Hey my culinary peoples!
So during this long and crazy week I had the pleasure to make Mac & Cheese for the kiddies. Normally I would make a standard mac and cheese but lately I have been experimenting with different old recipes that I normally use. Maybe because it is the new year but I definitely been in my creative flow and have been making new changes to recipes ever since!
Now Mac & Cheese is nothing to really mess with, while it is a simple dish, many make different variations and there is always a debate about whose Mac and Cheese is the best! Reason why I love Mac and Cheese, you can be as creative as you want to be You can go either simple or gourmet, death by cheese or subtle, or even add various things like chicken, bacon, veggies, the possibilities are endless. So in my search for a unique way to make mac and cheese, I came across this homemade baked mac and cheese recipe (Courtesy of divascancook.com). What was unique about it was they had added cream cheese to their cheese mixture and I thought that was just brilliant! Once I had tried the recipe I knew it would become a stable for future mac and cheese creations. Another thing that I about the recipe was how creamy and flavorful the mac and cheese to the point it resembled the Haitian baked macaroni and cheese that I LOVEEEE (A staple side dish at any haitian event involving food, if you do not believe me ask any haitian person!) The haitian mac and cheese or macaroni de gratin, is filled with yummy flavors such and onion and garlic, they many put different meats and cheese or keep it simple. Now that you clearly know how much I love Mac and Cheese we will now get to the recipe!
I will not lie there are alot of steps to my new mac and cheese creation but once you make this once you will not miss a bit in the future. It is simple and fun and guess what, I made EVERYTHING in my rice cooker prior to baking it in the oven! (I told you I love that rice cooker!) Now lets get crackin!
- 1 box of Pasta – (Your choice of elbows, rotini, any of these pastas will do)
- Equal parts of Chicken Broth and Water to boil the pasta (Example: 1 cup of water and 1 cup of chicken broth)
- 1 cups of Chicken Broth
- 1 cups of Evaporated Milk (such as Carnation Milk) or Half and Half
- 2 tbsps of butter
- 8 oz of Cream Cheese (1 package of cream cheese)
- 1-2 cups of Diced Tomatoes (I used 1 can of Hunts Diced Tomatoes) or you can use fresh (I def will try in the near future :-))
- 2-3 cups of Diced Grilled Chicken Breast
- Olive Oil (enough to cover the minced garlic in the bottom of the pan)
- 1 Tbsp of Minced Garlic
- 2 tsp Onion powder
- 2 tsp Garlic powder
- Paprika (to sprinkle on top)
- 3 cups of Cheddar Cheese blend (I like to blend sharp and mild cheddar and you can even add montgomery as well or gouda – the desicion depends on your taste buds)
- (Optional) 1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese (to sprinkle with the cheese and on top of the baked mac and cheese you put it in the oven)
- 1/2 to 1 cup of Panko Bread crumbs (I found that panko bread crumbs are lighter and give the mac and cheese a great crunch)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Set oven to 350 degrees F
- Boil pasta with equal parts of water and broth till cooked and set aside or put in your baking pan
- In your rice cooker sautee your minced onion in some olive oil than pour in your diced tomatoes and stir in till simmering
- Meanwhile dice your already cooked grilled chicken breast and add the chicken to your diced chicken and minced garlic and simmer to enhance flavor.
- Meanwhile add chicken broth and butter to a medium size pot and reach to near boiling. While in the pot you can add in your seasonings such as garlic, onion, and salt and pepper. Than slowly add your milk or half and half to the broth and stir till near boiling and remove.
- Cut your cream cheese into chunks and add to your milk and broth mixture and whisk in, I had also used a hand blender to blend in the cream cheese to make the mixture smooth.
- Once blended you can now stir in your cheddar cheese to the cream mixture than pour into your macaroni, than add your tomato and chicken mixture.
- Once all added sprinkle parmesan and cheddar cheese on top of macaroni mixture and put into the oven for 25 minutes or until golden.
- Serve straight out of the oven as a side dish to your fave meal or even by itself with your fave veggies.
- Enjoy and trust me you will!
I hope you are not overwhelmed with the recipe, this is one of my many creations of baked mac and cheese. Cooking should be looked as a creative form of expression, when I cook or bake anything I like to be creative and see how far I can take a standard recipe and make it my own. I encourage anyone who cooks or bakes to next time instead of following the recipe to the T to switch it up! You might surprise yourself on what kind of new creation you make 😉
Happy Cooking my culinary friends 😀