Beer and Blue Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

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I've got something insanely cheesy and delicious for you guys today! I feel like this time of year is like playoffs for the food world. Bloggers, home chefs and hosts alike are all bringing their best game for the holidays. It is such a great time of year to showcase some of your favorites dishes and get together with people that mean the most.

This year we are doing a huge California celebration the week before Christmas with my family and then heading off to Philadelphia to spend Christmas with Jared's family. Jared's Dad has asked if I will cook Christmas dinner this year. I'm a little nervous but mostly excited. I have been planning and brainstorming a few different dishes that I'll make. When I think up recipes that I know will be for a crowd or a party I always think of restaurants that I frequent most with my friends and family.

My friends and family have a pretty unanimous love for brewery/brew house type of food.  Basically classic American dishes with an elevated twist to them. This weekend we went out with my grandparents to a brewery and ordered a fondue that had an entire wedge of blue cheese surrounding a pool of melty cheese. Talk about a classic with a twist!

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On my holiday lineup this year was a killer mac and cheese recipe. I wanted to bring an easy macaroni and cheese recipe to the blog with one amazing spin on it. Because after all, who doesn't love macaroni and cheese?! When Litehouse Foods asked to team up this holiday season I knew that their Simply Artisan Reserve Blue Cheese Center Cut would be the perfect ingredient for my exciting spin that I was looking for. Plus my Dad and Jared are total blue cheese lovers. I knew this would be the perfect family gathering recipe. This Litehouse Foods blue cheese has been aged for 100 days and is cut from the center of the wheel which brings you the most developed flavor! This blue cheese is seriously delicious and decadent, which is perfect for holiday recipes.

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I started with a standard butter-flour roux. For any homemade mac and cheese recipe is a great starter. From there you can really take the cream roux base in any direction. A roux is basically equal parts flour and butter that are melted down to create a thick, starchy base for soups and sauces.

For this mac and cheese recipe I really wanted the blue cheese to shine threw so I used a mild and melty fontina to accompany the roux. My other twist was swapping out 1 cup of milk for a cup of light beer to enhance the cheesy flavor and to make the dish feel a little more richer. The whole mac and cheese is topped off with crispy panko breadcrumbs. Believe me when I tell you we were 'MMMMing' through the entire casserole dish. Be the savory champ and bring this Mac to all of your holiday gatherings this year. 

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Beer and Blue Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

1 Lb (16oz) of macaroni pasta
1/4 Cup of unsalted butter
1/4 Cup of all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon of minced garlic
2 Cups of milk (I used 2%)
1 Cup of light beer
2 Cups of fontina cheese, shredded
5 Oz of Litehouse Foods Simply Artisan Reserve Blue Cheese Center Cut, chopped
1/2 Teaspoon of salt
1/4 Teaspoon of black pepper
1/4 Teaspoon of cayenne pepper
pinch of nutmeg

breadcrumb topping
1 Cup of Italian Panko breadcrumbs
3 Tablespoons of melted butter
1/4 Cup chopped Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit 

Spray a casserole dish with non stick spray. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Drop pasta in and boil for 7 minutes. Drain pasta and set aside. 

In a large saute pan melt 1/4 cup of unsalted butter on medium heat. Add flour to melted butter and cook for 2 minutes, whisking occasionally. Add in minced garlic and whisk once more to avoid burning. Add milk and beer to butter flour mixture and turn heat up to medium high. Whisk mixture occasionally for 3-4 minutes or until boiling, and until the sauce has thickened. Remove mixture from heat and whisk in cheeses to mixture until melted. Stir in cayenne, nutmeg and salt & pepper. Stir in mixture to macaroni noodles and transfer to sprayed casserole dish. 

Mix remaining 3 Tablespoons of melting butter with panko bread crumbs and top evenly onto macaroni and cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until top is golden. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve. 

Litehouse Foods is sending out a sweet deal for the holidays! Litehouse Foods has launched their “Be the Center of Attention” sweepstakes where you can enter for a chance to win a $500 VISA gift card!! Each day is a new opportunity to enter, from now through December 5th! So don’t let a day go by without entering for your chance to win! 

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