Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Recipes 002Macaroni & Cheese has to be in the top 5, at least, in the comfort food world. This creamy version is no exception! I have always used this particular recipe as my “go-to” for mac and cheese- and it is often requested for birthdays and get-togethers in my extended family. Kids (and adults) love it, as there are no funny chunks or flavors or hidden pieces of this or that tucked inside. No- this is plain and simple mac and cheese at its unadulterated best!

Perhaps you usually think of Macaroni and Cheese as a side, but I almost always use this recipe as my Main Dish. I generally try to have 1 meatless meal on the menu each week, and I think this dish works perfectly for that. For the meal, serve it with a green vegetable and muffins or pinto beans. (My mom makes mac and cheese with pinto beans and stewed tomatoes. I LOVE that! But, since I’m the only one in my household that will eat stewed tomatoes- I don’t get to make it that way. Poor me.)

So, without further comment, here is the recipe for this thick, creamy, cheesy, hot and steaming, bubbling macaroni and cheese!

8 oz. macaroni (I like to use whole wheat to boost up the nutrition)

2 Tbs. butter

2 Tbs. flour

1 tsp. salt

2 1/2 cups milk

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided

paprika

Bring water to a boil. Add macaroni, and cook according to your package instructions. Drain. Place in a lightly greased casserole dish. (an 8in, 11x7in or a 2 qt. will work fine)

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Once melted, stir in flour and salt until the flour is fully incorporated with the butter

Add milk

Using a whisk, which will help to break up the clumps, stir almost constantly until the mixture thickens.

Add 1 1/2 cups of cheese and stir until melted (and just as a side note, I almost always prefer to use freshly grated cheese. I think it makes a big difference in the texture of the sauce)

Now pour all of the sauce over the macaroni and give it a little stir to make sure there is sauce in all the cracks.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over the top

Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper, to taste.

Lightly sprinkle with paprika (optional)

Now bake, uncovered at 375 for about 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly.

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