November 27, 2010

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Last night, for the first time, I attempted to write down my recipe.  I think I first got the idea that I could make this from scratch from Rachael Ray (about 8 years ago).  I figured that if she, the 30 minute meal queen, could do it, it cannot be that difficult.  So I take a little from her recipe, a little from experience, and I use the proportions from Taste of Home.  Also, I rarely, if ever, buy Velveeta.  I don't know what it costs on the east coast these days, but it was $6.28 (!) a block at Wal-Mart yesterday.  I just couldn't do it, knowing that most of it would probably sit in the fridge for weeks and go bad.  Being the chip and dip person that I am, I almost always have salsa con queso (i.e. cheese in a jar) on hand.  So that's what I used instead and it gave the cheese sauce a very nice consistency.

Macaroni and Cheese
8 oz. (half a box) of elbow macaroni or shells
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup nacho cheese (from a jar)
1 1/2 c. milk 
1 T. Grey Poupon (or other prepared mustard)
1/2 t. grated nutmeg
1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. each of salt and pepper
4 T. butter
3 T. flour
1 cup fresh broccoli, cut into tiny florets

Cook the noodles for 6 minutes. Throw in the fresh broccoli for the last 2 minutes of the cooking process.  Drain and set aside.

To make the cheese sauce:  Melt the butter and add the flour, salt, pepper, onion powder, nutmeg, and mustard.  Cook together on medium heat for about 3 minutes.  Pour in the milk, turn the heat up to medium high, and stir until it thickens.  Add the cheeses.  Mix the noodles/broccoli and cheese sauce together.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Then broil for a few minutes to get the top nice and crispy.

I like to add croutons to the top before I bake it.  Cut up about 5 slices of bakery bread into small cubes (I used sourdough this time) and toast in a pan with some olive oil.  Season with salt pepper and onion powder.  Spread over the top of the macaroni and cheese before putting it in the oven.  

*The picture on this page is BEFORE I put it into the oven.  I pretty much dug right in as soon as it came out.

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