There is nothing better on a cold and wintery day than a classic comfort dish like Baked Mac and Cheese!
To compensate for hubby’s unemployed (temporary) status, I took on some extra hours at work. Normally I work the overnight shift, which I am still doing. But I took on some extra evening hours from 3pm to 11:30 pm. So for the next month that is going to drastically cut into my cooking time.
Packed with that knowledge, this week I’ve planned a few make ahead meals I can throw together during the day and hubby can just heat up later. Now my husband can cook. No doubt about it! But I know what it’s like trying to cook dinner during the “witching hour” of getting kids home from school, helping with homework, getting dinner on the table, baths, showers, bedtime stories, and into bed. Not fun folks. So I figured I would make life a little easier on him and try to have a few things he can just throw in the oven to re-heat, along with allowing for plenty of leftovers.
Now I’m going to tell you something else. My middle son HATES this macaroni and cheese. He doesn’t just hate it, but he refuses to eat it. And it’s not this recipe in particular…it’s ANY homemade Mac and Cheese. See he’s freaky that way. If it doesn’t come out of a blue box with an orange powdered cheese pouch, he won’t eat it. The rest of us, however, devour it!
I was talking to a woman at work who said she adds potato chips to the top of her macaroni and cheese because she likes the crunch factor it adds. The idea appealed to me and I told myself the next time I made this I was going to try it. So of course, the day I decided to make this we had no potato chips in the house. But…we did have…corn flakes. I figured they were the next best thing. I’m never making my Mac and Cheese without corn flakes again. Unless I have potato chips in the house which I will use instead.
Since I was unsure how much to add, I ended up adding a 1/2 cup of crushed corn flakes to the dish. I’m upping it next time to 3/4 of a cup because I definitely wanted more crunch!
CRUNCHY CREAMY MAC AND CHEESE:
Serves 6 – 8
- 1 Lb. Elbow Macaroni
- 5 Cups Shredded Cheese (I used Cheddar this time) **See Note
- 1 Teaspoon Seasoned Salt (I used Lawry’s)
- 1/2 Stick Butter
- 1/2 Teaspoon White Ground Pepper
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Dry Mustard
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
- 3 Tbsp. Flour
- 2 Cups Warmed Milk (Whole or 2%)
- 1/2 to 3/4 Cup Crushed Corn Flakes
Set oven to 400 degrees.
Spray a 13″ x 9″ baking dish with butter flavored non-stick cooking spray.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add some salt. Just before the water starts to boil, begin making your cheese sauce in a separate pot.
In a Pyrex measuring cup, measure out 2 cups of milk and put in microwave on high. Heat for four and a half minutes. You want the milk warm and steamy but not boiling hot.
In the separate pot, throw in the butter and melt, watching the heat so it doesn’t burn. Once melted, add in the 3 Tablespoons of flour and whisk together quickly. You want to do this quickly so you end up with a nice smooth consistency, not lumpy and grainy. As soon as the milk is heated, pour it into your butter and flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Add in four cups of the shredded cheese and stir well until smooth. Remove from heat and set to the side.
Dump the macaroni into the boiling water and cook through until just “almost” done. Mine took less than 6 minutes to reach this stage. Once done, strain the macaroni and add it to a large mixing bowl. Immediately dump in all the dry ingredients EXCEPT the corn flakes, into the macaroni, and stir well. Add the cheese sauce mix and stir until fully combined.
Pour this into your baking dish and top with the crushed cornflakes, followed by the reserved cup of shredded cheese. Place into your hot oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until bubbly and the top has achieved a golden crust.
NOTE: I buy and shred my cheese for this because I think it makes for a creamier sauce. This time I used regular sharp cheddar, but in the past I have mixed it up using half cheddar and half Colby, or Monterey Jack.