I can’t eat Kraft macaroni and cheese anymore. It was a small tragedy at first, but I’ve learned to let go and I’m all the better for it. You see, it turns out there’s some pretty weird stuff in that blue box. I guess there was a campaign to remove the harmful yellow dye from the ingredients, but come to think of it, there’s probably still something wrong with powdered cheese, no matter how much I really, really liked it. You can read more about the Kraft dye concerns here.
I’ve always enjoyed making homemade macaroni and cheese as well, but I just felt lazy to do it all the time. But after reading about the crap that goes into a lot of our food, I decided to make an attempt to have more control over what goes into my kitchen and my body. I’m by no means perfect and I’m not trying to be. There’s a lot of unknown when it comes to anything you buy from the store, but you can at least be sure there are less chemicals in food you prepared yourself then if you just dumped a frozen bag of pasta onto a pan. At least… that’s what I want to believe.
To make that pretty bowl of joy above, cook some elbow macaroni (or any pasta, really) per the box instructions or if you’re me, just keep testing it until the noodles are soft enough. Hot tip: fill a small cereal bowl with noodles. This is about as many noodles as there are in a standard Kraft box. While the noodles are boiling, take out a small sauce pan to make the cheese sauce.
Macaroni and Cheese Sauce
Half n Half
Shredded cheese (I like Colby Jack)
Salt and pepper
Optional: dijon mustard, mayo, cayenne pepper, onions, chopped jalapeno, bacon bits, broccoli bits, etc.
To make the sauce, start by making a roux. A roux is equal parts butter and flour, melted and mixed together. If you’re making yourself lunch or a one-man dinner, you only need maybe 1/2 or 1 TBSP of butter, and hence, the equivalent amount of flour. Today I added just a tiny bit more butter than flour and added about 2 TBSP of chopped onions. I gave the onions a few minutes to cook in the roux, and then I added about a cup of half n half (milk or heavy cream will also do). Whisk the mix continuously until it begins to thicken. Then I mixed in a big handful of shredded cheese, a dollop each of mayo and dijon mustard, and salt and pepper. Drain your pasta and pour it over with your cheese sauce.
It’s pretty easy to make once you get the hang of it. And it’s easy to modify too! Pour your cheesy noodles into a casserole dish and bake with more shredded cheese and bread crumbs on top. I’ve even served it as an appetizer by baking into aluminum muffin wrappers.