Cooking Up New Family Favorites: Homemade Mac-n-Cheese

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Recently, my son came home from college to spend a couple of days with us. Being mildly obsessed with cooking and overly excited to see my son, I asked him within 10 minutes of his arrival, “what can I cook you for dinner?” I got the typical 15-21 year old response, “I don’t know.” I’m used to that phrase, but I’ve never had it applied to food in our house. To my surprise, he rejected all of the old family standby recipes I suggested. Confused and curious, I thought who is this young man standing in front of me who just rejected his favorite childhood foods? I even pulled out the golden ticket; melt in your mouth mama’s famous BBQ-ribs….which were rejected too. My son and his taste buds are changing! How exciting!

I felt this surge of excitement as I realized this was an opportunity to make something new! I quickly grabbed the nearest food magazine, which happened to be, a copy of Everyday Foods from 2008, the October issue. Randomly, I flipped open to a recipe for homemade sea food macaroni and cheese, I now had his full attention, because he really dislikes most sea food. At least I was getting more than a shoulder shrug. This gave me an idea. I had never made plain homemade macaroni and cheese before. I quickly thought; what goes with mac-n-cheese? Slow roasted ham? A perfect fall dinner combo! So, I suggested with confidence, “how about, mac-n-cheese with a slow roasted ham shoulder?” I didn’t get much more than a “sure,” but I was excited to make something new!

Mac-n cheese is very easy to make, however, I’ve never been a fan of it, because it wasn’t flavorful enough for me. I quickly paged through my favorite cookbooks to find a recipe that would wow the socks off my own taste buds for a change. Not finding anything that looked flavorful enough, I decided to go at it on my own by combining multiple recipes together. I was more than pleased with the results. I now think mac-n-cheese will be on the “new” family favorites list.

As for my son, he loved it and ate 4 enormous helpings for dinner that night. I, on the other hand knew I had scored, because when I opened the fridge the next morning, all I could think of for breakfast was…mac-n-cheese!

Easy Homemade Mac-N-Cheese

3/4 lb. elbow macaroni, cooked 2 minutes less than al dente in salted water
6 tablespoons of butter
1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
3 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Topping-
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1/2 tsp garlic salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large sauce pan, melt the butter and sauté the onion until tender, 3-5 minutes. Add the flour to the butter and onion; cook while stirring for one minute. Add milk; whisk until thick. Bring to a boil and simmer 2-3 minutes. Add salt, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard. Remove pan from heat and stir in cheese until melted. Pour into a 9×13 glass casserole pan.s

In another small bowl, combined parmesan cheese, panko, garlic salt and melted butter. Sprinkle over the top of the mac-n-cheese. Bake until topping is golden brown and sides are bubbling, about 20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 8 fully grown adults or 3 growing boys and one mom.

They never save me any of the good stuff!

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