Easy Peasy Baked Mac and Cheesy

The ultimate comfort food, and just so happens to be one of (out of many many many) my favorite foods EVER. Pasta and cheese? Yes, please!

I don’t make it that often because it’s obviously not the greatest thing for your figure. But when it’s the weekend, and I need that ultimate comfort food, this is what I make. REB also loves it, so anything I can do to please my man, the better.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Aren’t they all cute lined up and ready for roll call?

•1/2 cup of butter. That would be a whole stick. Hey, I already said this wasn’t healthy. So deal with it, people!
•1 pound of pasta
•2 1/2 cups shredded cheese of your choice. I used half a block of extra sharp cheddar and also bought brand-name Colby-Jack mix.
•1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. As my favorite goat-woman Rachel Ray would say, it’s the thing that makes them go, “Hmmm…what IS that?”
•1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Pardon me…would you happen to have any Grey Poupon? Why yes, I do!

…ahem…moving on…

•1/2 cup flour
•3 3/4 cups milk (the only healthy thing in the bunch as I used the fat free variety)
•1/2 teaspoon black pepper
•1 teaspoon salt
•Half a small bag of Goldfish crackers

Let’s get cheesin’

First preheat your oven to 350ºF. You want that thing waiting for you, not you waiting for it.

Then cook the pasta. I went ahead and boiled my water and when it came to a boil, I dumped the pasta in and then started making my sauce. It’s totally fine if your pasta cooks first. You want it to cook to al dente since it will finish cooking in the oven with the cheese.

I used Cavatappi pasta.
This is hands down my favorite kind of pasta. I tried this recipe with different kinds of pasta: Elbow, Farfalle, Shells, etc. But, I love Cavatappi. I love the way it sounds when you say it, and I love the shape. Plus, it’s got those sweet lines to help the ooey-gooey cheese stick to each lovely noodle. Ah, bliss.

As your pasta starts cooking, get to making your sauce.

Melt the butter over low heat. I cut it up to help the melting process go a little faster.

Once it’s all melted, or just about there, you can add in the flour.

Add the flour a little at a time and raise the heat a little. Stir the roux until it is smooth and bubbly.

Remove the roux from the heat, and add the milk. Return the saucepan to the stove and heat to boiling, stirring constantly.

….and I mean that.

Keep stirring! It’ll take about 10-15 minutes. You want to keep stirring it and raise the heat every few minutes so it helps quicken the process. You’re basically making a bechamel sauce, but you want it to thicken a lot.

You know it’s done when the sauce coats the back of your spoon like so. Let it come to a bubble for a minute.

While the sauce keeps thickening, grate some cheese. We bought a block of super, extra sharp white cheddar. Basically amazing. It was also kosher (fun fact) and wasn’t made with animal rennet (good for vegetarians!)

Told ya. Amazing.

Before you add in the cheeses, add the nutmeg and Dijon mustard. I wish I had whole nutmeg. Pout. However, ground nutmeg works just as well. Give that a good stir.

Add in the cheddar. Ooooh-weee! Look how thick that sauce is now!

Took some help from the store and bought a package of finely shredded Colby-Jack cheese. Choose any cheese you like, though: Gruyere, Swiss, Provolone, Jalapeño cheddar, smoked Gouda…mmmm! Even Bleu cheese would probably work (Um, can’t believe I just said that…)

Now tell me that isn’t beautiful. Go on. Try. I won’t believe you, though.

Pour the cheese over the pasta and give it a good stir.

…must…stop….drooling….

Pour the entire pot o’ mac’n'cheese into a 9 x 13 ungreased glass dish like so.

Pour half the bag of Goldfish crackers into a food storage bag and then with a pan, your hand, a rolling pin, whatever…smash ‘em!

Just like that. Yup. That looks about right.

And because we didn’t have enough cheese in the dish already, sprinkle the top with just a touch (or handful) more.

Then top it off with the crushed Goldfish crackers.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Then you end up with this, glorious, delicious dish of heaven. This clearly makes enough for about 10-12 people, but that’s why leftovers are a wonderful thing.

Mmmk, now it’s OK to start drooling.

Sigh. So, so glad I’m not lactose intolerant. Heaven. Just…heaven.

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