Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Is it just me just me, or is macaroni and cheese one of the ultimate comfort foods?  Maybe it's because there's no getting around my love affair with cheese.  Or maybe it's because I grew up going to "covered dish suppers" at church where casseroles (along the lines of baked macaroni and cheese) abounded. Or maybe it's because I honestly don't ever remember a time when this

photo from here

was in our pantry growing up.  Which means we got the real thing.  Because my grandmother, and thus my mother, were "organic" way before it was cool, we rarely got things out of a box.  Now I would kill to know I always had a homecooked, "real" food waiting for me on the table every night. Why is it that I wanted things out of a box? I was always so jealous when my friends brought this to school:

photo from here

Ummm.  Gross.  I guess it's true that we don't appreciate what we have until it's gone. It makes me laugh to think about the battles I'll probably fight with my (as of now unborn) children over what they take to school for lunch. It probably makes my mother laugh even harder since she's paid her dues and her battles are fought. And she won.

But don't fret. You can have your comfort food.  Right here in the form of baked macaroni and cheese. So yummy.  Even though my mother isn't in my home cooking for me every night, anymore, I try to channel her every now and then. So here is a real, home cooked, casserole you might find at a good old fashioned southern covered dish supper.

Caveat: this recipe is a little bit high maintenance with all the "stir constantly," but it's worth it.  Especially because you can double or triple it and freeze it for later.  See note below.


1 (8 ounce) package whole wheat macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard (optional, for a little extra flavor)
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, buttered (optional)


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cook and drain macaroni according to package directions; set aside.  In a separate bowl, mix flour, dry mustard (if using), salt, and pepper. In a large saucepan, melt butter. When melted, add the flour mixture, using a whisk to stir until well blended.

Pour milk and cream in gradually; stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Reduce heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes.  (Mixture will get noticeably thicker, as you can see below).

Gradually add shredded cheese and simmer an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese melts. Remove from heat. Add macaroni to the saucepan and stir to combine. * Transfer macaroni to a buttered baking dish.  Sprinkle with breadcrumbs, if desired.

As an aside, I topped only half the dish with breadcrumbs.  While I don't necessarily count calories, this recipe seemed rich enough to me to leave the breadcrumbs off.  The hubs, however, always seems to be trying to gain weight (I know, I want to kill him, too) so I figured he would enjoy the extra richness.  I tasted a bite with the breadcrumbs (for reference, obviously).  Don't get me wrong.  It was pretty delicious.  But I didn't miss them on the part I ate without them.

Bake 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

*Note: You can also freeze this for later use. Once you've mixed the noodles with the cheese sauce allow it to cool to room temperature. Then transfer to a container for freezing. When you're ready to cook it, let it thaw and come to room temperature. Then transfer to a buttered baking dish, sprinkle with bread crumbs and then bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling.

(Recipe adapted from Fannie Farmer's baked macaroni and cheese found on

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