Mac and Cheese with Roux? Who Knew…

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For the recipe only, click here.

It was the great debate of Thanksgiving on social media: do you make your mac and cheese with or without a roux? We can all thank Draya for unintentionally starting the war of the attractive mac and cheese. I have to admit, I had never ever heard of such a thing. Why would you make cheese sauce before making your mac and cheese? That’s not how my mom makes it, and none of my friends had heard of this either. Is it a southern-style preparation? Does it result in that too-wet mac and cheese I really do not care for? Draya’s preparation was not that wild, ya’ll. But the Internet yelled at her about, I had to try a roux. I had to know if it would beat my family method of making this  holiday staple.

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One of the best things about the holidays is our natural draw toward our friends and family. We want to snuggle towards each other, out of the cold. Quite a difference from the dont-sit-too-close-to-me-Im-sweating of the summer time, and infused with a little more kindness and love than other times of the year. The block is not hot, but our couches and tables are warm and inviting.

Im a self-proclaimed hosting phobic. During my entire childhood, mom would ask me and my sister if we wanted to invite friends over. We’d look at each other like, why would we do that?! We had our snacks, each other, and our own entertainment. Who needs friends in our space?! Only now into my 20s have I slowly relinquished the idea that hosting friends for an evening is stress-inducing. Who knew that we could gather without perfectly placed chip bowls, fun decorations and a meticulously organized living room. Can you tell that I was a worrywart child? Sorry, mom. IMG_3714

It has been so long since I have been able to play in the kitchen the way I like. Im always making something fast for weekly meal-prep: whatever is most efficient, all four burners going at once with different components, storage containers laid out and ready to be filled. All of this on a Sunday night. All of this while thinking of the 100 things I didn’t finish yet. Somehow, Thanksgiving break made me realize what I was neglecting.

So I had some friends over post-exam. We sipped gin. We laughed at crappy tv. And I promised to share this new mac and cheese that I was going to make the next day. And there it was, a commitment to getting closer. A promise to keep leaning into people I love, and inviting them into my life, without the expectation of pressure. Maybe this mac and cheese would be trash. But I was going to put it on the table, and let them dig in. IMG_3730

We need people. More than we sometimes like to admit. At every stage of my life, I can look back and honestly say that it was because I had great people around me that I was able to not only survive, but grow and have fun while doing it. Without a doubt, my life would be far less pleasant, my achievements much fewer, and my daily gratefulness non-existent without the powerful people I have had the honor of calling my friends and family. They are the air that surrounds me. Yes, even when Im like see you guys later bye going home no thanks I don’t want to be at that social event see ya! 

I am so glad it is holiday time so I can have the chance to thank my loves for blessing my life, in ways that mean the most to me.

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I can only imagine that Draya’s dish was actually very delicious. Sometimes food is ugly, guys. But its whats in the dish, as well as what was put in through you that makes it good, and sometimes great.

The verdict on roux? I like it, but it doesn’t beat mama’s method yet for me. No matter how you make it, be sure to not skip the all-important step of love and intention. Invite in the imperfection, and cuddle up with those who receive it. It’s the holiday season. You deserve it.IMG_3753

Draya-Inspired Mac and Cheese

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients:

  • 1 box of macaroni noodles (will use 4 cups for the amount pictured)
  • 5-6 cups of assorted cheeses (here: sharp cheddar, gruyere, and gouda)
  • 5 Tbsp salted butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp almond milk (can use heavy cream, half and half or milk)
  • assort seasonings (here: onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, pepper, salt, Herbes de providence)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Boil water in a large pot and add pasta
  3. Boil for 8 minute or until done, drain and set aside in large bowl
  4. In medium sized pot, melt 4 Tbsp of butter, and add flour
  5. Add 4 cups of cheese to the roux, and whisk with stock and milk
  6. When completely combined, mix sauce into drained pasta
  7. Season to taste
  8. Butter oven-safe dish with remaining Tbsp of butter, add pasta mixture
  9. Top with remaining cheese and a sprinkle of pepper and paprika
  10. Bake in oven for 15 mins or until golden brown
  11. Stuff face.

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Get in Formation: Lemon Squares

For the recipe only, click here.

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It is safe to say that very few moments in life leave me standing, staring mouth agape. I have been fortunate enough to have a few such moments in the last weeks; where talented women have been the subject of my awe.

Let’s cut straight to it and talk about her.

Beyonce.

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The Formation World Tour was my first time as audience to Queen Bey and her cast of incredible women talent. It was my first time standing for hours, holding on to every single moment of vocal acrobatics, strategic wind, crystal-encrusted glam, and synchronized strutting, that only Beyonce can provide. As one of the adoring peasants in the crowd, I was mostly impressed by the details of the show itself, including, but by no means limited to, the magical cubic visual element that served as her only stage adornment, her inclusion of dancers of all shades, and the casual professionalism with which she interacted with the crowd. It was honestly just impressive. I left affirmed that she loves her craft and those who appreciate it. It was well worth the coins spent.

This theme of lemonade– taking something unpalatable and creating sweetness and relief– was appropriately invoked by Beyonce throughout the visual album as well as the show. I couldn’t help but examine how we use lemon to enhance the mundane, but also how lemons themselves often need sugar to be enjoyed. Lemon water is offered to spruce up the most pure beverage. After all, what’s life without the occasional puckering of experience? Lemon water becomes lemonade with the addition of everyone’s favorite drug, and suddenly it is summer and life is good.

Formation was full of the vengeful, red, independent-womanness we would expect from any good Beyonce montage. However, the water– that essential element without which lemonade does not materialize– was the real star. Water was the reminder of what connects us, what allows us to be alive and stripped, the surprise element that brought together the whole shebang.

The show was basically some kick-butt art, enjoyed with thousands of my closest Bey-friends. If you have the chance to experience leg two, reward yourself.

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In the process of gathering things for my new home in the fall, I have been looking for my first real art pieces to display. The click-hole that is the Instagram suggested follow list has led me to some really great (and some really not-so-great) art. Thus far, I have landed on a few pieces that I look forward to hanging in a few weeks.
IMG_6553My affinity for representing the strength and connectedness of women has unintentionally seeped through to my art selection. In form, talent, and purpose, women are as varied as the world’s hues. However, we are still bonded in a sort of mystery and unpredictability.

Fragmented. Textured. Colorful. Bold.

Much like the Queen, I’ve been captured by the artists themselves. Their ability to tell histories and convey emotions in a single image. Like a perfectly baked treat: made for everyone and just for me at the same time.


The status of women is so important in our society, we have designated a medical speciality devoted to promoting and preserving the health of women, the babies they produce, and the families they support. More often than not, we fail our women (yes, even and perhaps especially, in medicine). We make their conditions acidic and cheap. However, we can not escape the essentiality of women’s success in the fabric of our lives. The ways in which women are able to take the pieces, tell stories, and create completeness; adding just enough sweetness to any situation as to not erase the sour that is the truth.

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Lemon Squares

  • Servings: 12 bars
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Ingredients:

For crust

  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter

For filling

  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Directions:

  1. For the crust, mix the flour, sugar, and butter with your hands until it clings together.
  2. Press into a 13×9 inch pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
  4. For the filling, beat together eggs, sugar, and lemon juice.
  5. In another bowl, sift together flour and baking powder.
  6. Stir into egg mixture.
  7. Pour over baked, cooled crust.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
  9. Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  10. Cut into bars, and enjoy!

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Art by @reallyjsmn (silhouette), @bennybing (Sade) and @esosaparfait (not pictured).

Time to Celebrate: Let Them Eat COOKIE Cake!

For the recipe only, click here.

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I haven’t posted in a while, but I can explain! Around my last post, I was moving through the nail-biting and perseverating, all-too familiar to many graduate school hopefuls. To say that I spent the last year applying to medical school would be a gross understatement. The reality is that this journey has been lifelong. Some of my earliest memories are racing through the emergency rooms of my make-believe. So, when I finally felt that it was my time to apply, and then interview, and then wait, I couldn’t help but feel an ever-present anxiety.

Will I get in? What will I do if I don’t? Will I get the email today? Tomorrow? Next Monday?!

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Well, that email finally came, and I have actually been accepted to medical school! By some unexplainable twist of fate, some people looked at my application and thought, hey, she might not be so bad, and asked me to join them in the upcoming semester.

I don’t quite have the words to explain the sense of relief I have felt over the past few weeks. It really has left me speechless as of late…

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When I was a child, we were allowed to choose the type of birthday cake in which we wanted to indulge in celebration. Much to the disappointment of my family, I always wanted a cookie cake. After one of two birthdays delighting in my favorite choice, I realized everyone was much more interested in ice cream cake, thus I eventually chose this and also enjoyed it. However, nothing was quite as fun as eating cake made of cookies!

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As I approach graduation weekend from my public health masters program (woowoo!), I am reminded of the whirlwind of a year that I have had. I am eager to start this new experience, but also in no rush to speed through the summer. (Now if only the weather would cooperate with my plans to frolic around and eat street food. C’mon sun, show yourself!)

I had to make my childhood favorite treat, revel in all that has transpired, and savor the newness that is to come. Now, excuse me as I polish off this plate full of chocolate-happy. I can’t wait for what’s next!

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Celebration Cookie Cake

  • Servings: one 9-inch cake
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Ingredients:

For the cookie:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

For the icing:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter + 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch cake pan with nonstick spray. Lay parchment paper inside the pan and spray. Set aside
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add brown sugar and beat on medium until creamy. Mix in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla on medium-high.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. Add 1 and 1/4 cups chocolate chips and mix until distributed.
  4. Press the cookie dough evenly into the prepared pan. It may help to press with the bottom of another 9-inch cake pan. Bake 20 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and cook on a rack. Once cooled, lift the parchment paper out of the pan, carrying the cookie cake with it. Transfer cake to a serving dish.
  5. For frosting: sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Set aside. Beat butter on medium until creamy. Gradually add the sifted sugar mixture alternately with the heavy cream and vanilla. Beat on low after each addition. Once all is added, beat on high until creamy. Frost!
  6. Enjoy alone, or with ice cream! Congratulations!
Recipe slightly adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

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