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Between my multiple birthday-related meals and a recent weekend trip to Austin, it had seemed like forever since I cooked a proper meal. (Boiled egg sandwiches don’t count.) It usually helps my motivation if I have a guest over, so yesterday I had my wonderful friend Shyema over for a meal. We handled the appetizer (a roasted tomato salad that really did not photograph well) and the entree (baked macaroni and cheese), while she indulged us with some pastries from Ferrara Bakery in Little Italy. (I was so eager to dive into them that stopping to take one, two or 10 pictures was out of the question. Whoops!)

But back to the meal itself. Armed with whole wheat orecchietta I recently bought in Little Italy, I decided to go with this recipe for baked macaroni and cheese. It worked out because even though we had such a balmy, summery Sunday, by 8 p.m. it was pouring rain and nothing says let’s-curl-up-on-the-couch quite like mac ‘n cheese. I’ve experimented with healthier recipes for macaroni and cheese, but I’ve got to say it’s not the same as the full-fat version.

This time, I just threw my hands up in the air, said to hell with it and watched as I plopped seven tablespoons of butter into the pot. But to give ours an extra kick — we’re Indian — I added two jalapeno peppers (minced) and a ½ teaspoon of chili powder to the milk-cheese-butter mix. This is a great classic recipe, and surprisingly, the first time I’ve pulled from Barefoot Contessa, a blasphemy to some people, I’m sure. Ina, I’ll be back for more!

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  1. Shy

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