Bacon-Gouda Mac & Cheese

tjparmgoudaI love Trader Joe’s Parmesan Gouda so much I just had to figure out a way to incorporate it into my other favorite (besides a grilled cheese sandwich) Macaroni & Cheese!

A couple of trials later, finally a dish I can serve to guests!

Bacon-Gouda Macaroni & Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 16oz Cavatappi pasta (it’s very important to use the right pasta)
  • 8-10 Slices thick cut bacon (from the butcher)cavatappi
  • 2 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 C butter (4 TBLS) melted
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp fresh ground kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 16 oz Trader Joe’s Parmesan-Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 Sleeve Crushed Ritz Crackers
  • 1/4 C butter (4 TBLS) melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375¬įF
  2. Butter a 13″ X 9″ Pyrex Baking Pan
  3. Prepare Cavatappi according to package directions. Drain and pour into a large mixing bowl – cover with foil to keep pasta warm.
  4. Cook bacon until crispy but not overcooked.  Drain, cool, crumble and set aside.
  5. Melt butter and whisk flour into it
  6. In large pot heat milk to nearly boiling.
  7. Reduce heat to medium and stir in flour/butter mixture.  Whisk vigorously over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Mixture should be thick and boiling.
  8. Slowly whisk in cream.
  9. Add in salt, pepper, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.
  10. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir for about 5 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat and stir in shredded Parmesan-Gouda and Cheddar cheeses until completely melted.
  12. Pour sauce over cooked pasta in large mixing bowl.
  13. Add in 3/4 of the crumbled bacon. Combine using a rubber spatula.
  14. Transfer to prepared Pyrex baking dish.
  15. Combine the sleeve of crushed Ritz crackers and remaining crumbled bacon with the remaining 4 TBLS of melted butter. Sprinkle over pasta in Pyrex baking dish.
  16. Bake uncovered in a 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.

It’s rich, so a small side salad would be great alongside, or even nothing at all.  Except, of course, a glass of wine. ūüėČ

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Spicy Spiral Mac & Cheese

spicyspiralmacncheeseThis is my twist, no pun intended, on a zippy macaroni and cheese that can be served as a side to liven up any burger, steak or chicken main dish.¬† There is nothing timid or Low-Cal / Low-Fat about this dish.¬† You’ve been warned.

I’m intending to pile it on top of my BBQ Brisket Sandwiches tomorrow night.¬† Yummy!

Spicy Spiral Mac & Cheese

  • 1 1/2 Cups¬†Cellentani Pasta
  • 4 TBSP Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 3 Cups Whole Milk
  • 1 tsp Dry Mustard
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Ground White Pepper
  • 3 tsp (or more to taste) Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
  • 1 Cup Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
  • 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesano/Reggiano/Asiago Blend
  • 2 tsp Chili Powder
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. A little at a time, whisk in milk, mustard, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute, then remove from heat and whisk in Pepper Jack, Cheddar and P/R/A blend until smooth. Stir in cooked pasta and pour into shallow 2 quart baking dish.
  4. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter, stir in chili powder. Sprinkle over macaroni mixture.
  5. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes, or until edges start to brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

TIP:  For a crispier top, you can mix in 3 TBLS bread crumbs with the butter and chili powder and sprinkle on top.

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Just Like My Mom Used to Make

macaroniandcheesI’ve been feeling very under the weather for nearly a week and haven’t felt much like eating, let alone cooking.

