Follow me through the adventures that take place in my kitchen, in restaurants or in other kitchens. Cooking and food are my passions and I want to share my experiences of cooking, baking and eating with you.
I'm a Greek self-taught cook who lives in Chicago. I learned a lot about cooking from both of my grandmothers, my mom and dad, family and friends. Passing on timeless traditions through food is one thing I strive to do in life.
These are my journeys through culinary exploration...
clraptis (at) gmail (dot) com
Culinary Exploration - Grecian Kitchen
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Posts tagged mushrooms
SPICY & SMOKY MAC-N-CHEESE
Funny story. When I was a kid, I couldn’t stand the thought of eating macaroni and cheese that didn’t come from the blue Kraft box. If my mom or grandma made a rich, gooey 9x13 dish of home made mac-n-cheese I refused to even take a bite!
Now the thought of that processed powdered cheese makes my tummy turn. Who knows what they put in that stuff!? Being older and more conscious of what I’m consuming, I’d rather make my own mac-n-cheese, pizza, ANYTHING if it means I can control my ingredients and/or put a healthy twist on it.
Enter my too-often craving for a good quality, thick, melty homemade mac-n-cheese.
I always make a roux with flour and butter, add milk (I use fat-free skim and sometimes add a touch of half & half or heavy cream to give it an extra boost of richness) and a blend of different good quality cheeses to make my thick, gravy-like cheesy sauce.
This time I had a few slices of bacon in the freezer and a paper bag with some cremini mushrooms in my fridge that needed to be used before they were tossed in the trash. I decided they would be a perfect pair to add to my mac-n-cheese after I picked up some extra sharp cheddar and chipotle smoked gouda at the store. The end result was a spicy, smoky mac-n-cheese that was dangerously delicious!
Here is the recipe for you all!
½ lb. whole wheat elbow macaroni
3-4 slices of center cut bacon, chopped
2 c. sliced cremini mushrooms
5 T. unsalted butter
6 T. all-purpose flour
3 c. milk (I used fat-free skim and a shot of heavy cream)
1 t. salt
¼ t. ground black peper
Pinch cayenne pepper
3 c. grated cheese (I used extra sharp cheddar and chipotle gouda)
½ c. bread crumbs (optional)
Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt and macaroni and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and rinse off any extra starch.
Render chopped bacon in a sautee pan until crispy.
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Sautee mushrooms in bacon grease until soft and completely cooked.
Set mushrooms aside with the bacon.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly and cook until the flour has absorbed the butter and gets thick. Do not let the flour brown! Add in the milk and cook, stirring with a whisk constantly, until thick and creamy. Add the spices and 2 ½ cups of the cheese and stir well until metled. Add the cooked macaroni, bacon and mushrooms then stir to combine. Pour into the baking dish.
Combine the bread crumbs and remaining ½ cup of cheese (or just take the left over cheese) and evenly sprinkle on top of the macaroni. Bake until cheese topping is golden, about 25 minutes. Let rest at least 5 minutes before serving.