By Mike Thayer
A scratch made Mac & Cheese is always the best, but there are times when one of those boxed varieties will satisfy the craving for some classic cheesy pasta.
Kicking those boxed varieties up a notch in flavor is easy.
Tip One: If you've got the time, always include some oven baking time for your Mac & Cheese. Stove top is good, but oven baked is SOOOOOOO much better. All you have to do is add a little more liquid, to keep those noodles from getting too dry while baking in the oven until golden, brown and delicious on the edges. Add some more milk, or better yet, use cream!
Tip Two: Bacon makes everything better! Crumbled bacon sprinkled on top of a creamy Mac & Cheese is killer!
Tip Three: Something crispy on top. Who doesn't LOVE some crushed up crackers or chips layered on top of an oven baked Mac & Cheese? Perhaps your mom used bread crumbs on top? Growing up as a kid, my mom used those stale remnants at the bottom of the chip bag, you know, those small pieces leftover, no crushing required. And if there were no chips available, she would crush up some saltine crackers. That added texture makes for a more satisfying Mac & Cheese bite. Don't settle for plain 'ol chips, crackers or ordinary bread crumbs though, go flavored with 'em! Any cheese flavored cracker or chip is a no-brainer but there are so many flavored varieties of chips and crackers out there these days you can hardly go wrong. Jalapeno flavored, BBQ flavored, Sea Salt & Vinegar flavored.... The list is almost endless! And here's a chip tip.... Kettle cooked chips rock it better than regular varieties. Using your imagination and some creative flavor pairings will give you a whole new appreciation for Mac & Cheese, even the boxed varieties! Alternative: Those french fried onions in a can..... YUM!
Easy Peasy Mac & Cheese
- One box of Mac & Cheese
- 3/4 cup heavy cream (instead of milk)
- 3 tabs of butter
- A couple handfuls of Kettle Cooked BBQ flavored chips, crushed
Prepare the macaroni per the box instructions, but take a minute off the boiling time. After draining the noodles (do NOT rinse), re-introduce them to the pot, add the butter, heavy cream and the cheese mix, stir to incorporate. You don't need to do this over any heat, the remaining heat in the pot/pan will be enough. Transfer the mac & cheese to the baking dish and bake at 375 for about 10 minutes. Top the mac & cheese with the crushed potato chips and bake for another 10-12 minutes or until the dish is golden-brown and delicious! It's another dose of YUM!