To say I was a picky eater growing up would be an understatement, and I will not lie that some of those habits are still present today. However, if you were to join my father for a meal out you will see the apple does not fall far from the tree. The pivotal moment in my life was the first time I ate my grandmother’s macaroni and cheese. Up until then I maintained the only macaroni I liked was the blue box type with powdered cheese. My stubbornness prevented me from trying the “real” stuff; therefore I am eternally grateful to my grandmother for making me take a bite.
From that day on, it became common knowledge that I expected her to make macaroni for every family or holiday meal, and I certainly did not like to share with others. Once she became ill I knew the task was upon me to grow up and make macaroni and cheese on my own. This was a great plan until I realized my grandmother never used recipes. I believe this to be the start of my love of cooking, even though time in the kitchen with my mom from a young age had already provided me with a passion for baking. 15 years and many variations later, I am still comparing my macaroni and cheese to the memory of my beloved grandmothers.
Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
(I too don’t follow a recipe, but I have done my best to provide measurements as a starting point)
16 oz elbox macaroni noodles
3 cups milk
1 t salt
2 cups cheddar cheese
1. Cook macaroni noodles according to package (I often make things difficult and only cook 3/4 of the box, but might as well go ahead and make it all).
2. In microwaveable bowl, melt butter. Add flour and salt then whisk together. Microwave for about 20 seconds
3. Pour in 3 c. milk, whisk, then microwave for 2 minutes. Remove and whisk, continuing to cook at 2 minute intervals until mixture thickens. (You know it is thickening up when you take it out of microwave and see bubble in middle like picture below) The final result is called a "bechamel" sauce.
4. Using a large casserole dish, combine macaroni noodles with cheese (reserving some to sprinkle on top).
5. Pour béchamel sauce over noodles and stir to combine. If you like a thick macaroni and cheese leave as is. If you like a creamy end result, add in a little extra milk (I always pour it into the microwave bowl to mix it with the remnants of the béchamel). If you think you added too much milk, just bake it a little longer as it will magically absorb.
6. Sprinkle reserved cheese on top.
7. Bake at 350 until cheese is melted and dish is bubbly (at least 20 min, probably no more than 30).