Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bacon Mac & Cheese

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Welcome back from a holiday weekend! I hope you had some time to relax and enjoy some quality time with loved ones. I had a great weekend and had quite a bit of fun in the kitchen too. We taught a Mexican tamales class, did a Chicago steakhouse restaurant review while celebrating a dear friend's birthday, hit up the local Six Flags amusement park, ate our fair share of Korean food, had ourselves a French-inspired picnic on the living room floor, and satisfied our sweet tooth by testing out a slew of dessert recipes. But now it's back to the usual daily grind. And after the whirlwind of what seemed to be global ride of eats, our favorite meals are always the ones that are comforting and feel like home. Like macaroni and cheese. If the Baron had his way, he'd be quite content with the kind right out of the blue box. But for me, I like adding other dimensions of flavors and textures to keep it interesting. So for this Bacon Mac & Cheese, smoky crisp bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, and a dash of hot sauce were mixed in with pasta before baking it up with a crunchy cheesy breadcrumb topping...


I think it's safe to say that I'm the most adventurous eater in our home. Between Joel and The Baron, they like things nice, simple and plain. There's nothing wrong with that - it certainly makes it easy for me... but I like to switch things up and throw them some culinary curveballs now and then. One way I like doing that is by making a traditional recipe for common dishes and adding a spin to them. For this macaroni and cheese, I made the typical cheese sauce using sharp cheddar. I also added some bacon {it makes everything better, as they say} and for a kick, I put in a few dashes of hot sauce. You could stop here and serve it as is... but for a layer of texture, I transferred the pasta to a casserole dish and topped it with more cheese and some breadcrumbs to bake up to a crisp topping. Yum. I guess the lack of leftovers made this a successful dish!

* You could easily freeze this as well. To prepare for your freezer, prepare as directed but do not bake after adding the cheese and breadcrumb topping. You can cool and cover with plastic wrap, then with foil before storing in the freezer. Or better yet, use a freezer- and oven-safe container like Glad SimplyCooking Ovenware.

Bacon Mac & Cheese
adapted from Cooking Light


  • Cooking spray
  • 3 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 12 ounces macaroni, penne or curly {GF} pasta
  • 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour or gluten free flour blend*
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk, divided
  • 2 cups finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce {Frank's Red Hot}
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • slices center-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup panko or regular {GF} breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 2-quart broiler-safe dish by coating with cooking spray.
  2. Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. 
  3. Add the pasta; cook 8 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine flour and 1/2 cup milk. Gradually whisk in the remaining 1 cup milk and bring to a boil. Continue to stir constantly to thicken.
  5. Remove saucepan from heat and let it stand for about 5 minutes. 
  6. Stir in 1 1/2 cups cheese. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, onions, hot sauce, pepper, and bacon; stir. 
  7. Add pasta and toss to combine. Transfer pasta into your prepared dish and top with 1/2 cup cheese and 1/4 cup {GF} breadcrumbs. 
  8. Place in preheated oven and bake for 7-10 minutes or until cheese melts and top browns. Serve hot.

*Gluten free flour blend:
This is the best combination for my personal uses and has never failed me. I purchased a majority of the ingredients at an Asian market (at less than $.99/lb) and the other ingredients marked were Bob Red Mill brand. Cornstarch was Argo brand.

300 grams superfine brown rice flour (Bob's Red Mill)
250 grams sweet rice flour (Asian market)
150 grams tapioca flour (Asian market)
100 grams sorghum flour (Bob's Red Mill)
100 grams potato starch (Asian market)
100 grams cornstarch (Argo brand)

Whisk together the above flours and store in an air tight container. To use, measure out 140 grams for every cup called for in your favorite baking recipe (NOT yeast bread recipes.) Add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum for every cup used in the recipe as well to help with texture and binding. Voila! You can bake gluten free with confidence! 

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