Saturday, February 24, 2007

Mac And Cheese

I't a classic, but just a recent favorite at our house. We always got by on K.D. But I didn't want to give that to Ian so we learned to make it from scratch. It's really not hard. At all.

Melt about 1/2 cup butter in a pan. add about 1/4 cup of flour and stir until dissolved and you have a liquidy paste. Add salt, pepper, and/or whatever seasonings you want (dry mustard, parsley, anything you like) Add about 2 cups of milk (honestly I didn't measure I just poured it in until it looked right. It's better to add less milk and then add more later if it's too thick than to add too much right off the bat) Add 1/2 cup cream cheese and mix until melted in and combined. Add about 2 cups grated old cheddar cheese and mix until melted in and combined.

Here's the sauce when it's ready to go:

Add to about 3/4 package (a package is about a pound) of cooked pasta. The best pastas are Macaroni (duh) Penne, bowties, shells, or Gemelli. They should be a little firm still because they will soak up some more liquid from the sauce. Mix it all together and add whatever you like to it (hotdogs, chicken, veggies, shrimp, etc) Put it in a baking dish. Mix together about 1/2 cup of bread crumbs with melted butter or olive oil and sprinkle over the top. Bake it at 400 for about 20 mins, until the top is golden and crispy. Yum!

Healthy options: Whole wheat noodles, whole wheat bread crumbs, low fat cheese and milk. I don't recommend replacing the butter with margarine, especially low fat margarine. Margarine tastes terrible to begin with, and low fat margarine is mostly just water. If you insist on avoiding butter, then use olive oil instead, although I have never tried that and so I can't speak as to how it would work.

You can use any cheeses you like. It doesn't have to be cheddar and cream cheese. And this meal is so flexible you can alter it any way you like and it will probably turn out. Here's an alternative:

Instead of using milk, use cream, and instead of using cheddar and cream cheese, use parmesan. Be careful with the salt, but add lots of black pepper. Pour over fettucine to make fettucine Alfredo! (Yep, it's not fancy, it's just Mac and Cheese!)

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