Halloween just came and went, marking the start of fall and winter entertaining. I love nothing more than to have people over and cook food for them. But let’s be honest, cooking for a party can be a little stressful! Getting a menu together that everyone will enjoy that won’t make you crazy is an art all in itself.
Mac and cheese is always a crowd pleaser. After many years of having a dish of mac and cheese at gatherings, I decided to mix it up. First thing I did was to make the mac and cheese in convenient single servings. This is good for portion control (just because I’m at a party doesn’t mean I want to throw my eating habits out of the window) and also for clean up. I put mine in muffin papers so you don’t really need a plate. Depending on how fresh they are out of the oven, you may need a fork, but there’s so much less to clean up from. There are plenty of recipes out there without muffin papers, but for the sanity of cleaning my muffin pan and getting these out of the pan quickly, I went with papers.
The second thing I did was throw some vegetables into the mix, because how could I not? Give me a non-vegetable dish and I’ll figure out a way to sneak a vegetable in there. This is the first time I’ve tried adding butternut squash in to mac and cheese and I like it! I also added bit of heat to balance out the slight sweetness the squash can bring. I got inspired by Sally’s Baking Addiction and her addition of kale in her mac. To go, again, with something quick with minimal prep, I decided to go with spinach.
As always, there are many ways to make this recipe your own. You can swap out the spinach for kale, swiss chard, or even finely chopped broccoli. I used two kinds of Kerrygold grassfed cheese for my cheese, Kerrygold Aged Cheddar and Blarney Castle, a smoother, Gouda-like cheese. You can stick with one cheese or add even more kinds of cheese. If you’re not a breadcrumb person, leave it out.
The good thing about mac and cheese muffins is that they firm up after being out of the oven a little bit, making them a little easier to get out of the paper. So, if you prepare these maybe 20 to 30 minutes before your guests arrive, they’ll be just right for when they get there.
This recipe can easily make a 9×13” baking dish worth of mac and cheese and will make at least 24 muffin tins, which is perfect for any entertaining. If for some odd reason your guests don’t finish all of the cups (which didn’t happen when I made these) they’re also great for lunch or dinner the next day.
No matter which way you make this recipe your own, I wish you easy entertaining this holiday season!
This post was sponsored by Kerrygold. I was compensated with free product. All thoughts and opinions are, and always will be, my own.