For the better part of two years I’ve been trying to feed my kids real food, nothing from a box, but to be honest we fall off the wagon all the time. It’s almost impossible to completely take processed food out of their diet. Unless I want to homeschool my kids or never let them attend a birthday party, it’s pretty hard to avoid. And homeschooling ain’t gonna happen ever!
As a mom of three I get why fast/processed food has become a staple in so many diets. Life is busy, there’s not a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. It’s easy to see that grabbing a box of food from the pantry would be the more desirable choice. But when I read some of the ingredients on those colorful packages it makes me pause. There must be a way to make slow food a little faster…
Take mac & cheese for example. My kids are convinced that the boxed stuff is the “real mac & cheese.” They actually believe that the orange powder is genuine cheese, not a chemical cheese food with a huge list of ingredients I can barely pronounce.
But I think I’ve found a recipe that’s just as easy to make and tastes way better. No boiling pasta required! I can’t take credit for this idea – I saw it in BonAppetit magazine months ago. It’s as close as possible to the “real thing”. And I’m only using ingredients I can pronounce!
“Real” Mac & Cheese (adapted from BonAppetit)
¼ cup butter, unsalted (1/2 stick)
¼ cup flour
3 cups whole milk, or 2%
1 Tbsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 lb. elbow or ditalini pasta
2 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. (Use a large enough pan to hold six cups of liquid.) Add flour to melted butter and whisk together for about a minute.
Whisk in milk and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook, stirring often, until sauce gets slightly thick and glossy, about 15 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper, remove from heat.
Toss pasta and 1 ½ cups of the cheese in a large shallow baking dish.
Pour milk mixture over the pasta. Do not stir! The pasta should be completely submerged. It will seem like a ton of liquid but don’t worry it will become cheesy and gooey and yummy.
Cover the pasta with foil and bake until pasta is almost tender, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Bake, uncovered until pasta is tender, edges are bubbly, and top is golden brown.
Let sit for 10 minutes, then dive in!
And the VERDICT is:
We were thrilled to have some guest tasters this week-
Big sis (age 8): “Best mac and cheese ever!”
Little sis (age 5): “Thank you so much – we love it”
Mom: “I’m inhaling it too and I was supposed to start a diet today”
No more boxed mac & cheese for us!