Who didn't eat macaroni and cheese as a kid? I started with the box variety as a youngster, and graduated to my mom's baked macaroni and cheese as a young adult.
Oh, that baked macaroni and cheese!
The Italian-Style breadcrumbs is what sells this dish. The savoriness, the texture ... It's the kind of food you arrive home from college begging for.
And then, you grow up.
And while I still love my mom's macaroni and cheese, I want to put my own spin on it as well. As if to say, "I'm here and I cook!"
So that's exactly what I did one day as I was looking at the half-filled bags of shredded pepper jack and colby jack cheeses, wondering what the heck I was going to do with them. Macaroni and cheese, but of course! And the sweetness of the grape tomatoes in my veggie drawer were perfect way to cut some of the spice from the cheeses.
Grape tomatoes? Spicy cheeses? My mother wouldn't take such liberties with her macaroni and cheese! She's a purest. But on the other hand, isn't that a daughter's job, to take a few liberties every now and then?
Macaroni and Cheese ... With a Kick!
A Country Cooking Original
- 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (about 7 ounces)
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
- 1 cup shredded colby jack cheese
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cook macaroni to al dente as directed on package.
- While water for macaroni is coming up to a boil, add olive oil to a skillet. Sauté onions and tomatoes on medium-low heat until tomatoes are just about to burst. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Then melt butter in 3-quart saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour, seasoned salt, pepper, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute; remove from heat. Stir in cheeses until melted.
- Drain macaroni and put back into pot. Add sautéd onions and tomatoes and stir. Add cheese sauce to macaroni mixture and stir to combine.
- Pour into an ungreased 2-quart casserole dish. Top with breadcrumbs. Drizzle with olive oil and bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly.