CEiMB: Macaroni and Four Cheeses

This week marks my entrance into Craving Ellie in my Belly – a new cooking experiment that a lot of the TWD bakers convinced me was a good idea. Ellie Kreiger’s cookbook aims to counteract the damage we all do baking with butter, eggs and white flour on Tuesdays.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.

My first try was the Macaroni and Four Cheese recipe, which was chosen by Supplicious (she’ll post the recipe before Nov. 30).  A word of warning: the orange hue that reminds us of the Blue Box actually comes from 20 oz. of pureed squash in Ellie’s version. Take that for what it’s worth.

Mac and Squash and Cheese

The four cheese are ricotta, cheddar, Monterey jack and Parmesan, but in small enough quantities that I really felt like I had reheated the Pumpkin Pasta I’d made last week. I enjoyed both, I guess, but I was really looking forward to something comforting and cheesy for the cold nights before Thanksgiving. This was more of a vegetable dish.  I think I would have liked it better if I had spent a long day at work anticipating a vegetable dinner and not a cheese-laden dinner.  Ho hum.

Now, the comforting part of this dish is that it reheats well and is an excellent source of calcium, folate (to regulate sleep, appetite and mood), manganese (for digesting carbs), niacin (to draw energy from carbs), protein, selenium (to protect against heart disease and cancer), thiamin (for lots of stuff) and vitamin A (for better vision, teeth, bones and skin). It’s also a good source of fiber, iron, phosphorus (to draw energy from food) and riboflavin (to benefit red blood cells and draw energy from carbs). Finally, I can eat 2 cups for less than 400 calories.  (Ellie lists all the nutritional in each recipe, which I love.) Good stuff all around, none of which applies to the Blue Box.

TWD: Thanksgiving Twofer Pie

I have never liked pecan pie, and as best I can tell, that is a blessing.  My family never fights about “pumpkin vs. pecan” at the holidays and pumpkin has less fat than pecans dredged in corn syrup.

So, it is with nothing but good will that I curse Vibi of La Casserole Carree for picking the TWD Thanksgiving Twofer Pie this week, because I LOVED it. I can’t wait for my lunch hour to go devour the piece I have stashed in the office refrigerator. (Visit her blog – it’s in French! – if only to admire her beautiful photography and play with the Google Translator in the upper right hand corner. Awesome. Also, Vibi posted the recipe there in both languages.)

Twofer with Knife

I think I cheated a little by using a frozen crust, but the outcome was the same: creamy pumpkiny goodness at the bottom,  crispy pecan nuttyness at the top. And it wasn’t as sickeningly sweet as I was expecting. I think the rum (!) in the pumpkin batter canceled out the corn syrup in the pecan syrup and made a lovely treat. My family’s traditional pumpkin pie came from the back of the can of Libby’s pumpkin puree, so the rum that Dorie recommended was an unexpected flavor in this holiday experiment. I liked it, but I doubt the younger cousins at my Thanksgiving table would have.

In the past I’ve relied on the Barefoot Contessa’s pumpkin banana mousse tart to get me through the holiday; Grandpa loves it, but it’s quite labor intensive for such a busy mid-week holiday.  More recently, as the extended family has had to deal with diabetes and significant food allergies, I switched to the Weight Watchers pumpkin flan to satisfy us after the meal (We also have birthday cake on Thanksgiving, so the lighter dessert was kind of nice). I’m thinkin’ that the Twofer will be own little slice of heaven, not to leave my personal refrigerator.  Does that defy the spirit of Thanksgiving? Probably.  But do I care?

My only problem with the Twofer Pie was the crust, and i think it’smy own fault.  When I sliced into this morning I had jelly-like layer of gook on the bottom of my store-bought crust. It’s tasty when I slather it on the crust, but I’m wondering what it might be and how it got there. My best guess is that I tried to slice the pie before I had really cooled too much, but gave up when I realized how mushy it still was. I wonder if some of the pecan syrup slipped down to the bottom and coled in the fridge, hmm?