Anyone who has kids knows that you can never go wrong with a big helping of mac n cheese. I, myself, grew up on Kraft macaroni and cheese. Ya know, the kind in a box with those slimy little noodles? (I hate to admit it but despite the sliminess...I still actually like them.) Then, for awhile, I was making mac n cheese with Velveeta, the way my mother in law does. And again, hers it pretty tasty as well, and my kids and husband love it. BUT, I was trying to get away from processed cheese. I wondered, how are you really supposed to make it? So I was on a mission. I looked up who knows how many recipes and found that most of them started with a simple roux, maybe salt and pepper and a few spices, milk and cheese. That's it. So then I began experimenting. Well, my recipe has been a few years in the making and I think I have finally perfected it to my tastes. I discovered that I really don't like to make it with the typical cheddar because it seems too oily and doesn't stay as 'melty' as some cheeses and the oil/milk in the leftovers kinda separate. So, I decided to use what I usually have on hand for all my Mexican dishes which is a Mexican blend cheese. You can really use any cheese you love. I use whatever is on hand. If I only have cheddar, then cheddar it is! Sometimes I'll even add a little mozzarella to it and then it becomes stringy but oh so delicious. SO, without boring you too much more, here's my final recipe:
2 cups macaroni noodles (or any small pasta)
water to boil
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
dash cayenne pepper (optional)
2 cups milk (I use 1%)
2 cups cheese (I use Mexican or taco blend)
1/2 cup sour cream
1. Alright, let's pretend you know nothing about cooking and this is your first dish you will ever make. Here's what you do. Take a 2 quart pot and fill it 2/3 with water, sprinkle about a teaspoon of salt in it and put the lid on. Turn the burner on medium-high to high and wait for it to boil. The lid will help the water to boil more quickly.
2. Meanwhile, in another pot melt the butter on medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk together. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
Here's what it should look like. This is called a roux (pronounced roo). It is a thickening agent. You do this for gravies and stews too.
3. Next, add the spices and cook for another minute.
4.Slowly add the milk beginning with 1 cup. As it thickens, add a little more until you've added all of the remaining milk. Stir constantly because you don't want the milk to burn on the bottom, and if you don't stir...IT WILL. (Trust me) :) This should take 5-7 minutes or so.
5. Alright, so by this time the water in your pot should be boiling. Here's my 2 cups of pasta. I used a mixture of elbow macaroni and fiori which looks like little flowers because I didn't have enough of macaroni. Honestly, you can use any small pasta shape you like. My girls love when I use the 'flowers'.
Add the pasta and make sure to give it a stir right away. Otherwise it'll cook in a big clump and stick together and just become nasty. Just give it a stir every now and then so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. Cook the pasta until it is 'al dente' which is right before it gets mushy. It'll still have a thickness to it. Taste. Taste. Taste. If you're not sure, that is what you do. Just don't forget to check on it. Mushy pasta is one of my pet peeves. When it's ready, drain and rinse with cold water to help stop the cooking process and to help keep it from sticking together.
6. Okay, so now the sauce that you've been stirring is finally thickened. Add the 2 cups of cheese and stir until melted. (Sorry, I didn't get a pic of the cheese before it melted)
7. Next, remove from heat and add the sour cream. I find that this ingredient helps it to have that smooth taste/texture. (again, I didn't get to take a pic, sorry)
8. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese and stir.
If you'd like baked mac and cheese then you can either pour the mac n cheese in a baking dish and sprinkle some extra cheese all over and bake it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes, OR you can mix 1 cup of bread crumbs with 1/4 cup melted butter and sprinkle on top and bake it for 20-25 minutes.
Add some cooked broccoli or other preferred veggie and stir to combine.