Rest Day Food: Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Asiago, Gruyère, White Cheddar, Leeks, and Mushrooms

14 Mar

Yesterday was rest day and I celebrated by making dinner with a friend. Our dinner menu was Mac’n Cheese made with Asiago, Gruyère, White Cheddar, Leeks, and Mushrooms. For veggies, we had honey mustard tofu with kale and butternut squash.

The secret to a gooey and rich mac and cheese is the cheese sauce. This was my first time making mac and cheese from scratch and it’s way more complicated than I thought! While it was a lot of fun, it might be easier to just go downtown to S’Mac and make a large order of mac’n cheese. Making it from scratch does give you the flexibility of using any type of cheese and making a simple mac’n cheese as fancy as you want. Not to mention about two weeks worth of leftovers. This recipe was adopted and slightly altered from Martha Steward’s Living Cookbook.

Not the prettiest picture, but it's the best tasting (and only) mac'n cheese I've ever made.

Cheese mixture

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 oz Asiago Cheese– coarsely grated (2 cups)
4 oz White Cheddar
4 oz Gruyère
1 pound macaroni pasta
3 leeks
¼ pound Porcini Mushrooms
¼ pound Shitake Mushrooms

For the bread crumbs
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Wisconsin Parmesan
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the pasta
1 lb macaroni pasta
1 tablespoon salt (for the pasta water)

Step 1: Braise leeks and mushrooms

  1. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the olive oil and leeks. Toss well and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes until leeks have wilted and just begin to take on a golden color, tossing from time to time. Add mushrooms and toss for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, salt, black pepper and wine. Quickly toss, reduce heat to medium-low and cover pan.
  4. Braise leeks for 25 minutes until very tender and all the juices have evaporated (if there is still some liquid in the pan after braising the leeks for 25 minutes, sauté at high heat for 1 to 2 minutes until all juices have evaporated). While the leeks are braising, start on the cheese sauce. When the veggies are done, transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Step 2: Cheese Sauce or béchamel

  1. Warm milk over stove
  2. Melt 1 stick of butter over medium heat. Once the butter is slightly bubbling, add the flour and stir. Keep stirring until all the flour is blended.
  3. Slowly add warm milk into the flour/butter mixture. Keep stirring to keep mixture smooth. Add more milk when mixture starts thickening. Repeat until all the milk has been added in. Keep stirring until mixture starts bubbling and thickens again.
  4. Add in the grated asiago, gruyère, and white cheddar. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, and veggies. Stir until smooth and set aside.

Step 3: Pasta

  1. Boil a large pot of salted water
  2. Undercook pasta by taking 2-4 minutes off the box instructions for boiling pasta. To test if pasta is done, take a piece of pasta and cut it in half. The pasta should still have a white ring inside when they are done.
  3. Run pasta under cold water and drain pasta in a colander

Step 4: Breadcrumbs

  1. Combine breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.

Step 5: Baking

  1. Combine cheese and veggie mixture with the pasta in baking pan and mix.
  2. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top.
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes until top is golden brown and mixture is bubbling on the edges.
  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool.



34 Days Till Fitness Magazine Women’s 1/2 Marathon

11 Mar

Goal: 8:30min/mi

Currently: 9:00 min/mi

Today’s Run

Pace: 9:00 min/mi

Distance: 7mi

Location: Central Park

Post-run recovery drink: 

Smoothie with 1 scoop of recovery endurance herbalife with TJ’s no-sugar soy milk, fresh strawberries, half a banana, and frozen organic TJ blueberries.

Today’s Dinner: 

Spinach with tomatos and tofu. Flounder.

Trader Joe’s: A busy student’s lifeline

11 Mar

I get about 80% of my groceries from Trader Joe’s. While they don’t always have the freshest produce, their prices are reasonable (especially for NYC!) and they have an amazing frozen food section that’s superior to most supermarkets. One of the most versatile frozen foods that I’ve found are their Saucy Scallops with Mushrooms. If you’re looking for sushi grade scallops, you’ve come to the wrong place. You can find those at your nearest Whole Foods, but be prepared to spend your whole paycheck.

The problem I find with most frozen foods it that they really skimp on some of the ingredients. Ideally, the saucy scallops would be overflowing with mushrooms and maybe some spinach. But since I’m cooking this at home, I add more mushrooms and spinach.

I treat it as a sauce and add it pasta, rice, mixed vegetables, etc. Pretty much anything you put pasta sauce on, you can these saucy scallops on.

Summer in NYC

12 Jul

The more time I have, the busier I am. Does that make sense? With no homework, I find that my evenings are now open. But now I have a social calendar and books that I’m reading for FUN. I’m also meeting new people and exploring the city. So somehow, with more time, I’m busier than ever! Sadly, my blog has suffered and I never finished writing about my trip to SF or my firm life. I’ll try to be better in the future!

Currently reading:

Sarah's Key [Book]

Firm Life

12 Jun

Tomorrow is the first day of my internship. In the past week I’ve gotten my inbox flooded with confusing email with conflicting logistical information about orientation. Hopefully they’re more put together than they seem and this is just a test to see if we’re smart enough to figure it out. But i thought we were done with all that after the interview.

Here’s what I have to look forwards to in the next few days:

Day 1: Training at the Westin in NYC.
Day 2: Training at in NJ, Casino night, “Connectivity Dinner”
Day 3: More training and then back to NYC in the afternoon. I wonder if we get the afternoon off.

Is this what I have to look forwards to?

My new role model

Day 3: Dessert at Candybar

12 Jun

You should know by now that I can never go without dessert, and we had the dessert of the best kind.

Milk bars are finally hitting the west coast. Whoever thought of combining desserts with booze is a genius. Throw in a good games of Apples to Apples and you’ve got a good night out with friends.

Dessert platter of four selections

Strauss Yogut Cake

The damage

W: "Who's the manager? We need to tell the manager to open up a place in LA AND DC!" A little later..."He probably thinks I'm crazy huh?"

Day 3: Linner

12 Jun

Breakfast: 11am left over pizza from Pizzeria Delfina and pastries from Tartine.

We waited around till about 3 pm for W’s cousins to come. Then after sorting out some miscommunication, we headed to the Cliff House for Linner (lunch+dinner).

The Cliff House is exactly that–a house on a cliff. The food there is probably overpriced, but definitely very tasty. And there’s a great view. Although, on windy days, you risk getting blow away walking from the parking lot to the restaurant.

View from our table

Appatizer: Ahi Tuna Tartare (asian pear | chili infused sesame oil | pine nuts | quail egg)

Tuna Tartare is one my favorite things in the world. One time in NYC, after some late night fun, I had the worst craving for tuna tartare. After bugging a lot of resturants, I had the most satisfying plate of tartare ever.

Everything mixed together by the waiter

Dungeness Crab Cakes (blood orange-fennel salad | old bay aioli)

My dish: Braised Mussels with House-made Harissa (caramelized onions | anchor steam beer | grilled garlic-herb bread)

It was a very big sandwich! Lamb Sirloin Sandwich (kalamata olive tapenade | feta cheese | pine nuts spinach | caramelized onions | rosemary fries)

Chicken & Dumplings (parisian gnocchi | root vegetables | truffled gravy)

parisian gnocchi | root vegetables | truffled grav

Chicken (Forgot what was in it)

Fresh Local Rock Cod (mixed baby green salad | crispy capers | preserved lemon vinaigrette)

Three hungry kats

To be continued…(with more food!)