Sometimes you just have to splurge.
You can fight the urge for only so long and then you have to just give in and indulge. You have to eat a billion calories in one sitting.
A billion delicious calories, might I add. So it's totally worth it.
I've been doing so good with my healthy eating and watching my calories and blah, blah, blah that I figured I earned my calorific, heart stopping, ooey-gooey, but-a-little-healthy-because-it-has-spinach-in-it meal.
I have been searching for a mind blowing, homemade macaroni and cheese recipe forever.
They always just come out so bland and lifeless. This one, however, has flavor. Actual honest-to-goodness flavor.
I'm excited. Maybe more excited than one should be over a macaroni and cheese recipe, but still, I think you will be excited too.
Especially when you pair it with sticky, fall-off-the-bone BBQ ribs.
Spinach and Artichoke Macaroni and Cheese
(AKA Heart Attack Mac & Cheese)
2/3 of a 900 gr bag of pasta
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
¼ of a large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, crushed
4 cups chopped, fresh spinach
1 398 ml can artichoke hearts (in water), finely chopped
salt & pepper
4 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken stock
1 – 2 cups water
1 – 8oz brick cream cheese
2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup crushed saltine crackers
2 cups cheese, shredded (I used the rest of my Swiss, mozza, and parmesan)
Preheat oven to 350.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta to al dente, according to directions on box. Drain and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil and butter in a stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat, until the butter is melted. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Next, stir in the spinach and artichoke and season with salt and pepper.
Cook for 2-3 minutes (until spinach is reduced), then sprinkle in the flour and cook, while stirring, for another minute. Add the cream cheese and stir until mostly melted. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly. Slowly add in 1 cup of chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until the milk starts to thicken, about 2-3 minutes, keep on stirring. Slowly add in 1 cup of water to thin down sauce a little.
Remove the pot from the heat and add the cheese in several increments, waiting until each increment is melted before adding the next. Finally, add the pasta. Spoon pasta into a large oven safe casserole dish, well sprayed with cooking spray, and top with crushed saltines and extra cheese.
Place in oven at 350 for about 20 – 30 minutes, until cheese is melted and dish is heated through.
**Note – If you find the pasta is a little too dry and sticky when you spoon it into the casserole dish then simply pour a little water over it and give it a little stir. It will absorb into the pasta as it bakes in the oven. Do this before you put the topping on. You want it to be creamy and not dry! (If in doubt, add a little water)
Can you see why it has a few calories?
Trust me...it is soooo worth it!
Now, here is my method for cooking BBQ ribs. I'm not sharing a BBQ sauce recipe here, just my cooking method. I am still on the lookout for that one in a million BBQ sauce recipe. I use my favorite sauce (Anna Mae's Sweet and Smoky Oven & Grill Sauce from Sunset Gourmet - it's amazing!)
Place a large pot of water over high heat. Fill with uncooked ribs. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes. This will get rid of a lot of the grease. You can skim the pot as it simmers if you like.
Preheat oven to 350.
Place ribs on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in 350 oven for about 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes - take your favorite BBQ sauce and baste ribs generously. Place back in oven for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes - flip ribs over and baste again with BBQ sauce. Place back in oven for another 10 minutes.
Oh my gosh.... so yummy.
By the way, this recipe makes A LOT. Like enough to feed a dozen or so people. I like to make this much because I make it in 2 casserole dishes and then freeze one for another day.
If you feel like indulging then this is the recipe for you.
Just remember I didn't nick name it Heart Attack Mac & Cheese for nothing. Too much could explode your heart.
Just warning you.