I fell asleep to sweet dreams of the cup of Blacksburg-brewed pumpkin spice coffee I was going to have the next morning, laced with (of course) pumpkin pie spice creamer. Bliss, I'm telling you. Pair that with homemade crunchy cinnamon granola and some cold milk for start to your day that is certain to put a smile on your face.
After a delicious Day 2 lunch of chicken sausage, roasted red peppers and fried potatoes topped with a fried egg (that my marvelous friend just "whipped up" - see below), we headed to a local coffee shop - where of course I claimed my own 16 oz. of pumpkin spice coffee - to read a bit and spend the afternoon on the Virginia Tech campus on a beautiful, sunny afternoon, albeit a bit warm.
We couldn't stand it anymore. We hopped in the car and headed home to make what we were certain would be our crowning food achievement of the weekend: smoked gouda macaroni and cheese. The recipe came from my fabulous cookbook from the Boathouse Restaurant in Charleston, S.C.
We started by grating two rounds of smoked gouda cheese. For the record, this is my absolute favorite cheese - the smoky flavor gives a depth to the soft, creamy cheese that no other cheese can rival. Seriously. Combine the gouda with shredded parmesan and you have near perfection. (I am realizing I say that a lot...)
Shallots and garlic simmering away in olive oil, we added smooth, silky half and half, heavy cream AND cream cheese (folks, this is definitely not a dish for anyone watching the waistline...unless you're watching it expand). Add the cheese to this for absolute divinity. Lactose intolerants beware.
We poured this thick, cheesey, buttercream colored loveliness over penne and oh...my...goodness. I've never tasted incredibleness like this in my life. Mindblowing (yes, I am talking about macaroni and cheese).
Careful not to detract from the personality of the mac and cheese, we paired this creamy comfort food with a spinach salad drizzled with Rebecca's rosemary balsamic viniagrette topped with pecans and tart Granny Smith apples.
Our tastebuds were thanking us from the first bite, as you can tell from the grins on Rebecca and her hubby's face as they nosh away.
Two for two...coming up next: maple oatmeal scones.