Judy’s BEST Creamy and Delicious Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

Your Family Will Thank You Once You Learn To Make This Creamy And Delicious Macaroni And Cheese!

When my children were little, I needed to come up with the perfect macaroni and cheese recipe. My mother had made macaroni and cheese casserole when I was growing up, and I liked it a lot, but I knew that her recipe was not exactly what I was looking for. If you can picture in your mind the perfect macaroni and cheese, with creamy orange-yellow cheese oozing our of the elbow macaroni noodles, and the cheese on top of the casserole is bubbly and starting to get just a little brown and crusty, then you will be picturing something close to what my ideal recipe for macaroni and cheese is like. So I set out to come up with a perfect recipe for macaroni and cheese. I developed the recipe when my kids were little, and it quickly became a favorite of my children’s and of my father’s. I loved to make this recipe, and then give some of it to my father to take home when my parents left after spending a Friday night with us. My father loved it as a nighttime snack. Even though my kids are older, I still make this regularly, and this year I am adding it to my Thanksgiving menu. Why not? Everyone loves it.

For years I made a single recipe, but then I realized that I should be doubling it. So, the following recipe is actually a double recipe. I make it in a large 9×13 rectangular or oval ceramic or pyrex dish or large square or round casserole. If you make half of the recipe, then halve each ingredient, and bake it in a rectangular or oval 8 x10 or in a round casserole dish.

  • 1 pounds (16 ounces) elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter or margarine, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher or regular salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • about 2 pounds of thinly, sliced at the deli, good yellow American cheese, (Land o Lakes is the best!)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of your baking dish, and set aside.

Start the water boiling in a pot for your noodles. In another saucepan (4 or 5 quart), put your butter or margarine, and melt it over a low flame. Then add the flour, salt and pepper, and whisk it. It will look like a wet paste. Whisk it for a few minutes to cook the flour a bit. Then pour a little of the milk in. Whisk again. Repeat a few times. Eventually, just pour the rest of the milk in. You need to stand at the stove, and continue stirring or whisking the mixture every minute or two with your pan over a medium flame. When the milk mixture has started to thicken just a little, then add all of your cheese except about 3 or 4 ounces (about 8 slices) that you will reserve for the top. At this point start boiling your noodles. Do not overcook the elbows, (If the instuructions say to cook the noodles for 5-8 minutes, I cook them for around 7 minutes).  As soon as the pasta is done, drain it in a colander and set aside. Keep the heat on medium-low under your sauce mixture, and just move that cheese around until it is basically melted into the milk. It should almost completely be one smooth mixture, when it is ready. Then you have a few choices. If you have enough room in the saucepan, pour your noodles in, and mix the sauce into and around the noodles. Then pour it all into your prepared dish. If you don’t have enough room in your saucepan, that’s fine. Just pour your noodles into your prepared baking dish, and pour the sauce right in with the noodles. Use a rubber spatula to smooth the sauce in and around the elbows.

Bake for about 1 hour or a little more until the top is starting to brown, and the edges are starting to look crusty. Then place your remaining slices of cheese on top, and wait until the cheese on top is melted or browned (it’s up to you). Your baking time will vary depending on whether you like the dish creamy and on the looser side or more firm and well done. I like it somewhere in the middle, but I do like the bottom and sides to be browned and crusty. You may take this out of the oven and serve it immediately.

Note: It’s okay to serve it immediately. You won’t have any choice in the matter because everyone will be standing around and dying to dig in! There usually are no leftovers, but if you’re lucky enough to have any, the microwave does a great job of heating them up.

Note:  You can prepare this the night before, and refrigerate it without baking it.  Then take it out of the fridge when you are ready to bake it.  It may take about 15 minutes more to cook if you are baking it straight from the fridge.

Grandma Fried’s Cucumber Salad

When I was a little girl, my father, my brother, and I  would visit his mother, my Grandma Fried, on the weekend.  My grandmother was a wonderful, wonderful person who had come over from Hungary sometime around 1910.  She was a good European cook, and I loved eating her foods.  Sometimes, she would make one of her specialties, her cucumber salad, and give my father a jar to bring home.  My mother and father loved these.  When I got married, I started making this recipe, because I knew how much my parents, but especially my father appreciated it.  I like to make this recipe instead of salad especially for a big holiday dinner .  People have so many different things to put on their plate, and it’s easy to squeeze some of these cucumbers on their plates.  This dish is refreshing and it’s nice for a change instead of salad. 

