Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Friday, December 16, 2011

If you originally found my blog and stayed here because of recipes... well, I hope you haven't left me. But truthfully, I would understand if you had, because I've posted maybe two recipes in the last six months. Ouch.

Unfortunately, my reality right now is that we're lucky to even get dinner on the table each night. Between work, Nora, house projects, and regular errands/chores, we are just BUSY. We don't have much time to experiment with new recipes, and I rarely EVER have time to bake anymore. And when I do make a new recipe, half the time I forget to take photos of it as I'm throwing food on the tray of a high chair with a very hungry and impatient toddler sitting in it.

Earlier this fall, as we tried to beef up the list of foods that Nora would eat, I set out to make her some macaroni and cheese. But I wasn't going to make her the blue box variety; oh, no, that would've been too easy (and just so... processed). Instead, I sought out a homemade recipe that would not only make a great toddler dinner, but a grown-up dinner as well. We tried a few recipes, and they were good, but I made so many alterations to them that they were hard to replicate. (For the record, Nora loves macaroni and cheese. She's not picky about it, except that funny enough, she will not touch the blue box stuff. I've created a macaroni and cheese snob. Whoops.)

Then, a few weeks ago, we were looking for something to make for a potluck gathering at my in-laws' house. We agreed that macaroni and cheese would be great, but wanted a recipe we could make a few hours ahead of time and then bake at my in-laws'. Enter this recipe from our favorite grocery store, Wegmans.

This is comfort food at its finest. And it's a tremendously simple macaroni and cheese--using just sharp cheddar, with a little parmesan sprinkled on top. Of course, this can be easily adapted by changing up the types of cheese if you so choose. It starts off with a simple roux, add whole milk, and then... well, by then, you're through the difficult part. So, snuggle up in front of a fire with a bowl of this cheesy goodness and let it help you get through the winter. You won't regret it.

Macaroni and Cheese
(Source: Wegmans)

Ingredients:
- 1 lb. elbow pasta
- 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- 5 tbsp. butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 lb. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Directions:
1. Start heating water for pasta. Mix bread crumbs and parmigiano-reggiano cheese together in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Heat butter in large sauce pan over medium heat until melted. Add flour; stir until smooth. Cook 3-4 minutes until light golden brown.

3. Add milk to butter mixture, one cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth; bring to boil. Cook 10 minutes on medium, whisking continuously.

4. Add cheddar cheese; stir until melted completely. Season with salt and nutmeg; set aside. Stir in cooked pasta.

5. Spray
bottom and sides of baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; add pasta/cheese mixture. Top with bread crumb mixture.

6. Bake
on center rack 15-20 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and bubbling around edges.

8 comments:

Amanda December 17, 2011 at 11:38 AM  

This sounds SO good! Pretty sure I will make this this week. I made some mac and cheese from Food and Wine mag the other day, but it was more complicated than this sounds.

Megumi December 17, 2011 at 2:54 PM  

This is really similar to a mac n cheese that I make for my kiddo. One thing that I do to help boost my kid's veggie intake is to boil some broccoli, cauliflower, onions, and carrots with the noodles (cut up into teeny tiny pieces). When the veggies are coated in the cheesy goodness, my son has no idea that there is actually some healthy stuff hidden in there for him, too :)

erica December 18, 2011 at 3:28 PM  

This sounds awesome. Mmmmmm. And not too tricky. Question - do you think it would freeze well? I'm looking for some good freezer meals to make this week since we are due with our first baby in less than a month. And your blog recipes have been winners in our house so many times... :)

Lucianna December 19, 2011 at 6:35 PM  

What temperature? I should have asked earlier, as I just tried to make this with my 1-year-old crying and having a fit around my feet! I put the oven to 350, but just upped it to 395. :)

Heather December 19, 2011 at 7:36 PM  

Oops, I'm sorry, Lucianna! The temperature was supposed to be 400 degrees. But really, all the oven serves to do is help the cheese on top melt and bake everything together a little bit, so it doesn't much matter as long as it gets bubbly. :) I hope you figured it out and your mac and cheese came out tasty!

Heather December 19, 2011 at 7:38 PM  

Erica--
I'm not sure about freezing. The leftovers (after refrigeration) are good, but I haven't had much experience freezing pasta, so I'm not sure? Sorry I can't be more help. :( But if you find that other mac and cheese recipes are OK for freezing, I would guess this one would be, too? Good luck with the birth of your baby. I so remember that stocking up on freezer meals point! :)

erica December 20, 2011 at 4:34 PM  

Thanks, Heather, for answering my question re:freezing, and no worries! It's worth a shot, right? (The worst that could happen is we survive on Velveeta that night if it backfires...) Thanks for the kind words and I hope you all have a great holiday! :)

Pie January 24, 2012 at 12:53 PM  

Mac & Cheese freeze well. Copied from a Mac & Cheese recipe I tried before:
You can also freeze this recipe in zip-lock bags for later use - once you have mixed the macaroni along with the cheese sauce allow to cool to room temperature before adding to your freezer - I generally pull it out the night before and allow macaroni and cheese to reach room temperature; I then add the macaroni and cheese to a buttered baking dish, sprinkle with bread crumbs and then bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling.

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