Cooking 101: How to Make a Roux

roux recipe

A roux is pronounced “roo” and you use it as a base for lots of different types of sauces and gravy. It’s always equal parts fat and flour and then you add a liquid to make the sauce. I use a roux the most to make cheese sauces for my macaroni and cheese recipes, but you’ll start to notice that so many recipes start with this simple step.

How to Make a Roux:

Let’s talk proportions first. My mom told me when she was teaching me how to make her homemade mac and cheese to always remember “2, 2, and 2″, so I nearly always use 2 Tablespoons butter (fat) with 2 Tablespoons flour and then add 2 cups of liquid. You can obviously cut that in half to do 1, 1, and 1 or you can start with equal parts fat and flour and then add the liquid just until you think it’s the right consistency. The most important part is keeping the fat and flour equal.

For this post, I’ll be using my classic macaroni and cheese sauce for an example.

You start by warming your fat in a pan on medium heat. In this case, I’m using butter. You may use meat drippings or oils like vegetable oil.

melted butter

Next, you’ll add in the same amount of flour to your fat and stir, letting it bubble and cook. You want to cook the flour before adding your liquid so you cook out any of that raw flour taste.

roux ingredients

roux tutorial

Once you see it getting bubbly. you’ve got your roux!

how to make a roux

Now, you’ll add your liquid. I’m using milk here.

roux based sauce

Stir it in and whisk continuously until all of the flour is dissolved and there are no clumps. Keep stirring on medium heat until your sauce begins to thicken. You’ll know it’s done when you can draw a line on the back of your spoon and the sauce stays put.

white sauce

After your sauce has thickened, you can add your flavors. For mac and cheese, I’m obviously using cheese.

cheese sauce recipe

And voila, a creamy cheese sauce.

cheese sauce

For mac and cheese, you’ll just throw in some cooked pasta and homemade mac and cheese is that easy!

Some of my favorite recipes using a roux:

Country Fried Steak and Gravy

country fried steak gravy

Shrimp and White Wine Mac and Cheese

shrimp mac and cheese

Sausage gravy with biscuits

homemade sausage gravy


Roasted Red Pepper Pesto with Pasta and Sausage

red pepper pesto pasta recipe

Thunderstorms, anyone? Holy moly it’s been raining so much here! The good news is that it’s not snow. The second good news is that the trees are starting to bloom! The bad news is that means that I saw a bee yesterday. I thought it was a giant spider. So the good news is that it was not a spider, but the bad news was that it started flying before I realized that it wasn’t a spider and I wanted to die for a second.

The good news on top of all of this news is that I found a great recipe for my Roasted Red Pepper Pesto! I felt inspired by this Pesto recipe from Real Simple and I decided to give it a try with my version. Guess what, it was tasty!

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto with Pasta and Sausage Recipe:

1 box (1 lb.) Campanelle pasta
12 oz. (4 links) Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage
1/2 cup frozen peas
8 oz. roasted red pepper pesto – recipe follows
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
3 basil leaves – chopped for garnish
2 Tablespoons pine nuts for garnish

For the Roasted Red Pepper Pesto:

1 cup packed basil leaves
2 large red peppers – roasted
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
Red pepper flakes

Start by making your Roasted Red Pepper Pesto. You’ll toss everything in a food processor and blend until it forms a paste. You can see the full recipe here.

roasted red pepper pesto sauce recipe

Set your pesto aside and cook and drain your pasta according to the box. While that’s boiling, slice up your chicken sausage into bite size pieces. Saute it up in a skillet on medium-high heat until it’s nice and brown on each side.

Add your cooked pasta to your sausage, toss in your peas and your red pepper pesto. Stir and let everything come together.

Top with the extra parmesan cheese, pine nuts and basil.

red pepper pesto pasta

roasted red pepper pasta recipe

If your significant other is eating low carb, serve this on a cheat day and you’ll have no leftovers. Or serve it on a non-cheat day and save all the leftovers for yourself. I don’t judge!


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies

peanut butter banana chocolate chip cookie recipe

In one of my many quests to eat healthy, I brought a banana with me to work one day when I was living in Chicago. I probably got sidetracked with some other snacks or food, but I forgot about the banana. I saw it in my purse a couple days later and it was completely black. For some reason, I really wanted to show Ben just how black this banana was because I thought it was funny. However, it wasn’t funny when I got home and remembered to show him and realized it had all but exploded inside my purse. There was banana mush everywhere. I never could get the smell out and Ben still teases me every time we see an over-ripe banana.

ps. That purse was actually stolen out of my car one lovely day in Chicago, so you’re welcome to the thief who ended up with my wallet and work laptop that smelled like rotten banana. I’ll never forget you!

So anyway, I had some ripe bananas sitting on my counter and I figured I should probably do something with them before Banana Explosion 2015 happened. I found these Nestle Toll House DelightFulls (clever!) at a recent trip to the grocery store. They are delightful (hehe) in classic chocolate chip cookies, but I thought they’d be the perfect way to use up my nearly-exploded bananas.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies:

*makes 2 dozen cookies
1-1/4 cup tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter – room temperature
6 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 egg
1 very-ripe banana – mashed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup Nestle Toll House DelightFulls Peanut Butter chips

Pre-heat your oven to 375-degrees.

Use a fork to smash your banana as best as you can, so there are no big pieces.

smashed banana

In a small bowl, whisk together your flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

homemade cookie recipe dry ingredients

To your mixing bowl, add your butter, brown sugar and banana.

homemade cookie recipe wet ingredients

Mix until everything combines and looks like a clumpy mess. Add your egg and vanilla.

banana cookie ingredients

Slowly add your flour mixture, while mixing, about 1/3 cup at a time.

banana chocolate chip cookie recipe

A dough will form and then you can add your chocolate chips.

banana chocolate chip cookie dough

Form your cookies using a cookie scoop and place them 1-inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Note that this dough will be a little stickier than classic dough, and that’s okay!

banana peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough

Bake for 8-10 minutes.

banana chocolate chip cookies

peanut butter banana chocolate chip cookie

peanut butter banana chocolate chip cookies

Eat up and celebrate using up that last banana before it got messy!