BETTER THAN MOM’S MAC ‘N CHEESE

Ingredients

4 qt water, boiling
1 tsp salt
8 oz elbow macaroni, uncooked
2 Tbsp butter, room temperature
4 oz cream cheese (1/2 brick), room temperature
1/8 c bleu cheese crumbles
1/4 c asiago cheese, shredded
1/3 c muenster cheese, shredded
1/2 c mild cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 c extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2/3 c monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 c half & half creamer (or combination of heavy cream & whole milk)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/16 tsp ground black pepper

TOPPING
1 Tbsp butter, melted
1 c herb seasoned croutons, crushed
1/8 c grated parmesan, romano & asiago cheese blend (shaker container type)

Directions

1. (NOTE:) Recipe may be doubled for 9″x13″ or 4 qt. casserole.
2. Lightly grease a 2 or 2 1/2 quart casserole dish; set aside.
3. (This step is the most time consuming, so you may want to shred the cheeses ahead of time. Please don’t use the pre-shredded cheeses as it will negatively affect your results.) Gather and prep all ingredients except macaroni (shred cheeses, crush croutons etc…
4. Add water and 1 teaspoon salt to large pot (5 qt. or larger;) over high heat, bring water to boil.
5. Add macaroni, stir; when water returns to boil, reduce heat to medium-high; set timer and cook for 8 minutes.
6. Drain macaroni, but do NOT rinse; return macaroni to hot pot.
7. Immediately add butter and cream cheese; stir gently until melted.
8. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
9. In a plastic food bag or bowl combine cheeses.
10. Add combined cheeses to macaroni; stir to mix well.
11. Into the half & half, add egg, seasoned salt and black pepper; whisk or beat well with a fork until very well combined.
12. Pour over macaroni and cheese mixture in pan; stir to mix well.
13. Pour macaroni mixture evenly into prepared dish. (If you have a little shredded cheese leftover, you may sprinkle on top of macaroni mixture, up to 1/2 cup.)
14. Make topping by combining crushed croutons with melted butter; stir to coat; stir in the parmesan cheese; sprinkle evenly over macaroni.
15. Bake at 350ºF for approximately 50 to 60 minutes (place a sheet of aluminum foil over it, towards the end of cooking time, if it is beginning to become too browned.)
16. Serve immediately. Cover and refrigerate leftovers. If reheating, add a tablespoon of milk or half & half to the bottom of the dish.
Last Step: Don’t forget to share!