My family loves, loves good old-fashioned baked macaroni and cheese. But that's a recipe that I don't make for lunch -- it's a little more involved than I like to get into for lunch when we are sometimes schooling right through the lunch hour. I love this recipe for a quick mac 'n' cheese, but sometimes for lunch my kids beg me (I mean it) not to make the kind with veggies. O.k., sometimes you just want simple comfort food without the veggies.
Rachel Ray's Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese is just right for a quick comfy lunch without the neon orange cheese that comes in the blue box. It's soft and creamy and very cheesy. I call it the Number 2 Mac 'n' Cheese because all the ingredients come in twos -- super easy to remember. It does call for 2 cups of half and half and when I read that the first time my arteries gave me a gratuitous squeeze. I do use half and half, but I water it down -- about 1 1/4 cups half and half with the rest of the two cup measure being water. It tastes just as yummy. I'm sure you could use milk as well, just don't use a really low fat milk (fat = flavor). Don't forget to taste and salt and pepper at the end, and if your people like a little spice, add a dash of cayenne pepper. I use an 8 oz. block of sharp cheddar cheese shredded in the mini cuisinart and reserve a little to put on top of each serving.
Number 2 Stovetop Mac 'n' Cheese
2 cups elbow macaroni
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
2 cups half-and-half, warmed
8-ounce bag shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan of boiling, salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente; drain in a colander.
In the same saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the warmed half-and-half and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is steaming hot and thick, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheddar until melted. Stir in the cooked macaroni and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Source: Rachel Ray .