28 September 2007

Super-Cheesy Mac & Cheese

Have you got the Blue Box Blues?

I know I do. And I've got them squared.

See, the trouble with out-of-the-box macaroni and cheese is that most of it tastes like something is missing. Even the fairly good, organic, REAL cheese versions. Most notably, these boxed mac & cheeses are lacking in flavor. Well, okay, I suppose they do have one flavor, but I don't think "fake cheese powder" should count.

Still, every few weeks I get that homesick craving for mac & cheese, and something must be done to satisfy it.

I wanted to use real cheese, but that begged the question of means. Microwave or toaster oven? I didn't know. I managed to cook the sausage in the microwave (and it came out quite tasty, too) but melting cheese seemed like a different animal to me. And, well, I'll admit it: I've got a case of what I'll call toaster oven snobbery. It pays off well to reheat such things as French fries, corn bread, pizza, and a plethora of other foods in the toaster oven. Less soggy and less like leftovers. But then, on the other hand, I'm also equally… impatient. So I can't totally bash the microwave, it has its moments of glory.

In the end, I just decided to try both and see what happened.

Baking in the toaster oven (7 minutes at 350 O F) gave okay results. But, surprisingly enough, the microwave actually worked better. The cheese was creamier, having less of a tendency to clump together during mixing. However, if you're looking to impress, the toaster oven version did come to the (coffee) table looking a lot prettier. However, as far as taste and texture, the microwave definitely won.


Microwave Results:

Toaster Oven Results:

Note: This picture may be misleading in the deliciousness factor. That cheese up there that looks nice and gooey and presentable? It's actually hard and tacky. Which is why the microwave wins at life... er, or at melting cheese anyway.

I'd like to give one more note of warning. This recipe is really and truly super cheesy. I made the original with double the amount I've recommended here. Eight ounces doesn't seem like a lot when you're layering it over a whole pot full of noodles. Trust me, it really is. I could barely finish a serving with all that cheese weighing it down. But if you love cheese like it's the new Elvis, please, go ahead and double the amount recommended in the recipe. But don't say I didn't warn you.

If you're still craving that super-cheesy goodness, here's what I've come up with:

Super–Cheesy Mac & Cheese

Things you can pilfer from the dining hall:

1 cup red pepper slices

¼ cup milk

4 Tablespoons butter

Things you will probably have to buy:

1 box macaroni & cheese mix (Toss the powdered cheese. You know you want to.)

4 oz shredded cheddar cheese (You may want to have a of mix white and yellow cheddar, as I have.)

3 stalks green onion

1 package sausage links (use one sausage of approximately 7 ounces in size)

  1. Cook macaroni according to box directions. Add peppers to macaroni with one minute left on the timer.
  2. Slice sausage into rounds. Cook according the packaging microwave directions. Make sure when you buy it that the sausage can be cooked in the microwave.
  3. Drain macaroni. Mix in onions, milk, butter, sausages, and some garlic salt and chili powder. Arrange cheese on top.
  4. Melt the cheese in the microwave on HIGH for 1 minute and 30 seconds.



AJ Star said...

mmmm this looks really pretty and delicious. i am all about the microwave because i prefer taste over presentation. i think the green onion and red pepper add enough color to make up for the lack of pretty browning on the cheese. and i like this recipe too because it's so easy to go vegetarian. excellent.

Marian said...

DUDE!! Olivia, this one looks crazy awesome! I think I may have to try this one out and actually, the dining hall has been having sausage where they usually have the fried stuff, so you could probably pilfer that as well!