Saturday, January 15, 2011

Homestyle Macaroni & Cheese

Homestyle Macaroni & Cheese - made January 15, 2011 from Land O Lakes Treasury of Country Recipes (book #39)

This is one of my earlier general cookbooks that I remember getting, probably when I belonged to some cookbook of the month type club when I was in college.  I've had it for years but I mostly used the dessert recipes.  This is where I got my recipes for Lemon Bars and Butter Pecan Tartlets.

I don't normally make mac and cheese since my pasta comfort food of choice is spaghetti and meatballs.  But it's easier (to me) to make a cheesy sauce than a spaghetti sauce.  My friend Emily assures me spaghetti sauce doesn't come out of a jar, er, I'll take your word for it, Em.  I modified this a bit just to use up some ingredients in my fridge so I added half an onion, some diced ham and used fresh basil instead of parsley.  Out of the mac and cheese recipes I looked at, this one was also different in that it added cream cheese in place of additional cheddar.

This came out less orange-colored than I expected but that makes sense since it doesn't have as much Cheddar as some other recipes and the cream cheese is white.  I also think I was expecting something orange like Cheetos because I pictured that all macaroni and cheese would turn out the color of Kraft Mac n Cheese. As mac and cheese goes, this one was fairly decent.  The bread crumb topping seemed a little much so next time I would cut it to 1/2 to 3/4 cup but that's just a personal preference.  I would also either add more ham or else experiment with a spicy sausage.  I liked the basil but that's because I easily prefer the taste of basil over parsley, no matter what dish it's in.  You can definitely taste the mustard.  I don't like mustard but this had a small enough amount that I was okay with it.  It's also pretty rich and creamy so serve in small portions.

7 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
¼ cup butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups milk
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons country-style Dijon mustard
2 cups cubed ½” cheddar cheese
1 cup sliced, diced ham (if desired)
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or substitute basil if desired)

1.    Heat oven to 400⁰F.
2.    Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain.
3.    Meanwhile, in 3-quart saucepan, melt ¼ cup butter; stir in flour.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until smooth and bubbly, 1 minute.  Add chopped onion and cook until soft.
4.    Stir in milk, cream cheese, salt, pepper and mustard.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 3 to 4 minutes.  Stir in macaroni, cheese and ham, if using.
5.    Pour into 2-quart casserole.  In small bowl, stir together bread crumbs, melted butter and parsley; sprinkle over macaroni and cheese.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and heated through.

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