Baked Macaroni and Cheese

So Fall is officially under way. And this past week, it’s been the rainy, cold Fall we all know and love (ok ok, maybe love isn’t the word I’m looking for!). Of course I prefer the sunny, crisp, beautiful fall days (especially this one pictured here!). Due to this week’s weather however, I’ve been fantasizing about living in Australia, or California, or basically anywhere that sees more warmth than we do here in MN!

However there are some fun things associated with Fall. Like drive up to the north shore (or down to the valley!) to see the great fall colors. Or go for hikes in the perfect fall weather. Or visit the apple orchard. Or partake in a Halloween themed event around the Twin Cities. See, it’s not all bad. One of my favorite things to do is attend the Autumn Brew Review put on by the Minnesota Craft Guild Brewers (http://www.mncraftbrew.org/events/abr). It’s basically a big conglomerate of breweries from around the U.S., all in one place ready to strut (pour) their stuff. There are also a handful of food trucks from the Twin Cities area. Which is a good thing, because there is only so much beer you can consume without needing a little food!

Our group lucked out too. As the event was winding down, one of the reps gave us 5 free cases of beer so she didn’t have to travel with them back to Wisconsin. How nice is that?! They do, however, get heavy after awhile :)

beer

And not to mention, cold rainy days are the perfect excuse to make something warm and comforting. Like this Macaroni and Cheese. After being outside in the cold all week, all I could think about yesterday (after coaching a game in the rain, of course), was making some homemade Mac n Cheese for dinner. And not just boxed Macaroni and Cheese (see my favorites here!), but the real, homemade, gooey-in-the-middle, crunchy-on-the-top kind of stuff. So that’s exactly what we did! It’s easy to make this dish gluten-free too. Just use gluten-free noodles and bread crumbs. We made ours with whole-wheat elbows and the breadcrumbs we had in the house. It turned out perfect!

3-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

(adapted from Emeril’s Mac and Cheese with 4 Cheeses recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/macaroni-with-4-cheeses-recipe/index.html

Ingredients:

1 pound elbow macaroni (can use gluten-free)

2 cups half and half (can use whole or 2% milk)

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup smoked gouda cheese (can substitute for other favorite such as havarti, fontina, or parmesan), shredded

1 cup gruyere cheese, shredded

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup bread crumbs (can use gluten-free)

5 TBSP butter

4 TBSP flour (can substitute brown rice flour)

1 tsp ground white pepper

1 tsp hot sauce (or to taste)

1 tsp salt (or to taste)

1 tsp Essence or Creole seasoning (optional) – see note below on how to make own

Directions:

What to do before you start:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 3-quart baking dish. Combine three cheeses (minus 1/2 cup cheddar) into bowl. Mix breadcrumbs with Essence seasoning in small bowl.

And then: 

In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Cook noodles until VERY al dente (about 5 minutes) or until they just lose their crunch.

When noodles are done, drain and put back into pot. Add 1 TBSP butter and press garlic over noodles (or mince and toss in). Stir to combine.

Melt the remaining butter (4 TBSP) on low in saucepan. Once melted, add in flour and continuously stir for approx. 3-5 minutes (or until mixture has thickened and turns golden). Now you’ve got a roux (pronounced “rew”)!

Once roux is made, turn heat up to medium and slowly add half-and-half (or milk), stirring frequently for approx. 5-6 minutes or until mixture is a thick consistency. Now you’ve got a béchamel sauce!

Add salt, pepper, hot sauce, and 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese to sauce. Stir until cheese is melted in. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Once finished, pour sauce onto noodles and toss to combine.

Pour approx. 1/3 of noodles into dish, cover with 1/3 of cheese mixture. Repeat until all noodles and cheese are used up. Top with breadcrumbs.

Bake for 35-45 minutes (depending on oven of course!) or until bubbly and golden brown on top.

Enjoy!

And if you’re making your own Essence, here’s what you’ll need:

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/emerils-essence-creole-seasoning-recipe2/index.html?oc=linkback

macaroni and cheese

Next time, I’m adding bacon….mmm bacon.

Macaroni and Cheese
 
Creamy on the inside, crunchy on top! A perfect fall or winter comfort food dish! Make with whole-wheat or gluten-free products to customize.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni (can use gluten-free)
  • 2 cups half and half (or whole or 2% milk)
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup smoked gouda cheese (can substitute for other favorite such as havarti, fontina, or parmesan), shredded
  • 1 cup gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup bread crumbs (can use gluten-free)
  • 5 TBSP butter
  • 4 TBSP flour (can substitute brown rice flour)
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • ½ tsp hot sauce (or to taste)
  • ¾ tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp Essence or Creole seasoning (optional) - see note below on how to make own
Instructions
  1. What to do before you start:
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 3-quart baking dish. Combine three cheeses (minus ½ cup cheddar) into bowl. Mix breadcrumbs with Essence seasoning.
  3. And then:
  4. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Cook noodles until VERY al dente (about 5 minutes) or until they just lose their crunch.
  5. When noodles are done, drain and put back into pot. Add 1 TBSP butter and press garlic over noodles (or mince and toss in). Stir to combine.
  6. Melt the remaining butter (4 TBSP) on low in saucepan. Once melted, add in flour and continuously stir for approx. 3-5 minutes (or until mixture has thickened and turns golden). Now you've got a roux (pronounced "rew")!
  7. Once roux is made, turn heat up to medium and slowly add half-and-half (or milk), stirring frequently for approx. 5-6 minutes or until mixture is a thick consistency. Now you've got a béchamel sauce!
  8. Add salt, pepper, hot sauce, and ½ cup of the cheddar cheese to sauce. Stir until cheese is melted in. Pour onto noodles and toss to combine.
  9. Pour approx. ⅓ of noodles into dish, cover with ⅓ of cheese mixture. Repeat until all noodles and cheese are used up. Top with breadcrumbs.
  10. Bake for 35-45 minutes (depending on oven of course!) or until bubbly and golden brown on top.

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