This week was a doozy! Today marked the 6th day my kids were home, yes, 6th day, I did not stutter! Let me run it down for you:
Saturday & Sunday: Weekend
Monday: President's Day
Tuesday: Snow in the morning , school didn't delay or close but I refused to drive on our untreated roads. However, my judgment was good because then the district released kids at 1 and ENCOURAGED parents to pick them up early if they could. Yeah, no thanks, we'll stay put.
Wednesday: Snow, school closed.
Thursday: Snow was still coming down Wednesday night and Thursday morning, roads were covered again. 2 hour delay by the district but there was still snow falling, so again I vowed a big fat NO! I didn't feel like schlepping my kids in the snow, not my thing.
So here we are, 6 days of my children at home...all 3...and my husband because well he had the same weekend schedule + President's Day and he can work from home, so he did. So it was a FULL HOUSE! In theory, I had all this time on my hands, no rushing kids around from here or there, I honestly barley left the house most of those days. I could have finished all the laundry, reorganized closets and drawers or any number of things. Oh, I forgot to mention, we also gutted our main bathroom (fun times!) Truth be told, some of those things happened but the majority of the time I was cooking the next meal, or getting the next snack, then cleaning up, over and over and over.
On the upside, I was basically in my PJs for the last 6 days, not even my nice going out yoga pants, my actual PJ bottoms, the ratty ones with paint on them and stained tank tops...yeah! I'm not sure if that's an accomplishment or not. I was definitely comfy! What else do people do on snow days? I think it's only natural to stay in PJs and bake, PJs and baking! I did do some baking and quite a bit of cooking. Like this homemade Mac & Cheese that is so incredibly delicious. It is the perfect snow day food, so comforting especially after playing in the snow.
The Good Stuff
Mac & Cheese is as classic as pizza in America. It's a classic American comfort food. Who doesn't love pasta smothered in gooey delicious cheese? Before getting to the gooey cheese, there needs to be a base and the most perfect base is actually French, Béchamel sauce. Béchamel sauce, also called white sauce, is made of a white roux (flour and butter) and milk. This creamy sauce is the ticket to a perfect Mac & Cheese and also a wonderful sauce to learn to make for many different meals.
Next is your noodle. What's the best noodle for Mac & Cheese? Elbow or Shell? Your choice! Today I picked these adorable Italian Campenelle by Private Selection, they are a cross between a shell and elbow but I really love the little ridges on each one. Search the aisle for the noodle that calls your name.
Then the cheese, mmmmm! Cheese is a beautiful thing and you need the right cheeses for the perfect Mac & Cheese. Always go with a cheese that has a good melting point, classic would be a cheddar and mozzarella mix. You can also use any variety of these cheeses: gruyere, colby, monterey jack, pepper jack, or provolone in place of the cheddar. The mozzarella is really to give it that nice gooey stretch and stringiness but doesn't hold a lot of flavor. I used Tillamook Cheddar Jack, which has a blend of medium cheddar and monterey jack. I also added mozzarella and some smoked cheddar for a little smokey flavor.
Top it all off with some panko breadcrumbs and you have a classic and delicious Mac & Cheese. I love the panko bread crumbs because they are much lighter and get super crispy. You can find them in the Asian section of your grocery store.
You can find all the steps to make this delicious, kid friendly and approved meal below. As always, I love seeing your creations. Don't forget to tag me on Instagram @CosettesKitchen or post on my Facebook Page.
|Prep Time||20 minutes|
|Cook Time||20 minutes|
- 1 lb Elbow or Shell pasta noodle
- 13 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
- 10 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 8 cups whole milk can use 2%, but whole is preferred
- 2 cups shredded medium cheddar/monterey jack mix can sub other cheeses mentioned above
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 cup smoked cheddar can sub another cup of mozzarella for a less smokey/milder flavor
- ⅔ cup panko bread crumbs
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- kosher salt & pepper to taste **only salt AFTER cheese has been added
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Boil pasta according to package directions less 1 minute in a salted pot of water. Drain, add back to pot with 1 tablespoon butter. Set aside.
- In another heavy bottomed pot begin making your Béchamel sauce. Cut 10 tablespoons of butter and place in pot on medium heat. Add in 10 tablespoons of flour and whisk to create your roux.
- Once your roux (flour and butter) has thickened and bubbled, slowly begin adding your milk, whisking as you add.
- Continue to add the remaining milk and continue to whisk while pot is on medium-high heat. Whisking continuously is important so the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Whisk until the sauce comes to a boil, once it begins to boil, remove from heat.
- Add your shredded cheeses to the sauce and finally your cooked pasta.
- Mix until combined.
- Add pepper and salt to taste, note that many cheeses are salty so you may not need as much.
- Pour your macaroni mixture into a 9x13 pan or cast iron skillet.
- Prepare your panko topping by melting 2 tablespoons of butter then add in your panko and garlic powder. Top your macaroni pan with the breadcrumb mixture.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes and do a quick broil on the top for the breadcrumbs to brown.
- Remove and serve warm. Enjoy!