Sunday, October 2, 2011

winter-proof baby socks and bacon mac & cheese

it took me years to get mac & cheese just right. so, after writing it down and reworking it a little, here is the recipe for the batch that finally worked..

it should go without saying, but all recipes, patterns, and photos are copyright and may not be reproduced without my permission. you may not use these recipes, patterns, or photos for monetary gain. you may not distribute them in any way without my permission.

(1 9oz pkg artichoke hearts) this is optional- it requires an extra step and 1-2 tsp extra salt
1 pkg lower sodium bacon - if you have to use bacon substitute, go for it, but i recommend the real stuff
1 lb box of small shells pasta
6oz muenster
4oz mild cheddar
4 slices italian bread (approx. 4c crumbled) & ~2tbsp evoo - this is only necessary if you're going to bake the finished product
1/4c butter - again, the real stuff makes a difference
1/4c flour
2c milk - i always use 2%
2tsp smoked salt - any salt will work, but i prefer sea salt or smoked salt with this recipe
1tsp pepper - if you have white pepper this is a great time to use it!

if you decide to use the artichokes, you'll need to have them completely thawed, cut into slivers (discard the chunky parts- you only want the leafy stuff), and cooked before you begin the rest. to cook, place in frying pan on medium heat until they lose most of their water. add the extra salt.

having the bacon cooked prior to starting the cheese sauce makes things easier too. line 1-2 shallow baking pans with alum. foil and place bacon strips closely together but not overlapping. bake at 350 until desired crispness- i like the buttery, super crumbly stage that comes right before slightly burnt ;) place cooked bacon on paper towels to soak up excess fat and crumble/tear it into small pieces when cooled. the fat that's left in the pans can be stored in the fridge and is amazing for cooking eggs and pancakes with.

cook shells to al dente. after cooking rinse in cold water and cool completely to ensure pasta does not continue to cook after being removed from water.

cube cheeses to about 1/2" - the smaller size just makes them melt faster.
melt butter in medium saucepan
whisk in flour until smooth, remove from heat
add milk, whisk until blended, return to heat at medium
*NOTE: do NOT boil milk! the stuff will curdle and you have to start over. it's gross.
add salt & pepper
add cheese and whisk pretty much continually until cheese cubes have melted.
*NOTE: not whisking continually will cause a film to form on the bottom on your pan, this can be corrected with extra whisking but it's easier to not let it happen in the first place
place pasta in large bowl
mix in cheese, then bacon (and artichokes if you're using them)

ta-da! if you want, this is as far as you need to go- the stuff will be perfectly fine without the next step, but it does add a little pizazz.

place finished mac & cheese in large casserole dish

put evoo in large frying pan and warm on medium-high heat, add bread crumbles, toss crumbles in pan to get even coverage and cook until just crispy
spread on top of mac & cheese and bake at 350 for about 15 mins

let it cool a little and enjoy!

now, baby socks!

"little winter toes"

the height of these socks will keep them from slipping off (they may slip a bit- babies do squirm, but nothing a little readjusting can’t fix) and the thickness will keep those little piggies warm in the dead of winter.

UPDATE: so mr. oliver has discovered that he has enough time on the long car ride to grandma's to squiggle out of his socks. so if you have a little houdini or a long span of time where you can't readjust their socks, i suggest making an i-cord (or faux i-cord if you're like me and hate doing them) that will attach to the top of one sock, run up one leg of their britches, down the other leg, and attach to the other sock. if you do make the cord keep in mind you'll have to remake it as they grow.

faux i-cord: cast on 3 sts leaving 6" tail. knit in stockinette to desired length. bind off leaving 6" tail. sew ends to inside top of socks. weave in ends.

i'll put up a picture of socks with attached cord as soon as i get the chance.

i used leftovers from bryan's hat, so it was about 70 yds for the 6-9mos size, if that.

you will need:
yarn: malabrigo worsted weight
color: cognac
needle: size 5 dpns
gauge: 5.5 sts, 9.5 rows = 1"
tapestry needle for binding off
crochet hook for weaving in ends

to fit 3-6mos (6-9mos, 9-12mos)
keep in mind all babies are different. my little guy is a flat-average 50th% baby, so if your little one is smaller or larger you might want to go up or down a size.

i made oliver's one size bigger than he currently needs so that he can wear them all winter long. you may want to do the same, you may not. it mostly depends on when you're making them.

co 8 sts
i always use the square-toe cast on method for toe-up socks. you can use your preferred method, but give this one a try ;)
k 4 rows in stockinette, beginning with a purl row
pick up 2 sts on the side of your knitting where your working yarn currently is, then continue to pick up 8 sts on bottom, and 2 sts on the other side.
*NOTE: placing a stitch marker IN your knitting by using removable stitch markers is the easiest way to keep track of which side the beginning of your rnd is on.
rnd 1: place last st picked up on your working ndl, this will now be your 1st st. this first rnd you'll be arranging your sts. ndl 1: k 4 (not working moved st) ndls 2, 3 and 4: k5
rnd 2: k1fb, k 7, k1fb, k1, k1fb, k 7, k1fb, k1.
repeat rnds 1 & 2 until you have 28 (32, 36) sts
k in stockinette for next 16 (20, 24) rnds
*NOTE: the best way to ensure a good fit is to try them on the little guy or gal once you have the toe finished and again before you start the heel. if you're going for a snug fit you want to start the heel about 3/4" from the back of their heel.
using only ndls 1 & 2, work short row heel beginning with knit row until you have 6 sts without w&t's, ending after purl row.
knit/purl w&t's with their respective stitch
once all the sts have been worked again, resume working in rnd
*NOTE: to help avoid little holes in the sides of heels: on last k-side w&t, after w&t is worked k first st on next needle then pass it back to the needle it belongs on. p to last p-side w&t, work w&t, p first st on next needle then pass it back to needle it belongs on.
k 14 (16, 20) rnds in stockinette
begin 3x1 rib: k3, p1
continue for 10 (14, 18) rnds
bind off somewhat loosely with sewn method (this method ensures the most stretch)
weave in the ends on the toe and cuff and you're done!