First of all, thank you all SO much for the anniversary well-wishes. We both really appreciate your kind words. I’ll be posting about our anniversary weekend later this week, so stay tuned!
But for now, let’s talk Mac & Cheese.
Before we got married, Brandon basically lived off of three things:
1. Frozen Pizza,
2. Life Cereal,
3. and Kraft Mac & Cheese.
Now, I’ve never been a fan of the stuff in the blue box. There’s something about the smell that just turns me off.
But a “fancy” macaroni and cheese from a nice restaurant? Now, that’s a dish right up my alley.
So recently I tried to make my own “fancy” mac & cheese, courtesy of a recipe from the great Martha Stewart.
Say what you want about Martha, but she knows her way around a kitchen!
Now I will warn you that I left out a couple of ingredients from her original recipe, just because I didn’t have them in the house that day. But I have a feeling that those ingredients would have added even more flavor to the dish, so I’m going to share both my version of the recipe and the original!
Macaroni and Cheese
Slightly modified from Martha Stewart’s “Great Food Fast.”
- 1 lb elbow pasta
- 4 tbsp salted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups milk (I used 1%)
- 1.25 cups (5oz) shredded mild Cheddar cheese (you could probably substitute sharp for more flavor)
- 1.25 cups (5 oz) shredded Provolone cheese (original recipe called for white Cheddar)
- 1 tsp, plus 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 6 oz ham, diced into 1/2 inch pieces (original recipe called for 8 oz, but I wasn’t sure Brandon’s thoughts on the ham yet!)
- 2 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread (original recipe called for white)
Note: I left out the 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper and the 1 small, chopped onion.
- Shred your cheese, cut up your ham, and chop your onion (if you use onion) before you do anything else.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cook elbow pasta in boiling, salted water. Cook for the amount of time the box suggests. When finished cooking, drain the pasta and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a 4 or 5 quart pot, melt the butter over medium heat. If you are using onion, add your onion and cook until softened (3-5 minutes).
- Whisk flour into the butter (and onion) until there aren’t any lumps. Keep whisking for several minutes until the mixture thickens up a little and is bubbly (note: Mine didn’t get very thick at this point … probably because I used 1% milk. But I cooked it for about 8 minutes and it was starting to thicken and bubble slightly.).
- Stir in the 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper, cayenne (if using), and 1 cup each of Cheddar and Provolone cheese. Stir everything to combine.
- Add the pasta to the pot and stir to coat.
- Fold in the ham.
- Transfer to a 9×13 baking dish.
- Break your bread into pieces and put in either a food processor or blender. Pulse to form large crumbs.
- Toss the breadcrumbs in a bowl with the remaining 1/4 cup each of Cheddar and Provolone cheese. Add 1/2 tsp salt and toss to combine. Add the mixture to the top of your pasta.
- Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
And yes, I used that ridiculously small cheese grater to grate all the cheese. Why, you ask? No, not because I enjoy giving myself carpal tunnel. I couldn’t find our larger grater, and I was in a hurry. Turns out, it was on a high shelf that this 5 foot 3 inch person could not reach. Figures.
But the end result made all of the work well worth it!
This dish was creamy, flavorful, and comforting. And the crunchy breadcrumb topping was the perfect final touch.
I think Brandon may never look at a Kraft blue box again!
Well, at least not until the next time I tell him to fend for himself in the kitchen.
Do you cook mac & cheese? If so, what kind of cheese do you like to use?
Do you like the Kraft blue box version?
What did you do this weekend??