Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cheese & Macaroni

The sounds of school buses going down the road, cooler mornings, and a few million pink flowers falling from my unidentified tree in my backyard. Is summer really coming to an end already?

It makes me sad. At the same time, I am anxiously awaiting the fall leaves, the crisp cool air, and state fair.

Last night was one of those unusually cool evenings for August. Like a sneak peak at the fast-approaching autumn weather.

Last night was also the perfect night for a big dish of Macaroni and Cheese. Or in my case, a big dish of "Cheese & Macaroni". I'd been waiting on a cool day to turn the oven on so I could do this recipe for the America's Test Kitchen Blogger's Challenge.

Since the star of this dish is the cheese, it is important to get a great blend of multiple cheeses plus a little hot sauce for a little bit of spice.

This is a variation of the homemade macaroni and cheese that my mother has been making for years. The original recipe came from her The New Pillsbury Family Cookbook from 1975 in a yellow 5-ring binder that is lovingly held together with duct tape.

It is a very simple recipe that is easily adaptable to your own taste.

Cheese & Macaroni 
1 C uncooked macaroni
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
dash Tabasco sauce
1 C milk
1 C water
1 - 2 C shredded cheese
2 oz. cream cheese

Preheat your oven to 350. In a 2-quart (I used a 1.5L casserole) covered casserole dish, combine macaroni, flour, salt, Tabasco sauce, milk and water. I used about a tablespoon of hot sauce because I like it to have a little kick, however if you don't like spicy foods, just put in a dash or two. It adds a bit of depth to it without making it spicy.

Stir it all together, cover it, and put it in the oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the macaroni isn't sticking to the bottom.

Once the macaroni is tender, remove it from the oven and stir in the grated cheese and cream cheese.

I used almost 2 cups of cheeses, a blend of extra sharp cheddar, colby, hoop cheese (a mild cheddar that I LOVE), and for some added flavor, about a 1/4 cup of smoked swiss cheese. The 1/4 cup was all that was needed to give the dish the smoked flavor. Much more would have been too over-powering for my tastes.

The original recipe says to cover and place in the oven until the cheese melts, however I've found that just putting the lid back on and letting it set for about 3 minutes is more than enough to melt the cheese. Stir one last time before serving.....

1 comment :

  1. To be honest, I've never really tried cheese and macaroni, it's not as popular here as it is in the USA :) But.. judging from your photos and recipe it has to be really delicious, I'm gonna try it as soon as I come back from my summer trip (holidays are not coming to an end for me till October :P)
    I hope your last summer days will be sunny and bring you sth good :)