Mac and Cheez-It

30 Oct

Yesterday, Zak and I had a friend over so they could brew some beer.  Late in the afternoon, everyone was getting hungry and I was running through a list of things I could make.  Everyone – including myself – was excited and intrigued by the prospect of some macaroni and cheese topped with crumbled Cheez-Its.

Cheez-Its have long been a favorite snack in my family.  My little brother has always loved them, and I’ve become increasingly obsessed as I get older.  They’re one of my go-to vending machine items when I forget to pack some as a snack at school.  I figured the deliciousness of a macaroni and cheese could only be increased by crumbling some cheesy little morsels of goodness on top of it.

I used a mixture of all the cheeses I happened to have on hand in this creamy and delicious version of macaroni and cheese.  The ricotta mellowed out the slight spice from the pepper jack.  The Parmesan added a hint of sharpness that contrasted really well with the colby-jack.  Topped with the sharp, pungent flavor of the cheddar Cheez-Its, this was a really lovely macaroni and cheese that we all enjoyed.

Mac and Cheez-It

1 box rigatoni, cooked according to package instructions and drained

1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

3/4 cup colby jack cheese, shredded

1/4 cup ricotta cheese

3 tbs. butter

2 tbs. whole wheat flour

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup Cheez-Its, crushed

Freshly cracked black pepper

Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350º.

Melt butter over medium-low heat in a large sauté pan.  Slowly whisk in the flour until a paste forms, adding over the course of 3-5 minutes.  Season liberally with black pepper.  Continuously whisking, add the milk.  Once smooth and creamy, add the cheese in small batches while whisking.

Add the noodles and toss to coat with the cheese sauce.

Transfer to a casserole dish.  Top evenly with the crushed Cheez-Its.  Spray with  nonstick spray and transfer to the oven.  Bake 20-25 minutes until Cheez-Its are golden brown.

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