Stove Top Ratatouille Mac and Cheese

It’s National Mac and Cheese Day today (Tuesday July 14th) and I’m celebrating this momentous occasion the only way I know how, by making a giant pot of the creamiest macaroni and cheese you ever did see. If that isn’t the perfect way to celebrate this beautiful holiday, then I don’t know what is. I couldn’t just give you some boring every day pasta recipe in a cheese sauce though, what kind of person would I be if I did? Don’t answer that. Nothing makes me happier than when two classic recipes come together in a delicious food explosion to make one unbelievable dish. It’s fun and exciting. Such is the case this time around because I’ve gone ahead and thrown ratatouille and mac and cheese together into the same pot. Blasphemous? I’m sure, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way, and I don’t think you should either.

I’ve teamed up with Wisconsin Cheese, once again, to bring you yet another out of this world macaroni and cheese recipe for their All Things Mac and Cheese site. If you’ll recall, earlier in the year, I made an Irish Colcannon Mac and Cheese that taught us a very valuable lesson; cabbage, potatoes and bacon in mac and cheese is always a good idea. Much like with that post, you’ll notice that the recipe won’t be included at the bottom of this page, like it normally is. You’ll have to click on over to their site to get the full recipe! I’m evil, I know, but it’s worth it! (I just want to keep you guys on your toes and make sure you’re paying attention). I’ll include a link at the bottom of the post so you can easily find the recipe and make it at home in honor of your new favorite holiday. Of course, you don’t only have to make it on this day. Do yourself a favor and be sure to make it all summer long because it’s everything you never knew you wanted. You owe it to yourself.

I’ve made and eaten ratatouille only a handful of times here and there, so I’m no expert in the matter. But I am an expert in cheesy sauces tossed around with noodles. I’m a pro at that. I wanted this recipe to be easy enough to whip up in a hurry, but still have all of the sophisticated flavors and tastes that the classic French dish has. It’s the best of both worlds, comfort food meets healthy. Quick side not though, am I the only one that thinks of a rat cooking in Paris, whenever ratatouille is mentioned? I blame Pixar and Disney for that. Although a tiny blue rat in a chef’s apron didn’t make this dish, I can guarantee you that it’ll still knock your socks off. Just blow them clear off your feet. That’s the power of mac and cheese and that’s why it has it’s own national holiday. That’s all I’m saying. 

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Fried Cauliflower with Whipped Feta

I’m doing everything in my power to make cauliflower as unhealthy as possible. Vegetables aren’t supposed to be healthy. That seems unnatural to me. (I’m kidding, mom!) You won’t hate me though, if I dredge it in seasoned flour and cheese and then deep fry it until golden brown and crispy and then top it with more cheese and fresh chives at the end will you? Would you be terribly upset if that happened? Well, it’s too late. It already happened and it’s awesome. So awesome, I had to share it with the world. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I hadn’t. I’m here to make sure you eat your vegetables and if deep frying them makes it so, then who am I to prevent it from happening? I’m not a monster. I’m your friend. And that’s what friends do. Shove deep fried cauliflower with whipped feta (never too much cheese) your way and tempt you into eating it all with me. 

My all time favorite (well, new favorite) restaurant is this great place right by my house (Studio City, Ca). It’s called Black Market Liquor Bar. They serve small plates/tapas that you can order a few at a time and share with your loved ones and friends, or better yet, go with people you hate so that you don’t have to share any of it. You can have it all to yourself. That’s probably your best bet. They also have great drinks, so that’s a plus. Do yourself a favor and get an Irish Mule (like a Moscow Mule but with Irish whiskey instead of vodka) I’ve been forcing Julian to go an abnormal amount of times because it’s that awesome. Anyhow, this long tangent was to say that they make a bomb dot com fried cauliflower just like this one. It comes piping hot and crispy and delicious and it’s served with a lemon aioli that is impeccable. IMPECCABLE I tell you. If you live in my neck of the woods or in SoCal and fancy a drive towards my neck of the woods, you have to check this place out. (Not sponsored, but it should be because I’d hawk this place until the end of time). If you go, make sure you give me a call because I’ll be there before you know it and we’ll share all of the plates on the menu together and have the grandest of times. Promise. 