  • 5-6 large cucumbers (the greenhouse cucumbers are best)
  • Water
  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Peel and slice cucumbers very thinly and place in colander.  Sprinkle them with the Kosher salt and put a heavy plate directly over the cucumbers; press down.  Let sit for about an hour.  Rinse salt off with water, drain well.  Put in serving bowl.  Pour the vinegar and sugar over the cucumbers.  Refrigerate a few hours or overnight.  

Note:  You can make these a few days in advance.  The cucumbers shrink in size, so you will need more than you think.  Besides, they are great to go with holiday leftovers.    

Judy’s Easy Corn Pudding

I concocted this recipe a few Thanksgivings ago because my daughter Randi had told me that she had eaten some corn pudding in a restaurant, and she really liked it.  When I made this the first time, Randi said that is was her favorite side dish in the Thanksgiving dinner.  For something so yummy, it is really a snap to make. It takes about 10 minutes to get it in the oven.   I have prepared it, and let it sit in the refrigerator for a half hour to an hour before I baked it, and that doesn’t hurt it one bit.  You will be amazed at how beautiful this dish looks when it comes out of the oven, puffed and golden!  The consistency is more like a souffle than a pudding.  It does taste best if you can bake it right before you serve it, but you can prepare it, and put it in the refrigerator up to an hour or so before you bake it.  The result will be-perfection!  This dish will impress your guests, so get ready for the compliments and the recipe requests!

  For 8 x 10 rectangular or oval baking dish   For 9 x 13 rectangular or oval dish

  • 3 tablespoons unbleached flour                       4 tablespoons unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder                              2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt                                    2 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • scant 1/4 cup granulated sugar                       scant 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 jumbo or extra large eggs                             7 jumbo or extra large eggs
  • 16 ounces (2 cups) light cream                        18 ounces (2 cups + 2 oz. light cream)
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine    2 tablespoons melted butter or marg.
  • about 6 cups frozen corn – about 28 ounces   about 6 cups frozen corn-about 28 oz.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease sides and bottom of either your 8 x 10 inch. or 9 x 13 inch oval or rectangular ceramic or glass baking dish well with butter or margarine. 

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a small bowl.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together by hand the eggs, the light cream, and the 2 tablespoons melted margarine or butter.  Gradually whisk in the dry ingredients until pretty smooth.  Stir in the corn (which you can take right out of the freezer) and mix through, separating the kernels with the whisk as best as you can.  Pour mixture into prepared pan.  Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and puffed.  Serve immediately. 

Judy’s Cheese Blintzes

Blintzes are the Jewish version of crepes.    When I was a little girl, I was lucky to eat homemade blintzes because they were a specialty of my father’s mother, my Grandma Gertrude.  She was an immigrant from Hungary, and she was an excellent cook.  When she made blintzes, we would get a huge plastic bin filled with them, and my mother would fry them to go along with a light dairy dinner.  I also remember going to Ratner’s, a famous restaurant in Manhattan, with my parents when I was a little girl.  Ratner’s was known for its fabulous blintzes.  In fact, even though the restaurant closed, you can still buy Ratner’s frozen blintzes in most supermarkets today.  But I don’t buy frozen blintzes.  They don’t compare to the real thing.  I developed this recipe by taking some elements from my mother’s wonderful, best friend, Adele Hochheiser’s blintz recipe. I changed a little of this and a little of that until the blintzes were perfecto!  I like to make a batch of them, eat them for lunch or serve them as with a dairy dinner of tuna or egg  salad, and then freeze the rest.  These blintzes are spectacular.  My daughter Randi loves them so much that she wanted to learn how to make them.  She came over one day last winter, and we made them together.  Between cooking one of my all time favorites and being with Randi, I was in heaven.   But it was very funny.  You see, you need to have patience when you make blintzes, because the process does take a bit of time.  And Randi doesn’t have patience.  She kept saying, “Mommy, why don’t we stop now.  We can put some of the batter away and you can finish them later.”  And I kept saying, “No.  We’re making them all right now.”  She was very happy though, when she tasted her first two blintzes hot off the presses, sprinkled lightly with cinnamon and topped with a dollop of rich sour cream –  they were slightly crunchy and slightly greasy on the outside and soft and cheesy on the inside.  The look of delight on her face and her moans of ecstasy were pure gratification for me . Of course she got a big care package of blintzes to take home.  How bad could that be?

