mac and cheese for the fancy adult

quattro formaggio, spinach, and bacon macaroni and cheese

Ahh Monday…we meet again! Does anyone else feel extra lazy on Mondays? I know I do!

Remember when I proclaimed myself to be a foodie-aholic, but then confessed to eating nothing but pizza for half a week? You can read my confession here. Well, I had a list of yums that inspired me to throw away the boxes of pizza (it was tough!) and sentenced myself to the kitchen. I previously made crispy chicken skewers from that list and it was deeeelicious! This time around, I had to make the mac and cheese…quattro formaggio, spinach, and bacon mac and cheese to be exact! This isn’t just your ordinary kiddie mac and cheese (although I’m sure the kids would love it too!), this is macaroni and cheese for us fancy adults! What makes this fancy you ask? Well honestly…I don’t really know, but maybe it’s the spinach and four types of cheeses that makes it fancy? :/

This version of mac and cheese is incredibly simple and easy to make. This whole meal can be done in less than an hour! And did I mention the fact that there are bacon bits in it? That right there is a selling point for you to try!

For a girl that loves bacon, how could you expect her to jump on the Meatless Monday bandwagon? Hope you all enjoy my rendition of Meatless (No Way) Monday! :)

Let’s get started!

Before you start making the sauce to your mac and cheese, get the noodles out of the way!

boil the macaroni noodles

Kitchen tip: drizzle a little olive oil into the boiling water, it prevents the noodles from clinging onto each other while they’re cooking.

cook a few minutes less than the instructions specified on the package

Once the pasta is done cooking…

drain and set aside

Now make the bacon bits!

best bacon ever!

You will need about 6 ounces of bacon for the making of bacon bits…

I used 5 strips, but more the better!

first cut the bacon vertically

then chop into bite-sized bits

Once you’ve chopped up your bacon into bits, cook them in a hot sizzling pan…

season with freshly ground pepper

Cooking the bacon bits takes a couple minutes, so don’t walk away from the stove!

yummm....bacon :)

You want to cook them until it’s crispy looking. If you’re not sure (like I was), it’s done when it’s bubbling…

stand back! i got hit with a few pops of bacon grease :(

Drain the bacon, and set aside…

once it's cooled, feel free to munch on some bacon bits

Now that the bacon bits are made, work on the sauce for the macaroni and cheese…

melt 3 tablespoons of butter

To make the roux for the sauce…

add 1/4 cup of flour

Whisk and cook over medium heat until it’s golden…

don't worry if it looks clumpy

Then slowly add…

3 cups of milk

Whisk while cooking over medium heat. Next add 3 ounces of mascarpone cheese…

whisk until melted and creamy

Then whisk in the cheese! I used Trader Joe’s Quattro Formaggio Cheese Blend.

whisk until smooth and creamy

not there yet...keep whisking!

Once the sauce is creamy…

add nutmeg, cayenne pepper, salt/pepper to taste

Stir and bring the sauce to a slow simmer. While the sauce is simmering…

chop up some fresh baby spinach

chop chop chop

By now the sauce is done simmering…

stir in the spinach

add the macaroni

sprinkle in some more cheese! trust me, more cheese the better!!

Stir well and cook just until heated through…

yummmm!

When you’re ready, scoop a healthy portion onto a plate and sprinkle an unhealthy amount of bacon bits!

can you guess which one is hers, and which one is his? :)

looks just like the picture on the computer, huh? :)

Some things I learned while making this:

  1. Always cook more bacon than necessary.
  2. Bacon bits are born once it starts splattering all over the place and your face.
  3. Stop munching on bacon bits otherwise there will not be enough for garnish later.
  4. Back to point one, more bacon is good.
Quattro Formaggio, Spinach and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese (adapted from Good Life Eats)

serves 4-6

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups of 2% fat-free milk
  • 3 ounces mascarpone
  • 6 ounces of Trader Joe’s Quattro Formaggio Cheese Blend (blend includes parmesan, fontina, asiago, and mild provolone cheeses)
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 + extra dashes of cayenne pepper
  • salt/pepper
  • 5 strips of apple wood smoked bacon
  • 4 ounces fresh baby spinach, chopped

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta one to two minutes less than the instructions on the package. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cut the bacon strips in half vertically, then into bite-sized pieces. Season with pepper. Cook until crispy. Then drain, and set aside.
  3. In a pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook over medium heat till golden. Slowly whisk in the milk while cooking over medium heat.
  4. Stir in the mascarpone cheese, whisking until melted and creamy. Then whisk in the cheese until melted and creamy. Add the nutmeg, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Bring it to a slow simmer, and then stir in the pasta and spinach. Cook just until heated through.
  5. Serve immediately, sprinkling each portion with bacon bits.
© 2011 – shecooksandheeats.wordpress.com
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46 thoughts on “mac and cheese for the fancy adult

  1. I feel hunger now… Thanks to your post :p

    It looks so delicious :) Just wondering, how do you shoot and cook? Any tips?

