A Cheesy Topic

…In 1993 Crayola held a contest to
name a new shade of crayon.
The winning name: Macaroni and Cheese…
The suggested wine to serve with mac n’ cheese
is a crisp Chardonnay… If you google
“macaroni and cheese”,
20,800,000 results will come up…

My son loves to play the “What’s your favorite” game. What’s your favorite place to be? (Anywhere with him and his sister, of course!)… What was your favorite subject in school? (English, he gets his love of reading from me)… What’s your favorite video game? (Words with Friends) and most recently, What’s your favorite vegetable? (I love most vegetables and I don’t really have a favorite). I’ve tried to instill my enjoyment of vegetables and healthy food in general in my children, and so far it seems to be working. My son loves anything with lots of onions and garlic, and my daughter is crazy about broccoli, raw carrots and celery. But they are kids after all and like most kids they also adore french fries, chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese.

I’m not proud of this, but I will come clean… there’s a bag of tater tots and some chicken nuggets in my freezer at this very moment. I’m a busy mom and sometimes I too need to cut corners. However, I draw the line at boxed macaroni and cheese. Have you ever tasted mac n’ cheese from a box? It’s awful. Even the organic stuff is almost inedible. So I set about finding a recipe that tasted good and wasn’t so loaded with fat that I would feel guilty feeding it to my kids. It took a lot of trial and error but I finally found a Cook Yourself Thin recipe that used real cheese and butter, but in restrained amounts. After a little tweaking on my part (and if you know me then you know I can never follow a recipe exactly as written) I finally have a meal that has the whole family looking forward to mac n’ cheese night. And naturally, it always gets served with a nice side of veggies!

Macaroni and Cheese
This recipe can be made with any shape or type of macaroni you like.
I’m not abig fan of elbows (too boring and not a great vehicle for holding sauce), so I usually use something like Campanelle, Radiatori or even Orecchiette.

2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. flour
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 cup skim milk, warmed
16 oz. dried multi-grain macaroni
1/4 cup aged Asiago (or Pecorino Ramano) cheese, grated
4 oz. Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz. Colby Jack, shredded
Plain panko crumbs (for topping)
Aged Asiago cheese, grated (for topping)

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and whisk until it turns a golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  3. Slowly add the warm milk, continue whisking and bring the mixture to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes, whisking frequently, until the sauce has thickened. Add the garlic powder, salt and Dijon mustard and stir until well combined.
  4. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Remove the white sauce from the heat, add the three cheeses and stir until the cheese is completely melted and the sauce is smooth.
  5. Pour half the cheese sauce over the cooked macaroni and give it a gentle stir. Add additional sauce until the macaroni is coated to your liking. (I often have extra sauce that I use when I reheat the leftovers.)
  6. Serve as is or sprinkle the top with some panko crumbs and a bit more of the Asiago cheese. Pop it under the broiler for 4-5 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbling. Serve and enjoy!

*adapted from Cook Yourself Thin

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