Mac & Cheese (and well bacon.... of course)

I have a strong love affair with mac and cheese. Specifically Kraft. Not Auntie Annie's. Not Velveta. Just Kraft. 

The Blue Box. In the event you were confused.

So, I guess it is weird slash expected that I had never made Mac & Cheese from scratch. If I have something that works, why mess with it right?

Well, I'll cut right to the chase. I made it. It was great. I will always love the Blue Box.

In true fashion, I didn't measure a lick. I feel like that is something you can really get away with here, but I guess it doesn't really help you.... in the event you wanted to make it as well. Also, my pan was a little bit smaller than your average casserole size.... so add that to the mix of issues. But, I do promise you that you will love this... and it will be great.

I started wanting to make mac & cheese several days ago. I googled. I searched. I opened books. I wanted essentially this dish but it wasn't easy to find. Thankfully, I stumbled upon the "We Heart This" version and knew from their description that I had struck gold.

I think it helped that it was super cold today. I think it also helped that on the Today Show this morning they showed me what an actual serving of cheese should look like. I can say without a doubt that I exceed that anytime I come near cheese. And, I'm sorry.... but after eating this cheesy delight, you will as well.

So, let's get to it. Remember how easy the Ginger Snaps were yesterday? Well, this is just that easy... and I guess almost easier. It's going to seem a little bit backwards the order in which you make things but trust me it makes sense in the end. 

(Step 1) Set the oven to 400 F.

(Step 2) You've got to make the creamy egg mixture first. Why? Well, you want this to be room temperature so that when you put it on the hot pasta you don't get scrambled eggs. That would be bad. So, in a bowl.... put the eggs, light cream, mustard, salt, pepper .... then whisk it up. Done.

(Step 3) and (Step 4) You can do in any order your heart desires... and maybe you only have one skillet right? So, you need to make bread crumbs and you need to make some bacon. The bread crumbs are super easy. Melt the butter in the pan. Toss in the bread crumbs. Mix them around. You want the crumbs to get a little toasty so let them hang out a bit on a low/medium heat. Contemplate life for about 3-4 minutes and you should be good.
Make the bacon however you want. I like mine a little crispy. I used 3 pieces (well 2.5, I ate some) and it was fine. Bigger pan, more bacon. Seems obvious.

(Step 5) Boil your pasta water and toss in those noodles yo. Cook them until they are al dente. Oh, and salt that water. Easy.

(Step 6) Once you've got your pasta all drained. Toss in the butter... and once it melts, get ready to put the cream mixture in. I put my pot back on the stove on low heat to help. You'll want to whisk it just a bit before you pour to make sure it's all good in there. Looks good right? Now add the cheese. Add it in little batches just to make stiring easier. Since you've got the heat on low, the cheese will melt which is perfect.
(Step 7) Add in the bacon! and for that matter anything else you want.... peas? sure why not. That's your choice not mine.

(Step 8) Put all this business in your baking dish.... and then put the bread crumbs on top. Toss in the oven for 20ish minutes.

Next thing? Eating. If you are anything like me, you'll make this. Realize how good it smells and immediately feel like you need to have people over to eat it. So, that's what I did.

I feel oddly more grown up for making this because now I can serve guests mac & cheese.... and not have it be from a box. That just doesn't seem right. Not that it'd stop me, but now I at least have a plan B.


Shopping List

Crunchy Delish Topping

1 1/2 c. panko bread crumbs (find these. it's worth it. it's also not hard)
4 T. butter
1/4 tsp. salt

The Business
1lb. box of macaroni noodles 
2 eggs
14 oz. of light cream (-ish.... again, I didn't measure)
2 tsp. powdered dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 pieces of bacon
14 oz shredded sharp cheddar
8 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese
3/4 c of shredded/grated whatever gruyere
8 T. unsalted butter (note: see step 4 below)

Bonus picture? Remember when I didn't have a grater for the cheese? Well, I procured one today and it was a great $4 spent. Plus, I'm pumped its not a box grater because this one is so much easier to clean. And after cooking.... I get lazy yo.

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