Updated: Mar 20
Well, for many of you, fall means, school, sports, music, meetings, and anything that can fit into that short amount time between sleeping. So here is the mac and cheese I make anytime I feel “lazy” about dinner. And honestly, it’s not much harder than the powder stuff in the box and tastes WAY better (want to sneak in a veggie? add purred carrots! your little ones will never know).
8 oz of Elbow Macaroni
4 oz of Cream Cheese cubed
8 oz of Cheddar Cheese shredded
3 tbsp olive oil/butter (about)
2 cups Whole milk (about)
1/2 cup of pasta water
1/4 tsp mustard powder
Seasoning Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup of pureed carrots (optional)
First things first, you’ll need to cook your pasta. I realize for many this is a no brainer, but for anyone new to cooking, I’m putting it out there. If you’ve never cooked pasta before, follow the directions on you pasta box carefully. You want the pasta to be 2 minutes less than al dente (that means that if you bite into a noodle it’ll be soft outside, but a little hard in the middle).
While your pasta is cooling you can take a minute and cube your cream cheese. It’s ok if it gets warm, it’ll just melt faster.
Once your pasta is done, you will want to take out about 1 cup of the pasta water. I suggest, putting a larger than 1 cup Heat safe liquid measuring cup in the sink, then put your strainer on top and pour the pot of pasta CAREFULLY into the strainer, the measuring cup should catch plenty of water. Please be VERY CAREFUL! The measuring cup will be very hot because you just poured BOILING HOT WATER over it.
For now, just let the pasta and water sit in the sink.
Turn heat to medium and place the same pot you cooked the pasta in on the burner. Add butter/olive oil. Once hot/melted, add the cream cheese. Mix around until melted.
Slowly add the milk while continuously whisking. Next, add mustard powder. To add a little color and veg to it, add about 1/4 cup of pureed carrots (this is optional).
Add half a cup of the pasta water to the sauce. Stir until incorporated. Save the rest of the pasta water, just in case*. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Add the noodles to the sauce and stir until completely mixed, then turn off the heat.
Add 3/4 of the cheddar cheese to the mixture, fold until fairly mixed together.
Top with remaining cheese.
Things to keep in mind…
Add salt to the boiling water before cooking the pasta (you need to add a good amount so the pasta has good flavor as well.
Make sure you’re pasta is slightly less done than al dente so it doesn’t over cook as you continue cooking the pasta after you make the sauce. It will also cook a little in the strainer as it waits for you to add it back into the pot.
*the reserve water is just in case the pasta sits for a little. if you add the water to it as it gets thick and clumpy it’ll re-constitute.
ENJOY and Share!
I love seeing friends and family come together over a special meal and fun food.
All images © 2016 Jenn Smith of Smith Country, LLC
All rights reserved. You may not sell, trade, share or redistribute this recipe in any way. You may NOT use any of my photographs for your site. You may link this post to a list of recipes, giving credit for the recipe to myself and my site. ©2016 Jenn Smith of Smith Country, LLC