20-minute Mac’n’Cheese

Happy New Year everyone!!  Some of us in the new year make resolutions–to travel more, make more time for friends, change jobs, exercise more or just continue to kick butt.  Either way, I’m guessing nobody is looking to spend more time getting dinner on the table, which is why today I’m sharing 20-minute Mac’n’Cheese.  This dish is easy to make and frees up your time so you can focus on the things that are important to you in 2013.

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In the amount of time it takes to boil water and cook pasta, you will have a creamy, rich and delicious homemade meal.  This dish trumps jarred marinara any day.  This dish can easily be modified to suit your tastes or the occasion–you can add veggies like mushrooms and broccoli or a protein like chicken to make the dish more nutritious and filling.

Because you guys deserve to spend less time in the kitchen and more time doing things in 2013, use this recipe on hand.

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White Cheddar Mac’n’Cheese

Ingredients:

1 lb. large shell pasta (one whole package cooked according to package instructions)

4 tbsp butter (unsalted or salted both work)

4 tbsp flour

3 cups 2% milk

3 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

1 8.5oz jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil (drain)

1/8 tsp nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

optional crunchy topping: smashed Ritz crackers or smashed Cheez-its.

Directions:

Prepare pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and set aside. Additionally, drain the jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil and set aside.

In a large sauce, melt 4 tablespoons of butter on medium heat.  When melted add 4 tablespoons of flour and whisk together.  Allow butter and flour mixture about 30-40 seconds to cook and bubble (this allows the flour flavor to cook off).  Slowly begin incorporating the milk one cup at a time.  Whisk each cup of milk so it is completely incorporated with the butter and flour mixture–you do not want any clumps.  Once all of the milk is fully incorporated continue to whisk for a few minutes until the mixture has thickened.

To test for the proper thickness, dunk a spoon in the mixture and when taking out look at the back of the spoon.  You want there to be a a thick layer stuck on the back of the spoon.  If the mixture is too thin, let cook a little longer.  Once thick, add the nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Then begin adding the shredded cheddar cheese one handful at a time.  Finally, add the drained sun-dried tomatoes and fully cooked, drained pasta.

Once you have mixed all the ingredients together, let sit for ten minutes so the cheese can thicken up.

Optional, serve dish topped with crushed Cheez-its or Ritz crackers to add a little crunch to your 20-minute mac’n’cheese.  Enjoy!

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