Monday, May 30, 2011

Mac 'n cheese monday....

I know my kids love this stuff, and I have to admit that I do too.

I grew up as the third child of four, to a single mother. We didn't have a ton of money to spend on food. My mom always made us meals that we could afford, meals that would stretch over a couple of days, and more importantly, meals that would fill our bellies.

Needless to say; Kraft Dinner was not a staple in our home.... if fact, I don't think I even tried it until I was in my teen years. And boy, let me tell you, my first taste was like a flavour explosion in my mouth. It wasn't until I was older that I realized the amazing taste came from the high salt content, the over-processed white noodles, and the powdered 'real' cheese flavour. Flavour - there's a word you can find on many boxed food labels that really doesn't explain what you're ingesting at all. It's somewhat of a mystery... someone asks, "Mmmm. what's that I'm tasting?". The reply, "Oh that? That's the FLAVOUR." See, mysterious.

Aaaanyway, I do buy KD for my kids as a treat, like once a month.... and honestly, I also eat a tiny little bowl of it too :P .... But, that's what it is for us, a treat.... something we indulge in once in a while. I would never consider it a staple when there are so many better, healthier alternatives.... say, Mac 'n cheese from scratch? So easy to make, and my kids even comment that they enjoy it more than the fakey-fake stuff.

So, without further adieu.... Here's my version of Mac 'n Cheese, enjoy :P

1 2/3 cups dry, whole wheat elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
2 tablespoons flour (I use nutri-blend)
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (or prepared if that's what you have)
1/2 to 1 teaspoons chili powder
Few grinds of fresh black pepper
1 cup half and half
1 cup fat free milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2-1/2 cups shredded cheese (I use cheddar and monterey jack)

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat, as butter is melting add in flour and mustard and stir to combine. Slowly whisk in cream and milk so that no lumps form. Once combined you can add in salt, pepper and chili powder. Bring mixture to a near boil then reduce and simmer til thickened. Do not scrape the bottom of the pot with your whisk. The milk will form a coating on the bottom of the pot to protect the sauce from scalding and you don't want any of this burnt tasting guck in your sauce, bleck! Once you've achieved a thickened sauce, remove from heat and add your cheeses, stir to blend. Don't worry if the sauce doesn't seem thick enough, it will continue to thicken, and the gluten in the noodles will also thicken it further.

Butter a 2 quart oven-safe dish, add your cooked noodles and pour your cheese sauce over. I like to crush breton crackers over top then bake in a 350 degree oven till they brown; but that is totally optional. You can eat your mac 'n cheese after you mix in your sauce; or you can top it with more cheese then bake to melt the cheese; you can freeze it for another day.... possibilities are only limited by your imagination!

Hope you like it! Have a great day all ;)

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