November 4, 2008

Boo-Hoo-Hoo, Halloween time - Mini Mac-n-cheese and "Waxed apples" - Macaroane cu branza si "Mere ceruite"

I dont' know why, but Halloween it is not one of my favorite hollidays. Actually, i don't consider it a holliday like the others are, i find it silly, commercial and a lot of times, the costumes are to blame as well (you should see how some of the girls from Clara's school dress on this day, i was really wondering, how could their parents let them wear stuff like that, or better said, how could they let them wear so little....) But Clara is excited, she cannot wait to go trick-or-treating every year, to pick her costume, and stay late counting her candies.

Her first costume was a snow fairy, really cute, ivory and gold, probably the only white costume at the parade they have at school each year. Next year she asked us for something black, so she picked a Spiderella costume. For the third grade, she didn't want black anymore, because it seems that is not so original when at least half of the kids wear black costumes, so she chose a pirate costume, since last year the Pirates of the Caribean were en vogue. This year, she wasn't really sure, but then she read a book at Barnes & Nobles and decided - this year we'll have a kimono.

My boss brought her a beautiful pink silk robe from Hong Kong last year and she wanted to transform that in a kimono, so we bought some black silk, with a red embroidery, and a red wide ribbon, to put together our outfit. A little bit of cutting and sewing (this is our first tailoring attempt, the past years we bought the costumes), and here she is after running two laps for the parade.

She was happy that her classmates thought her costume so original, even though her hair was all over the place, and i got there too late to put any make-up on her, except for a little bit of black eyeliner.
Later that day, i crashed with a terrible migraine and Clara went with Gabriel trick-or-treating. They never went alone until now, we always went with other friends, but this year, some of them moved farther, others went to a birthday party, so we did not have any companions. Everything worked just fine, Clara and Gabriel know how to have fun and i was their only problem - i called them about 10:30 to ask if they are on the way home as it's pretty late and she had a long day. They came in about 20 minutes, upset that i had them come home too early!!!!! Hopeless party people, that's my guy and my girl, and i am party killer, it seems.

Last year i made for Clara's class chocolate cupcakes with a spider web frosting and a fondant spider. This year, thinking how much sugar the kids get to eat in one day, i tried to come up with a healthier alternative and a snack for their after school party.
So, i made "waxed apples" - apples coated in white chocolate with some colored sprinkles and icing on top. The white chocolate looks like the apples were dipped in melted wax, and it is not so hard as a caramel coating.

I stuck a lollipop stick in each apple, dipped them in melted white chocolate, let them dry about 5 minutes, then dipped in orange sprinkles and drizzled them with green, black and purple icing. I put them in bags only in the morning, to make sure the coating is really dry.

For the party i decided to make the all time favorite mac-n-cheese in a snack size, so they could eat it without forks and plates. That's how i found this recipe here and made it triple, using a regular size muffin pan, not the mini version recommended in the recipe.

We live only 2 minutes away from school, so the snacks were still warm when i got there, and they disappeared immediately. At least they had some food besides all the cookies, cupcakes, chips and candy, and it was not the one made from the box, which made these mac-n-cheese even better.

Ohhh, i forgot to ask, who wants some candies? We have about 5 lbs of every possible kind :))

Three-Cheese Mini Macs (Recipe by Grace Parisi)

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 packed cup) ****
4 ounces deli-sliced American cheese, chopped **** i used 8 oz of a mix of cheddar, mozarella and colby, shredded
1 large egg yolk **** because i made the recipe tripple, i used 2 egg yolks and one full egg
1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

1. Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, shaking off the excess water.
2. Brush four 12-cup, nonstick mini muffin tins with butter. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano; tap out the excess.
3. In a large saucepan, melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until boiling, about 5 minutes. Add the cheeses and whisk until melted. Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolk and paprika. Fold in the macaroni.
4. Spoon slightly rounded tablespoons of the macaroni into the prepared muffin cups, packing them gently. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano on top.
5. Bake the mini macs in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and sizzling. Let cool for 5 min­utes. Using a small spoon, carefully loosen the mini macs, transfer to a platter and serve.

The recipe can be prepared through Step 4 and refrigerated overnight.


"Mere ceruite"

Am infipt un betisor de acadea in fiecare mar, l-am rostogolit prin ciocolata alba topita, la-m pus pe un gratar 5 minute sa se intareasca ciocolata, apoi l-am dat prin cristale de zahar portocaliu, iar pe deasupra am picurat niste galzura de zahar pudra, colorata mov, negru si verde. Le-am lasat asa pana dimineata cand le-am pus in pungute si legat cu fundite sa le duca Clara la scoala.

Mini briose de macaroane cu branza (Reteta lui Grace Parisi)

250 g macaroane micute, de 2-3 cm
20g unt nesarat, plus mai mult pentru uns forma de
50g parmesan ras 2 linguri faina
225 ml lapte
120 g Cheddar cascaval ras ***
120 g branza topita, taiat in cuburi *** eu am folosit in total 250 g de branza rasa, un amestec de trei feluri, cheddar, mozzarella si colby, fara sa mai pun branza topita
1 galbenus *** pentru ca am facut reteta in cantitate tripla, 2 galbenusuri si un ou intreg
1/4 lingurita boia afumata

1. Se incalzeste cuptorul la 425 (218C). Intr-o oala cu apa clocotita sarata se pun macaroanele la fiert, pana sunt al dente, timp de vreo 5 minute. Se scurg de apa, fara sa se clateasca.

2. Se ung formele de briose cu unt si se tapeteaza cu 2 linguri parmesan ras. Se scutura excesul.

3. Intr-o craticioara se topesc cele 20 g unt. Se presara faina si se face un rantas, prajind -o vreo 2 minute. Se amesteca cu telul adaugand laptele pana incepe sa dea in clocot si se ingroasa, vreo 5 minute. Se adauga branza si se amesteca pana e topita toata. Se da la o parte de pe foc, se adauga galbenusul si boiaua afumata. Se adauga macaroanele fierte si se amesteca bine.

4. Se pun macaroanele in formele de briose, fara sa se apese tare pastele. Se presara restul de parmesan pe deasupra.

5. Se coc in treimea de sus a cuptorului aproximativ 10 minute, pana s-au aurit deasupra. Se lasa sa se raceasca 5 minute. Cu ajutorul unei linguri se scot "briosele" din tava si se pun pe platoul de servit.
Reteta poate fi preparata cu o zi inainte pana la pasul al 4-lea, pastrandu-se in frigider peste noapte.

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