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Simple Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Ok, when we think of mac & cheese, most of us think of that boxed stuff. It's supposed to be faster than home made and still be good and creamy. The truth of it though, you can make much creamier, more flavorful and far better max and cheese in the same amount of time with very little skill required.

BLOG POSTINGS > Everyday Meals

Simple Stovetop Mac & Cheese

by zirbirt

Ok confession time. I used to cook from a box or bag. Every meal I fed my family came from some pre-packaged something or other.. and I didn't put very much thought, if any, into what was in it. Eventually, cooking like this became so boring, so monotonous that take out, or going out became something we did several times a week, just because I didn't feel like cooking.. and the entire family gained weight... quite a bit of it.

A few years ago, we decided to limit the going out or takeout to 1 time a week.. This effectively meant I had to start cooking again, and I went back to the bags and prepared meals. Well, when it got too boring again, which was immediately, I had to make a choice. Go back to the old routine of eating out all the time, or start finding new ways to prepare meals. I chose the latter.

I started trying new things, and cooking from scratch. Eventually, I discovered that I had more fun trying to fix recipes or make up my own than I thought was possible. I actually started to enjoy cooking... and turned it into a fun hobby, which had amazing rewards.

You see, we didn't go on a diet. I didn't limit the portions and I didn't put too much thought into what is healthy.. but somehow.. we all lost significant weight in the first 6 months. Friends and family harassed us for our secret weight loss trick.. and we said, the truth, cook your own meals... from scratch. To date, my household has lost over 150 lbs in total just because I chose to start enjoying cooking. We all have more energy and I actually look forward to making the meals I make.. and my family looks forward to eating them. Most meals do not take me much longer than they did before, and they are bursting with flavor.

There is no downside....

but.. what does this have to do with mac & cheese? Well, mac & cheese was one of the first recipes that made me realized I don't need to boxes and bags anymore. It was my indoctrination into real cooking... and it is one of those things that I thought would be hard or a lot of effort and turned out to be so easy I cant imagine buying a box of that powdered, sodium filled, fake colored, flavorless junk.

So, to prove it to you.. I decided to demonstrate how home made mac & cheese can be as fast as box mac & cheese.

To do this.. I thought about making boxed mac and cheese.. then realized.. wait.. noodles are noodles.. so, I will just use my boiling of the macaroni as my measurement. You see if I can have my cheese sauce ready before the macaroni is cooked (assuming I start both at the same time) and we assume box macaroni takes the same amount of time to cook... we can assume that this takes the same amount of time to make as box macaroni. So lets begin:

First I put 1 large pot of water of medium high heat (about 8).. and 1 small empty pot at medium (5)

I throw some salt into the large pot for flavor (about 1 Tbsp) and I throw 4 Tbs (1/2 stick) of butter into the small pot.

Once the butter is fully melted I put 1/4 cup (measured) of flour, and mix it with a whisk

I bring that mixture to a boiling while whisking it frequently... this will boil way before the water on the left, even though my temp is much lower, since there is so much less to heat..

As you can see below my butter/flour mixture is bubbling nicely, and my water is just begging to get tiny bubble but isn't boiling yet.

I whisk the butter mixture for a minute or two after it starts boiling.. then I add 2 cups of milk... and whisk it all together (I leave the heat the same)

It is at this point, you want to add seasonings.. SO.. 1 tsp salt, 1tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder for me.

while this was warming up, my water finally started to boil.. so time to add my macaroni to the big pot.. I used 16 ounces of macaroni.

In my cheese pot, I keep the whisk resting in there, and continue to whisk it every minute or so.. just to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.. or getting scorched.

Soon that mixture will thicken and start to bubble...

Once it is bubbling.. it time to add the cheese.. About 1 - 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese.. anything you want really.. I used some pre-shredded Colby jack.

whisk it in, and lower the heat to about 3, and let it sit till the noodles are ready.. Go back and whisk it some more every so often.

Once the noodles are fully cooked (but not over cooked).. drain em and put em back in the big pot... turn the burner back on at medium low (about 4)... Now you can add any additions.. I put some chopped cooked bacon in there for some extra texture... and pour on the cheesy goodness.

Seriously. this is a thing of beauty.. now using a wooden spoon mix it all together..

Now. take about 1/2 cup of cheese and sprinkle it over the top.. and put the lid on.. let it sit for a couple of minutes...

and you now have a glorious mac & cheese, that trumps that old box stuff, with not a lot more effort.

and it goes GREAT with hot dogs.. (steamed hotdogs and buns + steamed green beans)

Keep an eye out for how I will be using the leftover mac and cheese along with my left over taco filling.. I don't know if it will be edible.. but it should be interesting.

zirbirt
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