A good start for the new year

The best part of waking up on Sunday, January 1st, was knowing I still had one more day of laziness ahead of me. Hooray for long, holiday weekends! I woke up late and was reveling in being absolutely unmotivated. I left the house only once (my sign of a relaxing day) and that was because we were in dire need of kitty litter.

my inspiration! recipes posted above my oven.

At first I was all set to make the trip to the store a quick in and out procedure. But in the back of my mind, I knew we needed groceries and I knew that if I was going grocery shopping, the least I could do was select the first recipe to make in the new year. In the spirit of resolution dedication, I bravely selected two new recipes to try out: a kale and brussels sprout salad and the “ultimate mac and cheese.” 

The mac and cheese was a recipe I had ripped out of Sunset back in 2007. I honestly have no idea how I even got a Sunset magazine, but clearly, after 5 years, it was time to make it. The salad recipe was a considerably more recent addition to my binder — it was in the November 2011 issue of Bon Appétit. Both had good reviews online so I was pretty confident they wouldn’t suck, which was important for the first meal of 2012.

Before this whole shopping expedition, my husband and I had looked at each other and questioned what we would have for dinner. The original plan was ramen. On New Years Eve, I had polished off  five-course dinner at the restaurant where he is the chef. So I certainly wasn’t craving anything too substantial, but the previous night I had been torn between two entrees: the lobster gnocchi and the steak. I loved the gnocchi but was still dreaming about a nice juicy chunk of red meat. So I was hoping my husband would say what he said next — “I’ll go grab us a steak from work.” Aha. Perfect plan!

So I decided to contribute to the dinner and picked up the ingredients to make the above two recipes. And I’m so happy I did, they were both fabulous! The mac and cheese came together great and I loved that it had a very “fondue” flavor with the copious amounts of wine and shallots. Once it baked it was a little less creamy than I would have wanted, but the taste was still wonderfully cheesy and decadent.

The salad was even better, a fresh accompaniment to the rich meal. When I asked my husband what he thought, he echoed my opinion. It was so amazingly easy too because the vegetables are raw, just thinly sliced, so there’s no need to dirty a pan blanching them.

My husband was in charge of the meat and we even had a bottle of bubbly already chilled. Within an hour, dinner was ready — and it was SO much better than ramen!

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