Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Homemade, no-bake Mac & Cheese

Yes, that's Dora under there.

My kids are 3 and 5 years old.  So, I'm sure you can imagine how limited our options are for lunch time. 

First off, lunches have to be easy because I just don't have the time to put together some gourmet meal in the middle of the day (or in the evening for that matter).  

And secondly, my kids eat the same ole' stuff all the time, so there's no point in even trying to put together some gourmet meal in the middle of the day (...or in the evening for that matter), because they probably won't even try it.

So, our lunches usually consist of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (which we eat a lot), grilled cheese sandwiches, bean and cheese quesadillas, spaghettios, eggs, hot dogs (blech, but they're cheap and easy and kids love them), and/or macaroni and cheese.  I've been known to throw in some pancakes every now and then.

Even though they eat the same stuff over and over again, they are pretty good about eating some veggies and fruits with their meal.  With any of the above choices, they get green beans, peas, carrots, or corn, as well some fruit (I sound like a lunch lady - not that there's anything wrong with being a lunch lady.  Actually, I guess I technically am a lunch lady.  I have many talents.  Moving on.).  The fruit is normally whatever is on sale that week. We've been eating lots of strawberries and oranges lately.  And bananas.  Bananas are just cheap.

(Now stop it.  Stop feeling sorry for my kids.  They get plenty of junk.)

See?  The candy is climbing up the wall, for crying out loud!
Except the bunnies are bubbles, but I thought they were cute (thanks, Nana).

Anyway, I finally, finally, quit buying the boxed macaroni and cheese and started making my own.  I was always a little intimidated by making homemade mac & cheese, especially a recipe that called for making a roux (that would be butter and flour).

However, I convinced myself that I was fully capable and one day I just. did. it.

And after it was all said and done, and it looked all yummy and cheesy and delicious, and we sat down to eat, I took one bite and realized that I had used vanilla flavored milk instead of plain.  


The kids still liked it, though, haha!  If it's mac & cheese, they don't care.  (Except that one time when Jared and I were on our vegan kick and I made "mac & cheeze" out of pureed potatoes, carrots, onions, and red peppers.  It was surprisingly not that bad.  The girls didn't go for it, however.)

Plain milk is much better than vanilla milk for this recipe, just so we're clear.

Here's the recipe, then some pics!

Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (serves 4)

2 tbls butter
2 tbls flour
1 cup milk
3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
few dashes of pepper
1 - 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese/american cheese (to taste)
2 cups dried elbow macaroni (or other pasta, such as shells)
  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions and drain when done.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
  3. Add flour and stir with a whisk (this is a roux).  Stir frequently until the roux begins to to darken in color, about 2 minutes.
  4. Whisk in the milk.  When the mixture comes to a boil, boil for about 2 minutes until the mixture thickens.  Stir frequently.  
  5. Add the salt and pepper and mix.
  6. Turn the heat off and add the cheese.  Stir well until completely melted.  Taste to see if any more salt, pepper, and/or cheese is needed.
  7. Pour cooked and drained pasta into cheese sauce and mix.
  8. Serve!

When making this recipe, it'll go soooooo much smoother to have the ingredients all ready to go before beginning.

Two cups pasta - check.  I chose shells for this go around.

One cup milk - check.

Lots of cheese - check.  I used grated cheddar and 2 slices of american.  This is a whole 8 oz. block of cheddar cheese grated.  I didn't add all of it - only a handful or two.

Alright, ready to go.

Roux (butter and flour). 

Mess.  Never fails.

Already added the milk and let it boil for a couple of minutes, then added salt and pepper.

Threw in some cheese.

Stir, stir, stir.
Taste, taste, taste.

Pasta sitting in the sink, waiting on me.

Throw it in and stir it up.  (No, I'm not done stirring.)


"Did someone blink?" says my camera.

Dipping her cracker.

Mac & cheese on a cracker.

Nope, nobody blinked.

Enjoy!  If you tried it, let me know how it went!

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