Jack-n-Mac or Mac and Cheese ?

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A pasta dish with so many names, its easily prepared either on your stove-top, and baked in the oven or grill. A perfect one-pot dish for almost any occasion, served straight from the sauce pan or guilded with a crusty topping. My spin on the classic is dressed up a bit for grown-up flavor and is just as welcomed for an elegant dinner or a casual backyard BBQ. Cheddar is the common cheese of choice, but I like using a mixture of cheddar and jack. Sometimes even a bit of Gruyere as well, to put a bit of bite in my baked mac; using a fifty-fifty cheese ratio. Feel free to use chef's poetic license and use more or less Cheddar if you like.

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JACK-n-MAC SERVING SUGGESTION: Serve with my BBQ Sliders & Grilled BBQ Shrimp

George’s Cheddar Jack-n-Mac

Makes 6 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle 

2 Tablespoons Butter

1 onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1 teaspoon hot sauce

pinch fresh grated nutmeg

2 cups half & half

1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Jack cheese, shredded

2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

2 Tablespoons fresh italian parsley, chopped

1 1/2 pounds uncooked elbow, shells, or other small pasta

Melt Butter in a large soup pot or saucepan. Add onion, and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly add the broth, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add the bay leaves, thyme, diced green chilies, hot sauce, and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Stir in the half & half and heat to a simmer. Slowly add the Cheddar, Jack, and Parmesan cheeses, stirring until they melt and the sauce is smooth. Stir in the cooked pasta. Place in a serving dish and eat immediately or sprinkle with Mac Topping, and bake five minutes in a 350 degree oven. 

Optional Additions:

1 cup each Chorizo or smoked sausage, chopped plum tomatoes, smoked ham, pancetta, pulled chicken or grilled shrimp to make your own home-spin.  

For the Mac Topping

4 Tablespoons butter, melted

6 Tablespoons bread crumbs

2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

1 Tablespoon each fresh cilantro & parsley, chopped

Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

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Chocolate Brownie Cookies

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As great addition to any cookie platter. Plus, a chocolate treat in under 30 minutes - mixing and baking. But can you wait 24 hours? Probably not, but just save a few because these cookies actually taste even better a few days after baked. Eyes-go-wide open on the first bite. Try my recipe for yourself and you'll agree. For best results use a good quality cocoa.

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Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Makes 3 dozen large or 6 dozen small 

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1 1/3 cups sweet butter

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 Tablespoon vanilla

2 each eggs

2 1/4 cups flour

2/3 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons milk

1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped 

1 cup mini chocolate chips, semi sweet, or chopped chocolate

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar one minute, or until creamy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating lightly after each.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk beating at low speed about 1 minute, or just until blended. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.

Drop dough by heaping 2 Tablespoons spoonful on ungreased baking sheet. 

Bake at 350F for 10 to 12 minutes. Cookies will still appear soft and moist when baked, but firm up on cooling. Cool slightly, then remove to cooling rack. About 3 dozen cookies.

Tip: Smaller cookies can be made using 1 Tablespoon dough for each cookie, baking for 8 to 10 minutes.

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Potato Leek Soup

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 A simple staple like a potato can make for a very hearty and satisfying soup.

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Potato Leek Soup 

Makes eight servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | From George Hirsch Living it UP! cookbook

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 Tablespoons butter

1 cup sweet onion, chopped

1 leek, whites only, washed and chopped fine

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

3 cups Yukon Gold Potatoes, *scrubbed & medium diced

3 cups chicken broth

6 Tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

1/4 cup half and half

1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Pre heat a medium size soup pot. Add olive oil, butter, onion, leek and garlic. Cook two minutes until onions are translucent.  Add nutmeg, chicken broth and 2 tablespoons of chives.  Bring soup to boil, then lower to simmer cooking for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender. 

Puree half of soup mixture, leaving remaining chunky bits of potatoes. Ladle soup into bowls, top each serving with a drizzle of cream, cheddar cheese and remaining fresh chives.

*Good to Know: Wash potatoes and leave skins on to preserve the nutrients in the flesh of the potato. A great source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper, potassium, and dietary fiber. 

Tip:

Cut up any additions into small or maximum one-half to one inch pieces. Why so small? Simply, so it fits on a soup spoon.