Growing up I used to eat boxed mac & cheese fairly often. When I first moved out, a 60 cent box of macaroni and cheese was a decent dinner for me. The Mr., however, hates boxed macaroni so I haven't bought it in years. This recipe comes together really quickly and tastes really good. It is creamy and cheesy, almost like the kind you can find at Panera, but I use cheddar because I like it better than American cheese. Real cheese is better than powdered cheese any day.
I contemplated adding Sriracha to the mix but skipped it this time. I think I'll give it a shot next time. I served it with a lemon & oil salad.
1/2 lb whole wheat pasta (I used shells)
3 Tb butter
3 Tb flour
1 1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
salt & pepper, to taste
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup three cheese blend, shredded (or whatever cheese you have on hand & like)
In a large pot, bring salted water to boil and cook your noodles.
Drain noodles and set aside.
Using the same pot (or a new one if you like to do dishes), melt the butter over medium high heat until bubbly. Whisk in the flour, one tablespoon at a time, making sure to fully cook each addition.
Cook the flour until it is no longer raw. The mixture (a roux) should be thick and pale yellow.
Add in the milk, while whisking. Continue cooking until the mixture thickens and is creamy.
Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Remove from heat and stir in your cheese(s). Stir until fully melted and incorporated.
Add your drained pasta to the cheese mixture and stir to fully coat.
I seasoned mine with more freshly ground black pepper. Next time, I think I'll add some panko breadcrumbs to the top and bake it for a few minutes. I was too eager to eat this batch to wait.