Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mac n' Cheese Project...Success!

Creamy Mac n Cheese Bake
The project was a success!!

I did it!!! I made my Baked Mac n Cheese!!! And better turned out fantastic!! This was another creation made for one of my epic wine nights with my awesome friend. Had this the same night as the Baked Spinach Dip. Not gonna lie, this wasn't completely my creation. I looked up several recipes and found one that I wanted to sort of follow. So it has a bit of this a bit of that, and of course some of my own style and tastes in it!

I've probably found about 50 different recipes for different types of mac and cheese. So finally being able to look through enough and then piece together my own concoction was actually pretty fun, but I'm a nerd like that and yeah...Anyways, let's move on.

This is put together in about 3 steps: noodles, sauce, bake...OK maybe a 4th step, enjoy! OK so let's get started! Here's your grocery list.

About 3 cups of elbow macaroni
1/4 cup of butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chicken broth (reduced sodium if wanted)
1-1/2 cups of milk AND probably about an other 1/2 cup to add while the sauce is thickening just so it doesn't get TOO thick--I used 1%, you can use whatever you want though, fat-free if you want to reduce the calories and whatnot
1 cup sour cream (I used the "light" sour cream, use whichever you want)
About 10-12 oz of Velveeta Cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesean
3/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 cups cheddar cheese (reduced fat if you wish)
Parmesan goldfish
Green onion

It seems like a lot of stuff, and it kind of is. But I had a lot of it in my fridge and pantry already so my grocery list wasn't too daunting.

So, first things first. You're going to preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Now, get a pot and fill it with water and get that heating up to a nice boil. And while you wait for that water to boil...which will seem like an eternity. Especially if you're like me and somehow turned the wrong burner on and didn't realize for about 10 minutes...Let's get started with the cheese sauce!

In a medium sauce pan (I used my 3 quart one), melt the butter over a medium heat...

...and then stir in the flour until it's smooth. Then you're going to add in the chicken broth and milk, slowly. So don't just dump it all in then stir. Pour it in as you stir. Then it should look like this...

I know, it doesn't look like anything special yet. Just wait...

You're going to bring this to a boil and then stir and cook it for about 2 minutes. In this time it will thicken up. And keep an eye on that water you're boiling for the noodles. Is it boiling yet? No? Mine wasn't either. But if it is cook the macaroni according to the package directions.

Once the cheese sauce had thickened up some, reduce the heat and add in the sour cream...

Then the Velveeta...

And the Parmesan and the spices!

So, your Cheese sauce is going to be a little lumpy at first, obviously the Velveeta and Parmesan need to melt and blend, and the sour cream just needs to be stirred in. But as it melts it will start to look more like the picture below. And you're going to stir that until it's smooth. And chalked full of delicious cheesiness!


How are your noodles doing? Cooking yet? Mine were! OK, that's a lie. Mine just started cooking because of my delay with having the wrong burner on. How I did that, I have no idea.

OK Now is your sauce smooth? I added more milk here just to make the sauce a little thinner, I felt it was getting a little too thick and I wanted a creamy mac n cheese, so I figured adding a bit of extra milk wouldn't hurt--and it didn't! Yay!

Okie dokie, next step is to drain your pasta when it's ready. And always keep an occasional stir in your cheese sauce if it's done before the pasta is. When you've drained your noodles, put them back in the pot and add in the 2 cups of cheddar cheese and stir it all up to get the cheese to melt around/on the noodles.

Fantastic! Now you're going to need a 13x9 baking dish. And you're going to want to grease it. I just sprayed some PAM on mine, it worked out quite nicely! Are you ready for what comes next? You guessed it! Pour that delicious smelling cheese sauce all over those cheddar cheese coated noodles!

I just wanted to start eating it right about here. Hello, it looks delicious already!

You're going to mix that all up a bit, careful not to spill it over the sides. I may have lost a noodle or two doing that. Oops! Alright now as tempting as it is to just start eating it. Don't!! And don't cover it up, keep it uncovered. It goes in the oven for about 30 minutes. Keep yourself busy during this time and I don't know, do some dishes?

AHHH it looks soooo good!!!

While that's baking take some Parmesan goldfish, however much you want really, and crush them up. Why? Well because I wanted a nice crunchy crust on top of my baked mac n cheese. So I crushed some goldfish! Not until they're dust that won't work very well. Use your judgement on how crushed you want your goldfish.

Once that 30 minutes is over take the dish out of the oven. Sprinkle the top with the crushed goldfish, some extra Parmesan cheese if you want, and about 3 or 4 chopped green onions. And it's going to go back in the oven for about 10 more minutes.

OK so now 10 more excruciating minutes have gone by...are you ready? Are you? I sure as hell was. So the point of putting the mac n cheese back in the oven is to get the top part a little bit crispy. The goldfish crackers do that and I just like the idea of the extra Parm cheese and the green onion. Here we go, pull it out of the oven and listen for the choir to sing as you do...or in my case, my dog.

Boom! There you go! Hello amazing taste bud sensation!!

This recipe is definitely in my book now and will most certainly be making it again. Hell, even just writing this entry and looking at these pictures I want to make it again right now. Holy crap! This got big thumbs up from my wine night buddy, my brother, and our roommate. And me of course. So I hope you enjoy it, if you choose to make it. I really like that the ingredients in here definitely allow me to reduce the fat content if I so choose. I sort of did it this time around. Mainly because I had most of the ingredients in my kitchen already!

I'll leave you with just one more picture...

'Til Next Time!!

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