Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Favorite Mac & Cheese

I got this recipe many years ago from a Taste of Home magazine, but can now be found on I haven't changed it much. The only thing I've done is occasionally experimented with different grades of cheddar cheese. But if all you have on hand is a regular bag of shredded cheddar cheese, it will still taste delicious and creamy. It's very filling, so I don't normally serve it with a protein... just a salad. (A spicy salad goes nicely with the creaminess of the mac.) This is also a great dish to take along to a potluck or church dinner.

Here's what you need:

  • 7 Oz. elbow macaroni (this equates to about 2-1/3 dry measuring cups).
  • 3 Tablespoons flour 
  • 8 Oz. cream cheese, cubed (I use 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese, aka: Neufchatel cheese.)
  • 8 Oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I use reduced fat & it's still very rich and filling.)
  • 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
  • 2 Cups milk (I use 1%.)
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 Cup dry, seasoned bread crumbs
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, you're going to make a white sauce: melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan. Stir in flour until smooth and let cook for a minute over medium heat. Gradually and very slowly add the milk, stirring constantly. The white sauce, so far, should look like this:

Bring the white sauce to a boil, cooking and stirring for about 1 - 2 minutes or until it's thickened. Once it's thickened, it's ready for the cheeses and flavorings. Reduce the heat to low; add cheeses, mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth:

Drain the macaroni and add to the cheese sauce, stirring to coat. Pour into a greased, shallow 3-quart baking dish. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and toss with the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the macaroni. Bake, uncovered, in a 400 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Serves 8.

Use leftover mac and cheese the next day to make Nachos - just spread the mac and cheese onto tortilla chips. Reheat in the microwave for a few minutes, then top with salsa or taco sauce, jalepenos, olives, shredded lettuce, sour cream, etc.

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