The cooler weather is approaching and Football Season has begun so the world needs a few more scrumptious little snacks don’t you think? I have to admit…this little duo of Mac and Cheese Snacks are not something you can eat every day…but they sure would taste great watching a game or just as a special TV treat or even a side at dinner time…or maybe a few of them with a great salad. I would feel so less guilty if maybe you had your veggies with these : ) All I can say is if you are a Mac and Cheese lover…you are going to LOVE these two yummy snacks.
The first Mac and Cheese Snack is Deep Fried Mac and Cheese Balls!
This was actually was not planned. I was originally just going to create my rendition of mini Mac and Cheese Muffins but this idea came to mind as I was getting the ingredients out and I had to try it!
I am so glad that I gave them a whirl because they turned out picture perfect and guess what? They FREEZE like a charm so you can always have them ready and waiting in the fridge for a quick snack or side!
They have a gooey cheesy center and a crisp and yummy crust!
Pop them in a basket and serve with some dipping sauce…you don’t have dipping sauce but it is fun and adds a little pop! I served Sriracha Yogurt dipping sauce with these and everyone loved it…you can do a jalapeno dip or any of your favorite dips or how about some hot sauce and plain is perfect too. I have been saving my little baskets from our fruit purchases and just by adding a napkin to it they make the perfect little serving baskets…don’t you think!
Now it is time for our second Mac and Cheese Snack…Mac and Cheese Mini Muffins!
Aren’t these cute! They have a crust on top and on the bottom…making them just like a mini muffin but instead of sweet…they are filled with creamy cheesy goodness and a fun panko Parmesan cheese and herb crust!
See…crunchy top and…
the bottoms are golden and crunchy! YUM!
Try serving these up with some Homemade Ranch Dressing which is also perfect for the Deep Fried Mac and Cheese Balls!
One this is for sure…a basket of these are going to make your family and friends smile!
Here is your Base Recipe:
Mac and Cheese:
1 pound of elbow macaraoni
6 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/3 cup of flour
2 cups of milk
3 cups of shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup gruyere cheese or your favorite swiss
1 cup of grated pecorino romano cheese or provolone cheese or crumbled goat cheese
1 1/2 cup of shredded muenster cheese or fontina or both combined
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of your favorite hot sauce (can be omitted if you do not like it)
1/2 teaspoon of honey mustard
(you can use whatever your favorite cheeses are in the same proportions…just found that these worked very well together)
3 Part Dredging Station for the Deep Fried Mac and Cheese Balls:
1 1/2 cups of seasoned flour (add …some pepper…teaspoon of paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt)
2 cups of panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano or your favorite grated cheese
mix them together
2 cups of buttermilk
Breading for the Mac and Cheese Mini Muffins:
1 /2 cups of seasoned panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese or your favorite grated cheese
1/4 cup of olive oil or 4 tablespoons of melted butter (I prefer the olive oil)
Mix them all together
Basic Directions for the Mac and Cheese for both recipes:
1. You will need a medium sauce pan…melt your butter over a medium to low heat. Slowly whisk your flour into the butter…once it is combined…cook for about 1 -2 minutes.
2. Slowly add your milk whisking continuously until the mixture thickens.
3. Lower the flame to the lowest setting and add your salt and pepper and your condiments (honey mustard and hot sauce if you would like) and then stir till all is combined.
4. Now slowly add your cheeses by folding them into the thickened milk mixture.
5. Heat and fold until all of the cheeses are melted and combined (the mixture is going to be thick! This will take about 8-10 minutes.
6. Now it is time to mix your cooked Macaroni into the cheese sauce…fold until all the Macaroni is covered and coated. (use your package directions to cook the Macaroni)
Deep Fried Mac and Cheese Balls:
1. Place the prepared Mac and Cheese into a casserole dish and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours or over night. (the Mac and cheese should be firm when you make the balls)
2. Use a small ice cream scoop or a melon baller or a heaping teaspoon to make your balls. Gather the mac and cheese and then release the ball…with floured hands…roll the ball so it is round and smooth…continue to make all your balls.
3. Now it is time to coat.
4. Dredge in the seasoned flour
4. Roll in the buttermilk
5. Roll in the Panko
6. REPEAT…they get a double coating…it holds everything in perfectly and as you can see by the pictures…the coating is not thick : )
7. Have a deep fryer ready or a heavy deep cast iron pan or a sauce pan with 2-3 inches of canola or vegetable oil at 300 degrees ready.
8. I use a little nest to place the balls in slowly so there is no splashing…or you could use a slotted spoon or regular spoon.
9. Cook until they are golden brown and remember to watch them carefully…every stove is different and you don’t want to over brown these. Mine took about 4 minutes and I had my flame set on medium. Remember to test the oil before you put the balls in…just sprinkle a few of the crumbs in the oil…if they sizzle it’s ready!
10. After they are ready…scoop them out and drain them on a rack or on paper towel.
11. Repeat until all of your balls are done.
12. As you take them out… you can put them in a 200 oven to keep them warm.
Now it is time to serve with your favorite dipping sauce or just as is!
Mac and Cheese Mini Muffins:
1. Get your mini muffin tins out!
2. Give your mini muffin tins a good spray with olive oil spray.
3. Now place a sparse 1/2 teaspoon of the Panko mixture at the bottom of each muffin opening
4. Place the muffin tins in a 400 degree over for about 2 minutes (could be a little more depending on the over…the bottoms should be a golden brown.
5. Remove the tins from the oven.
6. Now it is time to fill the cups…pressing the mixture down firmly as you are filling them…you want them to be nice and solid.
7. Lower your oven to 350 degrees and place the muffins in for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Remove the tins and add top off each muffin with the panko crust mixture.
9. Place back into the oven until the tops are golden brown (about 7 minutes)
10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool and firm about an hour
11… Run a knife around the perimeter of the each muffin and then remove with a spatula.
11. Serve them up in your favorite basket and your favorite dipping sauce.
A few suggestions!
You can add some chopped chilli’s or jalapeno’s to the mixture…you can use half of the mixture for the snacks and then add some extra milk to the other half and bake just as if you were making regular mac and cheese. Add your own special twist on these…most of all …have fund and enjoy!