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Creamy Mac N Cheese

Creamy Mac N Cheese

Sometimes I wonder why I ask for requests.

“We want a homemade creamy mac n cheese”. Those are the words I heard when I asked what my son’s high school friends wanted for lunch the next day. Living 8 minutes from the high school means that my kids come home for lunch quite a bit and once a week I feed their friend group. The only problem with that response was, I had never made a homemade mac n cheese that I loved. I had tried many difference recipes, but none of them “did it” for me. So I decided now was the time to come up with a recipe I did love.

I’m not usually one that just throws a recipe together

The majority of the recipes I share are family recipes, a recipe I’ve had but have revamped just a little to our liking, or after throwing things in a pot for years actually writing it down. To actually come up with a recipe and serve it the first time to feed to a bunch of teenagers had me a little stressed. Knowing I would be sharing the recipe though, I started out right, I actually measured and wrote down everything I added, and I’m so glad I did. This recipe is a for sure keeper!

There were a few things I knew I wanted it to be. At the top of the list was rich and creamy. I wanted a strong mixture of cheese flavors, and I wanted some crumbs on top to add a little punch. One other main thing, I needed it to be simple enough for my teenagers to make! To say I was nervous as I created would be an understatement, but it was worth it!

Will they even like the mac n cheese?

Fifteen to Twenty teenagers would be coming so I made a large batch. Also being serving was homemade breadsticks, which are always a huge hit, a veggie tray, and a dessert.  Two deep filled 9×13 pans were ready when the kids walked in, and I hoped I didn’t have a whole pan left when the kids went back to school. Not only did I not have a full pan left, I had to sneak a bite off of my son’s plate so I could taste it at all. The pans were literally scraped clean, and I was sad I hadn’t gotten any for lunch! That was in April of 2021

Fast forward to the first day of school in August 2021. They’re all Juniors now and didn’t have to be to school until 11:00on the first day. We decided a back to school breakfast would be fun way to start the school year. Luckily I had thought ahead and remembered to take requests of what they’d like for Mama Lisa’s lunches this year. Without a second thought “Your Creamy Mac N Cheese” was yelled by more mouths that I could see. It was a unanimous request for the following week!

Well, I had learned my lesson in the Spring. Instead of just doubling the recipe, I made 4 times the recipe. There was enough for me to eat lunch, and we had enough left over for dinner the next night.

A Few Tips and Hints

Cheeses

Fresh Grated Cheese

Yes, you really do want to use all three different types. We were out of sharp and I decided to use all mild instead, it was a whole different recipe. The combination of cheeses gives it a great flavor.

You also really do want to grate it yourself. Pre shredded bags of cheese have a coating on it so the cheese doesn’t stick together, but this also effects how it melts.

Half and Half

Our homemade mac n cheese calls for half and half, which is exactly that, half milk & half cream. If you need to substitute it, keep in mind that half and half is generally 12% fat. Light creams start at 20% fat and go up to 40%. Whole Milk is generally 3.5-4% fat.

Fat Free Half and Half

I was a little confused when I saw this on the shelf. If half and half is 12% fat how do you make it fat free? Well, it’s basically skim milk with corn syrup to thicken it up a bit…definitely not what were going for!

Dish of homemade macaroni and cheese

Panko Crumbs

So what are difference between Panko and Bread crumbs? Panko is made from a crustless bread that is broken into flakes and then dried. They are larger, and more dry that bread crumbs. Panko has a lighter and crunchier taste while absorbing less fats. Bread crumbs will do in a pinch, but go Panko if you can. Also make sure they’ve got some Italian seasoning in them for a extra flavor kick.

Storing

Our Mac N Cheese stores and reheats surprisingly well. We usually just reheat a serving at a time in the microwave. As of this posting I have not tried freezing it, but will add to this if I do.

A quick reel to show you how simple it really is   https://www.instagram.com/p/CLqA5o_j6yP/

Print

Creamy Mac N Cheese

Our homemade mac n cheese is rich, creamy, and full of three cheese flavors.  Can easily be cut in 1/2 or doubled. Topped with a crispy seasoned Panko to add an extra pop of flavor and texture.

Ingredients

Scale

1 lb cooked pasta

I use the Barilla brand Cellentani style noodle

8 oz grated sharp cheddar

8 oz grated mild cheddar

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup flour

4 cups half and half

1/2 (+) salt

1/4 (+) pepper

1 cup Italian panko

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup melted butter

Instructions

Cook pasta according to directions and drain

In medium sauce pan

Melt 1/2 cup butter, add in flour and whisk until it comes to a simmer.

Slowly add in half and half. Stir until thickens and flour is cooked. Season with salt and pepper.

Add cheddar cheeses 1 cup at a time stirring in between. Add parmesan cheese. Stir until all cheeses are melted and sauce is combined.

Pour sauce over noodles. Stir to coat noodles.

Spray a 9×13 or equivalent baking dish with cooking spray. Spread noodles in dish.

In a small mixing bowl melt 1/4 cup butter. Add seasoned panko and mix to coat. Sprinkle panko mixture over noodles.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Notes

Read Tips and Hints before cooking.

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Dinner, Lunch, Main Dish, Side Dish

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9/07/2021

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Creamy Mac N Cheese

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