Sunday, December 30, 2012

Macaroni & Cheese Bites

I'm going to put it all on the line here, I'm going to confess something, I could eat just appetizers for my meal.  In fact, I often do.  I  love small samplings of small foods, I love filling myself full before the main course ever even arrives, and taking THAT home in a box because I just couldn't fit another bite.  Not sure why, but I adore appetizers.

Let's see, some of my favorites are Nachos (duh!), buffalo wing bites (you know, the ones with no bones that are easy to eat?), Cheesesteak Eggrolls (yeah, they're a real thing), Spinach Artichoke dip (admittedly, my favorite is from Bertucci's because they serve it with wood fired pizza bread!)....oh, and lets not forget the fried golden balls of macaroni and cheese.  Who invented these things?  THEY are the ones who deserve the Nobel Prize.  I am not kidding.  Ooozy....goooey....cheeeesy...crunchy....warmy goodness, all in one little package.  Such a satisfying bite.  A local restaurant I go to with my friends on Girls Night Out, serves the most amazing appetizers known to man.  Oh, I'm getting all cliche here, I must stop.

Another one of my guilty pleasures has become Pinterest.  You know, that time suck site, the one where you "pin" recipes, crafts, celebrities, etc. etc. etc.   The one that sucks you in for hours while you pin like a madwoman forgoing food and normal hygiene?  Yeah, that one.  I've gotten completely, utterly and totally sucked in.  Pinning recipes to try and "Aldify" for you all.

Yesterday, one caught my attention.  It was a pin for Macaroni & Cheese balls.  We were having friends over this evening and I had planned an appetizer buffet, so I thought this would be a fun one to try.  But you all know me, right?  I can't do something or produce a recipe at face value.  I have to tweak it, add that somethin' somethin' that makes it extra special.  So, yes.  I adjusted the recipe before I even tried it.  And, I will say, it was delicious.  I'm guessing the original recipe I borrowed this from was delicious as well, but....I like mine better (not fair, I know, I haven't even tried theirs technically.....but these were REALLY good, why go back now?).

Macaroni & Cheese Bites

1 Box Cheese Club Macaroni & Cheese
1/4 Cup Country Creamery Milk (I used 2% b/c that's what we have in the house)
1/4 Cup Country Creamery Butter (I used unsalted, but salted would work fine)
1/4 Cup Friendly Farms Cream Cheese
1/4 Cup Friendly Farms Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
1 Egg, beaten
Bread Crumbs (I used homemade ones that I used from ends of the L'Oven Fresh Whole Wheat Bread)
Salt & Pepper

Prepare Macaroni & Cheese according to package directions, using 1/4 Cup milk & 1/4 Cup butter & cheese sauce packet in the box.  Stir in the cream cheese & shredded monterey jack cheese.  Mix well, until the cream cheese and jack cheese is melted into the mix.

Line a loaf pan with tin foil.  Press Macaroni & Cheese mixture into the pan and cover.  Freeze for about 4 hours.  You can also make this a day ahead and put in the fridge.  The Macaroni & Cheese being cold is KEY to this recipe turning out well.

After Macaroni & Cheese is solid, remove from freezer and from pan.  Peel away the tin foil.  Cut in half lengthwise, then cut into slices - I cut in half, then cut each half in half, etc.  Until I ended up with 16 rectangles.

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.

Dip all sides of the sliced Macaroni & Cheese in beaten egg, then press into bread crumbs.  Feel free to season these bread crumbs how YOU desire.  I used salt & pepper in the bread crumbs to add a touch of flavor.  You could use pre-seasoned crumbs as well, if you'd like. Note:  You may need to add more egg.  Make sure all sides are coated well with the bread crumbs.

Place breaded Macaroni & Cheese rectangles on a greased baking sheet - I spray mine with Carlini Canola Spray.  After all are on the sheet, spray again with cooking spray.

Bake for 10 minutes, flip, and bake another 10 minutes or until all sides are golden brown and toasty.

Serve with your favorite dip, sauce, marinara, what have you.   Enjoy the gooey warm goodness.

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