Monday, February 22, 2010

Stove Top Mac n' Cheese...However You Please

Anyone can make macaroni and cheese and I don't mean the stuff that comes in a box with a packet of powdered cheese.

I'm not gettin' all high and mighty here, this stuff has it's place in my kitchen. We all grew up on it. My kids eat it. These days I love those Mac in Minutes tubs...just fill to the line and pop em' in the microwave. Can't beat that for a super quick lunch. But if you've got just 10 more minutes, you could have this:

Creamy, delicious, made-from-scratch mac n' cheese. If you don't care for peas or mushrooms, no problem. Mac n' Cheese is so versatile that you can stir in whatever fixings you like. As long as you have pasta (it doesn't even have to be macaroni), butter, flour, milk, and cheese, then you've got the makings for your very own mac n' cheese.

Here's how it comes together:

The first thing I do is bring a pot of water to a boil, then I throw in the pasta. I'm not a traditionalist when it comes to mac n' cheese. As a result my favorite types of pasta for this dish are, but not excluded to: bowtie, cavatappi, gemelli, penne, radiatore, rotelle (look like little wheels), and rotini. I almost never buy plain old macaroni. Today's pasta of choice happened to be radiatore.

Then I melt butter in a skillet. Usually 2 tablespoons.

This time, I added half of a diced onion and sauteed until tender. Then I added some sliced mushrooms and stirred them around for another few minutes.

The next step is to add flour. If veggies aren't your thing, you can skip right to stirring the flour into the melted butter.

Now gradually stir...or better yet, whisk in 2 cups of milk. You don't want any lumps in your sauce. I used skim milk because that's what I had.

Cook and stir over medium to medium high heat. By the time the mixture reaches a boil, it should be noticeably thicker. Turn the heat to low. Right now what I've got here is mushroom and onion gravy.

We're about to transition this gravy to cheese sauce, so stir in some cheese. Not very specific, am I? How much is some? What kind of cheese? If you're one of those detail oriented people, I apologize. I don't have an answer for you. Mac n' Cheese is a perfect way to use up cheese in your fridge that is nearing expiration. In my mac n' cheese this time: a chunk of Velveeta that I found wrapped in plastic wrap at the back of the fridge(I'm guessing it didn't find it's way into our dip at the Super Bowl party?), some shredded Colby Jack cheese at the bottom of a bag (almost a cup?), and finally some grated Romano cheese that was nearing expiration.

Use whatever cheese you like. As long as it melts, you're good to go. I usually use 2cups of cheese or up to 8 oz.

Once the cheese is melted, add your cooked, drained pasta and anything else you want to stir in. I ended up dropping a cup of peas into the water with the pasta during the last few minutes of cooking time. No need to dirty another pan! Toss the noodles and peas with the cheese sauce...

and you've got dinner in 20 minutes or less. I wanted mine a little peppery last time.

Here are some other pairings that work really well when stirred into mac n' cheese:

Crispy bacon and sharp white cheddar

Chicken and broccoli

Taco meat, a can of salsa or diced tomatoes with green chilies, top with green onions

Speaking of mac n' cheese check out this Philly Cheese Mac Recipe! YUM!

Basic Mac n Cheese Recipe take this and build on it!

8 oz. dry pasta such as elbow macaroni, radiatore, cavatappi
2 T butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
8 oz. shredded cheese or Velveeta
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. In a skillet, melt butter. Stir in flour. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Cook and stir until the mixture reaches a boil and thickens. Turn heat to low. Stir in cheese until melted. Toss cheese sauce with pasta. Salt and pepper to taste.

Radiatore with Peas (pictured above)

8 oz. Radiatore pasta
1-2 cups frozen peas
2 T. butter
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
approximately 4 oz. Velveeta, 1 cup shredded Colby jack, and 1/4 cup grated Romano

Cook pasta according to pkg. directions. Toss in peas for the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Drain. Melt butter in a skillet. Add onions and saute until tender. Add sliced mushrooms and cook for another few minutes, until lightly browned. Add flour and stir until combined. Stir in milk until smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Mixture should be thickened. Turn heat to low. Stir in cheese until melted. Toss with pasta and peas.


To print or download this recipe click here!


Kim said...

I love the way you make you macaroni and cheese Krista! My husband loves macaroni and cheese made this way (he also begs me not to bake it) and he would love your version here with the peas. It looks so good:D

theUngourmet said...

I can always count on you for my weeknight dinner ideas. Thanks for another great recipe! This bacon and white cheddar sounds awesome too!

Chicago Mom said...

Who knew it was so easy? Well, you did, obviously. :) I can't wait to try this!

Mary | Deep South Dish said...

Mmmmmm sure looks delicious and comforting! I enjoy the stovetop version too and wouldn't mind at all to have a bowl of this RIGHT NOW! Love the choice of noodle too - radiatore seems a perfect carrier for that cheesy goodness. I always seem to have just a bit of a wedge of Velveeta waiting to be used in my fridge too! What a great way to use it.

Reeni said...

What a yummy mac 'n' cheese! And so easy too! Love your version with peas.

Katy ~ said...

No oven time?! Love it! Sometimes it just seems such a waste of natural resources to have to use the oven. This does sound quick and easy and delicious!! Thank you so much for sharing this delicious recipe. Big YUMS up.

Leah Beyer said...

Yum! Going to be on my table soon. I included this on in my 25 quick meal ideas blog post too.

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