Yesterday my maid came for four hours. Oh wait, that was me. Sometimes I have to "hire myself" to be my maid (real ones are too expensive, and I hate to pay someone to do something I can do myself). It's a bit of a mind game I play, but I just decide it's time for the maid to come and attack the house until it's clean. I think I did five loads of laundry, vacuumed, dusted (it's been a while since my baseboards have seen the light of day), and cleaned all of the bedrooms. Mostly I try to get my kids to clean their own rooms, but every now and then I feel like they need more deep cleaning so I just do it myself.
So after all of that fun I decided I deserved a treat. On Monday I made a special trip to Costco to pick up some of their gigantor strawberries, only to be disappointed that they were sold out. What the? So I had to settle for some of the grocery store variety. They weren't as big, but they still tasted good. I've seen so many people making strawberry jam all over the blogosphere, but who wants jam when you can dip your strawberries in chocolate? That's what I'm talking about. My Sister-in-law had made these last week and I've been dreaming about them ever since.
So I bought some of this Baker's Dipping Chocolate.
When you open it up it looks like this. And yes, those little chocolate nubbins are fantastic. I decided just eating those would be a treat itself, but I melted mine so I could dip the strawberries. Just follow the directions on the outside.
The hard part about these is waiting until the chocolate hardens. I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that I had one or two while the chocolate was still wet, they are divine either way.
Then for dinner I made homemade macaroni (my maid loves this). This is a favorite at our house. ( With 3/4 of our family at least, but that's how every meal goes...)
It's so easy and makes a ton so it's great for lunch the next day. My sister gave me this recipe originally from her friend Rebecca (thanks Rebecca!) but I changed it up just a bit. Here's how I make it.
Boil your pasta (I use shells usually, or if you have really little kids it would be fun with ditalini).
When your pasta is about 5 minutes from being al dente make your cheese sauce:
1 stick butter (I know it's a lot, but remember it makes a whole casserole dish, and you just spent 4 hours cleaning your house so you deserve it :)
1/4 cup flour
2 cubes chicken bouillon (I buy the Costco ones and they are easy to crumble with your fingers, but if yours don't crumble just stir until they dissolve)
2 cups milk
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp. Lowery's seasoned salt
2-3 cups of grated cheese (whatever you have on hand really, I usually buy the mixed bag at Costco and that is what I use, but cheddar or your favorite cheese would be fine).
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (again whatever you have, I've used shredded or grated and both taste great).
Melt your butter and then add the flour. Cook this mixture while stirring for about a minute to burn off the flour taste. Then add your milk and whisk it all together. Now add your chicken bouillon and seasonings (a dash of nutmeg if you have it is also great). Then add your cheese and stir it until it's all melted (you should do this on a medium heat, you don't want the mixture to boil after you've added the cheese). Add your boiled and drained pasta, stir it all together, and pour it into a greased 9X13 casserole dish. I usually add Panko breadcrumbs to the top at this point, but I was out of those yesterday so I used corn flakes. Weird? Maybe, but I love them on top of potatoes au gratin so I thought I'd try it. And, you know what? They were fabulous. Just use about 2 cups and smash them up, and pour some melted butter over the top of the flakes, and stir them together to coat. Then sprinkle the crushed up flakes on the top of your macaroni.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes. You want your macaroni to be bubbly and the topping to be starting to brown.
This mac and cheese is so good. At Easter I decided to use this exact recipe for my potatoes and they were good as well. I just diced potatoes and didn't even boil them, but added them to this cheese mixture, put the corn flakes on top and baked them at about 375-400 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. They were well loved, and will be gracing our table again.
I hope your maid is this well fed. It's the food that keeps her coming back :)