Monday, September 17, 2012

Sarah's Mac and Cheese

Jan here, with a great discovery:
When you have awesome children, you get to enjoy their awesome friends :)

My daughter's friend, Sarah, is tons of fun, loves literature, teaches piano to multiple students, and knows how to play the pipe organ.

Now, how many 20-somethings do you know who play the pipe organ?

I told you - she's awesome!

And on top of all of this, she also cooks!

I've fallen in love with her macaroni and cheese. This is no ordinary mac 'n' cheese - no yellow powder, no ho-hum flavor, no buttered crumbs to give it interest -

This recipe doesn't need any help to wow your socks off!

Here's Sarah's recipe:

1 box (16 oz.) rotini pasta
1/4 cup butter
1/8-1/4 cup minced onion (depending on your taste. I prefer 1/4 cup myself)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
4 oz. processed cheese (velveeta)
4 oz. cheese #1 (I use a mild cheddar)
4 oz. cheese #2 (I use pepperjack)
1 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Cook noodles al dente, drain and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add onions, cooking until transparent. Do NOT allow the butter to burn. Once the onions are cooked, add flour, then slowly whisk in the milk (to avoid clumping the flour). Add cheeses, and remaining ingredients, all 3 cheeses cubed to melt faster. Once cheeses are completely melted and the mixture has thickened, fold in pasta.
Pour into ungreased casserole dish.
Bake in preheated oven until the top just begins to brown, about 10-20 minutes.

Now, if you notice in Sarah's list of ingredients, you have a lot of wiggle room in the kinds of cheeses you use. We use her suggested Pepper Jack and Mild Cheddar, but sometime I'm going to branch out. What would this taste like with a Colby-Jack and a Sharp Cheddar?

Just like in Ruthy's Scalloped Potatoes (here), onions are a big part of the savory goodness of this sauce. After you cook the onions in the butter, add your cheeses and stir until they're smooth and creamy (the processed cheese, aka Velveeta, helps to make the whole sauce very easy to make perfectly).

Sarah's recipe calls for Rotini pasta. I like to make it with Radiatorre. Both kinds of pasta have folds and swirls to hold the delicious sauce.

Of course, when I made it this time I was out of either of those, so I used elbow macaroni.

And no, it didn't affect the taste at all ;D

I usually bake the pasta for the full 20 minutes - I like the top browned and the whole thing nice and hot.

Warning - if you don't have growing boys at home (or boys who think they're growing), expect to have leftovers.

But that's okay. This stuff reheats fabulously.


  1. I love mac and cheese but have never tried it this way. Sounds and looks scrumptious so I'm game to give it a try. Only have mild cheddar at home though so I'll have to wait until I get the other cheese. And I've never used Velveeta except in raspberry cheese squares...mmmm...that would make a perfect dessert for this dish, wouldn't it? Thanks for another veggie offering, Jan!

    1. Raspberry Cheese Squares? Are you sharing?

  2. looks good! my mom always did mac and cheese with velveeta - she just boiled the elbow macaroni, drained and stirred in butter and velveeta and let it melt. this sounds more delish!

    1. This IS delish, Susanna! There's something about that pepper-jack twang in there...decidedly Texan...

  3. Oh, this is like my homemade mac and cheese, Jan! The only thing I don't use is the mustard. And if I'm out of pepper jack cheese, I add a teaspoon (more or less to taste) of red pepper sauce. The red pepper gives it just enough back-bite to taste home-made and zingy!!! I LOVE SARAH ALREADY!!! A pipe organ AND a girl who can actually use ingredients.


    1. Oooh, red pepper sauce...I'll have to try it!

      For more Sarah awesomeness, check out the video I posted on facebook this morning. Those girls crack me up!

  4. YUM!!! One of my favorite things!!! Thanks for sharing, Jan. She does sound like a fabulous friend, as I'm sure your daughter is. Cute photo, beautiful girls! :)

    1. Thanks, Missy!

      One thing I like about this recipe is that it's one my family can make while I'm off schmoozing in Dallas this week. Win - win, right?

    2. Dallas.


      Miss me a lot, but know that I'm running a tight ship.

      Or ignoring EVERYTHING.

      More likely. ;)

    3. I'm already missing you, Ruthy!

      Next year in Indy? Maybe?

      Jenny Spinnola and I are planning to road trip it from South Dakota...