MACing it Up! Creating Your Signature Mac and Cheese

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese w/ tomato and grilled chicken

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese w/ tomato and grilled chicken

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!

Courtesy of plumsintheicebox.com

Example of Haitian Mac and Cheese: Courtesy of plumsintheicebox.com

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!

Ingredients:

  • 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 BreastΒ 
  • 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

Directions:

  1. Set oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Boil pasta with equal parts of water and broth till cooked and set aside or put in your baking pan
  3. In your rice cooker sautee your minced onion in some olive oil than pour in your diced tomatoes and stir in till simmering

    Diced tomatoes and minced garlic in Rice Cooker

    Diced tomatoes and minced garlic in Rice Cooker

  4. Meanwhile dice your already cooked grilled chicken breast and add the chicken to your diced chicken and minced garlic and simmer to enhance flavor.

    Diced chicken cooking in diced tomatoes and garlic (In Rice Cooker)

    Diced chicken cooking in diced tomatoes and garlic (In Rice Cooker)

  5. 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.
  6. 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.

    mac and cheese 3

    Broth and milk mixture blended with cream cheese

  7. 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.

    Macaroni w/ chicken, cheese, tomato, and milk mixture

    Macaroni w/ chicken, cheese, tomato, and milk mixture

  8. Once all added sprinkle parmesan and cheddar cheese on top of macaroni mixture and put into the oven for 25 minutes or until golden.

    Mac and Cheese prior to being baked

    Mac and Cheese prior to being baked

  9. Serve straight out of the oven as a side dish to your fave meal or even by itself with your fave veggies.
  10. Enjoy and trust me you will!

    Bon Appetit!

    Bon Appetit!

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 πŸ˜‰

Happy Cooking my culinary friends πŸ˜€

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18 thoughts on “MACing it Up! Creating Your Signature Mac and Cheese

  1. foods for the soul says:

    I never would have thought of cream cheese! It makes sense — it’s slightly tart and savory with lots of creaminess that mac ‘n cheese needs — but still, I probably would have stuck to cheddar and milk! I’ve also never baked mac ‘n cheese, but maybe I need to try that too…

  2. riley4ever says:

    I’ve got to try this! It looks fantastic! So does your page, by the way! I just created my page, I have NO idea what I’m doing! This page is so cool, so professional, you must be proud of it- it’s super cool πŸ™‚

    • smileycook says:

      aww thank you soo much! You know it took me a while to get the hang of it. In my short experience of “blogging” this one thing I learned is if you love and are passionate about your post it will show and shine. Just post what inspires you and your creativity will shine through! I cannot wait to see what you come up with πŸ™‚

      • riley4ever says:

        That is sooo super sweet of you!! You seem like a great person! Thank you for your kind words and encouragement! I needed to hear that, thanks girlie =)

      • smileycook says:

        Of course! We should all inspire each other to do great things! You seem like an awesome person with lots of creative ideas! I cannot wait to see them πŸ™‚

  3. At Margareta's Haus says:

    My boys do not like tomato chunks. If I were to process the canned tomatoes through a food processor and then add them to the mac n’ cheese would I need to adjust the liquid? Let me know your thoughts.

    • smileycook says:

      When I was making the recipe, I had thought not many people will like tomato chunks. I would suggest making a tomato puree and cut down the chicken broth by half. Put I also think maybe asking your boys what they would like in there mac and cheese. Maybe bacon could do the trick! But I def would test out the puree to see if its something you and your family would enjoy. Let me know how it comes out or any other suggestions πŸ™‚

      • At Margareta's Haus says:

        Oooohhh I like the bacon idea – you can never go wrong with bacon – LOL. They are ok with tomato sauce, puree, etc. just no visible tomato chunks. I will try the puree idea and the bacon and will let you know how it turns out. I am excited to use my rice cooker for this.

  4. Brigitte says:

    Thanks for your marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it, you could be
    a great author. I will always bookmark your blog
    and will often come back later on. I want to encourage you to continue your great job, have
    a nice afternoon!

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