Sunday, November 22, 2009

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Congratulations to me! I recently defended my doctoral dissertation to my graduate committee, which means that I will hopefully have much more time to cook. More time for me to cook, in turn, leads to more posts to my, yay to those of you who point your browsers here occasionally for recipes or menu ideas. After the longer-than-I'd-like hiatus from blogging due to the craziness surrounding my dissertation, I am hoping to make publishing to my blog a more regular occurrence. Not to mention, cooking in general. This Sunday afternoon was a perfect time to start. And what more perfect, comfort food dish to start with than macaroni and cheese?

I adore carbohydrates, and I adore cheese. What could be better than a combination of the two? Pure make-your-tummy-happy food. My fondness for macaroni and cheese means that I have multiple recipes for macaroni and cheese, which vary based on their ingredients, complexity, and healthfulness. This recipe happens to be one of the none-too-healthy, more complex versions that I make. More complex only because it unfortunately dirties more than one pan, involves the oven, and requires more ingredients than some recipes. It's a good one, though. With the colder weather coming, you may see more versions of this favorite comfort food coming on my blog, too. Yum.

The cheese that I use in my macaroni and cheese varies based on the types that I have in my refrigerator. I have experimented with lots of variations -- mozzarella, parmesan, gouda, swiss, havarti, cheddar, mexican blend, american, even goat cheese that I needed to use up -- and have never come up with a blend that I didn't like. That could either be due to my fondness for macaroni and cheese, or to the fact that cheese is awesome in any form or variety. For the macaroni and cheese shown below, I used havarti slices that I chopped up, low-fat american slices that I also chopped up, shredded mozzarella, and goat cheese (you caught me -- it was the goat cheese that needed to be used up!). Turned out to be an amazing combination.

1 lb. elbow macaroni
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
2 eggs
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup milk
(or, you could use 2/3 cup half and half in place of the whipping cream and milk. Whatever you have on hand.)
salt and pepper
dash of nutmeg, if desired
2 cups cheese (any variety that you like)
approx. 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
cooking spray

1. Boil the elbow macaroni in salted water until almost al dente. Drain; return to pot. Add butter and stir until macaroni are evenly coated.

2. In an oven-safe casserole dish, whisk the eggs until slightly frothy. Add the whipping cream and milk (or the half and half), salt, pepper, and nutmeg and whisk to combine. Stir in the cheeses.

3. Add the cheese mixture to the macaroni in the pot and stir until the cheese starts to melt. Transfer the mixture back to the casserole dish, and top with the panko bread crumbs. Spray the bread crumbs with cooking spray to help them brown. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned on top.


Dawn McKinstry said...

Congratulations on the defense! I'm sorry I missed you Friday (and missed your call), but I'm glad it went well!

And thanks for the recipe. I too share your love of carbs and cheese. Maybe I'll actually make mac n' cheese from scratch now.


Aubree said...

Thanks! No problem...and I hope you enjoy the recipe. Although mac and cheese from a box is good (and my hubby would say, not just good -- delicious), I think the scratch version is more...comforting? Or something. I can't think of the right word, but scratch mac and cheese definitely has its place in my kitchen. :)