Monday, April 1, 2013

Guest Post: Lighter Mac and Cheese with Suvarna!

Please welcome my friend and law school classmate, Suvarna, who is also a lover of food and the law.  You may remember Suvarna from our earlier cooking adventure in 2009, when we made a delectable, but very rich baked mac and cheese. Here, we take on a lighter and healthier version. Enjoy!

As the readers on this site already know, Cheryl’s blog is called “Food Judicata – Food that has been judged.”  I’ve been and fan and avid reader of Cheryl’s blog since we graduated from law school because I too love food and civil procedure.  I think Cheryl has been so courageous in sharing her recent journey to a healthier lifestyle. She has inspired me and shared countless tips about calorie counters on phones, steaming vegetables, and portion control.  Accordingly, when planning my visit to Cheryl’s I challenged the both of us to come up with a recipe that would incorporate the ice cream from a local Jersey City ice cream shop, Torico.  Cheryl came up with the idea of making these delicious banana-split mini bites  and our cooking plans and my visit to Jersey City were set.

Right before our Jersey City day of cooking, I emailed Cheryl to check if she needed any ingredients.  Not surprisingly, she had everything we needed!  However, she did top my healthy ice cream recipe challenge with a healthy macaroni and cheese challenge!  Cheryl was kind enough to let me guest cook with her back in 2009, where we made a baked macaroni and cheese using this beautiful blue Le Creuset pot that I purchased with my Westlaw points. She thought on our second time cooking together, and in the spirit of healthy eating, we should revise or previous macaroni and cheese recipe with a new healthier one.  So we chose this one from Skinny Taste.  On a side note, Cheryl is a mac n’ cheese expert, having also made and written about the much loved dish in 2011. Then on the train ride up to Jersey City, I received a text from Cheryl asking if I liked asparagus.  I wrote back of course I do and that I loved the fact that it was a “spring” vegetable.  Thus, we added asparagus to our ambitious day of healthy cooking.

Upon arriving in Jersey City, I immediately realized what a fun place it is to live.  There was a huge sign at the train station announcing an upcoming Indian Holi celebration, food vendors, and so many cute shops and corner grocery stores.  Since Cheryl had all the ingredients for the recipes, and I just could not go to celebrate a new apartment empty handed, I stopped at a flower store to pick up some spring tulips.  I love flowers and since my mother is a tireless gardener flowers fill our home all year long.  Incidentally, Cheryl’s family is in the floral business and she has random knowledge about flowers – like the fact that tulips open during the day and shut at night!  Anyway I know I digress, I was so excited about seeing not just an ordinary ice cream shop, but instead “Torico Homemade Ice Cream Parlor.”  They have so many cool flavors like avocado, lychee, and ginger, in addition to the traditional flavors. 

After getting a grand tour of the apartment (what a gorgeous kitchen) and catching up (I think I hadn’t seen Cheryl in over year!), we got down to work.  The author of the recipe touted it as being kid-friendly and it did not disappoint!  We added spinach and used home-made bread crumbs.  Cheryl also added a secret ingredient – cayenne pepper – amazing.  The difference between the 2013 and 2009 recipe is visible – our new version looks not as greasy as the first and it tasted delicious. We may have made enough macaroni and cheese to last Cheryl and J. for the entire spring – but I suppose you can never have too much of a good thing! 

The cheese mixture with our "secret" ingredient
Ready for the oven!

The finished product
The recipe for the new and improved macaroni and cheese can be found here

As for the asparagus, we steamed it, tossed it in olive oil, added some chopped raw almonds, and some salt and pepper (in Cheryl’s cool new pepper grinder).  Cheryl taught me a new trick where you run the asparagus under cold water so that it stops the cooking process and the vegetables remain crunchy.  

Asparagus after a cold shower

Unfortunately, after a busy morning of cooking, we did not have time to make dessert!  J. is one of the founding members of Jersey City Ties, “a new group for young professionals that focuses on fun social events, networking, and helping out the Jersey City community.”  The group was hosting a NCAA March Madness Event and so we ended our day of cooking a little early to go enjoy some basketball and meet up with new and old friends.  This is a really great group of people and anyone in the Jersey City area should check out an event if they have the chance.  I’m not too worried about the banana split mini bites, I’ll just have to make another trip to Jersey City in the summer – apparently the ice cream parlor is the place to be in the warmer months!!

On a final note, “Grazie Mille,” to Cheryl for being so gracious to let me guest blog once again, write my first ever blog entry, show me around Jersey City, and introduce me to a new great group of people.  Special thanks to J. for helping eat all that mac n’ cheese and raid his kitchen too!


Karen A. said...

This is my first blog comment. I want to put that out there in the interest of "full disclosure" and in case I do something "wrong." I just read my friend, Suvarna's first guest blog and I thought it was fantastic. So fantastic that I was inspired to get the ingredients this afternoon so I could make the mac and cheese tonight. So fabulous that I am venturing into the blogosphere for the first time. The recipe is easy to prepare and the mac and cheese is great--the cayenne pepper adds just the right touch. My 17-year old son loved it and he is extremely picky.

-- Karen A., another lawyer who actually did research on res judicata for Professor Edward Cooper for Volume 18 of Wright Miller and Cooper’s "Federal Practice and Procedure." I will not mention the edition year for fear of "dating" myself.

Cheryl said...

That's great, Karen! I'm glad to hear that your son loved the mac and cheese!