On a Cold Sunday at Five Star Day Cafe…

…four friends trampled through drizzling rain, frigid weather and sketchy bystanders lurking on the street corners of downtown Athens, all in the name of food.

It was Sunday after all, and for my three friends who are on the meal plan,( I don’t judge), Sunday night means no open dining halls and sometimes meals of dry cereal and ramen noodles.

The rough life of a college student…in a nutshell.

Alas, Five Star Day Cafe, a local restaurant serving “soul food,” was on the top of our list. The menu first and foremost appealed to me with its offerings of comfort foods, such as banana pudding, macaroni and cheese, fried green tomatoes and BBQ.  Plus the general kitsch (in a good way!) of the restaurant, including its decor inside and outside screams Athens.

At the restaurant I ordered the Carolina BBQ pulled pork sandwich topped with slaw. It was delicious, and honestly one of the best BBQ items I have had in a while. If you like sauce, and lots of it, this sandwich for you. The cole slaw was great too, as was the corn muffin served alongside. As  a side dish, I ordered macaroni and cheese.

And this is where things got complicated.

I will eat just about any type of macaroni and cheese, except for Easy Mac (blasphemy!).

Five Star’s mac and cheese was less than appealing to me. The mac was dry and lacked in flavor, cheese and otherwise.

Even though I like Velveeta, I still have decent taste buds otherwise.

So while Five Star Day Cafe certainly has the potential (seriously, go get that pulled pork sandwich), this poor girl trudged back to her car, in the rain, still searching for her holy grail macaroni and cheese.

Are you out there?

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Burger with a side of cheese grits

Fried Green Tomatoes with a black-eyed pea salsa

Five Star Day Cafe 

229 East Broad Street

Athens, GA

(706) 543-8552

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

As I write this I am in a near food-induced coma from all of the macaroni and cheese I have eaten this weekend/week.

Skinny jeans be damned.

This weekend I put on my big-girl pants and decided to make my favorite food from scratch.

Behold, the baked macaroni and cheese and all of its cheesy glory.

Growing up, two lovely ladies by the name of Kraft and Velveeta  occupied my kitchen, and I have no shame in admitting that boxed mac and cheese is still something I eat on a regular basis (cough, once a week).

Therefore, making macaroni and cheese from scratch was a big deal for me. And in doing so, I learned an earth-shattering thing about myself.

I am not a good multi-tasker.

Where shall I begin?

1)  In the process of mincing an onion, I forgot about the boiling water  on the stove spilling over.

2) While dicing up cheese I also forgot about that same onion “charring” in its pan and smoking up the kitchen enough to set off the smoke alarm.

3) And while draining the pasta, I forgot that a napkin was lying ever so close to an “on” burner, ready to go up in flames.

I haven’t set foot in that kitchen since.

Roux

My “I Almost Set the House on Fire” Macaroni and Cheese 

Slightly adapted from allrecipes.com

8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni

1 small minced onion

2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Velveeta cheese (Block form, creamy form, shredded form, whatever, go crazy!)

2 1/2 cups milk

1/3 cup butter

2  tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tsp. dry mustard powder

1 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp of both salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray a 2 quart casserole dish with cooking oil. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add macaroni until al dente (8-10 minutes).

While the pasta is cooking, melt the 1/3 cup of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the minced onion and cook until the onion softens and turns translucent, about 7 minutes.

Stir in the flour, pepper, salt,  dry mustard and paprika until incorporated, then slowly pour in the milk and bring to a simmer or light boil. Stir constantly until the milk has thickened, about 10 minutes. Take the roux (the milk/flour/butter mixture) off of the heat and stir in the Cheddar cheese  until melted. Put the macaroni in the casserole dish and  pour the cheese sauce over and top with Velveeta (I chose the block form of Velveeta and diced about a half a cup and topped it over the macaroni and cheese once in the casserole dish).

Bake for about 25 minutes until cheese has melted and the top is golden and bubbly.

Enjoy.

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