No Frills Creamy Mac and Cheese

No Frills Creamy Mac and Cheese

There are a million and one recipes out there for mac and cheese. That’s a good thing.  Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food, so the more the merrier.  Sometimes however you just want to make mac and cheese on a whim, with whatever ingredients you happen to have kicking around the house.  No fancy cheeses, or crumbly toppings; just a basic dish of creamy goodness that doesn’t come out of a dark blue box.  You can’t get much simpler than this recipe, which uses deli cheese slices and dry spices that you’re bound to find in your kitchen, if you dig back deep enough into that spice cabinet.

Speaking of cabinets, I almost lost all of the dishes in my china cabinet while making this mac and cheese.  I left the cabinet door open for less than a minute after taking out a casserole dish, and Brenna, who had been sleeping all day long upstairs, suddenly decided to come down and get curious.  One minute I was pouring glorious melted cheese over pasta noodles, and the next minute I was running full force into the dining room, after hearing the clink of the brat’s collar against glassware.  Luckily for Brenna, I grabbed her before any real damage could be done.

P.S. I usually wash the dishes that come out of the china cabinet before using them, so hopefully no one will have to suffer through too much cat hair in their food.

Ingredients:

  • 8 Ounces of Pasta
  • 3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dry Mustard
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Paprika, Plus More for Sprinkling on Top
  • 2 1/2 Cups Milk
  • 12 Slices of Cheese, Roughly Chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Boil the pasta according to package directions.  When the pasta is done, drain well, and then return the cooked noodles back into the pan you boiled them in.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
  4. While the butter is melting, combine flour, salt, pepper, dry mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika in a small bowl.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the melted butter, whisking constantly for 3 minutes.
  6. Slowly whisk in the milk.
  7. Whisk constantly for 8 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
  8. Decrease heat to low, add cheese, and whisk constantly for 3 minutes, or until all of the cheese has melted.
  9. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta; stir until well combined.
  10. Pour the entire mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle with paprika.
  11. Bake for 25 minutes.

Suggestions:

  • I used a combination of Swiss, Colby Jack, Cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheese slices.  Large multi-packs of deli cheese slices are available at places like Costco.  Feel free to use whatever type of cheese you prefer.
  • You can use any type of pasta you wish to in this dish.  I used this Lumaconi, which I purchased at World Market, because it made me think of snails.  I know, it’s a stupid reason to buy a bag of pasta, but that’s just how I shop sometimes.
  • Use whatever type of milk you have on hand; I just happened to use Non-Fat Milk in this recipe.
  • If you prefer your mac and cheese even creamier, omit Directions 10 and 11.
  • Close the china cabinet door before walking away, because although mac and cheese is glorious, it’s not quite worth losing all of your antique glassware for.

Improvements:

  • Add a few dashes of hot sauce.
  • Sprinkle the top of the casserole with bread crumbs, panko, or cracker crumbs if you want to get all “fancy.”
  • Add chopped bacon, because you know how excited I get about bacon.

This Is An Original Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Recipe

Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck

-Colleen




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