No food warms me from the inside out like macaroni and cheese. As good as boxed macaroni and cheese can be, homemade is definitely worth the effort. At the very least, you can control the ingredients that you use, and it always comes out of the oven nice and hot. Don’t get me wrong, I love boxed mac and cheese as much as the next person, but I made a promise to myself not to eat it any more. A bowl easily leads to a whole box, which leads to two, and before you know it, you’ve (I’d) consumed several days’ worth of empty calories without thinking twice. Maybe this is why I’ve become so committed to making mac and cheese from scratch. Maybe it’s because it takes a bit longer to make, or because you see all the butter that you put into the meal, or maybe because it’s made with real ingredients, but when I eat macaroni and cheese from scratch, I think it’s so much easier to eat a bowl or two, and not five.
Anyway, you may recall my recent fascination with adding cream cheese to just about everything, and this recipe is no different. I was really curious if I could take a recipe I already love and rework it to give it a new twist. I use a recipe from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. An online link can be found here: http://www.food.com/recipe/fannie-farmers-classic-baked-macaroni-and-cheese-135350
The recipe calls for eight or nine ounces of macaroni, but I tend to use regular pasta and throw the whole box in, so the proportions of the rest of the recipe need to be adjusted as well. This time I used whole wheat rigatoni, about a full pound (16 ounces).
For the flour and butter mixture, I used 5 tablespoons of butter, 6 tablespoons of flour, and two tablespoons of cream cheese. I used about 2 cups of 1% milk, and thinly sliced about half a pound of cheddar cheese. For breadcrumbs, I used about half a cup of plain breadcrumbs and added about a 1/4 cup of panko breadcrumbs. I toasted them in a frying pan with about a tablespoon and a half of butter.
Cook and drain the pasta according to package directions. Pour half into a 9 x 13 inch size pan. Make the flour/butter/milk/cream cheese mixture (blend the flour and butter together in the saucepan, add the cream cheese and mix until well blended, add milk and stir continuously until it thickens). Cover the layer of pasta with about half of the cheese and flour/butter/milk/cream cheese mixture. Top with remaining pasta, another layer of cheese and milk mixture, and toasted breadcrumbs. Bake in the oven @ 400 degrees F until cheese is melted and breadcrumbs are browned.
The whole process took about an hour, and it was definitely worth it.
What do you think? Is this a recipe you would try?