Saturday, February 16, 2013

Weekend Cooking...An Ode to Mac and Cheese




I love macaroni and cheese.
I have always said, if I am ever on death row, I want my last meal to be mac and cheese and Bob Evans sausages.
Not that I am planning on being on death row.
But you never know.

However, I am not a Mac and cheese snob. I like it in many varieties. I like the frozen Stouffer's variety. I like the version available at my local Wawa convenience store. Which I understand is actually Stouffer's, which explain that.


But I also like the boxed variety. Not the more expensive brands, but the cheapest store variety with the yellow powder, 66 cents at the supermarket this week. I do make a wee change. I use 1/2 cup of milk, more than they say, and add no butter. Instead I add a bit of real cheese, whatever I have on hand. It does not take much and makes a huge difference.
My ultimate comfort food.

Best served in a plastic kid's bowl from IKEA.

Of course, my favorite is the real baked Mac and cheese like my mom used to make.
Now that we are in the season of Lent, and Fridays are again meatless, my memory goes back to those Fridays of my youth...which contained a lot of Mac and cheese. And canned tuna, or fish sticks.

My mother used the recipe on the back of the Mueller's elbow macaroni box, and I pretty much use the same one today. Ok, I went a little wild! I change the pasta. And I change the variety of cheese. My mom always used Crackerbarrel Cheddar but I used some cheddar, some pepper jack and some Gouda. Make a bechamal sauce, add the cheese and seasonings, mix with the pasta, top with buttered breadcrumbs for the crunch and bake. Lovely!


Now oddly, my grandmother had her own take on that same Mueller's recipe. She used all the ingredients listed on the box but skipped the directions. she just mixed them into the baking dish with the cooked elbow macaroni. No sauce...just mixed it all together. Baked it in the same battered aluminum round pan, year after year. Oh, and she always had a cigarette hanging from the corner of her mouth..that ash getting longer and longer...

And my sister in law has yet another version, which she swears my mother taught her. True no doubt, but odd since my mother never made it this way. Put the boiled pasta in baking dish. Add cubed cheese. Pour on enough milk to come just to the surface and bake. Which give you a sort of curdled texture which is...different. But to each their own! Macaroni and cheese is all about what makes you happy!

...used these cute little 'pipes'
Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese

1 lb. uncooked  macaroni
1/4 cup margarine or butter
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 cups milk
16 oz. shredded cheese

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, toasted in 1 tbs. melted butter

1. Cook macaroni for 8 minutes.
2. Drain, cover and set aside
3. Preheat oven to 350°F.
4. In medium saucepan, melt butter; blend in flour, mustard, salt and pepper.
5. Cook until mixture is smooth and bubbly; gradually add milk.
6. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils; 
simmer 1 minute,stirring constantly.
7. Gradually mix in cheese. Stir over low heat until cheese is melted.
8. Add pasta; mix together. Pour into baking dish.
9. Top with panko bread crumbs
10. Bake 25 minutes.



I believe that is my mom's original pyrex dish. Still going strong!


Grab your spoon!

Look at that crispy top...look at the bubbly cheese!


This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

32 comments:

  1. I love Mac & Cheese, my all time comfort food. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Have a great day and happy weekend!

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  2. Great! I have tried various mac and cheese recipes already (it is not a staple meal in Germany) and will add this one to my book and try it out asap. My family loves mac and cheese and I am always on the lookout for new varieties.

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  3. Now I have total Mac & Cheese craving. My husband's favorite is chili mac. Which is not mac & cheese at all in my opinion, but there you go. I may make this tomorrow.

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  4. Yummy! Here in the South, we consider macaroni and cheese a vegetable.

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  5. I loved your post. I did not grow up eating mac & cheese often. I'm not sure, why. Maybe my dad didn't like it? Maybe my mom didn't like it? I can't ask, they are both gone. I will try to ask my sister if she remembers. Anyway, thanks for the recipe. I used to make it for my kids, but only from the blue Kraft box, cause that's all I knew how to do.

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  6. You had me at the title. It's definitely my fave comfort food and it's nice to mix cheeses every once in awhile, though I do like extra sharp cheddar most of the time. I didn't have this dish growing up, since my Dad didn't like dairy products -- but now I indulge whenever possible.

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  7. that is really great - have never tried to do it myself, but maybe it's high time I did with this recipe!

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  8. I love mac and cheese too, whether it is the kind full of orange food dye, or the "real" kind!

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  9. My sons used to love Stouffer's Mac & Cheese! It really is the best frozen food. Yesterday I made a decadent mac and cheese for my husband's birthday celebration (since it is Lent). It's Carnie Wilson's Fall on Your Knees Mac and Cheese and it is fabulous but artery clogging- you can only eat a few bites.

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    Replies
    1. I googled that...wow, it has a LOT of cheese in it!

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  10. I may have to make some this weekend! I can taste it just from reading your post. Might add some green chiles - a little New Mexico comfort food! Thanks.

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  11. Fun post - and I just learned what I have been doing wrong - I have not been pre-cooking the macaroni - duh! Thanks for the tip. Cheers

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    1. actually, I made a slow cooker version once where you did not precook the pasta.

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  12. Can you believe I've never had mac & cheese? I don't think it's a popular dish outside the US but, I always see people on films or tv shows having it and I'm very curious about it. I think I'll give your recipe a try!

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    Replies
    1. from what I read, versions of it were popular from medieval times in Italy and England...but I think we perfected it.

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  13. I'm right there with you. I love Kraft Mac and Cheese and could eat one box to myself. But I do receive a great amount of pleasure in making the real thing, using at least three or four different types of cheeses, and I also add sour cream in there too sometimes. Mmmmm.

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    Replies
    1. I never met a mac and cheese I did not like.

      well, almost. I had one at the Readin Terminal Market, one that once won Oprah'd Best award and I did not like it. too cheesy. I did not know it was possible, but it was.

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  14. So many ways to fix it and so little time to do them all! I love it too. The ultimate comfort food.

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    1. Here's one from ATK with tomatoes! http://peggyannspost.blogspot.com/2012/04/tomato-mac-and-cheese.html

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    2. hmmm...tomatoes are a whole other issue.

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  15. There's a restaurant in Portland that serves (pretty much) only macaroni and cheese, in all different varieties. Also! This month's Food Network mag has 50 mac & cheese recipes. I asked my husband if he thought we should try a new one every week for a year and he laughed.

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    Replies
    1. funny...what is funny about that? ;-)

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  16. Bob actually prefers the 'blue box ' mac and cheese..
    the old Kraft standby ... last year the price jumped from
    50 cents to 95 ( Walmart ).. still a bargain if that is
    what you like.

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  17. I adore Mac and Cheese, although I didn't have it much growing up (my father was the cook and much more likely to make a cheese souffle). I've made all kinds from the old-fashioned (from Joy of Cooking for me) to the super fancy (with lots of different kinds of cheese). I love it most ways, even the box kind and the Stouffer's box is one of my favorite guilty pleasures (topped only by their meat lasagna). Glad to find another fan!

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  18. I so agree with you about the glorious dish called macaroni and cheese. He recipe you gave is almost identical o the one I make from my mother's 1950 Betty Crocker cookbook which never disappoints me for the classics.

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  19. I love good homemade mac and cheese but cringe at the blue Kraft Mac and cheese. There are a few organic brands with white cheese powder but I get frustrated with the small serving. Making it home is the best option so I will have to give yours a try. I love the shape of your mom's original Pyrex dish!

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  20. I love mac and cheese. Stouffers is my all time favorite (that's not homemade, of course). I'd have mac and cheese at least 2x a month. And I tried to make it from scratch but my husband wasn't into any of the recipes I found. And then, an awful thing happened. I found out I can't have dairy. I really wish I could have it because I'd love to try your recipe. It looks so simple & yummy. By the way, I love that pyrex dish!

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  21. Oh, yes! I love a crispy breadcrumb topping! I haven't bought boxed Kraft mac and cheese since kids were little (long time ago) but have to admit to thinking it wasn't so bad, myself! Wish I'd thought of adding real cheese...

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  22. I love mac and cheese too - all varieties.

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