Cozy Mac and Cheese
INTRODUCING: The perfect rainy day (any day) comfort food.
As a kid one of my favorite foods that my mother would make for me was macaroni and cheese — I mean, come on… what kid doesn’t like macaroni and cheese?! She would make her own béchamel sauce and use plenty of mozzarella cheese. Once baked in the oven a golden crust would form — and those crunchy bits were my absolute favorite bites. I remember going to a friends house for a playdate and when I heard that macaroni and cheese was going to be served for lunch I was SO EXCITED. When it came time to eat, I was served a plate of orange noodles and I must have had a very confused look on my face. I was terrible (and still am) at hiding my feelings, my facial expressions are a dead giveaway to my inner thoughts and feelings. What was this orangy liquidy thing in my plate?! I later learned that it was good olde Kraft macaroni and cheese aka Easy Mac. I ate it. It wasn’t terrible… but I was spoiled. That was not the last time I had Easy Mac... there were repeats at friends and I'd make it in college occasionally, but nothing compares to the real deal. Eventually, I made my moms mac and cheese for my roommates and there was no going back.
These days, my dairy consumption has reduced quite a bit, so my making of macaroni and cheese is way more sporadic than it used to be. When I do decide to indulge, I make sure the milks and cheeses I am getting are organic and grass fed to avoid hormone injected and antibiotic fed animal products. Secondly, I opt for goat or sheeps milk cheeses (this recipe is all cow milk, so this may be a MOOt point -- hehe). I won’t go into the benefits of these choices in this post, but it definitely is the move if you are going to have dairy in your diet!
NYC has been getting a lot of rain these days, and one day last week it was real bad with a bit of a chill in the air. All I wanted to do was go home and get cozy, so I thought... I am going to revive the mac and cheese making days and have macaroni and cheese for dinner! I can't remember the last time I made it, but it was like riding a bike (for those who know me, you're probably laughing because you know that I recently learned how to ride a bike and that I am not the best at it!!) I decided to go a little extra and put breadcrumbs on top for that extra crunch! Being my frugal self, I didn't want to spend money on breadcrumbs that I probably wouldn't use again and we did have SO MUCH bread in the house. I ended up toasting the end pieces of a brioche that was on it's way out and then quickly pulsed the golden slices in my mini-prep (don't worry, you do not have to do this!) - The results were amazing though :)
This was a quick dinner option that satisfied my carby comfort craving - and so much better than going out because you know what exactly what you are putting into your body. I also had leftovers for lunch the next day, so I definitely felt like I was winning! If you are on a super time crunch you can prep and make this most of the way and just pop it in the oven when you are ready to eat!
Please, spoil yourselves (and your children, family and friends -- anyone you know, really,) and enjoy this lovely macaroni and cheese recipe!
One box of your favorite macaroni
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons flour (you can use a GF flour)
1 cup of milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper
*8 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (optional)
*parmesan cheese for topping (optional), plus extra for serving, if you want to go crazy!
*Feel free to experiment with different cheeses!
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Cook pasta until it is al-dente
- In the mean time pan melt the butter in a medium pan on medium heat until melted and add flour in to make a rue -- it will be clumpy
- Slowly whisk in milk and break up clumps, keep stirring until all clumps are gone
- Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle in nutmeg
- Once everything is mixed together well and the milk begins to bubble, turn off the hea
- Transfer cooked pasta to a oven safe bowl and pour béchamel sauce over it
- Once it cools slightly add in most of the cheese, reserving some for the top
- Top the pasta with extra cheese, breadcrumbs and grated parmesan
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown
- Enjoy every bite!!
Unfortunately I have not *yet* experimented with a dairy free version of this recipe, so I apologize for those lactose intolerant folks.