Mushroom Bolognese

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A few weeks ago I hit my breaking point. Everywhere I turned, I was reading something more and more frightening about the food we eat. I’ve always tried to cut out processed food, buy organic and walk the outer aisles of the grocery like they say is best, but bad stuff still seems to be everywhere.

The last straw was when I read about the dangers of eating cooked meat. I realized then that I ate meat in some form for every meal, at least twice a day. Chicken on my salad, turkey on my sandwich, a piece of pork/chicken/steak with vegetables and a starch for dinner. So, I decided then and there to stop. I don’t think I’d call myself so much a “vegetarian” now as a “pescetarian” or “flexitarian.” But I’m on a journey to cut the meat and up the vegetables … A girl’s still got to throw down a steak every once in awhile, though.

The challenge is finding hearty, filling — and meatless — meals. When I started, we were still in the throes of winter, and the last thing I wanted to eat was a chilly salad or one more bowl of soup. Those are the likeliest vessels for going all veggie, I’d found. Continue reading

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Best Ever Mac and Cheese

Best Ever Mac & Cheese! | Culinary Cousins

Macaroni and cheese just may be my favorite food. And I’m not alone. Mac and cheese consistently ranks as America’s top go-to comfort food, hands down, and we make it in countless iterations, with all manner of pasta shapes, types of cheeses, mix-ins and toppings.

I’m a traditionalist, though. I don’t like it fancy. And I especially don’t want bacon anywhere near it — not in it, not on it, no how.

No bacon, you say? I know. I’m a shame to my people, a traitor to my southern roots. But I just don’t love bacon. (Please don’t hurt me.) And when it’s added to mac and cheese, the flavor just takes over and permeates everything. Some of you are wondering what’s wrong with that.

On mac and cheese, I’ve found that there are two schools of thought. One submerges macaroni (or any manner of small pasta) in a creamy, cheesy white sauce with roots in a butter-flour roux. Then there’s the southern way — layering pasta with cheese and pouring over an egg and milk custard. I grew up eating this version, where the mac and cheese bakes into a solidified, though delicious, mass that you can cut and serve in a perfect square. To me, that was always true and traditional. Continue reading