Macaroni and Cheese — 5 Stars

Last week I found my fridge and cupboards to be somewhat lacking.  Okay, terribly lacking.  All I had was uncooked rice, uncooked macaroni noodles, cereal, milk, shredded cheddar cheese, margarine, a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, and some frozen chicken breasts.  Of course I also had spices, flour, and sugars.  And I was starving.  I think I’d somehow skipped lunch that day (dumb MBA programs keeping you so busy).  So, what to make?  I found a recipe for Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese

Now, most homemade macaroni and cheese recipes require a lot (well, at least 5-10) of ingredients, and a bit of time (at least an hour).  They usually require effort, too.  You have to cook and drain the macaroni, whip up a cheese sauce, mix the two, and then bake.  That’s a lot of dishwashing afterwards.  This recipe, though, required none of that.  This recipe is made in one pot, doesn’t require making things separately and then combining them, and it finishes in about twenty minutes.  That’s about the time The Blue Box takes to make, but this is homemade.

This recipe is pretty amazing.  It was soooooo easy to make and so quick to put together.  As soon as I finished eating the first pot (it provided about 3 servings), I made the recipe a second time.  The author of the recipe tells you to use nutmeg and mustard powder, but I just used red pepper.  I slightly increased the amount of milk called for (and used skim milk instead of whole milk), and the amount of cheese, because I like a creamy, cheesy, macaroni and cheese.  The red pepper gave it just a tad bit of kick, which I enjoy.  (I also think it’d be good with garlic salt.)  The only thing I might change in the future is to use evaporated milk instead of "regular" milk; that might make the final dish even creamier.  In cooking this dish, you must stay close to the stove — you need to stir once about every minute or two to keep the macaroni from clumping together.  Babysitting the dish is completely worth it, though.

Ingredients
1 cup uncooked pasta, preferably macaroni noodles
1 1/4 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper
2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions
1.  Combine pasta, milk, salt, and pepper in a small sauce pot
2.  Turn the range on medium high, and while stirring every minute or two, bring contents to a boil
3.  As soon as the pot comes to a full boil, turn the temperature down to low.  Not medium low, not just above a simmer low, but LOW.
4.  Continue stirring every minute or two until all the milk evaporates (this takes about 10-15 minutes).  When the milk is gone, the pasta should be cooked tender.
5.  Add in the cheese, and stir until all the cheese has melted.
6.  Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes.
7.  Enjoy this delectable dish.

Tangent: I thought I was being inventive by thinking to substitute evaporated milk for "regular" milk.  I did some searching and found this recipe which actually just calls for evaporated milk.  [sigh]  I guess I’m less creative than I thought.  This second recipe includes an egg and wants you to go through the trouble of draining the pasta; that’s kind of a lot of work.  I might give this second recipe a try anyway, though.

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