Let’s talk about another awesome restaurant I know. As I mentioned in the last post, I’m currently visiting New Orleans for a few weeks and one of my favorites here is Domenica. I first went there with my friend Joy, and was hooked the minute I sat down. I’m pretty sure it was the company, but the food and cocktails sure didn’t hurt. They have a great cauliflower dish on the menu that I’m pretty sure if famous. It’s a whole head of cauliflower roasted and it’s served with a whipped feta that is almost almost better than the cauliflower itself. Anyhow, in honor of both of these favorite restaurants of mine, I decided to combine the two dishes and bring them together as my life intended them to be. Do it, you won’t regret it. 

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Cucumber and Strawberry Salad

I used to frown upon salads with fruit on them. It always seemed so weird to me. “Why are there strawberry slices in my salad?” Then I’d proceed to flip the table over and throw the salad across the room. I’m not one for mixing sweet and savory into one dish. With a few exceptions of course, like fried chicken and waffles with maple syrup and honey drizzled all up on it. I’ll never say no to that. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would. I’m not (that) crazy. For the most part, though, I like to keep certain things separate on my plate. My pancakes have to be on another dish completely, far away from my eggs and potatoes and bacon. I’ve recently had a change of heart on the entire matter, and I now have a new found appreciation for sweet fruit on a savory salad. I can’t get enough of it, actually. I guess it helps to keep an open mind to new things we’re not completely used to. Now I’m trying to get you all hooked on it. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot from the error of my ways and I’m ready to eat all of the fruit studded salad in the world. The world I tell you. THE WORLD. 

This is the second recipe in our mega Easter Brunch Bonanza celebration. It’s the perfect side dish for our Spring time meal to celebrate one of my favorite holidays. Just in case you’ve missed yesterday’s post, here’s a link to the Roasted Asparagus and Prosciutto Croissants. It’s another easy dish that you can whip up with no effort at all, taking some help from the store. I’m also going to remind you to come back each day for the rest of the week for the remaining recipes, there are three left and they’re only going to get better and better. I promise. Cross my heart and kiss my elbow. Just as a hint between you and I, Friday’s recipe is my absolute favorite. Oh, I’ve also been updating the main Easter Brunch post on the home page with the links to each individual recipe so that you guys can have one central location for the entire brunch menu. I think it makes it easier on us all. That one post will continue to live on the home page, front and center, so we can find all the recipes without hassle. Enough about all this business talk though. Let’s get to salad making and eating.

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Seafood Sliders

Unfortunately Seafood Week has come to an end, but let’s not start crying and throwing things just yet (you can save that for when you’ve finished reading this post). All good things must come to an end. Lucky for us all, I managed to save the best recipe for last. In case you’re just joining us for the first time this week, I’ll refresh your memory. We kicked things off with my childhood enemy, but now all-time favorite fish meal, Crunchy Fish Sticks with homemade tartar sauce. It was all of our breaded and fried seafood dreams come true. Then when we were beginning to get restless with the week we were presented with Roasted Shrimp Cocktail, accompanied by not one but two sauces for dipping and dunking. Homemade cocktail sauce and a Cajun remoulade. I had a competition with myself to see just how many warm shrimp I could eat in one sitting. I wont disclose the exact amount because it’s embarrassing, but as it turns out, I can eat a lot of shrimp. Like a lot of shrimp. Let’s turn our attention back to the end of Seafood Week, though. Back to being sad. Back to throwing things. We’re rounding out the week with a delicious recipe that although tiny in size, is packed with so much flavor. Like jump kick you in the face with flavor. These Seafood Sliders are the perfect Friday night meal. 

In case you weren’t already aware of it, I have an unhealthy obsession with sliders. They’re my thing. I feel like if I could, I totally would’ve invented the slider. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t invent them. Someone beat me to it. I’m always one step behind. I’ll have to settle for being The Slider King of the World, however. You might ask where I get off calling myself that. Allow me to explain. My past slider incarnations have been some of the best posts/recipes on this site. Pot Roast Sliders, Fried Green Tomato and Shrimp Sliders, BLT Biscuit Sliders, Baked Potato Sliders and Steak and White Cheddar Panini Sliders. I pretty much deserve the title, or at the very least a parking spot with “Reserved for The Slider King of The World” attached to it. One day. I can dream can’t I?

These Seafood Sliders are made with a mixture of fresh ground fish and shrimp, among other tasty ingredients, and are formed into small patties. I’d never ground up seafood before, and I have to admit that I was a little scared, but thankfully I survived! I need a t-shirt with that written on it. Anyhow, these fish and shrimp patties are the perfect vessel for tartar sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles on a tiny bun. My favorite thing about sliders is that I can eat about three of them and feel like I can do anything in the world. Also, I love acting like I’m a giant holding a regular sized burger and I’m about to terrorize the city like Godzilla or something. Is that crazy? It’s probably crazier if I admitted to actually going around the house eating sliders roaring and stomping around like a monster. Not that I do that or anything. It’s all hypothetical. I’ll tell you what isn’t hypothetical, these sliders.

