Emily invited her readers to share their favorite recipes so as to give each other a bunch of new ideas. Sometimes I think that Emily and I live parallel lives because so often she posts something that has been on my mind for days, such as this. I need some new dinner ideas as bad as Disney needs some new animated feature ideas. So, without further ado, I give you one of my go-to recipes. It is easy, breezy, and practically fool-proof.
My mom’s better-than-the-box macaroni and cheese
When I was a kid, one of my favorite meals was macaroni and cheese. I loved it when my mom had five boxes of the no-name black and white boxes sitting on the counter ready to prepare for our party of ten. I was always begging to dump the beautiful, powdery, gritty cheese all over the moistened noodles at the end.
There were other times when my mom made homemade macaroni and cheese that was a golden-creamy color, bubbling at the edges and rich with flavor. I turned up my nose at that; I preferred the toxic stuff. (I can’t believe I didn’t get smacked more as a child.) BUT—once I grew up, I realized the error of my ways and fell in love with this recipe. You’ll never buy the boxed stuff again, unless it’s for the babysitter. (Wow, that was a lot of “ado” after all that talk about no further ado. Sorry.)
Butter (Don’t all the best recipes start out this way?)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can Cream of Anything (I use Mushroom, Chicken, or Celery)
2 cups of shredded cheese (I like a sharp cheddar)
2 c. elbow macaroni noodles, dry
Ritz crackers, crushed (Or bread crumbs, or nothing)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cook your noodles as directed. In a saucepan melt a couple pats of butter, then saute your onions until they are transparent. (Note: If you hate onions, you can omit them entirely, you wussy.) Add your can of Cream of Happiness and stir. Fill your empty soup can full of milk and add it to the sauce. Stir again. Once that’s all mixed together, slowly add in your shredded cheese and stir until the sauce is a beautiful creamy orange color and you are forced to stick one of your fingers into it and lick it off with glee.) About this time your noodles should be fully cooked. Drain them and dump them in a trusty 9×13 baking dish. Pour your sauce all over the noodles and kind of stir it all up together in the dish. Put it in the oven for about 25 minutes. You can even cover it if you’re one of those people who can tell the difference between stuff that’s been covered for 25 minutes. When you’re timer beeps, you’ll want to pull it from the oven and bury your face right into the dish like a St. Bernard, but you can’t yet. First of all, it’s too hot. My brother Lyle got third degree burns one time from doing that. Secondly, you’re not quite done yet. Take your crackers or bread crumbs and sprinkle them all over the top and put the dish back in the oven for five more minutes, uncovered. This will give you a buttery, crunchy crust.
Take it out of the oven and serve it up. You will be very popular, so get ready for all sorts of accolades. Unless you are serving snot-nosed kids who prefer cheese made from powder. (But don’t forget that those kids will grow up into sweet, thoughtful adults one day. Probably.)
For the past few years I have been making this recipe using Kraft Fat-Free Cheddar Cheese, 98% Fat Free Soup, and skim milk. It works. It doesn’t taste nearly as good, but I feel much less guilty when I accidentally eat 3/4 of the dish myself.
Now, what’s your go-to recipe?