Canadian Cheddar Macaroni Casserole

Mac and Cheese

A couple of years ago I shared the short story “Macaroni and Please Help Me!” on this blog. This is how I really wanted this dish to turn out. This is the third year in a row that I will be making this again – I’m attempting to keep a new tradition going.

I’ve tweaked a family favourite recipe to create this festive meal. *What I love about the original recipe is the addition of sour cream. I find that the sour cream is great for brightening up the cheesy flavours with an extra kick of sharpness, so I would never make a macaroni and cheese casserole without it.

# If bell peppers are too pricy (as they often seem to be), you can probably use tomatoes as a substitute. Just make sure that the tomatoes you buy are red enough to show up well against the baked macaroni, and that the seeds and excess juice is drained off well.

Serve this savoury masterpiece to your guests, and they will remember it – hopefully they will remember it for good reasons. I’m sure they will enjoy it, because you are not going to mix up one ingredient for something else like I did.

Ingredients:

  • 1 printed maple leaf picture, image cut out (the border will be your stencil)
  • 3 cups macaroni of your choice, uncooked (elbow, shells, bowtie, fun patriotic shapes, you name it)
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 or 2 tsp real maple syrup
  • 4 cups extra sharp white cheddar cheese (the more Canadian the better)
  • 2/3 cup sour cream *
  • 2 or 3 red bell peppers, chopped extra fine #
  • Chopped fresh herbs (Optional)

Instructions:

Grease a Glass 9×13” casserole dish and set aside.

Prepare macaroni according to package directions, then set aside.

Melt the butter on the stove. Add the flour. Mix the butter and flour together and cook it until it becomes a golden paste.

Add the milk, salt, and maple syrup. Continuously stir and simmer until it becomes a thick white sauce.

Turn off the heat. As soon at the sauce stops simmering, mix in the cheese until the mixture becomes all melty, gooey, and looks delicious. Stir in the sour cream right after that.

Mix all that goodness up with the macaroni, then scrape it into the casserole dish. At this point you may cover it and save it in the fridge for the next day if you’d like, or you can bake it right away.

Set the oven for 350 degrees F and bake it for 45-50 minutes.

Once it’s out of the oven, gently place your maple leaf stencil on top of the casserole and sprinkle the chopped peppers into the space. Try to fill in as many crevices as possible so that you don’t miss the points on the maple leaf.

Sprinkle the rest of your bell peppers across the side edges of the casserole to make it look like the Canadian flag.

Fresh herbs are often in full bloom on Canada day. If you have some herb plants that you would like to enjoy as much as possible, serve this beauty with a dish of chopped herbs from your plants. Your guests may like to sprinkle some onto their servings to add an extra layer of flavour.

Serve this to your friends and family, and have a happy Canada day!

Recipe: Coconut Coffee Squares

Coconut Coffee Squares
A few Sundays ago I’ve shared these at my parent’s house, and they turned out to be a big hit! To create these treats I took a very simple blondies/coconut squares recipe, and then added my own caffeinated twist to them along with a buttercream topping that melts in your mouth. If you love coffee and coconut I encourage you to give this recipe a try, and to share them with your loved ones.

 

Squares

8×8 inch pan, buttered
1/3 cup real butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
3 Tablespoons instant coffee, dissolved in 1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsweetened coconut
¾ cup all purpose, or cake flour

Buttercream Icing

¼ cup real room temperature butter
1 cup icing sugar
1 Tablespoon corn starch
1 teaspoon vanilla (or ½ vanilla, ½ coconut extract)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon cream

Sprinkles

Coconut, toasted on stove

Directions

Set oven to 275 degrees.

Rub brown sugar and butter together with spatula until it becomes a smooth paste. Add egg, vanilla, and coffee mixture. Mix together.

Add salt, baking powder, and coconut. Gradually add and mix in flour ¼ cup at a time.

Scrape batter into buttered 8×8” pan. Bake for 35, to 45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Timings may vary.

Buttercream Icing

Using rubber spatula, gradually add and mix icing sugar and corn starch with butter.

Add salt, flavouring and cream. Whip together with spatula until fluffy

Assembly

Once cooled, spread the buttercream icing on top, and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Slice into squares, share, and enjoy with coffee! 😊