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Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

I’ve never been the biggest fan of shrimp cocktail, but before you start coming after me with pitch forks and start doing voo doo on me, you should hear me out. I’ve got some good explanations for my line of reasoning. The main reason why I don’t care for shrimp cocktail is because I don’t like cold shrimp. In fact I hate cold shrimp. There’s something so weird to me about eating cold shrimp served over ice. Maybe I’m the weirdo. I know I know, that’s the way it’s supposed to be served and many people (like the entire world) really love shrimp cocktail no matter if it’s cold or not. More power to them. I just can’t handle it. Sorry mom. Don’t get me wrong though, if there’s cold shrimp at a buffet or at a party, I’ll be the first in line stuffing it into my pockets.

Since I love the idea of shrimp cocktail and have always wanted to really enjoy it, I thought the best way to achieve such a feat (and overcome my fear of cold shrimp), would be to cook the shrimp and eat it warm. Roasted Shrimp Cocktail has since been my newest obsession and brings me the best of all the shrimp cocktail world. I like to serve it with not one but two sauces for dipping because to me, shrimp cocktail is all about the sauce. Cocktail sauce is very near and dear to my heart as a child because I used to eat it all the time with all of the breaded and fried shrimp. All of it. I was addicted to fried shrimp, still am, but because it’s not the healthiest of ways to eat it, I’ve settled for roasted shrimp cocktail instead. I’m sure my doctor is thankful for that decision.

Continuing with our Seafood Week on the blog, I thought this recipe would be a great follow up to the Crunchy Fish Sticks from earlier in the week. Just as a recap, I wanted to do a Seafood Week because there’s a serious lack of fish dishes in my blog. My mamma wanted me to up my “under the sea” recipes and because my mamma always knows best, I thought it best to listen to her and get right on it. So here we are, two recipes into our awesome Seafood Week. I’m saving the best for last so stay tuned for the third and final installment on Friday. You won’t want to miss it. In the meantime let’s refocus on this roasted shrimp cocktail your new favorite recipe. Cross my heart and kiss my elbow.

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Fried Green Tomato and Shrimp Sliders

I’m on a mission in life to become the Slider King of America. I don’t really know if that’s an actual thing, but it sounds really cool. I can totally see myself being King of the Sliders, too. It’s definitely not a bad thing to have on my resume. If anything, it’ll make me well known by millions, right? At the very least, it’ll grant me some free sliders whenever I want. Which is always. Sliders everyday of my life sounds even better than being king. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to be king. Give me a slider kingdom to rule where all anyone ever eats are sliders. Where sliders just rain down from the skies above. Sounds like a dream come true, if you ask me. I’d walk down the streets of my kingdom pointing at people, screaming, “You get a slider. You get a slider. And you get a slider. And you get a slider!”

Last week I decided to torment you guys by putting up a recipe for Mini Challah Rolls—have you checked it out already?—with a promise to post a delicious slider recipe the following week. Well, guess what?! It’s the following week already, and here I am with the promised delicious slider recipe. And just in case you’ve been living under a rock or something, and aren’t familiar with the fact that I’ve had some great sliders on this blog before, I’ll refresh your memory.

This one time I got all kinds of crazy and made a big batch of pot roast in a slow cooker and put together some killer Pot Roast Sliders that I’m still day-dreaming about. I can’t seem to shake them out of my mind. If you like crispy onion rings and avocado and sriracha, then you’ll love those sliders. Then I decided to one up myself and I created these BLT Biscuit Sliders which is everything right in the world. Biscuits with jam and heirloom tomatoes and lots of crispy bacon and of course, avocado and lettuce. If all of that has you thinking, “Oh no he didn’t!” Well then just sit down and hold on tight because I’m about to blow your mind! I’m now bringing you these Fried Green Tomato and Shrimp Sliders. I couldn’t just use the same rolls I used before or even those biscuits, so I made some new buns. Challah buns. And I’m piling it high with a cajun remoulade sauce, fried green tomatoes, grilled shrimp, lettuce and pickles. It’s an explosion of delicious flavor upon delicious flavor. I don’t know what else to do right now, other than to go to a tall place and yell out “I’M KING OF THE SLIDERS!”

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