Friday, January 27, 2012

home made mac n' cheese with peas

I posted this photo of a yummy family favorite the other night, and had several requests of the recipe, so I thought I'd go ahead and post!

Creamy Mac n' Cheese with Peas

1 pound of your favorite noodles
1/2 pound frozen petite peas

Cook the noodles according to the package instructions, and when they're almost done, add the peas in to cook as well. The water will stop boiling, but just wait! It'll come back to a boil, and cook beautifully. When the noodles are cooked al dente, drain everything in a strainer and toss into your favorite baking dish, 9x13 or larger. Preheat your oven to 400.

While my noodles are cooking, I usually start on my cheese sauce.

2-3/4 c. organic, 2% milk
6 oz. medium cheddar cheese, shredded at home
3 T. butter
1/3 c. flour
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
ritz crackers

Before I get started, just wanted to mention a note on the cheese. I use medium cheddar because it gives more flavor for what you use. Bottom line. Flavor is good. :) Why the shred at home? The pre-shredded stuff is packaged with a powder to keep the pieces from sticking together. When you add that powder to the sauce, it changes how it tastes and how creamy the sauce is. Basically - yuck. Once you get used to shredding, it only takes a minute or two anyway. :) Details, people!

Pour the milk into a medium saucepan, and heat over medium level heat on the stovetop, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick on the bottom. This is when I shred my cheese. When the milk begins to steam, sprinkle the shredded cheese into the heated milk (keeping a small handful back to sprinkle on top before baking), and whisk until it's melted. Pull the milk/cheese mixture off of the burner for a second, and melt the butter in the microwave. Sprinkle the flour into the melted butter, and whisk together to make a roux to thicken the sauce.

Pull the milk/cheese mixture back onto the heat at a low temp, and make sure the mixture is warm. Whisk the butter/flour mixture into the warm milk/cheese mixture a little bit at a time. Season with salt and pepper. Sir until the mixture is at a low simmer, just a couple of moments. Pour over the noodles and peas in your baking dish, sprinkle with the reserved cheese, and top with a handful of crusted ritz crackers.

Pop into your preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, just until things bubble a bit and the cheese on top is melted. Remove from the oven and enjoy!

Believe me, make this a few times, and it's 45 minutes to prep AND bake. Hope you and your family love it!

Oh, as a side note - we don't eat much meat around here, but I do a lot of times add bits of ham into this dish! You just have to be sure to adjust your salt, so that the end dish isn't too salty!

Post if you have any questions! I'm happy to help!

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