Here it is, a long-time favorite and one of my mother’s specialties.
Queen Bee’s Shells & Cheese
This recipe will fill a 4 quart casserole dish (15x10x2)
- 1 package original Velveeta
- 2 – 3 cups Half & Half
- ¾ cup real butter (1 ½ sticks)
- ¼ tsp. garlic powder
- 8 oz. package of shredded sharp cheddar cheese (hold back 1/3 of the package for topping)
- 4 oz. fresh grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (or a combination of the two)
- Your choice of the following: 2-4 oz. of smoked cheddar or gouda cheese, 4 oz. pepper jack. or 4 oz. of Colby (this gives you the opportunity to add a little kick to your dish. I personally love the smoked Gouda, but go easy as it can be strong)
- One package shells
Prepare shells as directed. Coat casserole dish with cooking spray and fill with prepared shells. While hot, use ¼ cup butter to coat shells. (I just dot them and it melts quickly, then I give it a quick stir.) Set aside.
In a large saucepan on low to medium heat, combine ½ cup butter, Velveeta and 2 cups of Half & Half. Stir frequently to keep it from scorching on the bottom. As this becomes smooth, add the other cheeses and garlic. Stir until smooth.
Pour over the shells and fill to just below the top edge. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 package of shredded cheddar over the top, and sprinkle with course black pepper if you wish. This should appear very moist. If not, add a little more Half & Half.
Note: I usually prepare this a day or two in advance as it seems enhance the flavors. Then I remove from the refrigerator about an hour before baking. I pierce the top in several places with a fork, then pour about ¼ to ½ cup Half & Half over the top. Don’t be afraid to add liquid. It will bake in and be very moist.
If you end up with too much cheese sauce, it can be frozen and used at a later date.
Bake at 350◦ for 1 hour, or until top becomes golden.