Nina’s Baked Mac and Cheese

I wanted to share with you another side dish idea for Thanksgiving. This was my grandmother’s go to mac and cheese. She was always asked to bring her mac and cheese to our family gatherings. She would set it down right in front of everyone and declare ” I’m sure I missed something and it may not be any good.” Of course by the time she finished that sentence the dish would be half gone. I think deep down she knew she had us right when she came walking in with her casserole dish and the scent of cheese wafting through the air. She never wrote down her recipe for her mac and cheese, but I had watched her make it so many times that when she passed away, I had to remember what exactly she put into it. I will confess, it took several attempts before it tasted like hers. A little side fact about my grandmother, when I was little she wanted me to call her Nana, but nope, I always had to be different and instead called her Nina. So from then on she became my Nina. As I have mentioned before, she loved to cook and she was also one who inspired me to cook as well as my mom and dad. Whenever I make this mac and cheese for family or just for hubby and I, I always think of her.

This mac and cheese is more like a mac and cheese pie. You will see plenty versions of this southern side dish at family and church gatherings. It’s layered with noodles and lots of cheese then baked so all of that comes together in one glorious, cheesy goodness…. the ultimate comfort food.

Here’s what you need:

*1 lb elbow macaroni

*2 cups evaporated milk

*1 egg

*1/2 tsp. dry mustard

*pinch of nutmeg

*1/2 tsp. salt, divided

*1/2 stick of butter, cut into small cubes

*3 cups shredded cheddar cheese; I recommend shredding your own cheese and do not buy the kind that is pre shredded in a bag. Those have anti- caking agents so the cheese will not melt as well.

Pre heat oven to 350°.

Boil noodles in salted water one minute less than package directions; drain and set aside.

Whisk together evaporated milk, egg, dry mustard and nutmeg; set aside.

Spray a large casserole dish with no stick spray.

Layer some of the noodles on the bottom of the casserole dish and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. of the salt; add some of the cheese on top of the noodles. Place some of the butter cubes on top of the cheese. Add another layer of noodles and the rest of the salt, then top with the remaining cheese; scatter the remaining butter cubes on top.

Pour the milk and egg mixture evenly over the noodles and cheese. Cover and bake for 30 minutes then uncover and bake another 15 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly. Let it sit about 10 minutes before serving.

Baked Spaghetti

Spaghetti with meat sauce is one of those satisfying comfort foods that you can plan for when you are having friends and family over, or you just want to grab a fork and indulge. This is that dish, but imagine some nice, gooey cheese to make it even better. For this I used my Shortcut Meat Sauce, but you can make your own, either way this is definitely a dish that will make everyone happy.

Here’s what you need:

*1 LB spaghetti

*my Shortcut Meat Sauce or your own homemade

*3 C. shredded cheese, divided; I used a Colby Jack cheddar blend

Prepare the meat sauce.

While the sauce is simmering, cook spaghetti according to package directions, minus one minute. The pasta will continue to cook while in the sauce, so you do not want the pasta to get over done; drain.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Reserve 2 Cups of the sauce; set aside.

Toss the pasta in the sauce ( not the reserved sauce).

Spray a large baking dish with non stick spray. Spread half of the pasta in the baking dish.

Top with 1 1/2 C. cheese.

Spread 1/2 of the reserved sauce over the cheese.

add remaining pasta mixture on top; spread the rest of the reserved sauce over the pasta.

Top with remaining cheese.

Cover loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

*Tip* Spray the foil with non stick spray before covering to prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil.

Uncover and continue to bake for 10 minutes.

take out of the oven and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cut into slices and serve.