Product Review: Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese Mild Cheddar

by Mac & Cheese Chick on July 12, 2014

Product Review: Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese Mild Cheddar - Mac & Cheese Chick

Recently, the good folks at Pirate’s Booty were kind enough to send me four boxes of their new Mac & Cheese to try.

Product Review: Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese Mild Cheddar - Mac & Cheese Chick

All four varieties of their new mac & cheese line are made with organic pasta (certified organic by Oregon Tilth) and ingredients you can actually pronounce. So, of course I was more than happy to give them a try!

Product Review: Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese Mild Cheddar - Mac & Cheese Chick

Here’s what you’ll need to prepare this mac & cheese.

Milk and some butter – so easy, right? The instructions on the box call for 1/2 tablespoon of butter, but I went with a whole tablespoon to add a bit of richness. Also, I used fat-free milk instead of 2%.

Product Review: Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese Mild Cheddar - Mac & Cheese Chick

Following the box directions, I boiled 6 cups of water, popped in the macaroni, stirred, and let it simmer for 7 minutes. I then drained it and added it back to the pot. In went the milk, butter and cheese powder (apparently the day-glo orange color of the cheese DOES exist in nature, as this product is made with 100% real cheese).

Product Review: Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese Mild Cheddar - Mac & Cheese Chick

After giving it a thorough stir to ensure that all the ingredients melded into an amazing and lovely cheese sauce, I then let the mac & cheese sit for about three minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.

Product Review: Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese Mild Cheddar - Mac & Cheese Chick

The end result? A delicious mac and cheese with a very delicate, mild cheese flavor. Three elbows up! There was no powdery, chemical taste that you find with other boxed brands. For me, I’ll be adding it to my pantry soon!

Product Review: Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese Mild Cheddar - Mac & Cheese Chick

 

DISCLAIMER: Pirate’s Booty sent this product to me for review. This not a compensated review, but they were kind enough to send the product to me gratis.

 

 

 

 

 

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Product Review: Pirate's Booty Shells & Cheese Aged White Cheddar Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

Recently, I was contacted by the good folks behind the Pirate’s Booty brand. I was aware of their popcorn, but this new offering was right up my alley: Mac & Cheese! And not just one, but four different flavors! All four made with organic pasta (certified organic by Oregon Tilth) and ingredients you can actually pronounce. Would I mind trying out these four new offerings?

Product Review: Pirate's Booty Shells & Cheese Aged White Cheddar Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

As my father loves to say, “Do bears go in the woods?” Of course I would love to give them a try! So, after an interminable (really, maybe a couple of days…) length of time, a box bearing four brand-spanking-new boxes of Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese arrived at my doorstep. Woo hoo! I opened the box and took a good look at each box. Organic pasta, 100% real cheese, certified organic by Oregon Tilth, no artificial colors or preservatives, and a bonus: a different game on the back of each box. Even better, a bit of the cheekiness of the brand came through in the pirate humor throughout the packaging.

Product Review: Pirate's Booty Shells & Cheese Aged White Cheddar Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

Arrrrrr, matey! Here’s what you’ll need to prepare this mac and cheese:

Product Review: Pirate's Booty Shells & Cheese Aged White Cheddar Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

Milk and a little bit of butter. Pretty simple, right? The directions call for 1/2 tablespoon of butter (I used 1 tablespoon, because I am firmly in the camp of “more is better” when it comes to butter) and 1/4 cup of 2% milk (I used fat-free). Here’s a close-up of the cheese powder:

Product Review: Pirate's Booty Shells & Cheese Aged White Cheddar Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

I boiled 6 cups of water and added the shells, stirring periodically as they cooked. After draining the pasta and popping it back into the pot, I threw the butter, milk and cheese powder and stirred.

Product Review: Pirate's Booty Shells & Cheese Aged White Cheddar Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

I took some time stirring to make sure that I didn’t have any powder clumps, then after everything was happy I waited about three minutes to plate (to allow the sauce to thicken, as it was a bit thin).

Product Review: Pirate's Booty Shells & Cheese Aged White Cheddar Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

So I know you’re on pins and needles…how was it? Three solid elbows up! There was a nice cheesy tang which I loved, and a good amount of umami on the tongue. I really liked the fact that the cheddar flavor came through and that there was no “powdered-cheese” taste (you know what I’m talking about; it’s the bane of boxed mac & cheeses).

Product Review: Pirate's Booty Shells & Cheese Aged White Cheddar Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

Even better? It really thickened up into a nice, creamy sauce about five minutes after I plated it.