For the batter:

  • 2 cups unbleached presifted flour (you may need up to 1/2 cup more, which I always seem to need to use)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 4 extra large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted (I use Fleischmann’s), plus more for frying

For the filling:

  • 6 oz. of Philadelphia cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3-  7 oz. packages of farmer’s cheese (I use Friendship)
  • 2 1/2  extra large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • sugar & cinnamon and sour cream for serving

Note:  You can make the batter by hand with a wire whisk, in an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, or in a blender.  I use a blender.

First, crack the eggs in the blender and add the milk.  Blend a second or two.  Then add the flour, salt and melted butter ormargarine.  Blend until smooth and as lump free as possible.  If too thin, add 1/2 cup flour and blend again (I always do this).  Refrigerate batter for one hour.

While the batter is being chilled, make the filling.  Mix all the filling ingredients together by hand using a rubber spatula.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the blintz crepes, start by melting about 4 tablespoons of butter or margarine in a small bowl in the microwave.   Then, put a medium flame under a 7 or 8 inch nonstick frying pan.  Dip a pastry brush in the melted margarine and brush the bottom and sides lightly with the melted margarine.  Pour a little batter in, enough to swirl around and cover the bottom of the pan- probably about a tablespoon or so.  Your crepe should be quite thin, about an 1/8 of an inch. Cook no more than 30 seconds.  Start to shake the pan to loosen the crepe.  As soon as you do this you will see that the crepe is basically set- there won’t be any wet spots on the crepe.  Then flip out or slide the crepe out onto a plate.  .  Brush the pan again with margarine, and repeat the process until you have used up all of the batter.  Just continue piling the crepes right on top of each other on the plate as they are done.  You should have somewhere around 3 dozen crepes.

Take your filling out of the refrigerator.  Take the top crepe off the plate and place it on a clean work surface.  Then place about 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center of the crepe but toward the bottom of the circle closest to your body.  The start to roll the crepe and then fold the 2 sides over the filling, and continue rolling up.  If you’ve ever made stuffed cabbage, it’s the same type of folding process.  Place the crepes you wish to freeze in aluminum tin or in a good plastic freezer bag. 

The blintzes are still not ready to eat.  Melt some butter or margarine in a frying pan, then place the blintzes in the pan.  Brown on one side, then turn and brown on the other side.  You can also fry blintzes right out of the freezer.  The trick is that you have to fry them over a low flame, which gives them a chance to defrost while they are frying.  Serve the blintzes hot.  They are luscious sprinkled them with sugar and cinnamon and then topped with lots of sour cream.  

If I have more than I need, then I freeze each leftover UNCOOKED blintz in plastic wrap, and then place all of them into a ziploc freezer bag, then I put that bag into another bag for extra protection.  When you are in the mood for blintzes, just take them right out of the freezer, and without defrosting them, saute them, but on a lower flame to give them time to cook through.

My Grandma’s Healthy and Delicious Brown Rice Pudding

My mother made this recipe often.  It was her mother’s, my Grandma Hindes’s recipe.  My grandmother was born in 1908, so if she were alive today, she would be around 100 years old.  My grandmother was an immigrant from Europe.  She immigrated to this country from a place called Galicia, which is now part of Poland.  She was a huge fan of a nutritionist on the radio named Carlton Fredericks.  She learned a lot from him and followed his advice.  My grandmother was way ahead of her time.  My mother and her brother Nat were the ONLY children who brought sandwiches to school made with whole wheat bread.  When my mother talks about her mother’s wisdom in this area, she is still amazed by it.  For that generation, being concerned about nutrition and healthy ingredients was very uncommon.  Well, my grandmother developed this delicious rice pudding recipe because she wanted to create a healthy version of a rather unhealthy dish.  She made it as a side dish that she served along with tuna salad or broiled fish.  My mother made this many times, and my father loved it!  He liked it plain or warm with a little milk in it.  When my father was still alive, I often made this for him so he could take it home and have it as a yummy snack.    I also regularly make this and deliver it to my daughter Randi and my mother as they love it too.  As soon as the cool weather hits, I start making this recipe.  It’s such comfort food!  I like to know it’s in the fridge for a late night healthier than usual snack.  When I put that first bite in my mouth, I’m in heaven.  How many healthy dishes can you say that about?  I know that this is not your traditional rice pudding recipe, but it’s mine.  So please, give this family, heirloom recipe of mine a whirl.  Trust me, once you taste it, you will love knowing that this healthy treat is waiting for you in the refrigerator.

