Friday, November 23, 2018

Round Two Mac and Cheese

 OK, so, I know I'm gonna get a bunch of flack for saying this, but I never considered mac and cheese as being part of Thanksgiving Dinner. I know. I know. For many people, it is just not Thanksgiving without it, but it was never something my family ever included with our holiday meal. Other holiday parties? Yes, absolutely! But definitely NOT Thanksgiving.
 So, if you are also someone who doesn't usually include mac and cheese in your big feast, here's a great way for you to use up some of your leftovers! And yes, I've seen the videos where people are absolutely HORRIFIED watching the video from The Kitchen where they're adding leftovers to a mac and cheese, as if this is some sort of sacrilegious act. And to that I say, no one is trying to CHANGE your beloved favorite mac and cheese! But who says there can't be other kinds too?? I have literally TEN different recipes for mac and cheese on this blog, and frankly I can't wait to find ten more! So how about let's just keep our culinary minds open, and try new things, shall we?
 So, back to this recipe! Everyone always loves to make a turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberry sauce on the day after Thanksgiving, but there's never anything to do with the leftover vegetables, right? Well, here you go! Add them to mac and cheese! Even if we're not talking about Thanksgiving dinner, it's a great way to use up leftover vegetables. You just add a few fresh ingredients and make an entirely new casserole out of it. Perfect! For my Round Two, I added roasted Brussels sprouts and butternut squash, but you can add any kind of veggies you have leftover. I mean isn't adding cheese sauce usually how parents get their kids to eat vegetables anyway? It's a total win! Oh, and here's a thought.....  if you are someone who MUST have mac and cheese with your holiday meal, this could be a round ONE mac and cheese side dish for your big feast!
Give it a try! I promise you'll love it!

1 lb cut pasta, any shape
4 tbs butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbs fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup flour
4 cups milk
1 tbs mustard
1 lb Velveeta cheese
leftover veggies, such as broccoli, carrots, or root vegetables
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tbs melted butter
5 pieces of bacon, cooked and crumbled

Heat oven to 350ºF.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, boil the pasta until al dente.
While the pasta is boiling, melt the butter in a large sauce pan. Add the onions and saute over medium heat until they begin to soften. Add the fresh thyme and continue to saute. Add flour and stir well for a few minutes until it blends with the butter. Add the milk, mustard, and Velveeta in chunks. Slowly whisk over medium low heat until the cheese melts and the sauce thickens slightly. Be sure to stir all the way to the bottom to insure that the cheese sauce doesn't burn.
When the pasta is al dente, drain it well and add it to a big mixing bowl. Now add your leftover veggies and all of the cheese sauce to the bowl. GENTLY toss everything together. Pour into a large casserole dish. In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter and the bread crumbs, then sprinkle over the top of the casserole. Place in oven and bake for 1/2 hour or bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle crumbled bacon over the top. Let it stand for about 10 minutes and then dig in!

Be sure to boil the pasta in SALTY water. It needs more salt than you think it will need. How do you know how salty it is? TASTE IT. Yes, Taste the water before you add pasta to it. Also, make sure the water is boiling before you add the salt, otherwise the crystals will sink to the bottom and and leave marks on your pot.
When you make the cheese sauce, you will think that this is FAR too much sauce for this amount of pasta, but just go with it. When you bake it, the pasta will absorb some of the sauce and it will be the perfect creamy mac and cheese texture when it's done!
If you have a specific go-to mac and cheese recipe, by all means, use it! Just add your leftover vegetables and some fresh herbs like thyme, or sage, etc.
If you want to make it vegetarian, just leave out the bacon!

No comments: