Real Macaroni and Cheese

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:16 am on Tuesday, October 7, 2014

savvyhousekeeping real macaroni and cheese mac recipe comfort food fall kids

Here’s my recipe for real macaroni and cheese. I call it real because it has no bread crumbs, no peas, no ham, and certainly no powdered dairy substances in it. It’s just cheese, elbow macaroni noodles, milk, butter, flour, salt, and pepper. It’s the ultimate in comfort food and perfect for fall. No kid will turn it down.

Much of the time when you get macaroni and cheese in a restaurant–even in a nice restaurant–you end up with an orange-colored puddle at the bottom of your bowl. That’s because of one of two thing: 1. the restaurant was cheap and didn’t use enough cheese or 2. they didn’t let the sauce thicken before putting it in the macaroni.

That’s a shame. Macaroni and cheese is all about texture. You want the crust on top, the cheesy/creamy sauce below, and the noodles balancing everything out. To insure the last point, I buy the large-sized macaroni noodles. They seem to hold the cheese better and are more satisfying to eat.

Now for the million dollar question: what kind of cheese? In this recipe, I use cheddar, jack, and mozzarella, but there are lots of combinations you can go with. For example, if you want to go fancy, try mozzarella, Gruy√®re, and a touch of Gouda. Or add in some Parmesan or Edam or even goat cheese. In fact, any cheese that melts will work, but I wouldn’t put in more than three at a time. More than that and the flavors tend to get a little muddled.

savvyhousekeeping real macaroni and cheese mac recipe comfort food fall kids


Real Macaroni and Cheese
(serves 3-4 people)

Ingredients:

    3 1/2 c cheese, broken down like so: 1 1/4 c cheddar, 1 1/4 c jack, 1 cup mozzarella
    2 c large elbow macaroni
    2 c milk
    3 Tbs butter
    3 Tbs flour
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put on a pot of salted, boiling water and cook the pasta until done, about 10 minutes. Drain and transfer the pasta to a casserole dish.

Grate the cheese. Next, melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until it thickens into a paste-like substance. Pour about half a cup of milk into the flour/butter and stir until that thickens. Repeat until you have added the entire 2 cups of milk. Add the salt and pepper and taste.

Next, add all but 1/2 cup of the cheese to the sauce. Slowly stir until the cheese has melted. If you have done this right, the sauce will almost have the consistency of Velveeta (but it won’t taste like it!). If it is watery, simply let it sit on the stove for a moment or two, stirring until it thickens. Taste the sauce. If you want to eat the whole thing right then, it is ready.

Pour the sauce over the macaroni and cheese. With a spoon, gently stir so that the cheese distributes around the noodles. If it still looks watery, you can add a little grated cheese to absorb the extra moisture. Finally, top the whole thing with the remaining half cup of cheese for the crust.

Stick the macaroni and cheese in the oven and let cook 30-35 minutes. Next, put the oven on broil and let the macaroni and cheese sit for about 5 minutes more. Make sure to keep an eye on it. When the top starts to get golden brown, it’s done.

Remove from the oven. Let sit 7-10 minutes. This last step is important for the cheese to congeal and the crust to form, so don’t skip it. And, as always, enjoy!

5 Halloween-Themed Snacks

Filed under: Kids — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:53 am on Monday, October 6, 2014

Here’s some fun after-school Halloween-themed snacks that are easy to make (more or less) and healthy too.

Bat Bites: Grape “bats” with black tortilla chip “wings” perched above cheese cubes.

Monster Sandwiches: Round sandwich bread, olive eyes, and cheese teeth.

Spider Deviled Eggs: Deviled eggs with olive “spiders” on top.

Apple Mouths: Slice apples, hold them together with peanut butter, and add marshmallows for the teeth.

Tangerine Pumpkins and Banana Ghosts: Tangerines with celery stems make good pumpkins and banana ghosts with chocolate chips for eyes.

