When the weather turns colder, and the daylight hours are shrinking rapidly, and the leaves are all over the ground, my thoughts usually turn to comfort food. My number one comfort food is homemade pizza. A close second is macaroni and cheese.
My sister is a mac and cheese nut. She used to make it all the time when I was growing up. It was a very simple recipe. Whenever I make it now, I usually tend to mix in assorted ingredients and spices as my mood dictates as well as using what is on hand.
I had a craving for mac and cheese the other day and this is what I did. I knew I was going to have a lot but also knew I could freeze some for another dark and miserable day.
- 1 lb bacon
- 2 onions. Peeled and diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 containers of mushrooms, washed and thickly sliced
- 2 red peppers, cored and thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 3 tablespoons of flour
- 2-3 cups of milk
- 4 – 5 cups of grated cheese, divided – I used old white cheddar, medium orange cheddar and smoked white cheddar,
- 4 cups of macaroni noodles, cooked in salted boiling water for 8 minutes.
Chop the bacon into 1/2 inch pieces. In a large pot, cook the bacon until just crisp. Drain and reserve the drippings, set bacon aside. Reheat the bacon drippings in the same pot and add the onions, stirring for 4 minutes until soft and golden. Add in the garlic, mushrooms and peppers and cook stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are golden, about 8 minutes. Remove to a separate bowl.
In the same pot, melt the butter over medium high heat. When hot, add in the flour and cook stirring constantly for at least 1 minute. Add in the milk a cup at a time, stirring until incorporated before adding more milk. The white sauce will thicken up each time after adding the milk and when the sauce is the consistency of a soup, you have added enough milk.
Stir in half of the grated cheese and then add in the cooked vegetables and bacon. Next, stir in the cooked macaroni. Now you are ready to divide the macaroni mixture between the pan you will be cooking for dinner and the pans you will be putting in the freezer for a later date. Cover the dishes with the rest of the grated cheese adding more if required. You can even sprinkle some parmesan on top for good measure. Wrap and freeze the extra pans.
For the pan of macaroni for dinner, pour in a little milk, about half a cup until you can see the milk creeping up the inside of the pan. Bake in a 350º oven for about 40 minutes until the macaroni is bubbling and the cheese is golden brown.
Oh boy, my mouth is watering as I write this. The recipe was a hit except for a certain individual picking out the mushrooms. Do you have one of these in your household? I guess I should not complain as there were extra mushrooms for me!