Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese

Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food loved by both adults and children because who doesn’t love carbs and cheese?!

This recipe involves Gruyere Cheese on top of a sharp Cheddar cheese sauce. Both of these cheeses melt really well, contributing to the extra creamy and cheesy flavor. This baked Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese is topped with a layer of Parmesan infused Panko crumbs giving it the perfect texture.

There are so many packaged Mac and Cheese options that are so quick to make but I am convinced that absolutely none of them can compare to this homemade recipe because by following this recipe, you are using two real cheeses that both have a great rich flavor and melt really well to give you the creamy mac and cheese that you are looking for.

Here is how to make Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese:

  • boil elbow macaroni
  • make cheesy sauce (butter, milk, flour, cheddar cheese, salt, pepper, mustard)
  • mix in the cheese sauce with the elbow macaroni
  • Add in the Gruyere cheese to the macaroni
  • pour the cheesy macaroni into a baking dish
  • make Parmesan Panko topping and top the mac and cheese
  • bake for 25-30 minutes
  • enjoy the irresistibly creamy mac and cheese

Can I use different cheeses?

Yes! You can make this recipe your own. Not all cheese is made the same so for best results, use cheeses that melt well. Both Gruyere cheese and sharp cheddar cheeses are very strong and flavorful, giving this Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese an explosion of cheesy flavor. They also melt incredibly well giving them a smooth creamy texture. It’s also best to shred your own cheese for optimal flavor. I find that pre shredded cheese ofter dries out slightly and looses some of it’s flavor and moisture. Not only that but pre-shredded is coated so it does not melt as well as a block of cheese that you would shred yourself. 

Other cheeses to use for homemade creamy mac and cheese are:

  • Monterey Jack
  • Gouda 
  • Muenster
  • Parmesean
  • Havarti
  • all kinds of sharp cheddar

How to make the the mac and cheese topping:

I love this topping because it’s so easy to make and gives the homemade baked mac and cheese an extra layer of texture to balance out the perfectly smooth and creamy baked mac and cheese. Start with mixing the Panko bread crumbs with the Parmesan cheese as well as the salt and pepper. You can use either seasoned bread crumbs or you can season your own. Next, drizzle over your melted butter to the bread crumb mixture and mix well until it looks like wet sand. That is all my friends! A couple of simple and you are ready to spread the bread crumbs over the your mac and cheese.

Make ahead instructions:

No matter how much you reheat refrigerated mac and cheese, it will not be as creamy as just made mac and cheese. For best results, serve this homemade baked mac and cheese right away! However, that’s not always possible, especially if you are making this ahead of time. If you don’t plan on serving right away, make more cheesy sauce!

Storing and reheating instructions:

Store leftovers in a tight lid container, in the refrigerator. To reheat your homemade baked mac and cheese, pour a splash of milk, then microwave until heated to your preference. Don’t go overboard with the milk though! I would start with about 1/2 of a tablespoon at a time and add more if needed.

Tips for best tasting Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese:

  1. Add the shredded sharp cheddar cheese to your sauce but add the shredded Gruyere only after your sauce is already mixed in with the macaroni. 
  2. Use whole milk. You need fat for a flavorful and creamy cheese sauce. I decided not to use heavy cream as many recipes call suggest because there is plenty of butter in this recipe that balances out the flavor and creamy texture. 
  3. Don’t skip the salt, pepper, and mustard! They will make difference in the taste of your homemade baked mac and cheese.

Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese Ingredients:

Makes 10-12 servings.

  • 16 oz elbow macaroni, cooked per package instructions
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 3 1/2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 2 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese,  shredded

Crumb topping:

  • 1 1/4 cups seasoned Panko crumbs
  • 3 tbsp butter melted
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. 
  2. Cook the macaroni according to the package instructions. Remove from heat, drain well, and set aside in a large bowl to cool while preparing the cheese sauce.
  3. Melt butter in a large saucepan.
  4. Whisk in flour over low-medium heat until the mixture is a thick and creamy and there is no more flour lumps in the mixture.
  5. Gradually whisk whole milk in the butter and flour roux. Continue to whisk on low heat for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is slightly thick.
  6. Add the sharp cheddar shredded cheese and whisk until it is melted and smooth. At this point, you should have a thick and smooth cheese sauce.
  7. Add in salt, pepper, and mustard to cheesy sauce.
  8. Stir in the cooled macaroni and mix until cheese is completely incorporated. Then, add the shredded Gruyere cheese and mix again.
  9. Pour the mac and cheese into a large 9×13 greased baking dish.
  10. In a small bowl, combine Panko crumbs, melted butter, and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top and bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.
  11. Serve while still warm.