  • 1 cup whole grain brown rice (not instant)- I use Uncle Ben’s or Carolina (I now use Nature’s Promise organic long-grain brown rice!)
  • a nice chunk of butter or Fleischmann’s margarine- about 2-3 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (I’ve been reducing this to 1/4 cup lately)
  • 1 1/4 cups of whole milk (or half and half or light cream for an even richer pudding)
  • 3 extra large eggs (or 4 for an even richer pudding)
  • cinnamon

Note:  If you wish to make this dish healthier, you may reduce the sugar to 1/4 cup and use lowfat or skim milk in place of the whole milk. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a two quart casserole dish well with butter or margarine.  Crack the eggs in a mixing bowl, and mix them with the milk.

Combine the rice, 2 1/4 cups cold water in a 2 quart saucepan or follow instructions for amount of water on box.  Bring the water to a boil, then put the lid on and lower the flame as low as possible.  Simmer about 30 minutes until the water is completely absorbed.  Recently, I started putting a chunk of margarine in too.

Take the saucepan with the rice off the stove.  Put your greased casserole dish into the oven to heat it up while you are completing the rest of the recipe.  Drop the butter or margarine into the rice and mix it through the rice until it is completely melted through.  Then, dump the sugar in and mix gently with a rubber spatula.  Sprinkle some cinnamon in – about 1/2 teaspoon.  Then pour milk and egg mixture into the rice mixture and mix it in well with the rubber spatula.  Take out the casserole dish, and pour the rice mixture in.   Sprinkle the top of the pudding with a nice amount of cinnamon.  Place the casserole dish in the center of the oven.  Bake it for about 1 hour – 1 hour and 15 minutes until the sides and top are brown.  Let the pudding cool a few minutes before serving, or let it cool completely, and then put it in the refrigerator for later.  You can take out a portion any time, and warm it up in the microwave.

Grandma Hindes’s, Nana’s, and Especially My Matzo Brei for Passover

This is a family heirloom recipe.  This was another absolute favorite dish of mine when I was a little girl.  My mother made this Passover dish the way her mother did. I took over the job of making the matzo brei when I was about 15 years old, and I’ve been making it ever since.  I have never seen a recipe like this one for matzo brei; it is unique. What you end up with is something that is similar to French toast, but better.  It does take some effort, but it is so worthwhile.  Your family will love you for it.  Just try it – I know you’ll agree that it’s worth the effort.

  • whole sheets of matzo  (For best results, use Manishewitz regular matzo.  You will need about 2 sheets of matza per person.)

  • lots of extra large or jumbo eggs (about 3 eggs per person)

  • regular milk (about 2- 3 tablespoons for every 4 eggs)

  • margarine for frying (I use Fleischmann’s)

  • granulated sugar and pure maple syrup for serving

For 2 people, beat about 4 eggs to start with in a wide shallow bowl.  Mix in about 2 tablespoons of whole milk.  Gently break 1 matzo into approximate fourths.  Soak it in warm water in a wide shallow bowl , aluminum tin, or other shallow pan until the matzo begins to soften.  Very gently, squeeze as much water out of the pieces as possible without breaking the matzo.  Then place the pieces gently in the bowl with the egg mixture.

Put a big chunk of margarine in a large, preferably non-stick frying pan, over a medium-high  flame.  Transfer pieces of matzo into pan to begin frying. Fry until beautifully browned on the bottom, flip, fry until browned, and serve.

Start soaking process immediately with a new sheet of matzo.  Repeat frying process.

