Cheddar and Edam Shells with Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes and Bacon

Servings – 1 bowl

4 ounces milk (1/2 cup) – $0.28
1 tablespoon onion – $0.02*
1/2 tablespoon flour – $0.01
1/2 tablespoon butter – $0.05
salt, pepper, nutmeg, mustard powder, worchestire to taste – $0.15
1 1/2 ounces sharp cheddar – $0.82**
1/2 ounce edam (or gouda) – $0.28
1 slice bacon, crumbled – $0.22
2 Roasted Balsamic Tomato halves – $0.60***
2 ounces shells – $0.18

Total for recipe – $2.61 per serving
Calories: 639 Fat: 36.4 Protein: 27  

Preheat oven to 425F for bacon (unless you’re doing the bacon in a pan or toaster oven. Your call.)
Heat a salted pot of water for shells.
Heat the onions in the milk and simmer gently for 10 minutes or until the milk is infused with the onion flavor.
While milk is simmering, bake bacon.
Remove from heat and strain out onions, reserving the milk.
Melt butter in small sauce pan.
Add flour.
Make a roux and cook it for 3-4 minutes, until all most of the raw flour taste is cooked out, but color hasn’t changed.
Add the cooled and strained milk to roux, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.
Simmer for gently and put the noodles in to cook.
Bacon should be crispy and ready to drain on paper towels.
While noodles are cooking and bechamel is bubbling, shred cheese and chop bacon into small pieces.
Dice tomatoes.
Drain noodles.
Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, dash of mustard powder, and dash of worchestire to the sauce to taste.
Take the bechamel sauce off the heat. It should be a little thinner than you want the final sauce to be because the cheese and starch from the noodles are going to thicken it up. If it’s too thick off the heat, thin with hot milk, but do not return to heat. Do not take the bechamel off the heat before you’re ready to add the cheese. Once the cheese is added it cannot go back on the heat or the cheese will curdle and ruin the texture.
Stir in cheeses.
You can thin with milk after the cheese has been added, so err on the side of thickness, because if you thin it too much, there’s nothing you can do except add some more cheese and hope there is still enough heat to melt it.
Stir in noodles, bacon, and most of tomatoes until combined.
Garnish with the rest of the tomatoes.

*One piece will do it. You’re just trying to infuse the flavor. The onion will be strained. No need to measure, just guess.
**Aged cheddar gives a better flavor. It’s very expensive. If you are being extravagant, use the aged stuff and add $1.20 per serving. 
***If you didn’t make these, and don’t have 2-3 hours, don’t sweat it. Jarred sun-dried tomatoes would be fine.

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