Recipe #7. Ok, I admit it. This one doesn’t easily fit into the categories for my websites premise. This dish is a bit of a special case. The only claim I can make for it right off the bat is that its definitely sugar-free. And you can absolutely make this dish gluten-free by purchasing gluten-free pasta! By nature of the title though, its of course not lactose-free. Not even close. However, I can tell you that its more than worth it.
This was, hands down, my favorite dish for years growing up. I would beg my Mom to make it multiple times a week. She appeased me on this one pretty regularly (though thankfully not as regularly as I begged her for it), making it roughly once a week much to my child or teenage delight. Whenever we had this for dinner, it made my entire day. A smile remained plastered on my face for the rest of the evening, in my comatose state after consuming this deliciously cheesy dinner (Yes, I was easily pleased and excitable as a child. Some things don’t change much as we become adults, eh? ;-))
This recipe is simple, very easy to make, straight forward. And yet, its SO good. I compare every macaroni and cheese dish that I sample to this one. This recipe is the prototype to me of what good macaroni should taste like. And I have to say, a lot of mac n cheese dishes disappoint me and unquestionable fall short.
So, here it is. For a reliable, delicious, easy macaroni and cheese dish, look no further. This one is a winner. And I cannot think of a better season to hand off this recipe for the taking. Chilly nights call for cozy dishes like macaroni, am I right?
Home style macaroni and cheese
2 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoons of margarine or butter
2 cups of Cheddar Cheese, grated (my favorite brand is Land o Lakes. For those in Europe who cannot get that brand, any cheddar will do. However it won’t be quite as awesome as the sharp taste of Land o Lakes brand).
½ box of medium shell pasta noodles, cooked al dente and drained
1 ¼ cup of milk
2-3 tablespoons of apple juice
About 20 Ritz crackers, crushed (**optional. If you choose not to top with cracker, omit/remove step #8 in the recipe, in which case, no need to preheat the oven either).
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C.
- Begin boiling the water for pasta and once boiling, pour in the noodles. Cook according to instructions on the box.
- Melt the butter in a glass baking dish in the microwave.
- Stir the flour and milk into the melted butter.
- Heat the flour/milk/butter mixture in the microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Then stir with a fork or wire whisk to break up any lumps. Repeat this cycle (microwaving and stirring) 5-6 times until the mixture becomes thick like a sauce.
- At this point, the pasta should be either finished or nearly finished cooking.
- Add the grated cheese, apple juice, salt and pepper to the thickened sauce. Stir well, making sure all the cheese is melted and the apple juice has blended into the sauce. Add cooked noodles to the now-finished sauce. Stir gently with a large spoon to make sure all the noodles are well covered with cheese sauce. Microwave the entire thing for a final 1 minutes and 30 seconds more, just for good measure.
- Top the finished macaroni and cheese with crushed Ritz crackers. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or so, uncovered. (Again, the Ritz crackers were optional. If you choose not to top with crackers, omit this step and #9 as well, and do not put macaroni in the oven. Without crackers, once you finish step #7, dish is ready to be eaten!)
- Remove from oven and serve warm.
Depending on how comfortable you are with cooking, this recipe can totally be improvised upon. For example, you can sauté up some cut pieces of sausage along with some chopped onions and add them into the finished cheese sauce. You could add anything really. Bacon and spinach would be really good (again, sauté/cook in a frying pan and once finished, toss into the finished cheese sauce). The sky is the limit.