I never have decent lunches prepared for work, and while my husband has a lunch budget, I don't. He works at a huge corporation: big shared kitchen/fridge, no toaster oven(!), microwave with a line only. Hey, our health insurance is crazy good , so he gets to eat out. I do occasionally, but for the most part I eat at the office. Lunch is frequently cheese and crackers, but I'm trying to improve. More leftovers, more small meals batch-cooked in advance. More carrots, less crackers.
I spotted mac & cheese cups on pinterest and had to make them stat. The pinner linked to The Curvy Carrot, who adapted the recipe from the Deen Brothers. I made a few changes to Curvy Carrot's recipe: subbed panko for the Ritz crackers, used emmenthaler and aged cheddar instead of cheddar and Boursin, and spiced it up with cayenne (instead of flakes), lemon fleur de sel and a skosh of smoked paprika. I also beat the eggs lightly per the Deen Bros. recipe.
Emmenthaler (a perfect melting cheese) was on sale, so I risked replacing the creamy Boursin with a half-pound of emmenthaler, and a generous cup of the 3-year aged Cabot cheddar that we adore. Husband thought I might need a bechamel to add creaminess, but it didn't end up gritty. Next go-round though, I'll add some cream cheese that he suggested.
Perhaps because I was generous with the cheese and the noodles, the recipe made way more than the eight servings listed. Using tiny muffin tins would be difficult with the crust and the size of the noodles. Maybe I can find tiny macaroni noodles; it would be pretty cute.
My first bite: delicious. You can see the crust -- panko was a great choice, but I should have crushed the crumbs a little finer, and grated the cheese for the crust smaller. I had a hard time getting the crust thin. The seasoning was great -- my husband had made fleur de sel with lemon per a Thomas Keller recipe from Ad Hoc at Home, and the cayenne and smoked paprika made for a great kick after each bite. Chopped jalepenos would be a nice addition. Bake time is 20-25 minutes, this went about 22 minutes in a convection and it was a bit overdone, especially reheating the next day in the microwave. A scant 20 minutes would have been perfect.
They popped right out of the pans to cool on parchment paper before freezing. The silicone muffin tin is one of the best things ever, it's so versatile for freezing and baking cups of awesomeness. It's Oneida, but I can't find a link to it anywhere, unfortunately. I used a light coat of Pam on the all-metal larger muffin tin. Since I'm primarily making to freeze, I think I'll undercook them a bit next time.
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