Monday, November 14, 2011

Baked Mac N' Cheese

Sometimes you just need comfort food... and at our house - this dish screams comfort all the way!!!

 

This is a favorite with my boys... and I much prefer this over the box variety!  It's so quick and easy, and fun to add variation to also.

Here's what you need: (for recipe scroll to bottom)


2 cups dry pasta, 2 tablespoons of flour, 1/2 cup butter, 1 1/2 cups milk, 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese, salt & pepper (and some ham if you want to add meat).

Start by cooking your pasta according to box directions.  I like to use different pastas than the regular old elbow macaroni... so I usually let my little man choose what kind of "noodle" we'll use.  We'll walk down the pasta aisle inspecting all the boxes while Hayden "hums" and "hahs" examining all his choices.  This particular pasta has been very popular the last several shopping trips... Trottole.  It's a big fat spiraled fun-looking pasta and it works great with this dish.  The recipe calls for 2 cups of dry elbow macaroni...but since this pasta was so fat, I just used approximately 10oz (just over half the box).








While your pasta cooks, melt your butter in a medium sized pan.


Add your flour and stir it together, allowing it to cook for a couple minutes all together.


Add the milk all at once and stir together until mixture thickens and becomes bubbly.  Also season with salt & pepper to taste.


Stir in the cheese.  I use regular medium cheddar, but this would be a great recipe to experiment with some sharp cheeses, or use a blend.  Even pepperjack would add a nice kick if you want to get really crazy!!


Drain your pasta and add the noodles in to your sauce.



My husband is of the philosophy that a meal with no meat is not really a meal ... so at this point I throw in my cubed ham too - you could go one step further and make it a Hawaiian dish by throwing in some pineapple chunks with the ham too.  Or forget that and go with some nice chunks of bacon or your favorite sausage.


Combine it all together - then pour into a baking dish and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes at 350'F.


If you like a "crust" on top... you can broil it for the last couple minutes to brown the cheese on top and make a semi-crunchy layer.

Mmmmmmmmmm..................... it's delicious!!


Then dish yourself up a generous portion with some steamed veggies and you've got yourself a winner of a meal!  I sprinkled a bit of paprika on ours - it adds some extra flavor and it's just pretty!!


And there you have it...easy, tasty, and oh so comforting!!




BAKED MAC' N CHEESE

Ingredients:
2 cups dry elbow macaroni (or other pasta)
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
1 - 1 1/2 cups cubed, cooked ham (optional)

Directions:

1.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

2.  In a medium pan melt the butter, add flour and stir together, cooking for 2-3 minutes, but do not brown.  Add milk all at once, and salt & pepper and stir until mixture thickens and bubbles.

3.  Add cheese and mix until cheese is completely melted and combined.  Stir in pasta (add meat) and pour into a baking dish.

4.  Bake at 350'F for 30-35 minutes until golden brown on top.  For a crisper top layer, broil for a couple minutes at the end.  Serve immediately.