Sunday, October 3, 2010

Baked macaroni and cheese

As you may well know, I have been busy cooking and freezing meals for the past couple of weeks. I did this while pregnant with Charlotte too and it made life so much easier in those weeks following the birth of a new baby. Dan and I counted and thus far I have 12 casseroles which easily will be 36 meals since there is no way we could polish off a casserole in one sitting. I have intentions of making 6 more casserole dish meals between now and Thursday.....unless I have this baby sooner! I've done this process 2 different ways: devoting specific cooking time solely to making these meals, and also making a meal for dinner but preparing an extra to freeze. I have to say that the latter is the easier and makes more sense and in the future that's what I'll do exclusively.

Tonight I made Perfect Baked Macaroni and's a Martha Stewart recipe. I was able to get one whole dish in the freezer and the other one we ate for dinner, and will eat a few more times this week. It was really easy, and really delicious. VERY cheesy! Charlotte is totally my little foodie and loves to help with whatever she can in the kitchen. I let her help me grate the cheese and was pleasantly surprised with how well she did. She was actually able to grate the cheese and she didn't grate any of her fingers! Awesome. She also did a good deal of cheese thievery. Girl loves her some queso!

Here's the recipe if you're interested:


Serves 12
6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated pecorino Romano
1 pound elbow macaroni

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread pieces in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

2. Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
3. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup pecorino Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.

4. Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer's directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup pecorino Romano; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.

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