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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

baked mac and cheese

When it comes to mac and cheese, I am a fiend. When I'm in a rush or just don't have the energy to cook, I am not ashamed to whip up a batch of the blue box. But ultimately, like all good things, homemade is infinitely better.

I've tried many varieties of baked macaroni and cheese and this is the best I've come across so far. Variations I've tried in the past have either been too stringy, too liquidy, or too strange. I'm a no frills kinda gal when it comes to mac and cheese. So many recipes call for mustard, or vegetables, or other crazy things that just don't belong in your basic recipe. When you start adding all that other stuff, it becomes more of a casserole. But that's just my opinion. :)

I found this recipe via Stumble, which apparently thinks I will benefit from Nickelodeon's parent connect website, despite the fact that I am not a parent and won't be any time soon. But since it lead me to this recipe, I can't complain too much.

To start, you make up a basic creamy cheese sauce. Heat up some butter, then mix in flour, salt, and pepper. Slowly stir in the milk and bring to a simmer. Start getting your pasta cooking. I used rotini because I was out of elbow macaroni.

When mixture thickens, remove from heat and stir in cheese.

Pour cooked and strained pasta right on top of the cheese sauce. Mix!

Pour the whole pot into a baking dish and put it in the oven. In the meantime, get your topping mixture together. Combine breadcrumbs, cheeses, and melted butter in a dish. I used Italian seasoned Panko breadcrumbs which added a really nice flavor.

When the pasta is done baking, sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly on top. Stick it back in the oven for a little bit longer so it can get all golden brown.

Eat up! This was definitely a crowd pleaser.

Baked Mac and Cheese
adapted from parentsconnect

3 cups uncooked macaroni

cream sauce..
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
1/2 cup grated parmesan

breadcrumb topping..
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup shredded cheddar
3 tbsp grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 350F. Cook pasta for 8 minutes and strain. In another pot, heat butter and mix in flour, salt, and pepper until smooth. Slowly mix in milk and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. When milk thickens, remove from heat and stir in cheeses. Pour pasta on top of cheese and mix well. Pour the whole pot into a baking dish, cover, and put in preheated oven for 20 minutes. In a small dish, mix breadcrumbs, cheeses, and melted butter. When pasta is done baking, pour breadcrumb mixture evenly over the top. Put back in the oven uncovered for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy :)

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