Friday, November 12, 2010

I have died and gone to mac n' cheese heaven!

A few months ago, while visiting my darling friend, Jessica, I had the absolute pleasure of eating some of the BEST macaroni & cheese that I have ever tasted! What made it better was that it was baked and had plenty of crunchy cheese and breadcrumb bits and needless to say, it was divine! So, naturally, I begged for the recipe as I was told that it had a slightly non-traditional ingredient and I was highly intrigued!

I must admit that I have had the recipe for about 2 months now but didn't get around to actually testing the recipe myself until recently. Jess' Mom was kind enough to e-mail me the recipe as best as she can remember (Thanks, Mrs. K!) so I hope that I am doing her recipe justice! I warn you, this recipe makes a lot of mac n' cheese!

Mrs. K's Mac n' Cheese:
  • 1 box of elbow macaroni (I used Catelli Smart Macaroni)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I tried this with whole wheat flour and it definitely left a slightly grainy texture to the sauce, so I would recommend skipping the whole wheat flour)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard - or in my recipe, garlic powder
  • 4 cups milk - I use 1%
  • 2 oz cream cheese (half of a brick), cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 cups grated old cheddar cheese, plus some more for topping the casserole
  • 1/4 Italian (seasoned) breadcrumbs
Start by cooking a box of macaroni as per the package instructions, though I would recommend to only cook the noodles to al dente because they will cook more in the oven. Once the macaroni is cooked, drain and reserve them in a large pot until the sauce is ready. 

In a medium sauce pan on medium high heat, melt butter. Once melted, stir in flour, salt & pepper and mustard (or garlic powder... or both!) and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring continuously, until smooth. You don't want any lumpy bits left from the flour. Slowly pour in the milk and continue to stir constantly until the sauce thickens. 

Add the cream cheese to the sauce and the grated cheddar cheese. 

Stir until completely melted. You may need some extra elbow grease here since the cream cheese can sometimes take a little longer to melt.

Once melted, add your cooked macaroni and mix until combined. 

Transfer the mac n' cheese to a casserole dish (I used a 9in x 9in x 3in dish but use whatever you have on hand, just make sure it's deep enough to give you a nice slice of mac n' cheese goodness). Top with a little more grated cheese and breadcrumbs.

Bake at 375F for 35-45 minutes or until the top is nice and browned and crunchy and just amazing! It should look something like this:

May I also suggest baking it on a cookie sheet just in case things get so excited and spill over the edge of your casserole dish (as mine did)... Enjoy the heavenly bliss that is this DIVINE mac n' cheese!

NOW for the exciting part!!!!! On my second attempt at making this, it was suggested to me by my darling friend, Julian, that we try making a Mac N' Cheese Lasagna... Allow me to explain. Envision a lasagna but substitute a layer of the above mac n' cheese goodness for the lasagna noodles. You would still layer in sauce and cheese over the macaroni mixture and I promise you, it's AMAZING! This was our dinner on Wednesday night! Gotta love cheese! 

I hope you have enjoyed the cheesiness of my last few weeks! 

Happy Friday and Happy Cooking! 


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