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Outback Steakhouse Copycat Mac & Cheese

Outback Steakhouse Copycat Mac & Cheese

Replicating one of Outback Steakhouse’s bestselling kid’s menu items—Mac A Roo and Cheese—creamy Velveeta cheese sauce coats tender penne pasta for a simple, kid-friendly classic.

Where was your first job? I had a brief 6-month stint at Subway before I escaped the fast food industry and went to go work at my local Outback Steakhouse. While I have lots of horror stories from working as a server ranging from dine and dashers to one table that left me nothing more but a dirty diaper on their table as a tip, I also formed some of my closest friendships there too.

I’m definitely one of those people who thinks everyone should work at least once in the foodservice industry. It can be tough work and the good servers deserve every penny they earn In tips. You also learn really quickly how to work with “different” personalities too. There was always that one customer who would order an extra well-done steak and then complain about it being dry and also blame you for cooking it wrong in the process. But as a server, you had to just nod and smile and get them something else.

Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox. One of my favorite parts of working in restaurants was obviously the food. I loved getting to try the new specials when they were released and somehow there were always orphaned Bloomin’ Onions in the kitchen for my fellow servers and me to chow on.

But my absolute favorite quick meals to get as a server was a bowl of creamy macaroni and cheese from the kid’s menu. Outback’s Mac A Roo & Cheese (or “Kid Mac” as the servers would call it) definitely isn’t anything fancy, it’s just your basic Velveeta cheese sauce served over pasta. However, despite its simplicity, after figuring out the right cheese/milk/butter ratio, it’s become my go-to mac and cheese recipe when time is short and I’m looking for a quick lunch or side dish at dinner time.

I think using penne noodles is what really makes this mac & cheese great. All the yummy sauce flows into the penne tubes so you get lots of “cheese” in every bite. I put “cheese” in quotes because Velveeta and American Cheese, in general, is arguably real cheese. I ask you cheese snobs, however, to forget about that for this particular dish and enjoy it for what it is—simple and delicious.

If you have picky eaters at home (kid or adult) I guarantee that this mac will be a winner with them. It was by far the bestseller on the kid’s menu at Outback Steakhouse! Have you ever worked in a restaurant? What’s your best (or let’s be honest—worst) story from the biz? Share in the comments below, I love hearing about your experiences!

Also, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram (@frydaeblog or #frydae) if you try this recipe out. It’s always fun to see what you guys are cooking up in your kitchens too.

Outback Steakhouse copycat mac-a-roo and cheese macaroni and cheese
5 from 1 vote
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Outback Steakhouse Mac & Cheese

Replicating one of Outback Steakhouse’s bestselling kid’s menu items—Mac A Roo and Cheese—creamy Velveeta cheese sauce coats tender penne pasta for a simple, kid-friendly classic.

Course Pasta
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 8 oz diced American cheese (Velveeta or Kraft)
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard powder
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup low-fat milk

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook penne pasta noodles according to the package's instructions. Usually around 10 minutes.

    Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add dried mustard powder and 1/4 cup of the milk. Stir to combine and let warm until steaming. 

    Begin to slowly add in the diced American cheese stirring each addition until almost melted. If sauce begins to get too thick, add a bit more of the milk to thin the sauce before adding more cheese.

    Once all the cheese has been added add is melted, add in any remaining milk, if needed/desired, to your desired consistency. I like my sauce not too thick so it easily runs off a spoon.

    Once your pasta is al dente, drain and return to the pot. Pour the cheese sauce over the penne pasta and carefully stir to combine so every noodle is well-coated with cheesy goodness.

    Serve warm and enjoy.

Notes


If you want a thicker, creamier sauce, you can substitute low-fat milk for whole milk or half-and-half. I find using 1% Milk gets the sauce closest to Outback's consistency though.