The Many Lives of My Dumpster-Dived Bureau

Filed under: Money — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:09 am on Friday, October 3, 2014

savvyhousekeeping dumpster dive diving bureau

Awhile ago, I found the above bureau in a dumpster. Someone had decided to get rid of it, and instead of selling it or donating it, they decided it should end up at the dump instead.

There was nothing wrong with it, and I happened to need a bureau, so we brought it home, cleaned it up, and used it in our bedroom. Use number 1.

Not long after that, I refinished the bureau. In fact, it was the first thing I ever refinished, which means that not only did I gain a bureau from this dumpster dive, I learned a new skill. (I kind of did a crappy job, to be honest, but this is how you learn, right?) Use number 2.

We used the bureau for four years, then we upgraded our bedroom set and no longer needed it. But my husband needed something to hold his tools, so we moved the bureau to the garage and loaded it up. Use number 3.

Then last August, someone gave my husband a nifty cabinet for tool storage, so we decided to get rid of the bureau. I put an ad on Craigslist and we sold it that same day for cold hard cash. Use number 4.

So to recap: we got the bureau for free and used it for six years. During that time, it had four separate uses that benefited us, not the least of which is that we came out of the endeavor with a profit!

Compare that to people who buy furniture for high prices and then throw it out when they are done with it. This is frugality in action, don’t you think?

If you have a similar story, please share!

Halloween Decoration Round-Up

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:31 am on Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Happy October! To get you in the mood for the season, here’s Halloween Decoration Round-Up:

Fireplace Pumpkin Arrangement

Bats As Halloween Decor

Pac-man Halloween Garland

Ghosts from tissue-paper bells

Construction paper rats on the stairs

Cardboard Window Monster

That one is just brilliant.

DIY Cardboard Camper Playhouse

Filed under: Kids — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:21 am on Tuesday, September 30, 2014

So cute! A DIY Cardboard Camper Playhouse. All it takes is a big box, paint, and duct tape.

5 Apple Recipes

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:05 am on Monday, September 29, 2014

I love apples! They are so versatile. Here are a few apple recipes to consider:

Apple Walnut Tart with Maple Custard. It looks gorgeous, at least.

Apple-Maple French Toast

French Apple Cake

Easy Apple Butter

Apple Brown Bourbon Cocktail

Make Your Own Paper Lanterns

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:47 am on Friday, September 26, 2014

Who knew making paper lanterns was so easy? It just takes paper, scissors, tape, and a flameless candle or other low-energy light source like LED lights. Check out this video to learn how.

How To Make Tomato Paste

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:56 am on Thursday, September 25, 2014

Innnnnteresting: How To Make Tomato Paste.

How to Clean Enamel Cookware

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:05 am on Wednesday, September 24, 2014

After:

Before:

Not bad for a 50 year old pot.

Awhile back, I bought a set of vintage Dansk enamel cookware from a thrift store for $10 a pot. Since I use them all the time, they have gotten pretty beat up, so I decided it was time for a good cleaning. All is took was laundry soap and elbow grease.

How to Clean Enamel Cookware

1. Clean and scrub the pot as best you can.

2. Fill the pot with water and add a tablespoon or so of laundry soap.

3. Put on stovetop and bring to a boil.

4. Let boil for 5 minutes.

5. Take off the heat and scrub under running water while the pot is still warm. It will magically come clean.

Easy Roasted Acorn Squash

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:41 am on Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Here’s my no-fail way to cook acorn squash. I usually serve it as a side with meat, but it can also be used in a host of other dishes–add the squash to risotto, use it as stuffing for raviolis, etc. However it’s prepared, I find this dish is well-received, even by people who are not that into eating vegetables.

Easy Roasted Acorn Squash

Ingredients:

    1 acorn squash
    3-4 Tbs butter
    2-3 Tbs bourbon
    Salt and pepper


Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Cut the acorn squash in half. Remove the seeds and lay face up on an oiled pan. Brush with bourbon (if you prefer, you can sprinkle with brown sugar instead) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Break the butter up into chunks and lay around the rim and in the center of the squash.

Put the squash in the oven and cook until soft, about 40 minutes. Serve right away. Enjoy!

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