As we all can probably agree, aside from ice cream, hot tea, and warm chocolate chip cookies (made by someone else of course – I’m sick!),¬†nothing makes a person feel better faster than comfort food like Mom used to make.¬† Now if my Mom were only here to make¬†it for me…

Some of my favorite comfort foods are:

  • Macaroni and Cheese – My Mom wasn’t particularly talented in the kitchen, but she could make a mean box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.¬† Once they came out with the “Kraft Deluxe” with the (then) tiny cans of premade cheese sauce in them, she didn’t even have to add the milk and butter.¬† Her idea of perfection!¬† I shared her love of the Kraft Deluxe until about 5 years ago when the sauce (now in a foil pouch) got a little thinner and tasted less “cheesy.”¬† When I don’t take the time to make my own homemade macaroni and cheese from scratch, I have gone back to stocking the cupboard with the old school, original Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in the blue box with the powdered cheese.
  • Tuna Sandwich on White Bread – My Grandpa Bob set the standard for tuna preparation in our family.¬† He would buy tuna in oil (likely a lot of the reason he had quadruple bypass surgery in his 50’s), drain it and mix it together with meticulously chopped onions, a ton of mayonnaise (which has never been my favorite, in fact I rarely use it), and he’d pile it on plain white bread (something most people, myself included, rarely eat anymore), slice it in half, and make as many as would fit in his tan and red plaid “picnic” bag with a plastic sandwich box and thermos of “adult” refreshments.¬† If he was making sandwiches for us kids to eat on the beach at Lake Gregory in Crestline he would leave the onions out and there would be a thermos of lemonade for us to drink.
  • Grilled Cheese on Sourdough and Tomato Soup:¬† Down and dirty made with 2 pieces of heavily buttered (none of that icky margarine spread for this girl!) thick cut sourdough bread and at least 3 pieces of Kraft Singles American Cheese (no other brand makes it into my shopping cart).¬† Fried until brown and crispy and served along side a bowl of Campbell’s Tomato Soup made with milk (never water) and with a pat of butter floating on top.¬† Add a bowl of buttered popcorn to this and I’m pretty darn good.
  • Mashed Potatoes – Reminder, my Mom didn’t cook much from scratch, so it should be no big surprise that I grew up on Hungry Jack potatoes from the box if we were eating mashed potatoes at home.¬† My grandma, however, made the creamy, buttery mashed russet potatoes¬†I dream about when I am too sick to keep much down and just want to feel better.¬† Nothing beats a few peeled, boiled potatoes mashed (with chunks – I love the chunks)¬† with a ton of butter and milk.¬† I prefer to make them like my Grandma Skip did, but I use half & half or even whipping cream if I have it on hand.

While these are my quick-fix,¬†“Go-To” comfort foods, if my Mom was still here she’d tell me to make some of my favorite of all: Her, “Guaranteed to make me feel better, tuna noodle casserole.”

When I mention how much I love tuna noodle casserole to most people, their faces screw up and usually I get a negative reaction.¬†Their Moms’ versions¬†of tuna noodle casserole must have had some¬†icky ingredients like¬†cornflakes, ritz crackers, bread crumbs and even peas.¬† They may think it’s gross,¬†but my Mom’s stripped down, no-frills version is the best I’ve ever eaten.

tunanoodlecasseroleMy Mom’s, Guaranteed to Make Me Feel Better, Tuna Noodle Casserole

Boil, noodles according to package instructions, and drain in a colander.  I prefer American Beauty noodles because they seem to stand up to the sauce without going limp if any remains to re-heat the next day.  Also, because their tuna is guaranteed Dolphin safe, wild caught, gluten free and readily available, I prefer Chicken of the Sea Chunk Light Tuna.

Open and drain the tuna in a colander.  Empty the Cream of Celery soup into a large saucepan.  Fill the empty soup can first with milk then with mayonnaise, adding both to the pan with the soup.  Add the drained tuna, salt and pepper to taste, and stir over low heat until hot but not boiling.

Empty the noodles into a large mixing bowl or the same pan you cooked them in and pour the hot sauce over the noodles, making sure to use a rubber spatula to get all of the sauce out of the pan.  Use the same spatula to combine the noodles and sauce until well mixed.  You can serve it immediately, but I find that if you let it cool slightly the sauce thickens up.

My husband thinks I am gross, but, if there is any casserole left in the refrigerator the next day, I have been known to eat it cold.¬† It’s like a tuna sandwich on noodles if you think about it, which qualifies twice on my list of comfort foods. ūüôā

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