Saturday, March 6, 2010

Yummm! SPICY Mac and Cheese, please!!

Who doesn't low the comfort food AWESOMENESS that is Macaroni and Cheese? I am a pretty good cook (my friends and loved ones can co-sign on that one for me) but I have yet to mastered the fine art of mac and cheese... which is such an epic fail for me. One of my unofficial NYE resolutions for 2010 was to master the fine art of making it.

So for the past few weeks, I've been assembling macaroni and cheese recipes that I fully intend on trying. And because I am truly one for a challenge, instead of starting with the simple recipe.... of course these are the recipes I choose to begin with:

Spicy Smoky Macaroni and Cheese with Turkey Bacon
Recipe Courtesy of

This isn't a baked mac and cheese recipe, but it definitely peaked my interest!

* 1 (16 ounce) package uncooked shell pasta
* 10 slices turkey bacon
* 1 (1 pound) loaf processed cheese food (such as Velveeta®), cubed
* 3/4 cup heavy cream
* 1/2 cup fat free half-and-half
* 1 teaspoon paprika
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 3/8 teaspoon smoked paprika


1. Bring a large pot with lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Stir in the shell pasta and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 13 minutes. Drain well in a colander set in the sink.
2. While the pasta is cooking, place the turkey bacon strips between two paper towels on a microwave-safe plate. Cook in the microwave on High until the bacon is crispy, 4 to 6 minutes depending on the microwave. Allow the bacon to cool; crumble and set aside.
3. Once the pasta has cooked and is draining, combine the processed cheese, cream, and half-and-half in the pot that was used to cook the pasta. Cook and stir over medium heat until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbly. Remove from the heat; stir in the paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and crumbled turkey bacon. Stir the cooked pasta into the sauce until evenly coated.

Spicy Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe courtesy of Sunny Anderson, Food Network

This doesn't seem too complicated. I love Sunny Anderson's show, Cooking for Real, because she really takes all the intimidation out of cooking!

2 cups elbow pasta, cooked until almost al dente
16 ounces Cheddar cheese, 1/2 cubed, 1/2 shredded
8 ounces Monterey pepper jack cheese, cubed
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons sour cream
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
4 slices bread
1 tablespoon butter
Special equipment: 2-quart baking dish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss together pasta with the cheese cubes and pour into the baking dish. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, dry mustard, nutmeg and sour cream, egg, heavy cream and half-and-half. Pour over the pasta and cover with shredded Cheddar. Bake uncovered until top is just beginning to brown, about 35 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the bread into crouton-sized squares. In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter, add cubes and toast until golden. Sprinkle the bread cubes on top of the macaroni and cheese and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes more.

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe Courtesy of Epicurious

I am not going to lie.. if I could find some lobster meat right now, this would be tried tonight! lol

1 1 3/4- to 2-pound live lobster

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
12 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, shells reserved
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped peeled carrots
3/4 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, peeled, flattened
1 Turkish bay leaf
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
3 cups water

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cups grated Fontina cheese (about 6 ounces)

8 ounces shell or gemelli pasta
6 ounces fresh crabmeat, picked over
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
print a shopping list for this recipe


Plunge lobster headfirst into pot of boiling water; boil 4 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to cutting board. Cut off tail and claws. Crack tail and claws and remove meat. Cut meat into 1/2-inch pieces. Cut body and shells into 2-inch pieces. Chill meat; reserve shells.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add lobster body, lobster shells, and shrimp shells to skillet and sauté 4 minutes. Add onion and next 4 ingredients; sauté 6 minutes. Add tomato paste; stir 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in Cognac. Add 3 cups water; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.
Strain mixture into bowl, pressing on solids to extract liquid; discard solids. Set stock aside. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp; sauté until just opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Cool slightly. Coarsely chop shrimp.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; stir 1 minute. Add stock and cream; simmer until sauce is reduced to 2 cups, about 5 minutes. Add cheese; stir until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Stir lobster, shrimp, pasta, crab, and 2 tablespoons butter into sauce. Stir over medium-low heat until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with chives.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, Food Network

Alton Brown is the man! This recipe is the closest to conventional mac & cheese!

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.

Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Remember to save leftovers for fried Macaroni and Cheese.

What's fried Macaroni and Cheese you ask? I was wondering myself!!! Check out this video!

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