe

CHEESE SAUCE

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk (can use any milk, nonfat is what I had on hand), ideally warmed to room temperature
3 cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash each of nutmeg, white pepper, onion powder, Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon maple sugar (any natural sweetener works, again, what I had on hand and I love maple)
1 cup shredded cheese (I used Clothbound Cheddar and Landaff that were going to go bad if I didn’t use them)

  1. Over low heat, whisk the flour and butter together, cooking about 5 minutes until roux is blonde in color – do not overcook
  2. Slowly whisk in milk, continue to cook over low flame, whisking constantly. Mixture will thicken within a couple of minutes
  3. Add seasonings, cook about three more minutes to incorporate flavor. The sugar is used to balance out the saltiness of the cheeses
  4. Whisk in cheese and continue to stir until fully melted and incorporated. Sauce should be smooth and creamy, not stringy
  5. Serve immediately, but be sure to pick out the cloves so not to choke or get an intense hit of spice. Sauce can be cooled and reheated, but best to reheat over slow heat and mix in extra milk to prevent curdling
  6. Recipe yields about 2 cups of sauce, about 4 servings

RECIPE COST (for me based off my pantry items):
$9.85 for 10 pretzel servings and 4 sauce servings
$8, pretzel mix
$.40, butter
$.75, seasonings, sugar, flour
$.70, milk
$0, cheese (was from a gift basket)

Late Night Snacks: Open Faced Bacon Grilled Cheese

It’s been mentioned a million times, my favorite food is cheese. There are always odds and ends in my fridge, thanks to my obsession with Maywood Marketplace, and now my employment with Whole Foods Market. I also usually have bacon in my fridge or freezer, both because I believe its effects on men in the art of seduction, and because it’s such a tasty, versatile ingredient.

Because of my cholesterol raising refrigerator stockpile, I’m usually prepared to put together a tasty late night snack. You can put together a pretty tasty grilled cheese sandwich with minimal effort by using your oven and not your frying pan – less mess to worry about in the morning.

Oven Baked Open Faced Grilled Cheese
Prepare bacon using your broiler setting. Arrange slices in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet (you can use parchment paper or aluminum foil). I like to brush the bacon with a bit of brown sugar and maple syrup to balance out the saltines of both the bacon and the cheese. Broil on low about 10 minutes or to your desired crispiness. Remember, you will be baking it once more for sandwiches, so you might want to leave it a bit chewier than normal as it will crisp up during the baking process. Meanwhile, spread a thin layer of butter on one side of each slice of bread you will be using, probably about a teaspooon per slice. As for cheese, I like to grate odds and ends of whatever is in my fridge that will melt well – I’ve used gouda, emmentaler, cheddar, manchego, robusto, UnieKaas, fontina, etc. When you’re ready, set the oven to 350 degrees, arrange bacon in a single layer on the dry, non-buttered side of the bread, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake sandwiches in the oven about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Eat open faced with a knife and fork, or just close those puppies up and enjoy as normal.

Cheese Addiction courtesy of Maywood Marketplace

ImageOkay, so Maywood Marketplace is not to blame, I have been addicted to and cheese has been my favorite food for years. I usually have at least six different types of cheeses in my fridge at any given time. This is particularly excessive as I live alone and am not home nearly enough to be able to consume all this cheese.

Earlier today I went to one of my favorite local grocery stores, the aforementioned Maywood Marketplace. They have amazing prepared foods, a huge produce selection, super fresh bakery items, and an impressive cheese selection complete with endless samples. It is my crack. I feel guilty from sampling and I cannot leave there without a minimum of three cheeses in my basket (so well done making me the target audience in terms of passive aggressive sampling as a selling technique).

Now I have not consumed all the cheese that is already in my fridge, and between a trip to Trader Joe’s yesterday and the marketplace today, I am overstocked. I really need to stop food shopping after the gym…

In any case, I just took an inventory of what is in my fridge. I need to either have a party or do some serious cooking this weekend. Here’s what I found:

  1. American
  2. Swiss
  3. Gouda
  4. Old Amsterdam
  5. Sharp Havarti
  6. Extra Sharp Provolone
  7. Cream Cheese
  8. Parmigiano Reggiano
  9. Grated Parmesan
  10. Ricotta
  11. Italian 4-cheese blend
  12. Manchego
  13. Ricotta Salata
  14. Herbed Goat Cheese
  15. Goat Cheese crumbles

I am probably missing something in there…so now I’m thinking of what to make. Cheese straws, mac and cheese, fondue, cheese crisps, nachos, grilled cheese all come to mind….what are some of your favorite cheese recipes?

Monday Night Mac

Much like my Friday Night Dinner for One, I wanted to utilize ingredients in my fridge without hitting up the grocery store unnecessarily. I had close to a half gallon of milk that was going to expire in a couple of days (living alone and working mornings, I was never going to drink it), and some cheese that was probably on the verge of molding. I knew it was mac and cheese time.

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