Product Review: Pirate's Booty Shells & Cheese Aged White Cheddar Mac & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

So, should you run out and buy Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese? It’s entirely up to you, but I know I’ll be adding it to my pantry!

 

DISCLAIMER: Pirate’s Booty sent this product to me for review. This not a compensated review, but they were kind enough to send the product to me gratis.

 

 

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Wensleydale Mac and Cheese with Cranberries and Asparagus

by Mac & Cheese Chick on May 16, 2014

Wensleydale Mac and Cheese with Cranberries and Asparagus - Mac & Cheese Chick

Wensleydale. You can’t say it aloud without feeling just a slight bit uppity and with a hint of a proper English accent. Go ahead; try it if you don’t believe me. But what is it, you ask? Well, the folks over at cheese.com do a great job explaining the joys of Wensleydale. It was developed in 1150 by the Cistercian monks in North Yorkshire and while it was originally made from sheep’s milk, nowadays it tends to be made from a mixture of cow’s and sheep’s milk. And just when you think you’ve never heard of Wensleydale before, allow me to remind you of several spots in which it has been featured:

  • Monty Python: It is one of the cheeses that John Cleese asks for in “The Cheese Shop” sketch. Even cooler? The cheese shop owner, played by Michael Palin, is named Henry Wensleydale.
  • Wallace and Gromit: Wallace mentions in both “A Grand Day Out” and “A Close Shave” that his favorite cheese is Wensleydale.
  • Pinky and the Brain: In “Cheese Roll Call” (episode 8, series 1), Pinky sings about his favorite cheeses, of which Wensleydale is one.

So now that you know all about my highbrow tastes in pop culture, back to the cheese.

I came across a nice block of Wensleydale with cranberries at Costco and was intrigued. It looked like a white cheddar studded with bits of cranberry. As I’ve not yet come across a piece of cheese infused with fruit that I haven’t liked, into the cart it went. When I got it home, I looked up the characteristics of Wensleydale and had no idea how to incorporate it (hard, crumbly cheese) into a mac and cheese. Other than the usual of creating a béchamel and then flinging the nearest bit of cheese into the pot. And since that seems to work, I did end up going with a variation on the cheese-flinging theme.

I wanted to add a bit of color contrast to the mac and cheese, as it is Springtime and everything is green and lovely. I thought about fresh dill, but wondered if that and the cranberry flavors would clash too much. After looking around my local market, I came upon fresh asparagus, a quintessential Spring vegetable. Still a little iffy as to whether the flavors would meld well, but heck – they don’t ALL turn out great, right?

Wensleydale Mac and Cheese with Cranberries and Asparagus - Mac & Cheese Chick

Thus decided, I gathered my ingredients. I added some fresh goat cheese at the last minute as I though the tang of the goat cheese would pair nicely with the tart of the cranberries. Our chives were also beginning to bud in the garden, so I snipped a few of those to add to the mix.

Wensleydale Mac and Cheese with Cranberries and Asparagus - Mac & Cheese Chick

First, I cooked the pasta (Bionaturae whole wheat fusilli) in a large pot per package directions, then drained and set it aside.

Wensleydale Mac and Cheese with Cranberries and Asparagus - Mac & Cheese Chick

While the fusilli was cooking, I prepped my ingredients: chives and shallots were minced, asparagus was cut and the Wensleydale was grated.

Wensleydale Mac and Cheese with Cranberries and Asparagus - Mac & Cheese Chick

Since it is a crumbly cheese, you could always just crumble it but since we’re talking a pound of cheese, it was faster to grate it in the food processor.

Wensleydale Mac and Cheese with Cranberries and Asparagus - Mac & Cheese Chick

In the same large pot, I melted the butter and then whisked in the flour. I let the slurry cook, still whisking, for about two minutes. I then slowly streamed in the milk while I continued to whisk. Over medium heat, continue to cook the béchamel while whisking until it begins to thicken (usually about 3 to 5 minutes).

Wensleydale Mac and Cheese with Cranberries and Asparagus - Mac & Cheese Chick

Once the béchamel has started to thicken, add the shallot, one tablespoon of the chives (reserve the other tablespoon for garnish), and the asparagus. Stir to combine, then add the Wensleydale and goat cheeses and stir again until everything is mixed, melted and happy. Season with salt and pepper (I used about a teaspoon of each) to taste. Finally, drop in the pasta and give it a good stir.

Wensleydale Mac and Cheese with Cranberries and Asparagus - Mac & Cheese Chick

Plate and garnish with the remaining chives.

