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Casseroling Around Mac ‘N Cheese

Casseroling Around Mac ‘N Cheese

Casseroling Around Mac ‘N Cheese

Looking out my window on a gloomy, rainy Monday, I don’t see the grayness.  I am daydreaming and thinking about so many things.  My life has been upside down lately, with eldercare, work and sadness.  I lost my sweet daddy at age 92 a few weeks ago, and my life will never be the same. He was my rock and my hero.  But when I look outside today, I see hope, brightness beyond the gray skies, and life.  I owe this outlook totally to my faith, and the love and support given so freely to me by my friends and family, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

To continue my series on cass-a-my-roles, it’s totally appropriate today to write about my daddy and his very favorite – southern macaroni and cheese.  Daddy loved casseroles – any type or form. I was always happy to oblige his fondness and made them very often for him.  Macaroni and cheese (or mac’n’cheese, as so many refer) is a southern staple, and there are so many variations.  The first published recipe appeared in England in the 1770’s, and then in the United States, particularly in the southern region, in the mid 1800’s. Now it appears on many restaurant menus, and often in upscale establishments with add-in ingredients, such as lobster, bacon, etc.  Although any small pasta will work, the most traditional and common is simply elbow macaroni.  Why try to make it fancy when you don’t have to?  I’ve tried many variations, but this one is our family (and my daddy’s) favorite:

 

H.C.’s Macaroni & Cheese

  • 2 cups milk (or one cup milk and one cup half and half)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ t. red pepper (cayenne)
  • 1 1/2 blocks extra-sharp cheddar cheese, hand grated (about 12 ounces)
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
  • Optional: ½ cup breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat milk in microwave for about a minute.  Melt butter in Dutch oven on medium low heat, then whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually mix in warm milk, whisking constantly until thickened (about 3-5 minutes).  Whisk in salt, peppers and half the cheese, then macaroni.  Pour into a greased 2 quart casserole dish, and top with remaining cheese. If desired, sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until golden and bubbly. 

 

Twink’s Tip:

Using 1 cup half and half will make the mixture creamier.  You can substitute half the extra sharp cheddar for a milder cheese, such as Velveeta or Colby, but we love the sharpness of the cheddar.  Sometimes I use breadcrumbs, but not always!

 

Until next time, be kinder than necessary – always.  Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so take good care of yourself!

-Twink

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