It is fall and colder than I like it to be! I am more of a warm-weather girl! But the one positive about the colder weather is making some yummy comfort food! Instead of coming home from work and running out to play disc golf or ride my bike – I am in the kitchen making something to warm us up!
One meal I have always loved is macaroni & cheese! I grew up eating my mother’s homemade mac & cheese and of course the Kraft box version. Which now does not taste that good but growing up I adored it! Just ask my Aunt Pat as she remembers how I loved Kraft mac & cheese! I must have talked about it a lot for her to remember that. I had a narrow range of food back then whereas now I am much more adventurous in trying different foods.
I am always trying new recipes and I put one together that came out pretty good. I will give you the rough recipe since I tend to improvise when I cook. I use the recipe as a guideline but do not follow it exactly. It is kind of how I test software. I write out test suggestions but based upon what I am seeing I go off into different directions. I hope you enjoy this recipe and you find a way to adapt it – and if you do – let me know!
Ingredients I like to use…
10 ounces whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta – cook per package instructions – I like elbow but you can experiment with other noodles
1 Package frozen cauliflower – cooked and chopped – or whatever vegetable(s) you like
4 cups 1 % Milk
4 tbsp Flour
Over medium heat, whisk flour into milk – continue to whisk until it starts to thicken. Be careful not to boil the mixture.
2 tsp Mustard Powder
½ to 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
½ to 1 tsp Salt
½ tsp Black Pepper
1 ½ – 2 cups Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
½ cup Gruyere Cheese, shredded (or any hard cheese that is similar)
Mix the above ingredients into the milk mixture – starting with the dried spices and seasonings. Slowly add your cheese – be sure to cook over a low heat. You do not want to burn the cheese mixture!
1 ½ cups Sourdough Croutons, crushed to whatever size you like
3 tbsp Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 tbsp Olive Oil
If I have any Gruyere cheese left I might add it into the mixture
Mix topping ingredients together.
Spray a medium size casserole dish with a no-stick, fat-free spray. Pour drained pasta into the casserole dish. Add some of your sauce, and then mix in your cauliflower or the vegetable you are using. Mix in your remaining sauce.
Evenly distribute your topping.
Bake, uncovered in a 375-degree oven for about 40 – 45 minutes! Let cool for a few minutes and serve! This dish stores well and reheats nicely! I recommend making it in a large batch because you want leftovers.
Plus to save time, I cook my cauliflower a day earlier, grate my cheese, and pound my croutons to the size I like. Then when I make the dish, I measure out my ingredients since once I start my sauce I do not want my milk to burn. So having everything ready and in my reach is important.