Over the last year, I’ve changed a lot about the way I cook and the ingredients I use. I’ve lowered the fat and calorie content in many dishes and in a few cases, I have stopped making a previous favorite.
There is a few things, though, that I purposely decided to not change. I still make some dishes exactly the way I have always made them. I think by doing this I’ve helped to make our transition to healthy eating a bit smoother – especially for the kids. There are dishes that they (we) have come to love and enjoy and I don’t think that we have to give them up entirely. By balancing healthier choices, with the occasional old favorites, I have a happy family.
Homemade Macaroni and Cheese is one of those old favorites that I haven’t changed. But really, it isn’t the most un-healthy macaroni and cheese out there, so I see no point in changing it. Well, one small change. I now use whole wheat or Ronzoni® Smart Taste™ elbow macaroni, but other than that, it’s the same recipe as always. I also use skim milk, but this is the type of milk I’ve always used and it still turns out great. You are welcome to use 2% or whole milk, if you prefer.
This is a BIG batch – I get about 18-cups of macaroni and cheese from this. It’s enough to feed a large group and is excellent for taking to a potluck. Even if it’s just my hubby and kids eating I still do this big batch (mostly out of habit). But it all works out because this is leftovers that always seem to be gobbled up.
Homemade Macaroni and Cheese (big batch)
3 boxes elbow macaroni (13 – 16 oz, prepared as directed)
1 cup butter or margarine (2 sticks, cubed; not light)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt (or more to taste)
1-2 teaspoons pepper (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon garlic powder (more or less depending on personal preference)
10 cups milk
1 – 1 1/2 lbs sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (not low-fat and I use the sharpest cheddar I can buy; I generally use 1 lb, you can use more if you prefer)
Breadcrumbs or crushed crackers
Couple tablespoons melted butter or cooking spray
1. Grease a large casserole pan or two. I use a deep 13×9″ pan and then one smaller glass casserole dish. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Melt butter in a large pot over low-medium heat. When butter is melted, whisk in the flour. Continue to stir butter/flour mixture constantly for about 5 minutes; the color will be light a light golden brown. Don’t leave this cooking – you will want to be constantly working with it.
3. Slowly whisk the milk into the butter/flour mixture until smooth. Continue to heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with whisk. Bring to a very low boil – continue with this low boil and constant stirring until thickened. Again, don’t leave this – it needs constant stirring. Don’t let it burn. When it’s thickened, remove from heat.
4. Whisk in shredded cheddar cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Stir in salt, pepper and garlic powder. Taste for a need of additional seasonings – add more salt or pepper as desired.
5. Gently stir macaroni into the cheese sauce and stir until all macaroni is coated with sauce.
6. Spoon macaroni and cheese into greased baking dishes. Sprinkle top of casseroles with breadcrumbs or crushed crackers. Lightly drizzle with melted butter or give a quick spray with cooking spray (the cooking spray is a lighter method, however the melted butter drizzle is much more tasty).
7. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until top is browned.
Makes approximately 18 cups of macaroni and cheese (depends on exactly how many ounces of macaroni your packages are).