I grew up with homemade mac & cheese. Soon after my husband and I met, I realized that he grew up eating that orange box kind and I was completely shocked to find out that he craved it (secretly, I have to admit my kids like it too!) My mom was an excellent cook but when I was young she was too overwhelmed to do very much of it. For some reason mac & cheese was one thing she always made from scratch and it was high on my list of favorites.
Sadly my mom became very sick before my husband and I had even celebrated our one year anniversary and passed away soon after. Life changed pretty quickly for me. In those moments when you have a loved one that is sick these are the things you don't think to ask for or even remember - until it's too late. I distinctly remember my mom wanting to teach me how to make gravy on what she felt would be her last Christmas but I didn't want to hear it, I waved her away, refusing to believe what she was feeling....she didn't think to leave me her Mac & Cheese recipe. I used to pore over cookbooks looking for a dish that tasted just like hers. Low and behold a recipe that is nearly identical to my mom's ended up being in a cookbook that was on my shelf for years! Wouldn't you know, it wasn't a fancy recipe, just the basics. This is now a staple in my monthly meal rotation and my whole family cheers when they know it's on the menu.
I always double this recipe and bake in a deep 10" x 15" glass dish because we love leftovers. You could certainly double and split into 2 dishes. I have been know to do that too-one to freeze or one to share. Be sure to scrape all those crusty bits off the sides - my favorite part!
Make often & ENJOY.
*Note: This recipe can easily be made gluten free. Substitute rice noodles for regular pasta and cornstarch for flour. I actually prefer this way and almost always make this version!
The Most Delicious Macaroni & Cheese
- 8 ounce package of penne pasta
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (8 oz) extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- Cook pasta & set aside
- Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth
- Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly
- Gradually add milk to the butter & flour mixture, cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick & bubbly; remove from heat.
- Add in salt & cheese, stirring until cheese is melted
- Stir macaroni into cheese sauce and pour into a greased 2 quart baking dish
- Sprinkle with paprika
- Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 25 - 35 minutes or until bubbly.
Adapted From The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook