Simple & Fancy: Macaroni & Cheese

I am going to say something that most of you might find amusing: I have never made macaroni and cheese from scratch.  Nope.  Never!  Funny, isn't it?  I thought so, too, so I decided to remedy that situation.
In trying to be more economical with our grocery buying (it's so easy to get carried away in those glorious aisles filled with food!), we have started eating considerably less meat than before.  We have also made the switch from using cow's milk in our coffee and cereal to using rather delicious unsweetened almond milk-which wasn't an economical decision but a health decision.
Both of us being creatures of extreme habit, this hasn't been an entirely easy conversion to make, so we've been getting rather creative in our dinner planning in order to eat less meat and use up pantry items rather than go buy more of the same thing and promptly forget it's there.

 On Sunday afternoon I sauntered into the kitchen to scrounge something of substance for our evening meal and I found myself staring into a fairly empty refrigerator, my eyes resting on a container of cow's milk left over from a recently made recipe.  Knowing I did not want it in the next morning's coffee or cereal, I once again consulted the rolodex in my brain and tried to figure out something that might use it up and get it out of my refrigerator....ah, macaroni and cheese!

A consultation with Betty Crocker and a mad dash through the cupboards of my tiny kitchen later, all of the proper ingredients were laid out, boyfriend was tackling a mountain of dishes, and I got to work.
Somewhere during my mad cupboard dash, I remembered that we had a few extra ingredients on hand that might make for a somewhat fancier version than what Betty Crocker was suggesting.  The ingredients themselves were nothing to get excited about: fresh nutmeg, Parmesan cheese, a Walla Walla sweet onion; but the thought of combining them all together in a creamy, warm dish of noodles was a very exciting thought indeed.

About an hour later, boyfriend and I were once again hovering near the oven, our noses and salivary glands working overtime, waiting for our little red kitchen timer to hurry up and tell us it was finally time to eat.
And oh boy, eat we did!  The sweetness of the onion and the tang of the Parmesan and jack cheeses were a perfect combination.
Yes, macaroni and cheese is one of the easiest things to make.  And no, there isn't really much fancy about it.  But with the addition of a slightly different cheese, a freshly chopped herb, or a flavorful onion, you can make this dish in hundreds of different ways and most likely never tire of it.  
And it is completely economical and filling, with or without meat. 
(Although crumbled pepper bacon sure would have been delicious on top...I'm just sayin'.)

What do you add to your macaroni and cheese to give it that little something special?


Simple & Fancy: Macaroni & Cheese
adapted from Betty Crocker's New Cookbook

2 cups uncooked small pasta, such as elbow or salad macaroni
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard (dry)
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 medium Walla Walla sweet onion, chopped
2 cups milk
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (about 10 swipes across the microplane)
2 cups shredded or cubed jack cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees (this step can be eliminated if you'd rather not bake your macaroni and cheese; it is perfect baked or not!)
2.  Cook pasta as directed on package; I recommend undercooking your pasta by a couple of minutes so the noodles do not overcook during baking.
3.  While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet or saucepan over low heat.  Stir in flour, salt, pepper, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until your mixture is smooth and bubbly; add chopped onion; continue to stir constantly and cook until onion has started to sweat, about 3-5 minutes.
4.  Remove pan from heat; stir in milk.  Place on burner set to medium-low heat, and heat to boiling while continuing to stir constantly.  This step may take awhile as you don't want to scorch your milk!  Once your mixture has reached boiling, boil and stir for 1 minute.
5.  Add nutmeg; stir in.
6.  Stir in cheeses; cook, stirring occasionally, until cheeses are melted.  Remove from heat.
7.  Drain pasta.  Gently stir pasta into cheese sauce.  Pour into an ungreased 2 quart Pyrex casserole dish (extra points if it is vintage and colorful).  You may serve your macaroni dish at this point or you may bake it, uncovered, 20-25 minutes until bubbly and slightly browned on top.  Serve with freshly ground black pepper on top, if desired.

Enjoy!
xo
Anna

12 comments:

  1. I've never made mac & cheese from scratch, either! This looks so delicious. I'll have to try it soon .:)

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  2. This is very similar to the recipe I use, minus the nutmeg and Worcestershire sauce. Mine also has buttered (Panko or Italian) bread crumbs on top for crunch. Love it! I haven't made it in a while so I will try your version soon for sure.

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  3. This looks so delicious - now, if my husband only liked cheese - I'd be making this in a flash!!! I remember my grandmother used to make macaroni and cheese - it was so good.......

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  4. We had homemade mac and cheese last night, but I baked it in my boring clear glass 13x9 Pyrex. Unfortunately my family are pigs when it comes to pasta so I have to make a heaping funt of it. (Yes, I said "heaping funt, lol!)

    Your photos are lovely and what a perfect use for Butterprint. Well, anything is a perfect use of Butterprint, isn't it....

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  5. It looks delicious! I made crock pot macaroni and cheese earlier this year, which was very good. I admit that I love box mac and cheese and usually make that, but I would love to do a homemade one again sometime.

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  6. I am a huge fan of boxed mac and cheese too! But now that I know making it at home is so ridiculously easy, I think I'll be making it a lot more! Perhaps with bread crumbs and chives next time...mmm!

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  7. My mouth is watering. I LOVE homemade mac and cheese. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. That looks absolutely delicious! I must try to make it one day! ^^

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  9. That looks scrumptious!

    Dani from http://nerdystrawberry.blogspot.com/

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  10. Y'all have to make it and tell me what you think and what else you add to it to make it even more delicious! Glad to be able to share this yumminess with you all. ;)

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  11. Yay we're birthday twins! Happy Birthday! What are the odds right?

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