Chef Time!

Chef Time!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Macaroni and Cheese Out Of The Box (Figuratively Speaking)

Macaroni and cheese, or Mac and Cheese has become one of the most leading meals in the family household today. It seems that everyone is giving this economical dish some flair, and it's working. For now many restaurants are bringing this versatile dish to it's menu and is becoming very popular especially on the children's menu and now the grownups menu as well.
So I figured, why not bring a few ideas of my own and share with you some crazy ideas at best. So from my laboratory to your kitchen, I introduce to you my idea of mac and cheese.

Jamaican Macaroni and Cheese 

12 oz. Elbow macaroni (plus 2 tablespoons salt for boiling water)
2 tbsp. Butter
2 tbsp. flour
2 ½ c. Milk
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 to ¼ tsp. Ground nutmeg, salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ c. Grated old cheddar cheese
½ c. Grated mozzarella cheese
¼ c. Finely grated Parmesan cheese
¼ c. Bread crumbs

Cook 12 oz pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water for about 12 minutes or until tender (do not overcook).
Drain well and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat butter in large saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add flour and whisk for 1 minute until mixture is just bubbling. Gradually whisk in milk stirring rapidly to avoid lumps; stir until sauce boils and begins to thicken. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered. Stir in mustard, nutmeg and salt & pepper to taste; stir occasionally for 5 minutes or until thickened; remove from heat. Stir in 1 cup cheddar cheese until melted and combined. Fold pasta into sauce and stir until combined.
Pour ½ of the pasta mixture into a glass or ceramic casserole dish. Sprinkle ¼ cup cheddar and ¼ cup mozzarella on the bottom layer. Pour remaining pasta mixture and spread as a top layer. Sprinkle remaining cheddar and mozzarella on the top layer. Sprinkle ¼ cup parmesan and ¼ cup bread crumbs on the top layer.
Bake in preheated oven at 350 for 30 minutes.

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

8 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni (4 cups cooked)
1 can (12 ½ oz.) Chunk White Chicken Breast packed in water, drained
1 (10 ¾ oz.) can Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup
1 c. milk
8 oz. Cheese, cubed
1 c. (4 oz..) shredded cheddar cheese
½ c. Buffalo Wings Red Hot Sauce or Cayenne Pepper Sauce

Cook pasta according to package directions using shortest cooking time. Drain and place into greased 2 quart baking dish. Stir in chicken. Heat soup, milk and cheeses in medium saucepan, stirring until cheese is melted. Stir in Red Hot Sauce. Pour sauce over pasta and chicken; mix well. Top with buttered bread crumbs and blue cheese, if desired.
Bake at 350 for 30 min. or until hot and bubbly.
Chef’s note: For a crunchy topping, combine ½ cup bread crumbs with ¼ cup melted butter. Sprinkle on top before baking. Blue Cheese Lovers: Top casserole with 2/3 cup crumbled blue cheese before baking. You may substitute 2 cups shredded cooked chicken for the canned chicken.

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

4 c. (generous) Butternut Squash, cubed and peeled
2 c. Chicken Broth or reduced sodium Vegetable Broth
1 ½ c. Milk
¼ c. Greek Yogurt
1 ½ tsp. Dry mustard
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Black Pepper
1 c. shredded Gruyere Cheese
1 c. grated Romano Cheese
1 c. grated White Cheddar Cheese
1 box (1 pound) large elbow noodles, cooked al dente

Preheat oven to 375.
In a large pot, combine cubed butternut squash and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until squash is tender. Remove from heat. Add milk, Greek yogurt, dry mustard, salt, pepper and puree until smooth with an immersion blender. Stir in Gruyere and Romano cheeses until melted and then fold in pasta. Pour everything into a large cast iron skillet or 13 x 9 inch baking dish lightly brushed with olive oil.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and turn oven to Broil (Low setting). Sprinkle cheddar cheese over macaroni and return to oven for an additional 3-5 minutes until cheese has browned and some edges of noodles are crisp.

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