When I first began dabbling in cooking, I went almost exclusively to allrecipes.com with the notion that, since it was comprised almost entirely of crowd sourced recipes, I’d probably find some great homemade gems.
Y’know what? I was right. Kind of.
Allrecipes is a minefield, at best. The most popular recipes have over 2000 reviews and still require legwork: sifting through them might yield some advice that magically transforms the recipe from “good” to “great” (this has happened: see recipe below). The worst recipes are the ones that are no-brainer arrangements of ready-made food. Fun fact: putting pre-made, jarred pesto on cooked pasta is not a recipe. It’s college. So what the hell is it doing on Allrecipes.com?
One majorly redeeming factor, though, is that you can look in your fridge, assess your ingredients, and go there to find a recipe that uses what you have (there’s also an option to exclude certain ingredients, if you’re catering to a picky eater). More experienced cooks can do this on their own. People like me need the reassuring hand-holding of the Internet to tell them what to do.
Imagine my glee when I realized we had four bags of shredded taco cheese (a mix of monterey jack, cheddar, and asadero cheeses) in our fridge and not a whole lot of ideas on what to do with that much?! It was Allrecipes to the rescue. I cooked up a rich and creamy adaption of this baked macaroni and cheese with the noted modifications, feeling like an untouchable master chef because I used some substitutions and it didn’t ruin the whole recipe. Good job, Allrecipes! Now get the ready-made recipes off of your site. Seriously- hire a moderator or something.
Baked Mac and Cheese
- 8 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni
- 2 cups shredded taco cheese (found at Wegman’s)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp butter
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup half & half
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 1/2 tbsp flour
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 pinch paprika
- Cook macaroni according to instructions and drain. Put in a large casserole dish.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a sturdy saucepan, melt 1/4 cup butter or margarine over medium heat. Stir in enough flour to make a roux. See here for more info on what a roux is and what it’s supposed to look like, but basically once it’s thick like a gravy (but not thick to the point of being like paste), it’s a roux. DO NOT STOP STIRRING IT. Keep it moving so it doesn’t burn.
- Add milk, half & half, and sour cream into the roux slowly, stirring constantly.
- Stir in cheeses and cook over low heat until the cheese is melted and the sauce is a little bit thickened. Don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t become super thick- it was a bit runny when I made it, and baked beautifully into a creamy sauce. At one point I just kind of gave up and was like “WELL, HOPE THIS WORKS OUT” and it did. Don’t despair!
- Pour the sauce over the macaroni in the casserole dish and stir well.
- Melt the remaining 2 tbsp butter in a skillet over medium heat.
- Add the breadcrumbs and brown them. Spread them over the macaroni and cheese to cover.
- Sprinkle the dish with paprika.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Eat enough to hate yourself, because it’s awesome.