Happy Birthday Mac and Cheese! (Big-Kid-friendly recipe)

This kid loves mac and cheese

This kid loves Mac and Cheese! photo: Claes Helander

This is a special post for my little brother, who is now officially a teenager! Unfortunately I can’t be in the US to celebrate with him, but I figured, since he is now of age, I’d share a starter recipe with him to learn to make an easy version of my mac and cheese: as you can see above he is a big fan.

This mac and cheese recipe is written to be a kid friendly version of my homemade baked mac and cheese: no powder cheese packets allowed! And  it can be adjusted to what you have… the ingredients are:

Cheese: around 1 cup (2 dl.) shredded or chopped (Any you like! I would go for any mix of Cheddar/Jack/Parmesan… add a little Feta for some bite if you have it!)

Macaroni: see box for 2 servings (Any macaroni pasta will do: Classic elbows/Shells/Cavatappi/Ziti) If you are unsure how much to cook, take a hand and grab 4 handfuls of pasta.

Butter: about 2 tablespoons (You can use a real tablespoon to measure)

Flour: about 1 tablespoon

Milk: about 1 cup (2 dl.) (just water will work too, but go for the milk)

GET ALL YOUR INGREDIENTS OUT AND READY BEFORE YOU START!

 

Little Brother’s Birthday Mac and Cheese:

Phase I: Make your pasta (in a BIG pot)

Follow the instructions on the box for 2 people/servings.

Tips:

Use a larger pot then you need… should fill the pot with water only a little more then halfway. The pasta should have a lot of space and water above it. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons full of salt to the water (doesn’t have to be exact).

Let the water come to a boil before adding the pasta. The pasta will become bigger when it cooks, so you will end up with more pasta then it looks like at the start.

Set your colander/strainer in a clean sink to be ready.

Wait for the number of minutes it says on the box. To know if it is done, take a piece out, blow on it to cool it off, and eat it. If it’s easy to chew, then its done. Don’t wait until its mushy… it will cook more after you take it out. Turn off the stove.

Take the pot carefully with a dish towel or pot holders to the sink and pour SLOWLY into the strainer. Don’t forget the water is HOT and you can get burned. Use both hands to pour, then set the pot back onto the stove (The pot will also be very hot, even without stuff inside).

Shake the water out of the pasta in the strainer, and set aside somewhere near the sink that is okay to get wet. Don’t worry about the pasta getting cold.

Phase II: The sauce

In the same pot, put in about 2 tablespoons butter, and 1 tablespoon flour (it doesn’t have to be exact). Then turn on the stove to medium/low. Don’t leave. Wait until the butter starts to melt, then use a whisk to mix the butter and flour until it is all melted and mixed in.(Trivia: This is called a roux and is the first step to many sauces) Try to use a plastic whisk so you don’t scratch the pot, if you have one.

Once that is bubbling, slowly pour in 1 cup (or 2 dl.) of milk or water. Turn up the heat a little to medium and stir with the whisk. You want to get everything mixed together, and cooking with a slow bubble bubble gentle boil, Stir until the mixture is thicker. It should take about 1 min. Then turn down the heat to low.

Add your cheese… this is the fun part! I recommend about 1 cup (2 dl.) of cheese, but its up to you! Use a little less or a little more if you want. Mix in the cheese slowly with a big spoon until it melts. Turn off the stove.

Add in your cooked macaroni and mix together with a big spoon.

And then your done! You will never want to eat mac and cheese from a box again!

Happy Birthday Brother! A subscription to Popular Science magazine is on it’s way 🙂