Carla’s Macaroni & Cheese Recipe

Recipe by Carla Crudup of Make Yourself Comfortable
Macaroni and cheese is a true food icon.  This legendary dish made its public debut in the United States in the early 1800s as it graced the table of President Thomas Jefferson, who served it in the White House.  A star was born, and the rest is history!  Today, macaroni and cheese is considered one of the classic American comfort foods. This recipe exemplifies the true essence of this popular dish. The spices and cheese blend highlight the wonderful taste of this American food prodigy. -Carla


  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon shallots, finely minced
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg*
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • 7 oz. grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 oz. grated mozzarella cheese
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • paprika and dried parsley for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook macaroni in 4 quarts of boiling water until tender; drain and set aside.  In a large saucepan over medium low heat melt butter.  Add shallots and sauté 1 minute.  Add flour, salt, and peppers. Stir and cook until mixture is smooth and bubbly.  Gradually stir in milk and add nutmeg.  Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until thick and smooth.  Reduce heat to low and stir in grated cheeses until melted. Add macaroni to cheese sauce and pour into cooking spray coated 3-quart casserole dish.  Garnish with paprika and parsley.  Bake uncovered for approximately 30 minutes or until bubbly.  Serves 6.

*Substitute ground nutmeg if the fresh nutmeg seed is unavailable. But freshly grated nutmeg has a much more intense flavor. Nutmeg is commonly used in sweet or baked goods, but it is also fantastic in savory dishes such as this béchamel cheese sauce.  It is one of my favorite spices because of it’s versatility and subtleness that enhances the natural taste of any dish.

 Watch Carla talk about her passion for Nutmeg and Food:

Red Velvet History & Southern Tradition


Red Velvet takes Center Stage at Ms. Peaches, Los Angeles

Among the most classic of desserts is the decadent cream cheese frosted Red Velvet cake.  My grandmother used to make it from usually a Duncan Hines box but like a good southerner from Virginia, she added her own secret ingredients to the mix.  The cake stood high and grand.   

When we interviewed the Kentucky born model Molly Sims, she revealed that her mom not only makes red velvet cake from scratch but she has it flown by Fed Ex on dry ice to her.  Now, that’s a great mom (SEE MOLLY SIMS MOM’S RECIPE)– Crystal A. Johnson, MCCN Editor


History of Red Velvet Cake

A Red velvet cake is a rich, moist, sweet cake with a dark red, bright red or red-brown color. It is usually prepared as a layer cake somewhere between chocolate and vanilla in flavor, topped with a creamy white icing. Common ingredients are buttermilk, butter, flour, cocoa, and either beets or red food coloring. The amount of cocoa used varies in different recipes. A typical frosting is a butter roux (also known as a cooked flour frosting). Cream cheese or buttercream frostings are also used.  See Recipe

*While foods were rationed during World War II, bakers used boiled beets to enhance the color of their cakes. Boiled grated beets or beet baby food are found in some red velvet cake recipes, where they also serve to retain moisture.-(Wikepedia)

See Video of  Model/Actress Molly Sims talking about her love for Red Velvet

Oaxaca: Harvesting For Hope

Planting Sweet Corn Seeds in Oaxaca, Mexico

Again MCCN has the fortune of having photos from Dave Miller of Adventures in Life Ministries.  This is a project of harvesting hope in Oaxaca(WA-HA-CA), Mexico.  Thanks to MCCN Spanish Content Manager, Eduardo Zamora I can phonetically help out with how to pronounce the name of the city.   He let me know that I was butchering the name before.

Hooking Up Well to Cistern

The men put in long days.  However, the volunteers dedicate themselves to the good cause. The project includes teaching effective water retention skills to the locals.  The skills are invaluable in the mainly rural and agrarian villages.  Oaxaca is the second poorest state in the country and home to 30 of the poorest cities in Mexico.  

 Crystal Johnson, MCCN Editor.

