Rebecca's Cooking Journal

salt and pepper

Baked Macaroni and Cheddar

I can’t eat Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner. It is just hurts my stomach and feels empty and cheap.

Of course, my one-year-old son loves it. I like to mush up butternut squash (from the frozen vegetable isle) up in his Kraft dinner. If it’s mashed up enough, he doesn’t notice it, and he gets some vegetables in him.

But while I don’t like Kraft dinner, I love real, oven-baked macaroni and cheese, specifically macaroni and cheddar. There’s something about the crispy crust that just makes it complete. I use a medium cheddar, but if you like it sharp, that would make it even more flavorful.

One can add vegetables to this casserole if desired; pre-cooked chicken could also be sneaked in. Last night, I made it without anything else added, and it was still delicious. My son loved it too.

Macaroni and Cheese

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 lb macaroni
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1 cup bread crumbs

Cheese Sauce Ingredients:

4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp flour
3 cups milk, heated
salt
pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of nutmeg
dash of Tabasco sauce (optional)
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese

Directions:

Butter a large, 3-quart casserole dish. Preheat oven to 375.

Cook pasta. Put drained pasta in casserole dish.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don’t let it brown, about 2 minutes. It will smell nutty.

Add the hot milk slowly (maybe a half a cup at a time), continuing to whisk as the sauce boils and thickens. When it thickens, add more milk . Add salt and pepper and cayenne, nutmeg, and Tabasco to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese during the last 2 minutes of cooking.

Pour sauce over pasta in casserole dish and mix gently so all pasta is covered with liquid. Then sprinkle bread crumbs and 1 cup of cheddar over the top of the pasta. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Alternatively, cook under a broiler for a few minutes until just melted and crusty.

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