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Four Cheese Cavatappi {aka: Nicole’s Mac & Cheese}

Four Cheese Cavatappi {aka: Nicole’s Mac & Cheese}

Like I mentioned last week, I’m not sure the best way to reacquaint ourselves. Here goes nothing: Hi, I’m Nicole. You might remember that I love to cook.  I can’t think of a better way to get the ball rolling than to share something for which no less than twelve people are waiting for this recipe (apologies for the delay!): Readers, meet my very favorite homemade mac and cheese.

The rage started with an Instagram photo over New Year’s weekend..

Four Cheese Cavatappi

and continued when I served it up at a kiddo/parent playdate, and then again at a football party. And then I ran out of cavatappi pasta and cried.

I’m not sure what else to say about this slow cooked mac&cheese, except that it is stupid delicious.

Okay, maybe I can find a bit more to say about it:

*The cavatappi pasta is a must – it holds up beautifully in the slow cooker while other pastas tend to get too soft.

*The pepper jack and extra sharp cheddars are also a ‘no-substitute’ – they allow a bit of complexity to the end flavor and will not be at all spicy.

*This is the only recipe in my repertoire that uses processed cheese, because try as I may, I have not been able to replicate the creamy texture without it. Let’s just agree to not have this for dinner every evening, okay? Actually, let’s just agree to make this for a large crowd of people so you don’t find yourself sneaking into the pot four (or five, or six) times.

*In my kitchen, instead of buying pre-shredded cheese, I try to buy in blocks and shred cheese right before using it. It could be totally in my head, but I really think it produces a tastier end result.

*If you do find yourself making this for a crowd, the recipe doubles well so long as your slow cooker can handle the volume.

*Rather than mix a topping into the entire pot, I choose to serve it with a topping bar. This works especially well for a meal where both children and adults will be eating. Or when you have some who are less adventurous eaters than others. And let’s face it, topping bars are just fun. I have provided a few ideas below for your mixing pleasure, but often our toppings revolve around what we have on hand.

Mac&Cheese

Ingredients:

5 cups uncooked cavatappi pasta (1 16 oz box)
4.5 Tbsp butter, unsalted
12 oz Velveeta cheese, cubed
3/4 cup extra sharp cheddar, shredded
3/4 cup muenster cheese, shredded
3/4 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
3 tsp  Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Cook pasta until just under al dente. Drain, then place pasta in slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Cook on high for 2-3 hours, stirring about every 30 minutes. Serve warm, with assorted toppings if desired (see below).

Mac&CheeseToppingsBar

Suggested Toppings Bar:

*Cooked lobster or crab meat

*Sriracha sauce

*Cooked, crumbled bacon

*Avocado

*Chopped red onion

*Marinated, cooked chicken

*Sun-dried tomatoes

 Last year at this time, BabyFoodScoops whipped up the crowd pleasing, freezer-friendly buffalo chicken chili. What did you think?

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