The Long Day of Work is done in Oaxaca, Mexico

A Brown & Black Affair: Our Family Wedding – RSVP

What happens when you pair black eyed peas with jalepenos, a recipe for success in my cookbook.  And that ‘s what happens when you pair Lance Gross and America Fererra as two people in love with the bonus of watching  Forest Whitaker and Carlos Mencia play two fathers at odds in the new movie, Our Family Wedding.  The Movie is set to hit theaters March 12th.   Stayed tuned.  MCCN plans to have a lot of fun with the multi-cultural Mexican and African American wedding.  Jaqueline Mazarella , Regina King,  Taye Diggs and many more stars.

Dinner any one?  This Chorizo Corn bread stuffing recipe could be a winner at family dinners:

Mexican Wine Growing Regions

Ignorance is not bliss in my book. Knowledge is so much better.  Did you know about the Mexican Wine Industry?  Okay, fine you did but admittedly I never really thought about it.  Tequila seems to overshadow all alcoholic beverages but Mexico has a long history of wine production beginning with the Spanish nearly 500 years ago.  Today, Mexican wine can be found in at least 38 countries around the world.  The industry is growing rapidly.  Below are some interesting facts about the wine industry in Mexico.- Crystal Johnson, MCCN Editor

Excerpt From The Wine Report

.“What is so fantastic about the Mexican wine growing regions is that the vineyards are easy to access on day trips from Ensenada, with time to return each evening to hone wine and food pairing skills at one of the many great restaurants,” says Al Boyce, who for the better part of three decades has visited and studied the northern Baja peninsula. Wine production in Mexico almost exclusively comes from three areas in the northern part of Baja, California, near the Mexican city of Ensenada



Boyce notes that progress of every kind is apparent in the region. Good roads and highways, better education, improved economy and first-class hotels and restaurants exceed the demands of the most seasoned traveler. While recent improvements push back the once shoddy image of many Mexican industries, the Baja Peninsula’s heritage has not been forsaken by developers. Everything from architecture to local culture remains distinctly Mexican. But perhaps the most impressive chapter in this success story is the wine. For more info Read The Wine Report

Dark Dining(Dining in the Dark) Experience

Bruce Springsteen coined the term “Dancing in the Dark” in the 80’s but “Dining in the Dark”  is the new rage in this millenium.  In the new Disney Touchstone film When in Rome there is a depiction of dining in the dark(Dark Dining) experience between Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel.   The film pokes a little fun at Dark Dining.  See the When in Rome Clip. This concept was not a simple figment of the writers imagination.  It is a happening culinary sensation happening in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and more.

Edible Manhattan Magazine says of Camaje restaurant in New York, “Three years ago Dana Slisbury approached Chef Abigail Hitchcock who was open – ‘I like to do different things’. Her cooking is like anything you’d want to encounter in the dark: familiar, appealing, with a sense of expansive possibility. Without the visual, aroma and texture become her focus.”  

On Fridays and Saturday these events are happening at the V Lounge in Santa Monica, CA.    Blind servers do the serving in a pitch dark dining room.  Visit  this website for California info:

Read the Review of When In Rome:

Article by Crystal A. Johnson, Film and Restaurant Critic

Manning Family Favorite Restaurants in New Orleans

Eli Manning and his mother Olivia began a ritual of eating dinner out once a week, during the time his when  his sibling  left home.   According to a New York Times article,  “They had a regular rotation of restaurants: Casamentos for oyster poor boys; Figaro’s for pizza; Joey K’s for creole cooking and catfish. ”

Figaro’s is located on 7900 Maple Street.   Although pizza was the food of preference Eli and his mom, turtle soup Au Sherry, Spinach Artichoke Bruschetta, Veal Picatta and more can be found on the menu.

