Macaroni & Cheese was obviously a childhood favorite of mine. (Is there anyone who didn’t love the mac??) But growing up we didn’t have Kraft, we usually had Annie’s mac & cheese – Shells & White Cheddar. Kudos to you Mom! I rarely make the cheesy goodness anymore, but once in a while I will pick up some Annie’s for old times sake.
What to do with a drawer-full of cheese and two new baking ramekins?? (ok, I lie, I actually bought the ramekins so that I could make the mac & cheese) The old favorite was calling my name and I wanted to make it from scratch. It went pretty well but the possibilities are endless with this and I can’t wait to try some exciting, more flavorful cheeses and toppings like carmelized shallots, crab meat, crispy sage, …..hmmmmmm.
I totally didn’t know if this was going to turn out or not and my only complaint is that it wasn’t as flavorful as I would have liked. Now I know and next time I will use some sharper cheeses. Problem solved. Other than that it was perfectly creamy without powdered cheese!
Cook pasta until al dente. Do not overcook. Save some of the cooking liquid, I left about 1/2 cup in the pan. (I used about 1 cup of brown rice pasta)
I made a quick roux with about 2 T of butter melted in a hot pan and added a spoonful (about 1 T) of flour. Mix together over heat until smooth. Pour in 1/8 cup 1/2 & 1/2 and 1/3 cup skim milk, dash of hot sauce and salt & pepper. Stir in 1/4 cup shredded italian cheese blend and 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella.
Pour cheese mixture into pasta and reserved cooking liquid and when all pasta is covered pour into ramekins. I sprinkled some whole grain panko bread crumbs and some fresh parmesan cheese to form a crust when broiled. Broil until top is toasty . I happened to have some chives on-hand and I loved what they added to the dish.
You can bet I will be making some more versions of mac & cheese in the near future. I have noticed that I’m starting to crave more pasta, soups and warm food this fall. I love pasta but can go weeks without it in the summer but once the chill in the air starts? I’m all over it as seen here and here.