Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bring Out Your Inner Child

It all started Tuesday last week when the boys and I came in from outside to see water on the kitchen floor. The dishwasher had leaked. By Friday it was fixed (corroded coupler) and we were off to the cottage for the long weekend. Saturday was rainy but it was nice to finally be at the cabin. We built a fire in the wood stove to stay toasty warm, and watched a couple movies. My boys have taken to the movie "Caddyshack". They laugh at the gopher everytime. Sunday we spent a beautiful day landscaping and was settling in for the boys' bedtime routine. In the middle of our movie, the TV died... just died. I did what I could, but I'm afraid she's lost.

We made an early escape Monday and started the chore of unpacking, laundry and re-packing for the following week. Tuesday my youngest woke up with a sore stomache and was sick shortly thereafter. And to top things off, my van didn't start. My darling husband came to the rescue and came home from work to boost the car, then I was off to the mechanic for a new battery.

While driving with white knuckles all the way to the garage, all I could think about was all the things I needed to get done that day. Groceries, laundry, dinner and soccer snack. Luckily Jack was on the mend. So what's for dinner. I need something easy. I need something I could make with what's in my house already. But most importantly, I need something that will make me feel better. Yes, mom's need comfort food too. Today was a Mac & Cheese day!

My mom didn't make scratch Mac & Cheese. I don't know why. She just didn't. Probably because her mom didn't. So, this recipe is a variation of my mother-in-law's Mac & Cheese. I made it in the afternoon so I could just through it in the oven when it was dinner time, and I could have the mess cleaned up before we left for soccer. You can certainly make this the night before. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

Baked Mac & Cheese with Bacon

2-3 T butter
2-3 T flour
1 can evaporated milk (skim or low-fat)
2 C sharp cheddar, grated
1 T dry mustard powder
1 t smoked paprika
1 package elbow macaroni, cooked- I use whole wheat
4-5 slices cooked bacon, chopped

In a large sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the flour and mix for a couple minutes. This creates a roux and will thinken the sauce. Add the can of milk and whisk until smooth. I like to use the canned milk because some of the liquid has already evaporated and makes the sauce that much quicker.

Once the sauce is smooth, add the cheese gradually. Add the mustard powder and paprika. I'm using smoked paprika because I am adding the bacon. It just adds to the smokiness. You could use regular paprika too. Add the cheese sauce to the cooked macaroni and stir to coat. Pour into a greased baking dish and top with chopped bacon pieces.

Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until bubbly. If you are cooking it from the fridge, it may need a little longer. Serve with a salad. This isn't the healthies thing I've made, but I have made ingredient choices to make it less sinful. After all, they don't call it comfort food for nothing. This classic dish gives you a hug from the inside to make you smile on the outside. The stresses of the day (or week as it were) are melted away and replaced with cheesy goodness.


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