Friday, September 26, 2014

Foodie Fridays: Super Easy Macaroni and Cheese

I love macaroni and cheese.  I will happily eat it in any form, even the boxed mix with the neon orange powder (although I do try to limit that option and have not had it in years).  I have several favorite recipes, but I recently found one called Revolutionary Macaroni and Cheese which has to be about the simplest version ever.  The secret to this simplicity is boiling the pasta in just enough milk to make the pasta tender and then create a sauce (there is no excess liquid to drain off).  You simply stir the cheese into the cooked pasta and eat.  It just doesn't get any easier!  If you prefer, you could pour the whole thing into a baking dish and create a baked casserole, but as far as I am concerned that sort of defeats the purpose of this simple recipe, so I say just go ahead and serve it straight from the pot.  It truly is delicious!

Super Easy Macaroni and Cheese

2 C. dried shell pasta (I used whole wheat)
2 1/4 C. whole milk
1/4 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1 C. shredded cheddar-mozzarella cheese blend*
1 tsp. Dijon mustard (optional - I did not use it)

Combine the pasta and milk in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 15-20 minutes until the pasta is tender, stirring frequently.  Do not allow the milk to boil.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, salt, and the mustard if using.  Add more milk, 1 T. at a time, to cool the pasta slightly and keep the mozzarella cheese from becoming too stringy (I used a total of 2 T. more milk).  Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main dish.

Note: Stir in any additional ingredients you like (bacon bits, peas, diced tomato, ham, etc.).  For a baked casserole, pour the pasta and cheese mixture into a greased baking dish and sprinkle a generous amount of additional cheese over the top to cover completely.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes until the cheese topping is melted.

*Since I used pre-shredded cheese, I chose the cheddar-mozzarella blend for better melting (according to the original recipe source, pre-shredded cheddar can be too grainy because of the anti-clumping agent added).  This blend worked perfectly!

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