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(If you are here for the delicious macaroni and cheese bites recipe, scroll on down to the bottom!)
Last Saturday we had the pleasure of having some people over to eat, chat, and watch some college basketball. The party was kind of last minute and I didn’t get to spend as much time planning as I normally do. I usually agonize over menus and decor for weeks, but this time, I honestly only had about 24 hours to prepare. To make things easy, I went with simple basketball themed decor (it is college basketball season, afterall!) and an easy menu made up of snacks, dips, and Coke products.
I stuck with an easy color scheme of white and black,with orange accents. This seems ¨basketbally¨ to me and the white on black reminded me of the game officials. I grabbed all the decor at our local Giant Eagle’s gift wrap section and dollar stores, so it cost me less than $10 dollars for everything!
I used a black tablecloth for the table and then purchased a small roll of plain white wrapping paper. Using wrapping paper on tables is one of my favorite party decor tricks. It is cheap and I loved using this white paper because I was able to write the menu directly on it.
I grabbed these basketball baskets and they were perfect for holding napkins and silverware and also the chips to go with the Jalapeño Corn Dip.
I also purchased this big orange drink bucket and turned it upside down to give the table some height. I always think it looks better when you vary the heights of things a little! I printed the big bracket out and then glued it onto a cheap piece of white cardboard that I had. Easy, inexpensive, and makes a big statement!
As for the menu, I kept it simple. Here is what we had.
Mini Macaroni and Cheese Bites with Ritz Cracker Crust
OREOS (These were just a snack and they went with the black and white theme!) If I had more time I would have made these delicious OREO Cupcakes!
Coke, Diet Coke, and Coke Zero
I purchased a bunch of Coke Zero because it is truly the soda of choice in our house. We have been drinking it for a few years now and it is hard to drink anything else now! The flavor is so good, just like regular Coke, but without the sugar and calories! There was a great special going at Giant Eagle, so I picked up some Coke and Diet Coke as well in order to appeal to all the guests, and I got all of the drinks for the whole party for $12!!! I used to buy tons of different beverages for parties but have found that by putting out a pitcher of water, and then buying regular Coke, Diet Coke, and our favorite Coke Zero, you have something for everybody.
I love these little 8 oz. cans of Coke and Coke Zero that I bought! Do you find that you buy a lot of drinks for parties and people drink half and throw it away? I hate that, so these cans are the perfect size! It really eliminates waste. I bought the bigger sizes as well and thought people could share those. I placed them beside orange cups and black and white striped straws to keep with the orange, black, and white basketball theme!
A highlight of the menu was this REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup Dip. I used mini REESE’s mixed with a bunch of yummy stuff and served it with Wheat Thin Crackers and pretzels. We loved the salty bite of the crackers with the sweetness of the dip.
These Mac & Cheese bites are truly one of my favorite things to make. They are SO good. While I love Mac & Cheese, I often find homemade versions bland and dry. This recipe is neither of those things. It is kicked up with garlic and herb cheese and the buttery Ritz cracker crust adds tons of flavor as well. I love the crunch from the crust topped with the creaminess of the macaroni mixture.
Even better, these can be made hours before hand and then just baked right before serving. And unlike most macaroni and cheeses, these do reheat well the next day for lunch! If making ahead of time, prepare as directed and then stop after mixing everything and cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.
This recipe makes 48 mini muffin sized mac & cheese bites, so if you don’t need quite that much, halve the recipe. Or you could make these in a regular sized muffin tin and get around 24.
- Makes 48 mini muffin sized bites
- 12 oz. elbow macaroni
- 5 oz. of garlic and herb cheese (boursin, alouette, or even herbed cream cheese works, any soft spreadable herbed cheese)
- 2 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 tbsp. cold unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cups milk
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- pinch salt and pepper
- for the crust:
- 2 cups crushed Ritz Crackers
- 6 tbsp. butter, melted
- 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray 2 mini muffin tins with cooking spray.
- Begin by melting the 6 tbsp. of butter and then mixing in the crushed Ritz and the 1/2 cup cheddar. Press about 1 tsp. of crumb mixture into the bottom of the mini muffin tin. Press down until firmly packed. Crust should come up a little on the sides.
- Prepare macaroni noodles. Cook in boiling water until a few minutes shy of al dente. When done, strain and then put into a large bowl. Add the herbed cheese, cheddar, sour cream, milk, eggs, cold butter, and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly until cheese is starting to melt and no large clumps remain. Spoon about 1-2 tsp. of mixture into each well over the prepared crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit at least 10 minutes. If you try to remove them before that, they will crumble as you take them out. After 10 minutes, run a knife around the edges and then gently remove each one. Serve warm. Enjoy!