One of the foods that we all seem to go for at some time is macaroni and cheese. No other dish offers us both simplicity and allows us to be as complicated as we want it to be. Even for the lactose-intolerant, a bowl of macaroni and cheese offers a solid dose of comfort. While the basics are pretty simple, and most people can create some version of the dish, even if they need to rely on the box or microwavable version. It is a dish that remains a favorite, and for good reason.
Keeping It Simple
Sometimes the best recipes are the simplest. This simple three-ingredient macaroni and cheese recipe should be enough to get you started. When possible, get the sharpest cheese you can for the best flavor. Also, avoid pre-shredded cheese whenever possible; it usually comes coated with a preservative that hinders its ability to melt, and you want as much melting as possible. Lastly, remember to never freeze any version of macaroni and cheese; it may change the texture to something you do not like.
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And Then There Is Baking
If you think that smooth macaroni and cheese, wait until you add a little crunch to it. Baked macaroni and cheese is the last simple recipe you should have to master. This uses bread crumbs to give the noodles a nice little crunch, adding some nice texture to the dish. One last simple cooking tip: When cooking with milk, make sure that you keep stirring it; otherwise, it may burn and that is something you want to avoid. When doing a cheese sauce, this means you need to ensure that the cheese is melted and then take it off as soon as possible.
Yet Another Baked macaroni and cheese
It is always good to have two recipes for everything; it allows you to see how someone else would do the same recipe. This Southern baked macaroni and cheese takes the simple recipe and adds some extra bite to it. Something worth noting from this recipe: If you want to try something, go for it and see what happens. Every recipe should be yours, and should show that you were its chef; once you know how the recipe works, start having a little fun with it. You never know what will happen, so experiment and track the results so you know what you did to create it, for good or ill.
Making It a Little Lighter
While making macaroni and cheese healthy is blasphemy in some circles, there are ways to make it a little less dense. This light recipe takes out most of the fat and adds in some spinach. There are other health-related decisions you can make: Both the noodles and flour in most recipes can be substituted with healthier options, and you can always substitute gluten-free options. Just remember that there will be a change in flavor, however mild, and that may be an issue.
Starting to Get Into Gourmet Territory
Macaroni and cheese is not just a simple dish; you can upscale it as well. While this is still a simple recipe, it uses a fancier cheese, more seasoning, and some vegetables to give it a splash of color. While you can use half as much table salt instead of the listed kosher salt, you may not want to do so: The coarseness of kosher salt allows it to be spread easier by hand and it usually does not have the additives, such as anti-caking powders and iodine, that table salt has. There is no real taste difference; let the kosher salt dissolve, and you would not notice the difference.
If You Want Something Healthy
For some, the sheer amount of starches is a problem. This homemade macaroni and cheese recipe uses peas and pesto to not only brighten things up but also add in some additional vitamins. They also suggest asparagus and broccoli; the bright green provides the perfect color complement and the vegetables lighten things up. While they also suggest adding some mustard for additional tanginess as well as some cheese substitutions, keep in mind their basic point: Add some green vegetables for additional nutrition and a healthier dish.
And Then There is This Pot of Sins and Comfort
There is one ingredient that seems to be tailor-made for macaroni and cheese, and this baked macaroni and cheese recipe makes it a major component: It adds in bacon. There is nothing that screams “comfort food” like bacon, and adding it to macaroni and cheese just feels natural. While this may not be a healthy dish, you do not always want a healthy dish; sometimes you just want something simple, easy, and that allows you to feel good about yourself while rebelling against The Authority telling you to eat healthily. This is that dish.
Time to Have Some Fun
For those looking to really see what they can do, this recipe gives you a chance to go all out. There is a lot of things going on in this recipe, but that makes it all the more worth it. Take your time, have some fun, and follow the recipe to the letter the first time; the next time, have some fun with it removing some ingredients and substituting others. Recipes like this are great for chefs because it is interesting to see how a lot of strong flavors can come together for one great taste.
Time to Add Some Proteins
Macaroni and cheese allows you to add pretty much anything to it and it still works. This Tuscany chicken recipe is where we start to see what you can do when you add a little protein to the mix. You can add almost anything to the mix and it works; this recipe suggests you even try shrimp, fish, and other proteins; make sure that you cook the meat thoroughly and then add it on top of the macaroni and cheese. Thus, if you have a favorite protein you can transform this from a side dish to the main dish.
For The Meat Lover
While there are some versions with plenty of vegetables out there, you are probably looking for something with a little more protein. This meat lover’s macaroni should be right up your alley. As noted earlier, make sure that all meats are cooked thoroughly before adding to the noodles, and do not skimp on the meats. This is definitely not a recipe for dieters, and is advertised as such; this is more for skip days and for when you are preparing for a heavy workout, where all of that protein and all of those carbs can be put to work.
A Little Taste of Cheeseburgers
For those looking for an interesting amalgamation of tastes, this should be of interest. This skillet-based recipe combines ingredients to give the macaroni and cheese the taste of a cheeseburger. It is quick, easy, and simple to make, and is definitely going to be a crowdpleaser. If you have a large family and are looking to feed them, this provides a lot of what they need without breaking the bank, making it great for families.
A Taste of Chilli Mac
People have been combining chili and macaroni and cheese for a long, long time. This skillet macaroni and cheese combines the two in a great way and is a family favorite for both its cost and that it satisfies everyone. Both components work on their own, but when combined the chili’s spiciness infuses the cheese sauce, making for a delicious, spicy dish, and the beans add another starch and a different texture to the mix. Better yet, this is one of the few macaroni and cheese recipes that can be frozen, allowing you to make a lot of it ahead of time. For those looking for the perfect family recipe, this comes really, really close.
Going a Little Asian
Just to show off how much fun you can have with macaroni and cheese, there is this Korean macaroni and cheese recipe. It combines a number of Korean spices and condiments with some fresh vegetables for a really great recipe that is also pretty healthy. For those who would like to try something new and have fun with some great ingredients, this is a really great to do it.
What is Next?
Obviously, this is just scratching the surface of a very deep pool. There are plenty of other options available for those looking for something to try; just pick a direction and follow that as long as you can. There is almost no real way to go wrong with macaroni and cheese; you could probably even pick ingredients at random and come up with something great.
When you cook your macaroni and cheese, remember that while the cheese sauce is the important part, the macaroni needs a little attention as well. Flavor the water with salt, just enough to taste it; the salt will not only flavor the noodles but keep them separate. You should also stir occasionally just to ensure separation. Lastly, do not cook more than suggested; the noodles will be far too soft to hold the cheese sauce, and you want them to be not only be covered in sauce but absolutely inundated. Remember that, and you should have a bowl of noodles ready to comfort you.