Gluten Free Mac and Cheese Bites with Quick Tomato Jam Recipe
When it comes to entertaining at home, I like to create an atmosphere that is a little special and lets my guests know I care about them by preparing gluten free recipes that are a bit more elegant than usual. But I don’t like to stress myself out – if I am having a party, I want to enjoy it!
When planning the menu for a party, I like to include dishes with a bit of whimsy. One of the ways I do that is to take homey, everyday, comfort food and make it in mini bite-sized versions. For my Birthday party this year I created a whole menu of my favorite comfort foods in small bites. Comfort food just makes people feel good and when you make it look fancy, well, then you have a “Party”!
What could be more comforting than mac and cheese? Making mac and cheese bite-sized, takes a childhood classic and turns it into fancy-schmancy cocktail party food. And for those of us who like ketchup with your mac and cheese (yes I will admit it, you can too!) this quick tomato jam recipe is a much more sophisticated (and far less embarrassing) alternative to serve with the mac and cheese bites by putting a little dollop on top of the crispy cheesy bite making it a mouthful of pure delight!
The Mac and Cheese Bites take about 25 minutes, start to finish if you use a good quality, quick cooking gluten free macaroni (I like to use Pastario Gluten Free White Rice Pasta Elbows ) and you can make your sauce while the pasta cooks. You can make these Mac and Cheese Bites ahead, always a plus for parties, by either preparing the recipe up to the point of baking, covering the pans with plastic wrap and refrigerating for up to 3 days and then bake just before the party or (my preferred way) bake them, let them cool, refrigerate them well wrapped and then place them on a baking sheet and re-heat them at 350 degrees for a few minutes before the party. And you can also re-heat these in the microwave.
The Quick Tomato Jam takes about 20 minutes to make and can be done as much as a week ahead – just store in a covered jar in the fridge. Let the jam come to room temp before serving. This jam can also be used in all sorts of ways – spread on gluten free bread for sandwiches, as pasta topping, spread on burgers, as part of a cheese platter and on and on. It is a cosmopolitan nod to ketchup but oh so much better! I made mine refined sugar free by using Coconut Palm Sugar but regular brown sugar would substitute just fine.
BTW – these aren’t just fab finger food for cocktail parties, they go great with more casual entertaining too – perfect for your Memorial Day BBQ!
This isn’t your 5 year old’s mac and cheese; this is mac and cheese all grown up and ready to party!
- Gluten free, non-stick cooking spray
- ½ pound Pastario Gluten Free White Rice Pasta Elbows (2 cups uncooked)
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 teaspoons corn or tapioca starch
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ white onion , very finely diced
- ¾ teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg – freshly grated
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese , grated
- 1 cup yellow or white cheddar cheese , grated
- 2 tablespoons gluten free panko style bread crumbs
- 2 large ripe tomatoes , chopped
- ½ cup coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 cloves garlic , mined
- ½ inch piece of fresh ginger , peeled and finely grated
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 36 mini muffin tins well with gluten free non-stick cooking spray.
Cook the pasta in lots of heavily salted boiling water per the package directions. Drain and rinse with hot water.
In a small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons of milk with the corn or tapioca starch.
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook until the onions very soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ¾ cup of milk and bring to a boil. Stir in the corn starch mixture and boil until thickened, just a few seconds. Stir in ¼ cup of parmesan cheese and the cheddar cheese. Lower heat and stir until the cheeses are melted. Add the cooked pasta and stir to coat the pasta with the cheese sauce. Taste and add some more salt and pepper if needed.
Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese with the bread crumbs.
Spoon rounded tablespoons of the mac and cheese mixture into the prepared muffin tins, gently pressing down with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle as pinch of the bread crumb mixture on top of each mac and cheese bite and bake for 11-12 minutes or until the bites are golden brown and sizzling. Let cool for 5 minutes then run a knife around each bite and remove from the pans.
Combine all ingredients in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat. As the tomatoes start to soften, about 2 minutes, mash them with a spatula or potato masher. Continue to boil the mixture until it is thick and the liquid has been reduced (when you drag a spatula across the bottom of the pan, it should leave a path free of running liquid), about 10 minutes. Let jam cool then store in a clean jar, covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
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