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In need of 2 mac & cheese recipes -- one kid-friendly and one for grown-ups.

I'm throwing a party this weekend for some friends that just moved to town. Both kids (mostly 3-year-olds) and adults will be in attendance. Anyone have a tried & true kid-friendly macaroni and cheese recipe? I'd also like to serve a grown-up version of mac & cheese and was thinking about Ina Garten's Penne with Five Cheeses (Pecorino, fontina, Gorgonzola, ricotta & mozzarella). Anyone tried this before? Thanks in advance hounds!

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  1. I have never tried Ina's but I have a great recipe- I don't use gorgonzola because it is so strong- I use smoked gouda and goat cheese along with swiss, mozzarella and cheddar. I get raves!

    1 Reply
    1. re: getcyped

      Raves are just what I'd like. I'd love your recipe!

    2. I make a very simple mac & cheese for my kiddos. I cook elbow or shell noddles--just past al dente. While the noodles are in the colander I melt about 2 tblsp butter, add in 1/4 - 1/2 cup of milk and heat to just below a simmer. Then I grate in enough cheddar to thicken the sauce and add a small amount of parm. Toss with the noodles and serve. You can mix in ham and peas, as well. My kids are both under three and they love it every time and it takes the same amount of time as the junk in the box.

      1. my sister in law makes a mac n cheese that calls for a box of pasta, 8 oz american cheese, butter (4tbsp?), milk (2c?) and flour. Nothing else. The kids in the family - there are 7 under 6 - love it.

        1. Every time I make the, now famous, (gulp) pound of cheese to a half pound of pasta NYTimes recipe, the whole thing gets devoured.

          I actually use less than a pound of cheese because it's way too much -- but its a nice super simple recipe.

          1 Reply
          1. re: burritobelle

            A pound of cheese to a half pound of pasta!! Can you provide a link, burritobelle?

            Sounds like my kind of mac and cheese.

            jenna74, I usually wing it (the adult version) with any soft cheese I can find in the better local market. Blue, gruyere, soft cheese names unknown to me, the more the merrier.

            I buy them, melt them with cream, add some Parmigiano Reggiano, and mix with a short fat pasta. Last time, I also added some sour cream to taste.

          2. I love this mac and cheese: it's super easy since you don't have to boil the pasta beforehand. It's the kids kind since it's great but really familiar. It's a recipe from a blog that's really great: http://cookbad.blogspot.com/2006/11/s...

            1. I make the mac and cheese from Martha Stewart's website which uses sharp cheddar and gruyere. Kids and adults love it! We serve it with fried chicken or baked ham for easy parties.

              Personally I hate blue cheese, so I have not tried the Ina Garten recipe.

              1 Reply
              1. re: NE_Elaine

                I second the Martha Stewart recipe. The best I have ever had!

              2. IMHO, mac and cheese is comfort food and should have cross-generational appeal, so I'm not a big fan of strong cheese in the dish (though I love them elsewhere). I'd do a classic mac and cheese then maybe do more exotic sides, though for my money the roasted broccoli in in the most recent CI would be perfect. This is absolutely no-fail (my nana's recipe slightly modified):
                2 c. cooked macaroni
                3 c. milk
                3 T. flour
                3 T. butter
                2.5 c. grated sharp cheddar
                S and P to taste
                Dash of nutmeg if you like

                Make a roux. Whisk in milk and cook over M heat until thickened. Cool slightly then add 2 c. cheese (make sure it's a bit cooled or the cheese will get grainy). Add S and P and nutmeg if you want. Spread macaroni in a casserole dish and pour sauce over. Sprinkle with remaining cheese at bake at 350 until bubbly.

                1. Whenever someone requests a mac & cheese recipe, this is the one I offer.

                  Over-the-Rainbow Macaroni and Cheese
                  Recipe created by Patti LaBelle
                  From the Oprah show Recipes to Remember

                  Patti LaBelle says that the sure sign of a good cook is if their macaroni and cheese will make you cry! According to Oprah, Patti's version just might bring tears to your eyes.

                  1 tablespoon vegetable oil
                  1 pound elbow macaroni
                  8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon butter
                  1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Muenster cheese
                  1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mild Cheddar cheese
                  1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
                  1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack
                  2 cups half-and-half
                  1 cup (8 ounces) Velveeta, cut into small cubes
                  2 large eggs, lightly beaten
                  1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
                  1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

                  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a deep 2 1/2-quart casserole.

                  Bring the large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the oil, then the elbow macaroni, and cook until the macaroni is just tender, about 7 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain well. Return to the cooking pot.

                  In a small saucepan, melt eight tablespoons of the butter. Stir into the macaroni. In a large bowl, mix the Muenster, mild and sharp Cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheeses. To the macaroni, add the half-and-half, 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese, the cubed Velveeta, and the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the buttered casserole. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and dot with the remaining one tablespoon of butter.

                  Bake until it's bubbling around the edges, about 35 minutes. Serve hot.

                  1. My favorite "mac and cheese" to impress guests is actually a german dish, käsespätzle.

                    Spätzle are little noodle/dumplings, I make them from scratch. The recipe is simple. 1 cup flour to 1 egg, add enough water so that its "slimy" (actual quote from the german recipe), and some salt to taste. Then fnd a large holed colandar (the flatter the bottom the better) and press the noodles through it into boiling water. Boil until firm in batches.
                    Usually about one eggs worth of pasta per person.

                    Next, take out the biggest heaviest pan you have (I use a cast iron). Throw in the best bacon you can find (Speck or Bauchstreifen if you can find them), render the fat, then add chopped onions to taste. Saute until the onions are translucent.

                    Shred up hmm.. lots of young (not aged, not smoked) gouda. (I use about half of the big costco block for 4 eggs) Toss about 3/4 of it in with the pasta and stir until well mixed. Throw the remaining cheese on top of the dish. Now put a lid on it and cook it until bubby hot on a low burner (the bottom gets all crusty and delicious). If you want extra crust, throw it under the broiler for a few minutes, otherwise it is ready to serve.

                    Its great with just a small side salad or served with bratwurst. To make vegetarian, you can omit the bacon.

                    1. My favorite grown-up mac & cheese is Silver Palate's Quattro Formaggio. I found a link to it here: http://www.recipelink.com/mf/31/43145

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: yannie

                        yannie, that's about what I do, except I sub any soft cheese whose name I don't know. It's soooo good.

                      2. Here's one for the Green Chili Macaroni and Cheese from Roaring Fork. I love this stuff:

                        1. Though I also agree that a good mac & cheese should appeal to kids and grownups alike, if you're looking for one recipe and two tastes, epicurious has one for mac&cheese with chipotles in adobo, which has you make half with chipotles and half without, so people can sort out their spice prefs. It's "adult" in terms of spiciness, but definitely a plain rich hearty style (not "adult" in the haute or fancy cheese cuisine sense--though it definitely can stand to have some cheese variety introduced to it :) )

                          1. I'd recommend my Baked Macaroni Shells and Cheese recipe for adults but the kids will love it too. It's not spicy or hot and is pretty simple to make.