Sunday, January 29, 2012

Easy Peasy Mac & Cheesy

I have finally found a stove top Macaroni & Cheese recipe that measures up to the "Blue Box."  I'm so thankful to "Confections of a Foodie Bride" for the most important tip: American cheese.  I know most of us bloggers like to think of ourselves as a step beyond the processed cheese food product, but lets face it, I can't exactly pretend I'm so food-snobbish when I'm looking for a replacement recipe for Kraft Mac & Cheese, right?  While I used the American cheese tip, I kind of combined the recipe with my standard white sauce technique instead of using the Greek yogurt, mostly because I completely forgot to get any at the store before making this recipe.  I really liked how this came out with my non-fat white sauce mixed with American cheese, lots of peas and some cubed ham.  A very easy, but filling recipe, especially when using whole wheat pasta as I did here.  I made this on a night that the husband wasn't around, but I was really surprised to find that he enjoyed the leftovers as much as I did.  I guess some flavors from our childhoods have universal life-long appeal, and American cheese is one of those flavors.  I couldn't stop eating my little slices of American cheese (I bought thick slices in the deli section and thinly sliced those slices instead of shredding, since we have no blocks of American cheese for sale)!

Stovetop Macaroni & Cheese with Ham & Peas (Inspired by Confections of a Foodie Bride)
8 oz macaroni or short pasta of your choice (I used whole wheat rotini)
8 oz American cheese, grated (or sliced as described above)
1 Tbs Unsalted Butter
1 Tbs All Purpose Flour
1 Cup fat free milk
1-1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed (I threw mine in with the pasta for the last couple minutes)
1/2 cup diced ham
Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente (throwing in peas to thaw for last 2-3 minutes of cooking time).  Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter and add flour, making a roux.  Cook for about 1 minute.  Add milk and stir continuously and vigorously to ensure no lumps.  When sauce just comes to a boil, it will be thickened.  Add cheese gradually, stirring well until melted before adding next handful.  Pour over drained pasta/peas, add ham, and mix well.  Season with salt and pepper and serve warm.  Makes about 4 servings.

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