Tasty Thursday: Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Photo: Economy Bites / The Nest Photo: Economy Bites / The Nest

Quick – what’s your favorite food of all time? I’m willing to bet many of you (and your kids) would answer like me, macaroni and cheese. When I was a kid, I was all about the basic boxed Kraft version.  In junior high in fact, my friend and I would make a box and then share it right out of the pan with wooden spoons (hmm, the start of my food issues?)

When I went on the hunt for a great recipe to share with you this week, my first thought was to find this all-time favorite!   This recipe on our sister site, The Nest, has everything I’m looking for – tons of creamy cheese (really, that’s all I need in any recipe), less than 20 ingredients, takes 30 minutes to make, and bonus: a crunchy top.  Plus, I can modify it to make it lower in fat (subbing 1% milk and light cheese) and easily add things (like ham cubes) to it. Enjoy this comfort food at its finest!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

1 lb macaroni
2 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
3 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp mustard powder
1 1/2 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups panko breadcrumbs

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

Shred cheese.

Cook macaroni to package directions, stopping 2-3 minutes before they’re fully done (al-dente) Set cooked pasta aside in a casserole dish.

Heat a low pot over medium. Once hot, melt butter. Once butter is melted, whisk in flour. Continue to whisk butter and flour together for another minute then gradually add milk and cream. Add bay leaves, dry mustard and paprika. Increase heat and bring the sauce to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

While sauce is simmering, prepare breadcrumbs: heat butter and olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Once butter is melted, add breadcrumbs and toast until they’re brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

After 10 minutes of simmering, pull bay leaves out of sauce, then fold in shredded cheese. Stir until cheese is fully incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Pour cheese over macaroni in the casserole dish. Top with breadcrumbs and bake for 30 minutes.

Check out the video on how to make it and see more tasty recipes on The Nest.