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Mac & Cheese

So people always ask for my mac & cheese recipe, and so far I have skirted the issue by pointing them to the Cooking Light recipe that mine is based on. I was even going to turn it into a comic book using the Comic Life software that came on a lot of macs for awhile. Because I was going to the do the comic – I even started – I have photos of all the ingredients.

Anyways, here’s how I make mac & cheese – the main innovation is the no-roux cheese sauce.

Deb’s mac & cheese

  • 1 pound package macaroni – I like small shells, but you can use what you like
  • 2 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt & freshly black pepper
  • grated nutmeg
  • dry mustard, or a little prepared mustard
  • 2 1/2 cups (about 1/2 pound) shredded cheese – use sharp cheddar, or combos are good – some cheddar, some Swiss, etc.
  • 1/2 cupĀ  grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 2 TBLS butter
  • about 3/4 cup bread crumbs – made from french bread are best – sometimes I use leftover garlic toast if I have it – then you can omit tossing the crumbs in butter

Cook the macaroni in salted water until it’s slightly less then al dente – still a bit crunchy. Drain. Microwave the 2 1/2 cups milk until it’s warmed. Place the flour in a heavy bottomed pot, and whisk in the milk. Cook over medium heat until the sauce bubbles and thickens, then add theĀ  salt & pepper, nutmeg and mustard. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese, and half the Parmesan cheese, saving some for topping. Melt the butter in the pot you used to cook the macaroni, and toss the bread crumbs in it. Combine the macaroni and the sauce, and pour into a 9 x 13 x 2 baking dish. Top with the crumbs and remaining Parmesan, add a little extra shredded cheese if you like, and bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes until its browned and bubbling. Let rest 5 – 10 minutes and eat. I have mine with Tabasco sauce.

Healthful variants:

You can add vegetables to reduce the fat and calories in Mac & Cheese. One common approach is to replace some of the pasta with steamed and chopped cauliflower, which is good; even better is to squander some fat on roasting the cauliflower in quality olive oil, along with some onions, until they get a little color, and then mixing that in. More flavorful then steaming and worth the extra calories. Another method is to replace some of the cheese sauce with mashed winter squash, as below.

Make a half batch if cheese sauce:

 

  • 1 1/4 cups skim milk
  • 2 TBLS all-purpose flour
  • salt & freshly black pepper
  • grated nutmeg
  • dry mustard, or a little prepared mustard
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded cheese – use sharp cheddar, or combos are good – some cheddar, some Swiss, etc.

Mix this into your cooked macaroni or noodles along with a heaping cup mashed squash – about half of a large acorn, or butternut squash. Proceed as above. The Pioneer Woman has a nice version, with caramelized onions.

Roasted acorn squash halves

Roasted acorn squash halves

 

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