Food, food, food! Do I seem obsessed to you? I truly believe that getting dinner on the table Every single night is one of the great challenges of rookie-mom-dom. We welcome our good friend, Karen, to share another easy peasy recipe with our readers: quick (and healthier) Mac and Cheese good enough for kids and adults.
I admit I’m a sucker for that bacon trick. Oh, and the breadcrumb trick. Yummmy!
I am going to tell you a dirty little secret about myself: I like Kraft macaroni and cheese from a box. It might be because I ate it so much as a kid that I have some sort of Stockholm syndrome thing going on with it, or it might be that I am just not all that refined. I only occasionally eat it at home, and when I do it’s totally on the down-low and I shamefully hide all the evidence afterward. In case you’re not disillusioned enough by my bad habits yet, let me also reveal that I put soy sauce on it. Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it: the soy sauce actually makes the orange chemical cheese-like product taste more like, well, cheese. Strange, I know.
Of course, the sad thing about that Kraft box is the questionable ingredient list. aside from the unnatural Doritos-colored cheese powder, did you know that one of the main preservatives in boxed Mac and Cheese is a common ingredient in laundry detergent? Ick.
The good news is that contrary to popular belief, macaroni and cheese is really easy to make from scratch, and offers a lot of room for customization. All you have to do is make a white sauce with milk, flour, and butter, then add cheese. No laundry detergent required! I like to serve it with broccoli and mix it all together on my plate. Pork-o-philes can cook up a few slices of bacon crumble on top. and I know it’s a lot of carbs, but it’s great with toasty garlic bread too!
Recipe: quick Mac and Cheese Without The Box
1 lb. macaroni (or penne, campanelle, or other short pasta shape of choice)
3 Tblsp butter
3 Tblsp flour
1 Â½ cups milk (nonfat won’t work- whole or 2% will work best)
1-2 cups grated cheese of your choice (I like the cheddar/jack mix with a little parmesan. if it’s just for grown-ups, I’ll add some gorgonzola too)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. turn off heat and stir in flour with a whisk. return to medium low heat and add milk, stirring. cook stirring constantly until thickened and smooth, about 5-10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and stir in cheese. Cook, stirring, until cheese is melted, 1-2 minutes. mix with pasta and serve.
Feed the baby: Mush up some cheesy noodles with a bit of small cooked broccoli pieces.
Lower the calories: Mac and cheese is definitely not a diet food, but you can at least use low-fat cheese. I recommend the shredded “Mexican” blend you see in the butter aisle of the supermarket because a lot of low fat cheese is a little funky in the texture department.
Make it fancy: put the mac into a buttered casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs. Bake in a 400 degree oven to toast the breadcrumbs. You can also do this with tater tots but I’m not sure that qualifies as “fancy”, per se.
Leftovers? In my house there is never leftover mac and cheese, but if you find yourself in this situation, this sounds like a good idea.
Take a shortcut: We talked about the pros and cons of the box already, right?
Who’s Auntie Karen?
Auntie Karen’s Crock Pot pulled Pork