Not Just Mac and Cheese

Since I just moved to Houston, the Hubby and I have been checking out the new hood and trying out all the local restaurants. We stumbled upon one that is delowcious to the taste buds, but dangerous to the hips. And since we are going to a February wedding in Mexico, I am pretty sure we will not be frequenting the local eatery for at least a couple more months. The restaurant is called Jus’ Mac, and that is exactly what it is… just mac. However, it is not just any old mac. They have 18 different variations of macaroni and cheese, with ingredients such as avocado, goat cheese, chicken, mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, bacon, meatballs and Fritos. Of course you can create your own as well. My personal favorites are the Rustic and the Goat Cheese. I add chicken to both and have it made with whole wheat pasta. That way I somehow rationalize it in my head that it is not that bad for me. I think the owners of the restaurant are geniuses. I am telling you, if you want a million dollar idea, think of something basic and then jazz it up. It works every time. Anyway, Jus’ Mac inspired me to make my own fun, jazzed up, adult version of the old American staple, Macaroni and Cheese, or favorite noodles as they were always referred to in my house. To the internet I went in search of some of my favorite ladies’ recipes. InaPaula… What do you have for me? Don’t worry once I make theirs’ I will tweak it to make my own.

Paula’s Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (an 8-ounce box isn’t quite 2 cups)
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stuck) butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 ½ cups (about 10 ounces) grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 (10 ¾-ounce) can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Paula’s Directions

Boil the macaroni in a 2 quart saucepan in plenty of water until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain. In a medium saucepan, mix butter and cheese. Stir until the cheese melts. In a slow cooker, combine cheese/butter mixture and add the eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard and pepper and stir well. Then add drained macaroni and stir again. Set the slow cooker on low setting and cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

  • Source: Paula Deen
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 3hrs
  • Total Time: 3hrs 5mins
  • Recipe Yields: 12 servings

Ina’s Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
  • 1 quart milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¾ pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
  • 1 ½ cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Ina’s Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

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 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) 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 two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Notes: Ina also makes a Lobster Mac and Cheese… Stay tuned for that recipe. She had me at lobster!

  • Source: Ina Garten
  • Recipe Yields: 6 to 8 servings
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