Continue until everyone is full.  Trust me, you will be standing at the stove for a very long time.

Nana’s Pineapple Noodle Pudding (Noodle Kugel)

This recipe is one of my mother’s all time favorites.  It’s called Nana’s Noodle Pudding  because that is what my three children called my mother from the time my first child Randi could talk.  My mother usually made this to go with chicken for a Friday night meal.  I don’t think any of my kids love this recipe, but Nana does, I do, and I think you will too. 

  • 1 pound extra wide or broad egg noodles
  • 1 stick (1/4 lb. butter or margarine (I use Fleischmann’s margarine)
  • 4 extra large or jumbo eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large can (15-16 oz.) of crushed pineapple in natural juice
  • cinnamon to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease wll the sides and bottom of a glass 9 x 13 baking dish.      

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; then cook noodles till al dente and drain noodles in a collander.  In the same pot you used to boil the water, put the stick of margarine.  Melt it on low heat.  Take the pot off the stove, and add the noodles back.  Mix gently with a rubber spatula.  Then add sugar, the pineapple with its juice, the beaten eggs, and about 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.  Mix everything gently with rubber spatula. 

Pour into greased dish and smooth with rubber spatula.  Sprinkle the top pretty heavily with more cinnamon.  Bake until kugel is nicely browned on top and browned on edges and bottom. 

Note:   You can prepare this up to 2 days ahead and keep in refrigerator unbaked until you are ready to serve it. You can also freeze it unbaked, then defrost in refrigerator, and bake it.

Aunt Helene’s Easy, Light and Creamy Cheesecake

You Don’t Have To Be An Expert Baker To Bake Your Own Outstanding Cheesecake!

I adapted this recipe from a recipe for cheesecake that I got from my ex-husband Joe Kahn’s wonderful Aunt Helene. Aunt Helene is a wonderful cook and baker, and I was lucky to have the chance to eat some of her delicious homemade food. This recipe for cheesecake is one of her specialties. I make this recipe for cheesecake often. It calls for less cream cheese than my other recipe and it is a little smaller. You will be surprised when you see how easy it is to make homemade cheesecake. Say goodbye to Sara Lee!

for the filling:

  • 1 pound (2-8 ounce bars) of Philadelphia brand cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 pint (16 ounces) sour cream
  • 6 extra large eggs (cracked and set aside in a bowl)
  • juice of one fresh lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • dash of kosher salt (1/8 teaspoon)

for the crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) melted margarine or butter
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

to make the crust:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides going 3/4 up from the bottom of the pan of a 9 inch springform pan.

Mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted margarine or butter. Pat the crumbs into the bottom and 3/4 of the way up the sides of prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes. Take out and cool.

to make the filling:

In large bowl of Kitchen Aid or other electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat room temperature cream cheese until it is smooth and as lump free as possible. Add the sugar and mix till blended. Then add the sour cream and blend on low speed. Pour in the eggs, the fresh lemon juice, the vanilla, and the dash of salt. Blend on low speed till filling is very smooth.

Pour filling into cooled crust. Place carefully in center of oven. Bake for 1 hour. a cure for genital herpes Turn oven off. Let cheesecake sit in oven for at least 3-6 hours with door closed. Take out. Let sit on counter until it isn’t warm at all. Then take the sides off the pan. Place the cheesecake (which is still on the bottom of the springform pan) onto whatever cake plate you will be serving it on. Wrap the cheesecake well with plastic wrap, and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. Serve the next day.

Serving Suggestion:

Slice 1 – 2 pints of fresh strawberries and pile on top of cake right before you serve it, or serve a bowl of sliced strawberries on the side.

Hint #1: If you like your cheesecake to be really light and fluffy, then separate the eggs first and set the egg whites aside. Add only the yolks to the cream cheese mixture initially. When you are done mixing all of the ingredients for the filling, whip the egg whites separately until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Then fold the egg whites in right before you pour the filling into the crust.

Hint #2: I start baking the cake around 4 or 5 in the afternoon the day before I plan to serve it because of how long the cake stays in the oven after it finishes the actual baking. Helene just keeps the cake in the oven overnight and refrigerates it the next morning. I don’t feel that is necessary, but I’m sure keeping it in the oven overnight won’t hurt it.