As for the fare at Casamentos,  classics like Oyster loaf  and gumbo are available.   Unlike most New Orleans seafood restaurants, Casamento’s uses their own signature bread called “pan bread” instead of french bread.  Their oyster loaves have been acclaimed as far away as Australia and England and featured in numerous publications including, “Best in New Orleans Magazine”.  They claim to have one of the top Seafood Gumbos in New Orleans.  Casamento’s also has one of the best Soft Shell crabs in the area along with fried shrimp, trout and Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs.  Website:

Located on the heart of Magazine Street is Joey K’s, the place for creole and catfish.  Homecooked food and New Orleans specialties served in a relaxed, friendly environment, you have arrived. Joey K’s has been serving delicious local dishes like Red Beans & Rice, Jambalaya, Po-Boys and Catfish for almost 20 years. Website:


Armenian Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuff it!!!  Most of us were brought up to think that meat and vegetables were cooked separately… side by side so to speak… but if you grew up in our house being that we were from Armenian descent, veggies stuffed with meat or dolmas as we called them were part of the norm.  We stuffed grape leaves, cabbage, eggplant, tomatoes and even peppers.

Stuffing peppers is actually pretty common in a lot of cultures.  Hungarians, Greeks, Italians and Armenians all have some sort of variation for this recipe.

The one I’m going to share with you today is an Armenian recipe.  You can actually use this recipe to stuff  just about any vegetable that you like!

Red, Green, Yellow… the color of the pepper doesn’t matter! This is one of those no fail type of recipes… go ahead and try… you can’t ruin it!

This one is for you Lelo… thanks for writing to me for the recipe! I know grandma would be proud of you! –Michelle Karam of Mediterranean Medley on MCCN

 Stuffed Peppers Ingredients

8 Bell Peppers

1 pound ground beef/turkey/chicken

½ cup long grain rice

½ onion finely chopped

¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 can peeled, petite dice tomatoes

Juice of 1 lemon

½ teaspoon dried mint crushed

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 small garlic clove minced

salt & pepper to taste


  • Wash the peppers and cut off the tops & remove seeds. Set aside
  • Mix the meat, rice, onion, parsley, garlic, cayenne, salt & pepper and half of the can of tomatoes in a large mixing bowl.  Combine thoroughly.
  • Stuff the cored peppers with meat- do not stuff all the way to the very top. Leave about ¼ of an inch from the top as the rice will expand while cooking and it will overflow.
  • Arrange the stuffed peppers in a large pot.  Pour the remaining tomatoes over the top.  Add the lemon juice, mint  and a little water so thereis approx 2-3  inches of liquid in the bottom of the pan.
  • Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and allow to simmer, covered, for about 45 min, or until the peppers are tender.

OPTIONAL: You may serve with a dollop of yogurt or Lebni (Armenian style yogurt- it has a thicker consistency than plain yogurt) on the side

See Michelle’s Recipe:  Mediterranean Fish

The History and International Consumption of the Goat, its Cheese, Milk and Butter


Goat is thought to have been the earliest animal domesticated besides sheep and dogs. Cave art 10,000 to 20,000 years ago indicates that goats were common and important then. At the present time, goats provide the principle source of animal protein in many North African and Middle Eastern nations. Goat is also important in the Caribbean, in Southeast Asia, and developing tropical countries. Three-fourths of all the goats in the world are located in the developing regions of the world.

Kids (goats under a year of age) are often slaughtered when 3 to 5 months of age and weighing from 25 to 50 pounds. Kids do not store much body fat until they are about a year of age. Many goats are older and heavier when marketed, but most, except aged cull goats, are slaughtered when less than a year of age. The meat of older goats is darker and less tender, but more juicy and flavorful than kid. The meat from males is lighter in color and lower in fat. The meat from females is more desirable for steaks and chops, and is more tender.


Milk, Butter & Cheese

Some goats are bred for milk, which can be drunk raw, although some people recommend pasteurization to reduce bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. If the strong-smelling buck is not separated from the does, his scent will affect the milk. Goat’s milk is commonly processed into cheese, goat butter, ice cream, cajeta and other products.

Goat’s milk can replace sheep’s milk or cow’s milk in diets of those who are allergic. However, like cow’s milk, goat’s milk has lactose (sugar), and may cause gastrointestinal problems for individuals with lactose intolerance.

*Milk Butter and Cheese info from Wikepedia