Easy Cheesy Ball Park Mac

Great for kids of all ages, this is a very easy mac n’ cheese recipe. Serving size is for two kids or one very hungry adult. Great for an easy lunch, or can be made in larger quantity for a group.

Easy, cheesy, ball park mac… I got the idea from a restaurant I used to work at years ago. Every weekend we would run a featured menu and it would rotate items our chef would create for guests. Only there were a few items that got so popular we kept them as specials every week, and we would rotate the ingredients instead of taking it off the menu.

For example we had a craft burger every week. One week it would be a swiss and mushroom burger, the next week it would be topped with pulled pork, cheddar cheese, fried onion straws, and bbq sauce. Maybe even a little candied bacon would be thrown in and he’d call it the “big pig.” Well, we did the same thing with a chef made mac and cheese entrée.

And I imagine over time if you’ve worked there for say four or five years, you start rehashing ideas. I mean there’s only so many ways you can make mac and cheese over a 52 week span every year without drawing a blank, and one of those ideas was what our chef called the “ball park mac.”

Now this is not the same recipe, this is just my version of it which is very simple. It’s popular in northern rural areas as well. My family is from Jamestown, NY and they all know what it is they just call it different names. It’s pretty much just a scratch made mac and cheese with hot dogs.

I chose to use Orecchiette pasta instead of macaroni because it compliments the hot dog pieces. Orecchiette also coats well because it has ridges on one side, and its cup-like shape on the other side of the shell can hold a good amount of cheese. Macaroni is just fine by the way, if that’s what you have in your cabinet. And by all means use what you’ve got.

Your cheese choice is up to you, I used sharp cheddar. Just know that the sharper the cheese it may not be as kid friendly. If you are making this for kids I would go with mozzarella, and if you want some color you could use Colby Jack that’s not too strong either. Either way I recommend that you are using a block cheese that you are freshly grating. Use what you have of course, but freshly grated cheese just melts and tastes so much better than pre-shredded cheese in a bag.

As for the hot dogs you really are better off using ones that are not very flavorful. That sounds strange but they will flavor the whole dish. I used Hebrew National but I cooked them separately and only added them in at the very end. Just something to consider if you’re making this for kids, you may be better off in that case with Ball Park or Oscar Mayer.

Okay so on to the ingredients and description. If you have any questions please ask, and if let me know in the comments how it turned out. Was there anything you changed? I left out a few ingredients that could have been added such as crumbles of Ritz crackers or fresh herbs for garnish… So you really can make whatever modifications you’d like! Me personally, I just think it’s nice to have a quick and easy stove top version of mac and cheese which is fast and easy. I make another stove top recipe where you boil the noodles in milk instead of water (and no heavy cream) which is even better because it is 100% one pot and no extra steps. To be continued!

Ingredients (for 1 adult, or 2 kids):

  • 1 Cup Orecchiette Pasta Uncooked
  • 1 Hot Dog Chopped
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 Ounces Cheese of choice
  • 1/8 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon (or 1 clove) Minced Garlic
  • Freshly Ground Salt & Pepper to taste

Nutrition Facts:

  • Total Fat: 95.9g
  • Cholesterol: 286.1mg
  • Sodium: 1,919.5mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 70.7g
  • Protein: 37.2g
  • Vitamin D: 0%
  • Calcium: 440.6%
  • Iron: 19.1%
  • Potassium: 463.5mg
  • Vitamin A: 191.1%
  • Vitamin C: 0%

Directions:

  1. In a medium sized pot boil 1 cup pasta to about 4 cups of water. Fully cook your pasta this time, do not stop when al dente. Drain once cooked and set aside.
  2. Chop your hot dog into bite sized pieces and cook in small skillet, then drain over paper towel.
  3. Return to your medium sized pot and set the heat to medium. Don’t wait for pot to reach temperature. Add in your butter, garlic, and heavy cream and wait for it to boil.
  4. As soon as it starts to boil whisk continuously, adding in your grated Parmesan cheese and then your grated cheese of choice (I used sharp cheddar).
  5. As soon as those cheeses melt turn your temperature down and add in your pasta and hot dogs. Mix ingredients together then season to taste. Serve, and enjoy!

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