Thursday, October 1, 2009

Basic Cooking Skills: Homemade Mac and Cheese

Every other Thursday we will post about different basic cooking skills. Knowing how to prepare meals from scratch is a very important step in becoming self-reliant, which in turn is a crucial component of being prepared. Being able to cook meals for your family will give you confidence, more family togetherness time, and lower your food budget=more money for food storage! If you have a basic cooking skill you'd like to learn, email us! These meals contain perishable food items as this is a different series than our food storage recipes.

Macaroni and Cheese is one of those fall-back meals. Got a babysitter coming in thirty minutes? Mac and cheese it is! Had a bad day? Bring on the mac and cheese! But you don't have to eat those box mixes to get a quick, easy and delicious comfort food. Homemade it is!

The perfect comfort food.

Ingredients: Pasta, cheese, milk, butter, flour, dry mustard, salt and pepper

Cook your pasta according to the package directions. You don't need to use macaroni, although you might if you have really picky kids. My children love it when I make this with "twirly noodles" aka rigatoni (is it rigatoni? Who am I kidding to think I know all the names of the pasta). Use whatever you like, whatever you have on hand.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat.

When the butter has completely melted, sprinkle the flour over the top.

Let the flour sit for a minute (just a minute) and then stir it together, making a little paste.

Add the milk now (and I've made it with reconstituted powdered milk and it tastes just fine). Stir until the mixture becomes thick. It takes a few minutes but you'll be able to tell when it's getting thicker like a creamy sauce. Keep stirring though or you'll get lumps.

Hey, it's a white sauce! Add the spices: all we're adding is salt, pepper and a little dry mustard.

Now add the shredded cheese. About 3 cups--if you see in the picture above I had about 3/4 of a pound block of cheddar cheese. I just grated it up and threw it in to melt.

As you stir it, the cheese will melt and become a nice thick cheesy delicious sauce. Wow. I really want some of this.

Turn off the heat or remove from the heat, toss the drained, cooked pasta into the pot and stir until it's all combined.

Hey, you just made homemade macaroni and cheese. And it took just as long as it takes to boil pasta!

Now, the original recipe has you pop it in a casserole dish, sprinkle with additional cheese and bake for 30 minutes--but I've found that my kids (and myself included) like it better just straight out of the pan. It's nice and creamy and doesn't have the casserole texture, tastes just like a box mix...only better. But if you like it casseroly, you can certainly bake it. This is a great dish to take to someone who's sick or has just had a baby. It's fast, easy and makes a lot.

Macaroni and Cheese

Favorites Cookbook

1 lb elbow macaroni
1/4 cup butter (4 Tbsp)
4 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard
3 cups grated cheddar cheese

Cook macaroni in boiling salted water according to package directions and drain. In a saucepan, melt butter. Add flour and stir. Pour in milk and cook, stirring constantly until thick. Add salt, pepper and dry mustard, then add cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and add cooked macaroni and mix together. Serve as is, or if you prefer a casserole style dish, put in a 9 x 13" baking pan and sprinkle 1/2 cup of grated cheese on top, sprinkle with paprika if you wish, and baked in a 350 degree F. oven for 30 minutes.


Anonymous said...

I add panko bread crumbs to the top of mine that has been mixed with parmesan cheese - it gets a nice crispy crust on top!

Sadly, my hubby doesn't like mac n cheese, but luckily my daughter does! Now that the weather is getting cold, I'll be making it soon! :D

Anonymous said...

We use whole wheat noodles.

Anonymous said...

I saute a little chopped onion in the butter before adding the flour and milk to make the sauce. I don't use dry mustard, but sprinkle some paprika on top or, if you want a more orange color, sprinkle the paprika in the sauce when it is still cooking. My recipe also calls for being cooked in the oven, but I have found it re-heats in the microwave better the next day if it isn't cooked in the oven. The butter and oil doesn't separate like it would if cooked in the oven for half an hour and then reheated later. You can also freeze this (works best if you don't bake in oven).

Anonymous said...

Comfort food is right! Also it can be called "Homie Food". Because everyone wants to eat at different times over here (they also expect to find food miraculously made when they open the fridge,ha!).I decided one night to make a couple of ready to dishes. This is the BEST! It was gone in one day. I added some Mrs. Dash & garlic powder. When ready to serve sprinkle some bacon bits on top...TOTAL YUMMY! I made it again tonite. Thanx K!

I also made the Knox Blox...the kids love 'em!