Hello, lovelies! Did you know it is almost as easy to make your own macaroni and cheese as it is to open that famous blue box? Really, it’s true! And you don’t have to use a powdered cheese substance! You just need my go-to recipe below. My daughter loves this warm, cheesy comfort food. I love that I can add in meat or veggies, and she will eat them! You could also use the cheese sauce over veggies and skip the pasta.
Prep time: Less than five minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4, or maybe less depending on how you define a serving!
2 Tbsp flour (I have used whole wheat, and it’s great!)
2 Tbsp butter
½ tsp of dry mustard (optional)
1 cup of milk (I use whole)
1 ½ cups of dried elbow macaroni, or any appropriate pasta
1 to 1 ½ cups of shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Suggested optional mix-ins: shredded chicken or pork, tuna, deli meat, peas, diced avocado, jalapenos, toasted breadcrumbs
Cook macaroni according to package instructions. Make sure to add plenty of salt to the water. That’s how the Italians do it, and it really makes a difference. If your pasta is fully cooked before you finish your sauce, make sure you save a tablespoon or so of the cooking water for your sauce and do not run water over the pasta.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in another saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and whisk briskly for 1-2 minutes until it is fully incorporated and begins to turn a golden brown color. This is called a roux. Whisk in the mustard, if using. I like the flavor it adds.
Reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in the milk. Bring the heat back up to medium and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken (it should hold its form on a spoon).
Gradually stir in the grated cheese. A note on cheese: I have only shredded my own cheese off the block for this. You can use bagged shredded cheese but it may not result in as creamy a sauce because of the anti-caking agent. You also are not limited to just cheddar cheese! I have used a combination of cheddar and parmesan, gruyere, Monterey Jack, you name it.
Mix in the reserved pasta water and then the pasta. Season, add your mix-ins and serve!
Joli Heavin is a professional fundraiser and grant writer who works for Children's Bureau. In her spare time, Joli enjoys running, reading, and cooking. She is a lover of all things art and was once a classically trained singer and actress, but now primarily enjoys her roles as Clare's mom and Matt's wife.