Lately at Lunch with Lauren: Sushi • Mac-N-Cheese • Cotton Candy • UGA Wedding Cake and More!

Recent excerpts from our Lunch with Lauren Facebook Group by Lauren Townsend for The Aha! Connection

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January 29

If you want to know if a place is really good try, what seems like, the simplest items on the menu. Where there is nowhere to hide and nothing is covered up. And if they do that well, proceed through the menu.
It’s no secret that our family loves Budi’s Sushi Two-Go. The sushi is some of the best in Atlanta and I’m so glad they are down the street. Sometimes I think about all the amazing places we have in Dunwoody to eat.
January 28
We should talk about the amazing cheese and charcuterie selection at the Georgetown Kroger. I only pop in here occasionally but I’ll be back! Easily the best retail selection in Dunwoody.
See video here.
January 27
I rarely get a hankering for mac & cheese, so when my oldest asked me to make it, perfectly my recipe became paramount.
1 lb dried elbow pasta
1/2 c unsalted butter
1/2 c ap flour
1 1/2 c whole milk
2 1/2 c half and half
6 c shredded cheese
1/2 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp blk pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Preheat to 325 and cook pasta to al dente. Melt butter on med and sprinkle in flour and stir to consistency wet sand. Pour in some of the milk and half/half and stir and continue until smooth. Slowly stir in 5 cups of cheese until smooth. Combine cheese mixture and pasta. Grease a 9×13 pan add mac & cheese and top with remaining cheese.
Optional: Cook bacon. Remove and use grease to toast 1 1/2 cups of panko bread crumbs. Combine chopped bacon and toasted panko and top mac & cheese.
Cover in foil and bake for 20 – 30 minutes. Remove foil and toast under the broiler for a minute or two.
Other information: When making this for my kids, I use 4 cups sharp cheddar and 2 cups shredded mozzarella. When I am trying to be fancier, I use shredded gruyere and parm.


January 28

January 16
Did you know that there is a cotton candy food truck in Atlanta!? I did not either, but I need to find some ways to work this into future events FOR SURE! I mean, they also do popcorn, shaved ice & slushies, but I have recently figured out that you are never too old for cotton candy. Just ask Dallas Rose Mueller
I drive by Persian Kabob Land on Mansell Rd. at least twice and week and we finally went in. Delicious! Basmati and saffron rice were perfect. Lamb kabobs were so flavorful and the beef was super tender. I figured that I would just share with the kids, but ended up having to beg and plead because they were eating everything up. I did get the Albaloo polo (rice with sour cherries and carrots), which is one of my favorite Persian dishes, all to myself and it was just as good. I can’t wait to go back again or order take-out. The owners and staff were very friendly and helpful.
January 8
No dawg in Monday’s fight, but here is a little UGA themed wedding cake I did over Christmas break.
January 9
These blueberry cream cheese muffins are my favorite and they start with a box mix. This is an easy upgrade, but I’ll admit that it does take a little more time.
I make streusel first because the butter needs to cool a little:
1 1/4 cup AP flour
1/3 brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tbl of butter melted and cooled to room temperature
Slowly add the butter to the dry mix, little by little, and mix with your fingers or a fork. You’re trying to keep the texture between sandy and pebble size. Set aside.
Cream cheese filling:
6 oz whipped cream cheese
1 egg yolk
1 cup of powdered sugar
pinch of salt
splash of vanilla extract (optional)
Stir it all together and set it aside.
Follow the directions on your box mix. I always add more, fresh blueberries. If the mix says it makes 12, then I usually try to fill 14 or 15. You don’t want to fill them as much because you want room for the cream cheese. Use a spoon to make a divet in the batter then fill with some cream cheese mixture. Close to a teaspoon for those of you who don’t like to eyeball things. Then top with streusel and pop in the oven.
You have to toss leftover cream cheese mixture, but you can store leftover streusel mix in the freezer for other baking adventures.
January 9
My husband saw my blueberry muffins and raised me a venison cheesesteak as “a quick snack.” 😂 Guess I’m wearing stretchy pants tomorrow.