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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Oh So Simple Mac 'n Cheese

Despite being Canada's favourite, I have never been a fan of Kraft Dinner aka KD.  Years ago our youngest who was about seven at the time, came home from a friends and proceeded to tell me about the wonderful macaroni and cheese his friend's mother had made.  It was in a 'really neat' blue box!  After I pulled my eyes out from the back of my head and picked myself up off the floor, I carried on making dinner while listening to him go on and on about this fantastic 'meal in a box'.  Occasionally, cave in and I would buy a couple of boxes of KD for the kids but our staple macaroni and cheese has always been from scratch, oven baked.  KD did find its way into our pantry during the y2K scare as part of our emergency preparedness

making easy mac and cheese
We were on the topic of food as we often are and the discussion turned to macaroni and cheese.  One of our kids swears by one pot, stove-top, creamy mac and cheese as her tried and true, kid approved family favourite.  Essentially this is an easy, versatile one pot method for cooking macaroni and cheese on the stovetop.  I've also heard of this method called the one-to-one because the portions are simply a 1:1 ratio.  I decided to try this method to see how it compared to the boxed and oven baked versions.

I did not follow the Todd and Diane's recipe exactly nor did I do an actual one-to-one.  I started with 1½ cup of half & half because I was out of milk then stirred in 1½ c of uncooked elbow macaroni and 1 tbsp butter.  I heated this mixture slowly while stirring adding in just enough extra half & half to keep the mixture runny while cooking.  When the macaroni was al denté, I stirred in 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  Once the cheese was melted, the creamy macaroni and cheese was ready to be enjoyed!

easy mac and cheese
KD and other boxed macaroni and cheese dinners are not exactly health food.  Even if the organic brand is still a heavily processed food item.  There are preservatives but more importantly tartrazine, a synthetic lemon yellow azo dye derived from coal tar.  This synthetic dye has numerous side-effects ranging from allergic reactions to heart palpitations, OCD, and in severe cases, anaphylatic-like reactions.  The Oh So Simple Mac 'n Cheese, has just four ingredients: milk, pasta of choice, cheese of choice and butter (optional).  That's it!  There are no artificial ingredients.  The result is rich, creamy macaroni and cheese that is even easier to make than the boxed version with no extra packaging either.  It isn't a lot but that packet containing the powdered cheese mixture in boxed macaroni and cheese can't be recycled so ends up in the landfill.  The Oh So Simple Mac 'n Cheese tastes better than boxed and it definitely has a creamier texture.  It is just as quick to prepare.  Oh, and this macaroni and cheese actually works out less per serving than the boxed version!

Any milk can be used although milks with a heavier cream content will give a bit creamier flavour.  The butter really is optional.  I know it is supposed to be added to boxed macaroni and cheese, and I added it as well but the butter is really just for added flavour.  Any shredded cheese or combination of shredded cheese can be used.  I have it on good authority, aspiring chefs Little Miss C and Little Master A that aged white cheddar is the cheese to use!

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