Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mac & Cheese for Mama, Please!

I like the idea of being able to eat what I want, when I want, and however I want... but, unfortunately, my *insert problem area here* doesn't always feel the same way - nor does my commitment to eating seasonally. Foods that are as hearty and rich as this recipe is should really be saved for the fall and winter seasons, when our bodies are naturally craving things with a little more "oomph", instead of the salads, grilled fare, and lighter options of spring and summer.

Even though I may strive to eat a healthy, balanced diet, there are some times when I just have to cave in and eat what I'm craving. I don't call it weakness, no... I call it "listening to my body". While not wise to do all the time, well, everything in moderation. So there.

Finally, this is a great recipe to make for a sick friend, or for new parents. It's comforting, hearty, and definitely something to sit back and enjoy before running to the nearest treadmill!


  • 8 slices of thick-sliced bacon (I like peppered bacon for an extra kick)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% milk (do NOT use nonfat!!)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 ounces Brie cheese (rind removed), at room temperature
  • 3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
  • 2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 bag of frozen sugar peas
  • 1 cup Breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flake
  • 2 teaspoons paprika


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth.

Off the heat, add the cheeses - Brie, Cheddar, blue cheese - then 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Add the cooked macaroni, crumbled bacon, and frozen sugar peas and stir well.

Pour into a baking dish.
Add 2 tablespoons of melted butter, red pepper flake, and paprika to the breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

- Original recipe by Ina Garten, with modifications by Krystal Bishop