Thinkin’ outside o’ the (blue) box…

MacCheeseBakedbfLOWhat could be better on a chilly, gray Sunday than some mac ‘n cheese?

Hmmmm, how about homemade mac ‘n cheese, made with sharp cheddar, aged swiss, and mozzarella cheese; all topped with a mixture of home made bread crumbs, butter and freshly chopped parsley?

Yup. More better.

I based this tasty little casserole on a Guy Fieri recipe that looked really good – but that called for a bunch o’ stuff we didn’t really need; like heavy cream, bacon and bacon fat. The only thing I plan on doing differently next time is adding some dry mustard, a dash or three of paprika, and some crushed red peppers to spice things up a bit – otherwise, it’s a keeper.

•1 pound dried pasta (elbows, shells or penne), cooked
•1 medium onion
•3 cloves garlic
•Olive oil
•2 tbsp flour
•1 tsp dry mustard
•1 tsp paprika
•1 tsp crushed red pepper (or more)
•2 cups half & half
•1/2 cup pasta cooking water
•1-1/2 cup water
•1-1/2 cup Tillamook cheddar
•3/4 cup Swiss cheese
•3/4 cup mozzarella  cheese
•Salt and freshly ground black pepper
•1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
OnionGarlicbfLO•2 tbsp melted butter
•1/2 cup or so chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350º.

Put the onion and garlic in a small aluminum foil pouch and drizzle with olive MacCheeseReadyToBakebfLOoil and some crushed red pepper. Roast 20 to 30 minutes or until tender, remove from foil and chop.

Heat some olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the roasted onion and garlic and sauté for a minute or so, then add the flour and stir to cook it for another minute.

Whisk in the half & half, pasta water, tap water, mustard, paprika and crushed red peppers, if using, and cook, stirring quite often, until reduced by about a third.

AppleChopsGrilbfLOAdd the shredded cheeses and stir until melted. Remove from heat and stir in the pasta. I also chopped and added some balsamic roasted red peppers I had in the fridge.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and turn into a 13×9 baking dish.

Mix the bread crumbs, chopped parsley and melted butter together in a small bowl and sprinkle over the pasta. Bake at 350º, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes until bubbling and slightly browned on top.

We had ours with grilled apple Dijon pork chops and promptly forgot how gray and chilly it was.

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