Yes. I promise it’s not as crazy as you might think.
I was approached by the fine folks from Grocery Outlet to create a unique cereal recipe, as they’ll be having an awesome super cereal sale from October 4th to October 11th (20% off their everyday low prices on cereals, which means you get a total savings of up to 80%! WOO!). You all know how much I love a creative challenge, and to be able to do so while having an excuse to shop at one of my favorite stores made this one assignment I didn’t want to pass up.
I wanted to veer away from the traditional sweet cereal recipes, so I set my sights on finding a more neutral cereal to work with. Don’t get me wrong – I’m quite fond of sweet cereals and sweet recipes. But when you’re on a strict budget, it’s always good to find ingredients that can multitask well. While sweet cereals can make some great desserts or sweet breakfast recipes, a more neutral-flavored cereal like Chex or Cheerios, can offer many more possibilities. You can use them for sweet or savory dishes, and that’s what I wanted to explore. The awesome cereal sale at Grocery Outlet definitely gives you the option of buying both, since the average price you’ll pay is about $1.99 per box. And we all know that cereal prices just keep rising, so this helps soften the blow to your pocketbook.
Since it’s finally starting to feel like fall, I thought it would be fun to make a homemade mac & cheese recipe. It’s definitely time for comfort food, and it’s safe to say a good mac & cheese is at the top of the comfort food list for most people. Since I like to do things a little differently, I steered away from the usual yellow cheddar cheese, and went for the sharper white cheddar. My plan was to make a creamy cheese sauce with a little zip, and top off the whole dish with a garlicky crust to make this a more grown up version of a childhood classic.
Fortunately, Chex lends itself well to this project. It’s easy to crush or grind, and has that neutral flavor profile that allowed me to add the herbs and spices I wanted (and more cheeeeeese), without overpowering them. I used Rice Chex, but you’re more than welcome to try this with regular Chex, which has a nuttier flavor. I couldn’t help myself and tried this with some Cheerios as well, and it was just as delicious.
Like all good mac & cheese dishes, this is quite rich, so it’s best used as a side to accompany some grilled meats and plenty of veggies. You can also mix in some leftover rotisserie chicken to make a main dish. As a seasoned Grocery Outlet shopper, I can assure you that you can get most, if not all of the ingredients for this dish, and grab some veggies and meats at up to 40-70% off conventional retail prices. The cheese section at G.O. is not to be missed, and you can always grab some salad ingredients and fixings in the produce section, side dish veggies in the frozen section, and even natural and organic products in their N.O.S.H. section, which stands for Natural Organic Specialty Healthy. New items arrive every week at Grocery Outlet so you can definitely get creative with your side dishes!
Don’t forget that the cereal sale is going on this week, from October 4th to October 11th, and you can score 20% off cereals, on top of the already deep discounts you can find at G.O. With school in full swing, this is a great time to stock up on all your favorites. If you feel inspired to make an unconventional cereal recipe of your own, I’d love to hear about it! You can share in the comments below on or on the PGEW Facebook page.
All this mac & cheese talk has got me hungry now, so let me share the recipe before I chow down. Enjoy!
White Cheddar Mac & Cheese with Garlic Parmesan Rice Chex Crust
3 cups cooked macaroni (or rotini or penne)
3 T butter
2 T flour
2 cups milk
2 cups freshly grated white cheddar
Salt & pepper
1 T butter (for greasing your baking dish)
For the crust
2 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp herbs de provence (or your favorite herb blend)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 T butter
1. Preheat the oven to 350° and butter the baking dish you’ll be using. Prepare the crust by blending together the Chex and parmesan cheese in a food processor until finely ground. Place into a bowl and add the minced garlic, herbs, salt and pepper, and stir until well combined. Set aside along with the butter (which will be used later)
2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and stir well to make a roux. Add the milk and mix well, then add the grated cheddar, salt and pepper. Stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.
3. Add the cooked pasta and mix well. Transfer to the buttered baking dish. In a small saucepan, melt the reserved butter, then add the crust mixture. Brown until golden, then spread on top of the mac & cheese.
4. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Sprinkle with extra parmesan cheese and more freshly ground black pepper if you like. Serve alongside roasted or grilled meats and veggies, and enjoy!