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Ashley from Piloting Life

Hope you brought your appetite with you because today's post is definitely going to make you hungry! 

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Hey everyone! I'm really excited to be here guest blogging for Alisha today. She is one of my very favorite bloggers, and I've been following her blog for quite a while now! While Alisha is off to the "big D", I am more than happy to be here filling in for her. Thanks for having me, Alisha!

Okay. Let me introduce myself. My name is Ashley, and I blog over at Piloting Life. You can find me writing about everything from travel to clothes, but today I want to share one of my very favorite recipes with y'all. (I'm pretending to be a real Texan by using the word y'all.) Fall isn't too far away, and this is a great meal for a crisp fall day or, if you love mac&cheese like me and my husband, it's great basically any day of the year.

I saw this macaroni and cheese recipe on the Food Network
during Ina Garten's show Barefoot Contessa.

However, her recipe calls for some typically expensive ingredients. I've modified the recipe to make a more affordable meal that still tastes delicious!
(Her version is amazing. I made it once, and it's one of those great special occasion dishes.)

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
(I'm going to share the Barefoot Contessa recipe
with my notes on the side)

* kosher salt (note: I use sea salt)
* vegetable oil (note: this is for boiling the pasta, and I just use olive oil)
* 1 lb. cavatappi or elbow macaroni (note: I'd say just choose your favorite...
it's great with mini shell pasta too!)
* 1 quart milk (note: I usually use 2% since it's thicker than skim)
* 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of unsalted butter, divided
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
*12 ounces of Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
* 8 ounces extra sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
(note: the cheeses total 20 ounces and I usually use a mix
of other types since Gruyere can be expensive)
* 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 tsp. nutmeg (note: you can eliminate this if you want, it's made to
bring out the nuttiness of the Gruyere cheese)
* 1-1/2 lbs. of cooked lobster meat (note: I usually eliminate this ingredient because of cost,
but you could use cooked chicken or another substitute. It's also good without any meat.)
* 1-1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
(note: I chop up the slices of bread in a food processor to make crumbs. A blender might work)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water.
Add the pasta and cook according to directions on the package.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. In a large pot (note: I usually boil the pasta first, and then use the same pot for this step), melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, (or whichever cheeses you are using) 1 tablespoon of salt, the pepper, and nutmeg (if you are using it). Add the cooked macaroni and lobster (again if you choose to use any meat) and stir well. Place the mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes. (note: I often just put the entire mixture into a large casserole dish.)

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Back for 30 to 35 minutes, or until bubble and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Enjoy! (:

We love to eat this macaroni and cheese with breaded chicken and a salad. If you make the version with lobster, it doesn't need much to go with it, except maybe a vegetable.

I hope you love this as much as my husband and I do!

Thanks again for having me, Alisha. (:

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Ashley, you're welcome back anytime just as long as you bring the mac and cheese with ya! She's the coolest gal around, she's my bbf (blogger best friend, duh!), and she lives in Florida too! Do I really need to say more? Head on over to her blog and make friends! Go!! 


  1. it looks delicious!
    and im happy you shared both recipes too =]
    thanks ashley!
    best name around ;))

  2. Yumm! We make Ina's recipes all the time and they are FABULOUS! Your photos make it look extra yummy

  3. That looks beautiful! I always see recipes on blogs but rarely feel motivated to do anything with them. However, this one is making me want to print and file this under delish!

  4. This looks amazing!! I love Ina's recipes but I agree with you - she uses some fancy-pants ingredients sometimes. I love your modifications, Ashley! :)

  5. Thanks for having me Alisha! Thanks for being such a great bbf and having me guest post for you today. (:

  6. I love homemade Mac and cheese! This looks so yummy!

  7. I had to comment... because I began salivating and almost drooled... Yum... keep baking! Great way to keep a man at home! :-)


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