Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cheesy Macaroni and Cheese

Happy 4th of July - a day late!  

We had our big family cookout last weekend so we didn't do much yesterday.  Worked a little on the laundry room, grilled some delicious food (that you'll see shortly), and watched fireworks from the back of our truck in the field down the road.  We can see the big city fireworks display without having to hassle with the traffic.  Yet one more great thing about where we live in the country!  Anyway,  it was just the four of us and Kenny's girlfriend for supper and we decided to grill Beer Can Chicken.  I also picked up some sweet corn from an area farm stand.  I have been on the lookout for a delicious homemade mac and cheese recipe forever.  I've tried a couple and they just weren't ever quite right.  After years of searching, I finally hit the jackpot!  The original recipe is from "Mommy?  I'm Hungry!"   Her blog has a lot of great recipes.  I recommend you check it out.  So, after the 2 chickens were patted down with a delicious rub (Applewood from Pampered Chef), plopped on top of a couple of beer cans, and started their slow roast to deliciousness, I got the mac and cheese going.  Here's the original recipe from the website:

Cheesy Macaroni and Cheese
-note: you can half this recipe
16 oz macaroni pasta (any shape shape you like)
1/2 C butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 C flour
3 1/2 C milk, warmed
1/4 C white wine (or sub w/chicken broth)
1/2 lb Velveeta cheese, cubed
1/2 lb cheddar, cubed
1/2 C panko bread crumbs
1 Tbl parsley
2 Tbl butter, melted

Heat 350' oven. Grease 9x13 glass dish ( 8x8 or round casserole, if making half the recipe).
Cook pasta for about 2-3 minutes less than called for, drain, set aside.
In a saucepan, melt 1/2 C butter, salt pepper, once melted add flour, stir until smooth. Let cook for 1 minute. Add milk, wine, bring to a boil, whisking. Add cheeses and stir until melted. Pour over cooked pasta and add to greased dish. Combine the panko, parsley and melted butter in a small bowl. Sprinkle macaroni with panko topping, bake uncovered 30 minutes.

I did make the full recipe, but it makes quite a lot.  If you don't need as much, definitely cut it in half.  I followed the directions almost exactly with only a couple of minor changes.  After I melted the butter and added the flour, it was too thick, so I went ahead and added the wine at that time to thin it a little for cooking.  Otherwise, it would've just been a lumpy ball of flour dough.  After I got it thinned back down a little, I added the milk and whisked occasionally until it came to a boil.  After it started boiling I added the cheese and cooked until it was melted.  That took about  5-10 minutes.  I used shredded cheddar though instead of a cheddar brick.  It was just fine with the shredded cheese.  

When it's all melted it is a thick soup consistency.  Next I poured this over the macaroni, in the large pot I cooked it in, and mixed it up.  Then I dumped it all into the 9x13 pan and added the bread crumb topping.  I used about 1 cup of bread crumbs though because I like a lot of topping.  Now it's ready to bake:

It's really already cooked so all you have to do is get it good and bubbly in the oven.  I actually had it in the oven for more like 45 minutes instead of 30 because the chicken wasn't quite done yet and it was fine.  

Hot out of the oven!  Looks good and cheesy, doesn't it??? :)

Here's what else was going on while the macaroni was baking:

Is your mouth watering yet?  Put it all together and you've got yourself one hell of a delicious 4th of July meal!  Everyone agreed that the mac and cheese was DELICIOUS!  Even Kenny says so, and he doesn't usually like mac and cheese!  The chicken was moist and yummy and the corn was crunchy and sweet.  I could eat this meal every night!

Then I topped it all off with my favorite summer ice cream dessert...Orange Crush Float!  What's that you say?  You've never had an orange float?  Well, you just run right out and buy yourself some vanilla ice cream and Orange Crush pop and stir one up!  I don't like root beer and about 8 or 9 years ago it occurred to me that orange pop might taste good instead.  I tried it and fell in love!  You can't make a small one either.  This one is about 4 scoops of ice cream and 1/3 of a can of pop.  Not low cal, but soooo worth it!  I bet this might also taste good with grape or strawberry pop, too.  Give it a try!

~ Happy Eating!

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