Grilled Chicken with Mushrooms Peppers and Onions Shish Kabobs

What’s a summer cook out without Chicken Shish Kabobs? This Grilled Chicken Shish Kabob recipe is so simple and made with a delicious creamy marinade that goes perfectly with grilled veggies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 cup Baby Bella mushrooms cut in halves
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium high heat.
  2. To prepare your vegetables and chicken, cut each vegetable into 1 inch pieces. Do the same with the chicken. Place the chicken and vegetables in two separate bowls.
  3. In a small bowl, combine mayo, dijon mustard, lemon, garlic, oregano, dill, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Whisk until all of the ingredients are mixed together.
  4. Pour the marinade over the chicken and mix with a spoon until the chicken is well coated.
  5. In the bowl with the veggies, drizzle olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Mix together.
  6. Thread the chicken and vegetables onto the skewers.
  7. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side or until chicken is cooked through.
  8. Remove from heat and serve.

Grilled Lemon Garlic Swordfish

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This Swordfish Recipe is so tasty and it cooks so fast, you’ll never regret making it. If you’ve never tried swordfish, know that this fish has a firm, steak-like texture that’s very different than most types of fish. Due to its thickness, roughly 1 inch thick, it’s perfect for grilling because it doesn’t fall apart.

Most say that it should cook for about 3 minutes on each side on high heat, however, I have found that it may need to cook longer if the fish is thicker. Grilling for 3 minutes may leave the fish slightly pink in the center, although that will cook through even after you remove it from the heat.

Once ready, the fish should still be firm and should flake easily when pulled apart with a fork.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Swordfish steaks
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 Tbs fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat the grill on medium high heat.
  2. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and parsley together.
  3. Brush each swordfish steak with the marinade and season with salt and pepper on each side.
  4. Place the swordfish steaks on the grill. Depending on the thickness of the swordfish steaks, 3-5 minutes on each side will be enough to cook through fully.
  5. Once cooked, transfer the steaks on a plate and enjoy.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

You can never go wrong with Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce simply because it is loved by people of all ages and it’s one of the easiest meals to put together. You will find that this Homemade Spaghetti Sauce recipe has basic ingredients, it doesn’t involve a lot of effort, and the combination of herbs in sauce recipe will leave your taste buds super satisfied.

It’s not secret that this is my go to dinner idea when I have ground beef on hand and want something tasty and easy. 

How to make Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce:

  1. chop up  and sauté your onions
  2. Add garlic and ground beef. Cook until beef changes color
  3. Add all of the rest ingredients
  4. Let it simmer
  5. Serve

What I enjoy most about this recipe:

  • You only need one sauce pan
  • Minimal preparation/effort required
  • Basic Ingredients
  • Loads of flavor
  • Can be used as lasagna filling

What kid of ground beef should you use?

There is really no particular rule when it comes to what you use. Basically, it comes down to preference. I like to use higher fat content ground beef because it has more flavor since we don’t eat red meat everyday. After all, all of the flavor in the meat comes from the fat. However, there are other amazing seasonings in this recipe that you can you any ground beef that you like. You can even make this a healthier recipe by replacing ground beef for either ground turkey or ground chicken.

I don’t add sugar to my Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce. I find that tomatoes and tomato paste give enough of sweetness so there is need for anything in additional sugar. When ever I followed a recipe with sugar, I always found it to be too sweet so I did not include it in this recipe.

How long should the sauce simmer for?

It is no secret that time equals flavor. The longer you simmer the sauce for, the more flavorful it will be. However, I have found that 1 hour is perfect for this recipe because it includes ingredients that really intensify the flavor and make it very tasty even without hours of simmering.

How to store Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce?

Store the Spaghetti Meat Sauce in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It will not be as saucy as it cools and stays in the refrigerator however as you warm it up, it will come back to it’s original consistency.

Warm the sauce up Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce in the microwave or on the stove top. If using the stovetop method, make sure to mix constantly so that they sauce does not burn. If warming it up in the microwave, make sure to mix the sauce after each minute so that the Spaghetti Meat Sauce heats evenly.

