I had been hoping for some snow this winter, like we experienced in Atlanta two years ago. Alas, it was very warm this past Thanksgiving and Christmas season, and only this week we’re starting to flirt with cooler temperatures.
If you’re like me, this colder weather makes you want to curl up on your couch under a cozy blanket with a satisfying plate of something that’ll warm you up from the inside out.
For the first time, I tried a baked macaroni and cheese recipe last week, and it was so delicious and comforting that the health nut in me didn’t even regret a bite of it.
Despite having spent so much of my life in the American south, I’m not big into the comfort foods since they rely heavily on meat. But mac and cheese is one that I can get behind, plus the recipe I used from allrecipes.com didn’t even include egg, which was great. The recipe was so quick and easy too, all done in four simple steps: 1) Cook macaroni. 2) Make cheese sauce 3) Brown breadcrumbs (I used Panko) 4) Bake at 350 degrees.
One thing about baked mac and cheese though– it needs to be eaten fresh out of the oven (after allowing it to cool of course). I’ve always felt that mac and cheese leftovers are pretty tasteless. After the cheese has cooled and congealed, the flavor is just lost, even if you added spices, which I did by way of black pepper, oregano and red chili powder instead of paprika. Using sharper, stronger cheese will help add flavor if you expect to have leftovers. For instance, I like to add gorgonzola crumbles for more flavor, and this time I added shredded gruyere that I had on hand, which gave it more savoriness.
Additionally, I didn’t just sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top. I pretty much created a layer of breadcrumbs to form a nice crispy crust on top after it baked, due to the preference of those in my household. While I was skeptical at first, after I tried it, I must admit that the enhanced layer of breadcrumbs created a lot more texture in this recipe.
A final word of caution: I recently came across a post on Facebook for a “healthy” mac and cheese recipe that included some spinach in it, and I’ve seen others with additions of broccoli, etc. I’m all for including veggies in your diet, but let’s not forget that this is still mac and cheese. It’s pasta, cheese, butter and breadcrumbs, so don’t be deceived by recipes that say they are healthy just because they toss a few veggies in the midst of the creamy, cheesy, carby richness.