I have to admit for many years I was intimidated to make my Mom’s famous macaroni and cheese. She made it so well, I didn’t want to mess it up. Besides, grating tons of cheese by hand, and cooking pounds of elbow macaroni seemed so tedious. In my house, her dish has become a Thanksgiving staple, and is usually the first to go at all of our family events. Yes, it is that good. Finally, when it was my turn to learn how to make my Mom’s legendary mac and cheese, I knew it would be a battle grating all of those special cheeses, and trying to combine all of the ingredients that made it so tasty. I remember she started listing all of the ingredients and in two seconds, she was done. Wait, that’s it?!? You mean you don’t add eggs, or flour? You only use cheddar cheese? I thought there was a lot more involved. She laughed and said, “Gotcha!”
She sure did get me, along with everyone else. Everyone and I mean everyone thought she slaved over a hot stove, making her macaroni and cheese. Turns out, her recipe is super easy to make, and probably the yummiest, cheesiest macaroni and cheese you’ll ever have. No, I’m not just saying this because it’s my Mom’s recipe. There are many great macaroni and cheese recipes out there, with different cheeses, some with bacon, onions, etc., but the simplicity of this dish makes it delicious. Again, I can not tell you enough about how easy it is to make my Mom’s mac and cheese. Trust me when I say, you can have a wonderful crowd pleasing side dish in no time. Who knows, maybe you’ll be able to fool a few people too. Don’t worry your secret’s safe with me. 😉
Easy Macaroni and Cheese
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
If you are planning to make this recipe for an event like Thanksgiving then you probably want to double it, at my house we triple it. What can I say we love cheese!
Ingredients: (Of course, with commentary!)
1 Package of Elbow Macaroni – serves 8
16 oz. of Sharp Cheddar Cheese – I used a block of cheese and grated it (medium thickness, it does not need to be finely grated)
1 Cup of Mild or Sharp Cheddar Cheese – finely grated (I use a pre-shredded package).
1 Can of Cheddar Cheese Soup
1/2 Cup Milk – I used reduced fat milk, it makes me feel better about using all that cheese.
15-20 Crackers – This recipe was made with a cracker that is half pretzel, half cracker, but if you can not find them in the store use club crackers, I like them because they are buttery.
1 ½ Tablespoon of Ground Mustard – Be careful a little mustard goes a long way.
Salt and Pepper – to taste, I prefer Kosher/Sea Salt, and freshly ground pepper.
3 Tablespoons of Butter
1 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme
1 Tablespoon of Fresh Sage
They have wonderful prepackaged herbs in the grocery store that I use on everything. It’s cheaper then buying the herbs individually, so look for a poultry blend in produce section of the grocery store. It should include the rosemary, thyme, and sage. If you cannot find the poultry blend, use dried herbs, but I’m telling you for this recipe, fresh herbs taste better.
Preheat oven the 350˚F
While the oven is preheating place crackers in a zip lock bag and break/pound into crumbs. Add chopped rosemary, thyme, and sage and mix. Then cut and cube the 3 Tablespoons of butter. Set aside.
Cook Macaroni, as directed on the package. Add a tablespoon or two of salt to the boiling water, before adding the noodles. Add noodles and cook for about 10 minute on medium high heat according to the packages instructions. While the noodles are cooking, heat the cheddar cheese soup in a medium sized, sauce pan, over medium heat. Add the milk, and 2 cups of the shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese. Use a Wisk to stir the cheese mixture until completely combined and melted. Once the noodles are done, strain, and place noodles in a baking dish (I usually use a brownie dish), and pour the hot cheddar soup over the noodles. Add salt and pepper (to taste), and sprinkle mustard on top of mixture. Add the remaining hand grated cheese and stir. Spread the remaining cup of finely shredded cheese on top of the macaroni, followed by the herbed bread crumbs. Then spread the cubed butter evenly over the top (this will allow for a nice golden crust). Bake for 20 minutes. That’s it!
In 30 minutes, you have a quick and easy side that will definitely complement any Thanksgiving meal. Enjoy!
Please Note: If you are doubling, or in my case tripling this recipe then add another 15-20 minutes in the oven. This is an estimated time, just make sure the cheese is melted and that the top has a nice golden crust.