Baked Macaroni and Cheese

When you think about comfort food, a few of the absolute standards come to mind: meatloaf, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese. There’s something so incredibly satisfying about macaroni and cheese that it continues to be a very popular dish. If you’ve only ever made mac & cheese from a box on the stovetop, then your life is about to change. This recipe for baked macaroni and cheese is easy to prepare, but will taste like you spent hours in the kitchen.

The best thing about baked macaroni and cheese is that bubbly, cheesy crust on top. You’ll get that beautiful top, but underneath there’s also an incredible combination of flavors and pasta to make this dish a ‘go-to’ for any occasion.

A word about processed cheese: we know everyone loves the creaminess that comes from adding processed cheese to the recipe. However, you can get the texture you crave using non-processed ingredients, too. This recipe doesn’t contain processed cheese; instead, a creamy cheese sauce made on the stovetop provides the flavor and texture that only gets better with time in the oven.

Another word about cheese: don’t limit yourself to cheddar! This recipe works great with a variety of cheeses. Experiment with the ones you love and use combinations of more than one type of cheese to take the flavors to another level.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni

2 tablespoons butter, plus about 1 tablespoon for the topping

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup whole milk

1 cup half-and-half

A splash of heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

macaroni and cheese

Begin by preheating the oven to 350 and butter a 2.5 quart baking dish. Prepare the macaroni according to directions while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Once melted, and add the flour and stir constantly to incorporate once it begins to bubble, slowly add the milk, half-and-half, and cream. Cook until mixture thickens slightly then add 2 cups of cheddar cheese, pepper and paprika and stir to incorporate. This is the cheese sauce you’ll add to the macaroni before baking.

Once the macaroni is cooked, drain it and then combine in a large bowl with the cheese sauce. Pour mixture into greased casserole dish and top with remaining cheese. Dot the mixture with butter and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until cheese on top is melted and bubbly. Place on the counter and allow to set for a few minutes before serving.

This delicious baked macaroni and cheese is a wonderful main course for dinner. Simply serve alongside a salad and vegetables for a delicious, nutritious and comforting meal. It also makes a great accompaniment to steak, chicken, pork chops or seafood. Try this delicious and simply recipe for baked macaroni and cheese; we’re sure this one will end up in the recipe box and on the menu for years to come

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Cheese Bread: How to Make the Best

Cheese Bread: How to Make the Best

 

Its no wonder cheesy bread is a favorite at parties: gooey cheese over warm bread. This seemingly foul proof snack can have some flaws such as not enough cheese to bread ratio, not enough textures, and lack of flavor depth. Don’t fret, read below for tips to make the best cheesy bread.

 

CUT AND PRESENTATION

There are two main styles of cheesy bread: a classic pizza breadstick and a dip. The classic pizza breadstick is a flat layer of bread, typical a formed dough in its own right, and a layer of the cheese This bread is then sliced into finger sized segments or small squares for optimum mini bites. This version offers a great cheese to bread ratio however it lacks a crust, offering just a singled textured bite.

The dip style takes a whole loaf with incisions throughout. Spices and cheese are added in-between the crevices. This version tends to have more texture since the pre-baked bread already developed a nice crust, but brings up the risk of too little cheese to bread ratio as cheese often sticks on the bottom on the loaf rather than the ‘fingers’ of bread.

What to do? Choose a good loaf of bread, not too soft as it’s second time in the oven will harden it a bit, but pick a good crust for that extra texture we mentioned above. Slice the loaf lengthwise, parallel to your cutting board. Flip each half up, wrapping the bottom (crust) in aluminum foil. You’ll end up with two foil/bread nests. Now for the cheese.

 

CHEESE AND FLAVOR

Sure you can just sprinkle some mozzarella on your bread and call it a day, but that lacks pizzaz. Choose 1-2 good melting cheeses: mozzarella, gruyere, asiago, cheddar, and gouda to name a few. Be sure the cheeses you choose complement each other. If you’re not sure or want to experiment, ask your cheese deli for a few samples and take bites of combinations together.

Once you’ve settled on the cheese, you’ll need an herbed butter. For one loaf, a stick of butter should suffice. Allow it to come to room temperature then mix in flavorings that complement the cheese like parsley, thyme, red pepper flakes, minced garlic, and chopped up sun dried tomatoes. If you’re having trouble getting the mix-ins small enough, consider using a food processor. Don’t forget the salt and pepper!

Some good combinations include mozzarella with a garlic, sun dried tomato, and basil butter; gruyere and asiago with lemon zest, thyme butter; monterey jack and cheddar with minced adobe chili, cilantro butter (sprinkle some pickled jalapeños on top).

Spread the seasoned butter mixture over the bread then top with the shredded cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is nice and melted, then stick under the broiler for a few minutes to ensure an even browning on top. Let the cheesy bread cool for 5 minutes before slicing up and enjoying.

 

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