Friday, October 19, 2012

Mack and Cheese

This post goes out to my friends, the Mackeys.  When I asked for feedback, they answered back looking for a version of mac and cheese.  Now, mac and cheese is one of my most favorite comfort foods, but to be totally honest, I often turn to it in a time crunch, and it usually comes in a box...  

Uhg, I know, right?!  But when someone mentioned it again, it triggered a memory of an old recipe I had from my former MIL.  She made some really tasty casseroles, and I decided to take an old standby and spice it up a little bit.  Literally.  So, I will just go ahead and say, I think this is going to have a kick to it, so if you are making it for the kids, or you just can't take the heat, I'll make some suggestions for substitutions ;) I also tried to make some healthy choices, but again, feel free to use whatever version of these ingredients you have on hand.


2 c. whole wheat macaroni (or regular)
4 Tbsp. butter
4Tbsp. wheat flour (I will use white next time, I didn't love the texture of wheat)
1/2 an onion diced
1 tsp. dry mustard
pepper to taste
2 c. milk (I had 1%)
1 c. frozen peas
1 c. cubed chicken with jalapeno sausage (2 links) or substitute cubed, cooked ham
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. shredded havarti with horseradish and chives (or whatever cheese you like)
parmesan cheese for the top

Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees and get a large pot of salted water boiling.  Once it's boiling, add the pasta and cook about 2 minutes less than recommended on the box.  While that is cooking, heat a medium saute pan over medium heat and add the butter and your onions.  Once they are soft, whisk in the flour.  
Then stir in the mustard, pepper, milk, and 
cheese. Stir this all together and let it thicken up.  
While the sauce is thickening, chop up your sausage, and I like to brown it a little before adding it all together.  
Just saute it over med/high heat in a tiny bit of butter.  

Drain your pasta, toss in the peas, and then pour the sausage, pasta, and peas into your cheese sauce.  (This makes clean up much easier, because the saucey pan is the messiest already :)

Pour everything into a casserole dish and shave parmesan cheese over the top and bake with the lid on for 15 minutes.  Then remove the lid and cook for an additional 15 minutes and enjoy!

Side notes.  This meal is really tasty, but using the whole wheat pasta and flour definitely makes it taste a little healthier.  If you don't usually like the taste/texture of the whole wheat, don't use it!  This won't hide it like a heavy tomato sauce might.  I will probably stick to white flour next time.  Oh, and after eating it, it's not nearly as spicy as I imagined...  Maybe next time I'll add a little more heat :) I also might double the sausage next time, I found myself searching for it a little too much.

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