Sometimes a simple baked macaroni and cheese recipe is all you need to bring smiles to the faces of children. Macaroni and cheese is what kids enjoy for snacks and meals and they are often satisfied with the quick packaged variety. However, a homemade batch will let you be in charge of the ingredients that go into the recipe so you can be sure of the nutritional content. Once you perfect your baked macaroni and cheese recipe, it will be hard to enjoy the store-bought boxes again.
Ingredients for Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- Dash of salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups of whole or 2 percent milk
- Pepper, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 egg
- 12 ounces grated sharp-cheddar cheese
- Cook the macaroni in a large pan of salted boiling water. Do not overcook, al dente is best.
- While the macaroni is boiling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In another saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and then add the flour, whisking as you go. Stir in the milk. When bubbling, add pepper, paprika, garlic salt, sugar, and dry mustard. Simmer for ten minutes.
- Stir in the egg; mix well.
- Gradually add the cheese.
- Pour the mixture into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan or a shallow 1 1/2 quart baking dish.
- Drain the macaroni and add to the baking pan. Gently toss with the mixture.
Ingredients for the Topping
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup of plain breadcrumbs
- Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the bread crumbs. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top of the macaroni.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the bread crumbs are golden brown. This recipe serves six to eight.
The beauty of this recipe is that it can be varied according to your preferences. Instead of cheddar, use Colby or Monterey Jack cheese, or a combination of both. Some prefer only American cheese. Since the cheese is one of the main ingredients, make sure it is a good quality as well as the kind your family likes.
You can replace half of the milk with sour cream or, for a richer flavor, use 1 1/2 cups of milk and 1 1/2 cups of cream.
If you want to try even more variety, add half a pound of ground beef and onions. Chop three tablespoons of white or yellow onions and sauté, then add the beef, stirring as it browns. Toss in the beef and onions with the other ingredients listed in the recipe after adding the macaroni.
If your kids aren't fond of ground beef, add 1/2 cup of cooked, diced ham.
You may also substitute seasoned bread crumbs for plain or make your own from slices of white bread.
If you are from the southern region of the United States, you may have had macaroni and cheese pie, which is made with three eggs instead of one. Often, it is cooked in a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and cut in slices when served. At restaurants in the South, macaroni and cheese is listed on menus as not just a side, but as a vegetable.
Be sure to write down the recipe your family enjoys the most so that you can make this dish again and again.
What to Serve with the Recipe
While your kids will probably enjoy macaroni and cheese without anything else, you can serve one or two side dishes. Applesauce, sliced apples, an apple salad, a pineapple salad, tossed salad, or carrot sticks will be healthy additions. Create a light soup or a chicken stew and enjoy it with this baked delight.
Make macaroni and cheese for your next cookout. It is great with hot dogs or hamburgers. Your children will think it is good with just about everything! You can be assured that they are getting a healthy meal filled with lots of calcium.