Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Serious Mac and Cheese

By far, all of my life, forever and ever Macaroni and Cheese has to be the best thing!  Those blue boxes (c'mon you know you know them!) have served me well in college and in raising young children.  I still keep a few of the organic boxes on hand and sometimes my kids will beg for them, but because I do so much bulk cooking it is rare to use these in my kitchen.  Every once and a while I get out my lasagna pan and make a real home-style Macaroni dinner.  I have adapted it from Paula Dean's love of butter and Jessica Seinfeld's sneaky veggies, and come up with something that is truly special.  This is one of my favorite potluck dishes, because it is even good at room temperature.  Sometimes I add diced ham or crumbled bacon to make it even more indulgent.

Everyone gobbled it!  I almost forgot to take a picture.
We ate half, so now I have lunch tomorrow!
This is a recipe for a double batch.  It makes a huge deep dish lasagna pan.  I make this much, because it reheats so well.  To save, I just cover the pan in plastic wrap and take out the next day, pop it back in the oven for lunch.  If you want less, you could easily cut it in half.  Then it would fit a regular 9x13 pan.

Home-Style Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients
2 13-14 oz box of pasta (I prefer whole-wheat shells or macaroni)
1 cup of whole milk (preferably grass-fed and raw)
1/2 cup of cream (heavy, or raw skimmed from milk) or sour cream
2 cups of diced ham or 1 lb of cooked bacon crumbled (optional & preferably pastured)
3 cups of shredded sharp cheddar
2 cups of pumpkin or winter squash puree
6 eggs (pastured or free range if available)
1/2 stick of butter, diced
Sea salt and White Pepper to taste

Boil water with a generous amount of salt.  Cook pasta according to directions on box.  Removing when still a little firmer than you prefer (it will cook a little more later and you don't want it mushy).  Drain and add to a large lasagna pan.
Dice and cook ham or bacon in a pan.  Add 2 cups of diced meat to noodles.  Add 3 cups of shredded cheese.  Mix until everything is evenly dispersed and cheese starts to melt.
In a food processor or blender, puree pumpkin or squash.  Add milk and cream, blend until smooth.  Mix into pan.  Salt and pepper to taste (actually a little saltier than you would normally prefer to account for the eggs).
*If you want a creamy Mac and Cheese you can skip the next step and warm it in the oven for about 20-30 minutes.  It is good this way.  I like the addition of eggs for protein and also the texture of a good Sunday Potluck baked Mac.  It is your call.
Lightly beat eggs and add to pan, mix until even.  Top with more cheese if desired and cubed butter.  Salt the top (this is a trick I learned from my husband, always salt the cheese on anything, it makes it a million times better).  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 1 hour, or until solid.  Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.  This is even good at room temperature, so it makes a great potluck dish.
There are other options on this.  I've added diced cream cheese with the cheese, and also extra sour cream.  If you have those in your fridge and have the time, add them.  The above recipe as stated took 20-25 minutes total cook/prep time, including boiling the water, dicing the ham and shredding the cheese.  I also cooked extra ham for other meals later in the week.  I prepped it and left it in the fridge to be cooked later.  You could probably bake this and leave it in a warm oven for an hour to 2 as well if your schedule needed it.  Today my hubby was home to pop it in the oven while I was Zumba-ing it up!  There seriously isn't anything better than Mac and Cheese!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle





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5 comments:

  1. This is one meal I am doing this week! I totally forgot the pumpkin though :(, but I will have a salad for veg! We are going all american this week with burgers, bbq chicken, pizza, mac-n-cheese etc. Thanks for the recipe!

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  2. That sounds YUM! The pumpkin adds a lot of bulk to the sauce, so you may have to adjust with more or less milk or sour cream. Maybe cut the eggs back a little too if you are going to bake it. Let me know how it goes!

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  3. I love the addition of the squash! What a great idea. :)

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing your great recipe with Full Plate Thursday. Hope you are having a great Spring week end and come back to see me real soon!
    Miz Helen

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by! I'll be sure to add your blog to my regular reads!

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