Sweet And Crumby

Baking, a Love Story

Perfectly Simple Mac N’ Cheese


You know in the movie Bridget Jones’ Diary when Colin Firth says, “I like you just the way you are,”… this Mac N’ Cheese is perfect just the way it is.  It’s simple, and sometimes when the world is a complicated crazy mess, it’s nice to have something that is just basic and wonderful to fall back on– something that is totally itself.

I live near Los Angeles, and pretty much NOTHING is itself around here.  Lips are bigger, boobs are perkier, foreheads are line-free and tans are sprayed on. Everything is enhanced, whitened, brightened, made better than their original versions (so we think).

The new fad diet is the talk of the water cooler chats and no one is seen without their blue tooth, blackberry or iphone which is somehow holstered to their body.  I bet some people have even looked into having them implanted.

Life is way too complex sometimes…people can get ahold of us at home, at the office, in our car, in our sleep, at the movies and possibly even if we are in surgery I suppose.

This weekend was one of those life is crazier than any t.v. show moments.  An E.R. room was involved (everyone is OK now), traveling guests were staying with us (of course…when else would you need to take an all day trip to an emergency room?!), and this was all coming off a super crazy week.  Saturday morning I had dared to say allowed, “Wow, this weekend I am just going to chill out and take it easy.”  HA!  Life had it’s own plan I’m afraid, and the weekend went by in an intense whirl.

Monday, when it was all said and done, and I knew I had three extra kids coming for dinner I was trying to come up with something easy, yummy and not take-out.  We had already done take-out all weekend to make it through.  I instantly thought, Mac N’ Cheese…of course!  It came together in twenty minutes, baked and was served bubbling and hot on the dinner table to “Ooohs and Ahhs”.

Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s not light in the calorie department, but it’s light on labor if that counts for anything.  One pot and one casserole dish, and you are on your way to a melt in your mouth meal.  Add chopped broccoli or edamame beans if you want it to include some real nutrients….then you won’t feel so bad as you chew the soft noodles, decadent sharp cheddar and other creamy sensations that are tantalizing your taste buds.  It was simple, straightforward and to the point, and  I liked it just the way it was.

When I am feeling inundated by the twenty which ways my life is going, it’s so comforting to know I have this super cheesy, super easy mac n’ cheese to bring me back down to earth.

Aunt Kizzy’s Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from the Los Angeles Times.com
Makes about 8-12 side servings (depends on how many sides you are serving and how big of eaters your guests are). To make the size you seen in the casserole dish above, make 1.5 times this recipe).
1/2 lb. macaroni noodles or rigatoni
3 T. unsalted butter
3 T. all purpose flour
2 c.  low-fat or whole (not nonfat) milk HOT (hot is important)
2 1/2 c. grated Cheddar (reserve 1/2 cup for later)
2 c. grated Jack Cheese
3/4 t. salt
1/4 t. white pepper
nonstick cooking spray

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray coat a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cook the macaroni in plenty of rapidly salted (about 1 t. salt) boiling water until tender…above 12 minutes. Drain in a collander and let sit in there in the collander.

Melt the butter in same pot that you cooked the macaroni in over medium heat and whisk in the flour.  Cook, stirring, until the raw flour smell goes away, 2 to 3 minutes.  Heat the milk in a liquid measuring cup in the microwave for about 1 minute +.  Pour the warmed milk into the butter mixture and cook and whisk until smooth.  Add 2  c. Cheddar and 2 c. Jack, salt and white pepper and stir until the cheese melts, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the macaroni. Pour into the spray coated  casserole dish.   Sprinkle with 1/2 c. grated Cheddar and cover with aluminum foil.  Either store it this way in the refrigerator to be baked later in the day (can store this way for 24 hrs.) or bake immediately for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake until lightly browned on top, about 30 minutes more.

14 thoughts on “Perfectly Simple Mac N’ Cheese

  1. I love Mac and Cheese. And this recipe would be perfect for me since I need more calories.

  2. Hi, Geni. This looks like a really good recipe (though I now rely on America’s Test Kitchen’s version – and they even have a light stove-top version!). One thing I’d add is to add plenty of salt to the boiling water for pasta – a trick I’d learned from an Italian-born cook years ago – it ensures that any sort of boiled noodle will have loads of flavour.

    I enjoyed your musings about la vida loca, LA-style….


  3. Hi, Geni! I have tried so many mac n cheese recipes and never quite found THE one. I can’t wait to try this!


  4. Hi Geni,
    I tried it and it is great!
    Thanks for your entertaining dialogue.

  5. Oh sweet sassy. I’m making this tonight! Thanks for the recipe.

  6. Ooooo! Mac and Cheese is probably the culinary love of my life! Nothing says ooey gooey comfort like a spot of great mac and cheese and yours, Geni, looks positively delightful!

  7. I actually plan on making this tonight! However, I’m wondering if there’s an error in the recipe? It says I need 2.5 cups of sharp cheddar and 2 cups of jack cheese which is a total of 4.5 cups of cheese. But in the directions it says to add 3.5 cups of cheddar to the milk mixture and then sprinkle the other half on top in the oven. I’m assuming the 3.5 is really supposed to be 4 cups of cheese? 2 cups of cheddar and 2 cups of jack go in the milk mixture and the .5 of cheddar goes on top??

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