I have to admit that I am generally terrible about following recipes. I love to read recipes for inspiration, but I always want to put my own twist on whatever it is I am making. Also, I don't like to measure things. I am all about approximating. So, with that said, every now and then, I would like to share some approximate recipes for the creations I've come up with that have been successful.
In my last post, I mentioned that I feel fancy when I make homemade macaroni and cheese without using Velveeta. I have tried numerous versions of homemade mac and cheese, but the most recent version was my family's favorite. Every basic mom should have a mac and cheese recipe in her repertoire. Feel free to use this one . . . I promise I won't be offended if you add your own twist.
There are three parts: the pasta, the cheese sauce, and the crumbly topping.
32 oz box of elbow macaroni
Salt to season the water
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
8 oz block of muenster cheese (cut into small cubes)
1 ½ cups shredded Colby jack
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 tablespoon butter
½ sleeve of crackers (I used Town House wheat crackers because I happened to have them in the cupboard)
More crackers to feed your kids while you are making dinner because they are sure to assume it is snack time when they see you with a box of crackers.
Now, to bring these three parts together:
I’ll assume you know how to cook the pasta, so I won’t insult you by listing the steps for that, but you should cook the pasta so it will be ready at about the same time as the cheese sauce.
For the cheese sauce, you first need to make a béchamel sauce, which sounds scary, but is actually pretty simple. Heat the milk over low heat in a sauce pan (stirring occasionally to keep the bottom from burning). While the milk is heating up, melt about 4 tablespoons of butter in a large pot over low heat. Once the butter is melted, add about 4 tablespoons of flour and mix the butter and flour together (it should be a paste-like consistency). Cook the butter and flour mixture for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the warm milk to the pot with the butter and flour mixture, along with about ½ teaspoon of salt, and whisk the ingredients together. Within a couple minutes, it will thicken into a beautiful white béchamel sauce (so fancy).
Next, add your cubed muenster, shredded Colby jack, and shredded sharp cheddar to the béchamel sauce and stir until it is completely melted into glorious cheese lava (this will probably take 3-4 minutes).
Add your cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and mix well. (At this point, I recommend that you sneakily eat a few forkfuls of the mac and cheese in this state - this is your treat for being a chef ).
Next, pour the cheese and pasta mixture into a large glass baking dish (I'm sure a metal dish is also fine, just not as fancy).
To prepare the crumbly topping, melt about a tablespoon of butter in a frying pan, crumble the crackers into the melted butter and toast them over low heat for a few minutes.
Sprinkle the crumbly topping over your mac and cheese and bake it in a 350-degree oven for about ½ hour.
Eat two helpings.
Please note that this makes enough for a family gathering, or dinner plus a week of leftovers for a family of four. You may want to half everything if you don't need to feed 15 people or you don't want mac and cheese for days.