Can you freeze Spaghetti Meat Sauce?

Yes. This Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce can be frozen for up to 2 months. Make sure to store in an airtight container or a freezer bag. I would even double bag it to prevent freezer burn.

This recipe is very versatile. Even though it’s perfect over spaghetti, it can slo be used for:

  • lasagna filling
  • baked ziti
  • spaghetti bake

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 slices of bacon, chopped finely
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 (29 ounce) can of tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 ounce) can of tomato paste
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 Tbs dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1 Tbs dried basil or 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan, cook the onions until translucent. Then add garlic, bacon, and ground beef. While cooking, use a wooden spoon to break down the ground beef so all large chunks for meat are broken apart. Cook until the ground beef has just turned brown.
  2. Add in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and all seasonings including the parmesan cheese. Let the sauce simmer on low heat for 50 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Pour over cooked spaghetti and enjoy while still warm.

EASY 30-Minute Chicken Curry

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The reason why this EASY 30-minute Chicken Curry recipe is a family favorite, is because it has minimal ingredients yet a bold taste that’s perfect if you’re looking for a different way to have fun preparing chicken. Unlike many other Chicken Curry recipes, this one does not call for a long list of spices and it does not include a blender (another tool to clean up), yet it delivers magnificent taste every single time. Although authentic curry involves a lot of different spices, this Chicken Curry recipe is the closest to authentic that you can get without all of the extra ingredients yet just the right amount of the main ones that make up the distinct curry flavor.

What is Chicken Curry:

Chicken curry is an Indian dish made up of diced cooked chicken drenched in a creamy and rich curry sauce. Curry is a a name for many Indian dishes that use a great variety of herbs and spices. The most commonly used of those herbs and spices in curry are turmeric, cumin, ginger, and coriander along with many more.

What makes my recipe different:

My EASY 30-minute Chicken Curry recipe is super tasty without all of the ingredients that are usually included in other chicken curry recipes. I found that with a combination of just the right herbs and spices, this chicken curry recipe is just as delicious without the extra fuss! In my EASY 30-minute Chicken Curry recipe, the only herbs and spices that I use are the ones that give chicken curry it’s unique flavor, which include; turmeric, ginger, and parsley. I also add onion and garlic, just not in powder form. 

How to make this EASY 30-minute Chicken Curry:

Start with the chicken: Start by dicing the chicken in squares and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to a non stick skillet with a touch of flavorless oil such as canola, sunflower, or vegetable oil. I cook chicken on medium heat until it is cooked through and slightly brown. If you find that the chicken sticks to the pan, don’t be afraid to drizzle some more oil if needed. This will vary greatly based on the type of skillet you use. Once the chicken is cooked and slightly browned, remove the from heat and place the chicken into a separate bowl. We will add back the chicken to the curry sauce once that is complete.

Making the curry sauce: To the same skillet used to cook the chicken in, add more oil if needed, then add chopped onions. Cook the onions on medium low heat until they are soft and translucent. Once soft, add minced garlic cook for another minute or so. Be careful not to burn the the onions and garlic. Next, add the butter and once the butter has melted, add in the tablespoon of flour and whisk until you get a thick paste. Then, add in the whole milk, turmeric, parsley, ginger, salt and pepper. Let the curry sauce simmer on low heat for about 3 minutes. The mixture will thicken as it simmers and even more so as it cools. Lastly, add in the cooked chicken and let it simmer for another 5 minutes. At this point, you are ready to serve and enjoy the EASY 30-minute Chicken Curry!

Changing the consistency of the sauce:

Whenever you make a creamy sauce, even a slight variation can change in the flour to liquid ratio can alter how thick or think your curry sauce is.

To thin out the sauce: add a splash of milk. Add only one table spoon at a time until your sauce has become thinner.

To thicken the sauce: add 1 teaspoon of flour. This part is a little trickier.  Adding the flour directly in the sauce might make your sauce lumpy from the flour. To ensure a smooth curry sauce, mix in 1 teaspoon of flour with 1 tablespoon of milk in a small bowl. Once the mixture is completely smooth, add that to the sauce. This sounds counterproductive since you are also adding milk to thicken the sauce, but that is not flour to milk ratio is not enough to make your sauce runny.