  2. Good recipe! We don’t have bacon in France (not proper bacon anyway) so I would use lardons which I imagine turn out pretty similar!

    I understand you’re new to blogging so well done! I like the way in which you write and how you have illustrated the instructions with lots of photos, very nice ;)

    For info I am also lazy on Mondays. Being back to work after the weekend and all the cooking etc I feel lazy and look for quick and easy things to do… I’m thinking tomato and bacon tart tonight…

  3. Wow, that looks delish! Thanks for sharing the recipe..I’ll definitely be trying it out soon :) I’m new to blogging as well, so thank you for the nice comment!

  4. Hi there! Your mac and cheese looks delish – I bet even my girls would eat it. They both love bacon. You have a really great blog going here – I learned something new myself from your post about roasting peppers and tomatoes. I never thought to roast them over the stove. Good idea, and no need to fire up the grill. I will check back again! I’m always on the hunt for time-saving dishes that taste and look gourmet.

  5. Lazy Hazy on a Monday. Now extra hungry compliments of Kat and her mouth-watering blog. Kat you are right, more bacon is good! Thanks for checking out our stoner snacks on Greenkick.

  6. OK, I need to have this NOW! Although I have heard that while olive oil keeps the noodles from sticking to each other, it also keeps the sauce from sticking to the noodles…

  7. That’s is a fancy Mac N Cheese indeed. But I think kids would drool over it too. :)

    Thanks for the great recipe! Oh, BTW I’m gonna add your blog to my Link Roll on my blog ok?

    Have a great week!

  8. Thanks for stopping by and the comment on my blog today. Ok, this post made me instantly hungry, even though I had an incredible lazy Monday. I’m a new subscriber.

  9. wow! wonderful recipe! if you let me a couple of comments (i’m an Italian man grown up eating too much cheese!!):
    ** the proper spelling would be “quattro formaggi”, plural with final I (I hate when they misspelled it on menu.. but of course in US it might be correct your version!)
    ** next time try to put bits of different cheese the night before inside the milk-mascarpone mixture you made, so they get very very soft and when you cook for a short while they melt but not become liquid.. but maybe it is only me!

    Anyway, very very very good blog.. motivation to look for Western ingredients and try your recipes!!

    ciao ;-)

  10. you actually gave me a good idea about how to finish my gnocchi tonight ;-)
    4 cheeses and bacon!!
    yeah, more bacon for me!! ;-)

    gnocchi instead of macaroni!

    am i allowed? ;-)

  11. Hey, thanks for your comment. Your blog looks great! I’m also new to this whole thing and it looks like you’re on a great start. Your macaroni looks delicious!!! I love a good macaroni and cheese and I completely agree with you, “more bacon the better”. I tend to use sharp white cheddar for my mac and cheese, will post eventually! Keep posted!

  12. I love your step by step with the pictures (and the captions… some are funny but true)! Every time I make bacon, I munch some and give some to my husband too… It’s the pre-treat! lol. I like making crisp bacon in the microwave by placing some paper towel in a plate, covering with the bacon and microwaving for a couple of minutes… Once it cool down, just crack them with your hands into small bits!! And once again thanks for your comments in my blog!! See you soon!

  13. Looks awesome, I like this cheese sauce concept better than the traditional alfredo (super fattening egg/whole milk). Trader Joe Marscapone is fab, it has a better flavor than some of those fancy Italian brands – at half the cost.

    Mmmmm bacon….

  14. Wow. That’s a lot of pictures and even more comments! I’m overwhelmed! but maybe it was the sexy mascarpone that has me this way. Also, LOVE your whisk. Never thought i’d say that to someone. haha. This looks incredible and I love what you learned. The other day I learned that duck bacon is 60% leaner and 25% more delicious. WTF. Anyways, looking forward to seeing more!

  15. Looks great, Kat!

    But, and this may sound kinda gross – why not dispense with the butter and just use three tablespoons of reserved bacon fat for the roux? You cooked all the bacon; you might as well put its byproduct to a second use. Why not, right? It’s no worse for you than butter. And! It’ll imbue your sauce mornay with a nice smoky undertone.

    -D

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