Monday, December 7, 2009

mac & cheese

My craving for macaroni and cheese was strong, the stuff out of a box is never satisfying so I decided to take the time to make real mac & cheese (or in this case penne and cheese). Luckily I had all the ingredients at home and whipped up this dish for a satisfying lunch. I usually add beans, peas, broccoli or something else green to my mac and cheese, this time I added edamame. To make a more complete meal, consider adding bits of pre-cooked meat (i.e. chicken or ham). I paired it with a rather simple salad of greens, slivered almonds, mandarin sections which I dressed with balsamic vinegar.

Mac & Cheese
1/2 lb. raw penne pasta, cooked and drained
1 clove garlic
1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 egg
1/8 t. sea salt
1/8 t. pepper
1/4 t. sweet paprika
1 c. milk
5 oz. (~1+ c.) extra-sharp cheddar, shredded
5 oz. cream cheese, crumbled
3 oz. (~2/3 c.) pepper jack cheese, shredded
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1 c. green veggie, no need to pre-cook (i.e. lima beans, green beans, peas, chopped broccoli)
1/2-1 c. pre-cooked meat, if desired (i.e. ham, chicken)
3 T. butter, melted
1/2 c. bread crumbs/panko flakes/crumbled crackers

1. Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Butter a large shallow baking dish. Cook penne till al dente. Cook meat if desired (good way to use up leftover bits of roasted chicken).

2. In mini-chopper blend garlic, onion, egg, salt, pepper, and paprika. Combine milk, cheeses, red pepper flakes, and mixture from mini-chopper in a bowl. Fold into macaroni. Add meat (if desired) and green veggie (still frozen or fresh). [May prepare in advance - hold in fridge up to 24 hours].

3. Combine melted butter and bread crumbs and sprinkle over the top of the macaroni.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes (at 350 deg. F) until creamy. To crisp the top, broil unto one minute. Let set for five minutes before serving.

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