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Comforting Macaroni and Cheese

When I was a kid, Kraft mac-n-cheese was one of my all-time favorite side dishes. As I grew older, I realized there were other ways to prepare macaroni that was more flavorful and satisfying. Pasta is a great substitute to potatoes with most any entree.

As far as comfort food goes, this has to be my favorite all time recipe. Couple it with southern-style green beans and my Grandma's southern fried chicken and you've got a meal!

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups uncooked elbow macaroni noodles
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 Cup canned milk
  • 2 Cup half and half
  • 1/2 Teaspoon paprika
  • 1 Teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 Cups sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 Cup Colby cheese
  • 1 Cup mild cheddar cheese
  • 1 Cup gouda cheese
  • 16 Ounces cream cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook macaroni in boiling salted water according to package directions.
  3. Drain well.
  4. Set aside.
  5. Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat.
  6. Use a whisk to blend in flour.
  7. Stir constantly until bubbly and smooth.
  8. Gradually stir in milk, half and half and cheeses.
  9. Cook 2-3 minutes or until cheeses have melts and the mixture thickens.
  10. Remove from heat.
  11. Add paprika, pepper and salt to taste.
  12. Add macaroni.
  13. Stir until well mixed.
  14. Pour into 9 x 13 baking pan.
  15. Top with home make croutons.
  16. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.

Homemade macaroni gets even better if there is time to bake it with homemade croutons. I like to take a loaf of sourdough French bread and cut it into 1-inch cubes. Spread the cubes onto a large baking dish. Take a pastry brush and cover each side with melted butter and garlic salt. Place them under the broiler until lightly toasted, flip and toast the backside of the bread. Place on top of macaroni halfway through baking. The croutons make a crunchy, buttery addition to an old-time favorite.

If I am making the macaroni the main dish, I often fry up a pound of thick-cut peppered bacon and crumble it on top of the macaroni before adding the croutons. It adds nice flavor and protein to the recipe. Cubed ham can also used to add variety.

 

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