A few weeks ago, my mother was asked by an old friend of hers(a woman whom we have known since before I was even born) if she knew how to make Baked Macaroni and Cheese. My mom said no but then I chimed in and said hey! I know how. So I was tasked with the project. I super nervous because although I love cooking, but I hadn’t done macaroni and cheese from scratch for nearly 2-3 years! I think the last time I had done it, I was still working at the real estate company where I got a basic recipe from a colleague. I remembered but decided to go on Pinterest and look for a recipe. It directed me to one that was called Kid Friendly Macaroni and Cheese and it sent me to musingssahm.com who happened to actually get it from Living Well Mom by Erika Bragdon. The recipe was actually pretty good but I added a few variations of my own because I felt like it needed a few things to elevate it and make it better. I didn’t get to record the step by step tutorial like I wanted to, I did manage to take pictures. It was a lot harder to record videos while cooking this than I thought so I settled on pictures. Once I invest in a tripod to hold the camera, then I can record video tutorials.
This particular product involves lots of paying attention to the pot and stirring once you are working on the cheese sauce itself. But the final product I would say is absolutely worth it. There are a few things that I changed a little. Like I added onion powder and garlic powder simply because it changes the flavor profile. Also, next time I would use panko bread crumbs simply because panko is crispier and will hold up better without burning once baked. Finally, I upped the amount of cheese used in the recipe. Rather than just 6 ounces of cheese, I used two 8 ounce bags of cheese; one shredded sharp cheddar and one shredded four cheese mexican blend. So on to the actual recipe:
Babyshower Baked Macaroni and Cheese
1 16 oz box Ronzoni Elbow Macaroni
1/3 Cup Gold Medal All Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper(Would use white pepper next time)
3/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons 4C Seasonded Bread Crumbs, dry(I mixed in 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder)
10 tablespoons Hotel Bar Unsalted Butter(It would be 1 stick and 2 tablespoons but keep them divided)
1 8 Ounce bag of Kraft Shredded Mexican 4 Cheese Blend
1 8 Ounce bag of Kraft Shredded Sharp Cheddar
3 Cups of Whole Milk
The first thing I did was take my cheeses and mixed them together. Then I took out 8 ounces of the mixed cheeses and set it aside for the cheese sauce. I took 4 ounces and set it aside to mix with the mac and cheese before I stuck it in the oven. The last 4 ounces are what you sprinkle on top with the bread crumbs before you bake it. It sounds like an extra task but it is very much worth it in the end.
Next, I filled a pot with water and put it to boil. I also preheated my oven to 375º F.
In a medium skillet, melt 1 stick of butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add 1/3 cup of flour and stir in. This is the part where you have to make sure you don’t go anywhere or forget about this being on the stove. The reason being, you run the risk of it getting lumpy and gross. I used a whisk for this part simply because I wanted my roux(that is the technical term) to be smooth.
Slowly, start adding the milk. It may seem like a lot of milk but it isn’t. I found other recipes that called for milk, heavy cream, sour cream, and mayo so 3 cups of milk isn’t so bad. On a side note, when I read the caption that Erika had on her page, I didn’t think that taking a picture while I stirred and whisked would be that hard….Okay Erika, you were right….It is very challenging!
Now that the water is at a full boil, add the noodles. I didn’t add any salt but that is because there is nothing I hate more than salty mac and cheese. Like just no. I boiled the noodles for about 6 to 8 minutes and that is because I didn’t want to end up with soggy mac and cheese. The rule of thumb is to leave them al dente. Trust me. So drain the noodles once they are al dente.
About 8-10 minutes later.
You can get back to working on the roux which you should now be bringing to a boil and constantly stirring or whisking all on a medium flame. I kept whisking. Once it does boil, keep at it and don’t stop whisking. By this point, I have deviated from the recipe. Once the roux has thickened, add salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and 8 ounces of cheese blend(see above). The sauce should be thickened. Reduce the heat to low. Remove from the heat.
Take the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and melt it in a pan. Combine the melted butter with the 4 tablespoons of dry breadcrumbs until evenly combined. Remove from heat and set aside, you will be using this soon.
I put the macaroni noodles back into the pot I had boiled them in(by this point the noodles should have been drained). Now you can add the noodles to the cheese mixture. Mix well. Remember the 4 ounces I mentioned earlier to set aside? Well you can stir that in now.. Why this extra step?? It makes for such a cheesier mac…
Now you can grab the bread crumb mixture and the remainder of cheese.. I sprinkled the cheese first and then I added the bread crumb mixture. I baked it uncovered for 30 minutes. Actually probably a little longer because I like the top to be a little crunchy and golden.
I found out that the mac and cheese was a hit at the baby shower. I couldn’t attend because of some other stuff that happened. I did get to take a ramekin for myself and try it. It was really good. Even though I am lactose intolerant, that mac and cheese was the bees knees. Not because I made it, but it hit every note in my unsung hunger song. My family got to try it too and they loved it. So I hope you guys enjoy it. You can get the original recipe from the link below. You could also try mine. Hey there are several things you can add to it…like chopped broccoli, spinach, bacon, etc. Let me know how it works out for you guys. Feel free to comment below or even share pics of your versions:-)
Thank you for reading.
Written and Altered By:
Original Recipe by Erika Bragdon can be found here.