Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Easy Skillet Mac n Cheese

I'm back! Did you miss me? If this is your first time here, welcome! I'm pretty sure the only people who read this are relatives and old room mates. If that's you then know that I miss you. Come visit Idaho. It's beautiful and I promise there will be yummy food involved! If you don't fall into one of those two categories, then whoopee!!! I am truly excited and humbled to have you visit me here.

Since my last post I have transitioned from being a mom to one cute toddler, into a mom of a precocious, picky pre-schooler (say that 5 times fast), an adventurous, strong-willed 3-year-old, and a happy, easy-going baby. The blog has transitioned too. Where I used to post 3 times a week, I will shoot for once a week on a good week. Rather than posting strictly recipes, I will add in some musings on food and mommyhood, an occasional tip that I found helps my picky eater, a restaurant review or two, recommendations when I have a new food obsession, and maybe even a give away or two. Now that introductions are out of the way, let's get down to business.

As a mom of 3, macaroni and cheese is a staple in our house. My husband and I both grew up on the blue box and there is a constant supply in our pantry. However, I try to reserve the blue box for special occasions. You know, babysitters, when daddy's out of town, dad's turn to cook, important stuff! Pasta is one dinner that everyone in my family can agree on, especially my pickiest child. So a good homemade macaroni and cheese is an important part of my repertoire.

This one comes from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. The link to the original recipe can be found here. I made this recipe with a little trepidation because my picky child tends to reject foods that she's "not used to" or "looks different" than what she has had before. I am glad to say that she gobbled this up and all of the ingredients were real pronounceable foods! Another thing that I love about this recipe is that it is truly a one-pot meal. I have found that many so-called one-pot meals are only called such because everything ends up in one pot in the end, but there are about a zillion pots to get you to that point. With this one it is all done in one pan. That means less dishes, and less dishes makes a happy mama.

I made it as written and it was delicious, but I think it would be equally delicious with all cheddar rather than a mix. I used pre-shredded Monterey Jack and shredded the cheddar myself. Cheddar does not melt as well when it comes pre-shredded.

I made this super fancy and served it with applesauce and baby carrots with ranch. (I like to eat the applesauce and mac n cheese on the same spoonful. Does anyone else do that? Oh, just me? Well, you should try it.) You could stir in some thawed, frozen peas and diced ham to make it more entree-like, but I knew there was no way my kids would go for that.

Note: You will need a 12 inch, non-stick skillet

Easy Skillet Macaroni and Cheese
  • 3 1/2 cups water, plus extra if needed
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 12 ounces (about 3 cups) elbow macaroni--I used whole grain and no one was the wiser
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
  • 6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks (optional--I omitted it and thought it was great without)
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  1. Bring 3 1/2 cups water, 1 cup of the evaporated milk, the macaroni, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. Cook at a vigorous simmer, stirring often, until the macaroni is tender and the liquid has thickened, 9 to 12 minutes.
  2. Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup evaporated milk, the cornstarch, mustard and hot sauce together in a small bowl, then stir into the skillet. Continue to simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  3. Off the heat, stir in the cheddar and Monterey Jack, one handful at a time, adding water as needed to adjust the consistency of the sauce (The whole grain pasta soaks up more water, so I needed close to half a cup extra. I drizzled water on after stirring in each handful of cheese). Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.  
  4. I would say this serves 4-6 people, depending if they are adults or little people. My family of 4 (well 4 with teeth) ate it for dinner with enough left for my husband to take for lunch the next day. Score!
Proof that she ate it willingly and was excited about it! Hooray!
(Don't mind the excited photobomber in the background. Hehehe!)


Grandma Honey said...

I could hardly believe it when I saw you posted here! Funny becasue I was just thinking a few days ago that "I really need to go back to Julie's food blog and look around"…..because you had many good recipes I wanted to try.

So what kind of hot sauce do you use? If I left it out do you think it would make much of a difference? Den and I can't eat this being we are dairy and gluten free, but I often bring food to young families and they all love mac and cheese.

Sam and Jamie said...

I am so excited your back! I will definitely have to try this. Tripling if of course :)

Heather said...

Yummy! I love homemade Mac and Cheese!

Julie said...

Jill-I used Tobasco, but you could definitely leave it out if you want.