It was the best of times, it was the worst of times and cheese was always there for me. No, seriously; cheese goes with any occasion. Celebrating a friend’s new job? Grab some cheddar. Having friends over for a fancy dinner party? Eat some brie and water crackers. Having a lazy Thursday night in? Forget making a meal, just go to Trader Joe’s and buy a smorgasbord of meats and cheeses. I can’t exactly pinpoint when cheese became my go-to comfort food in life, second only to mashed potatoes, but I can remember the first time I had goat cheese rolled in chives and I can tell you I was a convert from then on.
Either way, with my technology ban on (and failing slightly at that) and the rain, it’s been a solidly grey day. After fighting the blahs with an almost three mile run, I’m turning to my other favorite blah-fighting weapon, mac and cheese. There’s just something about the ooey-gooey deliciousness of pasta and cheese that’s unbeatable. Luckily, now that I’m a grown up I don’t have to wait for my mom to decide to bring out the holiday mac and cheese and I can make my own quick version. It may not be quite as tasty – because who can honestly beat their mom or dad’s homemade meals – but it satisfies my desire for cheese.
Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I originally found this recipe, but I’ll post the steps and ingredients here instead of linking. If it’s still cold and rainy where you are, try this out before summer – it’s definitely delicious!
Mac and Cheese (takes about 20 -30 min.)
1/2 lb bag of pasta – any shape you’d like
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
4 tbs flour
3/4 cup milk or half & half
1 tsp crushed garlic, or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Bread crumbs (optional)
You can also add whatever vegetables you’d like here. Normally, we add peas and onions or mushrooms and green peppers.
First, fill a pot with water and set it to boil. Next, mix the flour, mustard, garlic or garlic powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the milk or half & half and stir until it forms a smooth paste. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1/2 cup milk/ half & half on medium low. Add the pasta to the boiling water and reduce heat (so the pot doesn’t boil over like it did for me!).
Grate roughly 2 cups cheddar cheese; the finer the better because it will melt quicker and make fewer lumps in the sauce. Add the paste to the warm milk on the stove and then gradually stir in the cheese with a whisk. Make sure you’ve grated all the cheese you need because you need to keep whisking. Once you’ve added all the cheddar, gradually stir in the parmesan. If the sauce doesn’t seem thick enough, keep stirring. After about ten minutes it should be thick enough, but if it isn’t, add a tiny dusting of flour and stir in. Only add a little at a time because you don’t want to end up with lumps. If the sauce is too thick, add a tiny bit of half & half (tiny = same reason as the flour.)
Once the pasta is done, drain it and top it with the cheese sauce. Stir to coat. If you’d like, you can stop here or take it one step further and put it in an oven safe dish, add the veggies and cover in a thin layer of bread crumbs with a little salt and pepper on top. Set the oven to broil and when the breadcrumbs start to brown, take it out and enjoy!