The Mac Daddy

May 21, 2008 at 8:10 pm 20 comments

Local Savory Herb Cheddar

This past weekend I had the distinct pleasure of cooking all the food for my dear friend Christine’s 30th birthday bash.  It was a “distinct pleasure” because it was the best of both worlds for me.  I love cooking for parties.  I love it so much that I’d probably throw a party every weekend if it weren’t for one little eensy problem…

I hate cleaning.  Man, do I hate cleaning the house!  And I especially hate the stress of trying to get the kitchen cleaned up before the guests start arriving.  I’m not the type of cook that cleans as she goes.

Cheese up close

With this particular party being held several miles away, I was free to cook right up to the last minute and then gleefully leave the kitchen in shambles as I strolled out the door in my blue toile party dress.  I had five dishes on the menu, some tried-and-true and some a little more risky.  All, if I am to believe the feedback, were very much a hit.  When planning a party menu though, I always like to have a fail safe; a dish that’s virtually guaranteed to appease the masses and fill their bellies before the alcohol soaks in beyond repair. 

Spiral noodles

My grown-up version of macaroni and cheese is about as sure fire as they come.   Those of you who’ve been around this site for awhile might remember that I have a problem with making mac and cheese since my mom makes such fabulous dishes of it that I’m never really happy when I make it for myself.  Herein lies the irony: it’s one of my favorite dishes to serve to other people.  See, they don’t know how good my mom’s is so they’re more then happy to settle for mine.  Plus, my mom’s is pure mac and cheese goodness while mine’s become something more like an odd stepchild as I cram more and more ingredients into it. 

Cheese sauce coming together

But at the heart of this ooey-gooey, drool-inducing mac daddy of a dish is the cheese.  I could write sonnets about the nutty savory flavors of this particular crumbly smooth textured local cheese from Hillacres Pride that I fell in love with last summer at the Headhouse Market.  I’ll spare you though as I’m not much of a poet.  Suffice to say that getting a high-quality and distinctive local cheese really ups the ante for this dish. 

cheesey noodles

From there, it’s equally important to consider pairing the soft chewy creamy qualities of the macaroni and cheese with a crunchy salty topping.   Don’t settle for breadcrumbs in a can on this one, my friends.  Get yourself a few slices of good bread (I personally like a nice oatmeal or seven grain loaf), toast them up until just golden, and cut them yourself into quarter inch cubes.  Then it’s on to the bacon and grated parmesan cheese.  I used soy bacon on mine since the crowd was largely vegetarian.  However, I’m sure real bacon would make it even better flavor-wise.  

Toast and bacon

I haven’t abandoned my mom’s formula entirely though.  As my undisclosed ingredient, I tuck in a few chunks of Velveeta (a cheese “product” for those of you who don’t know it), which is what makes the cheese sauce so smooth that it wraps itself around every single piece of pasta.  Mmmm-Mm! 

Mmmmmm

Grown-Up Mac & Cheese
Loosely adapted from the back of the box

14-16 oz. package of macaroni or spiral pasta
3 T. butter
3 T. all-purpose flour
2 ½ C. milk (fat free works fine)
5 oz. high quality cheddar, chunked
4 oz. Velveeta (or additional cheddar)
½ C. shredded mozzarella
¼ C. chopped fresh or dried herbs (such as chives, dill, oregano and marjoram)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 slices of fresh bread, toasted and cubed into ¼ inch
5 slices of bacon (soy or real), cooked slightly underdone
¼ C. freshly grated parmesan

Cook the pasta according to package directions until just al dente.  Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan.  Add the flour and stir to cook for about a minute to get out the raw flavor of the four.  Slowly stir in the milk and whisk regularly until sauce begins to thicken, about three minutes. 

Add the cheddar, Velveeta and mozzarella and stir until melted and fully incorporated. Add the salt, pepper and freshly chopped herbs.  Stir and remove from heat.  Drain pasta of its cooking water.  Stir pasta into the cheese sauce and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Butter a casserole or baking dish and carefully fill with macaroni and cheese.  Top with evenly with bacon, bread cubes and parmesan.  Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. 

(serves 6)  

Grown up macaroni and cheese

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20 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Coco  |  May 21, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    De-Lurking to say YUM!

    I’ve been looking for a good Mac N Cheese recipe for my hubby, now I think I have one!

    Reply
  • 2. Jennie  |  May 21, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    Coco – Wow! That was the fastest comment ever on here! :) So glad you like the looks of the mac & cheese…it’s sure to please the hubby!

    Reply
  • 3. Mary  |  May 21, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Oh man, nothing gets me drooling like a very good mac and cheese! Interestingly, I didn’t like it much as a kid and now I LOVE it! And yours looks fantastic!

    Reply
  • 4. Jennie  |  May 21, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    Thanks, Mary! I can’t imagine ever not liking mac & cheese but I’m glad to hear you’ve come around. ;)

    Reply
  • 5. EAT!  |  May 22, 2008 at 7:09 am

    Mac and cheese is deadly! I can’t keep in in my house b/c I’ll eat it all.

    Reply
  • 6. leslie  |  May 22, 2008 at 8:53 am

    HOLY SH*T! I want to reach in my computer and eat that! GOod job..and great photo!

    Reply
  • 7. mamaranting  |  May 22, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Mmmm, that looks so good. I make a similar dish to that, but with not as much herbs. I’ll have to try adding those!

    Reply
  • 8. onetechcenter  |  May 22, 2008 at 10:18 am

    There should be a BIG caution sign on this recipe (bacon?), has this been approved by the surgeon general. I love a good mac and cheese. Thanks for sharing your recipe. I love to entertain as well.

    http://allthangsdigital.wordpress.com/

    Reply
  • 9. Christian  |  May 22, 2008 at 10:59 am

    I’m so glad to see you’ve included Morningstar Bacon. I stumbled over here from tastespotting.com a few minutes ago, so I haven’t quite had the time to browse enough to know if that’s the normal fare. Either way, I’m definitely printing this recipe out.

    Reply
  • 10. My Sweet & Saucy  |  May 22, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    This looks great…all grown up and ready to be eaten!

    Reply
  • 11. michelle  |  May 22, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    sigh…it’s TOO LONG since my last mac and cheese. it’s one of my favorite dishes, and this is a most excellent rendition, despite the presence of fakin’ bacon.

    Reply
  • 12. Top Posts « WordPress.com  |  May 22, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    [...] The Mac Daddy [image] This past weekend I had the distinct pleasure of cooking all the food for my dear friend Christine’s 30th [...] [...]

    Reply
  • 13. Ashbabe  |  May 22, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    OMG!! I will Only eat “real” mac & cheese and this looks Amazing! I can’t wait to make this over the weekend! Thanks Coco :)

    Reply
  • 14. Harlie  |  May 23, 2008 at 6:43 am

    Oh I can almosssssst smell your Mac & Cheese! :D

    Reply
  • 15. gintoino  |  May 23, 2008 at 7:45 am

    hummmm that sure looks delicious. I’ll have to make a Portuguese (that is with Portuguese cheese) version of it. How is you vegetable garden doing?

    Reply
  • 16. Hillary  |  May 23, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Oh wow – aside from the bacon, I’m all for that!

    Reply
  • 17. Jennie  |  May 23, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Hey everyone, this is interesting how divided you all are on the bacon… If you are a vegetarian, this soy bacon is a great option (morning star is the brand I use). If you’re not a vegetarian, I *definitely* encourage you to use real bacon instead. And, of course, if you just don’t like any bacon of any kind, skip it all together. :) I just wanted to put that out there. Thanks for all the great comments! Keep ‘em coming! :)

    Reply
  • 18. Jennie  |  May 23, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Gintoino – Oooo, Portuguese cheese would be soooo very good in this! I wish I had some more of it right now. :)

    As for the vegetable garden, it’s coming along but it’s been a tough start to the season for me. I’ll be putting up a post here momentarily about it but in general it’s been a difficult spring of really hot dry weather and then really rainy cold weather so my babies just aren’t happy. If things even out, it should get better. My flower garden is doing quite well though since I used plants, and not so many seeds.

    And how is your garden?

    Reply
  • 19. Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie « Straight from the Farm  |  December 19, 2009 at 10:25 am

    [...] any longer.  So, I asked for my grandmother’s coveted pumpkin pie recipe and, just like my mother’s mac and cheese, I undertook making it my own with equal parts uncertainty and determination.   Wouldn’t [...]

    Reply
  • 20. "mer här"  |  October 12, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    “mer här”

    “[...]x After study a number of the blog posts in your site now, i really such as y na[...]“

    Reply

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