Wensleydale Mac and Cheese with Cranberries and Asparagus - Mac & Cheese Chick

The taste? Three and a half elbows up. The tanginess of the goat cheese and the cranberries balanced the “green” flavor of the asparagus and the overall rich, creaminess of the sauce. The shallot flavor was delicate but presented itself initially, while the very subtle sweetness of the cranberry flavor hit at the end of each bite. The asparagus added a nice crunch to the overall dish. And if you can’t find Wensleydale locally, you can always substitute a similar hard, crumbly cheese (like a Cheshire or a Caerphilly) and about 2 tablespoons of chopped, dried cranberries.

Here’s my recipe.

Wensleydale Mac and Cheese with Cranberries and Asparagus
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course, Side dish
Cuisine: Mac & Cheese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 as a side
 
Wensleydale Mac and Cheese with Cranberries and Asparagus
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups fat-free milk
  • 1 large shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 16 ounces Wensleydale cheese with cranberries, grated (or, 16 ounces hard, crumbly cheese mixed with 2 tablespoons chopped dried cranberries)
  • 16 ounces whole wheat fusilli
  • 7 stalks fresh asparagus, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, cook pasta per package directions, then drain and set aside.
  2. In the same large pot, melt butter. Once melted, whisk in flour. Cook, whisking, for two minutes. Slowly stream in milk while continuing to whisk. Over medium heat, continue to cook béchamel while whisking until it begins to thicken (3 to 5 minutes).
  3. Add shallot, one tablespoon chives (reserve other tablespoon for garnish), and asparagus. Stir to combine, then add cheeses and stir again. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked pasta and stir to combine. Plate and garnish with the remaining chives.
  4. Serve and scarf down immediately!

Very enjoyable for a Spring dinner alfresco, and heck, I might just speak with an English accent for the rest of the day.

Cheers!

Wensleydale Mac and Cheese with Cranberries and Asparagus - Mac & Cheese Chick

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Mac & Cheese Grilled Cheese with Hatch Chiles

April 11, 2014

Did you know that April 12th is National Grilled Cheese Day? No? Well, now you do! And in honor of National Grilled Cheese Day, I created a wonderful toasty-golden grilled cheese sandwich featuring Hatch chiles and, of course, macaroni and cheese! I had some leftover fire-roasted Hatch chiles in the freezer (always good to have [...]

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Product Review: Trader Joe’s Diner Mac ‘n Cheese

April 4, 2014

Yes, I went a little nuts in Trader Joe’s recently and purchased every single mac and cheese item I could find. Can you blame me? With this product review, the fifth in the series, we move from the boxed, powdered mac and cheeses to the big leagues: frozen. Okay, so maybe not the big leagues, [...]

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Product Review: Trader Joe’s Microwavable Mac & Cheese – Single Servings

March 28, 2014

Because Trader Joe’s offers so many mac and cheese options, this post is the fourth in a series of TJ’s mac and cheese product reviews. This review is for Trader Joe’s Microwavable Mac & Cheese – single servings. Here is the nutritional information. Pasta and cheese powder.  Ingredients needed: 1 packet of Trader Joe’s Microwavable [...]

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Product Review: Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Rice Pasta & Cheddar

March 21, 2014

I’ve been reviewing Trader Joe’s various mac and cheese offerings lately. The first two were boxed mac and cheese, like this one, but this one’s a little different – it is gluten free. Instead of wheat in the pasta, it is rice. Here’s what the box says: Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Rice Pasta & Cheddar. [...]

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Product Review: Trader Joe’s Macaroni & Cheese – Wisconsin Cheddar

February 28, 2014

It’s all Trader Joe’s fault. They offer too many great things to try! One of these items is mac and cheese. Because of Trader Joe’s, this post is just the second in a series as they has soooo many great mac and cheese options when we last visited their store! This review is for Trader [...]

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Product Review: Trader Joe’s Organic Shells and White Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese

February 21, 2014

On occasion, the Mac & Cheese Chick takes a break from scratch-made macaroni and cheese. Hey, I love Velveeta Shells and Cheese as much as the next guy. No, wait, probably much more. Anyway, we were at Trader Joe’s the other day and, seeing all the lovely mac and cheese options in the store, of [...]

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Field Trip! Skillet Diner on Capitol Hill in Seattle

February 15, 2014

My Friday nights are saved for a friend of mine. We tend to meet up most Fridays and grab dinner together. Sometimes, it’s just whatever neighborhood or cuisine sounds good to us; other times, we follow a theme. Last year’s overall theme was “Seattle Icons”. This year’s theme is “Best of”. The stars aligned this [...]

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