Recipe 47: Bacon and Eggs Mac and Cheese (Adapted)

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you all had a good Thursday, whether you were celebrating, working, or just hanging out.  This begins what a friend of mine calls “silly season,” AKA the crazy time up until Xmas or even New Years’ when there are social obligations galore.  It’s fun, but it can get overwhelming entertaining and going all over.

Today I was able to play hostess to my dear friend Kristin, who I last mentioned here, and her beau.  This is the first time I’ve seen her in a long time – has it been since that post? – and I wanted it to be different.  To me, brunch is the best way to do this: Breakfast or lunch foods are appropriate, making brunch the most delicious meal of all.  Ever notice we only save it for special occasions?

Full disclosure: I have been dying to try a breakfast mac and cheese since I began this endeavor.   I’ve found a few recipes, but many are just your usual roux and cheese, just with breakfast sausage or bacon added.  While that could still be good, it didn’t scream breakfast to me.  Then I found this recipe – for a breakfast lasagna.  Well, it only took a little adapting to make it a mac and cheese instead of a lasagna.

Note: You can prepare this ahead of time, then bake when you want it.  I made it last night, then baked it today.  Take it out of the fridge to sit at room temperature about half an hour before baking.

Bacon and Eggs Mac and Cheese (adapted from Food.com)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb diced bacon
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons flour (I used Pamela’s)
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • cups milk
  • 12 oz macaroni (I used corn elbows)
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, diced
  • 1 cup (4 oz) shredded swiss cheese
  •  1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to sprinkle on top
  • tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Directions

Prepare macaroni according to package instructions.  Meanwhile, in skillet, cook bacon until crisp.  Remove with slotted spoon to paper towels.  Drain, reserving 2 1/2 Tablespoons drippings (if you only do 2, or do up to 3, I wouldn’t worry about it; if for some reason you come up short, keep the drippings you have in the skillet and add a little oil).  In the drippings, saute onion until tender.  Stir in flour, salt and pepper until blended.  Gradually stir in milk.  Bring to boil and cook and stir for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Mix with pasta, bacon, and hard boiled eggs.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly.   Sprinkle with parsley.  Let stand 15 minutes before cutting (LOL, does anyone really wait that long?).

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 Verdict: 4/5

I was sweating this one.  I looked forward so much to making a breakfast mac, I really wanted it to work.  The ingredients all seemed to add up, but one never knows.  Not to mention that this mac heavily features Swiss cheese, which I actually don’t even really like.  All my worrying was over nothing: it turned out great!  The onion flavor did get lost a little, so you might want to consider using just a whole large onion.  The bacon flavor was most prominent, which is fine by me, and the eggs were more of a texture element than a flavor one – maybe if I had baked it right away they would be more of a flavor presence?  On the downside, that texture element does not reheat well: When microwaving some of this later on, the eggs did become a bit rubbery, so try to only make as much as you can serve all at once.  This fed four hungry adults, with I think one or two taking seconds, and there was plenty leftover.  I’d say the above recipe serves 6 -8.

 

Do you have a better idea for a breakfast mac?  I’d love to hear it!  Drop me a line!

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Recipe 46: Lighter Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Spinach and Red Peppers

Whoo!  That title is a mouthful, isn’t it?  Thankfully the ingredients are pretty easy to obtain, and the process is quite easy (maybe not what I would call an “easy mac” since it does involve more than just stovetop cooking, but nothing too difficult).  I baked this for friends, one of whom is vegetarian.  Thought I’d at least attempt to make something healthy-ish whilst still sneaking a mac in there.

Lighter Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Spinach and Red Peppers (from The Kitchn)

 

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces macaroni (2 1/2 cups dry macaroni)
  • 12 to 16 ounces baby spinach (7 to 8 large handfuls)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (12-ounce) jars roasted red peppers, drained and diced (I’m fairly sure the hubz bought roasted – and pickled – peppers)
  • Fresh pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 3-quart casserole dish with nonstick coating.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water generously and add the macaroni. Cook until the pasta until it’s just barely al dente — a little bit of chew is fine here. Drain and immediately transfer the hot pasta to a large mixing bowl.

Add the spinach and toss to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dinner plate and let the spinach wilt in the heat of the pasta for about 10 minutes. Shake the bowl occasionally to mix up the pasta and spinach — some of the spinach may not completely wilt; this is fine (like, none of mine did – it still came out cooked in the end).

Whisk the eggs until well-combined, then whisk in 2 cups of the cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, and salt. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta and wilted spinach. Add the diced red peppers and gently stir until combined and all the ingredients are evenly coated with sauce.

Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the baking dish. Cover tightly with foil. At this point, the casserole can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking.

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over the top of the casserole. Bake, uncovered, for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese has melted and you can hear the casserole bubbling. (If baking straight from the fridge, extend the covered baking time to 45 minutes.)

Let the casserole cool for a few minutes before serving. Leftovers will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to a week.  Serves 8.

 

Verdict: 4/5

I’m town between making this a 3.5 and a 4.  The 4 won out because between the four of us, there was nothing leftover.  All of us had seconds, and our bowls were all clean.  The cottage cheese does make it come out a bit loose, thus I used bowls for serving – it really fell apart as soon as you cut into it.  Still, the texture was good and the varying tastes all worked together well.  I’m not sure how much lighter this is than a usual mac and cheese recipe, but it certainly felt lighter, if that makes sense: There was no cheese-belly feeling afterwards, but you still walked away satisfied.

 

 

So recently I have been trying to work to lose weight – nothing new there.  But since the holidays are coming up, it seems unlikely I’ll be meeting that goal.  With all these get-togethers coming up, I have found several new mac and cheese recipes (to go along with the many, many recipes I already have bookmarked) that are tempting me.  Do you have any recipes you think I should try?  Drop me a line!