Great side dishes to enjoy with chicken curry:

  • rice (white or brown)
  • veggies
  • mashed potatoes
  • orzo

Make ahead and reheating instructions: 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs Canola oil, more if needed
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 lbs chicken breast, cut into cubes
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 Tbs all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream or whole milk
  • 1/2 Tbs Turmeric
  • 1/2 Tbs parsley
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a skillet.
  2. Dice chicken and season with salt and pepper. Then, add chicken into the skillet and cook chicken until slightly browned, about 10-13 minutes, adding oil if needed.
  3. Remove chicken from skillet and place into a bowl. Then, if needed, drizzle oil in skillet then add the onions and minced garlic. Cook until the onion is soft and translucent.
  4. Add butter and when the butter has just melted, add the flour and whisk until any large clumps of flour are completely dissolved.
  5. Add the heavy cream or whole milk and seasonings then mix well. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes on low heat.
  6. Add the cooked chicken into the mixture and let it simmer in the curry sauce for about 5 minutes on low heat. The mixture will thicken while it simmers and even more so as it cools.
  7. Remove from heat and enjoy warm over white rice or a side of your choice. 

Creamy Shrimp Pasta

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Carbs, shrimp, bacon, creamy Alfred sauce… do I have your attention yet? This dish is perfect for a cheat meal, a special occasion, or because you had a rough day and you deserve to be spoiled. I love this recipe because it’s completely fool proof. It works perfectly every single time and everyone loves it. 

Cooking the spaghetti. It is best to go according to package instructions for this part. There are so many different brands and different kinds of spaghetti so for best results, follow instructions given on the package.

You can prepare the shrimp and the creamy sauce while your spaghetti is cooking because lets face it- who can actually wait for this goodness?!

Start with the shrimp. I like to use raw shrimp for this recipe because that way I know my shrimp is fresh and I get the most flavor as possible. Once your shrimp is cooked, remove it from your pan and set it aside and continue on with the rest of the recipe.

All about the wine. This recipe calls for dry white wine because I think the wine gives this creamy sauce an incredible taste that makes it special and different than your regular Alfredo sauce. My favorite white wines for cooking are Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay however, you can use any white wine that you have on hand. 

Substituting the wine. If you are worried about the alcohol content from the wine, I can assure you that it will evaporate and you will only be left with the flavor but if you would prefer to substitute the wine, I recommend using 3 Tablespoons of red or white vinegar or juice of half of a lemon.

Can I use already cooked shrimp? If you would like to use cooked shrimp for this recipe, you certainly can. The benefit of that would be that you would save a little bit of time. If you are using already cooked shrimp, defrost and warm it up per packaged instructions and add it to your dish very last once all of the rest of the ingredients are cooked and combined. Start with Step #3 of the recipe instructions if you are using already cooked shrimp.

Substituting the shrimp. Can you? Absolutely! Although this dish is meant to be Creamy Shrimp Pasta, you can certainly replace the shrimp with chicken but you can also leave it out. 

How can I thicken or thin out the sauce? One important thing to remember here is that if your sauce comes out to be too thick or too thin than desired, don’t worry. Here are steps to take to get to the perfect consistency. 

 

Ingredients:

•3/4 lb spaghetti (3/4 of a 16 oz box)
•1 lb large raw shrimp peeled
•1 Tbsp olive oil
•1/2 finely chopped medium onion
•2 Tbsp unsalted butter
•1-2 garlic cloves, minced
•1/4 cup dry white wine
•2 cups whipping cream (or whole milk)
•1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
•1/2 tsp salt or to taste
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1 Tbsp Parsley, finely chopped
•optional: 2 slices of crispy bacon, cut into bits

Instructions:

1. Add pasta to a pot of boiling water with 1 Tbsp salt and cook according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

While pasta is cooking, prepare the shrimp and sauce.

2. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Place a large pan over medium/high heat and add 1 Tbsp oil. Once oil is hot, add shrimp in a single layer and cook 2 min per side or just until fully cooked.Remove to a separate dish.

3. In the same hot pan, add 2 Tbsp butter and onion and sauté until soft or about 3 minutes.

4. Add minced garlic cloves and sauté for another minute.

5. Stir in white wine and boil down until there is only half of the liquid left.

6. Stir in 2 cups cream and let it simmer for about 3 minutes.

7. Add shredded Parmesan cheese and parsley and let it simmer for 2 more minutes until creamy.

8. Stir in the pasta and cooked shrimp, tossing until evenly combined. Top with bacon bits if desired for extra flavor. 
This dish is best when served warm.