Monday, September 3, 2012

Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

School's in!  School is starting this week.  I think I'm more nervous than my boy is.  I just know I'm going to cry on the first day of school.  Anyway, I thought it would be fun this week to feature some kid-friendly favorites.  Why not ease the stress out of starting a new year of school with some kid classics.

A favorite dish from my childhood: macaroni and cheese. Perfect and comforting as is- or doctor it up a little with a few simple additions.  I like to make this, not only for nostalgic reasons, but it is a quick and easy meal that my kids will eat!- Without complaining or coercion. :)


Homemade Macaroni & Cheese
From Egg Free Bakery

1-1/2 cups "safe" elbow macaroni
¼ cup butter or margarine (I prefer real butter)
¼ cups flour
1-3/4 cup milk
½ tsp. salt
Dash Pepper
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Shredded Mild Cheddar cheese

Topping:
about 3/4 cup Fresh bread crumbs, or seasoned canned breadcrumbs
1-2 tbsp Melted Butter or Oil
Sliced green onion, optional

Cook pasta in boiling water according to package directions until al dente; drain. Don't rinse. In another saucepan, melt butter.  Blend in flour.  Cook and stir for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. (this is a really important step.  If you don't cook and stir it for a bit before adding the milk, then your sauce will be grainy) Gradually add milk stirring constantly. (and by gradually I don't mean slowly pouring in- I mean add half of the milk and cook it til it is starting to thicken and then add the rest or do the milk additions in thirds) Continue cooking, stirring constantly until mixture has thickened.  Add salt, pepper and cheese.  Heat and stir until cheese is melted.  Mix sauce with pasta.  Top with shredded mild cheese and serve as is,

OR

before topping with cheese, pour pasta contents into a baking dish or individual ramekins. Sprinkle top with shredded mild cheddar cheese.  In another bowl, mix together bread crumbs and butter or oil.  [If using fresh bread crumbs: tear bread (about 1 slice) into chunks and place in a food processor.  Process to crumbs.  You may want to add a dash of garlic salt in with the fresh bread crumbs too, just to give it a little extra flavor) Then mix with melted butter or oil.] Sprinkle bread crumbs on top and broil in the oven for a few minutes until the bread crumbs are toasted and the cheese is melted. Top with sliced green onions if desired. You may also bake this for 20 minutes or so in a 350 degree oven, but I like it a little better not baked. Serve immediately. Makes about 4-5 servings.

If you still find you don't like the texture of the sauce, you can also use 2 tbsp cornstarch instead of flour to thicken.  If you use cornstarch, you will need to make a slurry (equal parts cornstarch and milk).  After melting the butter, add the milk and bring just to a boil, then gradually whisk in the slurry stirring constantly until thickened. 

*Also-- pasta does not make good leftovers, in my opinion, but if you happen to have leftovers, you will need to add a little water or milk to it when reheating.
 


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