Thursday, January 19, 2012

Favorite Homemade Mac & Cheese

Alton Brown's Baked Mac and Cheese
When you find a great Mac and Cheese recipe, you stick with it! I've been using this Alton Brown recipe for a while now. The best part about this recipe is that you can make some modifications and play around with it. For example, I always add ham and the spice turmeric to give it a deeper yellow color and enhance the dish's cancer fighting qualities. Learn about the benefits of turmeric here. I've also tried the recipe with the onions and mostly choose to omit them. I find the flavor to be too overpowering in this dish.

If you've never made a roux before, this recipe was probably my first introduction to it. Just go slow and make sure the heat isn't too high. You'll do just fine!

You can find a link to the recipe here.

But here's the gist of it:


  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.
Remember to save leftovers for fried Macaroni and Cheese.

Monday, January 09, 2012

DIY Brick Fire Pit in One Weekend

Welcome to the consolidated post for our DIY Brick Fire Pit. To be fair, you'll probably need a "3 Day Weekend", unless you are able to avoid some of the pitfalls we experienced! Another tip, make sure you seek out your materials ahead of time. Please message me if you have any questions! Did you end up here via Pinterest? Welcome! Let me know in the comments!

First of all, here is the original plan from Handyman Magazine.
Building a Fire Pit
DIY Fire Pit Day One
Where you will find info about  DIY 36 round concrete forms.

DIY Fire Pit Day Two
Everything you wanted to know about fire brick (did you know you can find it on Amazon?) and mortar!

DIY Fire Pit Day Three
Finishing up this project

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Customizable Valentine's Day

Even though we've just packed up the Christmas Tree (ok, that's next on the list), it's time to think about how to make Valentine's Day really special for your amour. My husband and I have a tradition to not fall for the typical Valentine's Day hype, mainly, our philosophy is to do something special and thoughtful, but it shouldn't be expensive. Here's a way you can tell the story of your love, recall the things and places that are meaningful to you, and stroll down memory lane through art. ReStudios offers word art of various geographic locations, landmarks, and more that you can customize with your own colors and words. See more here.
My sister at ReStudios was kind enough to give my readers 20% off the price of a print for Valentine's Day with code NYC20. 

Happy Valentine's Day!