Menu Monday: Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Mmm..

Mmm..

I decided to add a new feature to this blog, Menu Mondays.  Most Mondays I will post one of the recipes from our current menu.  Up first is a favorite in this house, Baked Macaroni and Cheese.  I can’t take credit for this recipe, I found it on the Food Network website, here.

I have tweaked it a little to make it perfect for my family.  First off I double the recipe because the original won’t feed 7.

First put on a pot of water to boil.

First put on a pot of water to boil.

I feel like this takes forever in my house.  I don’t know if it’s the water, the pots or just that I’m always crunched for time and it just seems that the water takes forever.  What ever it is, I always put the water for pasta on before I do anything else.

We need an onion.

We need an onion.

P is right we do need an onion.

onion

onion

Chop some onion.  I don’t measure my onion exactly but I generally go lighter on the onion than the recipe calls for because the kids aren’t huge onion fans.

All except for P, she likes them

All except for P, she likes them

She had to have a taste and then she ate that whole sliver of onion.

Measure out your butter.

Measure out your butter.

Then melt it in a sauce pan.  Then, I saute the chopped onion in the butter.  The original recipe just adds them later, but I think sauteing them gives the dish a milder onion flavor.

Measure your flour.

Measure your flour.

Brown it in the onions and butter.

Brown it in the onions and butter.

This can be a little tricky.  You have to stir it pretty much constantly so the flour doesn’t burn, but it does need to brown just a little bit.  The original recipe calls for powdered mustard to be added here but it isn’t something we add most of the time.

Then add the milk.

lots of milk.

lots of milk.

Whoo, my water’s boiling, time to add the pasta.

Whoops, someone forgot to buy elbow macaroni. Guess we're having shells and cheese.

Whoops, someone forgot to buy elbow macaroni. Guess we’re having shells and cheese.

I generally cook my pasta to just done, so the least amount of time the box recommends.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Add a bay leaf

Add a bay leaf

and some paprika. And cook the sauce until it thickens.

Drain your pasta and put it in your casserole.

Drain your pasta and put it in your casserole.

Yep I cook my macaroni and cheese in a 4 quart Pyrex bowl.  I’m sure they make 4 qt casserole dishes, but I don’t really have the storage space for one more pan, so this works.  If I ever need more than fits in this bowl, mac and cheese will move to side dish status.

Scramble your egg.

Scramble your egg.

Now it’s time to temper the egg and add it to the sauce.  Tempering the egg is really important because if you don’t bring the egg’s  temperature up closer to the temperature of the sauce it will cook before it mixes into the sauce and that’s not the texture we’re looking for.

Start by adding a tablespoon or two of sauce to the egg.

Start by adding a tablespoon or two of sauce to the egg.

Stir this in and keep adding sauce to the egg a tablespoon or two at a time until the mixture is reasonably warm.

It should look like this.

It should look like this.

Add this mixture to the sauce.  Now it’s time to add the cheese.  We’re using shredded sharp cheddar, but it’s also good with a cheddar/ Monterrey Jack mixture or a cheddar/ Swiss mixture.  Mix about 3/4 of the cheese into the sauce.

Don't forget to remove the bay leaf from the sauce.

Don’t forget to remove the bay leaf from the sauce.

 

Mix the sauce into the pasta.

Mix the sauce into the pasta.

 

Top the pasta with the remaining cheese and place in the oven.

Top the pasta with the remaining cheese and place in the oven.

The original recipe is topped with breadcrumbs toasted in butter, but we’re not a fan of breadcrumbs on our macaroni and cheese.  Cook the dish for 30 minutes.

All finished.

All finished.

 

Mmm..

Mmm..

We like to serve our Macaroni and Cheese with some raw veggies.  My kids prefer raw broccoli to cooked so.

There you have it my first Menu Monday post (which is actually getting posted on Tuesday because it took longer to type than I thought it would).  Come back next week for Hearty One Pan Breakfast, which is another pretty popular dinner in our house.

 

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper
    Topping:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter.

Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

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