Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a chance to rest, relax, and regroup this past weekend- which I know may have been a little tricky with Daylight Savings Time throwing a wrench into everything.
I’m still a bit off, especially since I forgot to re-set my clock in my car- so when I happened to glance at it when I was halfway to the office this morning- I had a moment of panic thinking that I was somehow (and miraculously) an hour earlier than scheduled.
I’m sure I’ll get accustomed to it by the time Fall rolls around and we have to set the clocks an hour back, of course.
Anyway- this morning I have a pretty fun (and not really appropriate for those avoiding carbs, sorry!) appetizer/snack recipe that adds a fun twist on an old classic. I love pasta, and I love cheese- so homemade mac & cheese is one of my “Cheat Day” indulgences- but I never really get a chance to bake it in a way that gives me some control over portion sizes.
Until now, anyway. All you need are the below-listed ingredients and a mini-muffin tin- and you’re good to go!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
- 1 pound small elbow pasta
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2½ cups whole milk
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups grated white cheddar cheese
- 2 cups grated yellow cheddar cheese, divided
READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease two mini-muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the elbow pasta and cook according to the package instructions, about 7 to 9 minutes. Drain.
- In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more.
- Sprinkle the flour into the pot and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add the milk and whisk well to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Season the sauce with the cayenne pepper (if using), salt and pepper. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the white cheddar and 1½ cups of the yellow cheddar. Stir until the mixture is melted.
- Stir in the cooked pasta and mix until it is evenly coated with the sauce. Scoop 1½ to 2 tablespoons of the mac-and-cheese mixture into each cavity of the prepared pans.
- Sprinkle a few pieces of yellow cheddar on top of each mac-and-cheese bite and then transfer the pans to the oven. Bake until the cheese is melted and the bites become golden, 17 to 20 minutes.
- Let the bites cool for 15 minutes before unmolding and serving. Serve hot or at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days.
I’m not ashamed to admit I ate way too many of these things when they were done- because they were so delicious and addictive! I also want to mention that I used smoked cheddar in this recipe, which gave these bites a really great and almost unexpected kick of flavor- so if anyone is feeling experimental- it’s a pretty tasty alternative to regular cheddar cheese!
I think when I make another batch of these (which I most certainly will soon!)– I’m going to add pieces of cooked bacon and maybe some diced jalapeño peppers to the mix. This is a pretty versatile recipe that you can play around with and customize- which makes it even better!
Enjoy your day, everyone! Here’s to another beautiful, brilliant week!
– Ashley –