Super Baked Mac & Cheese

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We’re only on, what? recipe number 3, maybe 4? And already I’m falling behind. Recipes are piling up on my table… Lots that I’m proud of and excited to post and a few that are still, very much, works in progress. I just need to keep out of the kitchen long enough to type them up! There’s also a fast growing list of dishes that I’m eager to take my first shot at. Strangely enough, many of them were of interest to me long before I started playing with fire (and pans, butter, cilantro, etc). Like the Frittata, for instance! I can’t remember ever eating one and I don’t even eat eggs anymore but I had really wanted to try it for a while. Funny how things get stuck in your head like that, huh?

I’ve thought about trying to turn this vague mind cloud of recipes into a more goal oriented checklist.
I think I”m gonna try it…
Maybe I’ll even share it with you guys so you can laugh with me as I stumble through it 🙂

If I had thought of that sooner, I’d be able to put a nice big check next to what would have, without a doubt, been the first item:

MACARONI AND CHEESE.

So simple but, definitely, right on top. In fact, the long awaited satisfaction that  I felt while making my first homemade mac & cheese may have actually been what sparked this whole idea. It became obvious that, while I’ve enjoyed trying all sorts of new recipes, there are a few that give me a greater sense of fulfillment. Now I just gotta figure out which ones and write them down! Easier said than done, I think, but I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop 🙂

 


Super Baked Mac & Cheese


Makes roughly 8 appropriately sized servings (or, more realistically, 4 deliciously huge servings!)

16 ounce bag of pasta, uncooked (your choice of which type! Shells and farfalle are our favorites so far)
8 oz block of mild cheddar, grated
8 ounce block of muenster, grated
1/2 cup shredded cheese blend (Sharp Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Asadero and Queso Blanco)
1/4 cup grated parmesan, divided
1/2 cup (one stick) butter
4 cups almond milk
1/3 cup flour
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1-2 tablespoons bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package

While the pasta cooks, grate the block cheeses into a medium-sized bowl. Add in the pre-shredded cheese blend and about half of the parmesan. Toss the cheeses together. If you want to skip a step later and the cheese hasn’t warmed too much, you can add the garlic pepper, cayenne, salt and pepper in with the cheeses. MaFullSizeRender-5ke sure the flavors are  evenly distributed. No need to stress about perfection here… It all gets melted together later anyway!

A couple notes:
Until you have found the amount of seasonings you prefer, maybe wait until later to add them in, so you can taste as you go.
As you may already be aware, I LOVE cheese. If you aren’t as much of a cheese lover, you may not want the full amount listed above. When we get to that part of the instructions, just be sure to add the cheese gradually to ensure you don’t go over the top. With that said, feel free to continue adding cheese beyond the amount listed above if you want a bit more. 😉

After pasta and cheeses are prepped, melt the butter in a large pan. I prefer using a lower heat setting so I don’t burn the butter! Once the butter melt
s, turn up the heat a little and whisk in the flour. When the mixture is smooth add the milk and continue whisking. It should have a fairly thick, sauce-like (duh…) consistency. As you continue you can adjust it by adding more flour if it’s too liquidy or more milk if its thicker than you’d like.IMG_1620

Keep whisking as you add in the cheeses and the seasonings (Remember the notes from above!). Once the cheeses have melted completely, add the noodles. Stir and toss until all of the noodles are evenly coated in cheesy goodness then turn the heat off. Stir for another minute or two. As the mixture cools the sauce will start to thicke
n a bit more

Lightly grease a 9×9 baking dish and pour in your cheese drenched noodles. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover it and sprinkle the bread crumbs and the rest of the parmesan over the top. Return it to the oven and bake, uncovered, for another 25-30 minutes until its a wonderful, toasted light brown color and as crispy as you want it. Make sure you let it cool before diving in!

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