Deliciously Lightened Up Classic Mac & Cheese!

For as long as I can remember, macaroni & cheese has been one of my FAVORITE dishes.  I mean, who doesn’t love it? Oddly enough, my mother the health freak never made me a homemade version growing up.  Kraft was it.  I believe it’s because in the 80’s people weren’t as food conscious as they are now a days.  You know, the whole “gluten free, vegan, organic, soy free, dairy free, nut free” blah blah blah blah blah wasn’t a big concern back then.  But now….it’s enough to give you a damn headache isn’t it?  I’m just finally starting to not be confused going to whole foods.  It took a while though.

So, now that I have my own cherubs…I only want to give them the best.  Carter lives on Macaroni and Cheese.  It’s his favorite thing to eat by far and the only thing I don’t have to beg him or bribe him to eat.  I have always given him the “Annie’s” brand which seemed like a better choice compared to most.  Then I started thinking, “how hard could it be to make a basic mac and cheese that’s super easy?”  I would rather give him something I make myself then something that is processed and out of a box.  So my hunt began.  I found quite a few recipes, however it was one from Cooking Light Magazine that I found to be the BEST with a few modifications of my own of course!  Much to my surprise, not only did Carter LOVE it…but Chase and I were standing over the stove eating it right out of the pan.  It was yummy! Seriously took me 15 minutes to make it. Add some veggies to it!  Or sometimes I will throw some ground flaxseed in there, the kids won’t know the difference.

I have an amazing fancy Mac & Cheese that tops ANY RESTAURANT I’ve ever been too which I will share soon.  It’s labor intensive though but sooooo worth it (Ina….of course).  However this is just a simple, easy peasy and semi-healthy version that I can whip up on a moments notice.  I now keep blocks of cheese in my house at all times.  They come in handy!  This is delicious by itself but for us adults sometimes I like to serve it as a side dish with some grilled chicken or something lighter.

Here is what you need:

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Milk, small noodles (usually I use whole grain but was out!) american cheese or extra sharp cheddar, flour, butter (forgot to put it in the pic) salt and pepper.  YOU MUST GRATE THE CHEESE YOURSELF.  So so sooooo much more flavor.  Also, use 1% or 2% milk it works better.  For the boys I use 2.  NOTE:  I prefer American Cheese for this recipe.  I’m sure extra sharp cheddar or even a combination of both would be excellent too.  Just haven’t tried it yet.  It can be hard to find a block of American.  Go to the deli counter and ask them to cut you a 6oz. block of it.  I use Boars Head.  
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Boil your noodles!  In another saucepan, combine milk and flour.  Whisk!  
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Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Keep whisking until it thickens.  
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Here it is thickened.  Hard to tell I know but looks much creamier.  
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When milk and flour is thickened add 1 1/4 cup of shredded cheese, 1 TBS of butter, 1/2 TSP salt and 1/4 TSP of black pepper.  
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Stir to combine. 
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Ta-da!  This is what it will look like.  
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Strain your noodles and return back to pan.  Add the cheese mixture and stir.  
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Voila!  Easy and yummy!!  The kids (and adults) will gobble it up.  

 

RECIPE

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (about 6 ounces)
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded american cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
Preparation

Cook pasta according to package directions.  While pasta is cooking, combine milk and flour in a medium saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add cheese, salt, and pepper, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add pasta; toss to coat. Let stand 4 minutes.

 

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