Why buy processed Mac and Cheese when you can make it from scratch in about the same amount of time? It costs less, is better for you and you will get more, so you can freeze for ready made meals and side dishes.
- 1 pound Elbow Macaroni (1 box)
- 2 cups milk
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup New York Cheddar Cheese, shredded
- 1 cup Colby Jack Cheese, shredded
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Paprika
- 1 sleeve crackers, crushed (I use Ritz)
- cooking spray
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray.
In a large pan bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add macaroni, stirring well and reduce heat to just keep water boiling. Boil 7-9 minutes until cooked. Drain well, DO NOT RINSE. Pour macaroni into baking dish.
While boiling water and cooking macaroni, in a large pot or dutch oven melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to blend. Cook and whisk until bubbly. Slowly, add milk while continuously whisking to blend well and prevent lumps. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika, stirring well to combine. Bring just to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Reduce heat to low and slowly add cheese, stirring after each addition to mix well. Stir frequently until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat. Pour cheese sauce over macaroni in baking pan. Gently stir to immerse macaroni in the cheese sauce.
Combine 2 tablespoons melted butter with crushed cracker crumbs. Sprinkle on top of macaroni and cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until crumbs are golden brown and macaroni and cheese is bubbly.
Freeze Leftovers for ready made meals, side dishes or as part of another recipe (such as my Easy Cheesy Taco Bake).
Omit onion powder and garlic powder and add finely chopped onions and finely minced garlic to butter before adding flour, saute until soft. Continue recipe as directed.
Meaty Mac & Cheese
-Brown 1 pound ground sirloin, drain fat. Spread in bottom of baking dish before adding macaroni. You could also use sliced hot dogs, smoked sausage, ground turkey or pork.
-Add 1 cup of cooked crumbled bacon to cheese sauce before adding to macaroni.
-Add chopped spinach, chopped tomatoes or your favorite vegetable and you’ll have a full meal in one dish!
-Experiment with different cheeses. I like this combination, but you could use Swiss, provolone, mozzarella American, etc., the only limit is your imagination. Mix them up and you’ll be amazed as the different flavors you can create.