Date Night Dinner: Baked Mac & Cheese

When I was a kid, I hated mac & cheese. I have no idea where that came from, but it took quite a while (and some cartoon shaped noodles) for me to warm up to the idea of mac & cheese. It took even longer for me to move away from the boxed mac & cheese and onto making my own; I mean, the gooey, cheesy shells are just SO good!!

One day, I was standing in line at the grocery store and saw a Weight Watchers recipe magazine with mac & cheese on the front and I thought to myself “I could make that! It’s probably healthier!” I grabbed the magazine, and a few days later got some friends together for my first attempt at homemade baked mac & cheese.

I’ve gotten my mac & cheese down to an almost science now, and I have friends that tell me on the regular “I live for your mac & cheese.”

Baked Mac & Cheese

1 box of your favorite pasta
1 cup of milk
2 tbsp flour
2 8oz bags of your preferred shredded cheese
pinch of salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Optional Additions: Bacon bits or crumbles, shredded chicken or pork, ground beef or turkey, broccoli, ground paprika, oregano, garlic, more cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Bring a pot of water with salt and olive oil to a boil. Add pasta and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes, until your preferred level of done. Once done, drain pasta and set aside.

On low stove setting, combine milk and flour and whisk together until it thickens. Add 1 package of cheese and continue to whisk until cheese is blended together and melted. Add half of the other package, continuing to whisk. If you want your mac & cheese to be more gooey, slowly add more milk as you whisk until desired consistency. Remove from heat.

Combine pasta and cheese and place in an 8″x8″ baking dish. If you’re adding a meat or vegetable to your dish, this is when you’ll want to mix it in.

Sprinkle remaining unmelted cheese over top. If you’re adding paprika, garlic, oregano or any other seasoning, sprinkle on top to create a tasty crust.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is melty.

Personally, I love adding bacon to mine, and if truth be told, there’s usually more than just 2 8oz packages of cheese. I like to get the mixed cheese packages (Italian blend, Mexican blend, etc) as well as a package of plain ol’ cheddar. You can be fancy and use other cheeses too, though!! 

When I make this recipe, I always add paprika, garlic and oregano to the top, as well as parmesan and/or Romano cheese.

The best part about this recipe is that you can serve it as a main course, or you can have it as a side dish! Either way, it’s not your typical boxed mac & cheese, and it is completely customizable to fit your preferences!! 032

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