If I attend a covered dish dinner and see a casserole brimming with bubbling cheese and noodles, or peek into a crockpot and find a simmering version of the same variety, I am in heaven. I grab a serving and if I happen to have room enough for seconds, I head over for more. I know I’m not the only one. Macaroni and cheese certainly ranks high on the list of favorite comfort foods for many Americans. I’m not talking about the boxed kind here, though it has its place, but what I crave is good old-fashioned, homemade, macaroni and cheese. Here are a few variations of a dish that will keep you going back for more!
Baked macaroni and cheese
- 8 ounces elbow noodles
- 16 ounces cheddar cheese (shredded)
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- ¼ cup onion (diced)
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 ½ cups of milk
Bring water to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Add noodles and cook 5-7 minutes. Drain in sink and put noodles in greased baking dish. In a separate pan, melt butter on low heat. Add onions and cook until lightly browned. Add flour. Mix until a paste is formed. Add milk all at once. Add salt and pepper and stir on medium low heat until it begins to thicken. Mix in cheese until it is melted. Pour over noodles and mix well. Bake for 15-20 minutes in 350 degree oven.
The ingredients are the same as above but you will add cooked ham, chicken or bacon right before you put the casserole in the oven. This variation allows for the dish to be served as a main meal rather than a simple side. It gives you extra protein without compromising the delicious flavor associated with macaroni and cheese.
If you plan on adding veggies to this dish, sauté them on the stovetop before adding them to the dish. If you throw them in raw, you risk having them cooking unevenly. We use mushrooms, kale, spinach and corn in our veggie versions.
To add a bit of texture and variety, heat up half a stick of butter. Once melted, remove from the heat and mix in one and half cups of bread crumbs. Top your finished casserole with this mixture and pop into the oven. Let it brown and then go to town!