Monday, December 12, 2011

Make It Monday: Homemade Mac and Cheese!

Mac and Cheese is one of those great comfort foods, that warms your insides on a cold day! The benefits to making your own from scratch are that you can avoid the sodium and preservatives that the boxed brands have. You can also glam it up a bit by using different types of cheeses for different flavors. This recipe is the bare minimum technique for making a creamy mac and cheese sauce.

1 lb macaroni (elbows or penne works)
2 cups grated cheese (sharp cheddar for traditional, you can use any flavor you like).
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
2 c milk (whole makes it creamy)
2 T butter
2 T flour

Fill large pot with water and prepare pasta, to a little under done about 6-7 minutes. (*if you aren't going to bake the pasta at the end you can prepare the pasta to done, about 10 minutes).

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. With a fork or whisk mix in the flour. Let this cook for about 2 minutes, this is called a roux and it will thicken your sauce.

Here is the most important part, TURN OFF THE HEAT before you stir in your milk (it will curdle... :P).  pour in two cups of milk, stirring the whole time. Turn the heat back on to medium, stirring frequently until it starts to thicken.  Once the sauce begins to thicken add the cheese and keep stirring. Once all the cheese is melted your sauce is done.

Drain the pasta and pour the sauce over. Place in a greased 13x9 inch pan. You can add more grated cheese on top, or bread crumbs for a little crunch.

Bake for about 15 minutes at 375F or until your cheese on top is brown and bubbly!

This recipe is so versatile you can add all kinds of extras to make it your own.

Ideas for extras:
  • chopped ham
  • spinach and artichokes
  • saute garlic or onions in the roux
  • Parsley, oregano, basil or your favorite herb
  • Puree veggies like carrots to add extra nutrition, add to the sauce

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