Monthly Meal Ideas – Macaroni and Cheese

Thanksgiving is coming up this month. So, I thought it would be a great idea to share one of my favorites: macaroni and cheese. I don’t know about you all but I love macaroni and cheese, particularly when it’s homemade. My grandmother taught me how to make it long ago and I love it more than store bought mixes.

Ingredients

2-3 cups of elbow macaroni noodles

1/2 cup milk (whole or 2 percent)

1/3 stick of margarine or butter

1-2 eggs beaten

1/2 a teaspoon of salt

1/2 a teaspon of sugar

Cheese (American, cheddar, mozzarella, cream cheese)

Preparation

First you start by cooking the macaroni noodles. While those are cooking, you can start preparing the other items. I typically cook using a 9 x 13″ rectangular dish. If you use larger or smaller dishes, then you will have to adjust the ingredients accordingly. Start by greasing the pan with pam or something so that the cheese won’t stick horribly to the pan. Next, I add the milk. If you like your macaroni creamy, you can add more milk than above. I prefer a balance, so I try to use just enough milk to keep the macaroni from drying out but not to much. After cooking the noodles for about 20 minutes, I strain them and let them cool a bit.

Then, I add margarine. You can use butter if you like but I find that margarine in most dishes is more flavorful for some reason. If you want to melt the butter in the microwave for about 15 seconds, that’s perfectly fine, too. I add an egg. This just gives it a bit of texture for the cheese to hold on to. However, if you are not an egg fan, you don’t have to add it. I usually try to do one egg due to diet preferences nowadays but I used to add two long ago. Make sure you beat the egg first and then add it to the mix. I throw in a little salt and sugar. You don’t have to add the sugar but my grandma always taught me this thing about balancing flavor. You don’t add enough sugar to actually taste the sweetness, however. It’s an old school cooking trick that I don’t understand but it works for some reason.

When it comes to the cheese, I’ll let you decide how much. It’s hard to give specific measures because some people love cheese and other don’t. But if you don’t add enough, it may taste bland. I’d start with the cream cheese. Spread maybe 4 table spoons throughout. Then add a cup of shredded cheddar and shredded mozzarella. You can stop here if you like but I like to add American cheese to mine. If I have 24 slice pack, I usually use half of the pack. All of these cheeses are the ones I like. However, if you prefer other types of cheese, go for it. Finally, add the macaroni noodles and stir everything together.

Remember, if while your’re cooking the macaroni, there isn’t enough cheese, you can always add more but if you have too much, it will overwhelm the dish. So to be safe, it’s a good idea to start with just enough and add more as it cooks if you like.

Speaking of cooking, a friend always taught me, low and slow is the way to go. Since macaroni can easily burn, I would put it on 350 to 375 and cook it for 45 minutes to an hour. You will know it’s done when the milk has curdled into a cheesy state and the eggs are cooked. You basically want to cook the wetness away. I typically stir my macaroni with a big spoon as it cooks so that everything balances. After it’s done, let it cool a bit then chow down!

I hope you like this segment of my blog. Check back for more monthly food ideas. If you have any questions about preparing this meal, leave them in the comments section or contact me directly here. To get more meal ideas, click here.

Image of macaroni and cheese pasta, courtesy of 101989442 © Petr Goskov | Dreamstime.com


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