Friday, October 26, 2012

Comfort Food Made Easy-Mac & Cheese

The Extra Creamy Cheesiest  Mac & Cheese


  One day I decided to tackle one of the most loved dishes in all of childhood, the boxed mac and cheese.  I had this feeling I could make a tastier version without having to run to the store, and using things I already had on hand in my pantry.  I wanted to keep it mom friendly though, and tried to mimic the steps from the box, so it would feel familiar and easy to whip up at a moments notice.  This is what I came up with.
Cheesy cheesy goodness.  Your kids will beg for this one
Now doesn't that just scream ooey gooey deliciousness?  What kid wouldn't want a big ol' bowl of this golden cheesy goodness? Plus you can make a big pot with only FIVE ingredients. (full printable recipe at end of post)
A few ingredients you probably already have on hand
So there are only a few common ingredients to make this delectable comfort food.  
Noodles (any kind will do, but shells are great for holding a lot of sauce), 1 can evaporated milk, 
1 can cheddar cheese soup, 1-2 cups of shredded cheese, butter, and salt and pepper to taste (or Johny's seasoning salt).

After cooking and draining your noodles, add them back to the same pot.  
Add your butter and stir it around til the warm noodles melt it.  (Just like you would on the box)

I'm assuming you know how to boil water, cook noodles, drain, then add 4 TBSP butter ;)

Next stir in 1 can of cheddar cheese soup (this would be like adding the cheese packet here)
Add some cheddar cheese soup to the party
Next you will want to add about half the can of evaporated milk and stir until combined.  
(This is like adding the milk on the box) Now we're starting to look like something yummy is about to happen!
Get in my belleh!  (Ok not yet, but SOON)
When combined, then it's time to add the grated cheese.  This is really at your own discretion, but between 1-2 cups of cheese works great. (You can leave the burner on medium low or low to help melt things together) Start with one cup and mix in, if you need more, add a little at a time.  
(This is where we add real cheese to so called mac and CHEESE, what a concept!!)
Any medium/mild cheddar will work, I used Tillamook cheese (popular on the NW coast)
The reason you keep some of the evaporated milk back is that after the cheese melts, if its a tad on the thick side, add a touch more milk and stir until you have your desired consistency.  This is a good time to taste and season.  The KEY here is seasoning.  I normally would use Johnny's Seasoning salt, which has salt, pepper, paprika, garlic and onion powder in it, BUT then my kids will see the little black specks of pepper as "POISON" and deem the dish inedible.  So I use a sea salt grinder and give it a couple cranks. It's all white and therefore kid approved. Taste and check the levels here.  Add a bit of extra seasoning to taste. 

Now we are done!  Serve it up to the small fry and watch them beg for more.  It's ooey gooey comfort food that I think is as easy to make as a box mix, but has a ton more flavor and appeal, and you can customize it to your family's tastes.

Enjoy!  Here is the printable recipe:

Easy Extra Creamy Mac & Cheese

1 16oz box pasta (shells, macaroni, bow tie) I used 3/4 or 12 oz for this recipe
4 Tablespoons butter
1 can cheddar cheese soup(10 3/4 oz)
1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
1-2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste or seasoned salt (like Johnny's)

Cook and drain noodles.  Add back to warm pot, stir in butter, cheese soup,
and half the can of evaporated milk.  Stir until combined. 
Add 1 cup of cheese to start with, add more until desired cheesiness.
Keep the burner on low to help melt things together.
If it gets too thick, add some reserve evaporated milk to thin down
Add salt and pepper to taste

Serve warm as side or main dish.  Enjoy!

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