baked macaroni and cheese casserole
Valentine’s day has come and gone, and I learned one major lesson this year. Buying scratch-n-sniff valentines may seem like a good idea, a very retro and hip idea, but scratch-n-sniff stink bug valentines are NOT a good idea. Never a good idea, really. And if my children’s teachers are reading this, or if any of the moms of the boys in their classes are – I am so very, very sorry.
Though I was treated to Chinese take-out on Valentine’s night, Sam and I had our real Valentine’s celebration later in the week. Thursday morning, we typed out childcare and kitty-care instructions for Grammy and taped the note to the refrigerator door. After shoving our swimsuits and flip-flops and bottles of SPF-50 into a suitcase, we dusted off our neglected passports, kissed the kids goodbye, gave the cats scritches under their necks, and headed off to the airport to catch our plane to Mexico.
We spent a full two and a half days lounging at the infinity pool, looking outward toward the swaying fronds of the coconut palm trees lining the beach and the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico just beyond. We read a lot, finishing two books a piece, and we occasionally braved the frigid temperatures of the pool. I gorged myself on guacamole and salsa. I learned that Mexico’s version of “mild heat” in a pepper is not quite the version I’m used to.
I completely relaxed. It felt good to finally catch my breath.
I’ll share some photos soon, once I download them off my camera’s memory card, maybe this weekend. First, I must share this macaroni and cheese recipe with you. I was inspired to make this after flipping through the pages of an old, spiral-bound community cookbook, it’s yellowing pages chock full of recipes for mysterious dishes like “Sara’s Jello Surprise” and “Aunt Jean’s Spam Casserole.” I found a few recipes for macaroni and cheese casseroles made with a no béchamel technique — just the combining and baking of grated cheese, eggs, and milk, with already-cooked noodles. After fiddling around with the method and ingredients, this is the recipe I came up with.
I made this last Sunday, before we headed out of town, in hopes that my kids would think I was the best mom EVER for leaving them with such cheesy goodness to eat while we were away. But it didn’t work out that way. It never does, really. My son was quick to declare that he did NOT like macaroni and cheese, and he refused to eat it. Refused to even sample a bite.
I swear, I think someone replaced that child with a blonde, blue-eyed impostor.
Yield: 6-8 servings.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese Casserole
Macaroni and cheese casserole should always be present at pot-luck dinners and church suppers - or at any social gathering involving Southerners and food. This version of macaroni and cheese is the dish you'll want to show up with.
8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1-1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
8 ounces Colby cheese, shredded
8 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9 x 13 casserole dish and set aside.
In a large pot of salted water, cook elbow macaroni according to package directions, until al dente, about 7 minutes.
While the pasta is cooking, whisk together in a medium bowl the melted and cooled butter, milk, eggs, sour cream, salt, and white pepper. In a large bowl, combine the cooked and drained pasta, the butter and milk mixture, and the shredded cheeses. Stir well. Pour into the casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.