I think most of us have a food from our childhood that we would consider a comfort food. For me chocolate chip cookies, mom’s meatloaf with mashed potatoes and the cheap pot pies seem to rank towards to top of my list. One food though really seems to always evoke a childlike comfort more than any other…Mac ‘n Cheese.
Growing up a latch-key kid there weren’t many things that my sister and I could cook alone during the summers or after school. We ate a lot of snack food and things that simply required us to boil water. Hot dogs were great, but mac ‘n cheese was my preferred choice. To this day, seeing the blue box of Kraft takes me back to those summer days lounging in front of the tv (Is it no wonder the battle of the bulge hit me as a kid?!)
With all of the changes going on in my life right now (Qatar has been delayed...maybe up to 2 months!), I started to crave comfort foods. I decided that instead of turning to the ever reliable blue box of Kraft, I would try to expand the comfort food horizon and see if I could find a new version of the delightful pasta and cheese treat. With the recent food truck craze in DC it wasn’t too hard to find one that served mac ‘n cheese. CapMac (http://www.capmacdc.com/) is a mac ‘n cheese lover’s dreams come true. They serve several kinds of macaroni covered in cheese or other sauces, but my taste buds delighted in what they call “Balls Out.” It is their version of mac ‘n cheese with chicken meatballs garnished with crushed Cheez-its. Nirvana! It was so creamy and filling, certainly satisfies the comfort food craving. The only downside is the cost…eating from a DC food truck isn’t cheap! So my quest continued.
I decided that it couldn’t be that difficult to make mac ‘n cheese from scratch at home, and thought I'd try to bake it rather than do a stovetop version. I searched the internet and found the recipe below. It came together easily and was tasty. It’s not perfect…It wasn’t as creamy as I’d hoped for, but I’m sure it could be adapted just a bit to be pure perfection. I liked that this recipe didn’t try to get too fancy. There are a ton of recipes out there that add all kinds of things to the basic mac ‘n cheese. Heck, I was tempted to try adding in some crispy bacon, but wanted to find a good basic recipe before I started to experiment.
Give this one a try. It hit the spot and was just as easy as making mac ‘n cheese from the blue box. It was also easy to reheat and eat as leftovers for a few days.
By the way, what are your comfort foods? Leave me a comment and let me know!
Recipe: Mac ‘n Cheese
From: Very Best Baking
1 2/3 cups (about 7 oz.) dry small elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk
1 cup water
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
PREHEAT oven to 375° F. Grease 2-quart casserole dish.
COMBINE cornstarch, salt, mustard and pepper in medium saucepan. Stir in evaporated milk, water, and butter. Cook over medium-heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in 1½ cups cheese until melted. Add macaroni; mix well. Pour into prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
BAKE for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and light brown.