 

 

Spiced Cheddar Star Crackers

Spiced Cheddar Star Crackers

These savory little crackers are cheesy, spicy and flaky and make a great party snack…or anytime snack. Full of cheddar cheese, herbs and spices, they’re like Cheez-Its, Goldfish and Cheddar Bay Biscuits all wrapped up into one.

Warning: This post contains a recipe for homemade Cheez-Its that you’ll surely want to double because I guarantee you’re going to eat the first batch by yourself immediately. This warning *totally* doesn’t come from personal experience…but, okay, if I’m being honest with you, it definitely does. I think it safe to say everyone has a weakness when it comes to food—their kryptonite (and if the lyrics “if I go crazy will you still call me Superman” came into your head when I said that, then we can be best friends).

While I’m guilty of having a sweet tooth on occasions, I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for savory snacks—especially if they involve cheese. When I was young and just getting into cooking, I received an Emeril Lagasse cookbook called, There’s a Chef in My Soup. Intended for young chefs, it’s one of the first cookbooks I can remember cooking from and this recipe is based on one of the first recipes I can recall cooking from it—Cheesy Star Snacks.

These little crackers are delicious. If you’re a fan of Cheez-its, Goldfish, Better Cheddars or any other cheese-flavored cracker these will be right up your alley. The added herbs and spices also make them take a bit like Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits too. Actually, thinking back to the very first time I made these, I intentionally rolled out the dough a bit thicker than directed which resulted in little baby biscuit-like stars. Yum!

Rolled thick or thin, I love these little crackers whether served warm right out of the oven or cooled completely. However because they’re so delicious, I usually gobble them all down well before they have a chance to cool down. One thing I’ve changed from the original recipe is adding a little cayenne pepper and adding extra mustard powder. I also like to use fresh herbs when I can rather than dry.

These cheesy crackers make a great party snack or a special treat for the kiddos in their lunchbox. If it were up to me, I’d make these every week to keep on-hand, however, because they’re essentially solid cheese and butter with a little flour mixed in I have to restrain myself.

What is your food kryptonite? Are you a major sweets lover or do you prefer something savory like me? Leave me a comment below, I love hearing from you! Also, If you try these little crackers, please give them a rating and tag me on Instagram (@frydaeblog or #frydae).

Spiced Cheddar Star Crackers

These savory little crackers are cheesy, spicy and flaky and make a great party snack...or anytime snack. Full of cheddar cheese, herbs and spices, they're like Cheez-Its, Goldfish and Cheddar Bay Biscuits all wrapped up into one.

Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 16 dozen (1-inch stars)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups finely grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh parsley (or 1/4 teaspoon dry)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon dry)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano (or 1/4 teaspoon dry)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh basil (or 1/4 teaspoon dry)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 egg whites (for egg wash)

Instructions

  1. Combine flour, cheese, salt, dry mustard powder, herbs and spices in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.

    Next, cut the butter into small pieces and then add to the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or fork, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse, pea-sized crumbs.

    Add the cold water to the bowl a tablespoon at a time and continue to work the mixture together with your fingers until a soft, smooth dough forms. Shape into a ball and then cover with plastic wrap. Place the dough into the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes (or overnight).

    When you're ready to bake the crackers, preheat oven to 375°F with the rack positioned in the middle.

    Remove dough from the refrigerator and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/8" thick. 

    Using a 1-inch star cookie cutter (or any small shape) begin to cut out the dough. Place stars onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. These don't spread out when they're baking so you can place them close together, just make sure that they're not touching. Repeat until all the dough is cut out and cookie sheets are full of crackers.

    Brush each cracker with a little egg wash, then place crackers into the preheated oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. If you're baking more than one tray at a time, rotate the pans after 6-8 minutes to ensure even cooking. Remove immediately and let cool. Then put into an airtight container and store for 3-5 days.

Notes


If you don't have any small cookie cutters, you can also use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into strips and then again in the other direction to create 1-inch squares. Discard the rough edges and roll out again and repeat until all the dough is cut up.

Adapted From: Emeril Lagasse

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