Saturday, February 21, 2009

Another Comforting Macaroni and Cheese

I have heard, seen, and read a lot lately, about cooking on a budget, frugal meals, and so on. Yet, I often see recipes with ingredients that don't meet my personal Home Economist criteria. For example, I don't see any reason that macaroni and cheese necessarily has to involve several different expensive cheeses to be delicious. I made this one with commercial brand extra sharp cheddar and evaporated milk. I will line it up in a contest, with many fancier versions. It is my belief that if you care enough, handle your food preparations carefully and with love, and use the best ingredients available to you, your food will be delicious.

Macaroni and Cheese

8 oz. macaroni
8 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, or any cheese of choice, hand grated. Reserve 2 Tbsp.
4 Tbsp. butter (use margarine, if necessary or desired)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (to taste)
3 Tbsp. flour
1 can evaporated milk
1 can tomatoes with chilis (Rotel)

Preheat oven to Betty Crocker temperature--350 degrees. Generously butter a 2 quart casserole dish. Cook macaroni in boiling, salted water, until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat until tender but not brown. Take your time with this. Add mustard and cayenne, and salt to taste, if desired. Taste to make sure the onion is tender enough because you really don't want crunch here.

Add the flour and stir until well combined and starting to bubble. Slowly add the milk, stirring all the time. Add the tomatoes and stir until blended. Stir in the cheese until fully melted.

Stir in the macaroni, then pour into the prepared casserole. Sprinkle the top with the reserved cheese, and also a sprinkle of paprika for color, if desired.

Bake for 25 -30 minutes until bubbly. Serve and enjoy.

You may notice my recipe does not call for "crust". I know many recipes call for bread crumbs, and combinations of cheese on top, for a crunch. My mother never did that, therefore, I don't either. We like our Macaroni and Cheese creamy, melty, and gooey, all the way.

You may also notice the repetition of the word, stir. Stirring, and staring at what I am stirring may be my favorite kitchen action. Stirring is contemplative and soothing.

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