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Buffalo Mac N Cheese

Another Lenten Friday came and went, and I came up with another meatless meal for everyone to enjoy. I may have to lose the meat for a few weeks, but I’m not giving up anything in flavor.  This flavorful twist on a classic macaroni and cheese, complete with a crunchy panko topping, definitely delivered.

Buffalo Mac N Cheese

4 Sons 'R' Us: Buffalo Mac N Cheese

recipe originally from Creatively Domestic

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
salt, for pasta water
16 oz (1 pound) small pasta, elbows or shells
3/4 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 1/2 cups half and half (or milk)
16 oz (1 pound) sharp cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles (optional)

4 Sons 'R' Us: buffalo mac n cheese

Come to Mama.

Are you sitting down?

Because you’ll want to grab a spoon and consume this entire casserole dish. BY YOURSELF.

Not in the neighborhood for a meatless meal? No worries. This recipe can still be your friend. Add in some cooked, shredded or chopped chicken, and carry on.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a large casserole dish (9×13 is recommended).
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook macaroni until al dente or the shortest amount of cooking time on the box or less.  Drain.
3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the flour and mustard and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in the half and half, and the hot sauce.  Stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Add the cheeses and whisk in the sour cream.  Stir until smooth.  Remove from heat.
4. Spread macaroni in the baking dish.  Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the top.
5. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave.  Stir in the panko and the blue cheese if using.  Sprinkle over top of macaroni.  Bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes.  Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

BLT Mac N Cheese

BLT Mac N Cheese

I found this recipe several years ago, perusing magazines in a waiting room. It’s a Betty Crocker recipe, and it’s delicious. My family loves macaroni and cheese. They love it from a box, they love it from scratch, they even love it with cut up hotdogs in it. I figured, given their love of the classic side dish they’d happily eat as a meal any time, any day, that this could either be a beautiful thing or a risky gamble. This recipe had me at BLT. I love them. Mostly, I love them because I love,love, love tomatoes. So naturally, I dove in and made this meal the same night I had come across it’s recipe. Since then it’s become a staple and a regular meal appearing on our monthly rotations. The flavors blend spectacularly! Even the rest of the family, literally everyone else, who all detest tomatoes about as strongly as I love them, ate every bite.

BLT Mac N Cheese

4 Sons 'R' Us: BLT Mac N Cheese

  • 1 loaf, 32 oz, prepared cheese product, cubed
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 cups skim milk
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bag, 9 oz, fresh spinach
  • 1 lb bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1 cup plain, or Italian style, panko bread crumbs*

Directions

  1.  In a dutch oven, or other large pot, add butter, milk, and cubed cheese. Cook over medium heat, stirring with a wisk, until melted and evenly combined.
  2. Cook macaroni in boiling salted water 3 minutes less than indicated on the box in the directions. Drain.
  3. Pour the drained macaroni in with the cheese sauce. Mix well.
  4. Stir in the shredded cheese, spinach, and tomatoes.
  5. Transfer to a 15×10 inch (4 quart) baking dish. Cover with foil.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 30 minutes.
  7. Uncover. Spread bacon and bread crumbs evenly over the top.
  8. Bake 5 minutes longer or until the top is lightly browned.
  9. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

*To ensure nice browned, crisped breadcrumbs you can toss the breadcrumbs in 1-2 tbsp of melted butter before adding to the casserole.

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