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The Easiest Mac and Cheese - Every Little Thing

The Easiest Mac and Cheese

Let’s talk about roots. A little throw back, if you will.

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted in forever 12 days. Wow, only 12 days? I guess it could be worse (as in, there’s a Boeing 777 still missing for that exact same amount of time…). Anyway, so as not to compare my lack of blogging to a missing plane (which is a really terrible, horrible situation), let’s just get to it.

It’s been 12 days, so I wanted to give you something amazing to blow the dust off this old blog. Instead, we’re talking about mac and cheese. And that’s where the roots come in.

Just like many of you, I used to come home from school in the 4th grade, turn on Saved By the Bell (pretty sure TBS played approximately 27 episodes in a row on weekdays), and change into comfy clothes (you mean my plaid Catholic school skirt wasn’t comfortable? Don’t tell the nuns). And before Zack Morris could call Kelly on his mammoth cell phone, I had to have a snack. And odds are, I’d grab the blue box and start “cooking.”

Yep, that’s the one. No shame!

Now that I’m a grownup (well, let’s put bunny ears around that and say “grownup”), I know the merits of homemade mac and cheese with a crunchy topping. Though I eat my fair share of Back to Nature and Annie’s brand, when I found this recipe I realized that it truly doesn’t have to take any more time to make my old after school favorite from scratch.

Easiest Mac and Cheese | everylittlethingblog.com

One more way this post is all about my roots – no fancy camera stuff going on here. I didn’t make this recipe to blog about it, I made it because we were craving mac and cheese. I didn’t think the recipe would turn into anything special but thank goodness it did, because now I can’t live without it.

So check out my instagram mac and make this the next time you come home from work and can’t find the blue box in your pantry.

The Easiest Mac and Cheese

Serving Size: Serves 4 (as a side)

Adapted from Rachael Ray, this is the easiest homemade mac and cheese you could ever ask for!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb rigatoni (or other medium-large sized pasta shape)
  • 3 cups shredded cheese (1 each Gruyere, Gouda, and cheddar makes a spectacular mix)
  • 2 tbsp unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp butter, quartered

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a medium-sized casserole dish with nonstick spray (or rub sides with extra butter). Make pasta according to package directions. Drain when al dente.
  2. In a large bowl, mix 3 cups of cheese with flour and mustard, paprika, and garlic powder. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper and toss to combine. Add hot (but drained) pasta and again, toss to combine. Scoop into casserole dish.
  3. Pour milk over macaroni mixture in casserole dish. In previously used bowl, mix Panko with Parmesan. Pour evenly over macaroni mixture until covered. Top with squares of butter and bake for 45 minutes. If top starts to brown too much for your liking, cover with foil and continue to bake.
  4. After removing from oven, let set for 10 minutes in order to thicken before serving.
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When I saw there was flour involved in this recipe, it seemed like most other homemade mac and cheese recipes that might require a roux, or a thickened sauce of some sort.

Guess what? This is Rachael Ray. This is a 30-minute meal. Ain’t nobody got time for a roux!

She suggests buying bagged shredded cheese and mixing the dry ingredients right there int he bag. Please don’t do that. Please buy good cheese and grate it yourself. It is literally the most difficult part of the whole recipe, so watch those knuckles and get to gratin’.

Other than the bagged cheese fiasco, this recipe is golden. I doubted it – mix the pasta with the dry ingredients, then just dump milk over the top? But it worked! And Rachael’s didn’t come with crunchy topping but mine does, so you can thank me for that later.

Tell me, what was your after school comfort food? And tell me you watched Saved By the Bell on TBS for three hours in a row?

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