Let's Be Cheesy

January 20, 2017

 

CHICKEN BACON TOMATO 6 CHEESE MAC N' CHEESE

 

I once had a strong aversion to Mac N' Cheese. Probably because my only experience had been with Easy Mac, which I have always found curiously orange and a bit slimy, to be honest. Not to offend anyone who loves their Easy Mac. It simply isn't for me. 

 

I believe I discovered my love for Mac N' cheese around the time I moved to Nashville. It was likely in one of the many amazing restaurants the city offers that I discovered the wonders of homemade Mac N' Cheese, in all of it's cheesy, chewy, never slimy, glory. Perhaps Edley's? Last I checked, they had some pretty amazing Macaroni and Cheese. My opinion of the side dish was once again heightened upon a trip to Music City's fanciest dive restaurant, Firefly Grille (seriously, 5 star food amidst gaudy christmas lights, pirate flags, and pictures stapled to the wall),  where I treated my tastebuds to their famous White Cheddar Mac N' Cheese. Then I realized Macaroni and Cheese didn't just have to be a side dish, it could be a full on meal! After all, it is a pasta. The Italians eat this kind of stuff for dinner all the time, right?! (Note: the classic American comfort food was likely invented in the UK.)

 

Well today, I drew a craving for Macaroni and Cheese. With rain pouring outside the window and my kitchen stocked with various ingredients, I set to work, and let me tell you, it was a success! 

 

For my dinner I composed a recipe of Chicken Bacon Tomato 6 Cheese Mac N' Cheese. BEST. THING. EVER. Alas, oh that I had measured! Today was one of those days in the kitchen where I hardly measured anything. Yet, as it tasted so good, I shall try and construct the recipe and approximate measurements here, for this is a secret far too good to keep to myself. 

 

CHICKEN BACON TOMATO 6 CHEESE MAC N' CHEESE

INGREDIENTS:

 

1 Box Barilla Cellentani Pasta (Yes, I realize this is not Macaroni, but the essential elements are the same                                                      and you can make it with whatever pasta your cheese-loving heart desires)

2 tbs Butter

1/2 Block of Cream Cheese (4oz)

1 Bag (8oz) Kraft Italian 5 Cheese with a touch of Philadelphia Blend

Milk (This I did not measure, I would estimate a cup and a half, just enough to make the cheese a sauce            and not just melted cheese in a pot)

Black Pepper & Garlic Powder (to taste)

4 Slices of Bacon, cooked

Olive Oil

1 Chicken Breast

East Nashville Spice Company's All Purpose Seasoning and Rub

12+ Nature Sweet Cherub Tomatoes

 

DIRECTIONS: 

 

Cook the entire box of Cellentani according to the directions on the box. Then drain and dump into a casserole dish. 

 

Combine butter, cream cheese, most of the 5 cheese blend (save just enough to sprinkle on top), and milk (just add it till it looks right) in a pot on medium heat. Melt together, stirring continually. Add black pepper (several shakes) and garlic powder (a little goes a long way).

 

Meanwhile, pour enough olive oil in a pan so as to just cover the bottom. Add chicken (if it is frozen, defrost it first!) Sprinkle the upside of the chicken with the all purpose seasoning. Cook until white all the way through, flipping half-way through. Once completely cooked, slice into bite-sized pieces.

 

Cut a dozen or more cherub tomatoes (I like to have lots of tomatoes, it's really personal preference) in half. 

 

Add tomatoes, chicken, and bacon to the pasta in the casserole dish. Pour the cheese sauce over the combined ingredients. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Top with remaining cheese of the 5 cheese blend. 

 

Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the sprinkled cheese begins to turn golden brown. 

 

THAT'S IT! 

 

I served mine up with sautéed spinach (just add spinach and a touch of olive oil to a pan on medium heat and stir until it begins to wilt and turn a shiny, vibrant, dark green). 

 

Happy cooking! 

 

 

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