Shut Up and Eat: Basil Cheddar Mac Bake and Grilled Salmon Too

I am an obliged member of a Facebook foodie page called “Shut Up and Eat”. Ha Ha, clever name huh? So, yesterday was the first chilly Autumn day in Middle Tennessee and The Hubs needed something warm and comfy for dinner. Ok, maybe that was actually me that needed the warmth and comfort. Either way, an official comfort style dinner was on tap. After flipping Hubs some pretty amazing grilled salmon, and adding my favorite side dish, I sat down and made my first Facebook post to “Shut UP and Eat” using the picture above.

Turns out there are more folks loving on a good souped up macaroni and cheese bake than a healthy slab of grilled salmon. Now, just so you know, I try to eat as healthy as I can (most days) but I am totally with them on this Basil Cheddar Mac Bake. Mmmm! Mmmm! This mac and cheese is pretty darn lip smackin’! Since several new friends from the foodie group asked for the recipe I am sharing it for them and for you too. If you are thinking about making this wonderful mac dish, think no more and grab your sauce pan! BUT...before grating cheese and melting butter consider disciplining yourself with about 200 write offs of the following sentences:
 “In order to keep the happy confined to my fork instead of on my hips I will be a responsible Basil Cheddar Mac baker by only baking it when I am happy, glad, confused or sad." 
There, that should keep your calorie intake down, right?  Now, go ye and bake macaroni!

And here's how ya make it:
  1. Cook the macaroni to the aldent' stage based on package directions. Rinse and pour into greased 9x13 deep baking dish. Make sure dish is at least 2" deep.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350°f.
  3. Using a deep skillet or sauce pot melt the butter on medium to low heat. 
  4. Add the ½ cup all-purpose flour to the butter and whisk as flour thickens by the flour. 
  5. Pour in milk. Continue to whisk. 
  6. Slowly start adding the cheese by small batches at a time as cheese melts. Continue to whisk. Reserve about 1 cup cheddar for topping.
  7. Add salt, chili pepper, black pepper and nutmeg.
  8. Continue to cook and whisk until all the cheese is melted very well and sauce begins to thicken. It will look like this. 
       9.  If you have fresh basil, use it. But you can also use dried basil. The fresher the better. 
     10. Taste your sauce to make sure you have the seasonings at the level that suites you best.
     11. Pour over macaroni.
     12. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.
     13. Bake on middle rack for about 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
     14. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy this yummy comfort food my friends!
And remember...flip more flour! 

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