Baked Mac and Cheese

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppI've made many versions of Macaroni and Cheese with different types of pasta and cheeses, but the basics are a thick creamy white sauce, cheese, pasta and crunchy topping.  It's a great side dish with burgers, chicken, ham, or a meal by itself!

Sometimes I add leftover chopped ham.  If I'm making it for grandkids, I leave out the cayenne and tabasco sauce.  It's one of those recipe you can experiment with, especially with the toppings or types of cheese used.  

I've topped it with buttered panko or bread crumbs, even buttered bread cubes.  It really depends on what I have on hand, which is usually elbow macaroni, bread crumbs, and Cheddar cheese.

Baked Mac and Cheese
3 Tabs. butter
3 Tabs. flour
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
Dash of Tabasco sauce
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 pound elbow pasta, cooked al dente, cooled with cold water and drained
1/2 cup bread crumbs, mixed with some melted butter
2-3 slices cooked diced bacon
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
optional: serve with a dollop of sour cream and/or more Parmesan on top
Preheat oven to 350.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppUploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Boil water and cook pasta (al dente, about 3 minutes short of fully done): cool, drain and set aside. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, stirring and cook for 1 minute to make a thick paste (roux) don't brown.

 Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil while stirring as mixture becomes thick. Continue stirring while adding mustard, nutmeg, cayenne, salt, pepper, hot sauce. Stir in the 2 cups of Cheddar until it melts.

Mix drained pasta into cheese sauce to combine and pour into 2 quart greased casserole dish, or individual smaller one-serving casserole dishes. Sprinkle buttered crumbs, bacon and Parmesan on to top. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

Makes 6-8 servings.  Recipe can easily be doubled for a larger gathering.

Estimated cost: $4.20 or less; .70 cents a serving or less.

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