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Easy dinner recipes: Mac 'n' cheese (the best ever?) and more

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Could it possibly get any better than mac 'n' cheese for dinner? Probably not. Which is why we've included not one, but three mac 'n' cheese recipe options for your dining pleasure. You're welcome.

Really the best-ever mac 'n' cheese: We ran this recipe for "really the best-ever mac 'n' cheese" a few years ago -- and though I don't know if I would agree that it's the best ever, I love the fact that it takes just over an hour to make, perfect if you're thinking about what to put on the table for dinner tonight.

Queen and Diva's mac 'n' cheese: With no less than four types of cheese, mac 'n' cheese couldn't get much better than this version. Extra rich and creamy, the secret ingredients include a can of mushroom soup and sour cream for tang. Assemble it ahead of time, if you'd like, then refrigerate until ready to bake.

QUICK & EASY: Terrific recipes in under an hour

Famous Dave's mac 'n' cheese: A medley of original flavors make this mac 'n' cheese shine. It starts with four different types of cheeses, the sauce built out with corn niblets, spicy jalapenos, fresh parsley and a touch of barbecue sauce. Top it with a crumbly breadcrumb topping and bake it until its wonderful aroma is simply too much to bear. (This dish can also be assembled ahead of time and refrigerated until you're ready to bake.)

You can find the recipes below.

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

RECIPES: 99 easy dinner ideas in about an hour or less

REALLY THE BEST-EVER MAC 'N' CHEESE

Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Servings: 12 to 16

Note: Use large shells such as chiocciole or conchiglie, or large elbow macaroni.

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon melted butter

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/2 cup flour

5 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

1 bay leaf

4 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese, divided

3 cups shredded Swiss Gruyere cheese

1 pound shells or elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions in salted water

1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the panko bread crumbs with the melted butter on a small baking pan. Toast the bread crumbs until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the 1/2 cup of butter over medium heat until melted, then stir in the flour. Heat and stir until the mixture is smooth and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk. Add the dry mustard, white and cayenne pepper, nutmeg, salt and bay leaf. Heat and stir to boiling, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf.

3. Stir in 3 cups of the cheddar and all the Gruyere until melted. Pour the sauce over the cooked macaroni in a large bowl, stirring until all the macaroni is coated. Pour the macaroni into a well-buttered 9-by-13-inch casserole. Drizzle heavy cream around the edges of the casserole. Sprinkle on the remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese, then the toasted bread crumbs.

4. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil. Bake 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered an additional 10 minutes. Put under a preheated broiler for 5 minutes.

Each of 16 servings: 415 calories; 19 grams protein; 28 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 25 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 75 mg. cholesterol; 565 mg. sodium.

QUEEN AND DIVA'S MAC 'N' CHEESE

Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Servings: 12 to 16

Note: From Sebrena Smith and Sean Swayze.

1 pound bag elbow macaroni

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

3/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 pound Velveeta cheese

1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup

1/4 cup milk, or to taste

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided

8 ounces goat cheese

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the macaroni according to the instructions on the package until al dente. Drain.

2. While the noodles are cooking, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt and pepper. Whisk in the sour cream and melted butter.

3. Stir the macaroni into the bowl with the egg mixture and set aside.

4. In a large saucepan, heat the Velveeta cheese, cream of mushroom soup and the milk over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the cheese is melted and incorporated with the soup and milk to form a nice sauce consistency. Add additional milk to thin if the sauce is too thick. Remove from heat.

5. Stir the sauce in with the macaroni, then stir in half (1 cup each) of the cheddar and jack cheeses. Place the macaroni mixture into a greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish.

6. Spoon the goat cheese in dollops over the macaroni mixture, then sprinkle over the remaining cheddar and jack cheeses.

7. Bake until the cheese topping is melted and the sauce is bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove and cool slightly before serving.

Each of 16 servings: 458 calories; 20 grams protein; 27 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 30 grams fat; 18 grams saturated fat; 110 mg cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 1,023 mg sodium.

FAMOUS DAVE'S MAC 'N' CHEESE

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Servings: 8 to 12

Note: Adapted from Famous Dave's.

2 tablespoons butter, plus 1/4 cup (1/2 stick), divided

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

3/4 cup half-and-half

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons barbecue sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

4 ounces aged white cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups sweet corn niblets

2 jalapeños, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 pound jumbo elbow macaroni, cooked and drained

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cubed

8 ounces Colby cheese, cubed

1/2 cup cracker crumbs

1/2 cup panko (Japanese-style) bread crumbs

1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large, heavy-bottom pot over medium heat. Whisk the flour into the butter until thoroughly combined to form a roux. Slowly whisk in the milk, then the half-and-half. Whisk in the mustard, barbecue sauce, salt and pepper.

3. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes to develop the flavors. Whisk in the white cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Stir in the corn, jalapeños and parsley, then remove from heat.

4. Stir in the macaroni, then the cubed sharp cheddar and Colby cheeses. Spoon the macaroni and cheese into a buttered 13-by-9-inch baking dish.

5. Melt the remaining one-quarter cup of butter in a small sauce pan. In a medium bowl, combine the cracker, panko and unseasoned bread crumbs with the melted butter. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the macaroni and cheese.

6. Bake the mac 'n' cheese until bubbly and browned on top, about 40 minutes.

Each of 12 servings: 530 calories; 21 grams protein; 43 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 30 grams fat; 18 grams saturated fat; 86 mg cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 691 mg sodium

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