When I went hunting for a good mac ‘n’ cheese recipe for this Crazy Cooking Challenge, I wanted something different. Something tasty and hearty that would maintain the cheesy goodness of traditional mac ‘n’ cheese, but that would stand out in a crowd.
This mac ‘n’ cheese has that traditional cheesy taste, but it’s kicked up a notch by the addition of some non-traditional ingredients – and one very different cheese. I wasn’t so sure that these ingredients could really work together, but they do. It really does taste like a cheeseburger. So fun!
I can’t prepare a recipe without tweaking a few things, just for the fun of it, so my changes are in italics below. I wanted to keep the essence of the recipe but still stick within my family’s healthy eating plan.
1 lb pasta – I used whole wheat elbows.
1 lb ground sirloin
1 T grill seasoning – I used garlic powder, salt, pepper, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.
1/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. mustard
1 T. butter
1 med. red onion, chopped – Since I currently have about 12 lbs of yellow onions in my fridge, I just used one of those.
salt and ground black pepper
2 T. flour
1 1/4 c. grated yellow cheddar cheese, divided
1 1/4 c. grated Swiss cheese, divided
2 c. milk
3 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 deli-style pickle, chopped – I used about 3 dill slices because that’s what I had on hand – and not everyone in my family likes pickles.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cook the pasta until just short of al dente according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine meat, grill seasoning, ketchup, and mustard. Roll tablespoon-sized chunks of meat into small meatballs and place on a baking sheet (I lined mine with foil first to make clean-up easier). Bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the onion in a stockpot with the butter and 1 T of EVOO. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened. Sprinkle the flour over the top and stir. Whisk in the milk, season wtih salt and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes or until thickened.
Remove from the heat and add about 1 cup of each type of cheese, stirring it in. Add the pasta and the cooked meatballs to the cheese sauce and toss to combine. (Instead, I moved my baked meatballs to a towel-covered plate to drain. After mixing the pasta and sauce, I then added the meatballs individually to the dish so that I could spread them out evenly without making them fall apart.)
Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Broil until golden brown and bubbly. Garnish with the chopped tomatoes and pickles and serve (We added carrot sticks and a salad to this to round out the meal).
Yield: 4-6 servings (We ate four servings that night, at least, and then had four meals of the leftovers later. It was great!)
Thanks, Cynthia, for sharing this wonderful recipe! Cynthia has many more on her blog My Family Meal Plan. Be sure to check it out!