Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Restaurant Style Mac & Cheese

Mac & cheese has always been one of my favorite comfort foods.  Sometimes you just need a good bowl of mac & cheese, right?  Growing up, of course my mom purchased the boxed mac & cheese - usually an off brand but occasionally we were lucky enough to get the Kraft brand...and even luckier if we got the "shapes" kind.  For some reason the shapes noodles just tasted better...or maybe it was all in my head. 

Now, I'm basically anti-boxed mac & cheese since discovering various homemade versions over the years. It is SO much better from scratch!  One of my favorite recipes is a spicy mac & cheese but this recipe is a tamed down version using american cheese to give it more of that creamy "restaurant style."  In all honesty, I would normally never buy processed american cheese because I prefer "real" cheese...but I happened to need it for another meal so it worked great to have it on hand for mac & cheese.   This is a very kid friendly dish and makes enough to feed a large family or have enough for leftovers throughout the week! 

Restaurant Style Mac & Cheese 
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped (1/4 cup)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ tsp. mustard powder
½ tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cups almond milk
12-15 oz. American cheese (or about 15-20 slices), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 oz. pepper jack cheese

Heat oven to 375°F. Cook and drain macaroni as directed on package using minimum cook time – or even a little less so it is al dente.

Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion and spices in butter, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender.

In small bowl, mix flour and milk until smooth; stir into onion mixture. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute; remove from heat. Stir in cheese until melted.  In large bowl, mix cooked macaroni with cheese sauce mixture.  Pour into about a 2 quart casserole dish.

Bake about 30 minutes or until bubbly and light brown.

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