The comforts of fall

Autumn is here and in full swing, in case you haven’t already noticed. 😉  Although I much prefer the warmth of summer, I have to admit that fall has its positives too.  Fall brings about its warmth in different ways, notably through the changing of the foliage from cooler greens to bright and vibrant oranges and reds.

The air of fall is cool and crisp, but it’s the perfect weather for jogging if you are so inclined.

If not, just slip on a cozy warm sweater (or just a long-sleeved shirt if you are like my husband) and go for a stroll outside to enjoy the beautiful view.

If outdoor activities aren’t your forte, the cooler weather is a good excuse to stay inside snuggling up next to loved ones under a blanket or next to a warm fireplace. 😉

And of course let’s not forget about the comfort foods that accompany the arrival of fall: hearty soups and stews, meatloaf, roast chicken and freshly baked apple pies.

But nothing says comfort more than mac & cheese.

I’ve been hesitant on making this dish for David despite repeated requests, as I associate mac & cheese with the boxed variety.  Bright orange goo just doesn’t appeal to me.

So what changed?  Well, we had some (a 2 lb “Baby Loaf”) medium cheddar we purchased during our road trip in Oregon from the Tillamook Cheese Factory.  This cheese was voted the world’s best medium cheddar in 2010 and rightfully so.  We went through A LOT of trouble to get this damn good cheese and wasn’t about to just consume it all on some crackers.

What better way to use this rich and creamy cheese than in mac & cheese?

And what better way to usher in the colder weather than with the scent of bacon wafting in the air and the bubbling of cheese in the oven, which subsequently warms the rest of the house condo?

The original recipe calls for more of the pungent scented Gruyère cheese than cheddar, but I wanted the cheddar to be the star and reversed the amounts.  And boy did the cheddar shine…

This mac & cheese is over the top.  I had to literally pry it out of David’s hands.  The top is crispy, while the bottom is oh so creamy and cheesy and a little spicy from the jalapeño peppers.  And the bacon…mmm…need I say more?

This mac & cheese is surely not for those dieters out there, but perfect for those who want to bulk up in preparation for winter. 😉 But hey, all things in moderation…

To counteract this overindulgent main, I made a side of roast Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower.  Funny enough, these are all my least favourite vegetables, but that’s a story best saved for another time.

These photos really don’t do this mac & cheese justice, as they were taken the next day after being in the fridge overnight.  I’ll blame fall’s shorter daylight hours for that, thank-you very much. 😉

This is what it looked like fresh out of the oven…after we dug in of course.

Looks good, doesn’t it?  Doesn’t it make you want to go make some for yourself right now?

Recipes

Mac & Cheese (adapted from Babble)

makes 7 generous servings

  • 1 pd large elbow macaroni
  • 1 quart (~950ml) whole milk (I used 2%)
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups Gruyère, grated
  • 4 cups extra-sharp aged Cheddar (I used medium), grated
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
  • 10 stripes of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Panko bread crumbs, for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to package directions. Drain well.
  3. Meanwhile, heat (on low-med heat) the milk in a small saucepan, being careful not to boil it.
  4. Melt the butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Whisk over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to cook out the raw flour taste.
  5. While whisking, add the hot milk and bring to a boil, cooking until thickened and smooth.
  6. Off the heat, add the Gruyère, cheddar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  7. Stir in the jalapeño and bacon and fold in the cooked macaroni.
  8. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
  9. Top with panko bread crumbs.
  10. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is evenly browned on the top.

Roast vegetables

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 head of broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 handfuls of Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  1. Cut up vegetables, wash and pat dry with paper towel.
  2. In a large bowl, mix vegetables with rest of ingredients until coated.
  3. Spread vegetables onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
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25 thoughts on “The comforts of fall

  1. Lovely photos tonight.. and I think your Mac & Cheese photos turned out great as well.. next time don’t tell us:) I have the same problem with light here. This is the second recipe of Mac & Cheese I’ve seen.. it’s calling to me!! Excellent ingredients in yours.. nutmeg..bacon!!

  2. I love mac and cheese with a crispy topping, yours looks so comforting!! And I bet that cheddar made it extra delicious 🙂

    That’s so funny that those are some of your least favorite vegetables, as they are some of my favorites! And I think my favorite way of preparing them 🙂

    • thank-you! that cheddar was pretty good! i only have a bit left. 😦 guess i have to go back to Oregon for more. 😉

      i don’t really like the bitter taste of the Brussels sprouts and the texture of the broccoli and cauliflower are just a bit odd to me. but i’m trying to like them…since veggies are good for you.

  3. Pingback: Longing for warm summer days (on vegetarian Wednesday) | trials in food

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