Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Easy Macaroni & Cheese

Until last winter, I had never made macaroni and cheese from scratch.  I have always loved boxed macaroni and cheese.  And when I say I love boxed macaroni and cheese, I mean that I could probably eat it every day.  That's how much I love boxed macaroni and cheese.  And not only is it scrumptious, it takes almost not time to make, and it is cheap!  So why would I bother to take the time to make macaroni and cheese from scratch?  

Well, after seeing several awesome looking recipes online, curiosity finally got the best of me and I gave homemade macaroni a shot.  I guess it was just another step in my journey to start making real food!  The first two macaroni recipes I made were both makeover recipes.  And they are both quite tasty, if I don't say so myself.  But unlike my secret ingredient baked mac & cheese and my stovetop guacamole mac & cheese, the stand out feature of my latest elbow pasta adventure is simplicity.  Macaroni and cheese from scratch is fairly easy, but making it usually involves preparing a cheese sauce, and therefore is a little more time consuming then stirring a package of space cheese into cooked noodles, milk, and butter.  But hold onto your hats, folks.  I am about to introduce you to a homemade macaroni and cheese recipe that doesn't require making a cheese sauce!

Finally, you can have the best of both worlds when it comes to macaroni and cheese.  This recipe uses real, wholesome, non-freeze-dried ingredients.  It isn't fancy or complicated.  It is creamy, cheesy, rich, and delicious.  And it is just as quick, if not quicker, than boxed macaroni and cheese.  

Like boxed macaroni and cheese, this recipe starts with boiling elbow pasta.  But instead of boiling the noodles in water, this recipe has you boil them in milk.  This sounds like a simple difference, but the brilliance of it is that it doesn't require draining the noodles.  And as the noodles boil, they release their starch, which combines with the milk and creates its own, simple, practically automatic sauce.  Then all you have to do is stir in shredded cheese  and some spices to taste.  

Then dig in!  The bottom line is that If you can stir pasta and cheese, you don't have to eat your macaroni and cheese from a box.  But I won't judge you if you still do sometimes.  You'll be in good company--me!

Easy Macaroni and Cheese
2 cups dry elbow pasta
2 1/2 cups skim milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (use fresh shredded sharp cheddar for a stronger cheese flavor!)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
In a small saucepan, add pasta and milk.  Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until pasta is soft, stirring frequently and ensuring milk does not boil.

Turn heat off, add cheese & salt & and stir to combine.  Stir in the mustard and cayenne a little at a time, to taste. Cover and let stand for a couple of minutes, then stir again and serve. If not creamy enough, add milk a little at a time, and gently stir.
Recipe from Macaroni and Cheesecake

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