August 26, 2013

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

The Sunday dinner staple.  Baked Macaroni and Cheese. After years, and yes I mean, years! of trying to make the perfect pan of baked macaroni and cheese, I am so thrilled that that perfect pan can easily be whipped up in my own kitchen.  I have tried many recipes - from the ones that involve a cheese sauce {um, no.}, the ones that involve adding spices {mustard powder, WHY?} to the ones that were just so bland and didn't have the right amount of cheese.  I have made this recipe 3 times now and I can finally say that this one is a winner and will be a part of my culinary legacy :)  I look forward to the day when Isis is asking for this recipe to make for her family.  {and Cory too!}
 
Ingredients
 
1 Box Elbow Macaroni Noodles, Cooked
2 Blocks Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
1 Block Monterey Jack Cheese, Shredded
1 12 Ounce Can Evaporated Milk
1/2 Cup Half and Half
2 Eggs
1/2 Stick Butter {plus more to butter the baking dish}
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Paprika
 
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees
 
 
{Start with grating your cheese.  The bags of pre-shredded cheese is not the route you want to go for this recipe.  Freshly grated cheese will always taste better.  The mix of sharp cheddar and monterey jack cheeses is the way to go.  They both melt beautifully and add a creaminess that I did not get with other cheeses.  Four cheese mac+cheese is always great but sometimes, simple is best. }
 

{While you are shredding your cheese, boil the macaroni noodles.  It is important to only cook them until they are al dente {with a bit of a firm bite}, so set your timer according to the instructions on the box!  It is also very important to salt your cooking water before boiling the pasta.}
 
 
{When the noodles are done, drain them and add them to a large bowl.  Add 1/2 stick of butter and mix well so that each noodle is coated with melted butter. This could be the end of the recipe right here. Lol! Hot buttered noodles? Yummy!}

{Use a chunk of room temperature butter to grease your baking dish.  I used a 10x13 pan.}
 
 
{In another large bowl, add your eggs, half and half and evaporated milk.}
 

{Season with salt and pepper and mix this well to combine all ingredients.}

{Important note: reserve about 1/2 cup of shredded cheese to sprinkle on top of your macaroni and cheese before baking.}

{To the milk/egg/half and half mixture, add in your buttered noodles.}

{Add the shredded cheese.}

{Take your time and mix this really, really well.  I used my hands. :)  Make sure that the cheese is evenly distributed and that each and every noodle is covered with the milk mixture.}

{Pour the coated noodles in the buttered dish and top with the reserved shredded cheese.}

{Sprinkle with paprika, which is a little trick I learned from my neighbor.  It aids in the browning and gives the dish it a pretty marbled, golden color.}

{Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown.  Oh, the smell! Heavenly!}

{Let it stand for about 10 minutes before serving.}


{Serve it up and enjoy!  I LOVE the corners... chewy, crunchy and cheesy. Yes!  You see that noodle that is filled with the yummy, cheesy, creamy mixture?  This is why you have to take your time mixing and coating the noodles before pouring into the buttered dish.  The layering technique that I've seen done when cooking baked macaroni and cheese will not give you these results. :)}

{The texture of this macaroni and cheese is just perfect.  It's firm enough to be cut into squares...}

{...but soft and creamy with a rich and buttery flavor.  This dish will stand up to any other side dish for the most important family dinner or occasion.  Imagine this on your plate for Thanksgiving.  I cannot wait!}

 
When baked macaroni and cheese is on the menu for Sunday dinner in our house, I now happily anticipate some ooohs and aaahhs and cleaned plates.  Finally! :)
 
Do you have a favorite macaroni and cheese recipe?  Do tell!
 
xoxo, thanks for reading! ♥
 
 

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