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Four Cheese and Bacon "Macaroni"

People sometimes ask me if my kids eat all of the ______* foods that I make in my kitchen. *insert choice of adjective here...some examples: strange, different, gourmet, unique, fancy  The short answer is NO.  Of course not...they're kids.  But I can honestly say that they will at least try everything.  They have pretty adventurous palates.  I must say, though...that to's not really strange, different, gourmet, fancy, or unique.  It's actually pretty normal.  With a mom who spends most of her time in the kitchen and a dad whose eaten pretty much anything you can think of and that's just the way he was raised- to not waste any part of an animal...or any animal for that matter...can you say skunk!?, it's just what they "know".  Food made with loving hands...mostly from scratch.  Another thing people wonder is if my kids don't just want macaroni and cheese or poptarts or pizza rolls...of the boxed/bagged variety?  Pssshh.  Of course!  Do I give it to them?  Yes, I do.  Sometimes I choose convenience.  I'll be honest though, I was never one of those kids that asked for mac 'n cheese from a box.  It didn't really taste that good to me.  My sister on the other hand...  Although I could suffer Velveeta shells and cheese...those were pretty creamy and I remember.  So, yes...I buy boxed mac and cheese for convenience...but 99% of the time, it's the "thick and creamy" variety.  Not that I eat it...just that I figure they should have "the best" of the boxed {snicker}.  I do, on the other hand....ADORE homemade mac and cheese....especially when it uses four types of cheese and glorious bacon.

Four Cheese and Bacon "Macaroni"
yield: ~12 svgs.

1 lb. cavatappi
6 slices bacon, diced
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
3 Tbs. ap flour
2 c. milk
½ tsp. onion flakes
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
½ lb. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 c. (4 oz.) colby-jack cheese, shredded
1 c. (4 oz.) mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 slices (6 oz.) American cheese

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease/spray a 3-qt. broiler-safe baking dish.  Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Cook cavatappi 8 minutes in boiling water, then drain.  Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Transfer to paper towel lined plate to drain.  Pour all but 2 Tbs. of drippings from pan and add butter.

Whisk in flour until smooth.  Whisk in milk in a thin stream.  Stir in onion, salt, & pepper.  Bring to boil over medium-high, then reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes.  In large bowl, toss together first 3 cheeses.  

Remove milk mixture from heat, whisk in American cheese and 1½ c. of 3-cheese mixture.  Toss bacon pieces w/ remaining cheese.

Combine cooked pasta and cheese sauce. Pour half in to prepared dish.  Sprinkle w/ a generous cup of bacon-cheese mixture. Repeat.

Bake in preheated oven for ~20 minutes.  Increase oven temperature to broil and broil 3 minutes, until top is lightly browned.
Now THIS is my kind of mac 'n cheese!  Creamy cheesy goodness to appease the inner cheeseslut...with a golden, crispy, salty, bacony crust to please please every bit of my being.  Did somebody say mac and cheese came in a box?  Hmmm...I didn't think so....

*This post is linked to:
~Presto Pasta Nights is hosted by Tigerfish of Teczcape this week
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