Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Comfort Food

It is fitting to write about comfort food right after writing about my bestie...right?

If you know me at all, if you have ever sent one of those silly quiz emails (That I can not resist! Don't judge!), you will know that my all time favorite comfort food is...drumroll, please....Mac and Cheese.

Why mac and cheese? Well, it goes back to my mom. She made a killer baked macaroni and cheese that we had for every holiday and on my birthday. It was a special thing and I loved it. She poured more love into that big ol' baked dish of cheesy goodness than actual cheese. I always remember her when I am making it for my family.

I also used to be a box mac and cheese gal too, but that has changed. Move over comes homemade! I discovered WHITE SAUCE... or the fancier Bechamel Sauce. (I feel like Julia Child saying that.) Mom would make a quick mac and cheese by boiling the macaroni, draining, add chunks of cheese, and some milk. Stir until cheese is melted. This is really good too but (Sorry, Mom!) I have found a new love.

I feel like the only one that doesn't know about Bechamel Sauce. It is YUMMY and so easy and worth the extra few minutes it takes to make AND you know exactly what the ingredients are. There is no mystery cheese powder floating in the air.

This is what I do....

Boil my macaroni and drain.
Melt 2 -3 T. butter in a saucepan.
Add 1/4 c. flour and whisk into the melted butter for a few minutes.
This will make a pasty substance.
Slowly add some milk and whisk until thick.
Add some more milk and whisk until thickened.
I add around 1 1/2 c. milk or so just add A LITTLE at a time. (I just guess at the milk amount or go until I have the consistency I want.)
I have heard if you warm the milk up it will thicken faster.
Then pour in the shredded cheese....again as much or as little as you want.
(If you shred your own from a block of cheese it will melt much better. The shredded cheese has an ingredient that keeps it from caking together and also makes it harder to melt to a smooth consistency.)
Stir until melted and pour in macaroni.

At this can serve it or pour into a baking dish, top with buttered bread crumbs and bake at 350 degrees for 20ish minutes.

I will not go back to boxed macaroni...EVER! Even the $0.49 sale won't sway me because I can buy a box of pasta that will last for awhile for CHEAP and I always have the other ingredients on hand.

And now I will share my mom's beloved baked Macaroni recipe. My recipe is even in her handwriting! I don't need the recipe anymore, but I always use it because it is her writing...a piece of her. This I still make, but only on special occasions and only when there is a group of people because Hubby doesn't care for Mac and Cheese. (Polar opposites, I tell ya!)

Mom's Baked Macaroni and Cheese
4 c. elbow macaroni
2 T. butter
2 eggs, beaten
3 c. milk
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine first 5 ingredients. Beat milk and eggs together and pour over macaroni. Mix up a bit. Bake 40-50 minutes.

I just cube the cheese in small squares. I also have started adding bread crumbs or cracker crumbs mixed with melted butter over top to give it a crunchy topping.

Comfort food at it's best!


Dani said...

Yummy, YUMMY!!! I am totally going to make the "fancy" version!

I love mac & cheese too -- boxed or homemade, it doesn't matter to me. :) I grew up on Kraft, but Jason will not touch it. He is not a fan of "processed." (He loves hot dogs though, ha ha. I don't get it.) Also, even though it is sooo unhealthy and the epitome of processed cheese, I LOVE Velveeta shells & cheese. Writing about it even makes me want some right now. Yum!

I have made homemade mac & cheese a couple of times, but it never turned out wow. I cannot wait to try your recipe! :)

Colleen said...

Homemade mac & cheese is the best!

Applebees used to have some really go cheddar jack mac & cheese on their menu too. I don't think they have it anymore though.