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Source: U.S. Apple Association™

Apple-Cheddar Mac and Cheese
Raise your hand if you like mac and cheese? And when it's teamed with apples, you'll want to raise both hands!
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Serves: 4
Prep Time: 25 to 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
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1 1/4 cups dry elbow macaroni
1 1/2 cups small diced, unpeeled, tart green or red apples
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups whole milk, lower fat milk can be substituted
1 small bay leaf
2 1/3 cup shredded sharp white or yellow Cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon dry sherry
Salt to taste
Ground white pepper to taste
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs, regular bread crumbs can be substituted

Butter a 1 1/2-quart round casserole.

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan according to package directions until al dente. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking and drain well. Return the pasta to the saucepan and add the apples.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the onions and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until tender. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly until simmering gently. Add the bay leaf, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Remove and discard the bay leaf and then stir 2 cups of the cheese and the sherry into the milk. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring until the cheese melts. Remove the pan from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the cheese sauce to the pasta and apples and stir gently to combine. Transfer the mac and cheese to the casserole and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and the panko. Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or just until heated through and lightly browned. Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

Note: You can bake the mac and cheese in individual ramekins. Butter them and bake for about 15 minutes.

Per Serving: 600 calories; 33 g fat; 20 g saturated fat; 100 mg cholesterol; 660 mg sodium; 48 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 27g protein

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